On April 4, 1985, seven students at Columbia University, members of the Coalition for a Free South Africa (CFSA), chained closed the doors to Columbia’s administrative building, Hamilton Hall, and sat on the steps, blockading the entrance. They were there to protest the University’s investments in corporations that operated in Apartheid South Africa. Soon after, a march coordinated by other members of CFSA passed by Hamilton Hall. When the marchers saw the small blockade on the steps, they rushed to join in.
In 1940, at the brink of World War II, Denmark found itself declaring neutrality and cutting its troops in half. Despite this, the German war machine was not to be stopped. The German army invaded Denmark offering an ultimatum demanding submission. To minimize Danish casualties at the hand of a superior German army, the Danish King Christian submitted. Although it was occupied by German troops, Denmark had not surrendered and remained a sovereign state.
In 1972, Matthew Coon Come, a young Cree student, happened upon a newspaper article that proclaimed Quebec’s ‘hydroelectric project of the century’. Looking at a map attached to the article, Matthew realized that his community’s lands in northern Quebec were to be submerged by the proposed dam. It was in this way that the Cree learned of the upcoming assault to their land that had been commissioned by the Quebecois government. The Cree are an aboriginal people that reside in northern Quebec, around the mouth of James Bay.
Russia first occupied Lithuania and introduced a program of “Russification,” an attempt to eliminate Lithuanian language and culture in favor of Russian culture, in the mid-19th century. After 22 years of independence from Russia, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939 reintroduced the Soviet Union’s dominance over Lithuania—as well as the other Baltic states: Estonia and Latvia. The Soviet Union publicly stated that Lithuania had joined the USSR willingly, although secret protocols of the pact disputed this. Following World War II, the Soviet Union reoccupied Lithuania.
In 1921 the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP) came to power and soon aligned the country with the USSR. Until this democracy campaign in 1989, the MPRP ruled Mongolia through a constitutionally-sanctioned single-party government. By the mid-1980’s, pro-reform sentiments and movements were spreading in Eastern Europe, especially at the universities. However, Mongolians remained isolated from all of this except for the few students who could afford to study abroad in Eastern Europe.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Regarding the First Intifada as "nonviolent" is controversial because of the violence that accompanied the campaign. Aden Tedla's narrative does not try to hide the violent dimension. Three considerations lead us to include the case in this database. First, a significant part of the campaign leadership worked very hard to keep the campaign nonviolent. Second, the masses participated in the nonviolent methods, not in the violence. Third, other scholars in the field of nonviolent action include the Intifada, although acknowledging its ambiguities.
The Pashtuns are a Muslim group that occupied the North-West Frontier of British India, the area near present day Afghanistan. This area was occupied by the British in 1848 and divided into two areas. In one area, districts were established and made under British control. The other area was a tribal area where the people lived semi-independent lives without much influence from the British. In 1902, both the settled districts and the tribal region were consolidated into the “North-West Frontier Province” by the British Empire.
During his first seven years as president of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic led the country into several wars with Croatia and Bosnia and isolated it internationally. While he spent money on the country’s secret police and military, unemployment reached as high as 50 percent before 1996. Citizens led several anti-war and pro-democracy campaigns in the early ‘90s, but failed due to lack of outside support. Opposition groups continued both violent and non-violent struggles against the regime, but neither was having any success.
“If the government won’t stop the war, we’ll stop the government.”
That was the central slogan of the Mayday campaign.
The Anti-Vietnam War movement included striking examples of nonviolent direct action. Many of the protests against the Vietnam War took place in the mid-1960s, when the war was still in its early stages, but demonstrations grew in numbers toward the end of the decade. One of the more dramatic efforts to end the war took place in 1971, when the war was rapidly losing public support among American citizens.
In February of 1999, members of the Progressive Activist Network (PAN) at Penn joined with United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) chapters at other Ivy League universities in an anti-sweatshop campaign by sending a joint letter to their university presidents. The letter requested a response by March 8, 1999, from University President Judith Rodin and seven other Ivy League university presidents, (excluding Dartmouth’s,) to four demands regarding the possible use of sweatshops in school-insignia apparel production.
Venezuelen President Hugo Chávez has often played a controversial role in Latin American politics, sometimes by testing the limits of freedom of expression.
Located inside the Arctic Circle in northern Norway, the Alta River runs through the reindeer herding grounds of the indigenous Saami people. In 1970, the Norwegian Water Resources and Electricity Board proposed a hydroelectric dam on the river. The proposed dam, which would have completely submerged the Saami village of Masi and interrupted reindeer migration routes, was only the latest affront in a long history of Norway’s marginalization of its indigenous peoples.
The Bologna Process, a European agreement signed by Germany in 1999, made degree programs comparable throughout Europe. In Germany this meant that programs originally designed to last five or six years were compressed into three or four, creating a degree program quite similar to the United States’. This substantially increased the course load for students. Decreased funding for universities also meant a poorer standard of education, larger classes, and the implementation of tuition fees. Between February and December 2009, thousands of German students protested thes
In 2000, students around the country protested sweatshop-manufactured college apparel. Students at Syracuse University (SU) protested using a variety of different tactics, including a naked bicycle ride through campus. In their yearlong campaign, Syracuse students wished to convince SU’s Chancellor, Kenneth A. Shaw, to join the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC). Their ultimate goal, along with students nationwide, was better wages and better working conditions for workers who manufactured college apparel.
University of North Carolina (UNC) Sierra Student Coalition members and students created the Coal-Free UNC movement in an effort to end the University’s use of coal and close the on-campus coal plant. Its goal is to eliminate coal on campus by 2015. Coal-Free UNC also wanted the University to adhere to its green initiative EXPLAIN. The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal national campaign to end dependence on coal and its use on campus, while encouraging the use of renewable sources of energy inspired UNC’s campaign.
Beginning in 1999 the Austrian government has made several large changes to the traditional higher education process, which had existed for hundreds of years prior. In 1999 Austria signed off on the Bologna Process, a European Union-wide initiative to standardize education throughout Europe. This meant that universities required students to complete degrees in between three and four years, when Austrians had traditionally had five or six. Despite a decrease in the time period for degree completion, syllabuses were barely touched, and so students were overwhelmed by work.&n
Billboard Utilising Graffitists Against Unhealthy Promotions (BUGA UP) campaigns against tobacco advertising, Australia, 1978-1994
In the 70s and 80s in Australia, tobacco companies had free reign to advertise in nearly all media, and tobacco advertising was a visual mainstay throughout public spaces. In addition, the prevailing mainstream view considered smoking to be an issue of individual behavior change rather than policy solutions. Disillusioned by this, Professor Simon Chapman and three of his colleagues theatrically convened a public meeting in the lecture theatre of the city morgue.
Throughout the 90s, Bolivia came under increasing pressure from the World Bank to privatize public goods in order to fulfill loan conditionality. In September 1999, in response to this pressure, the Bolivian government auctioned off the municipal water system ‘SEMAPA’ of Cochabamba, a city of 800,000 residents. When the auction drew only one bidder, the government signed water resources over in a 40-year concession to Aguas del Tunari, a foreign-led consortium of private investors dominated by the Bechtel Corporation.
The direct action campaign against nuclear testing in Amchitka Island began with an organization called the Society for Pollution and Environmental Control (SPEC), which grew from a group of ecologists, journalists, and activists in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. When the United States announced an underground test of a 1-megaton nuclear bomb on Amchitka Island, Alaska, SPEC began their protests.
On February 7, 1986, Haiti's dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier fled the country for France after a non-violent campaign for his removal (see "Haitians overthrow regime, 1984-1986"). Before leaving, he set up the National Governing Council (CNG), under the leadership of Henri Namphy, to rule the country.
When the United States proposed an expansion of its military base in the Pyeongtaek region of South Korea in 2001, it threatened to be the third time that the people of the region were to be displaced from their land. The people who lived in Pyeongtaek, primarily farmers, were first evicted when the Japanese occupied the region in World War II. Then they were forcibly displaced a second time in 1952, when the United States built its military base, Camp Humphreys.
Ghana was the first African country south of the Sahara to gain its independence. The process aimed at African representation had begun as early as the 1920s and under the post-World War II Constitution African parties were allowed to contest elections. But the British tended to favor cooperation with conservative African chiefs and a small intellectual elite, who no longer represented the people as a whole.
“I have decided to quit as president.”- Indonesian President Suharto, 21st May 1998
These words echoed across Indonesia, as students who had been occupying parliament for the past three days fell to their knees; while others cheered around television sets watching their president, in power for the past thirty years, resign.
In 1976, Pete Roche and a few other activists founded the Scottish Campaign to Resist the Atomic Menace (SCRAM). Aimed at protesting the construction of the Torness nuclear power station in the South-East of Scotland, as well as opposing nuclear power in general, SCRAM organized some of the largest anti-nuclear power demonstrations in the UK in the 1970s and 80s. The organization was composed of eight full time volunteer workers, plus vacillating numbers of members. The decision-making process was mainly represented by consensus reached during public meetings.
In December of 2001, Iceland's Minister for the Environment Siv Fridleifsdottir overturned Iceland's National Planning Agency (NPA) decision to reject the Karahnjukar Hydropower Project on the grounds of major negative environmental impacts. The project called for the construction of one 190-meter high, 730-meter wide main dam in addition to eight auxiliary dams and 53 kilometers of headrace tunnels to supply electricity.