The Defiance of Unjust Laws Campaign was developed by the African National Congress (ANC) to combat apartheid. More specifically, the campaign used large-scale national noncooperation to target laws enacted by the South African government that the ANC deemed unjust. The campaign began on June 26, 1952, as groups throughout South Africa executed various acts of defiance in main cities. The ANC and the South African Indian Congress (SAIC) united Africans and Indians alike to take on apartheid.
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 May of 1940, the Netherlands was occupied by the Nazi war machine. At that time, the Netherlands had a total area of 33,000 square kilometers, and only approximately nine million people living there. The country was also relatively flat, with little natural features that could contribute to an armed resistance against the Nazis. The Netherlands had a policy of neutrality and had no recent experience with outside invading forces. In addition, Queen Wilhelmina and the Dutch royal family refused to accept the Nazi offer for protection under the Reich and instead fled to London.
Cairo at the beginning of the 20th century was a fast growing city under British control. Many of the British in Cairo saw themselves as “civilizing” or “modernizing” the city as part of “the white man’s burden” to help those “lesser” than him. One such group that sought to do this was the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). The RSPCA opened a branch in Cairo in the 1890’s, where animal cruelty prevention efforts had not gotten off to a very successful start. They did build a hospital to treat animals in the city.
The first labor strike in recorded history took place in the 12th Century, BCE, in Egypt. The strike was recorded on papyrus, discovered in Egypt, and though it is damaged and incomplete, it is the only record of the strike in existence. All records of this strike refer to dates with reference to the then-current Pharaoh, Ramses III. During the 29th year of his reign (roughly 1170 BCE), artisans tasked with building the necropolis (burial chambers) of King Ramses III repeatedly struck, apparently complaining of insufficient rations.
The May revolt started as a student protest over the closing of the University of Paris’ Nanterre campus. The campus closed after months of escalation of student protests. These protests initially stemmed from a fight for sexual liberation (or the right to have visitors of the opposite sex in dorms) that later radicalized to become a fight for more student influence in the education system, and finally for a complete change of economic and social structure.
From the late 19th century into the early 20th century, Ecuador’s labor movement was slowly growing. However, most workers’ organizations consisted of groups of artisans, rather than industrial workers. These mutual aid societies collected dues mainly to pay for funerals of members who passed away and to financially help the family of the deceased. Additionally, some started night schools and reading groups. They also received most of their funding from the government, which helped keep their actions and goals moderate.
There were many organizations dedicated to the realization of full women’s rights in Iceland in 1975, drawing from a history of previous women’s movements that dealt with the issues of suffrage, national independence, and equal rights. Such movements had lost momentum since the 1920s when groups of women had put together women’s slates for election to parliament and municipal governments.
The political atmosphere in Japan in the 1950s was anything but calm. Still reeling from the Second World War, citizens were coming to terms with their newly democratic leaders—politicians who, before the war, had been ardently fascist. A growing nationalist movement was forming, as well as strong leftist political factions. These two movements opposed Japan’s strong ties with the United States, and disagreed with the American military presence in their country.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the political atmosphere in Kenya was characterized by brutal government repression and terror. Under the single-party rule of President Daniel arap Moi, any form of political dissension was swiftly met with government interrogation, detention, and torture. Many students, journalists, lawyers, and human rights advocates were among those imprisoned for perceived anti-government statements, ideas, and actions.
In 2006, non-unionized janitors at the University of Miami earned as little as $6.40 an hour and received no health insurance. Demanding higher wages and better working conditions, these janitors of mostly Haitian and Cuban descent began a campaign against the University of Miami with leadership from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
In the 1940s, Nazi Germany under the government of Adolf Hitler was advancing its conquest of Europe during the Second World War. By May 1940, Luxembourg, a small neutral country bordering Germany, was placed under military occupation by forces of the Third Reich. The meager resistance made by local police forces and customs officers at the border crossing was quickly crushed by the German Wehrmacht, the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany.
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.
In 1971 South-West Africa (now Namibia) had been under the rule of South Africa’s apartheid government for more than fifty years. Apartheid laws forced indigenous Namibian tribes to live in assigned tribal areas in the northern third of the country and required passes for movement within the country. The Ovambos were the main group of indigenous people, making up close to half the population, and inhabited the area called Ovamboland. The South African government had imposed a contract labor law system on all indigenous people.
The Civic Crusade in Panama was an effort by the Panamanian population to dislodge the military dictatorship of Manuel Noriega through the creation of political organizations and the mobilization of numerous demonstrations and protests. Panama’s military regime began in 1968 when Omar Torrijos Herrera, a populist general, led a coup and ousted Arnulfo Arias Madrid from the presidency of Panama.
In the southern Polish city of Kielce, in the late 2000s, a public bus company, MPK (Miejskie Przedsiębiorstwo Komunikacyjne), employed around 630 people and ran 160 buses regularly in the city. For several years, the company had been struggling to survive. It had been put under a traffic planning authority, ZTM, which controlled business operations and pushed it into debt. Working conditions were also unfavorable: wages were low, bus schedules didn't allow drivers regular breaks, and it became difficult for the company to hire new employees.
In the late 19th century, Russia’s autocracy, led by a Tsar (also czar), came under increasing attack. Alexander II was forced to liberate the serfs, but he was still assassinated in 1881 by a group called The People’s Will. His heir, Tsar Alexander III was badly shaken by this and launched a massive crackdown. In 1894, Nicholas II became Tsar and attempted to make a number of liberal reforms. For most, however, the reforms didn’t go far enough. In addition, a disastrous war with Japan from 1904-1905 shattered confidence in the Tsar’s ability to rule.
Beginning in the year 1944, French West Africa experienced economic difficulties. Prices continued to augment, while salaries remained the same. This was complicated by the fact that insufficient sales (because of the poor salaries) also affected the wages of the workers. Wanting an increase in wages, on December 22, 1945, the workers of the ports of the French Company in the city of Dakar organized a strike. The workers from the printing shops of Dakar and the Senegalese electrical factory in Saint Louis joined in the strike.
After only three years in office, the president of Suriname Jules Wijdenbosch became the target of harsh criticism and dissatisfaction because of his government’s management of the economy and domestic affairs. In 1998, the Dutch government had decided to stop aid to Suriname amid drug and financial mismanagement scandals, which increased the economic crisis. In May 1999, the struggling national economy reached a new low when its currency plummeted in value, from 800 guilders to the dollar to 2,000, and inflation was at 70%, inciting civil unrest and nationwide protests.
“This is how every worker feels it: with varying degrees of clarity they feel themselves living at a moment that could be decisive for their class, a moment in which all can be staked, everything risked, and perhaps everything lost.
The Kingdom of Tonga is a small island nation in the South Pacific. It is one of the few that did not undergo formal colonization, though became a British-protected state in 1900. Despite this, however, it has retained its own system of government: monarchy. The political structure of the country had barely changed since King Taufa’ahua drafted the constitution in 1875. The cabinet and 2/3 of the parliament are appointed by the king, so the people of the country have very little representation.
Before 1973, Uruguay had been one of few countries in South America with a near perfect record of political stability and a strong democracy (others included Chile and Costa Rica). The military coup in 1973 came as a profound shock to Uruguay. To make matters worse, this once peaceful nation was now living under a regime that used fear, threat, and intimidation to keep control of its populace.
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.
University of Washington Student Worker Coalition strikes against cutting higher education budgets, 2010
The University of Washington Student Worker Coalition (SWC) is a group created to advocate for the rights of students who work on campus and employees of the campus. The SWC has protested against worker abuses, unfair labor practices, and most recently, against budget cuts affecting employees of the University, student workers, and the student body as a whole.
In May 2007, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza announced a 34 percent salary increase for all civil servants in Burundi. This increase, which the government was to implement in July 2007, followed a year after the government had more than doubled the salaries of military and security personnel. Despite President Nkurunziza’s promise, the International Monetary Fund, which provided much of the international aid to Burundi, urged against the salary increase. Citing lack of funds, by September 2007 the government had still not implemented the 34 percent increase while Nku