On December 1, 1960, just after a rally in San Francisco, ten members of the Committee for Non-Violent Action marched out of the city, intent on marching across the country, all the way to Moscow in the Soviet Union. Their chances for success were slim. Despite the backing of the (admittedly small) CNVA, marching most of the way around the world is a monumental task. Even if the distance were not an issue, the Soviet Union was notoriously unsympathetic to peace groups or protest action in general. Breaching the Iron Curtain would not be easy.
In 2002 the provincial government of Chubut granted a gold mining concession to Meridian Gold, a Canadian mining company based out of Reno, Nevada, for a large open-pit gold mine just 7 kilometers from Esquel, Argentina. The local population was strongly opposed to this, due to the environmental impact that the mine would have, and decided to protest the action.
Early on in the Second World War, Bulgaria was a member of the Axis powers, having signed the Tripartite Pact on March 1, 1941. However, Bulgaria was not emotionally attached to the ideals of the major Axis powers. They simply signed on because they desired - and were guaranteed by Germany - the nearby territories of Thrace and Macedonia, which they had lost after their defeat in World War One. As a result, though Hitler was certainly a persuasive influence on Bulgaria’s foreign and domestic policy, he was not quite dictating every action taken by Bulgaria’s ruler, Tzar Boris III.
During the second half of the 20th century, Chinese society experienced profound and tumultuous changes. Communist rule was declared in 1949, and the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s resulted in much social and economic upheaval. Students were particularly hard hit by the changes made during the Cultural Revolution as university funding decreased and education quality deteriorated. Student resentment towards the Communist government was further exacerbated by the practices of nepotism and profiteering among party officials.
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.
For much of the nineteenth century, Finland was under Russian rule. This began in 1809 when Finland was made part of the Russian Empire. As part of the Russian Empire, Finland was autonomous in domestic policy but not foreign policy. Finland was allowed to create its own laws through its parliament, but Russian tsars controlled Finland and decided Finnish foreign affairs. Finns generally had no problem with this situation because the Russian government did not interfere with internal affairs.
In the 1840’s there were high tensions between Hungary and the Austrian Empire. Hungary, a part of the larger Austrian Empire, was characterized by nationalistic fervor and that feeling erupted in a violent insurgency in 1848. Franz Josef, the emperor of the Austrian Empire, forcefully put down the rebellion, with assistance from Russian military forces.
In 1954, a young military officer, Alfredo Stroessner, organized a military coup and overthrew Paraguayan President Federico Chávez. A devoted anti-communist, Stroessner declared a state of siege and suspended constitutional freedoms for the entirety of his 35-year rule. Throughout Stroessner’s last two decades in power, indigenous people organized widely to oppose the negative effects that his massive development projects were having on their communities.
The Baltic republics of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania achieved their independence from the Soviet Union by conducting movements based on nonviolence. Tactics included: nonviolent protests, noncooperation, and defiance to combat Soviet military intervention and political intrusion. The problems for Latvia in particular were born after the Soviet occupation following World War II. From that point forward the Soviet leaders employed a program to eradicate the previous Latvian society and to force the “Sovietization” of Latvian society.
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.
On July 19, 1979, the Nicaraguan revolution succeeded in overthrowing one of Latin America’s most long-lasting dictatorships: the Somoza dynasty. Leading the popular uprising was the Sandinista Front for National Liberation (FSLN) – a leftist revolutionary movement that had been fighting against the Somoza government for the previous 19 years. Throughout Latin America, the Sandinista Revolution brought cheers and euphoria. The early years of the revolutionary government brought dramatic improvements in the lives of poor Nicaraguans.
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.
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.
The Samoan archipelago, located in the southwest of the Pacific Ocean, is comprised of six main islands and several smaller ones. Prior to World War I, Germany and the United States occupied most of the Samoan Islands. During WWI, New Zealand, upon a request by Britain, captured German Samoa and established the British Military Occupation of Samoa. An influenza pandemic in November 1918 killed about 22% of the Samoan population. The administration's lack of response to the disaster became the foundation for Samoans grievances against the New Zealand administration.
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.
The 13 English colonies in North America were established and grew during the 17th and 18th centuries. During most of this time, the colonists lived under what historians have termed “salutary neglect,” meaning that the English government mostly left them alone and the colonies prospered under these conditions.
The United States government established, by treaty, the Bad River Reservation in Ashland County, Wisconsin, in 1854. The treaty allowed members of the Chippewa tribe to retain their rights to hunt and gather food in this area. In 1995, the Copper Range Mining Company decided to use a technique called solution mining to mine copper. Solution mining by the Copper Range Mining Company and Inmet, another mining company, required that large shipments of sulfuric acid be transported to the mines on railroad tracks that intersected with the reservation. Members of the Chip
Amidst the omnipresence of violence during World War II, nonviolent protest is often overlooked or unheard of. However, there were several resistance campaigns that took place in Germany, led by its own citizens. One such campaign in the period of 1942-1943 was the resistance initiated by the White Rose society. Although they were ultimately unsuccessful, the members of the White Rose became an influential example of student resistance against repressive regimes.
The Channel Islands, two British territories, fell under German occupation in 1940 during WWII. The Islands politically took on a policy of “passive cooperation.” Fearing a German monopolization of oil, Britain interned German civilians living in Persia in 1941. In retaliation, German soldiers deported 2200 Channel Islanders to internment camps in Germany and France. The majority of deported were English born males between the ages of 16 and 70.
Nagomo-Karabakh was an autonomous region in Azerbaijan that USSR’s leader Joseph Stalin took from Armenia during the Sovietization of Transcaucasia in the early 1920s, in an attempt to placate Turkey. The citizens of the region predominantly identified as Armenian (approximately 76%) and this also corresponded to a religious identification where Armenians are predominantly Christian while Azeris are predominantly Muslim.
At the beginning of April 1961, after nearly seven years of war in Algeria as France tried to maintain its control there, French President Charles de Gaulle announced that he would begin negotiations with the Algerian nationalists and soon relinquish control of the colony. At the time France had approximately 500,000 soldiers stationed in Algeria and very few remaining at home. Several of the generals in Algeria, however, did not want to concede to the Algerian nationalists.
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 Republic of Equatorial Guinea is a small country in Middle Africa that was a colony of Spain (Spanish Guinea) until 1968. Since a violent military coup in 1979, President Teodoro Obiang has ruled the country with the Democratic Party of Equatorial Guinea. In 2008, journalist Peter Maas called Obiang “Africa’s Worst Dictator” due to rampant corruption within the government and accusations from human rights groups of murder and torture.