A series of revolutionary movements aimed at freeing India from British colonial rule started in the early 1900s. In an effort to overthrow the British Empire and to end colonial rule, Indian revolutionaries and organizations undertook several tactics to free the region and become an independent country. Under colonial rule, the British government authority started penal colonies––one of which was established in Pakistan––to house Indian prisoners where they faced forced labor and worse conditions in contrast to English prisoners.
University of Sydney students uncover and protest discrimination of Aboriginal people in New South Wales, 1965
In 1965, a group of student students at the University of Sydney who were members of Student Action for Aborigines (SAFA) embarked on a two week bus ride through several towns and villages in New South Wales to draw attention to the prevalent discrimination against Aborigines in Australia. This campaign is often credited with directing national and international attention to the ongoing human rights violations against Aboriginal people and leading to the 1967 referendum that approved two amendments relating to Aboriginal rights and status in Australia.
The city of Rio de Janeiro is home to 6 million people with approximately 1.5 million residents living in favelas. These residential communities, named after the favela trees native to the region, are commonly misunderstood by outsiders. Although 32% of favela residents belong to the lower-class, a 2013 study found that 85% of people residing in favelas like where they live. Some favelas have high crime rates, but many are high-functioning, self-governing communities.
In 1942 the Canadian government used the War Measures Act to force eighteen Chippewa families from Stony Point First nation off their land. The land, which came to be camp Ipperwash, was used for military proposes, and the federal government agreed to return the land once they were done with it. This land is traditional burial grounds of the Chippewa Natives, but the Canadian government broke their promise and never returned the land.
On August 23rd, 1966, the workers of the Wave Hill Station in Northern Territory, Australia, participated in a walk off led by Vincent Lingiari. The workers felt oppressed by the low wages, poor working and living conditions they received at the Wave Hill Station. The Indigenous people known to be part of the Gurindji Tribe were pastoral workers situated at Vesteys' Wave Hill station. The Vestey family was a rich British family that owned many acres of land and companies in Australia.
In 20th century Australia indigenous workers were treated completely differently from the Caucasian settlers on the continent. Until the 1920s, for example, Aboriginals employed at pastoral stations in Australia received rations of clothing and food instead of cash wages.
In 1960 South Africa was under the rule of the National Party, which was imposing harsh, demeaning laws on black South Africans. The party was made up entirely of white people, mostly the descendants of Dutch immigrants. The party was devoted to apartheid and white supremacy, maintained through a collection of policies, including the pass laws.
In 1941 the pay disparity between black South African mine workers and white South African workers was R70 to R848, respectively. The African Mine Workers’ Union (AMWU) formed in response to address this issue. By 1946 the 12:1 ratio of pay had not changed, as black workers were paid R87 while white workers were paid R1,106.
Heligoland (also spelled Helgoland) is an archipelago 46 kilometers off the German coastline in the North Sea. The two small islands are less than 2 square kilometers in total, but the British, Danish and Germans have hotly contested the land over the centuries. In the Second World War, the British Air Force frequently bombed the islands, most notably in air to sea battles in 1939 and in 1945, when the residents of the island were forced to abandon their rock shelters and evacuate due to an enormous Allied air raid.
On February 4, 1976, a massive earthquake hit the highlands of Guatemala and displaced more than one million people. Indigenous groups from the departments of Sacatepequez, Chimaltenango, Guatemala, and Quiche were hit the hardest and the weak response from the national government brought to light the racial inequalities affecting indigenous peoples.
In the 1950s, revolution was brewing in the Belgian Congo. Africans living in colonized countries felt the winds of change swirling as their mother countries in Europe struggled to stand back up after suffering often devastating defeats in World War II, championing the ideal self determination and freedom while continuing to oppress their colonies.
The Kingdom of Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975. Morocco has retained control of the majority of the territory, with the nationalist Sahrawi (the ethnic group of the Sahara, mostly those from Western Sahara) Polisario Front, controlling only 20-25% of the land. The Polisario Front has declared the entire Western Sahara territory to be the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (RASD), which has been recognized by close to 80 other countries and granted membership to the African Union.
Sahrawis campaign for human rights and independence in the first intifada, Western Sahara, 1999-2004
In 1975, the Kingdom of Morocco invaded the Western Sahara territory, which had previously been a Spanish colony. Morocco, led by King Hassan II, attacked just as the territory was expected to gain independence from Spain for the first time. Morocco’s actions disobeyed a United Nations Security Council resolution stating that the people of Western Sahara had the right to self determination. The nationalist Sahrawi (the ethnic group of the Sahara, mostly from Western Sahara) Polisario Front, which had been fighting the Spanish, then turned its attention towards Morocco and
African American auto workers strike for union democracy and better working conditions (DRUM), 1968-1970
Detroit, Michigan had long served as a world center for auto manufacturing. A number of U.S. automobile manufacturers centered their operations in the city, including Ford, Chrysler and General Motors. For decades, as well, the city was a center of racial conflict in the country. Following World War II, a number of white soldiers had returned to Detroit to find their manufacturing jobs “taken” by women and, more so, African American men. A number of Black workers were forced out of their jobs, though many remained.
Egypt became a British protectorate on December 14, 1914. During World War I agitation towards the British increased as all sects of the population united in their discontent. British rule caused Egypt’s involvement in the war to increase – 1.5 million Egyptians were conscripted in the Labour Corps and much of the country’s infrastructure was seized for the army – contributing to the dissatisfaction.
In 1957 A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin initiated a campaign to pressure the U.S. government to intervene for the civil rights of African Americans.
Randolph, 68, was the acknowledged “elder” among civil rights leaders, with a base in the labor movement. Rustin, 57, was a veteran civil rights and peace activist who had coached Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott.
Editor's Note: We recognize that the inclusion of this case in a database of nonviolent action may be controversial because of the campaigner violence at certain points during the campaign. However, we have concluded that the campaigner violence was minimal under the circumstances. We also believe that the inclusion of this largely nonviolent campaign will offer strategic lessons on the use of nonviolence in similar struggles. Many prisoners campaigns in this database have been focused around the method of the hunger strike.
By the end of World War II, the Soviet Union had invaded and taken over much of Czechoslovakia. The Communist Party officially came to power in February 1948, and under its rule dissidents faced persecution by secret police, censorship was enforced, Marxist-Leninist ideology was proclaimed mandatory in schools, and all schools, media, and businesses became the possessions of the state.
In order to strengthen their hold on political and economic power, the white settlers of British-controlled Northern Rhodesia sought to unite the British colonial territories of Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland during the late 1930s and 1940s. This was a response to the growing strength of African organizations (e.g.
In 1970, Puerto Rico was a non-sovereign territory of the United States. Its residents were U.S. citizens but could not vote in presidential elections, nor did they have political representation in the U.S. Congress, although they could serve and be drafted in the U.S. armed forces. At the beginning of the 20th century, the U.S. Navy eliminated the principal town on the island of Culebra and evicted its residents so that a marine base could be built. In 1941, President Roosevelt claimed exclusive rights to the air space above Culebra as well as a three-mile wide radius around the island.
During the time of British occupation of India, peasants of Champaran district of the Bihar state were highly exploited by the indigo cultivation. The lessees of Indigo and agricultural areas had been Indians until 1793, but as the British Empire began its rule in India, European planters began to take over and gained total control of the indigo and sugar cane cultivation.
In March 1942, the British Parliament sent a delegation to India under Sir Stafford Cripps, a Labor Party Politician, in order to negotiate with the Indian National Congress a constitution that would secure Indian support of World War II. The Indian National Congress (INC) found the proposal for the new constitution unsatisfactory, since the draft declaration promised India domination status—but not complete independence—in return for its total cooperation during the war.
On March 10, 2008, the Tibetan Uprising Day, a protest against China's occupation of Tibet took place in Lhasa, Tibet’s administrative capital. Worried about the worsening human rights situation inside Tibet, participants intended to use the Olympics’ spotlight to attract international support for the Tibetan cause and to pressure the Chinese government to end its occupation of Tibet, to put a stop to its abuses against Tibetan citizens and supporters, and to ultimately respect Tibet’s sovereignty.
French-occupied Syria was facing darkening hopes for more independence from France at the end of 1935. The major Syrian nationalist party, the National Bloc, was losing power, the Syrian Parliament was adjourned and the government in power was under the unpopular Shaikh Taj al-Din al-Hasani. France was also refusing to negotiate a new treaty with Syria. In a move to squash the National Bloc altogether, the French authorities closed the office of the National Bloc in Damascus on January 20, 1936, and arrested two leaders from the Bloc: Fakhri al-Barudi and Sayf al-Din al-Ma’min.
The villagers of Goth Muhammad Issa Khaskheli have lived on and farmed their village for the past fifty years, in Sanghar, Sindh, Pakistan. In 2003, a nearby feudal lord, Varyaam Faqir, began encroaching upon their land, despite the fact that they held documented ownership from the Pakistani government. Over a period of years, he began threatening the villagers and forcing them into working in his fields for free.