Walpole was a maximum-security prison in South Walpole, Massachusetts. The campaign by prisoners under the National Prisoners Reform Association (NPRA) to take control of Walpole Prison, with support from citizen observers, formed part of a larger movement of opposition to cruelties of the prison system. At the time, prison abolition was on the agenda in U.S. society as an idea to consider. A 1971 prisoner takeover at Attica Prison acted as a lightning bolt by showing the horror of the prison yard. The NPRA emerged on a national level in this context.
Walpole was a maximum-security prison in South Walpole, Massachusetts. The Observer Program’s campaign to bring civilian volunteers into Walpole Prison formed part of a larger movement of opposition to cruelties of the prison system. It also coincided with, and helped to support, a campaign by inmates at Walpole under a local chapter of the National Prisoners Reform Association (NPRA) to take control of the prison. Read about the prisoners’ nonviolent campaign in this database: “U.S. prisoners take control of Walpole Prison, 1973”.
Mississippi catfish plant workers win wage increase and better working conditions in Indianola, 1991
Indianola, Mississippi is home to the Delta Pride catfish factory. Although Mississippi is among the poorest states in the US, catfish farming accounts for $350 million a year and is the state's largest agricultural industry. Owned by a cooperative of 400-500 white landowners, massive tracts of land in the Mississippi River Delta are artificially flooded to create ponds conducive to farming and processing catfish. While truck drivers and loaders tend to be African American men, most line workers are African American women, often single heads of households.
Beginning in 1948, the white “apartheid” government of South Africa forced the black majority to live as second-class citizens, condemned to poverty and restricted in their freedoms by a system of legalized oppression. On the other side of the globe, in the 1970s, progressive activists in the United States found themselves absent a cause after the end of the civil rights movement and Vietnam War. The blatant atrocity of apartheid seemed a good target. Activists realized that American corporations were supporting the apartheid regime by operating subsidiaries in South Afric
In 2000, students at the University of California-Berkeley began to consider the use of divestment as a means of showing their dismay with the Israeli occupation of Palestine. On February 6, 2001, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) formed and officially launched their campaign for divestment from corporations that supported the Israeli occupation. The group’s decision to launch a divestment campaign inspired colleges and universities nation wide to launch their own campaigns.
On August 3, 1981, nearly 13,000 of the 17,500 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), a United States trade union, staged a walkout and strike. The union intended the strike to address four main concerns:
In 1983, Pakistan’s infamous Hudood Ordinances made it possible for the state to punish Safia, a blind 15-year-old victim of rape. Her crime? She was raped, but could not bring four male Muslim witnesses to prove it. The judge convicted Safia for adultery, ordered public flogging and sentenced her to three years in prison. Women’s activists from across Pakistan took to the streets to protest this judgment and the Hudood Ordinances that made the conviction possible.
In the late 1740s most people were suffering for lack of food on the east coast of China, in Jiangsu province. Grain prices were escalating and the people demanded that local government officials step in and establish price controls. They expected relief from the government against the merchants’ price-gouging, because of a cultural change that was happening in China at the time.
Chinese elites and commoners use city gods and direct action to hasten flood relief, Qing China, 1742
During the 1740s, early modern China was undergoing a profound transformation. After decades trying to recover from the turbulent transition from the Ming dynasty to the Qing dynasty, a new era of stability was descending upon the empire, allowing for healthy growth of the economy and the expansion of the market economy.
From 3 to 18 December 2008, over 100 activists participated in a nationwide bicycle convoy in Malaysia, spanning the eastern length of the country's peninsular section, in order to garner public and governmental attention to issues that they considered to be among the most pressing concerns facing Malaysia society.
In July 2007 the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of Bolivia, which goes by the Spanish acronym CIDOB (La Confederación de Pueblos Indígenas de Bolivia), launched their Sixth Indigenous March campaign.
CIDOB is a national organization representing most of Bolivia’s eastern lowland indigenous groups. Included under the CIDOB banner were regional Amazonian indigenous groups, Guaranís, Guarayos, and others.
On 10 April 1606, King James I of England approved a royal charter establishing the Virginia Company of London. The aim of the company was to found North American colonial settlements with the purpose of providing a profit for its English investors. The next year, an expedition funded by the company established Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America.
One of the most fundamental characteristics of civilization is the rule of law. For the last few millennia, it has been recognized that as levels of human organization expand past the size of tribes and villages into more complex societies such as cities and federations it is, in principle, beneficial to justice for people to submit to commonly agreed upon rules enforced by a legal system.
Beginning with the cacao surge during the 1870s, the conservative landowners in the Sierra and liberal exporting bourgeoisie in the Coastal region had fought for control of Ecuador. Indigenous and lower class Ecuadorians quickly became marginalized, and were extremely frustrated by this by the early 1900s. By this time, Ecuadorian politics and politicians were known to be corrupt and both the lower and even upper classes of society were disenchanted. This was only exacerbated by tough economic times, as the 1929 US Stock market crash greatly affected the Ecuadorian economy.
By 2009, post-election violence had killed 1,500 people and forced 600,000 from their homes. In order to end this violence, President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga agreed to share leadership power in Kenya. However, this relationship began to deteriorate due to the leaders’ divergent policies and visions for the country. In April 2009, activist women in Kenya took matters into their own hands and organized a seven-day sex strike to force their leaders to reconcile and move forward.
The “Gulf of Tonkin Incident” in early August 1964 marked the beginning of dramatic escalation of the United States’ involvement in the civil war in Vietnam. As a close ally, Australia made a commitment to support the United States’ intervention in Southeast Asia. To support the war effort, Prime Minister Robert Menzies’s Liberal government introduced conscription for national military service on November 10, 1964. A few months later on April 29, Menzies announced that Australian troops, including National Service conscripts, would be sent to Vietnam to assist in the American war effort.
Despite the authoritarian nature of Fidel Castro’s Cuban Communist Party and its reputation for harsh treatment of dissident uprisings, many Cuban opposition groups persisted in calling for a more democratic Cuba throughout the late 20th century and into the new millennium. (See “Cubans petition for democratic reforms, 1998-2003” for more information on Cuba’s political history)
In December 2010, Bolivian president Evo Morales announced that the government would be unable to continue subsidizing fuel prices. In addition to changes in the cost of fuel, which increased by more than 80% without subsidies, the price of food and other commodities also skyrocketed in the same period. Morales reinstated the fuel subsidies after a week of widespread protest, but the price of food remained high.
In the midst of the depression sweeping the globe during the 1930s, Portugal’s finance minister, António de Oliveira Salazar, established the Estado Novo (the New State), a right-wing, pro-Catholic, corporatist authoritarian regime. Based on “patriotism, paternalism, and prudence,” Salazar promised financial stability and economic growth. By the 1960s, Portugal was enjoying reasonably stable economic growth, but nearly all of that growth was absorbed by either Portugal’s “twenty families” or the regime.
According to the World Bank, about $1 trillion (USD) is paid in bribes annually worldwide; in India, alone, the economy is estimated to have lost half a trillion (USD) to corruption since her independence, and more than half of the country is estimated to have first-hand experience paying bribes or influence peddling.
The practice of female genital cutting (FGC) or circumcision has been a prevalent tradition in many African nations for generations. The practice, which involves removing the clitoris or entire external genitalia of young girls without anesthetic, is seen as necessary in many places to deem a woman acceptable for marriage, however young girls have died from infection due to the process. In Senegal, the tradition has been especially prevalent, where one in five girls underwent the procedure before puberty.
Dominican activists challenge Rafael Trujillo’s dictatorship (Fourteenth of June Movement), 1959-1960
Rafael Leónidas Trujillo ruled the Dominican Republic from the moment he won the fraudulent elections of 1930, up until his assassination in 1961. Through his more than thirty-year rule, Trujillo demanded strict obedience from all Dominicans, and had no qualms in using repressive actions to force compliance or eliminate dissent. In fact, Trujillo and his regime were accountable for more than 50,000 deaths.
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.
Since coming to power in 1959, Cuban leader Fidel Castro systematically repressed any voice of dissent under his regime. Tens of thousands of citizens labeled dissidents were arrested and imprisoned in the years following the revolution. By 1960, all newspapers, radio and television stations were strictly censored by the Department of Revolutionary Orientation. The Interior Ministry exercised its authority by closely monitoring citizens for any sign of dissent.
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