11 peaceful protests from across the world
An African American woman named Rosa Parks refused to give her seat to a white man in Alabama. Photograph: (Reuters)
Resistance, however, does not always have to be violent to yield results. Here are some non-violent protests from across the world that have led to change in the past.
1. The Salt March
Method adopted: The Salt march, also known as ‘Dandi march’ or ‘Salt Satyagraha’, was a civil disobedience movement led by M K Gandhi. In 1930, Gandhi along with his followers embarked on a non-violent protest march against the British ‘salt tax’ which went through a 241-mile trek and ended with the protesters breaking the salt law.
Impact: Proved as a watershed event in the long run, although was not immediately successful.
2. Women’s Suffrage Parade
Method adopted: The Woman Suffrage Procession of 1913, spearheaded by Alice Paul and Inez Milholland, was infused with allegory and symbolism. Clad in a white robe and astride a white horse, suffragist Milholland led the peaceful parade down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC. More than 5,000 marchers accompanied her to make this demonstration one of the most important ones in the 82-year long struggle to achieve voting rights for women.
Impact: Successful in drawing attention towards the cause.
3. Delano Grape Boycott
Image by Joel Levine
Method adopted: The walkout from the fields staged by US’ Filipino farm workers, demanding wages equal to federal minimum wage on September 8, 1965 marked the beginning of the grape strike. In an attempt to pressurise the grape growers and the government to give in to the demands of farm workers, civil rights activist and labour leader ‘Cesar Chavez’ changed the focus from a strike to a complete boycott of California grapes in 1967.
Impact: Five-year long movement ended in a significant victory.
4. Bed-in for Peace
Method adopted: Beatles legend John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono staged a peaceful protest against Vietnam war by holding a week-long bed-in in the Amsterdam Hilton hotel for the world media. During the protest, Lennon and Ono invited the press to their hotel room every day and talked about peace. The bed-in was staged during the couple’s honeymoon between March 25 to March 31, 1969.
Impact: Started a conversation and received attention as a work of art.
5. March on Washington
Method adopted: Held on August 28, 1963 in Washington DC, the ‘March on Washington’ was a political demonstration against racial discrimination. The march, led by Martin Luther King Jr, witnessed participation from over 2,00,000 people in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial. It was one of the largest public protests of that time.
Impact: Helped in the passage of 1964 Civil Rights Act.
6. Olympics Black Power salute
Source: Flickr Newtown graffiti
Method adopted: African-American sprinters Tommie Smith (won gold) and John Carlos (won bronze) used the 1968 Olympic victories in Mexico City to show their opposition to the continued oppression of the African-American people in the US. Smith and Carlos stood atop the podium with their heads bowed and black-gloved fists raised in the air.
Impact: Widely criticised at that time; seen as a great act of solidarity now.
7. Montgomery Bus Boycott
Method adopted: On December 1, 1955, an African-American woman named Rosa Parks refused to give her seat to a white man in Alabama. During that time, the African-Americans were allowed to sit only on the latter half of the bus seats as per law, while the seats on the front half were reserved for whites. Hence, this incident led to the arrest of Parks, which sparked off a 13-month long mass protest in the form of Montgomery (Alabama) bus boycott against the racial segregation policy.
Impact: Led to the passage of a ruling in June 1956 which declared Alabama’s racial segregation laws in public transit system as unconstitutional.
8. The Singing Revolution
Method adopted: As a means of peaceful protest, the Singing Revolution involved thousands of people gathering publicly to sing patriotic songs, which were forbidden by the Soviet Union occupiers. In their effort to attain independence, the people from Estonia risked their lives by making protest speeches.
Impact: The revolution finally became a success, after four years of protest, in 1991.
9. Orange Revolution
Method adopted: During the Orange Revolution, Ukrainian protesters gathered at the Independence Square in Ukraine’s capital ‘Kiev’. In a nation-wide non-violent protest, the demonstrators stayed out on streets, staged sit-ins and strikes.
Impact: Ukraine’s Supreme Court ordered revote.
10. #ThisFlag Movement
Method adopted: A 39-year-old man, Pastor Evan, put a Zimbabwean flag around his neck and made a video decrying the state of economy in Zimbabwe. This digital activism also saw the involvement of other people from the country, subsequently.
Impact: The video garnered thousands of hits on Facebook.
11. The Wall Street Movement
Objective of protest: To draw attention towards social and economic inequality and corruption.
Method adopted: Inspired by Spain's anti-austerity protests, the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement witnessed peaceful protests by people who claimed to be struggling economically. These people began sleeping in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan’s financial district 'Wall Street'. The movement, which was initiated by a few people, quickly grew significantly as more and more people were mobilised.
Impact: Received extensive coverage by the media.
Contributions by Shashwat Mittal & Ashna Mishra