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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)

WION New Delhi, India Sep 20, 2016, 05.23 AM (IST) WION Edge
It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that we live in an era of protests that are increasingly getting violent. The protests in Kashmir, the violent anti-government protests in Congo and the ones that erupted in Dallas are just a few to name.

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


Source: AFP

Objective of protest: Independence of India from the British empire

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

Source: Sliptalk

Objective of protest: To achieve voting rights for women in the US.

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

Objective of protest: To achieve migrant farm workers’ rights in the US

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


Objective of protest: To promote world 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


Objective of protest: To achieve civil rights for African-American people.

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

Objective of protest: To end racial discrimination.

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


Objective of protest: To end racial segregation in public transit system.

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

Source: Wikicommons/ToBreatheAsOne

Objective of protest: Independence of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from the erstwhile USSR.

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


Objective of protest: To reverse the alleged attempt of authorities to rig 2004 presidential elections in Ukraine

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


Objective of protest: To highlight Zimbabwean government’s failure to provide citizens a dignified life.

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

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