Minds of the Movement

An ICNC blog on the people and power of civil resistance

#6: Beautiful Trouble Meets Ugly Dictator: Belarus’ History-Making Struggle for Democracy

By remaining nonviolent in defiance of a progressively brutal, 26-year-running dictatorship, Belarusians are embracing life over death but also doing so with a shrewd strategy in mind. The official results of the presidential election in Belarus last August indicated that more than 80 percent of votes were for the incumbent president Alexander Lukashenko, landing him his sixth consecutive term. But the majority of the population didn’t trust these numbers, believing that only very few people voted for Lukashenko. […]

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Top 10 Civil Resistance Stories of 2020 - Looking Forward

#7: 2020, The Year of Democratic Revolt in Thailand

Thailand’s ongoing democratic revolt is historically unprecedented. Not only does the movement systemically challenge deep-rooted autocracy, but through decentralized organization and a variety of creative tactics, it has been consistently nonviolent. The movement has emerged against all odds, both harsh repression on the one hand and disruptive impact of the pandemic on the other. Whether Thailand’s people power will succeed in pushing back against autocracy sheds light on the future success of nonviolent struggle against the current global wave of autocratization. […]

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Top 10 Civil Resistance Stories of 2020 - Looking Forward

#8: Tackling Confusion, Myths, and Unwarranted Fears: New Strides in Media Coverage of Movements in 2020

In 2020, civil resisters ripped the cover off long-held grievances and long-running wrongs. They fostered new coalitions from across the demographic spectrum. They changed the old “you say”/”I say” about race and justice into a frank conversation, an exercise in self-reflection and, as importantly, an exercise in listening. There is one other thing this year’s ubiquitous and unrelenting mass demonstrations for social justice accomplished: They produced a maturation in how the news media cover civil resistance, both in the United States and abroad.[…]

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Top 10 Civil Resistance Stories of 2020 - Looking Forward

#9: Can Hong Kong Be Free Again After the 2020 Crackdown?

On December 2, high-profile Hong Kong activists Joshua Wong and Agnes Chow received jail sentences for 13.5 months and 10 months, respectively, for peacefully surrounding the police headquarters in June 2019 against the Beijing-backed Hong Kong government. The next day, Jimmy Lai, publisher of the only pro-democracy newspaper the Apple Daily, was arrested and denied bail for violating the terms of the media’s lease. Hong Kongers have been protesting to defend freedoms and demand democracy for decades, to no avail. With all forms of open dissent being banned by 2020, Hong Kongers are wondering if and how they will be able to keep the fire burning and not give up. […]

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Top 10 Civil Resistance Stories of 2020 - Looking Forward

#10: Latin America’s Movements Commit to Nonviolent Discipline, Shift Toward Institutional Channels

The pandemic this year hasn’t stopped people in Latin America from gathering and pushing for their rights, justice, and democracy agendas. In some cases, government mismanagement or inaction on COVID-19 even provoked mass demonstrations, as was the case in Brazil. Yet this is not the only civil resistance trend one may identify in the region this year. Although violence remains an instrument of choice for many non-state groups, by and large, the stereotype of the armed guerrilla fighter as the symbol of a freedom fighter, which has plagued the collective conscience of Latin America for centuries, […]

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Ideas & Trends

How Democratic States Can Effectively Support Pro-Democracy Movements

“It took more than a month of nonviolent pro-democracy protests by Belarusians—met consistently with vicious repression by the Lukashenko government—before some democratic countries selectively imposed sanctions on key perpetrators of the regime. Democracies can and must do better in providing support and concrete assistance to pro-democracy movements and thus mitigate violence against unarmed people and, in the long run, help increase the chances of success for the pro-democracy resistance. […]”

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Interviews & People

How to Become Self-Taught in Civil Resistance in a Repressive Context and with Few Resources

Abdourahman embarked on self-study of the strategy of nonviolent action in a repressive climate. He had just served four years in prison for participating in an opposition coalition meeting for which he was serving as secretary general at the time. Simply by typing “how to bring down a dictatorship without violence” into a search engine, he discovered some key texts on nonviolent resistance that had been translated into French and made available free of charge on the websites of CANVAS, ICNC, and other educational organizations. […]

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