Each week, ICNC features 5-10 news stories from around the world related to nonviolent conflict. These stories are shared with you via our website, our News Digest, Facebook, and/or Twitter. Featured news stories are ones that can stimulate conversation about the phenomena of nonviolent conflict and civil resistance. ICNC does not necessarily endorse any of the views expressed in these articles or any comments left by visitors to our site. Featured articles remain posted for 30 days, after which time they can be found by searching our nonviolent conflict news database.
Amanda Taub, Vox, July 8, 2015
To President Putin, ex-Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych’s fate is a reminder of the danger protests could pose to his own regime, i.e. he could be ousted from power via "Maidan technology." Although Putin tends to couch those fears in warnings of "foreign coups" or "CIA plots", his concern is that a mass protest movement could force him into an impossible choice between popular support, political control, and the loyalty of Russia’s elite. The elite “would never make the first move, but they will join the winning side," said Ilya Ponomarev, a former Russian lawmaker who now lives in exile. For all of Putin’s apparent strength in crushing political dissent, this reveals weakness against his own elites.
Samson Yuen and Edmund Cheng, ChinaFile, July 1, 2015
Those in power, whether they sit in Beijing or in Hong Kong, now face a society that will be increasingly difficult to govern in the same old way. Members of Hong Kong’s younger generations are now asking for what they believe they deserve—not a promising course of socio-economic development, but the right to determine the future for themselves. For now, the city might have returned to normal. But if the government thought that all it took to return everything to normal was a clearing of the streets, history will prove them wrong. A few hours before the police cleared the streets of the last protestors, a large yellow banner bearing the image of an umbrella still hung saying, “It’s just the beginning.”
Erica Chenoweth, Political Violence at a Glance, July 7, 2015
Authoritarian regimes are now pushing back against civil society, activists, and oppositionists, seeing them as a direct threat to the established order. Maria J. Stephan, an expert on nonviolent movements, notes that "regimes have figured out that ‘people power’ endangers their grip on power and they are cracking down. There’s no better evidence of the effectiveness of civil resistance than the measures that governments take to suppress it." She recommends “that external actors increasingly embrace a movement mindset and develop flexible means to support non-traditional civil society actors who are in the best position to mobilize people around shared democratic goals.”
Jessica Evans, Al Jazeera, July 8, 2015
People who suffer harm because of development projects financed by the World Bank Group take grave risks to speak out and often face severe consequences. Yet the Bank has taken few concrete steps to protect community members from harassment and ensure that people can speak freely. In Cambodia security forces have jailed Nget Khun, a 75-year-old community activist on several occasions for protesting evictions stemming from projects financed by the World Bank. The bank has strongly opposed the government’s plan to evict people from their homes, but it has been silent about the attacks on outspoken community members. Deterring such reprisals entails publicly establishing the bank’s support for the rights and safety of community members and activists.
Van Langendonck, McClatchy, July 8, 2015
A group of nonviolent activists called “Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently” was formed in April of last year, at a time when the Islamic State did not dominate world news, hence the “silently” in its name. One of the group’s tactics is to post anti-Islamic State pamphlets overnight on walls in Raqqa and elsewhere, while filming the act and posting the result online. “Of course, nobody wants to die for a poster,” says one member, “but it is one of the few weapons we have, and it annoys the hell out of Daash (“Dulat al-Islam fi al-Iraq wal-Sham” – “the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria”). Humor is another method. “Daash rules through fear,” says one activist. “If we can make people laugh at them we break through the fear barrier.”
Sandy Tolan, The Daily Beast, July 7, 2015
Momentum in the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation is coming from the campaign of nonviolent direct confrontation of Israel by Palestinian civil society and its international supporters. The BDS campaign in particular has made significant symbolic gains in recent years, as artists, scientists including Stephen Hawking, and European trade unions have observed a cultural and academic boycott of Israel, or divest holdings of companies like Caterpillar, the maker of bulldozers that raze Palestinian houses and olive groves. Mustafa Barghouti, an opposition leader and a founder of BDS, said that “it is exposing Israel as a system of apartheid. And that’s what they are unhappy with.”
Daniela Gallardo, Global Voices, July 8, 2015
A new legislative initiative by President Correa is facing a setback this week, following protests in several cities. President Correa's draft law would impose a progressive tax on inheritances greater than $35,400 and a 75 percent tax on “surplus profits” associated with capital gains and real estate. Recently Correa addressed the nation, saying he would temporarily withdraw the tax initiative, in order to ensure a “peaceful and joyous” environment during Pope Francis’ visit. But protests and political opposition to the tax hikes have not dissipated.
Minivan News via Focus News, July 9, 2015
The president’s office has rescheduled a third meeting in ongoing talks with the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) for Sunday, July 12. The government is due to propose mechanisms to release jailed opposition politicians and withdraw charges against some 1,400 opposition supporters. The long-awaited talks have raised hope of an end to a six-month long crisis triggered by the arrest and imprisonment of former democratically elected president Mohamed Nasheed. He was transferred to house arrest in late June. After that, the MDP agreed to begin talks without the opposition leader.
Karen Avedissian, openDemocracy, July 6, 2015
The "Electric Yerevan" organisers are now disseminating protester guidelines and organising a general assembly with broad representation from civic initiatives and thematic working groups open to the public for discussing issues. The sustained social interaction and the expressing of values and grievances through these protests have reinforced peoples' identities. This can take the movement through lulls in mobilisation and increase the likelihood of future mobilisation. Electric Yerevan has provided a chance to tie individual identities to collective ones through contention – a crucial resource of citizen empowerment in a non-democratic state.
Juan Cole, Informed Comment, July 6, 2015
That the Syriza Party urged a “no” vote on the debt referendum is in part of function of the youth vote and the positions taken by Syriza’s youth wing. At Gezi Park in Istanbul, Turkish youth challenged an autocratic leader over his determination to erase public space in favor of a mall. The ruling party cracked down hard, but two years later, it lost its majority. The youth at Gezi were prescient. In Chile since 2011 there has been a vigorous student protest movement demanding free tuition for higher education. And Arab youth kicked off vast changes in 2011, bringing democracy to Tunisia and gaining a much better constitution for Morocco. Now Greece has rejected austerity policies in favor of the risk-taking of the young.