nonviolent protest training

it is essential to have a vision and strategic plan and to develop the tactics and campaigns necessary to achieve it. people need to need to feel that they have elected to be a part of the nonviolent action. i think you are right that there has been a shift in the amount of resources available and commitment to learning in movements that draw deeply on nonviolence theory and the experince of movements around the world. these might constitute the “core package” of concepts that need to be delivered in a training. you can find lesson plans that relate to a number of these areas in the curriculum (entitled: a guide to effective nonviolent struggle) that i co-authored with the centre for applied nonviolent action and strategies (canvas) i’m new to this web page – although i seem to know or know of quite a few of the contributors. i believe that is for the members of those organizations to decide for themselves. a vision is a picture of what the movement wants some part of society to look like when the struggle is complete. for example, a group that wants the right to unionize and better working conditions may have several campaigns as part of their strategic plan. having a clear vision that you can tell others makes it much easier to engage them, gain their support for that vision, and keep them involved in the different stages of the struggle. in australia, people have so many different ideas about what they want to change and how (say in the climate change movement), and i agree that this lack of unity of purpose inhibits the movement success. likewise with human rights, the student may respond to the idea of human rights when it is expressed as the right to intellectual freedom and the right to question authority, while the laborer may respond to human rights when it is expressed as a guarantee that they won’t be arrested or beaten for demonstrating that they want an increase in pay or benefits. communicating the vision of tomorrow effectively with different groups




once a movement has a unifying vision, they have to learn how to communicate it to different groups in society.

therefore, another lesson from the vision of tomorrow exercise that we emphasize is for workshop participants to listen to how the role players from different groups expressed their aspirations. in other words, sometimes unity doesn’t come at the beginning of a nonviolent struggle, but it can come later on once people see that one particular group or organization is competent, has achieved some victories, and is capable of achieving the inclusive vision of tomorrow that it has set for itself. strategy represents basicaly the goals and mission that an individual and/or team of practitioners are trying to achieve in the course of their envolvement in a conflict/area/region. leadership in the conduct of nonviolent struggles is a big interesting question that needs more discussion, but i digress… one thing for sure: shared, collective leadership is becoming increasingly possible, thanks to more and more strategy tools and campaign design exercises being created and disseminated around the world. nonviolent action, on the other hand, is generally a ‘non-institutional’ form of struggle, which in the classic sense aims to undermine the power of the opponant to continue the injustice or abuse.

on the question of mainstream human rights courses in schools, and their relationship to nonviolent action theory and practice, i would also argue that the two should be taught together. it is important to acknowledge that the repression and the dangers associated with nonviolent action are real. one form of this exercise to understand and design “dilemma actions” can be found in the above-mentioned canvas book. tiananmen square is an example of the choice to concentrate forces that sharp highlighted as a strategic mistake. so that activists have more capacity and tools to judge the political climate as accurately as possible and select tactics from a solid assessment of risk. a benefit to being able to reframe tactics in this way is the psycological and emotional benefits that can help activists to overcome what can be overwhelming feelings of helplessness and fear when repression comes down hard. tactics that are public and that concentrate people in a small area (such as protests) usually are the easiest actions for an opponent to repress—they don’t require much of the opponent’s time, human, or material resources. there is also a category of tactics called “dilemma actions” that are important to understand and that can help raise the cost of repression for the opponent as well. all of us (myself, bianca and zsuzsa)are working in projects in moldova-transdniestria conflict and would be open to share by email in the future if wanted. in the build up to action otherwise known as the process of solidirisation here, people are to be encouraged to stay in the process and remain focused until they reach their final goal but also agree that how to do that could be an uphill task. but i know that the stress and violence is nowhere near the level of what activist can experience at so many direct action these days and its so important that people have opportunities to rolplay these things first. you give a great example of what training for nonviolent action is meant to do – give people an opportunity to learn, practice skills and integrate these skills so thoroughly that they can apply what has been learned to their real life experiences. but even without a formal debriefing session led by a facilitator, the act of debriefing is a skill that trainers would do well to teach to participants: action and reflection. a one-day preparatory workshop was required of anyone wishing to take part in the search and seizure operation…. a dilemma… even in training! media reports that morning said police had advised hospitals in the region to be ready for a high numbers of injuries on the day of the search and seizure operation, as they expected a riot. we forget to see the vast number of relationships in our “terrain” and the potential areas we can impact. one model i find useful in terms of methodology and design is the ‘spiral model’ by the doris marshall institute (no longer active but previously based in toronto) /01_cms/details.asp?id=36 , which essentially follows an action learning cycle but with some guidelines for desgning experiential process: 1. start with the experience of participants 2. look for patterns 3. add new information and theory 4. practice skills, strategise and plan for action 5. apply in action and the spiral starts again.

tactic. ø participants cannot pick protests, demonstrations, marches or rallies – in order to encourage them to think “out of but discipline does not come easy to the kind of people who protest against the way things are, which is why training in the serbian civil protest group otpor! grew from a handful of students into an eighty thou- sand–person movement that, nonviolence training, nonviolence training, nonviolent direct action training, nonviolence training civil rights movement, civil disobedience training.

as part of the new england nonviolence trainers’ network, afsc sene has access to a diverse community of trainers and. we strongly urge you to seek training in methods of nonviolent action. historically, nonviolence training was used extensively during the civil rights movement, in gandhi’s campaigns in india we insist that all non-violence training must include a strong and dedicated the soa represents through vigils and fasts, demonstrations and nonviolent protest, as well as media and legislative work., civil rights protest training, nonviolent civil disobedience training, nonviolent action training, notes from a nonviolent training session

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