Dominant Figures of Non Violent Protests

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One of the actors of the film "Everyday Rebellion" – Srđa Popović, is an activist of the Serbian movement “Otpor” (Resistance). This was a movement supporting the destruction of the regime of Slobodan Milošević. In 2003, after a short political career in Serbia he established the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies. CANVAS worked with pro-democracy activists promoting the use of non-violent resistance to achieve political and social objectives. In contrast, I would like to first introduce the pioneers who inspired and guided many people all over the world to fight for a better tomorrow. They planted ideas and made significant changes in the history of mankind. Conversely, I agree with a nonviolent resistance approach. This is because after years of yoga practice I now better understand Gandhi and his ideas. I understand its concept and what is truly important. If you want to fight for better conditions in your life, you have to first believe in your ideas, to change yourself, to be prepared to sacrifice and also to find nonviolent methods to spread your ideas. By doing this you can first be heard so that you have the opportunity for others to agree with you. In my view, this approach is the best way you can change something for the better. It will however take a long time for signs and results. At times it could take more than decades and persistence always leads to change. Violence can only result in more violence, rage leading to catastrophe ending with war and victims.

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Civil disobedience is the refusal of citizens to comply with the demands and laws of the government, in a non-violent manner with collective mass participation. Civil disobedience means non-violent resistance primarily as a means of expressing one's views. I would like to discussed historical examples such as the Gandhi resistance movement in India during the struggle for independence from British colonial domination, Martin Luther King's struggle for American black people for civil rights, protests against Milosevic's regime in Serbia during the last decade of the 20th century.

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi - Mahatma (1869. – 1948.) – “great soul” was one of the first theoretician and practitioner of “non-violent revolution”. He directed the nonviolent resistance movement that eventually led to India's independence from Britain in 1947. When Gandhi returned to his native India during World War I through till the Indian Independence Act of 1947, Mahatma Gandhi was the prominent figure of Indian independence movement who opposed British imperial rule in India. For Gandhi it was easy as he was from India. Indians through centuries respects Ahimsa. It was religious principle. The religion Buddhism and Jainism preached Ahimsa. Hinduism also practiced Ahimsa for the attainment of liberation.

The philosophical texts ‘The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali’ is essencial book and guide for every yogi. In Sutra II. 29 - Patanjali make a list of values that we have to implement in our life and they present Limbs of Yoga. He set the foundation of a traditional yoga in the Sutras with ‘Eight Limbs of Yoga’: ethical principles (yamas), moral principles (niyamas), yoga positions (asana), yogic breathing (pranayama), withdrawal of senses (pratyahara), concentration (dharana) and self-regulation (samadhi). Each limb is part of yoga and when we implement all that in our daily routine, we can live meaningful life and we will be able to achive Samadhi – state of bliss and freedom. The first limb is ‘Yamas’ and we can translate them like Restraints.


Ahimsa – ‘Non-killing’

Satya – ‘Truthfulness’

Asteya – ‘Non-stealing’

Brahmacharya – ‘Continence’

Aparigraha – ‘Non Receiving’

Gandhi promoted the principle of Ahimsa very successfully by applying it to all spheres of life, particularly to politics. Because he had that in his culture and because his nation understand the way of ahimsa that make so huge breakthrough and people were tired of poverty. The Great Britain have various industries and it was particularly difficult for the people of India knowing their own country produces enough salt but they have to pay tax for salt which is a neccisity in every day life. The people of India were disappointed with the way the country was ruled and felt oppressed. So they formed a resistiance movement. On March 12, 1930, Gandhi set out from his ashram, or religious retreat, at Sabermanti near Ahmedabad with several dozen followers on a trek of some 240 miles to the coastal town of Dandi on the Arabian Sea. When they arrived at the Indian Ocean, Gandhi picked up a handful of salt, which was a sign that everybody in his group did the same. It was brought back to the interior of the country where Indians continued to sell, ignoring the laws, so more than 50,000 Indians ended up in prison. This campaign has demonstrated to world the perfect use of the new instrument of fighting - nonviolent action.

Another dominant figure was Martin Luther King Jr, an American Baptist priest and leader of the Civil Rights Movement in United States, a country which was known for its slave-holding society. After the defeat of the American Civil War which was the result of a long-standing controversy over slavery, the black population continued to be oppressed and humiliated. Slavery in the United States was legal and constitutional at the time. In 1955, Rosa Parks a coloured lady refused to give the white man his place on a bus when there was no available space left for white people. In Southern United States laws and regulations enforced racial segregation. The bus driver asked Rosa to get up from her seat to the white man, which she refused. She was then arrested. Rosa later became one of the symbols of the struggle for black men for civil rights in the United States. After Rosa Parks was accused of failing to comply with segregation laws, a series of demonstrations were launched. Martin Luther decided to launch Boycott Montgomery buses by encouraging people to remain non-violent. The boycott lasted 385 days, nearly a year and ended when the United States Supreme Court ruled that segregation in buses was unconstitutional. The tense situation led opponents of his fight threw a bomb at King’s house for his participation in the action. Martin Luther organized and led non-violent marches which made specific demands for the rights to vote for black men, for desegregation, labor rights and other basic human rights. Most of his claims are included in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 1965 Law on Voting Rights which then became part of the United States Constitution.

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