Stephen Zunes : Human Rights
Peace Review 2000 East Timor’s Tragedy and Triumph (PDF)
Nonviolent action campaigns have been a part of political life for millennia. History records many instances of groups rising to challenge abuses by authorities, demand social reforms, and protest militarism and discrimination. In recent years, however, the number of such movements has increased, as has their success in advancing the cause of human rights and toppling or dramatically reforming repressive regimes. In the twentieth century, nonviolence became more of a deliberate tool for social change, moving from being largely an ad hoc strategy growing naturally out of religious or ethical principles to a reflective and, in many ways, institutionalized method of struggle.
The muted reaction of Clinton administration officials on the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to two human rights activists from East Timor is not simply due to the seeming obscurity of that small Southeast Asian nation. No choice could have been more embarrassing for the United States government.