Stephen Zunes : Nonviolent Action


The Other Occupation: Western Sahara and the Case of Aminatou Haidar
5 December 2009

Aminatou Haidar, a nonviolent activist from Western Sahara and a key leader in her nation’s struggle against the 34-year-old U.S.-backed Moroccan occupation of her country, has been forced into exile by Moroccan authorities. She was returning from the United States, where she had won the Civil Courage Award from the Train Foundation. Forcing residents of territories under belligerent occupation into exile is a direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which both the United States and Morocco are signatories….


Lessons from the Velvet Revolution
9 November 2009

The 20th anniversary of the 1989 Velvet Revolution that overthrew the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia was one of the most impressive civil insurrections in history. It was not the military might of NATO, but the power of nonviolent action by ordinary citizens which brought down the system. The popular uprising against the repressive system that had ruled their country for much of the previous four decades — along with comparable movements, which came to the fore that year in Poland, Hungary and East Germany — marks a great triumph of the human spirit….


The Power of Nonviolent Action in Honduras
8 November 2009

The massive nonviolent movement that put pressure on the coup government may be only the first chapter of an important and prolonged struggle for justice in one of Latin America’s poorest and most inequitable countries


The Indigenous Roots of Nonviolent Struggle: A Reply to Steve Weissman
13 October 2009

Steve Weissman’s article “How Washington Learned to Love Nonviolence” which recently appeared on this web site is filled with misrepresentations, omissions, and just plain falsehoods. Though Washington’s notorious willingness to intervene in the internal affairs of foreign nations is manifold and transcends the party in power, the examples put forward in this article are misleading and inaccurate.


Weapons of Mass Democracy
16 September 2009

On the outskirts of a desert town in the Moroccan-occupied territory of Western Sahara, about a dozen young activists are gathered. They are involved in their country’s long struggle for freedom. A group of foreigners—veterans of protracted resistance movements—is conducting a training session in the optimal use of a “weapons system” that is increasingly deployed in struggles for freedom around the world. The workshop leaders pass out Arabic translations of writings on the theory and dynamics of revolutionary struggle and lead the participants in a series of exercises designed to enhance their strategic and tactical thinking. These trainers are not veterans of guerrilla warfare, however, but of unarmed insurrections against repressive regimes. The materials they hand out are not the words of Che Guevara, but of Gene Sharp, the former Harvard scholar who has pioneered the study of strategic nonviolent action….


Iran’s Do-It-Yourself Revolution
1 July 2009

Facing an unprecedented popular uprising against his autocratic rule and his apparently fraudulent re-election, Iran’s right-wing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has attempted to blame the United States. A surprising number of bloggers on the left have rushed to the defense of the right-wing fundamentalist leader. Citing presidential directives under the Bush administration, they argue that the uprising isn’t as much about a stolen election, the oppression of women, censorship, severe restrictions on political liberties, growing economic inequality, and other grievances, as it is about the result of U.S. interference….


A Response to Steve Weissman’s “Nonviolence 101”
28 June 2009

Steve Weissman’s article “Iran: Nonviolence 101” was profoundly inaccurate and misleading, particularly in regard to the role of Peter Ackerman and the organization he co-founded, the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict (ICNC), for which I chair the committee of academic advisers. All of Weissman’s arguments against US government involvement in training and related support for nonviolent resistance movements in Iran, which he put forward in his article, would be quite valid – if they were true. They are not, however.


The Iranian Uprising is Home Grown, and Must Stay That Way
19 June 2009

The growing nonviolent insurrection in Iran against the efforts by the ruling clerics to return the ultra-conservative and increasingly autocratic incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinjead to power is growing. Whatever the outcome, it represents an exciting and massive outpouring of Iranian civil society for a more open and pluralistic society.


Iran’s History of Civil Insurrections
19 June 2009

The growing nonviolent insurrection in Iran against the efforts by the ruling clerics to return the ultra-conservative and increasingly autocratic incumbent president Mahmoud Ahmadinjead to power is growing. Whatever the outcome, it represents an exciting and massive outpouring of Iranian civil society for a more open and pluralistic society….


Remembering Tiananmen Square
4 June 2009

Twenty years ago, on June 4, I was at Camp Thoreau in New York’s Catskill Mountains. Though I had already become a full-time academic, I was still involved in the topical folk music circles in which I had hung out for much of the previous decade and had come down from Ithaca to join this annual gathering of politically-conscious folk musicians for a weekend of workshops, jam sessions and performances….