Editor’s Note From Rivera Sun
Like many of you, the invasion of Ukraine by Russia is on my mind. I’ve been getting a lot of requests for “nonviolent strategies” that could be (or are being) used in Ukraine. I’m keeping my eyes and ears open, but I think a key struggle to lift up at this moment is the Russian antiwar movement. 1800+ Russian protesters have been arrested amidst thousands-strong antiwar demonstrations. Wherever you are in the world, stand in solidarity with them and call for peace, diplomacy, a ceasefire, and negotiations.
As for nonviolent resistance to occupation and invasion, George Lakey offered this article with historic struggles that you might find useful. I also urge you to look up case studies in the Global Nonviolent Action Database (Norway, Denmark against the Nazis; Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia’s independence campaigns against the Soviets; and Ukraine’s own history of nonviolent campaigns.) This article by Maciej Bartowski was written in Dec 2021, but is still relevant to ideas on how Ukranians have and can resist with nonviolent action. I also recommend that you take this opportunity to read about civilian based defense here and find Gene Sharp’s book here.
The key reason I’m sharing these is to remind us all that nonviolent struggle has been used powerfully to resist invasions and occupations. It shows that there are other options. If you’re new to this idea, take this opportunity to learn about these campaigns. It’s heady and exciting stuff, but please remember that it can very obnoxious to have someone (especially US citizens) preachily telling Ukrainians how they should be defending themselves and their families right now. Rather than assuming we have the answers for everyone else, I recommend applying what you’re learning to your own situation. Think about what you and your community and nation can do to make sure your nation stays committed to non-military solutions and peace.
Beyond Ukraine, there are dozens of other noteworthy struggles happening this week. They are impressively intersectional, meaning that the campaigns address many entwined issues. In Brooklyn, NY, community activists are trying to halt a pipeline that is a classic example of environmental racism – it was literally re-routed to avoid white neighborhoods and go through communities of color. Meanwhile, in Oakland, CA, port workers are resisting school closures and gentrification that threaten the mostly Black neighborhoods. In Atlanta, GA, the Cop City resistance is bringing together forest defenders, anti-militarism and anti-militarized police activists, and racial justice organizers to stop the construction of a massive cop training academy.
Be sure to read the whole round-up to catch more great stories. Haitian workers won a 54% increase in the minimum wage. Workers strikes are rising in Vietnam. Australian nurses and midwives marched for better conditions in hospitals. Take a few minutes to learn about these stories – in a world wracked with war and violence, they remind us that another approach is happening, right here and right now.
Photo Credit: People attend an anti-war protest in St. Petersburg on February 24, 2022.
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From Art To Action: Join Chris Jordan, photographic artist and filmmaker, and Jenny Price, writer and artist, for our online event: From Art to Action: Finding Beauty and Protecting What You Love. We’ll explore why a reverence for natural beauty can be an important motivating factor in what we deem important—and as a result, how we choose to act. Learn more>>
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The Science of Nonviolence Online Course: Over six weeks, we’ll weave together Gandhi’s autobiography with scientific research and methodologies that bring nonviolence to light. This course is part of our 2022-2023 Certificate Track. Learn more>>
Special Free Screening of the Third Harmony: This film is about finding hope and strength in our human capacity for nonviolence. It can be used for class and group discussion or watch it to redirect any fear, anger, or powerlessness you may be feeling into determined action for nonviolent change. Learn more>>
World BEYOND War’s 2nd Annual Virtual Film Festival! This year’s festival explores the intersection of militarism & water, survival & resistance, in the lead-up to World Water Day on March 22. Learn more>>
War Abolition 101: How We Create a Peaceful World: How can we become more effective advocates and activists for ending particular wars, ending all wars, pursuing disarmament, and creating systems that maintain peace? These questions and more will be explored in this seminar. Learn more>>
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