Case Studies

There are many case studies of nonviolent action in a defense context. I have carefully selected a range of these because they illustrate basic or important points about nonviolent strategy. If you click on any of the links below, you will be able to read (and download) or watch that particular case study.

1. Gandhi’s Salt March (India, March-April 1930) This case study describes the circumstances, some planning and preparation for, as well as the implementation and consequences of Gandhi’s Salt March from the Sabarmati Ashram to the beach at Dandi in 1930 which mobilized millions of Indians in support of the Indian independence struggle.

2. In February 1986, the people of the Philippines rose up in nonviolent revolt against their long-time dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The 58-minute video below vividly shows the story of this four-day movement that nonviolently ended the dictatorship and changed the Philippines:

3. While not a nonviolent defense/liberation campaign, this 15-minute video has graphic images of nonviolent actions by the Melbourne Rainforest Action Group (MRAG) in Australia which undertook more than 20 river blockades of rainforest timber ships between 1989 and 1991 in their ultimately successful campaign, in collaboration with other RAGs around Australia, to effectively end rainforest timber imports from South-East Asia into Australia in 1991:

4. Samoa (Samoa, 1930) This case study describes the nonviolent struggle of the The Samoan League (known as the Mau) in Western Samoa to the military rule of New Zealand. This struggle by the Mau, beginning in the late 1920s and lasting a decade, is credited with helping to achieve early independence for Western Samoa which, in 1962, became the first nation in the South Pacific to gain independence. American Samoa is still occupied.

5. Many times throughout history, ordinary people using nonviolent action (sometimes labeled ‘people power’, ‘civil resistance’ or other names) have risen to overthrow a ruthless authoritarian leader. In this 12-minute video titled ‘Civil Resistance: A First Look’ produced in 2010, brief accounts are presented of the nonviolent struggles to overthrow Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines in 1986, General Wojciech Jaruzelski in Poland in 1989, P.W. Botha in Apartheid South Africa in 1989, General Augusto Pinochet in Chile in 1990 and Slobodan Milošević in Serbia in 2000.

6. Guatemala (Guatemala, 1944) This case study describes the nonviolent resistance that overthrew the repressive military dictatorship of General Jorge Ubico in Guatemala in 1944.

7. Czechoslovakia (Czechoslovakia, 1968) This case study describes the spontaneous but effective nonviolent resistance by the people of Czechoslovakia to the invasion and occupation of their country by the Soviet Union in 1968. The shortcomings of not having a strategic plan are also evident.

8. Maha Gosananda, a true peace maker (Cambodia, 1993) This case study describes the 1993 Dhammayietra walk for peace and reconciliation through the most dangerously violent parts of Khmer Rouge territory in Cambodia. It was led by the Buddhist monk Maha Gosananda.

9. ‘Ten minutes to organise: the Tongoi Papua strike’ (West Papua, 2007) This case study describes the successful strike by Papuan workers at the giant Freeport McMoRan/Rio Tinto gold and copper mine in West Papua and explains the significance of this outcome for the independence struggle being conducted by West Papuans to liberate themselves from Indonesian occupation.

10. Australia’s Indigenous Peoples Stride Toward Freedom (Australia, 1990) This case study briefly describes the ongoing nonviolent struggle, now in its 233th year, of the indigenous peoples of Australia for sovereignty, land rights and self-determination.

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