Get the FLASH PLAYER to view this magazine:

Get Adobe Flash player

- or -

View as HTML version

SOCIETY Magazin 358

makers, diplomats, journalists and even future employees of security and intelligence agencies should be educated in nonviolent action – using historical case studies and academic knowledge reaching from Sharp to Zunes, Shock and CANVAS. What is the political situation in Serbia nowadays like? Serbia is an electoral democracy with freedom of speech and assembly, which was one of OTPOR’s key demands. Serbia progressed a lot within the last decade, despite the fact that the biggest reformist figure in Serbia, my dear friend, teacher and the first democratic prime minister of Serbia (2000-2003) Zoran Djindjic was tragically assassinated. Of course not everything is great. The economy is poor as in most countries of Eastern Europe, the unemployment rate is very high and the educational system needs improvements. But if you ask me: “Is Serbia the place you will raise your kids?” My answer is: “Yes.” People all over the world know your name and what you do. Thinking of that, how do you feel about your personal security? Relaxed. Once you live your young life as revolutionary under a dictatorship you get used to unwanted attention, threats and even surveillance. I “earned” 180 pages of my secret police file, I have been arrested and threatened to be killed in 1998 and 1999. Somehow you stop being afraid and you get over any kind of paranoia. Now it’s easier to be relaxed: I live in a democratic country and travel worldwide to meet people who respect our work, I am doing an absolutely legal and widely recognized educational job. Of course, dictators of the world do their propaganda attempts and ultra-nationalists from Serbia send us “threatening” mails or destroy our website from time to time but that won’t stop CANVAS from fulfilling its educational mission. How would you analyze the situation within the European Union – for example the protests in Spain or the success of the book “Time for Outrage” from Stéphane Hessel, a hero of the French Resistance? We are living in really dramatic times. If somebody would have let you take a look in a crystal ball in December 2010 and you would have been able to see the future, let’s say the near future so only six months ahead which means now, June 2011: Ben Ali and Mubarak would be down and arrested, Saleh and Gaddafi would be on their knees, Asad would be badly challenged, Osama Bin Laden dead and Ratko Mladic in Hague - Would people consider you as normal or would they send you to a mental institution? It is a strange year indeed and a bad year for bad guys, isn’t it. So it’s quite normal that we see the blossoming of non-partisan youth movements not only throughout the Arab world but in democratic countries, as well. We can see them fighting against corruption and unemployment in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Wisconsin, US and even on the cutting edge of condemning sex scandals in Italy. The power of nonviolent movements is not limited to the struggles for democracies and human rights but has a far wider aspect and may be considered as a universal tool for positive social change. If you compare your uprising in the year 2000 and today’s program you teach – did anything change concerning how nonviolent resistance is carried out? Do you teach different methods nowadays than you did in 2005? In short: principles are always the same, but the field of “people power” in fact changes very fast as it is a very dynamic field. There is no doubt that „The principles for success in ‘people power’ are: Unity, Planning, and Nonviolent Discipline.“ SRDJA POPOVIC OTPOR and the Serbian nonviolent revolution has become a worldwide recognizable brand, but “copy-paste” models don’t exist. You will find successful examples of similar movements in Georgia (2003), Ukraine (2004), Lebanon (2006) and the Maldives (2008). You will find the same symbols and visual identity in Egypt and Kenya. You will find Buddhist monks leading the Saffron Revolution inspired by the movie about Serbian Nonviolent revolution named “Bringing Down A Dictator”, which is a 58 minutes documentary on the Serbian revolution by the great director Steve York. It has been translated into 18 different languages and can be found everywhere in the world. You will find the book “Nonviolent Struggle: 50 Crucial Points” distributed widely from Cuba to Iran. It seems that the idea and model of “nonviolent revolution” has inspired many people and some of them have successfully implemented bright and creative tactics maybe due to the movie “Bring- ing Down A Dictator” and most of all due to the bravery and interest of local activists worldwide. That makes us proud because we strongly believe that every man and woman in the world has the full right but also the duty to stand up for human rights and democracy. But the theory of nonviolent struggle teaches us that every struggle is specific. There is no universal formula how you strategically run the movement, but the principles for success in “people power” are: Unity, Planning and Nonviolent Discipline. Those three are always the same and apply to different strategies. Although it is a very dynamic field, the principles of selecting tactics, picking battles you can win and the importance of knowing when and how to proclaim the victory stay the same. How long do the courses for nonviolent revolution usually last and how many people take part in a course? No matter if it is a faculty course at Belgrade’s Faculty of Political Science, a three week block (Colorado and Grinnel College) or a five to seven days activist workshop: the issues that are covered are always coming from our CANVAS core curriculum, but also from great books from prominent authors like Gene Sharp, Stephen Zunes or Kurt Shock. The normal size of a workshop for activists is 12-25 people, there are 20-25 people in a College course and 30 people in the Belgrade master course at the Faculty of Political Science. What is the common procedure during such a course? What exactly do you teach the participants? From Gandhi to Martin Luther King and OTPOR lessons - they are all the same: They are following the universal principles for success in nonviolent struggle: unity planning, nonviolent discipline, identifying crucial institutions to be converted (we call those institutions which participants define for their own society as “pillars of support”). Furthermore people need a group identity, they need a clear slogan and visual identity and they have to communicate clearly with target audiences and they have to develop solidarity among its activists in case they are arrested, detained or fired from their work. We spend a lot of time working on how to overcome fear and its adverse effects on people`s moral. Every course is interactive and “product oriented” as participants really produce their own strategic documents throughout the course. SOCIETY 2_11 | 49

Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6
Page 7
Page 8
Page 9
Page 10
Page 11
Page 12
Page 13
Page 14
Page 15
Page 16
Page 17
Page 18
Page 19
Page 20
Page 21
Page 22
Page 23
Page 24
Page 25
Page 26
Page 27
Page 28
Page 29
Page 30
Page 31
Page 32
Page 33
Page 34
Page 35
Page 36
Page 37
Page 38
Page 39
Page 40
Page 41
Page 42
Page 43
Page 44
Page 45
Page 46
Page 47
Page 48
Page 49
Page 50
Page 51
Page 52
Page 53
Page 54
Page 55
Page 56
Page 57
Page 58
Page 59
Page 60
Page 61
Page 62
Page 63
Page 64
Page 65
Page 66
Page 67
Page 68
Page 69
Page 70
Page 71
Page 72
Page 73
Page 74
Page 75
Page 76
Page 77
Page 78
Page 79
Page 80
Page 81
Page 82
Page 83
Page 84
Page 85
Page 86
Page 87
Page 88
Page 89
Page 90
Page 91
Page 92
Page 93
Page 94
Page 95
Page 96
Page 97
Page 98
Page 99
Page 100
Page 101
Page 102
Page 103
Page 104
Page 105
Page 106
Page 107
Page 108
Page 109
Page 110
Page 111
Page 112
Page 113
Page 114
Page 115
Page 116
Page 117
Page 118
Page 119
Page 120
Page 121
Page 122
Page 123
Page 124