If Gandhi could do it nonviolently, we can too!!! Otherwise, we become the monsters that control us.
by Stephen Zunes
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. And the weapons they advocate employing are not guns and bombs, but strikes, boycotts, mass demonstrations, tax refusal, alternative media, and refusal to obey official orders.
Serbs, South Africans, Filipinos, Georgians, and other veterans of successful nonviolent struggles are sharing their knowledge and experience with those still fighting dictators and occupation armies.
The young Western Saharans know how an armed struggle by an older generation of their countrymen failed to dislodge the Moroccans, who first invaded their country back in 1975. They have seen how Morocco’s allies on the U.N. Security Council-led by France and the United States-blocked enforcement of U.N. resolutions supporting their right to self-determination. With the failure of both armed struggle and diplomacy to bring them freedom, they have decided to instead employ a force more powerful.