Non-violent action has been a method that people have employed throughout human history to courageously refuse cooperation with injustice. However, the synthesis of organized mass protest and nonviolence is a fairly recent occurrence; beginning to a great extent with Mohandas Gandhi in 1906 and his crusade for Indian rights in South Africa and thereafter, full independence from Britain. Gandhi led several successful non-violent campaigns and his means of righting social injustices without physical force has been the model that many of his successors utilize in order to effect change. One such tactic is signed public statements. It is an active form of resistance where citizens in an effort to demonstrate opposition to something they deem as unjust, rally the masses to present a united front. The old saying, there is power in numbers is the hallmark of a successful non-violent call to action and signed public statements are an example of that because it demonstrates to the opposition that it is more costly for those in power to resist the demands of those seeking redress than to address them.
A recent example of signed public statements is on January 26, 2011, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) and the Center for Inquiry (CFI) issued statements to global retailed Wal-mart urging them to end its promotion of over-the-counter medicine that purports to be a remedy for flu systems; leading scientists and physicians publicly rallied behind CSI and CFI by signing their names in support of this cause. Wal-mart has neither responded or acknowledged the complaint made by CSI and CFI but since these groups have gathered the signatures of some very prominent figures including the 2009 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, Simon Singh and made it very public which could potentially impact Wal-mart negatively.
Globally, in Accra, Ghana, in February 2011 the World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal started a signature campaign, championed by Amnesty International to put a stop to forced evictions of thousands of people from their homes in Accra (the capital of Ghana) for the purposes of redevelopment and could affect up of 25,000 people. Because of its far-reaching ramifications, because this matter has gone international, the government has, although not stopped plans to evict residents, halted their project.
Frequently, the people striving for inherent rights, inalienable freedoms, or justice are simply not aware of the full gambit of methods of non-violent action available to them. The signing of a public document is tangible recourse that can make governments, corporations take notice.
Continue reading the 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action.