Non-violent resistance has worked where armed struggle failed

More than 70 percent of fallen authoritarian regimes have been by non-violent means. In those situations where violence has succeeded it is largely because of outside help. Some opposition groups that had started by military means withdrew and adopted non-violent struggle and won. Let’s see how Iran did it by non-violent means that are being encouraged for Uganda, instead of reckless and costly military adventurism.

“The 1979 Iranian Revolution [Islamic Revolution] ousted an unpopular monarchy and led to installation of an Islamic republic following an intense period of mass mobilization and collective civil disobedience. Earlier attempts to depose Shah Reza Pahlavi’s regime through assassinations and guerrilla warfare were unable to achieve what mass-based protests, strikes, stay-aways, and noncooperation achieved in less than one year. Whereas the Shah’s security apparatus infiltrated and decimated main guerrilla groups in the 1970s, the civil resistance that began in earnest in late 1977 exerted significant pressure on the monarchy and became impossible to contain or suppress. The sustained pressure exerted by Iranian workers, students, professionals, clerics, and other segments of Iranian society, even in the midst of harsh regime repression, divided the regime from its most important pillars of support. The popular uprising neutralized the Shah’s security apparatus. On February 11, 1979, when the Iranian Armed Forces Joint Staff declared that the Iranian military would ‘remain neutral’ in disputes between the Shah’s regime and the nation, the final page had been turned on the monarchy”(Chenoweth and Stephan 2011).

Three lessons emerge from this quotation:

1. That armed struggle failed in Iran;

2. Mass mobilization by non-violent means did the job within one year following many years of guerrilla failure;

3. The armed forces decided to stay neutral as the Shah’s regime face the will of the people.

Against this backdrop, Ugandans from home and the diaspora met at The Hague, The Netherlands, in November 2013 and debated for three days what methods should be applied to oust the failed repressive regime. It was decided that we should use non-violent means because civil resistance has worked even where violent strategy had failed.

This weekend a road map for mass mobilization to oust NRM regime by civil resistance will be crafted in London using the draft that has been circulated to members that attended the meeting in The Netherlands. We have already obtained very useful inputs.

A skype facility will be provided for those that for various reasons may not be able to participate in person. We shall keep the public advised of the developments as they unfold.

Eric Kashambuzi