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IMAGE # 04. Peaceful demonstration

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IMAGE #04 Peaceful demonstrationWhat global issue does this image relate to?

Peace movement
Specific anti-war issues
Protest movements and the right to protest
Traditional rally-style protest versus non-traditional protest


Peace movement

The peace movement seeks to achieve ideals such as the prevention and cessation of wars. Strategies that draw attention to these causes include protest marches and peaceful demonstrations. The lead-up to the Iraq War (2003), and the subsequent controversy over the existence of ‘Weapons of mass destruction’, saw significant anti-war protests around the globe, and opposition to the ongoing Western military presence in Iraq has continued in varying degrees in many countries. Western involvement in Afghanistan, following the US led removal of the Taliban from power in 2001, has also been criticised.

Specific anti-war issues

Many military practices have come under scrutiny in recent years and have been the focus of peaceful protests. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) was a joint winner of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize and succeeded in signing several nations to an anti-mine treaty. It is a sad reality, however, that landmines are still in use around the world and that landmines, even those deployed decades ago, continue to kill and maim innocent civilians. Other contentious issues around the use of certain weapons, and that have become the subject of similar campaigns, include the use of cluster munitions and the use of white phosphorus (such as in the Gaza War, 2008-09).

Protest movements and the right to protest

Some governments in the world seek to ban demonstrations and the right of their citizens to protest. The 1989 Tiananmen Square student protest in Beijing, China, and a series of protests following the 2009 Presidential elections in Iran, were violently suppressed by the respective governments through the use of military and police force. In other examples of protest, authorities regularly ‘fence off’ protesters to keep them separated from the targets of the demonstrators. This method of government response was in evidence during chaotic demonstrations such as the anti-World Trade Organisation protests in Seattle in 1999 and the anti-World Economic Forum protests in Melbourne in 2000, and Davos, Switzerland, in 2003. At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Australia, in 2007, for example, a ‘ring of steel’ was placed around the conference site to shield world leaders from potential violence.

Traditional rally-style protest versus non-traditional protest

With advances in technology, new forms of protest, and new ways of organising resistance, have developed. The ‘Arab Spring’ wave of protest and demonstration that began in late 2010, and that has had an enormous impact in countries across North Africa and the Middle East, including Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, has utilised social media. Web services such as Facebook and Twitter, have been crucial in the organisation of protests and the dissemination of protestors’ views and experiences to a global audience.

GetUp! is an Australian lobby group, largely organised online, which has also used technology to mobilise its supporters. Other non-traditional protest groups include ‘The Yes Men’, who are a small organisation that function via impersonating prominent figures to satirise their ideas and publicly attack and denigrate them. ‘Culture jamming’, such as the debasing of billboards, is a tactic used by anti-consumerist social movements to disrupt mainstream cultural institutions. ‘The Bubble Project’ and ‘Banksy’ are two examples of this more recent form of non-traditional protest.

Useful links:

United for Peace and Justice

The Institute for Economics and Peace is an independent not-for-profit research institute dedicated to developing the inter-relationships between business, peace and economic development.

Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran

The International Campaign to Landmines

Cluster Munition Coalition

Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons

Protest movements and the right to protest:

Sites relating to the S11 protests in Melbourne.

Traditional rally-style protest versus non-traditional protest:
(Protesting via less traditional means)


“Arab spring: an interactive timeline of Middle East protests”


Global Citizen

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