Disruption

Using Mass Protests to Publicize Issues and Galvanize Change

Public gatherings or rallies have long been used as a form of protest against autocratic regimes or to draw attention to a particular issue, cause or inequity. Communication through modern technology has made it easier to mobilize people into participating in mass global protests. The main intent behind a mass protest on a global scale is to draw international attention on a particular issue. The following mass global protests provide examples highlighting this tactic to advance such diverse issues as climate change, inequality, and electoral reform.

Utilizing SMS to facilitate communication between detainees and human rights groups to provide medical help and legal assistance

The Front to Defend Egypt Protesters (FDEP) developed an approach to encourage activists and protesters at risk of arrest and detention to communicate with a volunteer network and mobilize timely legal, medical and other support.

Developing a linguistic code to circumvent and challenge internet censorship

In order to circumvent internet censorship in China, bloggers have created a lexicon which makes puns out of words and phrases in the Chinese language to talk about forbidden topics. It started with the 'grass-mud horse' – a mythical creature which sounds nearly the same as a dirty insult – as a tool to ridicule the government's blocking of vulgar content online.

Organizing caravans to overcome militarization

Ruta Pacifica, a feminist, pacifist, anti-military organization in existence since 1996 organizes caravans of thousands of women in Colombia to visit regions hardest-hit by conflict. The caravans serve as a way for women from different areas to come together in support against the conflict, exchange ideas, and fight for an end to human rights abuses. As a result of the ongoing civil war in Colombia, different areas of the country have become increasingly isolated from one another, as the roads and borders between them are frequently controlled or blocked by the various armed groups. By traveling these roads, the caravans of women break through not only the physical roadblocks, but the psychological barriers of despair and isolation that allow the war to continue.

For more information on this tactic, read our in-depth case study.

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