People Power Unleashed: South Africa and the Philippines Social Movement Each continent, culture, ethnicity, and caste has seen a form of social movement. The social movements can take the form of an organized protest, riots, opposition to authority figures, and a variety of other ways that stress the unacceptable treatment of individuals. Coelho and von Lieres (2010) discussed the numerous insurrections across the African continent that changed the direction of many countries. Each situation is different in how the people go about attracting the attention of the political leaders and the outcome of the protest.
The strength of the current leadership of a country also influences the outcome of the protest. The unarmed citizens who converged on Tiananmen Square in China did not believe that their peaceful protest of current political leadership would end in a blood bath as the military regime fired into the crowd to disburse the crowd (Schock, 2005). Even with this incident in the pages of history, people in China, Burma, and surrounding areas continue to protest their forced way of life (Schock, 2005, 119).
Article/Book Chapter Citation
Students attending universities in China, Burma, Thailand, Indonesia, and surrounding areas were interested in suggesting a change from the one-party control to a democratic leadership. While the idea of a peaceful protest to gain the attention of the country’s leader seemed like the right thing to do, the individual in power did not agree and sent the military to disband the protesters at all costs (Schock, 2005). For some, this meant at the cost of their life. The leaders of the organized insurrection that were not killed were arrested and the organization faltered without its leaders. The National League for Democracy (NLD) was the name of the organization and even with one million supporters, the military regime was unstoppable (Schock, 2005, 98).
Tiananmen Square was the sight of the largest non-violent student protest and hunger strike with over a million students converging on the location to show support for the democratic desires of the people. Thousands of unarmed citizens were gunned down by the military in Tiananmen Square to end the hunger strike of the students and disburse the ever-growing crowd (Schock, 2005, 104). Protesters continued to organize and recruit like-minded individuals willing to support the cause, but the competition between the groups divided their efforts rather than binding them together (Schock, 2005, 106). Censorship and communication hinderance from the country’s leadership halted the flow of communication between protesting organizations making it difficult to spread necessary information regarding time and location of new protests (Schock, 2005. 116).
Core Argument or Thesis
Students wanting to include democratic governance into the one-party leadership in China and Burma were thwarted by the military regime during numerous unarmed protests. Students felt that by taking a stand to speak out regarding the governance of their lives and the sheer numbers of like-minded individuals, the unarmed protests would draw the attention of the leaders and encourage change throughout the country (Schock, 2005).
The phenomenon that the power of the thought process can encourage an individual or even a group of people to rise up against current leaders and protest injustices and unfair practices continues to baffle the political leaders. Coelho and von Lieres (2010) stated that individuals who have endured hardships, suffering, and oppression for years can alter their thought process overnight to stand against this treatment. When one person decides to fight against the authority surrounding the situation, they immediately realize the need for support in numbers. Talking with other individuals in the same situation, one can usually find other dissenters who only need encouragement and hope that uniting the efforts of many will bring about the desired change. The Internet has opened up the lines of communication between various civilizations and the spread of democratic ideas are finding their way into communism, monarchy, and dictator leadership styles.
A mixed method research design was used for this study, by collecting media accounts of the unarmed protests and numeric information from death tolls and school enrollment records. Media reporting provided the narrative of each incident and interviewed those individuals allowed to comment during the situation (Locke, Silverman, & Spirduso, 2004). This collection of data covered the qualitative aspect of the study. The accounting of deaths during each demonstration, the number of students involved from various universities, and hospital admittance records completed the study with the quantitative data needed to support the research (Locke et al., 2004).
The qualitative data collected from the media reports allowed researchers to piece together the occurrences of each protest. Eye-witness accounts of the event further support the study of individual and group actions when taking a stand for one’s beliefs of justice and fairness. The critical analysis of the quantitative data collected provided the statistical account of how many individuals may have been involved in each insurgence (Locke et al., 2004). The count of how many were killed standing for what they believed, how many individuals were arrested, and the impact the event had on the community and the political hierarchy.
The leaders of China, Burma, and surrounding areas tried to quell the thinking of university student by closing the schools, arresting organizational leaders, and killing unarmed protesters who wanted to see change happen in their respective country. The show of force on behalf of the government indicates the unwillingness to surrender the power to make laws and govern the people (Schock, 2005). Amazingly, the students who were involved in the protests did not change their thought process when fellow comrades were killed, schools were closed, or leaders were arrested. The desire to have a say in one’s life’s decisions is still a topic that motivates people to protest against injustices and unfair practices.
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Coelho, Vera Sachatten & von Lieres, Bettina. Mobilizing for Democracy: Citizens Action and the Politics of Public Participation (Claiming Citizenship: Rights, Participation, Accountability). (Zed Books, 2010) 157-194
Locke, Lawrence F., Silverman, Stephen J., & Spirduso, Waneen Wyrick. Reading and Understanding Research. (2nd ed.). (Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2004) 123-225
Schock, Kurt. “ People Power Unleased: South Africa and Philippines.” Unarmed Insurrections: People Power Movement in Non-Democracies. (Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis, 2005) 91-119