Violence doesn't bring any lasting solution
- Part 1 -

Buyamayum Liyaquat Ali *

Manipur is burning like a volcano due to violence between two communities.

Violence will never bring any desired solution of a particular community. It will only hinder their objectives. There are many democratic ways to raise any demand. We are also not living in the Medieval period when emperors used to conquer lands by waging wars. Resorting to violence can escalate conflicts, making situations worse. Violence often leads to loss of life and it hinders effective communication and dialogue, preventing peaceful resolution.

Violent clashes between different racial or ethnic groups rarely lead to meaningful solutions. For example, the violence during the Bosnian War in the 1990s did not bring any lasting peace or address the underlying tensions between the different ethnic groups in the region. The Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, for example, were met with violent suppression by the Chinese Government, resulting in loss of life and failure to address the protestors' demands.

The violent confrontations during the 2012 Marikana miners' strike in South Africa, for instance, did not help the miners achieve fair wages and better working conditions. Civil wars marked by violence and conflict rarely result in beneficial outcomes. Violent protests and riots can overshadow the original message and goals.

The 2011 England riots, triggered by the police shooting of Mark Duggan, escalated into widespread violence and looting, diverting attention from the initial concerns about police accountability. Let us analyse two incidents in which violence diverted the main issue of the protest and doesn’t bring any lasting solution and also an incident in which non violent means defeated the mighty.

The Arab Spring

The Arab Spring, a series of popular uprisings that swept across the Middle East and North Africa between 2010 and 2012, marked a significant chapter in the region's history. These uprisings were driven by demands for political reforms, social justice, and economic opportunities.

While the initial uprisings held promises of positive change and the possibility of democratic transitions, some violent outcomes underscored the limitations of violence in bringing about lasting solutions to complex political issues.

The Arab Spring was ignited by a combination of factors, including widespread discontent with autocratic regimes, economic disparities, political corruption, and lack of opportunities for the youth. The uprisings were fuelled by the growing influence of social media and communication technologies, which enabled citizens to mobilize and organize protests more effectively.

The self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, in December 2010, served as a catalyst for the Tunisian uprising and inspired a wave of demonstrations across the region. Protests soon spread to countries like Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Bahrain, where citizens demanded greater political representation, human rights, and improved living conditions.

The early stages of the Arab Spring were characterized by optimism and a sense of empowerment among the protesters. The ousting of long-standing leaders, such as Tunisia's President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, raised hopes for democratic transitions and meaningful reforms. The uprisings highlighted the potential for collective action to challenge entrenched autocratic regimes and usher in a new era of political participation and social justice.

In Egypt, for example, the protests in Tahrir Square captured the world's attention and led to Mubarak's resignation in February 2011. This demonstrated that nonviolent protests could effectively challenge even the most repressive regimes, giving rise to aspirations for democratic governance.

As the uprisings evolved, some movements encountered violent responses from State security forces or descended into violence themselves. In Libya, the initially peaceful protests against Muammar Gaddafi's regime morphed into an armed conflict, culminating in international military intervention. While Gaddafi was eventually toppled, the country descended into chaos and instability, with various factions vying for power and armed militias gaining prominence.

While the Arab Spring uprisings initially held promises of positive change, the outcomes varied significantly across countries. In some cases, the uprisings led to successful political transitions, while in others, they resulted in increased repression or ongoing conflicts.

In Egypt, the democratic transition faced setbacks, with the military reasserting control and President Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected leader, being ousted in a coup. This demonstrated that even successful uprisings could be vulnerable to backsliding into authoritarianism. In Bahrain, the uprising was met with a violent crackdown by the Government, with the support of neighboring Saudi Arabia.

Despite the initial momentum, the protest movement was suppressed, highlighting the challenges of pursuing change in the face of a determined regime. The Arab Spring experience underscores the limitations of violence in achieving sustainable and positive change. While initial uprisings held the promise of democratic transitions and improved governance, the use of violence often led to unintended consequences, such as further instability, conflict, and human suffering.

Nonviolent movements, like those witnessed during the Arab Spring's early stages, demonstrated the potential to mobilize broad-based support, challenge oppressive regimes, and advocate for meaningful reforms. The success of nonviolent movements in Tunisia and parts of Egypt highlighted the potential of peaceful protests to bring about change.

The Arab Spring serves as a complex and nuanced case study that underscores the complexities of pursuing change in societies marked by political repression, economic disparities, and social injustices. While the initial uprisings ignited hopes for positive transformations, the violent outcomes in some cases underscore the limitations of resorting to violence as a means of achieving lasting solutions.

The Arab Spring experience suggests that violence can give rise to unintended consequences, perpetuating cycles of conflict and instability. The uprisings also highlight the importance of addressing deep-rooted issues through inclusive political processes, social reforms, and efforts to build resilient institutions that can withstand challenges.

As societies continue to grapple with the pursuit of justice, democracy, and social change, the Arab Spring serves as a reminder that nonviolent means, grounded in the principles of dialogue, cooperation, and collective action, offer more promising avenues for achieving sustainable and meaningful outcomes. The experience of the Arab Spring reinforces the enduring relevance of nonviolent resistance as a powerful tool for addressing complex political issues and shaping the trajectory of societies toward positive change.

The French Revolution

The French Revolution (1789-1799) stands as one of the most significant and tumultuous periods in world history. It was characterized by a series of dramatic events that culminated in the overthrow of the monarchy and the establishment of the First French Republic. While the revolution was initially fuelled by noble ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity, its trajectory took a violent turn, leading to internal chaos, instability, and further conflicts.

The origins of the French Revolution can be traced back to a culmination of economic, social, and political factors. France was burdened with a deeply unequal society, where the nobility and clergy enjoyed privileges while the majority of the population faced economic hardships. A deeply indebted monarchy, combined with widespread famine and rising bread prices, exacerbated the discontent among the masses.

Enlightenment ideas promoting individual rights, liberty, and equality further fanned the flames of revolution, inspiring demands for a more just and equitable society.

In May 1789, King Louis XVI convened the Estates-General in an attempt to address the country's financial crisis. However, the Third Estate (commoners) broke away, forming the National Assembly and pledging to draft a new Constitution.

This marked the beginning of a power struggle between the monarchy and the revolutionary forces. Tensions escalated on July 14, 1789, with the storming of the Bastille, a symbol of royal tyranny. This event triggered widespread uprisings across France, leading to the establishment of revolutionary municipal Governments in many cities.

To be continued ....

* Buyamayum Liyaquat Ali wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an Ex Navy man & RTI Activist from Mayang Imphal
This article was webcasted on 29 August 2023.

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