FEATURE-Serbian activist teaches lessons in revolution

Thu Jun 16, 2011 10:43am GMT

"You can't import or export revolution, it has to be homegrown. But what we can do is build skills and help. Sometimes it takes time, sometimes you know it isn't going to work straight away. But there are always things you can do."

He has coached protesters including those who brought about democratic reform and the ousting of a long-time autocrat in the Maldives, Syria's withdrawal from Lebanonand revolutions in former Soviet Georgia and Ukraine.

But he has also seen uprisings fail and falter, sometimes outmanoeuvred by governments or stymied by internal divisions. Success, he says, takes effort and planning -- a lesson he repeatedly preaches to groups from Myanmar, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Belarus and elsewhere in quietly organised small group sessions.

"We in Serbia learned the hard way because they were 10 years of attempts and others can learn from our mistakes," he told Reuters on a visit to London, during which he met Egyptian activists to discuss how to take their revolution forward.

"You really need three things: unity, planning and non-violent discipline. You need a strategy. There is no such thing as a successful spontaneous revolution."


CANVAS says it sees itself as the successor to a host of non-violent campaigners from India's Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King. It says it brings a more rigorous, strategic model and skill-set to the process, as well as an encyclopaedic knowledge of recent global protest history.

Its booklet of 50 key points for non-violent struggle can be downloaded for free in six languages, while its documentary "Bringing down a Dictator", telling the tale of Milosevic's overthrow in 2000, has been translated into 19 different tongues.   Continued...

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