In India, of late we have been witness to many bizarre protests. Take Back the Night, Kiss of Love and many other unusual form of protests have made headlines, caught attention of the authorities and led to endless dialogue questioning our society’s culture and norms; shaking the status quo.
Many protests have been non-violent, some bizarre, some outright shocking. Yet these protests have been responsible in bringing about change. They are all a part of the larger movement where the citizens of a country decide that 'enough is enough' and that a change in our culture, politics, social system, administration and way of life will eventually lead to progress.
Let's take a look at five such bizarre instances of citizens sparking of a revolution in their own unusual, but effective ways.
Hongkong's Umbrella Revolution
A student's movement sparked off in Hongkong a few months ago, when the students got together to demand complete democracy from the Chinese Communist Party. In order to protect themselves from getting pepper-sprayed by the Police, the students started using a large number of colourful umbrellas – and the name 'Umbrella Revolution' caught on. The protestors want the right to directly elect the head of the Hongkong Government, called the 'Chief Executive', yet China wants to 'oversee' the appointment of the Chief Executive.
Although the outcome till date remains uncertain, Hongkong's democratic movement has effectively begun. Even amid pressures to withdraw and criticisms from the conservatives, many young activists aren’t backing down. Their protest has been the centre of international attention forcing China to respond to many queries from governments around the world.
Peru – Washing the flag clean of 'dirty politics'
Back in the year 2000, Alberto Fujimori was re-elected as the President of Peru. This angered the citizens – he was accused of abusing his power and using violence against his detractors. Several men and women gathered at a main city juncture and started 'washing the flag clean of dirty politics'. This act of defiance continued for months. Later a video of the President’s ally bribing a legislature emerged. He then fled to Japan and resigned – later serving imprisonment.
Flowerpot Potholes in Protest
At the beautiful valley of Kings Country in Canada, the citizens were troubled for too long by potholed roads. After years of complaining to the authorities, a small group of citizens decided to fight back – with flowers. The citizens stated the roads are not safe to drive on. "We deserve to drive on half-decent roads," was an echo across the people's protest. Much to embarrassment of the authorities, flowers were planted on most of the potholes in their streets.
Rape Survivor Carries That Weight
Rape survivor Emma Sulkowicz from Columbia university has literally been carrying her dorm mattress in the campus daily, everywhere she goes. 'Carry That Weight' is her part protest, part performance art project – in retaliation to the rape that took place on her dorm bed. Apart from her, two other Columbia female students have also filed sexual assault cases against the same man she accused – who is still attending school. Columbia University has not commented on the case, although it has found the accused man "not responsible".
23 other students have also complained against the University's mishandling of sexual assault cases.
Her unusual form of protest also evolved into 'Carry That Weight Together' where many more students across the US also started carried their dorm mattresses around the campus in solidarity with her and against campus mishandling of sexual misconduct cases.
The group has also submitted a list of 10 priorities to Columbia University, urging the administration to take the voices of the survivors and activists more seriously.
Tree sit-in at University of California
Tree lovers protested against the plan to remove oak trees near the University of California in Bekeley, US. These environmental activists 'lived' in the endangered grove to obstruct the construction of over a 100 million dollar athletic centre for the University. The tree sit-in lasted from 2006 to 2008, and three lawsuits later, the oak trees were finally cut down.
Powerof49 – What Next?
In the months leading up to the election, Jaago Re released a 10-point Powerof49 Manifesto, and presented it to the leading political parties.
Can we check to see if any of those demands have been met? If not, how do we, as citizens of the world's largest democracy assert our rights?
Can we take inspiration from movements around the world, where the youth, both men and women have gone up to every extent imaginable to ensure their rights are met with – or can they serve as an example for us to shake off our apathy and to introspect, question, organise and gather together to demand what’s ours. Click to here to read the list of demands of the Powerof49 Manifesto.
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