Unique Protest – Once upon a time, people were paraded naked in public and stoned to death for wrong-doings. The public shaming used to make a point because shame and fear are biggest enemies to personal freedom. They help a system or a society to exercise control; sometimes justifiable, at other times vicious and misguided.
Over time the stones and the nudity have become elements of protest, the same tools the system had once used to repress many a voices. That is what a protest is all about – to take back the power the system holds over you and makes it yours. A protest needs a tool, a symbol, and a prologue just like repression. What varies is the method, from one protest to another, one ideal to another.
Here is a list of
10 Most Unique Protest in History
; their stories and ideals in a nutshell.
1. How would you like your tea, guvnor? Boston Tea party was a political movement organized by Sons of Liberty (a secret organization against British Colonists) in Boston harbor, on December 16, 1773 to protest the Tea Act of 1773 (which in simple words, forced Americans to drink England’s tea and pay tax for it too. Imaginative, huh!)
Led by Samuel Adams, the Whig leader, a group of about a hundred men, dressed as Mohawk Indians, vandalized three ships (The Dartmouth, Eleanor and The Beaver) carrying tea, and dumped the whole shipment in water.
It was basically an act of vandalism, but the protestors managed to give the British a taste of their own tea, all dressed as Indians. And, later they named it the Tea Party. In today’s world that would be qualified as a supremely cool thing to do. Well, I guess it was cool even then, because it has a place as an important landmark in American Revolution.
2. Love like salt! King Lear got to know the hard way the importance of the Salt. Well, so did British Government.
Now, The British ‘Sun never sets’ Empire had a knack for taxing important consumable items -tea, Tobacco, Opium and Salt.
The year 1930 – India:
The year when Indian leaders demanded total freedom the British Government was busy making Indians pay for their own salt and getting rich.
The premise was same as the tea party; the methodology of protest was different. All this taxing the salt bullcrap did not sit well with Mahatma Gandhi. And, that man decided to come up with something ingenious.
He marched 390 kms on foot, over 24 days, to make salt at a seashore (salt manufacturing was banned to Indians), and then got arrested. The signature Gandhi protest. No violence, No vandalism just power of spirit. And, it worked like always. Thousands of people joined his march. Soon, the whole country was making salt and getting arrested (80,000 arrests) at it soon escalated into a big deal for the rulers.
Best road trip ever!3. In the land of women! The women of Iceland took upon themselves to prove that they make this world go round. And, they took this idea too seriously and the women of whole country went on a strike on October 24, 1975 for one day. Imagine a whole country with breakfast time crisis. The crisis continued, No newspapers for most of the typesetters are women, actresses closed down theaters, teachers the school and flight attendants made sure no birds escape. Men cooked food and waited for apocalypse. Women went out and caused traffic jams.
Shaken and stirred, the lawmakers passed a new women’s rights bill the next year. Ingenuity breeds promptness. And, what a genuine and effective protest it was!
4. FEMEN – Nudity has a long association with shame. So, what remains of nudity when it is relieved of shame?
A beauty. A provocation. A statement. A protest. That is what FEMEN activists claim it is.
September 21, 2008. A dozen women dressed up as sexed up nurses, with smudged makeup and pink heels protesting outside Turkish embassy in Ukraine
April 8, 2013:
The topless ambush of Vladimir Putin at Hannover trade fair by five women! Thus is the methodology of FEMEN, a radical Ukrainian woman rights group as stated by Wikipedia. FEMEN website states, ‘Our Breasts, Our Weapons’. According to their website, the FEMEN is apparently having a blast. Their breasts have already graced the likes of Morocco and Vladimir Putin, and they have pissed on their president. Way to Go.
Freedom comes in many forms, but one thing I will agree on with them is that there is nothing liberating as the absence of clothes.5. And Brussels shall bathe in milk! No saint foresaw that, neither they did capitalism. Neither one of them said that reapers of the earth shall always be protesting. Farmers’ protests are like Russian novels. They are beautiful, but at the same time damp and dreary. Until about a few thousand farmers from Belgium decided to get creative and bathe the city of Brussels with milk. Welcome to the pop acculturalization of the farmers’ movement.
In 2009 farmers from all over Belgium gathered to protest against European Union’s policy in view of falling prices of milk. They surrounded the EU headquarters with their tractors and trucks and then a 2500 strong crowed with cows for support started to wreck the city. Policemen and passerby were squirted with milk direct from the udders. The protestors also dumped millions of liters of milk on their fields.6. How does a slut walk? Constable Michael Sanguinetti had no idea what he was bringing upon himself, when he tried to derive a formula for identifying a slut by her plumage. Women all over the world, donning their most colorful, most desirable plumages marched out. Gandhiji would have been proud!
Slutwalks have been organized in several parts of the world since that fateful march day in 2011. It has become an annual event in some cities and inspired many other similar protests around the world where women march or protest in skimpy clothing.7. We stick together to the end! Indians love to protest and keep finding innovative ways to do it. Mahatma Gandhi has devised about a dozen chart toppers on his own. But, the Chipko Movement which took place in early 70’s in Garhwali region of North India is much more than resourcefulness and symbolism. It is a tale of love.
The tradition of hugging a tree to stop it from being cut down dates back to 1730, when 363 bishnois men sacrificed their lives in Rajasthan to stop tress from being cut. But a similar large scale movement took place in whole of Garhwal Himalayas around 1973-74, where hundreds of local villagers started hugging trees to stop being cut down by companies’ contractors. The villagers won and saved large areas of forests. This incident was essential in a rise in environmental awareness in whole of nation in subsequent years.8. Soweto Soweto! In 1976, at the height of anti-apartheid movement, students at Orlando High School in Soweto did a “we don’t need no education”. Black students from various other schools joined them in protesting the introduction of “Afrikaans” as medium of education until the number swelled to 20,000 marching in the streets. About 176 died in retaliation by the government.
Soweto Movement became very popular and provided much needed impetus to Nelson Mandela’s quest for freedom. At Notting Hill Carnival that year, youths chanted “Soweto Soweto’ while they were being chased by the police.
June 16th is celebrated as Youth day in South Africa to honor the Soweto uprising.9. Big brother, my ass! About 300 Canadians mooned an American aerostat balloon on August 15, 2009. The 15 meter balloon which was equipped with a high power surveillance camera to keep on the coast of Sarnia recorded something unexpected when about 300 Canadians gathered, and dropped their pants to show what they actually thought of it.
The occupational hazards of playing the big brother I guess!
10. Goodbye Lenin! Borders are rigid, somewhat permanent. A line which has been drawn as a result of bitterness is hard to erase.
The fall of Berlin Wall in 1989 was not the result of one protest. It was a lot of unique protests, combined for a unique goal; to unify. Unification of Nations has been done in history through bitter wars, and ruthless oppressions. But, the people coming together to bring down a wall is something history would never forget. It would never forget November 1989, when East Germany said goodbye to Lenin and found itself.