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Violence doesn’t bring any lasting solution

by Rinku Khumukcham
0 comment 14 minutes read

By: 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 a Medieval period of Indian History in which 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 fueled 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 fueled 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. The monarchy’s authority continued to erode, culminating in the forced relocation of the royal family from Versailles to Paris in October 1789.
As the revolution progressed, internal divisions among revolutionary factions became increasingly pronounced. The radical Jacobins, led by figures like Maximilien Robespierre, gained prominence and advocated for a more radical transformation of society. The revolutionary fervor gave way to a period of intense violence and upheaval, known as the Reign of Terror (1793-1794). During this period, the Committee of Public Safety, under the influence of the Jacobins, wielded immense power. The Committee initiated a campaign to suppress counter-revolutionary elements and perceived enemies of the revolution. The revolutionary tribunal, established to try individuals accused of treason, conducted mass trials and executions, resulting in the deaths of thousands. Notable figures like King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were among those executed.
While the Reign of Terror aimed to eliminate opposition and secure the gains of the revolution, its violent methods had unintended consequences. The arbitrary and widespread use of the guillotine led to an atmosphere of fear and paranoia, pitting citizens against one another. Moreover, the economic situation remained dire, with inflation, food shortages, and economic instability persisting. The rise of radical factions and the suppression of more moderate voices within the revolution fueled internal strife. The Girondins, a moderate political group, were eventually overthrown by the Jacobins, contributing to political instability. The Reign of Terror’s excesses also led to international condemnation and military interventions by other European powers, further exacerbating the turmoil.
The French Revolution serves as a cautionary tale about the pitfalls of violence as a means of achieving social and political change. While the revolution initially aimed to address legitimate grievances and create a more just society, the violent overthrow of the monarchy and the subsequent Reign of Terror resulted in internal chaos, instability, and further conflicts. Instead of providing a lasting solution, the revolution’s descent into violence underscored the importance of dialogue, compromise, and the pursuit of more peaceful avenues for change.
Ultimately, the French Revolution teaches us that violence may bring about momentary change, but it often fails to address the underlying issues and can lead to unintended and destructive consequences. It highlights the complexities of balancing revolutionary zeal with the need for stability and sustainable solutions. As societies continue to grapple with social and political challenges, the lessons from the French Revolution serve as a reminder of the importance of seeking non-violent and constructive means of achieving lasting change.
Mahatma Gandhi’s Non Violent Movement:
Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance during the 1930s and 1940s stands as an iconic example of how peaceful means can achieve significant and lasting change. His strategic use of nonviolence as a tool of protest and liberation played a pivotal role in India’s struggle for independence from British rule. Through his unwavering commitment to nonviolent methods, Gandhi demonstrated that peaceful resistance could yield more sustainable outcomes than violence, leaving a lasting legacy that continues to inspire movements for justice and freedom around the world.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, popularly known as Mahatma Gandhi, emerged as a prominent leader in India’s quest for independence from British colonial rule. Inspired by his experiences in South Africa and drawing from his deep spiritual beliefs, Gandhi developed the concept of Satyagraha, which means “truth force” or “soul force.” Satyagraha was a philosophy of nonviolent resistance that sought to confront injustice and oppression through peaceful means, appealing to the moral conscience of oppressors.
Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence was rooted in the idea that individuals had the power to effect change through self-suffering and civil disobedience, rather than through physical violence. He believed that nonviolence could expose the inherent injustices of a system, evoke empathy, and compel the oppressors to reconsider their actions.
One of the most iconic moments of Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance was the Salt March, also known as the Dandi March, in 1930. In protest against the British monopoly on salt production and the exorbitant salt tax, Gandhi led a 240-mile march to the coastal town of Dandi, where he and his followers ceremonially produced salt from seawater. This act of civil disobedience galvanized millions across India, showcasing the power of nonviolent protest in mobilizing public sentiment and challenging colonial authority. The Salt March and subsequent civil disobedience campaigns, such as the refusal to buy British textiles, demonstrated that nonviolent actions could effectively disrupt colonial economic and administrative systems. These campaigns compelled the British authorities to confront the injustices of their rule and generated international attention and support for India’s struggle.
Gandhi’s philosophy extended beyond mass protests and marches. He advocated for boycotts of British goods and institutions, recognizing the economic power that consumers held. By encouraging Indians to support indigenous products and refrain from purchasing British goods, Gandhi sought to weaken the economic foundations of British rule and empower local communities. These boycotts showcased the potency of nonviolent economic resistance. They highlighted the interconnectedness of colonial economies and the impact that collective consumer choices could have on imperial powers. Through boycotts, Gandhi not only fostered a sense of selfreliance but also undermined the economic stability that sustained British colonialism.
The Quit India Movement of 1942 marked another significant milestone in India’s struggle for independence. Gandhi launched a nationwide campaign demanding an immediate end to British rule, calling for the “Quit India” resolution. While the British authorities responded with mass arrests and crackdowns, the movement’s emphasis on nonviolent civil disobedience and noncooperation showcased the resilience and determination of the Indian population. Despite facing severe repression, the Quit India Movement illustrated that nonviolence could be a potent force even in the face of adversity. The British response to the movement generated international criticism, tarnishing the image of British colonialism and reinforcing the moral high ground of the Indian struggle.
Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance not only played a decisive role in India’s journey towards independence but also left an enduring legacy that continues to inspire movements for justice and civil rights worldwide. The principles of nonviolence, civil disobedience, and moral persuasion advocated by Gandhi have been adopted by numerous movements, from the American Civil Rights Movement led by Martin Luther King Jr. to the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.
Gandhi’s success in achieving India’s independence through nonviolent means demonstrated that peaceful resistance could achieve more sustainable outcomes than violence. By appealing to shared values of justice, morality, and human dignity, nonviolent movements can mobilize widespread support, foster empathy, and exert pressure on oppressive regimes to reconsider their actions.
Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent resistance during the 1930s and 1940s stands as a testament to the transformative potential of peaceful means in the face of injustice and oppression. His strategic application of nonviolence, whether through mass protests, boycotts, or civil disobedience, showcased the effectiveness of moral persuasion and the capacity of individuals to effect profound change without resorting to violence. Gandhi’s legacy serves as a reminder that violence is not the only path to achieving justice and liberation. Through his philosophy of Satyagraha, Gandhi exemplified the power of collective action, moral strength, and unwavering commitment to truth in challenging oppressive systems. His accomplishments highlight the enduring relevance of nonviolent resistance as a potent tool for achieving lasting and meaningful change in the world.
Disadvantages of Violence:
Victims of violence suffer lasting psychological trauma and it also sets a negative example, especially for young people who may grow up thinking it’s an acceptable way to solve problems. Resorting to violence can alienate potential allies or supporters, hindering progress in addressing the underlying issue. Violent acts often cause damage to property, such as vandalism during protests turning into riots. Violence against authorities can undermine the legitimacy of institutions, leading to societal unrest.
Acts of violence attract negative media coverage, damaging public perception and potential support for a cause. Violence can hinder progress in areas like education and development, as seen in regions plagued by ongoing conflict. Violent acts like rioting can lead to environmental destruction, such as fires destroying forests or urban areas. Violence can have lasting consequences for generations, impacting social fabric and development opportunities. Violence places strain on healthcare systems, with resources diverted towards treating victims. Violent acts lead to economic losses through damaged infrastructure, decreased tourism, and disrupted trade.
Violent conflicts can destroy cultural landmarks and heritage sites, erasing history and identity. Resources that could be used for development and progress are diverted towards addressing the aftermath of violence. Communities plagued by violence live in constant fear, inhibiting social growth and cohesion. And it erodes trust between individuals and groups, hindering cooperation and collaboration. It also bypasses diplomatic solutions that may have led to more peaceful resolutions. Violence disrupts educational systems, depriving children of opportunities for learning and growth. Engaging in violence can result in criminal charges and legal penalties. Lastly but not the least a wise man or community learns from other’s mistake.
(The author is Ex Navy & RTI Activist from Mayang Imphal)

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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