Case Studies

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A Legacy of Religious Tolerance in India
A Struggle from the Ground Up: The Anti-Apartheid Movement in South Africa Apartheid in South Africa stripped non-white citizens of basic civil liberties such as voting, land ownership, and the right to marry freely. After more than 30 years of repression, black South Africans launched a series of grassroots initiatives to win their equality and make South Africa theirs. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
After the Arab Spring: Building Consensus and a Democratic Future in Tunisia In 2013, Tunisia once again witnessed protests against the country’s political situation. This political crisis was caused by a rift between the government, led by the Islamist Ennahda party, and secular parties. The Tunisian General Labor Union, led by Houcine Abassi, took up the task of mediating between the opposing parties. Through its leadership, a national dialogue succeeded in leading Tunisia out of the political impasse. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
Al Masry Al Youm: Transforming the Egyptian Press In Egypt, state-owned newspapers served as mouthpieces for the Mubarak regime, while opposition newspapers merely presented the views of their parties. To fill the void of an independent, investigative media outlet, Hisham Kassem and Magdy El-Gallad helped break new ground in the Egyptian press with Al Masry Al Youm. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
Asma Jahangir: Human Rights for All
Aung San Suu Kyi: Leading the Burmese Democracy Movement Aung San Suu Kyi has devoted her life to the idea of a free and open Burma. Despite long periods of house arrest and media blackouts, Suu Kyi’s continued commitment to nonviolence has earned the Burmese Democratic Movement global solidarity and respect. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
Bringing People Hope: Harvey Milk and the Gay Rights Movement in America In 1977, San Francisco politics was taken by storm when Harvey Milk was elected to the Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man elected to public office in the U.S. His legacy of fighting for gay rights has inspired a new generation of civic leaders fighting for sexual equality and the expansion of civil liberties. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
Cause Without a Rebel: Silent Spring and the Rise of Environmentalism Silent Spring, a damning indictment of indiscriminate pesticide use written by popular author and ecologist Rachel Carson, topped the New York Times bestseller list and sparked outrage amongst scientists and the general public. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
Charter 08: Calling for Democracy in China On December 10, 2008, on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a coalition of 300 prominent Chinese citizens led by Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo published the Charter 08 manifesto. They boldly called for multiparty democracy, a free press, and an independent judiciary. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
Constitutions and Democratic Transitions
Creating an Underground Press: Samizdat in the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc Before the invention of the Internet, writers and artists in the Soviet bloc relied on homemade copies of writings and bootleg cassettes to share poetry, literature, and music. To learn more about the underground press that helped Dr. Zhivago reach the world and Czech dissidents take on Communism, read Tavaana's new, exclusive case study on Samizdat.
Cyrus the Great and Religious Tolerance In 550 B.C., Cyrus, king of Anshan, founded the Achaemenid Empire by conquering the kingdom of Media. During Cyrus's reign – from 550 until 530 B.C. – the Achaemenid territory stretched from the Balkans to Central Asia. The Achaemenid Empire was the largest empire by percentage of world population in history; approximately 59 million of the world’s 112 million people at that time, i.e. 44 percent of the world population, lived under its rule. It was also the most diverse and pluralistic empire in the world at the time, unifying different nations, tribes, languages, cultures and religions. Tolerance was one of its most defining characteristics.
Days of Anger: The Egyptian People's Revolution for Bread, Freedom, and Human Dignity Anger over a stagnant economy, widespread corruption and political repression reached a boiling point in Egypt on January 25, 2011, when a diversity of Egyptians converged on Tahrir Square to demand accountability and democratic change. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
Enemies of the Nation: Fighting for Garment Workers’ Rights in Bangladesh Over a thousand Bangladeshi garment workers were killed at Dhaka’s Rana Plaza Complex on April 24, 2013, with many more left injured and unable to work again, sparking worldwide outrage and a demand for meaningful change. Read Tavaana's exclusive case study to discover how unrelenting pressure and media coverage forced over 175 international retailers - including Adidas, Puma, Zara, and Fruit of the Loom - to pledge support to improve worker conditions and avert another tragedy.
Fighting for Farm Workers' Rights: Cesar Chavez, the Delano Grape Strike and Boycott The National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) was founded in 1962 to challenge the American farm labor system that had denied immigrant farmworkers the right to unionize and protect their rights and dignity for decades. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
From Polarization to Consensus: The Story of Chile’s Long Democratic Transition Looking back on Chile's democratic transition, President Ricardo Lagos emphasized that a “transition from authoritarian rule requires every group to understand that it cannot demand everything it wants. That is a transition: talking with those who think differently, even if they have been defeated.”[i] This is what Chileans did – talk to each other, build trust and forge relationships with opponents—Chile went from polarization to consensus, establishing a stable representative government and economic growth.
Government by the People: Independent Electoral Bodies and the Struggle for Democracy
Hitler’s Pet Canary Revolts: Denmark’s Living Wall of Resistance Heavy footsteps echoed ominously around Amalienborg’s deserted palace courtyard. Silently, royal guards raised their rifles to repel the intruders, but alas, it was too late. German bombers droned overhead, their swastikas glinting in the dawn light as pale green leaflets fluttered down on the sleeping city. “OPROP! (Proclamation!),” the leaflets announced in garbled Danish, “[German] military forces have taken over protection of the Danish kingdom’s neutrality...avoid any active or passive resistance…It will be useless and broken with all the instruments of power."
How the Women of Liberia Fought for Peace and Won After over a decade of brutal and relentless civil war, Liberian women courageously launched and sustained a mass action campaign for peace. Despite deep-seated ethnic and religious tensions, not to mention gruesome, ongoing violence, Liberian women united to spread their message of peace and reason to corrupt, repressive government officials and rebel leaders alike. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study to learn more about the power of women and their discourse of peace, a discourse that resulted in the African continent's first woman president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Martin Luther King, Jr: Fighting for Equal Rights in America A Baptist minister by training, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. raised public consciousness of inequality to fight against racial discrimination and segregation in the United States. His mass movement for African-American rights fundamentally changed the US. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
Middle Eastern and North African Heroes of the Holocaust Today, the Middle East is often characterized as polarized, conflict-prone, and intolerant. However, the stories of Khaled Abdul-Wahab, Selahattın Ülkümen, Abdol-Hossein Sardari, and Mohamed Helmy show different possibilities – possibilities of respect and self-sacrifice for the rights of others. Their stories demonstrate the impact that courageous individuals with the conviction to stand for what is right can have on the lives of others.
Mohammad Nourizad, Pioneering Defender of the Rights of Baha'is For the very first time, a group of civil rights activists in Iran is publicly championing the rights of Baha'is. Among this group of activists, which is comprised of prisoners and political figures, is Mohammad Nourizad. Nourizad is the most exemplary and active of their number, and has proven himself a true pioneer in advocating for the rights of this embattled minority. Read this exclusive Tavaana case study to learn about ongoing efforts to to end discrimination against the Baha'i community in Iran.
Mzalendo: Keeping an Eye on Kenya’s Parliament Mzalendo was launched in 2005 in response to the lack of transparency and information about the Kenyan Parliament. The purpose of this project is to keep an eye on the Kenyan Parliament and hold politicians accountable for their actions by providing the public with information and promoting the participation of citizens in politics. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study on Mzalendo, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
Reclaiming Sicily from the Mafia: Rita Borsellino and the Addiopizzo Movement The Mafia has long been a dominant force in the Italian economy; pizzo, or protection money, has long been a burden on Sicilians because success only leads to larger monetary demands from organized crime rings. By the end of the 20th century, Sicilians began to challenge the status quo and reclaim their freedom. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
Saviours of the Last Ark: How Two Communities United to Save a City’s Last Synagogue A crisp winter breeze cut through the air as hundreds of Muslim men, women, and children filtered through the streets of Bradford, England on a sunny January day in 1989. Signs reading “Rushdie Eat Your Words,” “Rushdie Stinks,” “Ban Satanic Ve[r]ses” swayed back and forth, floating above waves of people coalesced in front of the city’s main public buildings. Supporters of Salman Rushdie, the novelist to whom these statements were addressed, stared aghast at their T.V. sets, where images of protesters dousing in gasoline his controversial novel, The Satanic Verses, appeared before their eyes. In an instant, the faces on the T.V. gleamed, as a spark met the novel’s gas soaked pages. Seeing the novel ablaze, the crowd erupted into cheers.
Solidarity, Pope John Paul II, and the Orange Alternative: Bringing Down Communism in Poland Starting small but ultimately toppling the Communist regime, the Polish opposition, which included Lech Walesa's Solidarity movement, Pope John Paul II and the Orange Alternative, strove for human dignity and full citizenship and freedom for all Poles. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
The Cedar Revolution in Lebanon On February 14, 2005, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was assassinated in a car bomb. Outraged, the Lebanese people mobilized en masse for accountability and independence from Syrian control. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
The Good, the Bad and the Bystanders? Inspiring the crowd to tackle the world’s bullying epidemic
THE HELSINKI PROCESS AND THE FALL OF COMMUNIST REGIMES IN EUROPE
The International Campaign to Ban Landmines: How One Woman's Vision Created an International Network Someone is killed or maimed by a landmine every 20 minutes, and children, who are more likely to pick up strange objects and less likely to read warning signs, are among the worst affected. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) has fought to eradicate landmines worldwide. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
The Ladies in White: Marching for Change in Cuba In March 2003, the Cuban government arrested 75 human rights activists and journalists in what became known as the Black Spring Arrests. The Ladies in White, who began as a group of mothers, sisters and relatives of the political prisoners, refused to accept the detention of their loved ones. Today, they are a force of their own. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
The People Power Revolution in the Philippines: I Saw No One Yield to Fear In a series of popular demonstrations against President Ferdinand Marcos, the Filipino people successfully pushed for a democratic transition in 1986. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
The Race to Protect the Middle East's Past and Safeguard Its Future
The Russian Movement Against Putin: Imagining a Different Russia
The Spanish Transition to Democracy The struggles of the Spanish people and the choice of opposition groups and regime moderates to create a new democratic system on the basis of broad based consensus –despite old and deep seated social divisions-- make the Spanish transition an enduringly relevant model of peaceful democratic change.
The Tree Mother of Africa and Her Green Belt Movement In 1977 Wangari Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, launching a life-long campaign to put a stop to Kenya's environmental catastrophe and its attendant infringement on the right of all people to live healthy and sustainable lives. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
The Velvet Revolution: A Peaceful End to Communism in Czechoslovakia In the last six weeks of 1989, the people of Czechoslovakia staged a nonviolent movement for democracy. The Velvet Revolution, led by Vaclav Havel, brought an end to Communism and inspired democracy movements in Eastern Europe and worldwide. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
The Year Life Won in Serbia: The Otpor Movement Against Milosevic The youth-led Otpor student movement reversed a fraudulent election and brought down the Milosevic regime in Serbia, using strategic nonviolent tactics like theater and humor. Read the exclusive Tavaana case study, complete with suggestions on additional reading.
The “Deaf President Now” Movement at Gallaudet University