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Remembering Gene Sharp

Posted by Erin Bechtol
02.01.18

David Hartsough, Director of Peaceworkers and author of Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist, reflects on Gene Sharp who passed away at the age of 90 on January 28, 2018.

What a mighty contribution Gene Sharp has made to humankind’s understanding of nonviolent struggle and the power of nonviolent action. (See The Politics of Nonviolent Action and www.aeinstein.org )

Through Gene’s work and writing people around the world have learned about the power and effectiveness of nonviolent struggle and have put that understanding into action and built powerful campaigns and movements to create positive change in their societies including building people-power movements to overthrow many dictators and governments which were not listening to their people. We and all future generations are grateful for Gene’s life and all he has contributed. With deep appreciation for a LIFE WELL LIVED!!!  Gene Sharp, PRESENTE!!

A couple memories of our work together.

Gene and I were in Moscow at the invitation of the Living Ring after the August attempted coup d’etat against Gorbachev in 1991.  Boris Yeltsin and the others opposing the coup were hiding out in the Parliament building, while 10,000 people (the Living Ring) surrounded it for three days and nights nonviolently facing the tanks and soldiers who had order to attack. The Living Ring wanted training in how to nonviolently defeat future attempted coups against the government. Gene gave talks and we led workshops on nonviolent means to defeat further coup d’etats.  It was a real privilege to work with Gene who selflessly shared the power of nonviolent struggle with people, groups and movements who wanted to use peaceful methods to challenge oppression and injustice.

In 1997 I took the several xerox copies of the manuscript of Gene’s book, From Dictatorship to Democracy, to what was then Yugoslavia to give to students in the nonviolent movement in Kosovo.  I left a copy with Women in Black in Belgrade. A copy of that manuscript got into the hands of OTPOR, the student movement in Belgrade. It was translated into Serbian and published there and became the handbook for the courageous nonviolent movement which brought down the dictatorship of Milosevic.  Gene, needless to say, was very pleased.

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