And the mothers in Argentina who demanded to know what happened to their 'disappeared' children:
In the mid-1980's a popular movement sprang up to oust the corrupt Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. As the resistance gained momentum, two key military officers defected from the government and sequestered themselves inside a Manila military base. What followed was an amazing example of nonviolent struggle as hundreds of thousands of ordinary Filipinos took to the streets to protect the rebel officers from troops still loyal to Marcos.
"What the story of the Philippine revolution demonstrates is the power people can have when they withdraw consent."
Non-violence, when used correctly, is more powerful and more persuasive than any weapon. People forget they have this power until they are shoved to the very edge of the abyss, when they realize the government they support is totally against them, when they realize they have nothing to lose. The citizens give the government power, they can take it away.
The women, whose number soon grew to several score, already sensed that they were testing a surface, without knowing what was beneath. Many others elsewhere in the world who had lived under dictators could have told them what was below: the mendacity of authoritarian control. In the clear air, life in Argentina proceeded as it always had. Given the faÃ§ade of normalcy, the regime seemed unassailable. No one appeared eager to penetrate it, except now for these desperate women.
Not until two months later, after weekly demonstrations, were three mothers allowed to see the minister of the interior, a general who said he had a file with the names of people who had disappeared, that it contained names from even his friends' families. But he did not know who had taken them; he said "that there were para-military groups out there who couldn't be controlled," Rosario recalled. "He passed the responsibility to other people. Then he said that perhaps our sons had run away with a woman, that perhaps our daughters were working as prostitutes somewhere."
At that moment, it seems, the women's fear gave way to anger. "We told him that they were cowards, because even a cruel dictator like Franco had signed the death sentences with his own hand...We told him everything we felt and we told him that we would come back every week until they gave us an answer and that we would walk in the square every Thursday until we dropped." When the general told them public meetings were prohibited by the state of siege then in effect, they told him they would stay until he gave them an answer. Although they did not know it, these grieving women had declared war.
(Look at the movie: V for Vendetta for a recent reminder.)
(links from NTodd)