Guerillas without guns

Otpor youth movement (© Flickr/Peter Durand)

Young activists from Eastern Europe and Central Asia, from Belgrade to Baku, meet for the first time at the Tirana Activist Festival to formalise their cooperation. Since the bloodless revolution in Serbia, they have been training each other in the art of non-violent resistance. Those with experience in Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine share their experiences with activists from Belarus and Azerbaijan who are still waiting for their own democratic revolution to take place.

“Guerillas without Guns” features Ivan Marović, a high-energy 32-year-old veteran of the Otpor youth movement that helped drive Slobodan Milošević out of power. He spends a lot of his time training aspirant activists in the region and recently, in Lebanon. “This movement is totally out of control and this is the way it should be”, he says.

The programme examines some of the principles they share: no violence, no leaders and the use of humour to defuse tension in repressive regimes. Many have read and even translated the books of the American Gene Sharp on non-violent resistance. All have received financial support from European and US governments, private foundations and non-governmental organisations.

These activists, most of them in their twenties, are pragmatic people. There is not much talk of ideology in their discussions. They discuss the ‘corporate branding’ of their organisations and what to do once the revolution is over. At the end of days of discussing and partying, they sign a pact: ‘one for all and all for one’. 

Producer: Hélène Michaud

Broadcast: July 19, 2005