This is Ethiopian Review Policy Research Center’s series on From Dictatorship to Democracy extracted/quoted from books and articles published by Albert Einstein Institution and similar sources.
Some people who recognize that they lack deep knowledge of nonviolent struggle turn to outsiders for guidance on what they should do. They may find individuals, groups or agencies who are eager to advise and who offer to help.
Usually no foreign saviors are coming, and if a foreign state does intervene, it probably should not be trusted. The harsh reality is, foreign states will tolerate, or even positively assist a dictatorship in order to advance their own economic or political interests, and foreign states also may be willing to sell out an oppressed people instead of keeping pledges to assist their liberation at the cost of another objective.
However, accepting those offers can at times be as dangerous as deciding how to conduct such a conflict without in-depth understanding of nonviolent struggle. Outside resource persons cannot have intimate knowledge of the particular conflict situation, nor the current political situation, nor the historical background.
Additionally, external assistance is not empowering. The people who receive external advice to resolve their difficulties will still be dependent on others to deal with their problems.
Furthermore, the guidance provided by outsiders can on occasion be primarily motivated by the desire to achieve the objectives of the outside group giving the advice, instead of the objectives of the population facing the oppression.
At times, asking outsiders for guidance on what resisters should do can even result in a loss of control of the struggle to the outsiders.
It can happen that outsiders offering to assist a nonviolent struggle group also offer money to the resisters, who often are in difficult financial straits. Extreme care is merited in such instances. The financial assistance may later be revealed to be linked to controls of one type or another.
If the controls are accepted, the resisters have lost their ability to determine their own course of action.
If the controls are not accepted, the financial support may be severed.
Additionally, revelations that the resisters have been funded by an external saviors may tarnish the movement badly and contribute to discrediting the resisters as tools of a hostile foreign government.
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