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If (under China) Tibet were built up, the livelihood of the Tibetan people improved, and their lives so surpassed in happiness that it would embarrass the gods of the Thirty-Three Divine Realms; if we were really and truly given this, even then we Tibetans wouldn't want it. We absolutely wouldn't want it.

Tibetan Dissident Pronouncement
10th Day of the 1st Month of the Tibetan Royal Year 2114 (March 10, 1987)

Those who profess to favor freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightening. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

Frederick Douglas
American Abolitionist

I never imagined the struggle would be short or easy.

Nelson Mandela
Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, 1994

Many Asean countries are investing in Burma. Is that not interference in our internal affairs? How can they say they get involved in economic matters but not in politics? Economics and politics are unquestionably closely related. Foreign investment has provided Burma's military junta with legitimacy and propped up the regime.

Aung San Suu Kyi
"Nudge Burma Toward Democracy," THE NATION, 13 July 1999

As a South African, I can claim some expertise on the subject of constructive engagement. For years, some governments claimed that the best way to deal with the apartheid regime in South Africa was by continuing to talk and trade. This gradualist approach, they said, would persuade the white minority regime to share power and end its flagrant abuses. Today the world knows what a failure that policy was. These ties gave the apartheid regime the political and economic sustenance to continue its repressive policies. Only when serious sanctions started to take a significant economic toll on my country did the road to real reform begin.

Bishop Desmond Tutu
After he and six other Nobel Prize winners including the
Dalai Lama were refused entry into Burma in 1993

I believe that only a boycott of SHELL products and the picketing of their garages can call SHELL to their responsibility to the Niger delta. A recent World Bank study of that region has warned that "an urgent need exists to implement mechanisms to protect life and health of the region's inhabitants and its ecological systems from further deterioration." I remain hopeful that men and women of goodwill can come to the assistance of the poor, deprived people in Ogoni and other parts of the Niger delta who are in no position to protect themselves against a multi-national such as SHELL.

Ken Saro Wiwa
Plea from jail, published in THE GUARDIAN, 17 November 1995

A true soldier does not argue, as he marches, how success is going to be ultimately achieved. But he is confident that if he only plays his humble part well, somehow or other the battle will be won. It is in that spirit that every one of us should act. It is not given to us to know the future. But it is given to everyone of us to know how to do our part well.

Mahatma Gandhi

Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

We have seen the "dollars to democracy" theory fail over the past twenty years. The Chinese people may have more brands to choose from at the store, but they still risk arrest, torture and imprisonment because of their political beliefs or their faith. China continues to imprison political dissenters and labor activists, to repress religious freedom, to execute more of its citizens than any nation in the word, to violate the rights of women in its population control policy. ... In 1994, the Clinton administration de-linked human rights and trade. This fulfilled the basic desires of the Chinese communist government. Last month the State Department Human Rights Report admitted that the human rights situation in China is worsening. The administration intends to introduce a resolution at the Human Rights Commission in Geneva this year. But why not take a stand in Washington, DC, using our economic leverage? If foreign policy does not contain a moral basis, it is a typical appeasement policy. ... I am asking you – policymakers – to re-think United States' China policy that currently puts profit over principle, otherwise we will be traveling down a road to larger and more difficult problems. We should not give the Communist Party in China a blank check. ...

Harry Wu
Testimony Before the U.S. Senate Committee of Commerce, Science and Transportation
April 11, 2000

To us the boycott of grapes was the most near-perfect of nonviolent struggles, because nonviolence also requires mass involvement. The boycott demonstrated to the whole country, the whole world, what people can do by nonviolent action.

Cesar Chavez

"No." (by uttering that single syllable when a bus driver demanded that she, as a black woman, surrender her seat to a white man, Rosa Parks sparked a 13-month boycott that ended Jim Crow in the Montgomery, Alabama bus system. The protest inspired 42 other local protests against segregation within a year.)

Rosa Parks
December 1, 1955

We must be the change we wish to see.

Mahatma Gandhi

Withhold no sacrifice. Grudge no toil. Seek no sordid gain. Fear no foe …All will be well.

Winston Churchill

I said that for China the first imperative was ‘survival’, but I must immediately add that by ‘survival’ I do not merely mean to eke a living by disgraceful means…. In this sense, there is a formula that it seems no one has thought of yet – and that is the model offered by Number One Prison in Peking. The inmates need not worry anymore that the neighbours’ house may be on fire; their two daily meals are guaranteed; cold and hunger cannot affect them: their shelter is stable and soundly built, and there is no danger that the roof will cave in. As they are carefully watched by their jailer, they have no opportunities for new brushes with the law. They are being afforded superb protection against burglars. One could not dream of a safer place. Only one thing is missing – freedom.

Lu Xun
Modern China’s greatest writer

I naturally believe that there will be a future, but I do not waste my time imagining its radiant beauty. Rather than discussing how to reach the future, it seems to me that we ought to think first about the present. Even if the present is desperately dark, I do not wish to leave it. Will tomorrow be free from darkness? We’ll talk about that tomorrow. Meanwhile, let us busy ourselves with transforming today.


Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.

Edmund Burke


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