Comparing one’s current circumstances to some standard — whether that norm is one’s history, the events of another person, or any cognitive standard like equity or justice — can lead to feelings of poverty. It has been found that identifying with a marginalized minority is a significant motivator for taking part in protests.
Most people have a violent mentality when it comes to protests. But as time goes on and the world progresses, peaceful street gatherings or silent protests are being held by protesters. If this is your first time hearing the term silent protests, then keep reading to learn how countries such as China and Hong Kong do protests.
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What is a silent protest?
Protests are typically pictured in people’s minds as large, noisy, and occasionally rebellious events where angry protesters call for change with catchy slogans and flashy banners. But, sometimes, the best way to bring about change is to stand up quietly, and this is where silent protests begin.
Protests are motivated by various types of rage, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Unjustified inequality
- Relative deprivation
- Moral outrage at the status quo
A silent protest is a systematic attempt in which individuals remain silent in the streets as a sign of protest. It’s a method of peaceful resistance and civil disobedience that promotes displaying disapproval for several world issues. The hope is that silent protests will help solve peacemaking, inequality, and national leadership issues.
The history behind the silent protest
Silent protests have a long and rich legacy throughout the years. There is a long history of peaceful protestors refusing to play with societal wrongdoing. Silent protests began in 1906 at the beginning of the South African movement for Indian privileges; Mohandas Gandhi significantly contributed to this movement.
Afterward, various remarkable nonviolent movements were part of India’s fight for complete independence from the British Empire. One of the most prominent campaigns was the Salt campaign, which lasted for an entire year and resulted in the imprisonment of 100,000 Indians for willful violations of the Salt Laws.
To express their disapproval of the legislation, Gandhi encouraged the citizens of his nation to do the exact opposite of what was required of them. This event, known as the Salt March, contributed to India’s eventual freedom from British rule.
Standing in silence
Standing silently, exposed, and in a group sends a strong message that contradicts the government’s depiction of protesters as aggressive or terroristic. Protesters may be able to get around limits on their right to peaceful assembly by doing this, and the administration may find it harder to justify a forceful security intervention.
Silent protests fit different situations, which is another one of its strengths. Protest, raising awareness, honoring victims, and calling attention to human rights violations are all possible outcomes. Many countries are performing silent protests in China and Hong Kong.
China’s blank paper protest
The power of a single object to represent a whole social movement is often underestimated. A simple sheet of paper serves this role in China. People often hold up blank pieces of paper in China.
During silent protests, the blank piece of paper became one of the symbols of anti-Xi Jinping’s Zero-COVID policy protests as they extended to different parts of China. For example, based on a Time article, footage of a protest in Beijing included crowds of people holding up blank papers while honking their horns in solidarity with the protesters.
Because of the prevalence of the white piece of paper, many have started to refer to the movements in China as the “A4 revolution” or the “white paper revolution” online. As many have noted, the paper seems to sum up the feelings of demonstrators who want to express themselves but cannot.
The authorities are put in an impossible position: arrest individuals for doing nothing more than standing about or allow a fundamental act of disobedience to spread uncontrolled.
Hong Kong marched silently
People demanding democracy in Hong Kong took to the streets with yellow umbrellas, which doubled as protection against pepper spray. Back then, Beijing was meddling in the former British colony’s ostensibly independent judicial process to remove two democratically appointed pro-independence legislators. So more than 2,000 lawyers and activists marched around Hong Kong in black while silent.
Protestors in Hong Kong in the year 2020 also carried blank pieces of paper, just like in China, to symbolize their opposition to the city’s strict new national security legislation.
The purpose of the protest was to vent frustration with a national security law that Beijing has placed on Hong Kong. This law prohibits acts of terrorism, foreign intervention, secession, and subversion in the special administrative region.
The power of silent protests
Regular individuals can make their voices heard through peaceful or silent protests. Those who feel excluded or powerless blame the systemic power inequalities they perceive in society. Every person should be allowed to participate and have their voice heard in nonviolent civil movements.
Other forms of protest are underutilized, along with the silent state. For example, being polite can be a powerful tool in silent protests.