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UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See prorev.com for full contents of our site

January 5, 2010

CONVICTED OF READING THE WRONG BOOK

Utne Reader - In August the Iranian regime put 100 activists on trial for the massive summer street protests. Prosecutors insisted that the street actions were "planned in advance and proceeded according to a timetable and the stages of a velvet coup [such] that more than 100 of the 198 events were executed in accordance with the instructions of Gene Sharp."

If you don't know the man's work, you've probably never attempted to overthrow your government. A Christian Science Monitor profile calls Sharp "the godfather of nonviolent resistance" and describes the nature and impact of his work:

"His work has served as the template for taking on authoritarian regimes from Burma to Belgrade. A list of his 198 methods for nonviolent action can be downloaded free of charge, along with his seminal work, 'From Dictatorship to Democracy,' which has been translated by his Albert Einstein Institute into two dozen languages ranging from Azeri to Vietnamese."

Hailed as the manual by those who conducted people-power coups in Eastern Europe, its contents were no secret in Iran, where authorities have obsessed for years about their vulnerability to a "velvet revolution." In fact, a few years ago they requested-and were sent-hard copies of Mr. Sharp's works. Officials saw this summer's unrest as the fruit of his strategies.

Sharp dismisses accusations by the Iranian regime that he had any direct role in the unrest. Iranians, he explains to the Christian Science Monitor, citing "the 1905-06 constitutional revolution, and the 1979 Islamic revolution against the shah."

THE 198 STEPS TO A VELVET REVOLUTION

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