Otpor!….Can an Image Inspire Change?

Otpor! was the name of a non-violent civic student movement that existed between 1998 and 2003 in Serbia. They protested against the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. Under his power, the country was stripped of some civil rights, the government ordered a 36 hour blackout of two media stations, and Milosevic aided in stirring the conflict in the Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosovo areas. Otpor! used the power of numbers and political elections to work towards their goals. Some of the creative methods they employed included theater, street acts, posters, stickers, and concerts. In the end, the group overturned Milosevic’s rule by defeating him in the presidential elections and then the parliamentary elections.

Otpor! translates to “Resistance!” The movement fixated around an image of a fist as a symbol of solidarity. It was meant to encourage people with a reminder of what “the people” can do. The symbol was made as a model of the hand of Saruman from Lord of the Rings. These were put on posters and stickers and placed in widely trafficked areas. So what do you think? Can an image inspire change? Have you seen or experienced this happening anywhere else? Leave a comment below!

-b.hench

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