Training Program on Nonviolent Civic Action

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May 7, 2013

Viet Tan engages in actions that empower the Vietnamese people. Specifically, we seek to roll back existing restrictions against two key human rights: freedom of expression and freedom of association/assembly. These enabling freedoms are the pillars for civil society.

Disenfranchised for so long, many Vietnamese may not realize that they themselves possess the power to affect change. For years, through training programs held in-country, abroad and online, Viet Tan has provided organizers with the skills to build an effective people-powered nonviolent movement. We share lessons from successful democratic transitions around the world and the latest techniques in digital activism.

Herein are the curriculum for our training programs, adapted and localized from leading institutions and experts dedicated to the use of nonviolent tactics (CANVAS, Gene Sharp, ICNC) and digital security (Tactical Tech Collective, Front Line Defenders).

Training Program on Nonviolent Civic Action
Facilitated by Viet Tan


Session 1: What is Nonviolent Civic Action?
This session introduces the origins, nature, and objectives of Nonviolent Civic Action, also known as Nonviolent Struggle; how this method has been used by ordinary citizens around the world to fight for their rights; how power can be shifted gradually to the side of the people.

The concept of Nonviolent Struggle is illustrated through several videos and case studies of past and present movements and campaigns around the world.

Session 2: Political Power in Society
This session addresses the nature of power and where the sources of authority comes from. All rulers must depend on voluntary support and compliance of the governed. It is up to the people to withdraw their obedience in order to start fundamental changes in society.

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Centre for Applied NonViolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS): a strategic approach to everyday tactics

Session 3: The Regime’s Pillars
This session describes the functions and powers of the major institutions and organizations that support a regime. Examples of such pillars include authority figures, the media, military forces, the police, and the business community. Nonviolent movements can exert pressure on these pillars to make them more responsive to the rights of the people or undermine the structures that support the regime.

Session 4: Strength in Numbers
This session covers the strategies to attract and maintain large number of participants in a nonviolent movement. Maintaining the discipline of nonviolence among all participants in the face of violence is essential for success.

Session 5: Nonviolent Tactics
This session presents the list of nonviolent tactics compiled by Dr. Gene Sharp. Discussions are focused on assessing which tactics are widely used around the world and which are appropriate for use in Vietnam.

Session 6: Nonviolent Struggles in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and North Africa
This session reviews the experiences of successful and unsuccessful nonviolent struggles in Eastern Europe, the Color Revolutions, and the Jasmine Revolution. Participants will gain a clearer perspective and lessons on the role nonviolent civil resistance has played or is playing in a particular case.

Session 7: Civil Society: Foundation of Democracy
This session examines the role of civil society in forming and maintaining democracy. Robust civil society can suppress the emergence of new dictatorships and strengthen the new state against foreign pressures.

Session 8: Essential Lessons of Nonviolent Struggle
This session summarizes the entire theory and practice of Nonviolent Struggle in 20 essential lessons. With this summary, participants will easily understand and disseminate the knowledge of Nonviolent Struggle to others, as well as apply this knowledge to their own efforts to achieve democracy and defend human rights in Vietnam.


Session 1: The Role and Responsibility of a Leader
This session examines the common traits and characteristics of effective leaders and how such traits can instill confidence and courage in a group to act collectively. Rights-based campaigns often rely on many people to assume leadership positions in order to strengthen and sustain the movement.

Session 2: How to Recruit Members to a Movement
This session presents some of the techniques in recruiting and retaining prospective participants and supporters to a movement. This session also provides guidance in how to evaluate the ability and level of dedication of each prospective member so that later division of tasks is both appropriate and beneficial to all parties.

Session 3: Group Building
This session presents the traits of group and the need to identify the purposes of forming a group. Not grasping the purposes makes it difficult to devise group activities and to recruit new members. This session also suggests basic steps in developing and expanding the group into the wider population.

Session 4: Facilitating Skills for Group Activities
This session presents some principles in facilitating and guiding a group activity that benefits all participants. A list of practical do’s and don’ts will be discussed.

Session 5: Conflict Resolution
This session presents some of the methods and necessary steps to resolve disputes within a group. Members of the group are encouraged to openly address the conflicts and find ways to avoid future recurrences.

Session 6: Listening Skills
This session presents some of the methods that can help group members remain open-minded toward all different opinions and to find common ground to accomplish collective tasks. One important step is to place oneself in the positions of others to understand their views.

Session 7: Public Speaking Skills
This session presents some of the techniques that can help the participants become more confident in appearing and speaking in public regardless of the size of the audience.

Session 8: Skills for Organizing and Building Consensus
This session presents methods that could bring all members into the planning phase of a group’s future activities. These tactics are aimed at reducing the length of debates and emphasize everyone’s responsibility in both brainstorming and carrying out the group’s plans.


Session 1: What is Digital Security?
This session provides a broad examination of the online threats to security and privacy. Possible scenarios as well as real-life cases of malware infection, digital security compromises, and computer infiltration are presented. This is a primer on digital security.

Session 2: Windows Security
This session presents necessary security measures for Windows users: putting passwords on Windows accounts; pros/cons of admin/standard user accounts; how to turn off all sharing features; how to temporarily lock the screen; how to automatically update Windows OS and other software to minimize vulnerability.

Session 3: Passwords
Passwords are the first line of defense for all kind of accounts online and on a computer. This session examines various misconception of password usage. This session demonstrates how to create strong passwords to withstand brute-force attacks. The concept of a passphrase is introduced. Password manager software is demonstrated as a solution for managing multiple accounts and passwords.

Session 4: Safeguarding Data & Information
The concept of encryption is introduced as the main method to safeguard data and information. Various methods of encryption are shown for transmitting information and for storing data securely on computers.

Session 5: Secure Wipe
Participants will learn how to erase EXIF data on digital images before wide distribution; how to erase/wipe files securely to eliminate any chances of recovery; and how to securely wipe a computer hard disk as a defensive measure against machine loss and confiscation.

Session 6: Browsing the Web Securely
Browsers are the portals to the online world and also are a popular attack vector by hackers. A survey and comparison of the most popular browsers on the market are presented. This session also demonstrates how to configure for safe browsing: disabling password storage; using https instead of http; using a multiple-browser strategy.

Session 7: Using Email Securely
This session compares common free email services such as Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo. Gmail is selected as the best choice for safe and secure email communication. The participants will learn how to enable Gmail’s 2-step verification. Other security features of Gmail are also demonstrated.

Session 8: Using Skype Securely
This session shows how to configure Skype to eliminate chat history; how to clear current history and Skype ID; and other safe practices for VOIP communication.

Session 9: Circumventing Censorship
This session presents a general overview of online censorship methods used by many governments. Understanding how authorities censor online will help the participants understand the countermeasures. Hands-on practice with many circumvention tools will be included.

Session 10: Mobile Security
Mobile phone is still the primary choice of communication by most human rights defenders and organizers. This session explains how the authorities track and monitor activists via mobile phones. Countermeasures are discussed.

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