How to organize a protest

Changing the current policy on the asylum procedures for Afghans in Europe isn’t easy, and it probably never will be. It will take time, and change won’t happen if we don’t take action now. It’s essential for us to take to the streets, unite and make our voices loud and clear.

Organizing a protest is important because of numerous reasons, for example:

  • Protesting brings people together. You get the opportunity to share ideas, motivation and most important: you get the opportunity to get more involved.
  • Protests usually attract media attention and the subject will be more frequently discussed on social media.
  • It’s an easy way for people to make their voice heard, to actually do something about the case they stand for.
  • It’s an amazing opportunity to group together, and find ways to organize new events to make our cause known to the public.

Organizing a protest might seem to be difficult and you might think it’ll just cost way too much of your time. Well, there are certain ways to make it a lot easier and to guarantee a well-organized protest at the same time:

  • Work together: Working together with others will help a lot. It’ll save you a lot of time, but they’ll probably suggest ideas you hadn’t been thinking of.
  • Kind of protest: When you start organizing your protest, the first choice you make is what kind of protest it should be. Most of the time, a march through the city you’re living in seems the best option as marching reaches more people compared to staying at one square. Also think about the way of marching. Are people supposed to stay silent and just walk, or do they have to make clear what they stand for by shouting statements? You might consider to discuss the kind of protesting with Afghan refugees who will be present, too. During most protests, there are some people who talk to the crowd. These speakers can be refugees themselves, former volunteers who worked in refugee camps across the continent, or basically anyone who has an inspiring message about the cause. Most of the time, some speakers are talking before the march starts and some talk at the end.
  • Safety: It’s important for everyone participating to stay safe at all time. Therefore, it’s important to arrange some volunteers who are willing to guide everyone from the starting point till the end, and who are capable of keeping everyone calm in case of a counterprotest.
  • Informing the authorities: It depends on the city you’re protest will be held in, but most of the time it’s both advisable and required to inform the local authorities of your demonstration. Most of the time, they will grant you a permit to march and make sure there is police stand-by along the route.
  • Route: The route of your march is important as well. Choose a route which draws most attention from the public, and end at a big, central place to end the protest.
  • Promoting: You want to have as many participants as you can get. Therefore, you need to make the public aware of the fact that you’re demonstration is upcoming. You can create an online event and invite your friends, and you can distribute posters as well across the city, to inform the people of your place that they have the opportunity to do something.
  • Inviting local networks: To attract as many participants as possible, you might think about inviting local groups which are active in our cause, or a similar one. Think of churches, mosques, local volunteer groups, schools, political parties or student associations.
  • Media: Inform both national and local media about your protest, to attract as much attention as possible.

Your role as organizer at the demonstration itself:

  • Ask the speakers you want to speak: Who’s speaking is important. Think about local volunteers, Afghan refugees, friends of Afghans or someone from a local political party. It’s important to make clear that speaking at your protest must be only in favor of our cause, it’s not meant to be some promotional talk.
  • Make a clear plan: Make sure you write a clear time table. When is your march starts, how long are the people supposed to march and how much time is each speaker allowed to speak?
  • Make sure you have a megaphone: As the protest is outside, it might be windy and there might be too many people present to speak without a megaphone. Also, it’s important for the interested public around the protest to be able to listen to the speakers you arranged, to inform themselves about the deportations of Afghans.
  • Make flyers: Make sure you bring enough flyers with you, so you can inform the public around your protest of our cause.
  • Make banners: A clear way to make our cause visible, are signs. Make sure they are easy to read from distance and they need to send a clear message to the public.
  • Following up on your protest: Try to get more people involved in our cause, by asking them to follow the Stand Up For Afghans pages, contact (local) politicians, share the stories told at the protest with their networks or by asking them to join local action groups.

The most important!

Our protests are non-violent and peaceful. Even if counterprotesters appear, we remain calm. Make sure everyone who is joining the march is aware of our values.