Online Activism

Inside Avaaz – can online activism really change the world?

With 30 million members, Avaaz is an organisation with ambitions to save us all through technology. Carole Cadwalladr meets its founder Ricken Patel to find out what it has achieved

Protestors after Leveson inquiry report

Getting ahead: protesters dressed as David Cameron and Rupert Murdoch at the Leveson inquiry. Photograph: Rex

There are so many causes. This is forcibly brought home to me outside the Houses of Parliament one day, back in July 2013, where I am trying to locate a “Don’t let Burma Become the Next Rwanda” protest . I find it eventually – there is a tableau vivant of tombstones and a pair of people dressed as Burma’s president Thein Sein and David Cameron with outsize papier-mâché heads – but I’m distracted from stories of potential genocide by the activities of Stonewall and the London Gay Chorus who are also protesting, just yards away. It’s a crucial day for the gay marriage vote, and while the Burma protestors are brandishing placards and chanting slogans it’s a tough gig: the London Gay Men’s Chorus launches into a multi-part acapella version of “I Need a Hero” and Peter Tatchell has appeared and started dancing.

But then, this is the reality of 21st century protest: it’s a beauty parade. A competition for the thing that we all seem to have less of: attention. The TV cameras do show up, though, and a young Rohingya woman from Burma’s Muslim minority gives moving interviews to journalists about the terrible human rights abuses her family have endured. And a dozen or so mostly fresh-faced young people show up to offer their support. The protest has been organised by Avaaz , an online activist organisation, and these are Avaazers. They may have just signed an online petition, or “liked” a cause on Facebook, or donated to a campaign – to save Europe’s bees from pesticides, or to defend Masai land rights in Tanzania, or to “stand by” Edward Snowden. And, depending on who you believe, they’re either inventing a new type of 21st-century protest or they’re a bunch of idle slacktivists who are about as likely to start a revolution as they are to renounce their iPhones and give up Facebook.

In just six years, Avaaz – which means “voice” in various languages – has become a global pressure group to be reckoned with. It’s a new kind of activism that isn’t issue-led, it’s issues-led. It’s human rights abuses in Burma, or it’s the Syrian civil war, or it’s threats against the Great Barrier Reef or it’s homophobia in Costa Rica. It’s whatever its supporters, guided by the Avaaz team, choose to click on most this month. And if you hadn’t heard of Avaaz before, it’s probably only a matter of time.

Continue reading…


Key Terms…
  • save us all through technology ↔ salvar a todos nós através da tecnologia
  • what it has achieved ↔ o que isso tem alcançado
  • Getting ahead ↔ Ficando à frente
  • protesters dressed as ↔ manifestantes vestidos como
  • inquiry ↔ inquérito
  • so many ↔ tantas
  • forcibly ↔ forçosamente
  • locate ↔ localizar
  • tombstones ↔ lápides
  • a pair of ↔ um par de
  • outsize ↔ tamanho fora do comum
  • genocide ↔ genocídio
  • just yards away ↔ a poucos metros de distância
  • brandishing placards ↔ ostentando cartazes
  • chanting ↔ entoando
  • it’s a tough gig ↔ é um show difícil
  • launches ↔ lança
  • it’s a beauty parade ↔ é um desfile de beleza
  • terrible human rights abuses ↔ terríveis abusos dos direitos humanos
  • have endured ↔ suportou
  • donated to a campaign ↔ doado a uma campanha
  • land rights ↔ direito à terra
  • bunch ↔ bando
  • idle ↔ desocupados
  • renounce ↔ renunciar a
  • give up ↔ desistir
  • to be reckoned with ↔ a ser reconhecido
  • it’s issues-led ↔ é liderada pelos problemas
  • threats against ↔ ameaças contra
  • Great Barrier Reef ↔ Grande Barreira de Corais


what it has achieved o que isso tem alcançado
What Britain has never done is capitalize on what it has achieved.O que a Grã-Bretanha nunca fez é capitalizar sobre o que ela alcançou.
Getting ahead Ficando à frente
Look beyond what others are doing or saying, and concentrate on getting ahead. ↔Olhe além do que os outros estão fazendo ou dizendo, e se concentre em ficar à frente.
inquiry inquérito
The committee will conduct an inquiry into the governor’s alleged fraud. ↔O comitê vai conduzir um inquérito sobre a alegada fraude do governador.
tombstones lápides
It’s on the outskirts of the cemetery, among tombstones rarely seen by visitors. ↔É nos arredores do cemitério, entre as lápides raramente vistas pelos visitantes.
outsize tamanho fora do comum
But they still carry outsize influence on programming and advertising decisions. ↔Mas eles ainda carregam influência desmedida sobre a programação e decisões de publicidade.
just yards away a poucos metros de distância
He was just yards away from the line and went to do what he could for Rewilding. ↔Ele estava a poucos metros de distância da linha e foi fazer o que podia para Rewilding.
brandishing placards ostentando cartazes
The final painting features her brandishing a respirator instead of the weapon. ↔A pintura final apresenta ela brandindo um respirador em vez da arma.
They typically are camped in tents and equipped with placards and loudspeakers. ↔Eles normalmente estão acampados em tendas e equipados com cartazes e alto-falantes.
it’s a tough gig é um show difícil
It’s a tough gig these days. ↔É um show difícil nos dias de hoje.
it’s a beauty parade é um desfile de beleza
Arts and crafts, food, live music, children’s activities, parade and a carnival. ↔Artes e artesanato, comida, música ao vivo, actividades para crianças, desfile e um carnaval.
have endured suportou
We had to endure a nine-hour delay at the airport. ↔Tivemos de aguentar um atraso de nove horas no aeroporto.
She’s already had to endure three painful operations on her leg. ↔Ela já teve que sofrer três operações dolorosas em sua perna.
bunch bando
I’ve got a bunch of things to do. ↔Eu tenho um monte de coisas para fazer.
idle desocupados
I will not stand idly by while my business is being destroyed. ↔Eu não vou ficar de braços cruzados enquanto o meu negócio está sendo destruído.
give up desistir
I give up – you’re far better than me at this game! ↔Eu desisto – você é muito melhor do que eu neste jogo!
to be reckoned with a ser reconhecido
My maternal grandmother, a force to be reckoned with, was a full-time homemaker. ↔Minha avó materna, uma força a ser reconhecida, era uma dona de casa em tempo integral.
threats against ameaças contra
Threats were made against our children, and other family members were kidnapped. ↔Ameaças foram feitas contra nossos filhos, e outros membros da família foram sequestrados.


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