Origami and Protest

Scrap book style image; reading 'Origami and Protest' A monthly blog series on new, creative ways to protest. hly

To mark Human Rights Day this month we are releasing two creative protest blogs. This week we are focussing on origami and how it can be used in protest.  

Origami is the art of paper folding and is truly one of the most peaceful acts of protest.  Although it is hard to track where it initially began, many researchers reckon it was about a thousand years ago in Japan.  

The most famous piece of origami which has been used in protest is the peace crane. Although, it has been used as a symbol of peace for hundreds of years, the peace crane rose to fame in modern times again in 2012, with the Peace Crane project. This is an initiative created by Sue DiCicco to connect children around the world through origami. Participants were Image of a white folded peace crane.encouraged to fold peace cranes, with messages written on their wings to promote a peaceful future and an awareness of International Peace Day. Those who took part in the project were then encouraged to sign up and share their cranes with someone else in the world. It truly encapsulated the building of a global community through art. The movement is based on the origami of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese victim of the bombing of Hiroshima who developed leukaemia. When she was ill in hospital, a friend from school visited her and told her of a legend that if someone folded 1,000 cranes they would be well and flourish in the future. Although she did not get better, Sasaki continued to fold cranes and is said to have folded over 1,000 cranes before her death in 1955. The story has inspired many to join in the art of folding cranes.  

A more recent tale of origami as protest has been brought about by the Climate Coalition. Although they encourage use of all art forms, origami has been a popular choice for their ‘Green Heart Campaign.’ This involves making and sending green hearts to local MPs and decision makers, to encourage them to take a stand against climate change. Using a universal symbol such as the green heart is very effective in drawing people together in protest as it offers a shared motif to ensure a message can have a big impact. This was a campaign which has also been pushed by other organisations, such as the WWF. The WWF encouraged people to not only join the campaign, but put their own spin on it, by creating animals out of the green hearts. Their suggestions were for lions, pandas and foxes - but any were welcome. It was to draw particular attention to the effect climate change has on wildlife.   

Quaker Advices and Queries 42 reminds us of our responsibility to care for the world; “We do not own the world, and its riches are not ours to dispose of at will. Show a loving consideration for all creatures, and seek to maintain the beauty and variety of the world. Work to ensure that our increasing power over nature is used responsibly, with reverence for life. Rejoice in the splendour of God’s continuing creation.” This reminder allows us to appreciate the world and its beauty and in doing so understand our responsibility to protect it. That is why it is important to join with others in protest to protect the earth and its riches. Using origami is a great way of doing this, as it offers a peaceful reminder to those in power. They can keep the messages which have been delivered to them and use them to prompt them to make decisions with the environment in mind. 

I would like to end this short blog by explaining the latest act of protest and origami you can take part in. This year is the 75th Anniversary of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To mark this day, we are encouraging as many people as possible to send us their origami boats, with messages of kindness, peace, and generosity on them. These will then be sent to the new Home Secretary with the objective of encouraging him to treat refugees and asylum seekers in this way. Article 14 of the Declaration of Human Rights grants the right to seek and enjoy asylum from persecution. This right, in addition to the right to leave one’s own country (Article 13), and the right to nationality (Article 15) is designed to protect the most vulnerable in our community. In sending the Home Secretary our messages we hope to remind him of the importance of Article 14, and in doing so it will encourage him to make decisions and take a stance which is inclusive of refugees.  Image of several coloured origami boats with messages written on

We will be collecting these boats and messages over the next couple of weeks, with the intention of sending him a whole fleet in one go. This is inspired both by the work of other origami protests, and in opposition to the phrase “Stop the boats.” By focussing on the boats and not the people on them, the government runs the risk of dehumanising those arriving on our shores and forgetting the struggle they have gone through to get here. Therefore, in our messages we will be reminding the Home Secretary of the power he has in making decisions rooted in humanity. We have released a short tutorial on how to create these boats which can be found on our social media and on our website. Please also encourage others you know to join the campaign, so we can send as many messages of peace and generosity as possible.  

Happy protesting! 

Call to action:

Send us your origami boats to send to the new Home Secretary. 

If you are unable to post us one, then send us a message you would like included and we can pop it on a boat for you.  

Engage in the other Human Rights resources we are releasing.