What’s In A Name: Rebel Groups

category: > Features, > History Now/Then

written by: Jaap Proost

FIRST thing to do when one starts an uprising, is to come up with a strong/intriguing name for your group of insurgents. Something that sticks. It can be vague, like the Decembrist or something that leaves not much to the imagination, for example The Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists. And if the rebels don’t pick something catchy, others will do, like in the case of the Shining Path.


I selected a couple of rebel groups from now and then that, when it comes to cool names, had the upper hand in battle.





Shining Path is a Maoist organization in Peru. The rebel group initiated the internal conflict in Peru in 1980, with the stated goal of replacing what it saw as bourgeois democracy with ‘New Democracy’.



The Mau Mau Uprising was a military conflict that took place in Kenya[B] between 1952 and 1960. It involved a Kikuyu-dominated anti-colonial group called Mau Mau and elements of the British Army, auxiliaries and anti-Mau Mau Kikuyu. The conflict set the stage for Kenyan independence in December 1963.



The Decembrist Revolt or the Decembrist Uprising took place in Imperial Russia on 26 December, 1825. Russian army officers led about 3,000 soldiers in a protest against Nicholas I’s assumption of the throne. Because these events occurred in December, the rebels were called the Decembrists.



The Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists, known by foreigners as the Boxers, or “I-Ho Magic Boxing”, was a secret society in China between 1898 and 1901, opposing foreign imperialism and Christianity. The uprising took place in response to foreign ‘spheres of influence’ in China.


The Young Turks were a coalition of various groups favoring reformation of the administration of the Ottoman Empire. The movement was against the absolute monarchy of the Ottoman Sultan. They established the second constitutional era in 1908 with what would become known as the Young Turk Revolution.



The POLISARIO is a Sahrawi rebel national liberation movement working for the independence of Western Sahara from Morocco. The movement is outlawed in the Morocco-controlled part of Western Sahara, and raising its flag is also illegal.




The New Jewel Movement was a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party in the Caribbean island nation of Grenada. The movement took control of the country with a successful revolution in 1979 and ruled by decree until being deposed by the US military after its 1983 invasion.



The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, commonly known as the Tamil Tigers, was a separatist militant organization formerly based in northern Sri Lanka. Founded in May 1976, it waged a violent secessionist campaign to create an independent state in the north and east of Sri Lanka for Tamil People.






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