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International Day of Peace, 21 September 2010

Youth for Peace and Development

The International Day of Peace, observed each year on 21 September, is a global call for ceasefire and non-violence. This year, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on young people around the world to take a stand for peace under the theme, Youth for Peace and Development.

Children

UNMIT / UN Photo

The United Nations is looking for stories from young people around the world who are working for peace. The campaign slogan this year is Peace=Future, The math is easy.”

This year, the International Day of Peace (IDP) falls within the same time period as a major summit on the Millennium Development Goals, the world’s largest anti-poverty campaign. The Summit brings world leaders together at the United Nations in New York from 
20 - 22 September.

In addition, the UN General Assembly has proclaimed 2010 as International Year of Youth: Dialogue and Mutual Understanding. A campaign to be launched by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) on 12 August will promote the ideals of respect for human rights and solidarity across generations, cultures, religions, and civilizations. Those are key elements that reinforce the foundations of a sustainable peace.

Youth, peace and development are closely interlinked: Peace enables development, which is critical in providing opportunities for young people, particularly those in countries emerging from conflict. Healthy, educated youth are in turn crucial to sustainable development and peace. Peace, stability and security are essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, aimed at slashing poverty, hunger, disease, and maternal and child death by 2015.

The Secretary-General has recognized the incredible potential of youth which must be tapped to ensure these goals are met in their lifetimes.

Each year, the Secretary-General, his Messengers of Peace, the entire UN system and many individuals, groups and organizations around the world use the Day of Peace to engage in activities that contribute to ceasefires, end conflict, bridge cultural divides and create tolerance.

On 13 June 2010, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the 100-day countdown to the International Day of Peace, calling on young people around the world to submit their stories via social media, detailing what they do for peace.

Watch this space for some of those stories.

* * *

The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by resolution 36/67 of the United Nations General Assembly to coincide with its opening session, which was held annually on the third Tuesday of September. The first Peace Day was observed in September 1982. In 2001, the General Assembly by unanimous vote adopted resolution 55/282, which established 21 September as an annual day of non-violence and cease-fire. The UN invites all nations and people to honour a cessation of hostilities during the Day, and to otherwise commemorate the Day through education and public awareness on issues related to peace.

 

PEACE

Peace is a process. Its not an event.
Peace is something you make. something you do.
Peace is a verb.Peace is a series of choices and decisions
It must be defended. It must be fought for.
Peace is not a cozy corner it is the center of everything
Peace is not quiet. Peace is loud
Abigail Disney   (inspired by the words of Liberian activist Etweda"sugars" Cooper)

 

A choice of 9/11s

 

It may well be the oddest date in history.

However much they dominate our present, the human missiles of 2001 don’t have a unique claim on 9/11.

It was on September 11, 1906, that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi first articulated the concept of ‘satyagraha’, non-violent resistance, at a public meeting in South Africa. His rigorous application of this philosophy over the next 40 years earned Gandhi the title of Mahatma – great soul. It also gave the modern world a powerful new political tool for dealing with conflict and hurt.

It was on September 11, 1893 that an Indian monk, Swami Vivekananda, was overwhelmed by a three minute standing ovation at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Reverberations of his appeal for universal brotherhood persist today beside the buzz of protest and counter-protest over Park51.

It was on September 11, 1609 that Henry Hudson became the first European to set foot on an island which natives called ‘Menatay’ – our present day Manhattan. Hudson’s landing, somewhere in the vicinity of today’s Ground Zero, was a precursor to European settlements and mass death of native populations.

A collage of all four 9/11s can potentially serve as a map quest – showing us different pathways to resolving the tussle between co-existence and conflict, faith and reason.

Full article at  http://www.opendemocracy.net/rajni-bakshi/choice-of-911s

 

 

Joint Statement of Indian Muslim leaders on the attacks and burning of Christian properties

"We disapprove disrespect to any religion or desecration of any sacred scripture or vilification of any religious personality or attack on any religious place, anywhere in the world, and consider it a despicable and uncivilized act. Islam specifically prohibits such acts and behaviour. Therefore, whatever the provocation, we strongly condemn the attacks on Christian properties and institutions in some places in Kashmir and in Maler Kotla in the Indian state of Punjab. We urge the authorities concerned to take stern legal action against the culprits.


We also appeal to our Muslim brethren in India, in particular, and elsewhere, in general, to show restraint in such situations and limit their disapproval and protest against such incidents to peaceful demonstrations, press statements and memoranda to the authorities concerned."


Issued by:
Syed Shahabuddin, President, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat
Nusrat Ali, Secretary General, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind
Asaduddin Owaisi, MP, Leader, Majlis Ittehadul Muslimin
Dr Zafar Mahmood, President, Interfaith Coalition & Zakat Foundation of India
Navaid Hamid, General Secretary, Movement for the Empowerment of Muslim Indians (MOEMIN)
Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, Editor, The Milli Gazette & former-President, AIMMM


New Delhi, 14 September 2010

 

 

Bridging the Divides

Delhi People Did it…


Wahid Ur Rehman

My first question to people across India after the recent violence was, "Why do you only remember Kashmir for  its tourism, honeymoon vacations,   and sightseeing? Why don’t you protest and shed tears for what has happened to us?" I was especially puzzled that active members of India's civil society organizations outside Kashmir were not speaking out. I wrote to the Home Minister and others to try to get them to understand how terrible things are in Kashmir, but I was not sure that my protests were being heard.

During this time I got a notice from Manushi informing me that a group named Citizens First Forum had been formed and will be raising its voice to protest the recent human rights violations in the Valley.
I learned that a Memorandum would be submitted to the UPA Chairperson that would outline steps that she should take to bring Peace to the Valley The same group was also organizing a Candle Light Vigil  at
Central Park, Connaught Place in the heart of Delhi for that same date, September 3, 2010.

I was surprised that Citizens First Forum had been able to react so quickly at such a crucial time; we Kashmiri were hoping to find people outside the Valley who were concerned about what was happening to us. It gave us a feeling of apnapan, (warmth and caring), being cared about by people from India as their own. Money and relief packages doled out by the Central Government can’t yield the same result.

While I was in Kashmir, I received a personal call from Madhu Kishwar asking me to be a part of this movement. Without hesitating for a moment I told her I would join them on 3rd September.

When I got to Delhi and reached Manushi's office I found it all in disorder. Nearly 20 people were spread out on mattresses all over the place. I was surprised to find that all these were young students from
J&K – part of a musical band named Youth Expressions—who had come to perform at the solidarity event organized by Manushi. The chaos was due to the fact that Manushi office had been converted into a camping site for these Kashmiri youngsters for the length of their 4 day stay in Delhi. I felt deeply moved by the fact that an organization in Delhi had opened its doors in this manner to Kashmiris in order to
build bridges of understanding between the people of Kashmir and people in the rest of India.

The whole group at Manushi, and especially Madhu, were very tired, but kept working late into the night on the program for the 3rd. She was hunting for photos of those who had been killed in the Valley during
the present turmoil, making placards, preparing faxes, arranging candles, and doing many other things, all at the same time. It was really hectic in the office.

On the day of the candle light vigil, we went to the Congress Party head quarters to submit a Memorandum to the UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi. Hundreds of people had gathered there to celebrate Sonia Gandhi’s reelection as President of Congress. But for me the people who mattered were those who came in response to Manushi’s call for solidarity with and to demand justice for Kashmiris. They had given up their own busy schedules for the sake of Kashmir and Kashmiris, many
holding some of the same types of placards we carried in Kashmir. It was really a moving sight to witness such a demonstration in Delhi for the first time. Even the media people who showed up were confused. They found it hard to believe that this was happening in Delhi and that too right outside Sonia Gandhi’s office.

Later we moved towards Central Park in Connaught Place, the heart of Delhi. There hundreds of people assembled and held a Candle Light vigil in loving memory of those young school children and men killed in the present turmoil. The Kashmiri musical band  Youth Expressions sang some Sufi songs in memory of the victims. This was followed by sufi/bhakti music by Madan Gopal Singh, Deepak Castelino, Zakir Dholpuri, Pritam Ghoshal, Bindu Chawla and Vatsla Mehra. A cross section of people from Delhi, including artists, professors, journalists, doctors and two retired army generals—General JP Gupta
and Major General Lakhwinder Singh and Amitabha Pande retired IAS officer-- joined the vigil. Madhu handled the introductions on the dais. She was really concerned and caring about Kashmir. I was
astonished that Kashmiris were getting so much support in Delhi. I never remember this happening before. Had we received this help a bit before things erupted, there would have been an entirely different
situation in the Valley today.

During the protest Madhu invited me onto the stage to describe the actual ground level situation in the Kashmir Valley. When I spoke some of the things I said were harsh and might have seemed offensive to
some people because I was blunt in my criticism of the political leaders who let loose a reign of terror to crush very genuine protests against the killing of innocents. Nevertheless, the response from the
audience was really supportive and understanding. I never spoke like that before in my life; they give me confidence because they were sympathetic toward Kashmiris.

As soon as the news of this event reached the Valley I got a  enthusiastic response from the people there as well. They asked me a lot of questions on the phone like, "How, Who, When and Where". They
were very curious and moved that people across India have started caring about them. I found a spirit of optimism in their voices while talking with me. They think this protest and demonstration by people
in Delhi has given recognition to their loved ones who were killed in past months.

They found that their own sufferings, deaths of loved ones and protests didn’t happen in vain; at least some of the people of India have started realizing their pain and grief.

At the end I can only say, let's be thankful to the people of Delhi who love us as part of their own families; Let’s be the change we want to see.

Because, we are the people
We are the children,
We are the future, &
We are the ones who will make a brighter day.

 

Madhu Purnima Kishwar
Editor, Manushi Journal,
Founder, Manushi Sangathan
Tel: 011 23978851, 23916437.
Visit Manushi www.manushi.in
Madhu Kishwar blog at www.madhukishwar.in

 

 

Probably nowhere in the world are people of two countries as emotionally entwined as are the people of India and Pakistan.
Political separation and blood-spattered migration of millions has left deep scars on the collective consciousness of the two nations.
Post-partition, our tumultuous history has been interspersed with four wars and loss of innumerable innocent lives. Fundamentalist groups ensure that the fires of animosity are kept alive while Kashmir continues to burn, threatening to take the two countries on a course of self-destruction.
And yet even as the heart that might harbour hatred and distrust, upon meeting ‘the other’ surges forth to embrace the ‘enemy’, to offer and reciprocate warmth and friendship. Common people on both sides want peace and normal relations to be established between the two countries. How do we explain this?
Even though geographical boundaries have been forced upon us by historical circumstances, our common customs and traditions, our language, music, food, our values and way of life – continue to bind us  together. Even our problems – of poverty and unemployment,  of crisis in governance, in health, in education - are the same. On both sides, our people are pushed to the peripheries of poverty by unjust models of economic development. Can we afford this hostility?
So while the two governments make slow and intermittent steps to establish peace, depending on their current political will and strategic exigencies, we feel that if genuine peace and friendship has to be established between the two countries giving a chance to real progress and development, the initiative will have to be taken by the people themselves - by the poor, the women, the tribals, the working masses, by us - who are made most vulnerable by this continuous atmosphere of antagonism and war.
Various such peoples’ initiatives for peace have been witnessed over the last many years, the Indo-Pakistan Delhi to Multan Peace March in 2005 being one of them. In the spirit of sufi saints and poets who spoke of love, Padyatris walked from Delhi to Multan spreading the message of love and brotherhood in the hope that our governments would recognise that the spirit of give and take, of mutual co-operation and friendship will bring progress and development to our subcontinent and to South Asia.

Witnessing the ongoing blow-hot blow-cold attempts of our governments towards the process of dialogue, we are once again emboldened to take up another joint people to people initiative
- the Indo-Pakistan Peace Caravan, Amn ke Badhte Qadam.

Peace & development are possible only in an environment of trust & goodwill: this, indeed, is the message of this Peace Caravan.  The Peace Caravan is travelling through villages, towns, cities – interacting with people from Mumbai to Wagah, from Karachi to Attari – to build an atmosphere of trust & friendship and to gather our collective strength to pressurise our governments to end hostility.
We understand that our objectives cannot be achieved through just this effort. We also believe that this Peace Caravan is just one element in the many initiatives being taken up by the two peoples. Let us, then, join hands for the sustained creation and development of an environment of trust, goodwill and peace between the two countries – indeed, in South Asia as a whole.
We ask you to lend your commitment to bring in peace and ask our governments to adhere to the following objectives:
1. Movement of people across the borders should be made easier. Normalisation of relations can happen only if people are allowed to freely and easily meet and interact with each other. Restrictions on movement across the border should be eased and in fact the visa-passport regime should be removed. Heeding to the wishes and aspirations of the people of both countries, a mutually agreed upon and monitored open border system should prevail (like in the case of India – Nepal)
2. India and Pakistan must resolve issues with a commitment to unconditional friendship. A solution to all contentious issues should be found peacefully through mutual dialogue. These issues include the issue of Jammu and Kashmir (which, in our view, should be resolved by taking into consideration the wishes and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir), and the issue of terror-related activities on account of which the people of both countries are suffering. Both countries must end proxy, low intensity wars against each other & restrain their intelligence agencies from fomenting trouble across the border.
3. India and Pakistan should dismantle their atomic-nuclear establishments, destroy landmines and withdraw the army. Real security lies not in the piling of arms and ammunition but in building a relationship based on mutual trust. Besides proving harmful to one’s own citizens, underground landmines and nuclear bombs use up precious financial resources that we can ill-afford. Both countries should stop wasting resources in the name of defence, and use them instead for the eradication of poverty.

Organizations : Institute for Peace and Secular Studies, Sangat – A South Asian Feminist Network, South Asia Partnership, PEACE, Labour Party, INSAF, CMKP, Centre for Study of Secularism and Society, Peace Keepers, Asha Parivar, Democratic Commission for Human Development, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Punjabi Khoj Ghar, ANHAD, Giyan Foundation, Kriti, Himmat, Seimorgh, Ayodhya ki Awaz, Tehrik-e-Niswan, Swayam, PILER, Phule Ambedkar Vichar Manch, Mass Foundation, Jagori, National Youth Forum, NCDHR, People’s Development Foundation, Sadbhav Mission, ASR, NACDOR, IPSS, Disha, NCJP, COVA, Bulleh Shah Foundation, Dosti Trust, IGSSS, Shahri Adhikar Manch, Women Action Forum, Sungi Development Foundation, Global Gandhi Forum, Mumbai Sarvodaya Mandal, Awami Bharat, SUPRO (Bangladesh), Jana Avakasha (Sri Lanka), Help-O (Sri Lanka) Focus on the Global South, Peace Mumbai, Pakistan - India People’s Forum, Sadbhavana Sangh, Manibhavan, Gandhi Sangrahalaya, Sarva Seva Sangh, Sadbhavna cell.


I am not the wall that divides , I am a crack in that wall
 

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