Updates-A Story of Realistic Hope

The Many Faces of Nonviolence - Drawing a New Nonviolent Reality for Youth

Dominant public narratives can be defined as stories revolving around a central idea that “eclipse others and have the most power to shape public consciousness” (Metzler, Jackson, Trudeau 2021). Yet, in the face of gun violence, the often misleading dominant narrative of personal responsibility and stereotypes eclipse the crucial voices of those directly impacted by violence. We hear and see in the media a distorted perception of certain youth, especially Black men, as dangerous criminals without acknowledging the systemic issues and stories of these individuals that convey them as humans rather than villains. It isn’t until one takes the intentional time to make space for these stories and actively listens for these narratives to take shape. Nonviolence International is a proud partner of the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA). IANSA is an organization committed to the disarmament and opposition to gun violence. Its work involves representing and advocating for those involved in this movement on an international platform while providing resources such as campaigns.  IANSA’s Aim for Change Campaign seeks to shed light and amplify these voices through a workshop that allow the youth to express their stories of violence, masculinity, and community in a safe space through creative mediums of art.

Youth violence includes any individual 10-29 of age as “a victim, offender, or witness” in an interaction involving intentional physical force (CDC 2022). Even before I was considered a youth, I can recall a life threatened with violence, specifically gun violence. It was during this time that I experienced a lockdown due to the threat of armed students, heard the news that my friend survived the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, and hoped each day that the names on the news after each tragedy wouldn’t be a familiar one. Although my experience comes from the United States, where “1,000 physical assault-related injuries” are treated alone each day, youth violence is a global public health issue that has psychological, physical, and social consequences. Globally, 200,000 youth homicides occur each year– a number that does not include the injuries that go seen and unseen, and thus, untreated every day. 

There are a variety of factors that contribute to the youth violence issue, and a factor often overlooked due to its normalization is harmful masculinity. So many gender norms and elements are normalized that even I was taken aback at what I had been socialized to not only understand for myself but also apply. It made me contemplate the gendered differences in compliments, media portrayals, and even classroom dynamics. The problematic gender norms that socialize and are encouraged in many societies often construct the erroneous normalcy that violence and force can prove one’s masculinity. This often manifests into crime, even in the youth as “84% of youth homicide victims” and perpetrators are males (WHO 2020). The extent of such gender-based gun violence has been explored previously at NVI with IANSA and demonstrates the fatal consequences of toxic masculinity. In response to the identification of issues such as gun violence, problematic gender norms, and systemic failure, the Aim for Change Campaign– the result of a collaboration between the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA), the Human Centered Design Program at Algonquin College, and Gun Free South Africa (GFSA)– was developed. 

Aim for Change is an artistic workshop for youths around the age of 10-12 that is facilitated by youth workers, who help the participants reflect on their experiences and encourage them to break the cycle of violence. This campaign’s goal is “to bring children together and encourage them to challenge the problems they see in their communities (i.e. gun violence) by expressing their thoughts and feelings in a safe, fun, artistic, creative, and engaging way” utilizes art as a preventative and reactive tool (https://iansa.org/aim-for-change-campaign/). The end result of this workshop is a zine, an “informal magazine” composed of each participant’s artwork using any material available such as newspaper, pencil, and even lipstick. During the creative process, participants are provided themes to explore specific issues. The six themes are: 

  1. Personal Heroes: the individual’s personal hero (what they may view as masculine)
  2. Guns and Me: how gun violence affects the participant
  3. Breaking Free: experience with gun violence and gangs in the community
  4. Making Waves: what one lacks in the community (resources, support, unity)
  5. Shout Out: empowers participants to use their voice even when they feel powerless
  6. Anything You Want

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These themes and the purpose of each demonstrate the intentionality of this campaign– from its name to its global vision and even the team members that developed it. I had the pleasure of meeting with two individuals, Anna Ranger and Amarjeet Singh (who introduced himself as Amar), who were members of the multidisciplinary team that developed Aim for Change. Through our conversation, I was better able to understand the development of this project as well as the purpose for each element. 

Even in the nature of the campaign itself, Amar notes how the team sought to “hit two birds with one stone” (fulfilling two goals with one agent). By hosting a workshop, the children not only had “an indirect way… to communicate how gun violence impacts their lives” but also a productive extracurricular activity in a community that lacked “a lot of things such as recreation activities” (Singh). Providing participants with positive programming is crucial because it disrupts the recruitment of children with nothing to do with being targeted by gangs. This not only demonstrates how the team sought to address the individual issues of each participant but also the broader structural issue of scarcity in the community. 

However, this context of an art campaign raised another concern that, ironically, the campaign wanted to combat: gender norms. Anna brought up the point that they “were also worried that art itself can be gendered for young people. We were a bit worried that only female students would be interested in a workshop that was framed as involving lots of art.” This worry, which fortunately has not raised any major obstacles to participation, reminded me of the gender norms that I had not even consciously been aware of due to the level of normalization and socialization. Although it is difficult to be actively conscious of all the societal norms prevalent in our daily lives, I was encouraged by how Anna and Amar also found themselves becoming more mindful through the development process of this campaign just as I became more mindful through this research process. I believe this goes on to show that we do not aim for perfection but constant learning for a better world. 

Initially, this campaign’s target community was in South Africa, but through the global reach of IANSA, the vision of Aim for Change is to be international. For this purpose, art then became a flexible agent that allowed the “workshop to be translatable in many different places.. Whenever language barrier comes to play– visual art is a really good solution because we can communicate through images” (Ranger). Anna and Amar discussed with me the long-term vision of Aim for Change functioning like pen pals for children internationally. In each area that creates a zine, even with different languages, the universal character of art would allow for the zines to be exchanged with the hope that “children experiencing gun violence will feel less alone” (Ranger). 

Using art as a means of expression allows the participants to communicate difficult and heavy topics, which is especially significant for children that have grown accustomed to gun violence as an undiscussed normal. The team specifically chose a zine “to keep it really open so that the participants could engage in thinking about their trauma in whatever way they felt comfortable with” (Ranger). Additionally, the ability to construct their own narrative emphasizes the “individual’s sense of self” and perspective, which empowers participants’ individual voices while assisting in the “externalization of their problems and strengths” (Padilla 2022). I believe Amar put this process best: “When you make children think about these things that affect them, that is when they are able to acknowledge, accept, and work on these things.”

Youth have the ability to change, but they face structural, societal, and individual barriers to change. Just like the meaning behind this campaign’s name, we must shift the presence of violence to positive change for youth around the world in the same way this team was able to shift “aim,” a word associated with gun violence to one associated with the hope of a world without such violence. This can not be done alone, but this does not mean one does not make a difference. In fact, Anna speaks to the strength of her interdisciplinary team. After hearing the contributions each team member made to the creation of Aim for Change, I agree with this statement. 

Having only met a part of the team, I was truly astounded by the work that they had done and the process of research, collaboration, and execution to create a workshop that sought to tackle such big problems one component at a time. It was not only Anna and Amar’s team at Algonquin College but also many thoughtful, passionate individuals from GFSA and IANSA that led to Aim for Change. In many ways, the process of developing this campaign reflects elements of creating a better world. It takes individuals of diverse backgrounds, strengths, and passions that seek a kinder world for all –especially those that bear the burden of remaining complacent to the world we live in now– for change to begin and be sustained. I am honored to share a world with so many of these individuals and urge you to be one of these individuals with bold fullness. 

The tangible final product of the Aim for Change workshop is a zine– an informal magazine– that is constructed from pages made by each participant. In order to showcase each page while remaining true to the original “magazine-like” style of the zine, I used a digital magazine format with each page dedicated to an example and/or pilot workshop’s zine page. These zine pages capture not only the creativity of each individual but also the themes that thoughtfully guide the participants during the zine-making process to productively explore their experience with violence. I chose to categorize my digital showcase of the zine pages by themes to highlight the intentionality of each theme while providing examples of how these themes may manifest onto paper. Each zine page was dynamic on its own, but a particular piece that stood out to me is shown on page 2 titled “Guns and Me.” The page is composed of a gun with an X across it along with an incredibly raw and powerful poem. As I read through this poem that begins with “because there was a gun,” I felt the urgency of the crisis at hand. A youth’s world should not have to begin with “because there was a gun,” but rather “because there was school,” “because there were books,” “because there were people that cared for me,” and most importantly, “because there was a safe world for me.” I believe that the world should not only be hoped for but created.    

Through the process of exploring the origin and completion of this campaign, I can see how we are creating this world for our youth. In my research, I was able to identify the patterns that are prevalent in areas of youth violence, specifically in relation to guns. These patterns relate to toxic masculinity, resource scarcity, gangs, and other broad and daunting issues. Although it was discouraging to continue to see a reality where these issues have become prevalent to the point of normalization, I was also inspired by the bold steps each agent involved in the Aim for Change campaign such as IANSA has taken to confront them. Additionally, I have come to embrace the notion that everyone can be involved in the aim for change. Whether it is a psychological background or coding expertise, is through the variety of strengths that makes collective action that much more powerful. I have come to learn this at Nonviolence International as well. When we value our collective wisdom and power, we are able to more effectively realize a world of humanity, especially for those that do not have the resources to do so. 

 

References

Beaumont, Sherry L. “The Art of Words: Expressive Writing as Reflective Practice in Art Therapy (L'art Des Mots : L'écriture Expressive Comme Pratique Réflexive En Art-Thérapie).” Taylor & Francis, 28 Jan. 2019, www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08322473.2018.1527610.

Heilman, Brian, and Gary Barker. “Masculin Norms and Violence: Making the Connections.” Promundoglobal.org, Promundo-US, 2018, promundoglobal.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Masculine-Norms-Mens-Health-Report_007_Web.pdf.

Metzler, Marilyn, et al. “Youths and Violence: Changing the Narrative.” American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, May 2021, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8157800/.

“Preventing Youth Violence |Violence Prevention|injury Center|CDC.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 Apr. 2022, www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/youthviolence/fastfact.html#:~:text=Youth%20violence%20is%20the%20intentional,victim%2C%20offender%2C%20or%20witness.

“Youth Violence.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 8 June 2020, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/youth-violence. 

What Does The World Need Now: A Turning Point!

In this moment of growing global crisis, what we need now is a youth-led movement of movements.

Nonviolence International is proud to share the good news that the Turning Point Summit is taking shape and we urge you to follow along and support their vital work. 


Many of you know of NVI’s active participation in the creation and growth of The World House Global Network.  This exciting project is a result of collaboration between the network’s Youth Working Group, Stanford University and The Dais.

The Turning Point Summit 2022 will be held on the 2nd - 7th October. It marks the International Day of Nonviolence & Gandhi’s birthday celebration. 

The Turning Point Summit 2022 will serve as a platform for gathering inspiring youth leaders from around the world through different events with an aim to initiate a youth led movement towards a nonviolent world.

We believe that educating and enabling youth to take nonviolent action can become a turning point for the present and future generations. Young minds are more open to the difference in others and less inclined toward conflict. Youth are most likely to seed the change today that will make a better world tomorrow. A single person can ignite change that spreads to the whole community.

NVI has been actively spreading the word about this important youth-led effort and are thrilled that two friends featured in the videos below have decided to participate. Andrea and Simon recently connected to NVI and have each inspired us with their vision and hard work.  


This much needed effort was organized by a team including Keshav Gupta, the founder of The Dais, working globally towards youth empowerment & International Centre for Sustainable Development an organization dedicated to the 2030 Agenda. A Tedx Speaker, Keshav is the winner of Karmaveer Chakra 2018, by iCONGO in Partnership with the United Nations, Global Green Schools Award at the UNGA Climate Action Week, NYC 2017 besides being nominated for the 2021 Tällberg-SNF-Eliasson Global Leadership Prize. Keshav holds bachelors degrees in Economics and Law from University of Delhi and is also a Norec Alumni, Government of Norway.


Events include: 

Workshop on Nonviolence
4th - 5th October 2022

08.00 PM IST / 10.30 AM EST / 4.30 PM CET

Deep-dive into understanding nonviolence, peace and change

Artistic Performances for Peace

2nd - 7th October 2022

07.30 PM IST / 10.00 AM EST / 04.00 PM CET

Exploring the Role of Arts in Nonviolence and Peace

Youth Assembly on Nonviolence

2nd - 3rd October 2022

08.00 PM IST / 10.30 AM EST / 4.30 PM CET

Youth coming together for a Declaration on Nonviolence

Youth Co-creation Session

6th - 7th October 2022

08.00 PM IST / 10.30 AM EST / 4.30 PM CET

Designing a youth led strategy on nonviolence and youth development

Follow Up Actions to the Summit

November 2022 Onwards

The Movement and Community to take shape

 

For more information and to register please visit: https://www.turningpointsummit.org/

Spotlight on Nonviolence - Christian Omoruyi

I’ve recently had the pleasure of talking with activist Christian Omoruyi through NVI’s spotlight series. Christian recently graduated from American University in 2021 with a BA in International Affairs.He has worked closely with many human rights activists and Nobel laureates and has served to further causes promoting peace as an activist. 

Through my conversation, I loved learning about Christian’s views on nonviolence and activism. Furthermore, his knowledge on the subject of voting districts in the USA and his previous work on them were very interesting to me and I’m confident would also be intriguing to anybody interested in voting districting and how it can be used to bring about skewed outcomes when controlled by political parties. I learned a lot from talking to Christian and I hope that others will have a chance to learn as much from him as I did.




Reflections on the Fight for Fair Maps

Testifying on Redistricting Bill

Member of an Interfaith Call for Love in Action


A few years ago we were told that computer algorithms would serve us. Now we have learned that we serve them. So, we are compelled to ask you to “please like and subscribe” to our new YouTube channel so that others will be introduced to the work you already support. 


 

Calling for Peace in Ukraine

NVI-Ukraine has worked for years to promote peace & reconciliation in Ukraine.

1) NVI-Ukraine serves as the coordinator of the Eastern European Network for the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC). GPPAC is the longstanding network of peace groups in the region. GPPAC has long worked to ameliorate internal ethnic, religious and community conflicts in Ukraine and the region. 

NVI-Ukraine and GPPAC call for an immediate cessation of all military actions which threaten the lives and livelihoods of citizens of all countries involved. In particular, we urge:

  • All parties to uphold obligations under international humanitarian law regarding conduct during wartime.
  • The international community to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine.
  • Third parties, especially EU countries, to provide safe haven for those people who do not wish to take part in wars of aggression.

We call on Belarus, Russia and Ukraine (and all countries in the world) to honor the conscientious objection of their own citizens and of those in the opposing military forces. We call on Belarus, Russia and Ukraine to cooperate with 3rd countries and swiftly transfer them abroad if the resisters so request. If countries would like to be more generous to these courageous war resisters, then they should offer asylum to their immediate families as well.  If the soldiers do not fight, then wars cannot be fought. 

ACTION ITEM: Contact your government and insist on a policy of asylum for conscientious objectors.

2) Nonviolence International is assisting nonviolent civil resistance in areas occupied by Russian forces. While the focus of international media has been primarily on the military resistance of Ukraine to Russian aggression, ordinary unarmed citizens in areas occupied by Russia have been courageously demonstrating their resolve to remain with Ukraine by nonviolent means. In August, Nonviolence International co-organized a meeting of Ukrainian civil activists who spent months in areas occupied by Russia and were organizing different actions of civil resistance. One outcome of the meeting was to support the establishment of underground clandestine schooling in occupied Ukraine.

3) NVI-Ukraine is helping ordinary Russian citizens with anti-war messaging from NVI's internal public opinion and messaging reportsAlthough Russia is a dictatorship - public opinion does matter a lot. In fact, the Russian government is not able to currently sell to its own population the concept of an all-out war against Ukraine, thus it uses euphemisms such as a "special military operation" etc. Due to this - the government cannot announce a full mobilization, it does not have the legal instruments to send people to the battle zone against their will and so on.

Police Officers Arresting Protesters in St.Petersburg (Source: Aljazeera)

As the war drags on, Russia's key military objectives remain unfulfilled. The Russian government is tempted to carry out more and more measures which will gradually put the entire country in a de-facto state of war, even if war is never officially announced. This cannot be done without significantly increasing pressure and demands on all of society. Our hope is that if anti-war attitudes and resistance will continue to grow, while the motivation of those who support the government remains insufficient, this will put the country's leadership in a situation where it will have no other option as to seek peace and discontinue its imperialist policies.

4) NVI-Ukraine continues to work closely with a variety of international efforts to facilitate visits, meetings, delegations, humanitarian efforts, and project explorations. We would like to draw attention the work of Nonviolent Peaceforce, Patrir, and PAX. We also speak out to the media on nonviolent alternatives in Ukraine, Russia, and the region. See below for media interviews.

 

 

Demonstrators for Peace (Source - Dmitry Serebryakov/AP Photo)

5) Nonviolence International-Ukraine is deeply concerned about the possibility of Russia exploding nuclear weapons or destroying the nuclear power plants in Ukraine.  NVI drafted a letter in April, NVI called on people around the world to appeal to Chairman Xi and Prime Minister Modi to call Putin to dissuade him from exploding nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Action Item: Please contact the governments of China and India to dissuade President Putin from exploding nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

6) NVI is a leader in calling for adherence to international law prohibiting the invasion, occupation and annexation of territory. 

Action Item: Contact your government and tell them to take strong stands for international law and to oppose annexations of Russia toward Ukraine, Morocco's toward Western Sahara, and Israel towards Golan(Sryia) and East Jerusalem (Palestine).  The US and Western European countries must stop their support for Morocco and Israel.


Nonviolence International is proud that Andre Kamenshikov, NVI Ukraine director, was part of this impressive gathering.

Civil Resistance in Ukraine and the Region

How does civil resistance work and what can it achieve? This panel shares how civilians are using strategic civil resistance to diminish the power and impact of the Russian military.

In Ukraine, civilians replace road signs to confuse Russian military vehicles, they block roads with cement blocks and iron pins, and they have set up a complex humanitarian aid system with neighboring countries. Within Russia, protests and resignations by universities, media outlets, and professionals denounce the military invasion. Join us to learn more about the strategy of civil resistance in Ukraine and the region.

Panelists include leading experts in civil resistance, some joining us from the frontlines in Kyiv.



Below you will find a collection of our current resources on Ukraine including press releases, media appearances, statements we support, and shared perspectives. We hope that these not only inform you about Ukraine and nonviolence efforts surrounding it but also that it inspires you to walk with us in nonviolence and support peace activists bravely taking on this stand.

Media Releases

February 25, 2022: English-Speaking Expert Available to Speak to Media from Ukraine. 

February 18, 2022: A Chance for Peace: OSCE Must Strengthen the Ukraine Peace Monitoring Mission. The US Must Reverse Its Withdrawal of OSCE Peace Observers.


Media Appearances

Michael Beer speaks with Metta Spencer about reaching out to Russians to end the war. https://tosavetheworld.ca/episode-459-reach-out-to-russians/

Michael Beer speaks on February 23, 2022: WBAI News with Paul DeRienzo: Biden Sanctions Russia, Peacekeeping Troops Arrive, Ukraine Defiant ( Michael speaks at 13:40-18:38)


Andre Kamenshikov, NVI Ukraine Director, speaks on March 2, 2022 Democracy Now!: Nonviolence Int'l in Kyiv: Resistance Mounts to Russian Invasion as 2,000 Civilian Deaths Reported


Andre Kamenshikov speaks with NVI intern Paige Wright on March 7, 2022: Interview with Andre Kamenshikov: Violence in Ukraine and a Call for Peace


Andre Kamenshikov speaks on WORT radio on March 9, 2022: Kamenshikov on Russia's 8 Year War in Ukraine


Shared Perspectives

Below is a collection NVI's press releases and statements from other organizations we support. 

The Humanitarian Disarmament website launched a new Ukraine War and Disarmament Resources page to increase public understanding of the humanitarian disarmament issues raised by the war in Ukraine and to serve as an information center for advocates, journalists, and others.

Former NVI Intern now teaching English in Prague shares her perspective as war refugees are welcomed.

Our friends at the Metta Center for Nonviolence have created this impressive list of relevant resources. 

Don't miss this collection from the Transnational Institute. 

Statement from over 100 peace groups.

Daniel Hunter says Ukraine's Secret Weapon may prove to be Nonviolent Direct Action.

Peace Direct' Statement on Ukraine and Russia

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons' Condemnation of Russia's Invasion of Ukraine

Stephen Zunes calls on us to Support International Law Everywhere

John Feffer asks that we Support Diplomacy and the OSCE

Joanne Sheehan notes that war is a crime against humanity on the Metta Center's podcast. 

Move On Petition

 

There is enormous civilian resistance to this war around the world. In Russia, hundreds of thousands of people have protested with signs and chanting in the streets and more than 7000 have been arrested. In Ukraine we see enormous civil resistance with tactics including various kinds of blockades, mutual aid, changing streets signs, boycotting Russian products, direct appeals to soldiers, singing. Please visit our database of 350 tactics that can inspire people around the world to do something at this time.

Khaya Siege Updates

Khaya Siege Updates

Khaya Family Siege Updates

A US-based delegation of volunteers went to Western Sahara to break the siege of the Khaya family. For background information click here. Donate to support our ongoing efforts to promote nonviolence in Western Sahara here. Read more below to see our report and updates from the field team during their deployment from March-June 2022.

Sept 1, 2022, 2nd edition of the report published about the 80 day intervention. Download our report here.

Currently, Sultana Khaya is recieving medical care in Spain. Waari and her mother as still waiting for permission to also get medical care in Spain.

 

June 3, 2022, Democracy Now broadcasts headline video of Sultana Khaya's arrival in Canary Islands.

June 1, 2022, Tim Pluta, Ruth McDonough, Sultana Khaya successfully arrive in Canary Islands Airport to a huge crowd and media conference.

May 28, 2022, NVI and delegation protest against Moroccan deportation and abuses in front of the White House.

May 27, 2022, Amnesty International Report. Morocco/Western Sahara: Investigate targeted assault on Sahrawi women activists.

May 27, 2022 US delegation arrives in DC and protests their Moroccan mistreatment and US policy towards Western Sahara at the White House an Noon.

May 24, 2022 Siege of Khaya home re-intensifies with more agents surrounding the house. These past few weeks we have seen women visitors beaten by Moroccan forces with chains, their hands broken so they can't hold Saharawi flags' and youth visitors arrested and abused. Sultana's niece got beaten in front of Sultana's house trying to enter. Her husband escorted her away from this unsuccessful visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 23, 2022, US Delegation of women, were forcibly put on the plane to Casablanca by unidentified Moroccan men. No legal rationale or basis was provided. One woman felt that her bra and shirt we deliberately lifted up.

May 23, 2022, US delegation of women are deported by Moroccan forces at Laayoune Airport. They are trying to visit their friends in Western Sahara, in particular the Khaya Sisters.

May 21, 2022, Tim and Ruth, release a dove at the front of the Khaya house, calling on the Moroccan forces to stop their siege, lay down their guns as Tim did many years ago and build a society based on consent and justice not on domination.

May 15/16, Large Truck Crashes into Khaya Home at Midnight. See NVI's Facebook page for a video shortly after the attack.

May 13, 2022, Ruth McDonough ends her fast and calls on people around the world to continue fasting for Western Sahara.

May 11, 2022, Ruth McDonough fasts for an eighth day.

May 10, 2022, Morocco sends an unsolicited ambulance to visit the Khaya home. The ambulance was filled with men pretending to be medical workers who had previously attacked and raped the Khaya Sisters. Sultana turned them away. See press release here.

May 9, 2022, Ruth BcDonough enters day #6 of a hunger strike. Sultan Khaya holds another protest today calling for human rights and self-determination. Solidarity fasts held around the world including Edward Horgan in Ireland.

May 5, 2022, Visitor Ruth McDonough begins hunger strike to demand an end to the rapes, siege and for a international independent investigation of the abuses of the Khaya sisters.

Please join Ruth and fast for a day in solidarity with her and the need to end the siege!


April 21, 2022 Morocco attacks Sultana Khaya's nephew, Mohammed Fadel Khayamore,yet nonviolent rooftop protests continue. Mohammed is released after two days in an adult jail.


April 20th. Live Report! Breaking a Siege in Occupied Western Sahara: 

Full Webinar

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJ-ThflMV4I

Shortened Version- 23 minutes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_ZheGqLl1s

Moderator: Adrienne Kinne, past President and Vice President of the Board of Veterans for Peace USA and Field Volunteer, Presenters: Salka Barca, Co-Founder of Karama Sahara (Nonviolent US-based Advocacy Organization for Western Sahara); Ruth McDonough, Arabic teacher and Field Volunteer; Merwyn De Mello, international peacebuilder and Field Volunteer; Sultana Khaya, Renowned Western Sahara Human Rights Defender; Bill Fletcher Jr., Former President of TransAfrica Forum and Co-Chair of Campaign to End the Moroccan Occupation of Western Sahara.


April 19, 2022 Sultana Khaya installs flagpoles on the roof since the Moroccan government forces broke the hands of her friends who were holding the flag poles in previous days.

April 17, 2022, Brutalization of more activists in the neighborhood by Moroccan forces, yet daily protests on the roof continue.

April 16, 2022, 6 Women who joined the Khaya Sisters yesterday, were brutalized today at their homes. Moroccan forces tried to break their hands to punish them for holding Saharawi flags. Some are needing urgent medical attention.

April 15, 2022, Security has locked down the neighborhood for some reason unknown to all of us. Not a soul on the street, and the police chief is reported to be driving up and down the streets. Khaya Sisters and friends continue daily protests on the roof of their house. https://www.facebook.com/NonviolenceInternational

In the evening, Khaya family visited, despite barriers to the Khaya home, by prominent women's right and human rights activists, Boulsan Tufa and her sister.

Security has locked down the neighborhood for some reason unknown to all of us.
A
Ali
Not a soul on the street, and the police chief is reported to be driving up and down the streets.

April 12, 2022, Sultana Khaya assaulted by Moroccan settler outside her home. Moroccan settler threatened to kill everyone in the house which currently hosts two US tourists from the Human Rights Action Center.

April 6, 2022 Lilah Mohammed Habibi was released after being in police custody for 2 days where he was beaten. He has returned to his home. Protests continue daily on the roof. Moroccan forces surround the house but have not attacked.

March 31, 2022 On Thursday, March 17, Moroccan security forces abducted 14-year old Lilah Mohammed Habibi and his friend as they walked home after visiting nonviolent activist Sultana Khaya in Boujdour, Western Sahara. They forced the boys into their car and took them to the police station. Lilah was interrogated, yelled at, and violently struck on his arms and hands. He was ordered never to go to the Khaya house again. Later that day, both boys were released.Lilah was then taken back into custody on Wednesday March 30th after being asked to pass a nearby bag to a group of older boys. Moroccan police refuse to release the 14-year old who is being held in an adult detention center.

A call for an international investigation of the Khaya Sister’s abuse in Western Sahara continues from the UCP Volunteers.

March 24, 2022  After a week of visiting with Saharawi activist, Sultana Khaya, two of the international guests have safely returned home with no incident going through borders. They are available for interviews about the horrific human rights violations in Western Sahara. The other two guests remain, continuing to deepen connection, friendship, and solidarity with the Saharawi people.

March 22, 2022 UCP Volunteer delegation calls again for an International Investigation of Khaya Sisters’s abuse in Western Sahara after women and elders are attacked and prevented access to Khaya Home.

March 21, 2022 Sahrawi women are being attacked outside the Khaya family home while international visitors observe human rights abuse. Visitors leaving the house were shoved, stopped, harassed, phones were taken, they are back in the house, others went on the street to protest. 

Strong coverage on Democracy Now! 

https://youtu.be/WKi3eKnU2Xc

https://youtu.be/cW6gpk0Tpoc

March 19th, 2022  Wife & Husband Reunite During Halt of Moroccan Siege in Western Sahara

WASHINGTON, D.C./Boujdour, Western Sahara – Human rights defender, Mina Abaali, reunited with her long-separated husband at the home of Sultana Khaya which was recently released from a 482-day siege by the arrival of 4 international visitors in Boujdour, Western Sahara. Abaali had been forcibly separated from her exiled husband, Hasanna Dueihi, by the Moroccan Forces for three years due to their nonviolent protests for self-determination. When he heard that the siege had been lifted, he rushed to be with her. He told Khaya’s guests, “I am so grateful for you four volunteers that gave me this gift of finally seeing my wife. You are the other face of America.” Young boys who overheard his comment started chanting, “USA! USA! USA!”

March 18, 2022 - The siege has been broken for three consecutive days now. Sultana Khaya and several other activists were able to meet together and support each other today. Our UCP Volunteers continue to ask that their demands are met:

We call for and end to the rapes.

We call for the freedom of movement for the Khaya Family and all visitors.

We call for an independent international investigation of these human rights abuses.

March 17, 2022 - The Moroccans have halted the siege of the Khaya Sisters for 2 days; good friends and family can reunite after nearly 500 days of separation in Western Sahara. We hope the Moroccan approach will continue to change and that sexual abuse, repression, and dominance will be replaced by humility, friendship and respect.

Saharawi Women and the International Visitors joined the Khaya sisters in their daily vigil on their rooftop. Ruth McDonough said, “Our presence as Americans helped to break the siege but these women are the ones who are leading and all that I hope for them is for their voices to be heard and followed because it’s what they say that everyone needs to hear.”

We are streaming live on FB. Please watch this moving feed, take action, and spread the word. Please see this one page document for specific demands directly from the Khaya family.

 

A UCP Volunteer with Sultana Khaya

UCP Volunteer and Sultana speak on the roof about Women’s Rights.

March 15, 2022 - At the invitation of the Khaya family in Boujdour, Western Sahara, US-based volunteers have arrived at their home to protect them from human rights abuses and break the almost 500-day siege of the house imposed by Moroccan occupation forces.

Supported by the Human Rights Action Center (HRAC) and NVI and a network of other human rights groups, the international unarmed civilian protection (UCP) volunteers, Ruth McDonough, Adrienne Kinne, and others, are currently guests in the Khaya family home. HRAC promotes adherence to the International Declaration of Human Rights.

Since November 2020, the Khaya Sisters have been forcibly confined to their home and the family has faced many forms of abuse, including home invasions, sexual violence and injections of unknown substances. The Khaya sisters have been raped by Moroccan security forces in front of their 84-year-old mother. Furthermore, their water has been poisoned, furniture and property destroyed, and electricity cut-off.

Referring to her experience, Sultana Khaya shared, “I am not the first Saharawi woman to be raped by the occupiers. I am simply the first woman to speak publicly about it. I have to expose the reality of the occupation. And I need to pave the way for the next generation of Saharawi women.”

UCP Volunteer in Western Sahara

UCP Volunteer in Western Sahara 


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Spotlight on Nonviolence - Mandy Carter

A couple of months ago, I had the pleasure to interview a long time black LGBTQ activist Mandy Carter. Mandy has been a long time supporter, member, and employee of the War Resisters League. She helped establish SONG or Southerners on New Ground. SONG is an organization that builds skills, connection and leadership with thousands of Southern LGBTQ people of color, rural people, immigrant people and working class people. She also co-founded the National Black Justice Coalition, which is the only national organization focused on African American LBGTQ advocacy.

During my conversation with Mandy, I was not only drawn in by her charismatic personality but also her experience advocating for black people, women, and LGBTQ individuals. My conversation with Mandy made me consider my full identity and how I may utilize my privilege to advocate for others as a white, bisexual woman. In the midst of a world where we see the active oppression of women and LGBTQ people, Mandy reminds us that the fight did not end with the gay liberation movement, the civil rights movement, or the legalization of gay marriage. The fights continues and we must continue as well.

During her early years of advocacy, Mandy often met with organizations that would advocate for black rights but not for black LGBTQ people and vice versa. Mandy saw this suppression of her identity and went own to create SONG and support organizations that focus on the intersectionality of oppression. Mandy calls herself a bridge builder and, in this conversation, she extended a hand to me to learn more and act. Now I extend my hand to you. Please watch his interview and become a bridge builder so we may go hand in hand together in peace.



Learn more about Mandy!

Resistance Fellow Bio 

WRL's Interview with Mandy and Joanne Sheehan

A Message from Mandy

LGBT History Month's Spotlight on Mandy

 

Web Links from the Interview

War Resisters League

Southerners On New Ground

National Black Justice Coalition

American Friends Service Committee

Highlander Center

National Council Of Elders

Wallace Terry's Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans


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The Many Faces of Nonviolence - A Taste of Palestine

Written by Sandy Zumbi

As I started my journey with NVI, I realized how little I knew about the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel. For decades Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has created systemic human rights violations against Palestinians, resulting in the displacement of communities, restrictions on freedom of movement, home demolitions, and unequal rights issues, to name a few (Amir, 2021). For someone who is always looking for ways to stay hopeful in the midst of chaos, I was met with disbelief. Yet, I could not stop there. I started looking into organizations and volunteerism that went towards providing aid to Palestinian communities. 

It was quite a relief to see the amount of organizations that partner with local communities to alleviate the stress and despair that the occupation causes Palestinian communities. They also help raise awareness of the horrors these communities face, including the daily impact of life under occupation. 

For several years now, NVI has worked with Hebron International Resource Network (HIRN) to reunite families by giving them a home and by working on renovation projects to keep families on their lands. HIRN has recognized the importance of building and preserving communities and has tirelessly been aiding communities to become self-sufficient in collaboration with neighborhoods and other organizations. NVI, currently being the U.S fiscal sponsor of HIRN, works to ensure that the organization's projects run smoothly. Another organization that helps HIRN in its fight to preserve Palestinian communities is Amos Trust

Amos Trust is a nonprofit organization in London, United Kingdom that works with grassroots partners in Palestine, South Africa, Nicaragua, Burundi, India, and Tanzania to promote and build sustainable rural communities. In addition, Amos Trust works toward finding creative ways to equip and support people and organizations to push for change through nonviolence, reconciliation, and peace. Among the various projects the organization undertakes is Amos Travel. Each year, the project organizes guided eleven-day trips through Nablus, Nazareth, and Galilee for people to meet different partners in Palestine. 

As I reflect on this nonprofit’s work, I could not have asked for a better person to speak to than Nive Hall. Nive, a social activist and the community engagement partner at Amos Trust from the UK, gave me a perspective as he recounted the program’s course.    

Amos Travel program started 20 years ago as the organization wanted to offer an alternative to Christian pilgrimages to the holy land/sites from the bible. The pilgrimages were mainly organized by Israeli travel companies with Israeli tour guides, drivers, etc.., which according to Nive did not include the narrative of Palestinians. What they were offering was aimed at the same market, but to the more socially liberal, socially justice centered churches who wanted to go and explore some of the politics of the region as well as meet and hear the stories of the Palestinians. But after four years of going on these trips, Amos travel decided to diversify itself some more into what it is today.

The program started offering trips with various aims. First, it attracted people who wanted to travel to that part of the world for other reasons and who wanted to have that experience of seeing the political situation for themselves. Second, they organize an annual trip called “Taste of Palestine'' which explores Jerusalem and the West Bank with the overall heading of food. Not only do they get to interact with farmers and providers on these trips, but they also help promote palestinians’ artistic culture. Third, it served as a resource for those who were engaged in the struggle for equal rights and those who wanted to show their solidarity on the ground practically. As a result, Amos Travel added a home rebuilding program to their trips to the West Bank. So far, they have organized six home rebuilding trips in the past 10-12 years by partnering with other organizations on the West Bank on homes demolished by Israeli occupation authorities. The project would, however, not be possible without fundraising and devoted teams of volunteers. These incredible human beings step outside their comfort zones every other year to help families and the community actually rebuild demolished homes. I was thrilled to find out that NVI is actively one of the many supporters that stand and advocate to make sure the homes being rebuilt are not demolished again. Nive notes, “That’s the kind of real boots on the ground activism thing which is really great.”

Nive also mentioned how rewarding these trips are to them but mainly to their local partners. Local partners are given a platform to tell their stories and a platform to meet individuals from other places. This is important to their partners because their opportunities for travel or communication are restricted due to the Isreali occupation. They also really appreciate people coming to stand shoulder to shoulder with them on the ground offering solidarity. “We always receive a vast amount more than we give in terms of hospitality, welcome, and more. There is something intangibly magical about it that is hard to describe in words. Actually, standing alongside a family putting the concrete blocks for their rebuilt house can’t say in words how much that means on both sides.” This is shared joy for the volunteers because these experiences are life-changing and for the families receiving a new home. “Solidarity is the key word here”.

Nive also shared that creativity is something they talk about a lot at Amos Trust. The organization strives to find creative ways to engage local communities and the people they reach. One of the phrases they use is “When words fail, art speaks.” They believe that art speaks to the heart and words speak to the head. And you can see a reflection of that throughout the different projects they undertake. This drew me to examine the song “Keep Your Head Up'' by Ben Howard on Amos Trust’s “HOPE'' Spotify playlist. The playlist was created alongside the organization’s second published book of poetry, prose, and creative writing. The book has contributions from a team of talented individuals Zena Kazeme, Arundhati Roy, Ben Okri, Cornel West, Angela Davis, Robert Cohen, Maya Angelou and one of their partners Abdelfattah Abusrour.

Keep Your Head Up” is a favorite because it resonated deeply with me. Although the song could be interpreted in many different ways, I see this song as a lesson. It reminds listeners to stand firm and be true to themselves and their beliefs. 

"Now walking back, down this mountain,

The strength of a turnin' tide.

Oh the wind so soft, and my skin,

Yeah the sun is so hot upon my side.

Oh lookin' out at this happiness

I searched for between the sheets,

Oh feelin' blind, I realize,

All I was searchin' for, was me.

Oh oh-oh, all I was searchin' for was me."

Here, he is talking about how he opened his eyes to see all the essential things in his life that he could not see before, almost like the failed relationship he was in taught him how to rediscover himself and see clearly again. Most often, happiness or good things do not look perfect. We may carry scars from past experiences, but those only make us stronger. We search for perfection but miss the point that what we are looking for is right under our nose, right in front of us, right in us the whole time. As lost as one may find themselves in the middle of whatever circumstance or situation you may be dealing with, it is crucial to keep your head up. There is always hope. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. All you need to do is look within you, and then you will find what you’ve been searching for all along.

It is hard to imagine the horrors that many communities in Palestine endure under the Israeli occupation. Yet many open their homes and welcome anyone willing to learn about their culture and hear their stories. Their stories are so powerful but yet too often ignored or misconstrued. But despite it all, I find it highly profound how these trips bring people together. The cultures of those who participate are so different from one another but point out that we are all human beings who, as citizens of this world, have the right to equal human rights. We all have a right to have a place called home and the right to feel safe within the walls of our homes. As Nelson Mandela said, “To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.

On an ending note, I can only leave us with Nive’s remarks that left me inspired and reminded me of the power of storytelling.

“Hope is an interesting word. We talk about it a lot at Amos Trust. We have one of our little phrases we use all the time which is “We do hope”. I think it’s a hard time to be a human rights activist. There is a lot of threat to our human rights, like across the board. And to advocate for the rights in Israel/Palestine is a complex area to work in. And it is easy to be hopeless. Am I hopeful? Yes! We think hope is kind of a bit like love. It is something that you do. Hope is a verb for us. Hope is something we do, we must believe that there is a better world coming, otherwise we might as well stop. It is almost an imperative for us to hope.“

 

                 Credit: Amos Trust

References

Amir, M. (2021, August 6). Post-occupation Gaza: Israel’s war on Palestinian futures. Taylor and Francis Online. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/04353684.2021.1958357 

AMOS TRUST Home. (n.d.). Retrieved, from https://www.amostrust.org/



Spotlight on Nonviolence - Bruce Pearson

HOW HARMONIES & HOPE MAKE MOVEMENTS

On this week’s Spotlight Series, Rachel had the pleasure of interviewing Program Associate and Publications Coordinator at the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict, Bruce Pearson. Bruce has been described as a “highly educated and skilled program and curriculum builder” and is passionate about bringing autonomy and power back into the hands of the oppressed. 

During our interview Bruce and I focused our discussion on three major themes: first, the influence of growing up in South Africa in the early 90s, second, the creative process behind designing and implementing training for nonviolence, & third, how ICNC uses Peter Ackerman’s text to campaign for civil resistance.

Bruce sees nonviolent action and civil resistance as effective tools that help to reshape society. He suggests that both of these are inevitable when people are pushed for change. Bruce aims to connect resources and people. He does this by helping to bring resources (ie. publications and videos) to people while simultaneously working with resistors to create even more resources for activists. His work with the ICNC team, collaboration with the Albert Einstein Institute, and many other nonviolent leaders has helped to create a checklist that asks a series of questions in order to assess people’s internal capabilities and understand their external realities. 

Bruce is informed by his own history growing up in South Africa during the Apartheid regime. His familial experience during his youth remains at the core of his worldview. He reflects on his immediate family's openness in a time of great divide and notes his parent’s wedding as a memory of multifaceted unity. This discussion opened the door to acknowledge the effectiveness of including more voices in social movements. “The greater cross-section of society that exists during a social movement the more informed the social movement will be.” 

Our discussion of resistance shifted to passions. Bruce shared his love of “anything with keys and strings.” Much like in music where tension and resolution exist to create harmonies, nonviolent revolutions mimic this pattern as they grow and gain momentum. 

Bruce left me with a message of hope. Seeing the willingness of those under oppressive regimes to collaborate and develop a sense of tactical options is incredibly inspiring, he insisted. “If people in entrenched political situations see an option to improve society and bring freedoms to more people then that option can be available for all of us.”



ICNC

Bruce's Profile

The Checklist to End Tyranny


A few years ago we were told that computer algorithms would serve us. Now we have learned that we serve them. So, we are compelled to ask you to “please like and subscribe” to our new YouTube channel so that others will be introduced to the work you already support. 


 

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