Sadly, Gender Based Violence (GBV) is a serious problem all over the world. Confronting this issue is challenging anywhere. Imagine how life under occupation would add to those challenges.
NVI was just introduced to the important work of ADWAR: Roles for Social Change. https://adwar.ps/we/
We urge you to become familiar with this impressive organization and consider actively supporting them.
A project that focuses on: Developing the knowledge and skill of the Men’s Coalition members to advocate and protect women from Gender- Based Violence, on general violence issues, equal rights, advocacy mechanisms and accountability, to advocate the battered women rights and reduce violence.
– Raising awareness among the Palestinian society about the suffering of women from violence in all its forms, highlighting the negative effects of it on the family and society and how to confront it.
– Lobbying and influence decision-makers in the Palestinian government to adopt policies, procedures and programs that contribute to protect women from violence and punishing the offenders.
An initiative enhancing women participation in Hebron governorate in the public sphere in terms of highlighting their role in accountable the parties responsible for corruption and activating their roles in settling the integrity ,transparency principles and maintaining peace and security.
– Raising Palestinian public opinion about the corruption concept , its mechanisms , how it affects women, the family and society and the mechanisms to confront it, in addition to educating society in all its segments, including women, about how to go to the competent organizations to report corruption.
– Highlighting the corruption impact on women in the public field and human rights services, as they constitute the largest percentage of violations of their rights, as a result of the lack of economic, social and human rights services , protection mechanisms , prevention from security, justice and protection organizations.
Paige Wright, NVI’s Intern Supervisor, and former Intern, Lea Hilliker, co-wrote this important piece on Gender Based Gun Violence
A US-based delegation of volunteers has gone 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 updates from the field team.
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:
Shortened Version- 23 minutes
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.
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!
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.”
A UCP Volunteer with Sultana Khaya
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
In this Spotlight interview, I had the opportunity to speak with Barwendé Sané, a remarkable leader of nonviolence and peacebuilding in West Africa. Barwendé is a Jesuit priest from Burkina Faso with fourteen years of experience working in African conflict regions. He founded two civil society organizations to promote peace and nonviolence in West Africa and is the author of four books on nonviolence, peace education, and human rights. He is currently a fellow at the University of San Francisco Institute for Nonviolence & Social Justice. We discussed Dr. King's legacy, the historical links between the Black freedom struggle in the US and the anti-colonial movement in Africa, and how the systemic recolonization of Africa fuels war.
Barwendé Sané is a true heir to Dr. King, a man with the moral clarity and audacity to call out injustice when he sees it. His vocation as a priest became apparent when he launched into a sermon fiercely denouncing the systemic recolonization of Africa, his baritone voice ringing with a righteous anger rooted in love. At a time when the voices of racism and xenophobia fill the airwaves of the US and Europe, Barwendé's voice is desperately needed, reminding us of the conditions which lead African migrants to journey to Europe and die drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, drawing attention to Western complicity in the ongoing instability in Africa. Barwendé awakens us to the imperialist actions of our own governments, calling us to action to hold our governments accountable. While scathing in his critique of foreign exploitation, Barwendé pushes back against the white-savior notion of Africans as helpless victims. He has a fervent faith in the ability of Africans to be the architects of their own liberation, to use nonviolence to heal their societies and transform their worlds. I found our conversation deeply insightful and inspiring and I hope you do too.
Learn more about the USF Institute here- https://www.usfca.edu/institute-nonviolence-social-justice
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.
We are sad to report the news that Peter Ackerman died on April 26 at age 75.
Ackerman was the founding chair of the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, an organization that works to develop the understanding and encourage the use of civilian-based, non-military strategies that will be the catalyst for a transition from authoritarian to democratic rule.
Peter co-authored Strategic Nonviolent Conflict published in 1994, and A Force More Powerful: a Century of Nonviolent Conflict. The latter volume was a companion book for the Emmy-nominated documentary of the same title which appeared nationally on the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in September 2000, for which he was the series editor and principal content advisor. Ackerman was also executive producer of Bringing Down a Dictator which in 2003 won the Peabody Award and International Documentary Association award for best film.
In recognition of his contributions to nonviolence, we would like to post your reflections here on the Nonviolence International website.
In the coming days, we will posting tributes. Please check back on this page for updates.
Please send your public thoughts to us here.
NVI hosted the public book launch event for Peter. Please see this impressive video
See a shorter clip of Peter talking about his book.
Since Michael Beer, NVI's longtime Director, has recently published a book with ICNC updating Gene Sharp's work on Nonviolent Tactics, on the last evening of his life, Peter wrote to Michael asking him for the top 20 tactics that have been effective at a)increasing participation in a campaign, b) encouraging / leading to defections, and c) providing a strong antidote to repression.
To fully celebrate his legacy, we ask for your help leveraging the wisdom of our impressive community of leaders committed to and knowledgeable of nonviolence.
What are your thoughts on this important question? Please send your ideas to us here. We will post selections on this page.
Michael Beer. General Strikes. In 2019 in Sudan, general strikes forced the military to agree to a civilian transition. General strikes when widely followed, is one of the most powerful tools against a tyrant.
Mubarak Awad, Flying flags. In Palestine in the 1st intifada, we flew flags. This was illegal but something everyone could do.
Michael Beer, Occupation. In Egypt in 2011, the public occupied the national square for weeks and brought about a fall of the dictator.
What additional tactics do you think we should include in the list?
See these moving tributes
Peter Ackerman has left us much too soon. He strongly supported my in project on nonviolent tactics that resulted in an ICNC monograph, entitled Civil Resistance Tactics in the 21st Century. He then delayed the publication of his own book, The Checklist to End Tyranny, to incorporate insights from my book. NVI had the privilege to host a launch of his book last year. I was particularly stunned to hear of his death because he sent me an email just hours before requesting 20 top tactics to confront dictators for his upcoming trainings using the checklist planning formula.
Stunned at the news of the sudden death today of Peter Ackerman, who not only was a leading scholar of strategic nonviolent action (Strategic Nonviolent Action, A Force More Powerful, Preventing Mass Atrocities, A Checklist to End Tyranny), but used a chunk of his personal fortune to support research and promotion of this powerful tool for social justice and political freedom. For quite a few years, he funded Gene Sharp and the Albert Einstein Institution and went on to co-found and support the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict.
He and I disagreed strongly on economic issues (he was something of a libertarian), but we could work together in the realization that neither my socialist ideals nor his neoliberal ideals could be manifested in a just and functional way under dictatorship. As a result, we were happy to cooperate in our support for nonviolent pro-democracy struggles against autocrats of both the left and right.
Peter was the target of all sorts of bizarre conspiracy theories (some of which included me, George Soros, the CIA, Gene Sharp, the USIP, the Pentagon, etc.), but he played a major role in the growing acceptability of strategic nonviolent action in academia and increasing understanding that such movements need to think strategically in order to succeed.
It was through projects he supported that introduced a new generation of scholars to the field (Erica Chenoweth, Maria Stephan, Jonathan Pinckney, etc.) and enabled scores of us to research and publish projects that never would have seen the light of day.
Despite some issues I had with some of his politics and associations, I am filled with gratitude about what he made possible and what he accomplished.
Peter will be missed greatly. He supported Gene Sharp financially so much when no one else did. He knew the power of nonviolent action and people power to change the world to support democracy. He used his fortune to spread the knowledge of nonviolent action and the world has benefited a lot from his vision and commitment.
Nonviolence International hosted a book event for Civil Resistance Tactics in the 21st Century by Michael Beer one year after the initial book launch, to celebrate the impact this invaluable book is having and to launch our brand new Civil Resistance Tactics in the 21st Century Study Guide.
In a time of looming climate catastrophe, police brutality, rising authoritarianism, extreme wealth inequality, apartheid, and brutal war crimes, nonviolent action is desperately needed to build a more just world. Tactics are the tools that activists use to create social and political change. Michael Beer’s book on civil resistance tactics is a must-read for scholars and activists, updating Gene Sharp’s seminal work for our current moment and synthesizing the scholarly contributions of several thinkers to create a universal framework for the categorization of nonviolent tactics. Michael’s book showcases the beautiful tapestry of tactics and the incredible creativity and ingenuity of activists and along with the Tactics Database provides an extensive repertoire of tactics for the activist toolbox.
Nimesh Wijewardane hosted and speakers included Michael Beer, Amber French, Rivera Sun, and Andrea Palomo-Robles.
Sponsored by Nonviolence International
Nimesh Wijewardane is an intern at Nonviolence International. He graduated summa cum laude from George Washington University with a bachelor's degree in political science and will be attending American University Washington College of Law this fall. He has volunteered for several political campaigns and was a Field Organizing Fellow for the VA Dems Coordinated Campaign. As an NVI intern, he has been a co-host of NVI's Spotlight Series on our YouTube channel and has interviewed several remarkable activists. He is passionate about nonviolence, progressive politics, and Engaged Buddhism.
Michael Beer has been Director of Nonviolence International since 1998. Michael is a global activist for human rights, minority rights and argues against war and casino capitalism. He has trained activists in many countries, including Myanmar, Kosovo, Tibet, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Zimbabwe, and the United States. He is a frequent public speaker on nonviolence and has been broadcast on CSPAN, CNN, and other major media outlets. Michael is the co-parent of two children with his life partner, Latanja.
Rivera Sun is a change-maker, a cultural creative, a protest novelist, and an advocate for nonviolence and social justice. She is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, The Way Between and other novels. She is the editor of Nonviolence News. Her study guide to making change with nonviolent action is used by activist groups across the country. Her essays and writings are syndicated by Peace Voice, and have appeared in journals nationwide. Rivera Sun attended the James Lawson Institute in 2014 and facilitates workshops in strategy for nonviolent change across the country and internationally. Between 2012-2017, she co-hosted nationally two syndicated radio programs on civil resistance strategies and campaigns. Rivera was the social media director and programs coordinator for Campaign Nonviolence. In all of her work, she connects the dots between the issues, shares solutionary ideas, and inspires people to step up to the challenge of being a part of the story of change in our times.
Amber French is the Editorial Advisor at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict and is currently based in Paris, France. Since joining ICNC in 2014, Amber French has led in developing and managing ICNC’s editorial and media initiatives. Amber led the development of the Minds of the Movement blog, for which she is Co-Editor. In 2016, she oversaw the launch of the Nonviolent Conflict News website, a news aggregator site on civil resistance around the world. She also launched and is managing ICNC Press, which has so far produced nine books in online and print editions. Previously, Amber served as editor of the Migration Policy Institute’s Migration Information Source and the UNESCO/Max Planck Institute journal New Diversities.
Andrea Palomo-Robles is the Executive Director of the Satyagraha Institute. She is a specialist in Positive Peace and has more than 10 years of experience in the social sector. She has collaborated nationally and internationally with various peace, leadership and human rights organizations. She’s been part of the Satyagraha Institute since 2016, participating in several programs and engaging in the Coordinating Committee. Andrea is a political scientist and studied Nonviolence at the Gujarat Vidyapith University. She has consolidated her leadership with her work as a speaker and workshop facilitator on issues of conflict, nonviolence, disruption and peace in the Americas and in Europe. Andrea is a member of organizations that support youth development worldwide. Part of her work has been dedicated to support organizational development and public relations in the social and private sectors.
Nonviolence International-Ukraine is supporting the Ukrainian Stop the War Coalition (USWC) which is building a network of activists and groups to resist the Russian invasion and to support peacebuilding efforts that can provide a platform for future reconciliation. The USWC is focusing on
1) supporting nonviolent resistance to Russian occupation,
2) promoting war-resistance, both passive and active, in Russia and Belarus,
3) strengthening the social fabric in Ukraine created by the war, such as between internally displaced people and their host communities.
NVI is asking for supporters to donate generously. Nonviolence International, based in DC, will provide administration and fiscal sponsorship support.
Andre Kamenshikov, Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), regional network coordinator for Eastern Europe, 30 years of practical experience in civil peacebuilding and humanitarian work in Russia, Ukraine and post-soviet states. Based in Kyiv.
Olha Zaiarna, GPPAC regional liaison officer, researcher with experience in both government and public institutions working on peacebuilding and conflict management. (Based in Kyiv)
Dmitro Zvonok, socio-psychologist, trainer at the Ukrainian Peacebuilding School initiative, dialogue facilitator, developer of a number of educational games for dealing with conflicts on a community level, internally displaced person from eastern Ukraine.
Igor Semivolos, Head of Association for Middle Eastern Studies of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, founder of the Ukrainian Peacebuilding School initiative.
The USWC will focus its efforts in the following 3 areas. However, given the fast-moving events on the ground, priorities may understandably shift.
Nonviolence International is proud that Andre Kamenshikov, NVI Ukraine director, was part of this impressive gathering.
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.
As a member of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), Nonviolence International supports and endorses the following statement made by GPPAC. We note that the tensions around Ukraine and the potential for war will have destructive consequences for all citizens and all nations involved. Now more than ever do we stand for diplomacy in a coalition with other nonviolent actors. We hope you do the same.
Demonstrators for Peace (Source - Dmitry Serebryakov/AP Photo)
As a global network of peacebuilders, GPPAC is gravely concerned by the situation around Ukraine. We condemn the military operations launched by Russia today on February 24, in violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations. We 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:
The international community must pursue all possible efforts urgently to resolve this crisis through non-violent, diplomatic means, and support antiwar and humanitarian efforts of civil society as well as do everything possible to guarantee the safety and security of the people of Ukraine.
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.
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.
Police Officers Arresting Protesters in St.Petersburg (Source: Aljazeera)
Nonviolence International supports the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict calling on peace-loving countries around the world to offer asylum to war resisters to help alleviate suffering and potential injury and destruction in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.
Countries should announce that they will provide asylum for people who refuse to fight in the war. War resistance defections could happen in large numbers and serve as a deterrent to escalating warfare. The status of war resister should include those who refuse to cross borders to wage war in another country. If soldiers request asylum because they conscientiously object to military orders or service, they should not be treated as prisoners of war but swiftly transferred to a 3rd country that will provide them safety. This status will not be provided to those that fight and subsequently surrender. They should be treated as prisoners of war and treated humanely as per the Geneva Conventions.
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.
We believe there are many who will not want to fight in this war. People who refuse to use violence must be protected. Nonviolence International stands in solidarity with all conscientious objectors around the world and supports the work of War Resisters’ International to end all war. If the soldiers do not fight, then wars cannot be fought.
# # #
February 25, 2022: English-Speaking Expert Available to Speak to Media from Ukraine.
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
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.
Daniel Hunter says Ukraine's Secret Weapon may prove to be Nonviolent Direct Action.
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.
We live in troubled times. Those who visit this website are well aware of that harsh reality. Many of us are struggling to find reason to hope in these hard times. I’m thrilled to be able to share with you a bright ray of light shining in the darkness.
I’ve just met some new friends doing important work in difficult circumstances. It is a rare gift to meet people who have a clear and inspirational vision of what must be done to make the world a better place. It becomes even more significant when they are also already underway doing the hard work to make that vision real.
In the occupied town of Hebron, an ancient city of deep importance, there are over 550 schools and just 15 music teachers. Take that in for a moment. We regularly focus appropriately on the suffering of our Palestinian sisters and brothers in deep and profound ways. The occupation (which three major groups have declared fits the legal definition of apartheid) impacts precious humans’ lives in far too many ways to list here.
Even for me, someone who has spent decades studying the region and a lover of music, this was a need I knew nothing of before meeting Maali Tamimi and Aboud Qawasmeh the founders of SOUL. We were brought together through our wonderful partner HIRN and will now be raising up their work on our website. You can learn more about SOUL through our latest interview with Maali and Aboud, and the infomation about them below.
To get a sense of the impressive clarity of vision they bring to this work, please see this document and these brief excerpts below:
SOUL fills an evident and important gap as the first social non-profit forum in Hebron that puts music at the heart of its mission and vision. Placed in this strategically and economically important centre of Palestine’s South, SOUL offers a space that will enhance the outreach and expansion of music in the region. In the context of the persistent Israeli military occupation, music, and arts more broadly, offers the chance to increase social cohesion and resilience among the population, allows individuals to seek refuge and relief in a safe space and to find meaning and belonging in the frame of Palestinian music culture and heritage.”
SOUL is a place that brings together artists and music professionals locally, regionally, and internationally to enable knowledge exchange and collaboration. Cooperating with other music and cultural organisations in Palestine and beyond allows to find synergies in this field. The creation of a music archive symbolises the bridge between the past and the present, as it will allow to capture, record, preserve and catalogue the rich variety of historical, traditional Palestinian pieces of music that face a threat of getting lost.
At the core of SOUL’s activities lies an inclusive, accessible and gender-sensitive approach to welcome everyone who has an interest in music with open arms.
I hope you are as inspired as I am about their work. If so, please take three simple steps.
Spread the word. Tell people who already agree with us that Palestinians are fully human and deserve the same basic rights as all people. Let them know of this shining example of grounded hope. Urge them to tell others and together we can demonstrate the power of the multiplier effect of energetic organizing.
Use this unusual program as a rare opening to at least two people who don’t yet agree on this issue. Experiment with using the beauty and power of music as an opening to have the hard conversations we so often avoid. Deep in our hearts we know that activating people who already agree with us is only part of the challenge before us. We must also reach out - ready to listen and learn, not just teach - and call people into the conversation. Together, we can and we must change the conversation about Palestine and Israel so that we can change policy and impact people’s lives.
Donate here on this site. Consider becoming a monthly donor to this exciting project that is still in its infancy. Having met these wonderful leaders, I am confident that this project can become a groundbreaking force raising up the power of music to heal and repair our broken and beautiful world. By giving now, at whatever level of personal comfort works for you, or by becoming a monthly donor, you will be in on the ground floor of something already having an impact and full of the potential to become even more powerful if we take these simple steps together.
To learn more about their work, we are pleased to offer you this short video and bios below and ask that you check back on this page for future updates about SOUL’s still unfolding contribution to building a world of peace with justice for all.
SOUL is a "Cultural Forum for Music and the Arts"
Maali Tamimi is the Supervisor of Music Education for the Ministry of Education in the north of the Hebron Governorate and herself a volunteer music teacher of many years through the French Cultural Association in Hebron focusing on voice and piano.
Aboud Qawasmeh is a graduate from the music program at the Bethlehem University and an ongoing student at Dar Al Kalima College's music program, he is also a music teacher of Oud, Qanoon, Guitar, Darbuka (drums), and voice of 7 years.
They have pioneered projects in the Old City of Hebron, including a children's choir in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron, and they have taught children with disabilities music - which will be a focal point of SOUL's work. They do amazing work bringing music into particularly marginalized and conservative communities in the Hebron area.
Artist Ashley Lukashevsky