Updates-A Story of Realistic Hope

A New Video Featuring Ahmed Alnaouq, founder of WANN

Please watch the impressive video below and consider supporting We Are Not Number's (WANN’s) vital work.

This powerful image shows just one part of the video. Click on the video itself below to watch.This powerful image shows just one part of the video. Click on the video itself below to watch.

Ahmed Alnaouq's comprehensive analysis allows him to share in a clear focused way the reality of life in Gaza and how the coverage in the mainstream media rarely accurately reflects that reality and instead often intentionally obscures it.  

He shares his informed loving perspective on life in Gaza and how media coverage distorts reality. If you are inspired by this work, please consider donating to support WANN’s visionary approach to building leaders and power. 

I found this video on the same day I attended a march in Washington, DC where the same call echoed out. Please see my photo essay for more. 

From the stage at the mass mobilization of the Poor People’s Campaign, the great Rev. William Barber said, “They are us and we are them.” He called on us all to step up saying, “when our people suffer, we won’t be silent anymore.” He said we had gathered together to “put a human face on the numbers.” 

As with WANN, this amazingly diverse passionate gathering was built on a deep and comprehensive analysis of the world as it is and on a recognition that it doesn’t have to be this way. (Don’t miss the cute kid wearing a shirt with that message at the start of the photo essay). The organizers implemented a strategic approach that puts those closest to the problems on the stage and in the leadership. They made a point of noting that on this day people would not speak on behalf of others. Instead, each person would raise up their own lived experience and perspective. 

This approach follows the same simple and profound wisdom at the heart of WANN’s vision and mission.

The Movement of Movements is Taking Shape Now!

In a time of growing global crisis, the Poor People’s Campaign came to Washington, DC.

It was a powerful gathering reflecting hard work building the movement of movements many of us have been dreaming of for decades. More words below, but first some photos! 

Let's start with cute kids making key points. This shirt reads, "It Doesn't Have To Be This Way"


This sign from the West Virginia ACLU reads, "Stop Criminalizing Poverty"


The Poor People's Campaign Proudly Declares that We Won't Be Silent!

For those not already familiar with this exciting campaign please scroll down below the final photo. 

(Look closely and notice the two flags displayed here)


The most commonly heard chant on this special day was, "Forward Together. Not One Step Back!" 


Everybody Rises - Lift From the Bottom!


More and more people are coming to see that deep system change is needed. 

"Poverty is the Disease: A New System is the Cure!"


The Youth-Led Climate Movement was well represented. "Fight for a Green New Deal"


"Fund People Not War - Nuclear Weapons are Illegal"


I moved from Maine to DC in 1997 to work for the wonderful Veterans for Peace. Was great to see them out in force at the Poor People's Campaign. Note the US Capitol in the background. VFP is an organization that seeks to abolish the war system using the power and influence of those who have seen the horror of war and understand how militarism is connected to other pressing issues. 

"U.S. Militarism Fuels Climate Crisis"


Veterans for Peace says, "Fight Poverty Not Wars!"


Before the event began there was a special Sabbath service led, in part, by Reb. Arthur Waskow, of the Shalom Center. He was kind to me when I was little kid in Philly interested in all things peace. As the Sabbath ritual wrapped up, I saw the amazing Jodie Evans of Code Pink and went up to say a quick hello. Code Pink shared an office with the Institute for Policy Studies when I worked there and I hadn't seen her in years. She is a skilled organizer who gets stuff done and she immediately recruited me to march with a Code Pink sign. I picked out a nice one that linked militarism with poverty and was about to head off when Jodie said, "no, you are an educator. How about this one?" She gave me the sign above on the poverty draft and student debt. Unlike the other sign I picked this one had a QR code people could scan and upload their photos to be seen along with all the others uploaded. Jodie gave me a large roll of stickers and flyers and thus made my day even more fun. It was a thrill to see how many people were interested in taking pictures with this sign. I used the sign to engage with dozens of people and each person I spoke with was introduced to the important work of the impressive women-led peace group Code Pink. Thanks Jodie, Medea, Ariel, and all the Code Pink team. Your work inspires us all. 


Code Pink was a notable presence throughout the march. What's this photo of?  Not a war tank. We were in DC, but it is not a think tank, but Code Pink's Peace Tank with clear concise messages "Demilitarize Everything! Food not F-35s. Books not Bombs. Homes not Drones. Everybody's Got a Right to Live." 


Code Pink's beautiful Peace Tank from the other side. Sign reads, "War is Ecocide"


I started with a kid’s shirt. The final photo I'll share sums it all up. This leader's shirt reads simply, "There Comes a Time When Silence is Betrayal"

Yes, dear friends, I think we all know in our hearts that time is now. For far too long we have allowed ourselves to become numb to the totally avoidable daily suffering of precious people living in poverty in the shadow of plenty. That this suffering continues is a result of policy decisions we have made. We will not be silent any longer. At long last, when the interrelated crises are hurting so deeply, the movement of movements we need is underway. 

There are two important truths that are now finally being acknowledged. No one movement - no matter how powerful - can solve the problems facing us today. None of the movements for peace, planet, or justice have any chance to achieve our goals in isolation. But, together we might just bring some light into the world and match the moral clarity with the soul force and political clout sufficient to respond to the urgent challenges of our time. The need to come together is a gift since we realize our movements are connected in fundamental ways. In decades past, we had to debate this fact even with our friends and allies, but now many more people understand that our issues are inextricably linked and can only be solved together. 

At its radical loving best active nonviolence can play a unifying role bringing activists across movements together. Nonviolence should never allow ourselves to be misunderstood to suggest an attempt to police how oppressed people protest, but instead as the Force More Powerful we are just beginning to experiment with. We know Nonviolent Tactics are the tools of liberation (check out our recent webinar on this very topic). 

Nonviolence International celebrates the bold leadership of Rev. William Barber and the Poor People’s Campaign. We are inspired by their moral witness and join with them in solidarity asking all our friends and supporters to do whatever you can to help raise up their vital work. 

There are 140 million poor and low-wealth people in the richest country in the world. Somehow we have allowed enormous and totally unnecessary suffering to continue year after year, decade after decade. It is as if we have forgotten our moral obligation to reduce the violence inherent in the way our society is structured. We at NVI ask - how have Americans become accepting of violence in their economy? How do our actions at home and abroad impact others living in poverty? 

Those who recently lectured on how Dr. King would have felt about property destruction seemed to have missed his larger point. We must recognize the humanity of all people. That recognition requires long-delayed and bold action. The time for small ideas is over. This movement, rooted in the leadership of poor people, deserves the active support of all who consider themselves to be committed to nonviolence. 

Focusing our attention on those who are most in need has long been a central guiding principle of active nonviolence. For those interested in history, please see how Dr. King’s final campaign echoes in the work we are engaged in today. 

See our earlier post on this topic that explores Gandhi and King’s moral commitment: 

https://www.nonviolenceinternational.net/in_this_time_of_crisis

Here is the full livestream of the event. So much to love here. Great music, visionary leaders, hearing directly from those most impacted, and a spirit of revolutionary love and solidarity. Rev. Barber's energy as emcee in call and response created a powerful united flow to the program. His speech is among the best I've ever heard. Find it at: 2:01. Phyllis Bennis, the great scholar of Middle East peace (whose office was next to mine when I was at the Institute for Policy Studies) speaks at 3:49. She reminds us that budgets are moral documents and shares hard truths about how the US Federal Budget is distorted to value war above all else. As usual, Rev. Cornell West knocks it out of the park noting the importance of international solidarity. Check to out at: 4:20 or just watch the whole video and be inspired by the emerging movement of movements. As they say, this is, "A Moral Revolution of Values" and it has come to us in these crucial years. May we embrace this movement, help it grow, and claim our future. 

Calling for Peace in Ukraine

Ukrainian Stop the War Coalition

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.

Steering Committee

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.

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.



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)


GPPAC Statement on the situation around Ukraine, February 24, 2022

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:

  • 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.

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.


Please see NVI's database of Nonviolent Tactics. 

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 calls for asylum for war resisters, Feb 24, 2022

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. 

# # #


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

Spotlight on Nonviolence - Andrea Palomo-Robles

In this Spotlight interview, I spoke with Andrea Palomo-Robles, the Executive Director of the Satyagraha Institute. She’s been involved with 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, founded by Gandhi. We discussed the meaning of satyagraha, Andrea's personal and professional journey, the importance of the inner life and self-transformation in nonviolence work, and Gandhi's emphasis on constructive program. 

As an undergraduate student at George Washington University, I took a class on Philosophy & Nonviolence and in that course read Gandhi's writings, among other theorists of nonviolence. Gandhi's words leapt off the page, simultaneously inspiring and challenging, and I've been grappling with his ideas ever since. So I deeply appreciated the opportunity to speak with Andrea, a scholar and practitioner of Gandhian nonviolence. The fact that 74 years after Gandhi's death, two young people- a young woman from Mexico and a Sri-Lankan American young man- are discussing his philosophy is a testament to the enduring light and global reach of his legacy. Andrea radiated warmth and kindness (a difficult task over Zoom), and talking to her I felt that we were kindred spirits, walking alongside one another on the satyagraha path. Andrea reminded me that peace is not some unattainable goal, but a daily practice. In a time when it is so easy to fall into despair, Andrea's passion for the work of nonviolence training fills my heart with hope. I found our conversation insightful and inspiring and I hope you do too. 


 


Learn more about the Satyagraha Institute here- https://satyagrahainstitute.org/


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. 


 

“Enough Was Enough”: How Australia Reformed Its Gun Laws & Ended Mass Shootings

Enough is Enough! 

 

We in the United States are facing epidemic levels of gun violence. At NVI, we mourn and we organize. And, we seek to learn from the experience of others around the world who have made substantial progress addressing gun violence. In this midst of this horror, we are glad to be able to raise up a powerful interview featuring a founder of one of our wonderful fiscally sponsored partners. The moral outrage matched with experience and wisdom gives us hope in hard times.


Rebecca Peters was featured on Democracy Now! on May 26th, 2022.  

 

Democracy Now writes, "After the 1996 Port Arthur mass shooting, Australia passed sweeping new gun control measures that largely ended mass shootings in the country. We speak with Rebecca Peters, an international arms control advocate who led the campaign to reform Australia’s gun laws after the massacre. She recalls how in just 10 days the prime minister brokered a deal with local officials to pass higher standards around gun safety that would prevent any mass shootings for the next 20 years. “We don’t think at all about the possibility of being murdered as we go about our daily lives in Australia,” says Peters."


Nonviolence International is proud to stand in solidarity with our fiscally sponsored partners Control Arms (CA) and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) as leading advocates for disarmament.

 

NVI interns Paige Wright and Lea Hilliker recently wrote two powerful articles on gun violence. This one reflects on how school safety drills can negatively impact young people and this article focuses on Gender Based Violence and links to our partners’ work.


 

 

 

 

Khaya Siege Updates

Breaking News! Khaya Family Siege Updates

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.

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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Raising Up Impressive Group Challenging GBV in Palestine

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. 


Please click here to see their moving statement about the killing of journalist Sherine Abu Akleh

Other recent highlights of their work include:

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

 

Spotlight on Nonviolence - Barwendé Sané

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


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