Listen to Peace Activists from Ukraine & Russia

Below is a statement from local peace activists who collaborate through a network called the East European Region, Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, coordinated by Andre Kamenshikov, Director of Nonviolence International-Ukraine. Listen deeply. We need a new security architecture for Europe that can meet everyone’s needs. War is horrifying.


GPPAC Statement on the situation around Ukraine

February 9th, 2022

The Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) expresses its deep concern about the heightened tensions around Ukraine and the risk of an escalation of the armed conflict taking place in the east of the country, with its possible transformation into a large-scale war against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the state of Ukraine.

The unleashing of such a war would have catastrophic consequences for the citizens of all countries involved, as well as serious negative consequences for the peaceful and prosperous development of the whole world. A new round of escalation of hostilities may lead to numerous casualties amounting to many tens or even hundreds of thousands of victims, both among the military personnel and among the civilian population of the countries taking part in the war. The economies of those countries will suffer enormous losses, leading to a significant decrease in the life standards for the majority of the population. The devastating consequences of the war will also have a negative impact on the world economy, worsening people’s well-being in many countries of the world, including those not directly involved in these events. Escalation of hostilities will inevitably result in new, large-scale flows of internally displaced persons and refugees, affecting, first and foremost, those countries that are geographically close to the states involved in the armed conflict.

Confrontation in the information sphere is particularly important in today's "hybrid war" situation. It is extremely dangerous when media sources, engaged in open discussions about possible military aggression against Ukraine, broadcast and propagate the statements of certain high-ranking Russian politicians who directly call for war, strikes against a neighboring country, sometimes even voicing the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction. Huge risks today are also associated with the new forms of aggression - for example, "cyberattacks".

It must be emphasized that the armed actions in the east of Ukraine have been going on for almost eight years, that the war has already claimed the lives of more than 14,000 people, and millions of people continue to be seriously threatened and deprived due to the ongoing confrontation. An escalation of the conflict will inevitably exacerbate this tragic situation.

Regarding the current situation, we state the following:

  • We consider necessary to urgently de-escalate the tensions along the Ukrainian borders with the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus.

  • We call on the authorities of these countries to stop the deployment of troops and various types of weapons, including those of an offensive class, there as well as in Crimea and in areas not controlled by the Ukrainian authorities in the east of the country, and to begin a serious reduction in the armed forces already stationed there.

  • Urgent efforts are required to ensure the complete cessation of armed clashes in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine; it is also necessary to exclude the possibility of provocations and aggravation of the situation in any other areas of possible armed confrontation.

While understanding the steps of the Ukraine’s authorities aimed at increasing the country's defense capabilities against external aggression, at the same time we call on them to:

  • Apply every possible effort to pursue inclusive non-violent ways of resolving existing problems and contradictions, to demonstrate commitment to peaceful, diplomatic means while endeavouring to restore the country's territorial integrity, and to

  • Take measures to prevent possible provocations and accidents that could lead to uncontrolled developments.

    We consider it extremely important for the people and civil society of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus to take an active position against any possible aggression from their territories against Ukraine, as well as to cooperate with Ukrainian civil society in efforts to ease tensions. Therefore:We urge to inform ordinary people about the catastrophic consequences such a development of events could have for these countries, about threats to the life and well- being of people from a large-scale war, which could arise as a result of an escalation of armed confrontation in Donbas, or in case of a new, direct invasion of the territory of Ukraine.

    • We believe that the international community should make every effort to support people, especially servicemen, who make a voluntary and conscious decision to refuse to participate in aggression or wars of conquest targeting any other country, both in the form of an armed invasion and/or other forms. In this regard, we call on UN member states, in particular - on the countries of the European Union, to adopt appropriate declarations and decisions, as well as to develop specific mechanisms providing comprehensive protection for the above-mentioned persons.

    • We believe that for a constructive and long-term resolution of the current extremely dangerous international situation, it is necessary not only to prevent any further escalation of the armed confrontation, but also to achieve a genuine, sustainable settlement of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine. The first step toward such a settlement should be the complete cessation of hostilities on all sides along the existing line of demarcation, as well as the adoption of a set of measures to ensure the rights of people living in the region.

    • We call on the international community to support the peace building efforts of civil society including activists in mediation, confidence-building, public diplomacy, and other initiatives aimed to prevent an escalation of hostilities and bring peace to Ukrainian soil.

We believe that this could be facilitated through a significant quantitative and qualitative strengthening of the corresponding OSCE observation mission to a level where it would be able to quickly record, confidently attribute and immediately make public any violation of the ceasefire regime, and carry out effective measures in response to such violations. We are sure that modern technical means and political will of the leaders of the OSCE member states make it possible to perform such a task.

While we recognize, that the Russian Federation, Ukraine and all other states have legitimate interests related to ensuring their security, we note that such interests must be achieved exclusively by peaceful means, through diplomacy and taking into account similar interests of other countries. We recognize that over the past decades, different countries and in different regions of the world have repeatedly taken actions that are dubious in view of international law, and often in direct violation of its fundamental principles. But such actions in the past cannot justify new gross violations of the world order established after the WWII and based on the principles of independence and territorial integrity of states.

Therefore, we call on both the Russian Federation and on other countries of the world to abandon any policies of achieving certain goals in the field of security through the blackmail by force, as well as any economic or other actions involving information attacks and/or different forms of hybrid aggression against other states. The security of certain countries cannot be achieved at the expense of others, it is possible only on a multilateral basis.

Therefore, in our opinion, it makes sense to initiate preferably under the auspices of the United Nations - a broad multilateral forum on the basic principles and approaches in the field of global security. Such a forum could contribute to the development, on the basis of a multilateral dialogue, of common approaches to security issues, addressing existing "gray zones" of international law. This would allow to further minimize the risks of an arbitrary interpretation of its basic principles in the narrow, self-centered interests of an individual country or group of countries and to prevent a division of the world into new "spheres of influence".

Latest posts

Kenyan Finance Bill Protests

 

As I lay in bed on the night of June 12th, 2024, scrolling through X, I stumbled upon a tweet by a user named Amerix. The tweet sharply criticized the government for the taxes it was already imposing on citizens. Being new to the job market, I felt an immediate connection to the sentiment and liked the tweet, resonating with its frustration. Little did I know that this single tweet by Amerix would mark the beginning of a revolution led by the Kenyan youth.

In the days that followed, Amerix flooded X with tweets that further fanned the flames of discontent. He posted phone numbers of various Members of Parliament, urging Kenyans to call and text them, demanding they reject the Finance Bill 2024. Though I had heard about the bill in passing, I hadn't paid much attention to it until now. The leak of the MPs' phone numbers piqued my curiosity, driving me to learn more about the bill that was causing such an uproar.

Knowing the struggle of coping with the existing taxes and being new to the workforce, I understood that Finance Bill 2024 would add even more burden and this pushed me to take immediate action. I searched for a copy of the bill and read it, determined to understand the full extent of its implications. Unfortunately, I realized that the window for public comment had already closed on June 10th at 5 pm.

Nevertheless, my curiosity had been sparked, and I knew I couldn't ignore the issue. This was no longer just a series of tweets; it was the beginning of a movement, and I found myself swept up in its momentum.

Users of X began posting their respective MPs' responses to texts urging them to reject the bill. As expected, most responses dismissed our concerns with condescension. This sparked a deep frustration within me. "Who do these MPs think they are?" I asked myself. The anger bubbling inside me fueled my determination. "I will show them," I resolved.

Without hesitation, I searched for my MP's phone number and sent a text, voicing my opposition to Finance Bill 2024. I gathered phone numbers of other MPs, texting them as well, pretending to be a member of their constituencies. Each message was a small act of defiance, a way to make my voice and the voices of many other heard.

The feeling of taking action, even in such a small way, was empowering. It wasn't just about a single bill anymore; it was about standing up to a system that seemed to have forgotten the people it was supposed to represent and serve. And so, with each text, I felt a growing sense of solidarity with my fellow Kenyans. The arrogance that came with some of the MPs' responses led to a turning point. On the evening of June 16th, 2024, an X user tweeted, "Why can't we all show up in town on the 18th of June and have a peaceful protest so that these MPs see we mean business in rejecting this bill?" The tweet resonated deeply, garnering countless impressions and agreement from others. Soon, the idea of a peaceful protest took on a life of its own.

What began as a single suggestion quickly became a movement. The X timeline was soon flooded with posters detailing the peaceful demonstration. Users tweeted about dress codes, meet-up points, and volunteered to print T-shirts with messages rejecting the bill. Others offered to create placards and distribute water. As I watched these plans unfold, a realization hit me: "Holy shit! It's actually happening. People are actually angry enough to take to the streets." Despite this, I told myself I would wait until the protest day to see if people were truly as fired up as they seemed online.

Like wildfire, the call for protest spread across other social media platforms. A day before the scheduled protest, content about the Finance Bill and the upcoming demonstration was shared to millions of people. The momentum was unstoppable, and it was clear that this might be more than just an online outcry—it was a collective movement ready to take to the streets. What I did not know was that this first demonstration would spark a string of demonstrations that would bring about fear, joy and sadness collectively to many in the country. 

I remember waking up at 8:10 am on that fateful Tuesday. I hurriedly said my morning prayers, asking God for protection for everyone going to the protest. I grabbed my phone and opened the X app, shouting to my mom in the other room, “I am off chicken duty today!” My timeline was flooded with tweets about people heading to town and amplifying the #RejectFinanceBill2024 hashtag with content related to the finance bill.

True to what had been discussed online, protesters carried banners, wore black shirts with messages rejecting the finance bill, and had vuvuzelas, water, and whistles, all while exercising peaceful protesting. The protest was soon dubbed the “Gen Z” protest.

As people started gathering in the Central Business District, the police began arresting anyone who had carried banners or had worn a black shirt with the #RejectFinanceBill slogan on it. These events were broadcast live on TV and shared across social media. Yet, the more people were arrested, the more determined they became to show up for the protest. "Because I did not borrow permission from work, I will just become a keyboard warrior today, but the Thursday demonstration I must attend," I told myself. I continued to follow the protest’s progress on various platforms, tweeting about the protest and its main agenda on my X account.

The scale and nonviolent discipline of the protests may mark a change in Kenya's history of demonstrations. The turnout of that first protest motivated many to come out for the next one on Thursday, June 20th. As I woke up on that fateful Thursday of the protest I told myself "I am doing this for my dad and many more who cannot afford cancer treatment," as I got out of bed. After my usual morning routine, I left for the CBD, coordinating with my friend who was also attending the protest. Upon arrival, the air was filled with a tingling smell that made me sneeze. I alighted the bus and saw a crowd gathering, so I joined them while waiting for my friend. The crowd was fiery, charged, and invigorated, ready for the day. My friend arrived within 20 minutes, and the running began.

We marched towards the police officers, chanting “We come in peace,” trying to head towards Parliament. Each advance was met with tear gas, scattering us in different directions. After the effects of the gas subsided, we regrouped and tried again. I remember one protestor telling a police officer, “We are here not only to fight for our rights but also yours. You are one of the civil servants who take home the lowest of salaries, and you still defend this government that pays you peanuts by tear-gassing us.” 

Despite our repeated attempts, we couldn't reach Parliament, but our spirits remained unbroken. We even helped police who thirsted for water and conversed with them, an act never seen before in Kenya. We gathered along Kenyatta Avenue, awaiting the first vote on the bill. Protesters followed the live proceedings from Parliament, hoping their presence would influence their MPs. When a protester announced, “Guys, the vote was 204-Yes and 115-No,” my heart sank. I felt despair. "All this for nothing," I thought. However, as I scrolled through X, I learned that the bill could still be rejected in the second reading, restoring a bit of hope.

The bill passing the first reading did not kill our spirit. Protesters decided to party in the streets, singing and dancing before going home. Little did we know that night would see a mother and father robbed of their son, marking the beginning of protestors getting killed. Rex Maasai was the young man that was shot dead by the police and when I got home I got to learn about this sad news. The video of his shooting spread across social media platforms, igniting further outrage

The days following the protest were marked by demands for accountability from the government regarding Rex Maasai's death. This incident galvanized even larger numbers to come out on Tuesday, June 25th, a day now petitioned to be named Mashujaa Day. Close to 30 people lost their lives on this day alone, shocking the nation. Parliament was accessed by citizens, a section burned, the mace (symbol of power) stolen, snipers deployed, and protests erupted in 35 out of 47 counties. What made the situation escalate to this point is because unethical politicians hired goons to pose as protesters who smeared the reputation of the peaceful protest and caused chaos. These hired goons looted, destroyed property and caused havoc jeopardizing the demonstration's main goal which was peaceful protesting. Even with all these happenings, the MPs still decided to pass the bill during the second reading.

One remarkable event was when a group of protesters entering Parliament, saw a differently-abled MP who had voted yes and was trying to flee the chaos, helped the MP by carrying him across the street to safety. This act of kindness amplified our peaceful mantra, yet the police remained violently relentless. Many went home injured and disappointed by the government's response. That evening the president had a brief address where he announced that he was not going to sign the Finance Bill into law and that he would return it back to parliament. Even with the Finance bill being brought back to parliament, people still decided to protest on Thursday. The protest was characterized by the same brutality as seen on Tuesday.

The president's addresses to the youth and the nation have only alienated him further from the people who once supported him. Each address shows he still isn't fully listening to the youth. As I write this, Kenyan youth have vowed to protest every Tuesday and Thursday with a new agenda and the hashtag #RutoMustGo, demanding accountability for police brutality, auditing the national debt, tackling corruption, and most importantly, the president's resignation. Citizens are demanding his resignation due to his failure to uphold the Kenyan Constitution, particularly the right to demonstrate and picket. They accuse him of deploying the police force against peaceful protesters. But the big question remains: will the peaceful protests be free of police brutality as the president has promised?

In conclusion, there has been a historical shift in protests in Kenya. A country once characterized by violent demonstrations, marked by stone-throwing and tire-burning, has seen a new dawn ushered in by Gen Z. This new generation of activists, armed not with weapons but with phones, water bottles, and hearts full of dreams and aspirations for a better Kenya, has embraced non-violence as their strategy. Civil disobedience has been portrayed in a planned and methodical approach. The non-violence approach in the protests has showcased the power of solidarity and peaceful resistance. Personally, the demonstrations have reinforced the teaching of how powerful social media can be and the impact it has if used correctly. Kenyan youth have also learned and are still learning the power of civic engagement and collective action. The demonstrations have proven that active participation in democracy goes beyond voting and that more civic actions need to be done post-voting.

Kuttab Brothers Debate the Future of Palestine

Kuttab Brothers Debate the Future of Palestine:

Where are We Now and Where are We Going?

Webinar Transcript

The situation in Palestine is becoming increasingly dire. Daily ferocious and deadly attacks on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip continue, alongside the blockade of humanitarian aid and medical care for those most in need. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, ongoing violence from settlers and the Israeli army against Palestinians persists, including harming civilians, land confiscation, and destruction of property. In Israel (1948 territories), Palestinians are facing unprecedented levels of discrimination and violence. 

Public declarations and positions by Israeli officials are undermining efforts not only for a ceasefire but also for a genuine and viable solution that ensures peace and security for all residents of the region. Subjugating the Palestinians seems to be the only solution offered by these politicians and there seems to be wide support for them.

Additionally, many experts warn that the Palestinian Authority is on the verge of collapse, rendering it even more powerless than before to provide for its population and protect it from these relentless attacks and violations, even in statements of condemnation.

The ongoing struggle has left many around the world with questions about the future of Palestine and the nonviolence resistance movement.

The Crucial Questions:

  • Where is the Palestinian movement for liberation standing now?
  • What is the future of the Palestinian political leadership?
  • Is there any viable solution to the occupation and what does it look like?

Watch the recording to answer these questions and many more are two brothers who have dedicated their lives to Palestinian liberation and peace.

Featured Speakers:

Jonathan Kuttab: Jonathan Kuttab is a leading human rights lawyer. In 1979, he co-founded Al Haq, the first international human rights legal organization in Palestine. Later, he co-founded the Palestinian Center for the Study of Non-Violence (now Nonviolence International) and also founded the Mandela Institute for Prisoners. Jonathan is a Palestinian Christian, past chair of the Bethlehem Bible College, and serves on the board of the Sabeel Ecumenical Theology Center in Jerusalem. Jonathan was part of the 1994 legal team for the Cairo agreement that resulted in the Oslo II Accord. He was a visiting scholar at Osgoode Law School at York University in Toronto in the Fall of 2017 and is a founding director of Just Peace Advocates Mouvement pour une Paix Juste, a Canadian-based international law human rights not-for-profit. Jonathan is a resident of East Jerusalem and a partner of the Kuttab, Khoury, and Hanna Law Firm in East Jerusalem.


Daoud Kuttab: Daoud Kuttab is a Palestinian journalist and media activist. He is the former Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton University. Daoud Kuttab is currently the director general of Community Media Network (CMN), a not-for-profit media organization dedicated to advancing independent media in the Arab region. CMN is registered in Jordan and Palestine and administers Radio al Balad in Amman and ammannet.net. He is a regular columnist on Palestinian issues with Al-Monitor, Arab News, and writes frequently in the Washington Post, LA Times, Al Jazeera, New Arab, Newsweek, The New Republic, and other publications.

Born in Jerusalem in 1955, Daoud studied in the United States and has worked in journalism since 1980. He has received several international awards, among them: the CPJ Freedom of Expression Award, the IPI World Press Freedom Hero, the PEN Club USA Writing Freedom Award, the Leipzig Courage in Freedom Award, the Next Foundation Peace in Journalism Award, and the Japanese Peace Award for producing Shara'a Simsim, the Palestinian version of Sesame Street.

Watch the recording for an insightful and compelling discussion on the current state and future of the Palestinian movement, political leadership, and the quest for a viable solution to the occupation.

Watch the Recording Here

Nonviolence Advocate Chaiwat Satha-Anand, Dies.
                                   Photo Credit: Thai PBS WORLD

Renowned advocate and scholar of nonviolence and peace,  Chaiwat Satha-Anand has died of cancer at the age of 69 on June 27th, 2024.

Chaiwat was born in Bangkok, Thailand in 1955. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Hawai'i and created a legacy of nonviolence theory and activism. Chaiwat was a professor of political science at Thammasat University and served as the director of the Thai Peace Information Centre. 

He was an expert on nonviolence theories and activism, and the overlap between these theories and Islam. For several years he directed the International Peace Research Association’s (IPRA) commission on nonviolence and also served on the Scientific Committee of the International University for Peoples’ Initiative for Peace (IUPIP).

In 2003, he was nominated to lead efforts to reduce violence in Thailand, serving as a member of the National Reconciliation Commission, and was the lead author of the final report to the Thai government. In 2012, Chaiwat was selected by Nonviolence International as the winner of the El-Hibri Peace Education Prize. 

After decades of leading nonviolent actions and educating others, Chaiwat succumbed to his illness. His legacy will undoubtedly live on through his students, and his many published works including “Non-killing Security and the State.”

A ceremony for those who wish to pay their respects to Chaiwat was held at the Maroon Mosque in Bang Rak district of Bangkok on June 27th,2024. His funeral took place on the morning of June 28th, 2024. 

One of his most notable works, The Nonviolent Crescent: Eight Theses on Muslim Nonviolent Actions can be found here.

Direct Action by Solidarity Activists to Break the Siege

 

https://youtube.com/shorts/yD8V3kn-UKE?si=bGj0edTBl51e5Fst

 

 As we witness the daily horrific attacks against the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip, we also see the global movement calling for a ceasefire and an end to Israeli genocide grow with protests taking place across every major city in the world today. Taking this activism a step further, many are also engaged in direct action to break the siege of Gaza that has lasted for over 17 years and intensified in the last 8 months. People that are ready to put their lives on the line to save others. These people represent us, the global nonviolence movement, coming together from different parts of the world and from different ethnic and religious backgrounds.These are the ones who said, in the face of the impossible, we want to do something.

This will be hosted by Sami Awad. Our impressive speakers updated us and answered our questions!

Freedom Flotilla-Ann Wright

Rabbis for a Ceasefire- Ilana Sumka

Host- Co-Director of Nonviolence International, Sami Awad


Watch the Recording Here!

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