Updates-A Story of Realistic Hope

The United States Institute of Peace Board Should not Include Supporters of Human Rights Abuses

Edward Gabriel is confirmed to serve on the USIP board.

For those new to the topic of Western Sahara, please scroll down to learn from the many resources below. You will find decades of activism and international solidarity efforts opposing occupation all over the world including Western Sahara. This post is a bit different. Some may see this as an internal discussion only of interest to those focused on small details, but we believe small details build to create powerful reality. 

In the United States, citizen activists worked for years to build a degree granting school analogous to the major government funded colleges studying how to make war. Through legislative compromise what was eventually created was the United States Institute of Peace. 

Thanks to activist and scholar Barbara Wien for bringing Stephen Zunes’ recent piece to our attention. Please see excerpts below and read the full piece on TruthOut. 

(Please note this piece was written prior to the Senate vote. Gabriel has now been confirmed.)

Biden’s Nominee for Peace Board Is a Prominent Supporter of Human Rights Abuses

President Joe Biden has shocked the human rights community by nominating Edward Gabriel, a longtime lobbyist for the Moroccan government, to the board of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). Having an outspoken supporter of a repressive monarchy in such a position has raised alarms among supporters of the congressionally funded institute that promotes conflict resolution and prevention, diplomacy, mediation, human rights and democracy.

In one of the most egregious examples of Washington’s infamous revolving doors, Gabriel followed his tenure as U.S. ambassador to Morocco under President Bill Clinton to become a lobbyist for the Moroccan regime — essentially switching from advancing U.S. interests in the Moroccan capital of Rabat to advancing Moroccan interests in Washington, D.C.

Of particular concern has been Gabriel’s strident defense of Morocco’s occupation and illegal annexation of the country of Western Sahara.

… Putting someone with such a history of denials of well-documented human rights abuses on the USIP board threatens the integrity of USIP’s important programs in human rights and democratization. As a U.S. government-funded institute, there are certainly limits to how boldly USIP has been able challenge U.S. policies contrary to promoting its stated agenda in support of peace, human rights and conflict resolution. Despite this, its work has at times been applauded by progressive scholars and activists.

USIP’s conflict resolution programs that have addressed the Western Sahara conflict have stressed the importance of including all parties, including the Polisario Front — the internationally recognized representatives of the Western Sahara people and the governing party of the SADR — in the negotiations. Gabriel, however, insists that the Polisario is simply a creation of Algeria. This is incorrect, as the Polisario Front has origins as a clearly Indigenous national liberation movement at a time when Algeria was backing a rival independence group.

Should Gabriel be confirmed, important USIP programs addressing human rights, conflict resolution and international law would be in jeopardy. President Biden’s nomination of a spokesperson for a foreign autocratic government is a threat to USIP’s integrity at a time when more action in defense of human rights is sorely needed.

Stephen Zunes is a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco. His most recent book, co-authored with Jacob Mundy, is Western Sahara: War, Nationalism, and Conflict Irresolution (revised updated expanded second edition, Syracuse University Press, 2022).


Nonviolence International's History of Nonviolent Action in Western Sahara

(Mubarak Awad & Jonathan Kuttab in Western Sahara in 2015)

NVI has been concerned about Western Sahara for over 3 decades. NVI's co-founders Mubarak Awad and Jonathan Kuttab are some of the few Palestinians and Americans who have gone and done solidarity work with them in the occupied territory.

June 2022: International team co-organized by Nonviolence International, interrupts 500 day siege of the Khaya family and after 80 days of a protective presence, accompanies Sultana Khaya to Spain for medical care.

April 2022: In Nonviolent Strategies and Stories in Israel-Palestine and Western Sahara, Michael Beer and Osama Elewat speak with the Metta Center for Nonviolence on the power of nonviolence.

January 2022: Stephen Zunes writes in Foreign Policy in Focus that President Biden's refusal to reverse President Trump's policy on Western Sahara has dangerous global implications. 

Zunes piece in The Progressive warned that the threat of further Russian aggression against Ukraine was real and noted that the Biden administration is in a weak position to lead an international response.

December 2021: Khaya Family Update

March 2021: Nonviolence International is proud to make connections across boundaries that for far too long we have allowed to divide us. This NVI webinar connects those resisting occupation from Palestine to Western Sahara. We believe in the power of active nonviolence and offer this conversation as a way to celebrate brave nonviolent leaders and our shared use of creative Nonviolent Tactics and Training to make us even more impactful. 

(Video above shows Sultana Khaya - while under heavy surveillance - joining our webinar through Salka Barca. Note the 22-minute mark, at which Sultana Khaya dramatically confronts those who besiege her house.)

CNN featured Sultana Khaya’s powerful op-ed on a difficult topic that rarely gets the attention it deserves (Morocco: Western Sahara Activist Raped)

November 2020: NVI's Director, Michael Beer co-wrote this piece calling for an End to the Conflict in Western Sahara) and encouraging the US Government to change it policies towards Western Sahara. 

Nonviolence International supports international law and opposes the unlawful and violent occupations of its neighbors by Israel, Morocco and Russia.

July 2020:  Nonviolence International's statement on annexation


Resources on Western Sahara

A BATTLEFIELD TRANSFORMED: FROM GUERILLA RESISTANCE TO MASS NONVIOLENT STRUGGLE IN THE WESTERN SAHARA
Dr. Maria J. Stephan and Jacob Mundy. 


War Resisters International’s January 2021

Statement in the Face of War and Western Sahara Country Profile


The Washington Institute for Near East Policy's nine minute video on Western Sahara


Democracy Now's hour long documentary: Four Days in Occupied Western Sahara: Africa's Last Colony. 

 

Important Update: Nonviolence International Stands in Solidarity with Al-Haq

At this critical moment, Nonviolence International raises up Al-Haq and our co-founder Jonathan Kuttab

August 2022: Jonathan Kuttab has written an insightful update to the important story below. This issue has received far too little attention in the mainstream media in the US. He concludes saying, “given that multiple European countries have now resumed their funding for these groups after having conducted independent audits and finding no evidence of malfeasance, it would behoove the United States to finally clarify its position on this matter. If the US wants to continue proclaiming itself a defender of human rights and the rule of law around the world, it must do so in all countries and in all cases, not just when it serves Israeli, or for that matter, US interests.”

Read the full piece on the Arab Center of Washington, DC’s site. An Update on Israel’s Terrorist Designation for Palestinian Civil Society Organizations


October 2021: Israel's Defense Minister, Benny Gantz, has declared six Palestinian Human Rights groups to be "terrorist organizations." Nonviolence International notes that these organizations are respected leaders in Palestinian Civil Society. They have received funding and support from the United Nations and the European Union, both of which do their due diligence to ensure their funds are used to build not destroy. 

NVI's co-founder, Jonathan Kuttab, is also a co-founder of Al-Haq, one of the groups wrongly designated as "terrorists." As advocates of nonviolence, we consider the search for truth to be essential to building a just and peaceful world. Those who made this designation know better. They have taken this action not to reflect reality, but to shape it. 

The Center for Jewish Nonviolence said, "Throughout history, nonviolent leaders and movements for liberation have been smeared as terrorists by oppressive regimes. As Jews standing in solidarity with Palestinians, we see this every day, and we stand unequivocally with the Palestinian civil society organizations being targeted by the Israeli government, and we know that they are being targeted because their work poses an existential threat to the violent and immoral status quo."

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, who work closely with many of these groups, said in a joint statement:

“This appalling and unjust decision is an attack by the Israeli government on the international human rights movement. For decades, Israeli authorities have systematically sought to muzzle human rights monitoring and punish those who criticize its repressive rule over Palestinians. While staff members of our organizations have faced deportation and travel bans, Palestinian human rights defenders have always borne the brunt of the repression. This decision is an alarming escalation that threatens to shut down the work of Palestine’s most prominent civil society organizations. The decades-long failure of the international community to challenge grave Israeli human rights abuses and impose meaningful consequences for them has emboldened Israeli authorities to act in this brazen manner.

How the international community responds will be a true test of its resolve to protect human rights defenders. We are proud to work with our Palestinian partners and have been doing so for decades. They represent the best of global civil society. We stand with them in challenging this outrageous decision.”

United Nations Human Rights experts put out a powerful joint statement which reads in part,

“This designation is a frontal attack on the Palestinian human rights movement, and on human rights everywhere,” said the experts. “Silencing their voices is not what a democracy adhering to well-accepted human rights and humanitarian standards would do. We call upon the international community to defend the defenders.”

The experts said that anti-terrorism legislation is designed for a specific and restricted purpose, and must not be used to unjustifiably undermine civil liberties or to curtail the legitimate work of human rights organisations. The United Nations Security Council, the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council have all been clear about the requirement to apply counter-terrorism measures in a manner which is consistent with international law and does not violate States international obligations, they said.

“The misuse of counter-terrorism measures in this way by the government of Israel undermines the security of all,” the experts said. “The freedoms of association and expression must be fully respected in order to enable civil society to perform its indispensable work, and cannot be undermined by the manifestly egregious misuse of counterterrorism and security legislation.”


Today, we ask all who declare their commitment to nonviolence to make real that commitment by standing for truth. Please read Jonathan's powerful statement below and take the quick action steps listed at the bottom of this piece. 

Jonathan has decades of commitment to nonviolence and human rights. Anyone who suggests otherwise should study his work and consider why they would make such foolish claims. 


Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA) Statement on Israel’s Labeling of Top Palestinian Human Rights Agencies as “Terrorist Organizations”

By Jonathan Kuttab

FOSNA Executive Director, Al-Haq and Nonviolence International co-founder

About 40 years ago, Raja Shehadeh, Charles Shammas, and I created Al-Haq, the first Palestinian human rights organization. After our first publication, "The West Bank and the Rule of Law," an Israeli ambassador contemptuously dismissed us as “a mouthpiece for the PLO'' and for “making a mountain out of a molehill.” We argued back through the International Commission of Jurists, which was our sponsor, that we are totally independent and meticulous about our facts and documentation. We challenged him to prove his claims or to show that ANY of our publications contained any materially incorrect facts. He never replied.

In fact, we were viewed with some suspicion within the Palestinian community because we were strictly independent and spoke the language of human rights and international law, rather than political polemics. This was new for most Palestinians. We persisted, however, and other organizations followed in our footsteps. We managed to have a positive impact on Palestinian society as a serious human rights organization. Al-Haq is now one of several world-renowned and respected human rights organizations. I am proud to say that over the years Al-Haq has meticulously maintained its high standards and, after the Oslo process, was courageous enough to apply the same standards of objectivity, independence, and defense of human rights not just to the Israeli occupation, but also to the behaviour of the Palestinian Authority, and also of Hamas.

I was therefore shocked, though not surprised, when Israel today declared Al-Haq, together with Addamir, Defence of Children International-Palestine, and three other human rights organizations to be “terrorist organizations.” This is a far cry from the polemical, false accusations thrown at us occasionally by Israeli propagandists like the NGO Monitor. It carries practical consequences, such as the seizure of assets, arrest of personnel, and the criminalization of anyone who donates to or cooperates with us in any way.

The fact that Israel is choosing now to attack all six human rights organizations is deeply troubling. It may mean that we are finally becoming effective and successful, that Israel realizes it has lost the public-relations war, and that the world now knows and acknowledges the reality that it is an apartheid state and a systematic violator of human rights and international law. The Defense minister may be afraid that the day is approaching when he and other politicians and army generals may face prosecution before the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and he decided to silence these organizations and cripple their activities.

Another explanation, I am afraid, is that Israel no longer cares about its reputation and no longer fears international public opinion, or any sanctions by the international community. The fact that it has been successful so far in avoiding accountability, and that just a few months ago it ransacked the offices of Defense for Children International in Ramallah with little or no push back emboldened it to do whatever it wants without fear of repercussions. Its assault on civil society can go on unchallenged!!

For this reason alone, it is imperative that we must act now. Our churches, first and foremost, but also our elected representatives must hear from us immediately. Israel must know that its actions are monitored, noted, and will lead to consequences. At the very least, it can no longer claim to be a democracy and be part of the Western world. It can join the likes of Saudi Arabia and North Korea if it chooses, but as long as it pretends to be a democracy and lays claim to billions in economic and military aid from the United States and preferred trade treatment from the US and Europe, it must be made to abide by international standards, and at the very least, stop its attacks on human rights organizations. 

So please join with FOSNA and others in this action.

Learn More. Take Action:

Call now and urge your church, as well as your representatives in Washington, to take action and stop this assault on human rights activists and organizations.


For those interested in learning more about Jonathan's loving, visionary, and nonviolent analysis, please consider reading his wonderful recent book that is available for free from Nonviolence International. 

Spotlight on Nonviolence - Jodie Evans

How To Throw A Better Party

Through NVI’s Spotlight Series I spoke with Jodie Evans. Jodie is the co-founder of CODEPINK: Women for Peace, co-editor of two books, and has been described as a “truly heart-centered human being." During our discussion, we touched on three main topics: 1. the cause and effect of working in politics in the 90s, 2. her role as a leader in a large advocacy organization & 3. how she reconnects to the roots of nonviolence.

We discussed Jodie’s role as campaign manager for Jerry Brown’s Presidential run in 1992. I suggested that running a presidential campaign must be the complete opposite of running a grassroots organization, but Jodie insisted that her campaign was run on one issue. That is money out of politics. This was the guiding value of the campaign because if money still existed in politics “it didn't matter what you care for, you wouldn't get it.” This bottom-up principle can be seen throughout the most successful civil resistance campaigns and remains at the core of CODEPINK. 

After our discussion about the violent nature of our current war economy, Jodie reflected on what her ancestors have done to make life exuberant and meaningful. She wonders if people have forgotten how to live. We transitioned on what brought her back to center and what made life “juicy and delicious” for Jodie. Her passion for gardening incentivized her to find a piece of land at the convergence of two rivers and open up the area to farmers. Rumi, her sweet retriever, and the rest of the community use this land as an incubator space for young farmers. 

In a final thought Jodie recommends that “if we watch what’s happening, we need to model what's beautiful.” Facing up against ugly parties can be easy. All we need to do is throw a better party.

 



CODEPINK

Schumacher Center for New Economics

Jodie's Twitter

Jodie's Instagram


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. 


 

Spotlight on Nonviolence - David Korten

Recently at NVI, I've had the pleasure of speaking with David Korten, the founder and president of the Living Economies Forum, which aims to reveal issues with current economic models and advance alternatives. He is also the co-founder of YES! magazine and has contributed prolifically to it. He is a current member of the Club of Rome. He previously served as a professor for Harvard Business School. He has authored many books, such as When Corporations Rule the World, Agenda for a New Economy, and The Great Turning - to name a few. 

Throughout my interview with David, he discussed the role of the current economy in altering human behavior. While humans naturally tend towards cooperating with one another, the current economic system, which David refers to as “ego-nomics”, encourages actively competing against one another at each other’s expense. David also discusses issues with the current system of education, which he believes focuses on memorization and discourages critical thinking. Furthermore, David describes the future goal of an “ecological civilization” which he believes that we should aim for, where we are able to live in concert with both each other and nature. Ultimately, my interview with David stresses the importance of aiming for a nonviolent world and how we should always strive to aim for a better, more human future.

I enjoyed talking to David and hearing about his insights regarding humanity and how our thoughts and actions can be shaped by our economic system. Our discussion really highlighted the importance of economics to me by showing how our current economic system encourages violence and selfishness, while our current education system only compounds these issues by discouraging critical thinking about this system. I learned a lot from David and hope that you also will!


PART 1:
PART 2:

David Korten's Website

"Ecological Civilization: Emergency and Emergence"

YES! Magazine

When Corporations Rule the World

Club of Rome


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


 

Calling for Peace in Ukraine

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

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

2) NVI-Ukraine hosts a nascent Ukrainian Stop the War Coalition. This is a network of groups in Ukraine working to nonviolently resist the Russian invasion and to support the Russian anti-war movement. See below for details on its membership.

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

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

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


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

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. 

Spotlight on Nonviolence - David Solnit

How Art & Bodies Making Sweeping Change

Through NVI’s Spotlight Series, I spoke with world-renowned art activist, David Solnit. He has been described as “Activism’s Renaissance Man,” the co-founder of Art and Revolution, and encourages social movements with participatory activism and performance. David’s art has been used for creative and colorful resistance in Seattle’s World Trade Organization protest in 1999, the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, and the Immokalee farm workers which shut down some of the biggest restaurant franchises.

During my interview with David, we discussed the varied nature of art activism and the different forms of art someone might see during a social movement. “Arts'' can be anything from visual banners or flags to musical arts and performance art. David’s passion is deeply rooted in the belief that at the end of the day all we have to change the world is “our voice, our bodies, and the things we create with our hands.” He emphasized the idea that art created for protests can be an alternative to the propaganda and media that the government uses to alter public relations.  Instead of existing to manipulate the narrative, protest arts uplift and highlight the lives of where the art is rooted–in the people. 

David quotes Ricardo Levins Morales when speaking about art's role in creating momentum for nonviolent social movements. He suggests that “art speaks directly to the inner spaces where stories are stored.” In effect, this can create sweeping change that Festivals of Resistance use to visualize a better world. My conversation with David was colorful and engaged every one of my senses. Our time together affirmed my belief that resisters have the edge and that everyone can make art. When paired strategically, art can amplify creative struggle and create victories.   



The Oakland Institute 

David's Instagram

San Fransisco Street Murals

Climate Designers Party Program

No Pipeline, No Way!


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. 


 

Spotlight on Nonviolence - Maria Quintana

Through NVI's Spotlight Series, I spoke with Maria Quintana, a U.S. and Latin American historian who specializes in race and empire, civil rights and labor history, immigration history, and social movements. Maria is an Assistant Professor at Sacramento State University. She has written the book Contracting Freedom: Race, Empire, and U.S. Labor Importation Programs, 1942-1964. Her research has received numerous awards, including the Charlotte W. Newcombe Fellowship from the Institute for Citizens & Scholars. She is also part of the World House Global Network.

During my interview with Maria, she showed how our understanding of the labor civil rights movement is connected deeply with U.S. imperialism through guestworker programs which importer of migrant labor from Mexico, Jamaica, Bahamas, Honduras, Barbados, and Puerto Rico. While the US government positively portrayed guestworker programs as emphasizing a fair labor contract and equal rights, workers from these programs became leaders for freedom and human rights throughout the civil rights movement. Guestworker programs ignored race and class in the United States where "freedom" is not necessarily a "right." The sacrifices of these workers, demonstrated  in courageous and relentless nonviolent action in the civil and labor rights movement, gave a new meaning to freedom and expanded my understanding of new forms of racial oppression and empire.

In a reality where workers, particularly immigrant and marginalized workers, continue to advocate for a livable wage, fair treatment, and protection of their rights, my conversation with Maria gave me a greater understanding of the evolution rather than elimination of the oppression of workers. I hope it does the same for you.



Learn more about what Maria is a part of:

Immigration and Ethnic History Society: Summer 2022 Online Books Series

Contracting Freedom: Race, Empire, and U.S. Guestworker Programs (Use the discount code PP20 for 20% off your order from Penn Press!)

Sacramento State University

BlackPast


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. 


 

Spotlight on Nonviolence - Kent Wong

Recently at NVI, I've had the pleasure of speaking with Kent Wong, the director the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Labor Center. As the director of the UCLA Labor Center, Kent teaches courses in labor studies and Asian American studies. He is also the founding president of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and the United Association for Labor Education. He currently serves as the vice president of the California Federation of Teachers. He also contributed to the book Revolutionary Nonviolence: Organizing for Freedom, which accounts the power of nonviolence organizing and its ability to sustain social change movements.

Throughout my interview with Kent, he noted strongly the active work of Reverend James M. Lawson in nonviolence philosophy and tactics. While Kent has been an advocate for Lawson's philosophy, he has been a colleague and direct supporter of Lawson through Revolutionary Nonviolence. Lawson preached that nonviolence was not a passive act but it instead involves the "suffering and sacrifice" that is often associated with violence. Acting nonviolent means absorbing the suffering and sacrificing our own comfort to campaign nonviolently. Through the suffering, we stand together to build a more peaceful world. Personally, I am looking forward to reading Revolutionary Nonviolence and continuing to learn from the nonviolence leaders of the past for the social change movements of the present.



An article about Reverend James M. Lawson

Revolutionary Nonviolence

UCLA Labor Center

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance

The United Association for Labor Education

The California Federation of Teachers

The World House Global Network


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. 


 

Join Us in Welcoming These Amazing Young Leaders.

By Paige Wright

Integral to Nonviolence International’s core team is always a strong cohort of willing, capable, and intelligent individuals serving as interns. NVI is excited to welcome this team for the summer and fall to create change through nonviolent action.

Some of them are working very much behind the scenes, updating our Tactics Database and Training Archive or working alongside our Founders, Jonathan Kuttab, and our Director, Michael Beer, in the promotion of their respective books. Others of them are working in the foreground, creating videos for our YouTube page and Spotlight Series, and updating our Social Media accounts. All of them, however, have fully engaged with the work to be done here at NVI, and we are incredibly grateful and proud of their work thus far!

Please take a moment to let these inspiring new interns introduce themselves to you:


Emily Jang, she/her/hers

My name is Emily Jang, and I am a third year student at Emory University. As a psychology and anthropology major with a concentration in health, my primary interest is in mental health and understanding how one’s identity affects various aspects of health. This identity not only includes one’s environment but the structural and interpersonal responses to an individual as well. Thus, various forms of violence– structural, symbolic, and direct–affect one’s health and self. As I have come to understand this notion, I have grown a passion to better understand and apply the knowledge I have gained to actively confront this violence and advocate for others. I hope to foster this passion continuously in my future profession in academia or directly in mental healthcare as well as in the present through organizations such as NVI.


Annie Sandy Zumbi, she/her/hers

My name is Sandy Zumbi. I am in my last year of graduate school at American University in Washington D.C. Being from the Democratic Republic of Congo currently living in the U.S made me realize how fortunate I was which would not have been possible without my education. I understand how important the role education plays in the lives of children coming from developing countries and wanted to give that opportunity by fighting for children’s lives. I was drawn to NVI because of the work it does around the world. We have seen throughout history and up to this day how violence is never the answer and never produces the outcomes we hope for.   


Rachel Knowles, she/her/hers

As a graduate student at the University of San Francisco, my knowledge and understanding of in depth research and threat intelligence is expanding with application to real world resolution. These skills are not only something I study; through active advocacy I have developed my willingness to raise difficult questions and communicate with leaders across the country's universities to develop cohesive solutions. My experience with personal interviews and survey studies will introduce a different perspective on data collection and organization at NVI. With an educational background in customs, laws, and sanctions I will ensure up to date standards for effective export compliance programs. These multidisciplinary skills create a framework that aligns with the core value of Nonviolence International. That is: a passion for maintaining high ethical standards and developing active results.


Ahad Bashir, he/him/his

My name is Ahad Bashir. I’m a third-year student at Brown University studying International & Public Affairs (Development Track) and Economics. I have a strong interest in international development, especially in the Indian subcontinent, and a desire to reduce the harms of economic inequality. I also have a background in education and believe that equal access to a full, well-rounded education is a must, whether that be math class or just some after-school activities. I wish to either work at an NGO to identify and address economic inequality or work as a professor or educator. I joined NVI because I was blown away by the group’s outstanding dedication towards their goals and desire to do right by them.


Alanna, she/her/hers

Hello! I’m Alanna and I am a second year political science and peace studies student at The George Washington University. I am passionate about how systems of governance impact civil liberties and living standards. Following my studies, I plan to attend law school to become a federal prosecutor, international, and constitutional lawyer. In these endeavors, I intend to hold both corruption and marginalization accountable to advocate for a more democratic world. I joined NVI’s communications and fundraising teams to advocate for human rights, while supporting global peace campaigns.


 

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