Updates-A Story of Realistic Hope

Democracy Defense II: Global Activists’ Advice for US Transition

Presenters from around the world include:

  • Rafif Jouejati (Syria) moderator, 
  • Patricio Zamorano (Chile)
  • Shunleiyi Thinzar (Myanmar), 
  • Muhammed Bah (Gambia), 
  • Ivan Marovic (Serbia)

This is offered as part of Nonviolence International's webinar series: We Are All Part of One Another.

Time Stamps: 

Kelly Quinn - NVI Welcome

Rafif Jouejati - Host - 2:05

Patricio Zamorano - 7:00

Shunleiyi Thinzar - 18:45

Muhammed Bah - 31:45

Ivan Marovic - 45:05

Question and Answer / Discussion - 56:30


Patricio Zamorano is an academic, political scientist, journalist, and television and radio commentator on United States foreign and domestic policy. He is an experienced international consultant in academic development and political affairs, democracy, governance, and hemispheric relations between Latin America and the United States. He is also a specialist in strategic communication, social media management, and online content development. He has experience as an adjunct professor, speaker, and consultant at various universities and institutions in the Americas

Thinzar Shunlei Yi is a youth advocate and activist based in Yangon. She is highly passionate about democracy and human rights, youth engagement and local governance. Over 2012-16, Thinzar co-organised and led nation-wide and regional youth forums in Myanmar, as well as the National Youth Development Policy process. The first woman coordinator of National Youth Congress (NYC) and a two-term president of Yangon Youth Network, Thinzar is currently an advocacy lead at Asian Youth Peace Network (AYPN). She also works with Action Committee for Democracy Development (ACDD) as an Advocacy Coordinator. Thinzar received the US State Department’s “Emerging Young Leaders Award” in 2016, and the "Women of the Future South East Asia" award in 2019. She also sits on advisory boards of Plan International Myanmar, Women Voice and Leadership Program, Purple Feminists Group, and is one of the Obama Foundation’s inaugural selected #ObamaLeaders for Asia Pacific. She co-founded the "Under 30 Dialogue" TV show with Mizzima TV, and serves as the show’s weekly host, discussing political issues with prominent youth leaders.

Muhammed Bah (MS) Assistant Editor Foroyaa Newspaper a Human Right independent newspaper. He is an Award Winning Journalist and Board Member of  Activista-The Gambia. National Coordinator Hopes of Tomorrow (HOT) a youth led movement that educates and advocates for youth and women political participation and Human and civil right advocacy. He is the 2nd Vice President Young Journalist Association-The Gambia (YJAG). He was a key coordinator on the Gambia Has Decided movement that defended the will of the people in 2016 when the former president refused to concede defeat after the elections.

Ivan Marovic is an organizer, software developer and social innovator from Belgrade, Serbia. He was a student organizer and one of the leaders of Otpor, a resistance movement which played a critical role in the downfall of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. After a brief time in politics, it was time to grow up and move to more serious things, so Ivan started developing video games like A Force More Powerful and People Power, and platforms for local organizing like Moba. He successfully stayed out of politics for two decades, the time he spent advising activists and organizers around the world on strategies for citizen self organizing and movement building. Ivan holds a BSC in Process Engineering from Belgrade University and MA in international relations from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.


Rafif Jouejati is an incoming board member of Nonviolence International. She is the co-founder and director of the Foundation to Restore Equality and Education in Syria (FREE Syria), and the principal architect of the Syrian Freedom Charter project, which surveyed more than 50,000 Syrians on democratic aspirations and political transition. She is also a founding member of the Syrian Women’s Political Network, a member of the Board of Directors of The Day After, and President of the Board of Directors of Baytna. Rafif is the CEO of a company that helps client organizations evolve to higher levels of capacity and maturity through business development, targeted training, and strategic communication. 

Through these timely webinars, Nonviolence International will educate, inspire, and build a strong community as we work for a better world. We celebrate the visionary work of these passionate leaders and look forward to sharing the inspiration with all of you.

Over the coming months, we will be hosting an impressive range of nonviolent activists, thinkers, and leaders. We hope that you will make our new webinar series a regular part of your schedule. Each episode you will hear a powerful story of how people are using creative nonviolence in these difficult days. 

We look forward to an interactive and inspirational webinar series.

Nonviolence International Calls for Peaceful Resolution In Western Sahara

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 19, 2020

Mubarak Awad, President, +1 202 244 0951

Jonathan Kuttab, Co-founder +1 202 244 0951

Nonviolence International Calls for Peaceful Resolution In Western Sahara

(Washington, D.C.) Nonviolence International (NVI) calls on Morocco and Western Sahara to refrain from war. This week, Morocco attacked nonviolent civilians in the demilitarized zone of Gueruerat, breaking a 29-year cease-fire with the Polisario of Western Sahara. The Moroccan-Western Sahara conflict can only be resolved nonviolently through an UN-administered referendum.

NVI and the UN take no position on the issue of whether the outcome for Western Sahara should be independence or union with Morocco. Whether or not Western Sahara becomes independent, it will always be interdependent with Morocco (and other neighbors), economically, socially, and environmentally.

NVI founder, Mubarak Awad, visited Western Sahara in 2015 and explains that the occupation of Palestine is similar to that of Western Sahara in many ways. He said “I found myself at home with the Sahrawi people who are nonviolently struggling for self-determination. We understood the many checkpoints, the settlements full of immigrants, the surveillance, the imprisonment, the intimidation, the imposed poverty, the theft of resources, and the experience of torture and imprisonment. But we also understood the Sahrawi smiles, the strong role of women, the deep joy of community, the anger at the threats to our identity and culture, and the desire to live in peace with our neighbors whether they be Israelis or Moroccans.”

Nonviolence International calls on the people of Western Sahara and their Moroccan allies to maintain a nonviolent discipline and to work for their political objectives without intentionally harming Moroccans.

NVI calls on the United States and all countries to implement an arms embargo on both sides and pressure the parties to resolve the conflict nonviolently.

NVI calls on multinational corporations to refrain from buying or obtaining Western Sahara natural resources until an UN-administered referendum is held.

We also call upon the people of Morocco to pressure their government to allow a referendum so that stability can be brought to the entire Mahgreb.  The current conflict threatens to develop into a greater conflict between Algeria and Morocco when the goal should be cooperation and coexistence.

Our Exciting YouTube Channel Update

By David Hart

These are challenging times. Many of us are finding it increasingly difficult to find reasons to be hopeful. 

This is the time that Nonviolence International was made for. We work to build a global culture of nonviolence and to build hope in troubled times. We do this through our database of powerful Nonviolent Tactics, our inspirational Training Archive in partnership with Rutgers University, and our work as a backbone organization of the global nonviolent movement. 

Now we are adding to those valuable resources by launching our new YouTube channel: Youtube.com/Nonviolence and our new series of videos putting a Spotlight on Nonviolence. 

We hope you will find inspiration in this series. But, as you know, we don’t just hope for a better world, we at NVI work for it everyday. We need your help to maximize the impact of this work. Please let us know what you think, who you’d like to see Kelly interview, and ideas you might have on how to further enhance this new initiative. 

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. 

I want to introduce you to our wonderful intern, Kelly Quinn, who is leading this effort. Kelly will be spotlighting a wide range of activists and scholars to learn what gives them hope in hard times.

Kelly Quinn is a New York native currently living in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a Master’s Candidate at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health. Her concentration is Behavioral, Social & Health Education Sciences. She is interested in digital health and human rights, with plans to one day earn her PhD and teach at the university level.

Kelly has been an artist since childhood. She is interested in a variety of mediums and has found her joy in mixed media. She describes her current work as “saturated, eclectic, and exploring the beauty of the female form.” She completed a two year Meisner technique acting program at NYC’s William Esper Studio in 2015. She has a passion for communicating and facilitating conversations with people from all walks of life!

When she is not studying or painting she can be found hiking with her dog, Dakota, in Georgia’s gorgeous mountains, reading, cross-training, and spending time with friends (high priority if they too have pups). Fun fact: She was a professional bartender in NYC for nearly 8 years and is a cocktail encyclopedia. 

If you want to check out Kelly’s awesome art, please visit: https://kellyannquinn.com/

You can even link from that site to her first gallery representation where you can purchase one of her pieces before they go up in price BIG time. 


NVI is proud to announce Michael Beer and Mubarak Elamin's (of the Sudan Policy Group) recent and important piece on Common Dreams. In their op-ed, they call on the US to revoke its decision to extort $335 million from the Sudanese People. Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world with not enough food or medicine for their citizens. Thus, punishing the people of Sudan for overthrowing their dictator in a nonviolent revolution is nonsensical. 

Here is a short snippet from the article:

"US policies are adding to a nightmare for the Sudanese people who have just suffered from the worst flooding in a century. While the US wasted a year to free Sudan from this terrorist designation, Sudan was unable to trade worldwide and obtain support from multilateral institutions to rebuild its economy and deal with covid19. The US is extorting the Sudanese people for the terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda on US citizens. However the Sudanese people and the present government are in no way responsible for those criminal acts. It was the government of the Sudanese dictator Al-Bashir that protected Al Qaeda during the early to mid-1990s, prior to the attacks against U.S. interests in Kenya and Tanzania. In 2019, the Sudanese people revolted in a nonviolent struggle and successfully ousted the dictator and his ruling party. The new government has succeeded in signing peace agreements ending three civil wars.

The victims of bombings deserve reparations. If reparations are to be paid, let the US and Saudi Arabia lead the way. The US and Saudi are not solely responsible for Al Qaeda but their policies greatly boosted its growth. Al Qaeda was founded by Osama bin Laden who used the Saudi supported Salafi theology to create a violent group opposing non-Sunnis and, ironically, later to the Saudi monarchy. Its success was attributed to the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia and by the US support for Israel."

Here is the full article.

This is part of our ongoing support for their brave nonviolent revolution. To learn more about their revolution, see our Webinar with Pramila Jayapal, Anthony Haggar, and other great leaders.


For those interested, please see the following links for more on this important subject: 



Below is a mural in Sudan, thanking Michael Beer, Stephanie Van Hook, Stephen Zunes, Michael Nagler, Pramila Jayapal, Walter Turner and Steve Williamson ….for their steadfast support of the nonviolent campaign to remove AlBashir from power.


Sudan Mural


Michael Beer - Executive Director of Nonviolence International.

Stephen Zunes - Professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco with a concentration in strategic nonviolence. Long time supporter and colleague of NVI.

Michael Nagler - President of the Metta Center for Nonviolence Education, and Professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Long time support of NVI.

Stephanie Van Hook - Executive Director of the Metta Center.

Steve Williamson - Human rights activist and educator.

Walter Turner - Host of Radio, KPFK, about Africa and the African Diaspora.

Pramila Jayapal - Washington State representative in Congress and Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus.

Michael Beer and NVI provided support for the people of Sudan by

  • Offering webinars on nonviolent resistance seen by 350,000 people.
  • Spoke at major Sudan protests in Washington, DC.
  • Provided expert testimony for a Congressional briefing on Sudan,
  • Provided daily coaching for some of the mediators from May through July.
  • Raising humanitarian funds for the nonviolent resistance.
NVI Canada - The Next Step in Humanitarian Disarmament

As we continue to push for a nonviolent and peaceful world, we are pleased to announce our affiliate, Nonviolence International Canada’s new report: In Search of Enemies: The Governments holding Humanitarian Disarmament hostage. 

NVI Canada’s timely and vital report is a contribution toward the pursuit of nonviolence globally. This report focuses on the how and why a small clique of nation-states are holding the humanitarian disarmament movement hostage and practicing anti-multilateralism. Just 30 governments continue to believe that military means can fix all the threats, however, this is not the case. As we continue to exploit our world’s resources and combat the natural crises of disease and disaster, one vital step is to continue to bring awareness to the potential benefits and outcomes of Humanitarian Disarmament.

Please click here to read the report!

Thank you for supporting Nonviolence International and our affiliates and partners. As we continue to strive for a nonviolent world, your help and support means greatly to us.

This interactive webinar featured presentations by scholars and activists who took part in people power defense of democracy and elections. Speakers included:

  • Our host is author and activist Maria J. Stephan
  • Philippine professor and activist Joaquin Gonzalez
  • Serbian professor and nonviolent organizer Ivan Marovic
  • Gambian organizer and activist Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan
  • Brazilian organizer and activist Joana Varon
  • American professor and author Stephen Zunes

Time Stamps: 

Michael Beer - NVI Welcome

Maria J. Stephan - Host - 1:38

Joaquin Gonzalez - 6:20

Ivan Marovic - 15:45

Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan - 23:35

Joana Varon - 33:15

Stephen Zunes - 47:07

Question and Answer / Discussion - 56:00


Co-sponsored by:  Nonviolence International, Beautiful Trouble, BlackOUT Collective, and OR Books 

Host and Contributor:

Maria J. Stephan's (USA) career has bridged the academic, policy, and non-profit sectors, with a focus on the role of civil resistance and nonviolent movements in advancing human rights, democratic freedoms, and sustainable peace globally. Stephan is the co-author (with Erica Chenoweth) of Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, which was awarded the 2012 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Prize by the American Political Science Association for the best book published in political science, and the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. She is the co-author of Bolstering Democracy: Lessons Learned and the Path Forward (Atlantic Council, 2018); the co-editor of Is Authoritarianism Staging a Comeback? (Atlantic Council, 2015); and the editor of Civilian Jihad: Nonviolent Struggle, Democratization and Governance in the Middle East (Palgrave, 2009). Stephan, a native Vermonter, received her PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


Joaquin Gonzalez (Philippines/USA) is the Mayor George Christopher Professor of Public Administration at Golden Gate University in California. Prior to immigrating to the United States, Dr. Gonzalez was a street activist in the 1986 People Power Revolution which peacefully removed a long-time Philippine authoritarian ruler. He started out as a volunteer with the non-partisan National Movement for a Free Elections (NAMFREL) tasked to ensure that votes were properly cast and counted.

Ivan Marovic (Serbia) is an organizer, software developer and social innovator from Belgrade, Serbia. He was a student organizer and one of the leaders of Otpor, a resistance movement which played a critical role in the downfall of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. After a brief time in politics, it was time to grow up and move to more serious things, so Ivan started developing video games like A Force More Powerful and People Power, and platforms for local organizing like Moba. He successfully stayed out of politics for two decades, the time he spent advising activists and organizers around the world on strategies for citizen self organizing and movement building. Ivan holds a BSC in Process Engineering from Belgrade University and MA in international relations from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan (Gambia) is an award winning Pan African Advocate of the year 2018 and was named as 100 most influential young people leaders in Africa in 2019. As a human rights activist he organized widespread protests to get long Gambia dictator Yaya Jammeh to step down. Muhammed Lamin the Movement Coordinators of Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity. A Pan African grassroots Movement of the people and organizations working to foster an Africa-wide solidarity and unity of purpose of the Peoples of Africa to build the Future we want – a right to peace, social inclusion and shared prosperity. Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan is a Gambian with a back ground on community organizing, youth and women development, campaigns for social change, policy advocacy, movement building and none violence activism.

Joana Varon (Brazil) Executive Directress and Creative Chaos Catalyst at Coding Rights, a women-run organization working to expose and redress the power imbalances built into technology and its application, particularly those that reinforce gender and North/South inequalities. Technology and Human Rights Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy from Harvard Kennedy School and affiliated to the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Former Mozilla Media Fellow, she is co-creator of several creative projects operating in the interplay between activism, arts and technologies, such as transfeministech.org, chupadados.com, #safersisters, Safer Nudes, protestos.org, Net of Rights and freenetfilm.org.

Stephen Zunes (USA) is a Professor of Politics and International Studies at the University of San Francisco, where he served as founding director of the program in Middle Eastern Studies. Zunes serves as a senior policy analyst for Foreign Policy in Focus project of the Institute for Policy Studies, an associate editor of Peace Review, and a contributing editor of Tikkun.

He is the author of hundreds of articles for scholarly and general readership on Middle Eastern politics, U.S. foreign policy, nonviolent action, and human rights. He is the principal editor of Nonviolent Social Movements (Blackwell Publishers, 1999), the author of the Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003) and co-author (with Jacob Mundy) of Western Sahara: War, Nationalism and Conflict Irresolution (Syracuse University Press, 2010).

Short clips from webinar:



By Claire Mills, Former Intern and NVI Volunteer 

When I started at Nonviolence International 8 months ago I had no idea what was in store -- for me, for NVI, or for the world. I joined as a spring intern and met the incredible NVI team, including Mubarak, Michael, and David. I was immediately inspired by all three of their deep commitments not just to peaceful protest, but even more so to sustained and strategic resistance against systemic violence. 

When I first met Mubarak, he was stopping by our office for an entirely different reason, but I just happened to be there. His immediate response was to start up a conversation, not just about my role at NVI or his own work, but about my personal passions, plans, and hopes for the future. I was of course amazed by his own story and lifelong commitment to nonviolence. But as an intern, I was even more amazed by his deep compassion for this kid he’d never met. But to all who know Mubarak, this is no surprise. And so I started my internship hoping to foster that same deep compassion within myself. 

In the spring, my work focused on developing our Tactics Database and getting it online to share with all of you! While researching tactics of nonviolent resistance I was able to read hundreds of stories of creative, successful actions. Best of all, I was able to dissect all these stories with Michael, who taught me what details to look out for and explained the nuances of nonviolent strategy. I’d long believed in nonviolence, but Michael gave me the words to explain how to use it as a tool, not just practice it as a way of life. 

When my summer plans fell through due to COVID-19, I was excited to be able to volunteer for the summer. As a volunteer, I took on managing our communications outreach on our website, Twitter, Facebook, and – you guessed it – email! So that’s why I’ve been in your inbox for the past few months!

David was a big fan of my "I am going to be disappointed by a man today. I can feel it" sticker on the water bottle I always brought into the office.

So much so that when I lost it on my sudden trip home due to COVID, he bought me a new one (and lots of other stickers too)!

Like so many of us who are deeply passionate about mission-driven work, before working at NVI I didn’t consider myself a “communications person.” But as I learned more about how nonprofit organizations actually work from David, I began to understand that we can do the best work in the world, and it won’t matter unless other people know about it. David taught me that it isn’t superficial to care about the practical parts of running a nonprofit – it’s what keeps us going! And when we focus on this work because of our deeply held values of compassion and nonviolence rather than in spite of them, as David always does, that’s when we can truly change the world. 

I have learned so much from my work with Mubarak, Micheal, David and all the other team members here at NVI that it’s impossible to sum up my whole experience in one email. I am truly so grateful to NVI for all that I have learned and for the introduction into nonviolent resistance as more than just a general belief -- but as a real tool. 

Although my time at NVI is coming to an end and this will be my last message to you, my passion for nonviolent resistance has only just begun. I hope NVI can continue to inspire people like myself to become more active in changing the status quo – people like you! So take this message as your sign to do something extra today for a cause you care deeply about. And look out for NVI communications in the future, because the good work continues on!

If I could have it my way, I would be able to stay at NVI even longer! But with classes starting again, I only have so much time and have to spend it at a paying job, not a volunteer position. With your help, NVI could be able to have more paid positions and keep team members longer! Please consider donating to NVI to make that a reality! 

The Many Faces of Nonviolence - Rachel Corrie

The Many Faces of Nonviolence - Rachel Corrie

By Chloe MacGillvray

Rachel Corrie was born in April 1979 and grew up in Olympia, Washington, United States. She was the third child to Cindy and Craig Corrie, who have worked extensively to tell her story and bring support to both the people of Palestine and Israel. As Rachel grew up, she had a clear interest in helping others around her, and a passion for adventuring. She longed to discover all that there was to know about the world, and she presented her findings through her writing and art beginning in her youth. She had a great sense of humor (Craig would jokingly say it came from him), and her independence took her to some of the most incredible areas of the world. Rachel was, above all, a human being with a great amount of compassion, and a talent for putting her experiences into words. Her writing, art, and compassion for others are part of the reason her story resonates with all of us today. 

After 9-11, Rachel became involved with different peace groups and movements at the local level. While at The Evergreen State College, she connected with students engaged with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). ISM was founded in August 2001 and called for internationals who believed in freedom and self-determination for the Palestinian people to come and join Palestinians in nonviolent resistance against Israeli occupation. Some community members and Evergreen faculty had strong connections to Israel and Palestine, and after 9/11, Rachel was motivated to connect with them, to extensively research the issue of Palestine, and to study Arabic. This eventually led to her journey to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza in January of 2003. 

During her travels, Rachel developed a sense of life for Palestinians living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.  She began to empathize with their issues, ones that many in the U.S could not begin to understand. Rachel sent emails back home describing the atrocities that she experienced – all of them illustrating her compassion for the families in Gaza, and the oppression that many Palestinians experience as normalcy. In one message written to her friends and family, Rachel spoke of experiences with the children she met in Gaza; They know that children in the United States don't usually have their parents shot and sometimes get to see the ocean. But once you have seen the ocean and lived in a silent place, where water is taken for granted and not stolen in the night by bulldozers, and spent an evening when you didn’t wonder if the walls of your home might suddenly fall inward waking you from your sleep, and met people who have never lost anyone – once you have experienced the reality of a world that isn’t surrounded by murderous towers, tanks, armed ‘settlements,’ and now a giant metal wall, I wonder if you can forgive the world for all the years of your childhood spent existing – just existing – in resistance to the constant stranglehold of the world's fourth largest military – backed by the world’s only superpower – in its attempt to erase you from your home.” 

The emails that Rachel sent home were powerful depictions of the situation in Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel. She worked with children consistently during the months she spent in Gaza. She chose to be in Rafah, near the border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, because she understood this to be where the need was greatest, largely because of mass home demolitions occurring at the time. Rachel wanted to be on the receiving end of U.S foreign politics in the area to witness firsthand the impact of U.S. policy and funding on the Palestinian people. By treaty, Israel had military control of a narrow corridor between Egypt and Gaza and kept expanding to gain control of an even greater area of land. Beyond this corridor, the Israeli military was carrying out mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.  The Israeli government stated that this was necessary to control the smuggling of weapons, but 16,000 people in Rafah alone lost their homes to these demolitions, that multiple  human rights organizations deemed  “collective punishment.”

Rachel lived with different families at the time, and though many back home were concerned for her safety, she was more concerned about whether ISM was truly making a difference for people. She felt human connection was powerful and believed that by building relationships in Gaza she would be able to further determine how to be an activist for them. She worked fiercely to get the word out about everything she was seeing.  She was both an observer working with human rights organizations, and a reporter to those unfamiliar with the pressing situation. She slept on families’ floors, hoping that her presence in their homes might provide some extra protection to those who lived inside. Rachel was determined to build and maintain relationships and to return again to Gaza, despite it being a challenging commitment. She spent hours with the children of Rafah.  One was an 11-year-old boy who later reported that he had told his friends not to play with Rachel because she was an American.  But after seeing how she was with people, how she stressed human connection, and watching her play “football” (soccer) with his friends, he changed his mind. Rachel worked not only to gain the trust of those who lived in Gaza, but to build off that trust to nurture others’ feelings and to strengthen friendships. She viewed everyone as human beings, as equals deserving of basic dignity and respect. 

Rachel was killed on March 16, 2003, during an Israeli military clearing operation in Rafah during which Palestinian structures and homes were threatened.  The United States government immediately called for a “thorough, credible, and transparent” Israeli investigation, but high officials in both the Bush and Obama administrations have stated that investigation by Israel in Rachel’s case has never met that standard.  As a result, Rachel’s parents took legal action against the State of Israel and the Israeli Ministry of Defense.  Testimony from an original Israeli military “operational” investigation could not be used in an Israeli Military Police investigation that followed, nor in the civil lawsuit brought by the Corrie family.  Rachel’s killing was deemed an accident by the courts, and she was even blamed for her own death.  The lack of a transparent and credible Israeli investigation and strong evidence to suggest that the bulldozing was not an accident, made the ruling highly questionable.  Nevertheless, the court proceedings with testimony from numerous military witnesses succeeded in exposing the destructive culture of the Israeli military as it performed in Gaza, as reflected by a Colonel who testified under oath that “there are no civilians in war.”

Rachel’s death was not simply a legal issue nor a question about lack of proper investigation. Rachel was a daughter, sister, and a best friend to many – and not only to those in the U.S. Until the day she died, she was a young woman developing into an incredibly talented writer and artist, who had a love for people that could not be matched. She recognized her flaws and built off them. She was constantly learning, not just for herself, but to better understand and support those who surrounded her. Human relationships meant everything to her.  It never mattered their origin, age, or differences. Rachel was deeply ingrained with principles of nonviolence but was careful not to dictate to people who are oppressed what their own resistance should be. She instead learned from them and learned what she could do for them - whether it was sleep on the floors of homes to offer some protection, or be the best soccer player she could be with the children. Rachel believed that through nonviolent movements, the oppressed, and those in solidarity with them, seize more power than they do through violent response. She was critical of herself, but this didn’t present as weakness.  Her greatest strength was her ability to evaluate her actions and to be strategic about what she could do. 

Above all else, Rachel was a human being who deserved more time here. Her philosophy, her writing, and what she took with her will forever change the way many approach types of action and the response to injustice. Rachel’s story will be told for years to come.

Nonviolence International is Proud to Partner with We Are Not Numbers (WANN)

We Are Not Numbers develops the communication skills of Palestinian youth living under occupation or as refugees, coaching them as they share the human stories behind the numbers in the news with a Western world that knows them only as stereotypes.

How did WANN start?

We Are Not Numbers was founded in early 2015, conceived by American journalist Pam Bailey and brought to fruition with the support of Ramy Abdu, board chair for the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor. The project launched under the umbrella of Euro-Med, which provided significant logistical support; today, our fiscal sponsor is Nonviolence International. 

The story behind our founding:

Twenty-one-year-old Ahmed Alnaouq lives in Deir Al-Balah, in the middle of the Gaza Strip. During the Israeli assault of the summer of 2014, his older and only brother was killed by an Israeli missile, while walking on the street near his home. A few weeks later, Pam connected with him on Facebook. Here is how she describes it:

Our chat went this way: “How are you?” I asked, rather inanely. “I am fine, doing well. How about you?” Ahmed responded. I could tell something was wrong, so I shot back, “Don’t just say ‘fine.’ Tell me something real.” The barriers down, he told me the truth: “I extremely miss my brother. I go to his grave all the time, and when I am alone, I burst out crying.”

Given Ahmed’s passion for writing and burning desire to master the English language (thus his major – a popular one in Gaza), I encouraged him to write about his brother, to celebrate him, rather than try to hide his grief from me. He was hesitant at first, given my “Western” identity. It turns out that Ayman was a resistance fighter with the Al-Qassam Brigades – so quickly assumed to be “terrorists” even by many pro-Palestinian activists. Yet the few little tidbits of information Ahmed shared made me want to get to know him better. Ayman clearly had played a very positive role in Ahmed’s life, and there was a reason why fighting the Israeli occupation with whatever weapons were at hand seemed to be the only option to the young man. It was, I believed, a critical story to tell – and share.

Over the next two months, I worked with Ahmed on his essay, pointing out patterns of English-language problems such as run-on sentences, and tagging spots that could benefit from an anecdote to make the story come alive. 

When we were done, Ahmed commented that his English-language skills and grasp of storytelling techniques had improved more with my one-on-one coaching than from a year of classes. But with a future that looked dim – with no opportunity to apply what he was learning – Ahmed was increasingly thinking of following in Ayman’s footsteps and joining the armed resistance. At least then, he reasoned, he would be doing something to stand up for his people. My liberal, Western knee-jerk response was to say, “No, don’t do it. Your family already has lost one child. There are other ways to resist.” But then I realized that I had nothing to suggest as an alternative. Thus was born We Are Not Numbers.

What is We Are Not Numbers?

There are many Ahmeds in Gaza, who are aching with loss, struggling to eke out a living and feeling neglected by the world. Fifty percent of the population are between the ages of 15 and 25 – about 70 percent of whom are unemployed. Their stories deserve to be brought to the attention of the Western world whose foreign policy has caused so much of their distress. At the same time, we need to give these youth a way to turn their writing into a mission with a purpose.

WANN recruits young, developing English writers. To provide the coaching they need to reach their full potential, each participant is assigned a mentor who is both a native English writer (so rare in Gaza these days) and published author. The mentors coach them on their language/writing skills and the project publishes their essays, poems, etc. on the realities of their lives to educate Western audiences and build bridges based on greater understanding. 

In the process, we encourage freedom of expression and civic engagement and the youths build relationships with influential advocates around the world. 

What are our goals?

1) Develop the language, media and storytelling skills Palestinian youth need to obtain good jobs and earn internships or scholarships. 

2) Nurture self-esteem through self-expression and publication of their work.

3) Foster international connections that broaden participants’ world views, lessen the feeling of isolation and provide useful references when applying for internships and scholarships.

4) Provide a supportive creative outlet and environment that promotes positive mental health and in which participants build capacities in leadership, teamwork, critical thinking and advocacy.

5) Amplify youth voices to help educate the Western world on the realities of life under occupation.

Some of our special projects:

George Floyd mural in Gaza

GazaVision singing contest

“Dreams in the Crosshairs” short film

We Are Not Numbers rap 

“Six Miles Out” Short Film:

We Are Not Numbers is Gaza’s first journalism academy 

Why should people contribute with individual donations?

When the world talks about Palestinians living under occupation and in refugee camps, it is usually in terms of politics and numbers – specifically, how many killed, injured, homeless and/or dependent on aid. But numbers are impersonal, and often numbing. What they don’t convey are the daily personal struggles and triumphs, the tears and the laughter, the aspirations that are so universal that if it weren’t for the context, they would immediately resonate with virtually everyone.

To survive, grow and resist in Gaza, we need more than the typical aid, however. As youth, we know we are the next generation of leaders, and more than anything we need to develop our creativity, be given a platform through which we can be heard, develop our skills, forge international connections, and also, simply, HAVE FUN.

Donate at: https://www.nonviolenceinternational.net/donate_wann

Where can we learn more about us?

For more information, visit: www.wearenotnumbers.org 

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WeAreNotNumbers/ 

Twitter https://twitter.com/WeAreNotNumbers   

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/we_are_not_numbers/

The Many Faces of Nonviolence - Angela Davis

The Many Faces of Nonviolence - Angela Davis

By Alfonzo (Fonzi) Mendoza

Angela Yvonne Davis is a lifelong civil rights activist, abolitionist, feminist - communist, author, professor, scholar, and more. She is widely known for her participation in the 1960’s uprisings against injustices and inequalities for Black people, people of color and oppressed groups in the United States and abroad; Davis was affiliated with the Black Panther Party at the height of their activism and helped build and lead the movement for prison and police abolition. Davis’ views on prison abolition and Black resistance come from her life experiences growing up in a segregated Birmingham, Alabama, and spending 16 months in a women's prison for her connection to the Soledad Brothers’ courtroom incident. She first came to prominence when she was wrongfully laid off from her teaching position at UCLA for her communist political views and affiliation with the Communist Party USA. After winning her lawsuit against the school, she was soon fired again for her use of inflammatory language.

Living in a segregated Alabama, Davis knew racial injustice all too well from a young age; her neighborhood in Birmingham was known as “dynamite hill” for the large number of homes targeted and bombed by the Klu Klux Klan. Violence has played a central role in Davis’ life, as much of it was spent trying to escape racism, homophobia, misogyny, and the prison industrial complex. One of the most prominent instances in her life took place during the Soledad Brothers’ trial in 1970. On August 7th, Jonathan Jackson, brother of George who was on trial at the time, stormed the courtroom taking the judge, prosecutor, and members of the jury hostage and hoping to exchange them for the release of his brother. Unfortunately, Jonathan, the judge, and others were killed during this incident by police, and the guns used to carry out the abduction were traced back to Davis. Going into hiding for over 2 months, Davis ended up on the FBI’s top 10 most wanted list and fled California as a fugitive. She moved at night, staying with friends and comrades until she was found in a New York City hotel, and was even labeled the “dangerous terrorist Angela Davis” by then President, Richard Nixon.

While in prison, Davis was interviewed and questioned by Goran Olsson for the documentary The Black Power Mixtape on her participation in the Black Panther Party, the Communist Party USA, and her characterization as a violent militant by the media. “Because of the way this society is organized, because of the violence that exists on the surface everywhere, you have to expect that there are going to be such explosions [revolutions]. You have to expect things like that as reactions,” stated Davis. In an interview with Black Journal in 1972, Davis said, “If there is violence in the process of waging a revolution, that will be determined by the ruling class, that will be determined by those who hold power.”

Davis has spent the majority of her life as an educator and activist, pushing the boundaries on how we view gender, race, and class. She is a highly regarded author and writes extensively on the intersections of identities and how those intersections affect the way one moves throughout the world. One of her most famous works, Are Prisons Obsolete?, discusses how gender, race, and class all affect the outcomes of one's life in the United States where the prison industrial complex looms over the lives of queer and poor people of color constantly. In a 2018 lecture on eradicating state violence, Davis said, “When we look at the struggle in Palestine, it becomes clear that state violence against Black communities in the U.S. cannot be eradicated by simply hiring better police officers, by hiring police who are less racist, or who have attended anti-racism workshops; And of course all the while keeping the police apparatus intact and that apparatus incorporates some of the histories of colonialism and slavery.”

Davis’ contributions towards Black liberation are continuing to inspire and lead a generation of abolitionists today. Her work is essential to the nonviolence movement, and helps others think critically about the structure of our society; systemic and institutional racism, classism and bigotry are not accidents of a flawed system, but rather, were intentional frameworks drafted into the fabric of our world to protect systems and people in power. Davis’ work force us to engage critically with our surroundings, and asks us to analyze the current political, economic and social structures in place today that frequently and continuously cause us harm. Her book, Are Prisons Obsolete?, make the connections of modern-day prisons to slavery in the United States. “Slavery, lynching, and segregation are certainly compelling examples of social insti­tutions that, like the prison, were once considered to be as everlasting as the sun. Yet, in the case of all three examples, we can point to movements that assumed the radical stance of announcing the obsolescence of these institutions.” Davis’ work illustrates the true perpetrators of violence in our society and calls for a paradigm shift on how we attribute and recognize violence. By challenging our pre-existing beliefs and inherent biases, she implores us to evaluate our way of life and take the steps towards building a world free of violence, with that violence being: racism, capitalism, white supremacy, homophobia and all systems of power and oppression.

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