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.
NVI is proud to be the fiscal sponsor for this important project. Please see the time sensitive updates below.
Please see wonderful new piece by Isaiah Project leader, Paul Magno.
For the past two-and-a-half years it has been my privilege to support the Kings Bay Plowshares. They are seven disarmament activists who entered the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia by night on April 4, 2018 — the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s martyrdom — to confront the Trident nuclear weapon system and engage in an act of disarmament. The seven poured human blood on signs and missile models, unfurled peace banners and used household tools to begin symbolic disarmament of Trident, a submarine based first strike nuclear missile, termed by the Navy as a “strategic” weapon.
The seven have subsequently been charged and convicted in a jury trial of three felonies and a misdemeanor in federal court. All but one have been sentenced, to date, some as recently as last week by Federal Judge Lisa Godbey Wood in Brunswick, Georgia. Their legal odyssey has been protracted, in part by important legal proceedings and in part by the limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
My invitation to walk with these peacemakers came in 2018 as an outgrowth of longstanding personal friendships with each of them. It also came as a result of my own experience and commitment to explaining and supporting the basic idea of these Plowshares actions, as they have proliferated a hundred-fold since 1980.
On Oct. 24 the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was ratified by the 50th nation necessary for this international law to enter into force. This law now takes effect on Jan. 22, 2021, a little more than 75 years after the US dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
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Father Steve Kelly and Patrick O'Neill are planning to go forward with in-person sentencing in Brunswick, GA on October 15. The other four defendants are asking for further continuances because of the virus. They should hear in a few days if this request is granted by Judge Wood.
They ask, "In the interest of public safety, and out of love for our supporters during this Covid-19 pandemic, the seven Kings Bay Plowshares members request that no one come to Brunswick for the sentencing hearings scheduled for Oct. 15-16. We do, however, encourage you all to join the Oct. 11 pre-sentencing Zoom meeting. Thank you all for your love and support, which sustains us."
There is expected to be an audio link from the court to listen to the proceedings as was done with Liz McAlister in June. The number and times will be posted on the website when we get them.
Check out this powerful video of our Festival of Hope
Steve Kelly has now served 30 months in county jails and so has satisfied the sentencing guidelines the government is proposing for him. However, he has a probation violation where he is facing up to six months stemming from a prior trespass conviction at Kitsap, WA at the West coast Trident base. It is not yet known what will happen with this.
We understand that many are struggling financially at this time. We ask for donations only if you are able and doing well. Thank you for all the support you have given through these past two and a half years. Your support for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 will help cover the ongoing costs surrounding the seven co-defendants while in prison and their families and communities. Checks can be sent to Plowshares, PO Box 3087, Washington, DC 20010. Or donate online here at this link: Isaiah project. Thank you.
EMAIL: [email protected]
"If you think one person can't be effective, you've never been in bed with a mosquito" -War Resister's League "
"Protest beyond the law is not a departure from democracy; it is absolutely essential to it" Howard Zinn (1922-2010)
“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness...What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction...And if we do act, in however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory." -- Howard Zinn
NVI is proud to be the fiscal sponsor for the this important project. Please consider donating at: https://www.nonviolenceinternational.net/donate_isaiah
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.
Where can we learn more about us?
For more information, visit: www.wearenotnumbers.org
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.
Please enjoy this video series in celebration of our first 30 years.
If you value this work, please help make our next 30 years even more impactful.
Special thanks to our wonderful NY affiliate who produced this entire series.
Meet the founders of Nonviolence International, Mubarak Awad and Jonathan Kuttab as the former shares his inspiration for developing the organization. After starting the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence in Jerusalem but being deported by the state of Israel due to his activism, Mubarak wanted to share his dedication to nonviolence and create a connection for Palestinians in the rest of the world, leading him to start Nonviolence International.
Johnathan Kuttab discusses the importance of the use of nonviolent tactics around the world to defend and promote human rights and a life of dignity for all.
In this video, David Hart explains how crucial nonviolent resistance is in today's world to create a loving and living revolution that will facilitate the necessary change to create a better world.
Dr. Asna Husin shares how her upbringing in Indonesia has shaped her use of peace within conflict resolution.
Mohammed Abu-Nimer explains the beginning of his work in the field of nonviolence, the roles of gender and religion in peace-building, and how he finds motivation since nonviolence is effective as a way to solve conflict. His discussion covers his transition from physical confrontation to “experimenting with dialogue,” as a faster and more effective way to make a connection and sustain peaceful relationships. Mohammed is a Professor of Peace and Conflict Resolution, Founder and Director of the Salam Institute, and is a supporter and board member of Nonviolence Internationals.
Daryn Cambridge, member of the Nonviolence International Network and professor at the International Center for Nonviolent Conflict, tells the story of his visit to the National Civil Rights Museum with his young daughter. He discusses this impactful experience by talking about what he learned from seeing this presentation of such a painful yet inspiring part of history with someone so young.
Barbara Wien, professor at American University and named peace educator of the year, talks about her experience within a variety of movements and how nonviolent protest has made their work successful.
In this video, Dr. Karim Douglas Crow answers the question of what he believes to be the greatest challenge facing nonviolent resistance today.
Shaazka Beyerle discusses nonviolent action as one of the greatest forces of good and how it can be utilized as source of power that anyone can access, and that is strengthened when we all work together. Shaazka breaks down using nonviolent methods to identify problems, objectives, and to make demands to disrupt injustice and engage official power to build systems based in peace.
Paul Magno answers questions about working with International Human Rights, how he got into his line of work, and what he does Nonviolence International. Paul discusses working with grassroots movements and what it's like to be imprisoned for a cause.
Phil tells us about the origin of his dedication to nonviolence, his social activism, and the creation of a disarmament focus group at Cornell University that addresses these vital topics over breakfast. Phil also tells us about other nonviolent actors he admires and has worked with as well as the unwritten history of nonviolent techniques.
Writer and professor Abdul Said chats with us about the significance of removing barriers and building bridges to spread the message of peace and nonviolence. Abdul has worked as a consultant in many United States and United Nations departments, and has put many Peace and Conflict Resolution projects into action. He was awarded the El-Hibri Peace education award in 2007, and is the first occupant of the endowed Momhamed Said Farsi Chair of Islamic Peace. Abdul teaches international relations at American University.
Jack Healey, former Executive Director of Amnesty International US and founder of the Human Rights Action Center shares his insights on what nonviolence means to him.
Special thanks to our wonderful NYC affiliate
who recorded and produced this entire series.
Nonviolence International is proud to share this interactive webinar featuring presentations by scholars and activists who promote human rights and justice in the Islamic world. Our wonderful speakers are: Thai professor and activist Chaiwat Satha-Anand, Sudanese social justice activist, researcher, and feminist Hala Al-Karib, Kashmiri writer-activist Mushtaq Ul-Haq Ahmad Sikandar, and Lebanese-American scholar and former Director of NVI's Islam and Peace program, Karim Crow. Our host will be Nonviolence International board member and American University professor Mohammed Abu-Nimer. Welcome by Asna Husin former leader of NVI's Peace Education Program where she trained over 70,000 students and Acehnese teachers in peace education and conflict management.
(More on each speaker and time stamps below the video)
Asna Husin - Welcome
Mohammed Abu-Nimer - 3:45
Chaiwat Satha-Anand - 7:45
Hala Al-Karib - 21:18
Mushtaq Ul-Haq Ahmad Sikandar - 32:54
Karim Crow - 46:50
Q&A starting with our founder Mubarak Awad - 56:26
Chaiwat Satha-Anand was born in Bangkok, Thailand in 1955. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, is a professor of political science at Thammasat University, Bangkok, and director of the Thai Peace Information Centre, which conducts studies and activism in relation to the Thai military and social issues. He is an expert on nonviolence theory as well as activism, and on Islam. Chaiwat has published numerous articles and book chapters on the military, alternative defense, religion and peace, Islam and nonviolence, and modern political philosophy. For several years he directed the International Peace Research Association’s (IPRA) commission on nonviolence and he serves at the Scientific Committee of the International University for Peoples’ Initiative for Peace, IUPIP, in Rovereto Italy.
Hala Al-Karib is a Sudanese social justice activist, research practitioner, and full-time feminist, who has intensively and comprehensively worked in the Horn of Africa region. Currently, she is the Regional Director of the Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA Network), and the Editorial Head of “Women in Islam” Journal. Hala's experience extends more than 20 years with a major interest in women and girl's rights, displaced, refugee and migrant groups, and minorities. She started her career as a researcher in different institutions in South Sudan and Egypt. She later joined institutions like the World Food Programme, World University Services, Accord International, Goal Ireland, and Concern International. As well as being a former board member of the Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA) and chairperson of Sudan Democracy First, she is currently a board member of Musawah Global Movement. Hala has also published a number of articles in Al Jazeera and Open Democracy, with extensive engagement training and facilitating different workshops, as well as occupying regional and international panels advocating for equality and social justice issues.
Mushtaq Ul-Haq Ahmad Sikandar is a writer-activist based in Srinagar, Kashmir, and has completed his Masters in Political Science from Kashmir University. His interests span a wide range of issues from writing to activism. His write-ups and book reviews appear regularly in various newspapers, magazines, journals, and websites. Mushtaq is frequently invited to present academic papers on issues related to religion, politics, terrorism, conflict resolution, feminism, and Islamic revivalist movements. He actively participates in inter/intra-faith, ethnic, and regional dialogues. He has also penned down numerous poems and short stories. Mushtaq is also an activist and volunteers with various humanitarian organizations working in the Kashmir Valley as he believes that writing alone doesn’t work unless corroborated by activism.
Karim Crow, a Lebanese-American scholar and former director of the NVI's Islam and Peace Program. Crow’s research focuses primarily on psycho-spiritual functions of faith, ethical and metaphysical topics, and Islamic Peace studies. When at Nonviolence International he traveled the world organizing conferences on Islamic peace studies. Crow has publications in two edited volumes, as well as thirty-five published articles including, Islam and Reason, Islam-Image and Realities, and Peaceful Striving and Combative Struggle.
Welcome from Asna Husin who teaches Philosophy of Education and Islamic Civilization at the Ar-Raniry State Islamic University in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. She currently serves as a senior researcher at Nonviolence International in Washington, D.C. working on cultural resources for Islamic peace building. Dr. Husin obtained a Master’s Degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University in 1992 and her Doctorate in Religious Studies from Columbia University in 1998. Dr. Husin was also an Associate Fellow at the Center for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University (1998) while teaching Islamic Civilization as an Adjunct Professor at State University of New York, Old Westbury. Dr. Husin then worked as the Director of Women’s Programs for the World Conference on Religion and Peace from 1998 to 2000, during which she organized the 1998 World Women Assembly in Amman, Jordan, which was attended by religious organizations from 33 countries. Upon returning to Banda Aceh in 2000, she established the Peace Education Program as an independent affiliate of the Washington-based NGO Nonviolence International while also resuming her teaching tasks at Ar-Raniry. With the Peace Education Program, Dr. Husin trained over 70,000 students and Acehnese teachers in peace education and conflict management over the course of twelve years and worked closely with the Ulama leaders of Aceh. Dr. Husin regularly participates in academic conferences worldwide on Islamic peace, human rights and gender equity, Ulama institutions, and civilizational heritage.
Nonviolence International's affiliates in Russia and Ukraine have long promoted nonviolence in Belarus. Given our longstanding concern for peace in Belarus, Dr. Awad, President of NVI, offers this statement with regards to the recent events in Belarus
NVI calls on the Belarus government to refrain from using violence against its own citizens. Why would a government that claims to have won 80% of the vote, then proceed to attack those who it declares to be the losing side?
There are numerous credible reports of Belarus authorities using tear gas, rubber bullets, stun grenades, arrests, vehicular assaults, and beatings in Minsk, and other localities, towards street protesters and celebrants. Voting is a precious nonviolent action. NVI calls on the Belarus government to abide by the International Declaration of Human Rights, release all prisoners and arrestees immediately, and ensure transparency and accuracy in the vote count. We also call on protesters in their struggle for freedom and democracy in Belarus to apply exclusively peaceful and nonviolent means, of which there is a great variety, from marches and blockades to strikes and boycotts.
NVI is a non-partisan international network that calls on all actors everywhere to engage in conflict in nonviolent ways.
President, Mubarak Awad
(Russian Language Version of Statement Above)
Организация Nonviolence International призывает правительство Беларуси воздерживаться от применения насилия против своих граждан. Зачем правительству, которое утверждает, что оно набрало 80% голосов, затем нападать на тех, кого оно объявляет проигравшими? Имеются многочисленные достоверные сообщения о том, что власти Беларуси применяли слезоточивый газ, резиновые пули, светошумовые гранаты, аресты, нападения на автомобилях и избиения в Минске и других населенных пунктах по отношению к участникам уличных протестов и журналистам. Голосование - это важный вид ненасильственных действий. NVI призывает правительство Беларуси соблюдать Международную Декларацию Прав Человека, немедленно освободить всех заключенных и арестованных и обеспечить прозрачный и точный подсчет голосов. Мы также призываем участников протестов использовать, в своей борьбе за свободу и демократию в Беларуси, исключительно мирные, ненасильственные средства, которых очень много, от маршей и блокад до забастовок и бойкотов.
NVI - это внепартийная международная сеть, которая призывает участников всех конфликтов действовать исключительно ненасильственными способами.
Президент, Мубарак Авад
By David Hart
Nuclear Weapons - The Ultimate Expression of the Violence Epidemic in our Beautiful and Broken World.
As we approached the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, our partners at the Isaiah Project asked us to post an updated version of their apology petition we hosted several years ago. We are happy to do so, but sad that the issue remains.
Nuclear weapons are the ultimate violence and their presence in our world justifies all other violence and leaves us struggling to see that another world is possible.
75 years ago this week, the United States unleashed on the world a great evil. We killed innocent children in Hiroshima who were no threat to anyone. We did it again three days later in Nagasaki. Many in the US were led to believe that it was a million of “ours” or a million of “theirs.” To justify this immoral killing of innocents the US built up a mythology that these weapons ended the war. They did not. And worse, we knew it at the time.
Historians have made clear the war was already over. Please read the important piece from Marty Sherwin and Gar Alperovitz in the LA Times where they write, “the overwhelming historical evidence from American and Japanese archives indicates that Japan would have surrendered that August, even if atomic bombs had not been used — and documents prove that President Truman and his closest advisors knew it.” The war was coming to end and the use of these weapons can not be justified as somehow saving lives. They killed as bombs do, but they did it on a new and dangerous scale. With one bomb we wiped out an entire city.
This week the world has reacted in horror at the scary impact of the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon. What a terrible tragedy it is. NVI’s longtime Director, Michael Beer, wrote “On the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Beirut explosion is a reminder of the insanity and immorality of nuclear weapons which are hundreds and even a thousand times the power of the Beirut explosion. The consequences of just one explosion from a modern nuclear war-head are genocidal, for example, obliterating the 7 million residents of Lebanon. Beirut blast : 1.1 kilotons of TNT, Hiroshima : 13～18 kilotons of TNT, Nagasaki : 21 kilotons of TNT, B83 Nuclear Warhead: 1,200 kilotons of TNT. For the sake of the future of humanity, nuclear weapons must quickly be eliminated, or they will eliminate us. Beirut's experience is another warning. Are we listening?”
Seems to me most of us are not listening. If we don’t abolish all of these horrific weapons, they will be used again. On the day they are, we will look back wishing we had done more to prevent this world changing tragedy. I say “used” again, but in fact I should say “detonated” on a civilian population. They are used in the way that a gun to someone’s head is used. You don’t have to pull the trigger to use the gun.
We are proud to partner with bold creative nonviolent activists who are listening and calling on all of us to join them in doing all we can to eliminate this evil from our midst. We wonder today how the people of Beirut allowed the explosive force to be stored in their city. We must ask ourselves how we allow the weapons on hair trigger alert in our communities.
Our partner, the Isaiah Project supports the Kings Bay 7 who took seriously the biblical commandment to beat swords into plowshares. They acted to defend all of us. Please learn more about their important work and consider signing the petition apologizing to the people of Japan.
This petition is drafted in the language of people of deep and lasting faith. We know all our supporters believe in the transformational power of active nonviolence. And, we are aware that many are not faith based activists. Still, we ask you to consider signing this petition as a way to support those whose faith guides them to act against violence, war, and its ultimate expression - the horror of nuclear weapons.
The Many Faces of Nonviolence- The Faces of the Me Too Movement
By Maegan Hanlon
On October 7, 2018, the New York Times published a story in which actresses Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd accused entertainment giant Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. The women claimed that Weinstein promised to advance their careers in exchange for sexual favors. Most of the women subject to his abuse wanted to get a foot in the Hollywood door. In the New York Times article, victims detailed horrors such as Weinstein stripping naked in front of them, asking for or giving women massages, and forcing them to watch him bathe. Many of the victims who spoke out against him said that he often tried to coerce women into bed with him. When a woman said no to him, he would ask more and more favors until she said yes or left. Humiliated and confused, victims believed they had nowhere to turn.
Rose McGowan. Creative Commons, Rhododendrites.
Most victims did not speak up about the abuse out of fear of retaliation. Weinstein was one of the biggest names in Hollywood and working with him brought fame and money. However, his victims also reported his explosive anger. Furthermore, Weinstein used generosity to manipulate his victims. Abusing his power within the industry, he would help them make connections to go farther in their careers. One meeting with Weinstein could secure magazine covers, roles, or endorsement deals. One meeting with Weinstien could be the meeting that launched a career. Because of this, women felt pressured to stay silent.
After her assault in 1997, up and coming actress Ashley Judd could not stay silent. According to her testimony in Time Magazine, Judd says she felt she had to warn others of Weienstien’s behavior. After telling a friend in the business about her experience, Judd learned shocking news - whispers of Weinstien’s inappropriate behavior had been circulating around Hollywood for years. Judd realized that many Hollywood executives and actors were aware of Weinstien’s behavior but said nothing. In fact, Harvey Weinstein was not the only perpetrator of abuse. There was an epidemic of misconduct happening in the entertainment industry. As more women in the entertainment industry learned of the widespread sexual harassment issues, they realized they were not alone. Rather, they found a community of women who experienced similar horrors, and they banded together to expose both their abusers and culture of silence surrounding the abuse.
McGowan and Judd’s actions sparked a global movement called Me Too. Starting in the entertainment industry, celebrities, such as Alyssa Milano and Selma Blair, began telling their stories about their sexual assault horrors. Actor Anthony Rapp detailed abuse he allegedly suffered at the hands of film legend Kevin Spacey when Rapp was still a minor. As more victims spoke up, more Hollywood royalty faced accusations of misconduct. The floodgates had opened, and the truth came out. While some men’s careers were left unscathed, some men were held accountable for their actions with lawsuits from victims like Ashley Judd and Taylor Swift. In fact, Taylor Swift had photographic evidence of her assault, yet she still faced a trial. She won, and her abuser was sentenced to pay her a symbolic one dollar. Swift was not concerned about financial compensation, but rather she wanted to set a legal precedent for future assault trials.
The Me Too movement extends far beyond the world of Harvey Weinstein. In 2006, sexual assault survivor Tarana Burke coined the phrase Me Too on MySpace, but the phrase did not become mainstream until later. The hashtag #metoo trended on Twitter in 2017 after Alyssa Milano tweeted about her experience with Weinstein, and the hashtag quickly went viral. Women all over the world began speaking up about sexual misconduct in the workplace and in their personal lives. Time Magazine highlighted some stories of women who suffered from sexual abuse at their jobs. For example, Crystal Washington worked in the hospitality department at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. She detailed almost daily crude comments from her boss. Fearing for the security of her job, Washington stayed quiet. However, despite her own struggles with sexual harassment, she fielded complaints of sexual harassment almost daily. Washington often listened to reports about guests cornering and harassing her staff. According the Time article, Washington and six other employees are suing the hotel for sexual harassment.
Anita Hill, 1991. AP Images.
McGowan and Judd were not the first women to face their abuser publicly in court. In 1991, American lawyer and professor Anita Hill accused Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual misconduct. After her accusation she endured polygraph tests and investigations. Hill testified in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 where she was subjected to extreme doubt in her experience. Former Senator Joe Biden was head of the all white committee, and he handled the hearing poorly. After saying Hill could testify first, he let Justice Thomas testify before Hill. Then, Biden did not let other accusers testify with Hill. Justice Thomas still served on the Supreme Court. Today, Hill is a professor of Social Policy, law, and Women’s Studies at Brandeis University. Similarly, in 2018, American professor and research specialist Christine Blasey Ford accused President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of rape when the two were in high school in Bethesda, MD. Like Hill, Ford went through a Senate Judiciary hearing in which the committee doubted her allegations. She was subjected to polygraph tests and psychiatrist testimonies to validate her claim. In Ford’s case, believing the victim became a political stance. Justice Kavanaugh has been serving on the Supreme Court since October 2018. Unfortunately, due to the wide media coverage of her committee hearing, Ford has been forced to keep a low profile for the safety of herself and her family.
McGowan and Judd’s New York Times article blew the whistle on a widespread problem around the world. Strong women continue to take down powerful men with their reports of misconduct. Their bravery has led to a new understanding of sexual misconduct, and has helped the topic shed some of its taboo reputation. The Me Too Movement didn't stop there, it continues to evolve and expand to this day. New and deeper understanding of the issue sparked the creation of the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which helps victims afford to go to trial against their abusers. Since January 2017, cities across the world have participated in annual, peaceful Women's Marches to advocate for change. While the awareness of sexual misconduct has grown enormously since 2018, there is still more to be done to help victims and prevent future victims. To learn more about the powerful nonviolent Me Too movement or to donate to help victims, please see the links listed below.
By David Hart
What a joy it was to see the widespread support for the great nonviolent leader John Lewis. His funeral included many remarks worth pondering at this critical time. Below, we share one video that was particularly moving to us.
But first, there is one correction we'd like to offer to those declaring that Rep. Lewis was on the first Freedom Ride. He was not and that is something John Lewis knew well. As we stand on his shoulders to attempt to address the pressing issues of our time, he stood proudly on the shoulders of those who came before him. When I was a young activist, I got to spend several wonderful extended visits with Wally and Juanita Nelson at their farm next to the Traprock Peace Center in Massachusetts. They were both shinning lights explaining the transformational power of love and nonviolence. Wally told us of his time on the first Freedom Ride also known as the Journey of Reconciliation. This integrated bus ride took place in 1947 and was a key inspiration for John Lewis to attempt his own version of this bold, beautiful, nonviolent direct action. Wally was not alone on that first Freedom Ride. He was joined by Bayard Rustin mentioned below, Igal Roodenko, who I get to work with through the War Resisters League, George Houser, James Peck, and Homer Jack. Friends, let us also say their names for their approach guides us forward and calls us on to work as tirelessly as they did for peace and justice.
We urge all those now praising John Lewis to understand how he was brutally attacked for his loving activism for justice. And, suggest we would do well to pull our gaze forward to today's movements and notice that there are still brutal forces of the status quo fighting against history. It is easy to sugarcoat history, but harder to see the reality of struggle when we are in the midst of it. You can't praise the Civil Rights Movement while attacking Black Lives Matter. They are part of one long painful, persistent, and powerful March for Justice.
We at Nonviolence International believe it is particularly important to understand how the study of the vast power and potential of nonviolence has advanced over the years. Sadly, our society has foolishly poured countless resources into the study of war and violence and devoted much less time and attention to creative, constructive alternatives. Still, people all over the world have been experimenting with nonviolence for thousands of years.
One vital link to the modern nonviolent movements is from those who studied Gandhi and then shared that learning with Dr. King. We raise up the ground breaking activism of Bayard Rustin who worked for the Fellowship of Reconciliation and co-founded the Congress of Racial Equality. Rustin was an essential link helping Dr. King become inspired by Gandhian nonviolence.
We are thrilled that many people worldwide got to hear from the great Rev. James Lawson as he celebrated Rep. John Lewis. Recently we posted a piece from Mary King, who worked closely with John Lewis in which she reminds us how Rev. James Lawson met "Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Oberlin College in February 1957, upon returning from teaching for three years in Maharashtra state in India. Lawson would become the critical interpreter of Gandhian insights for the U.S. mid-20th century Black community, selectively introducing knowledge from India’s struggles against European colonialism." Then Lawson trained Lewis and today their legacy is ours to carry forward.
Lawson and King. Copyright: Jeff McAdory/The Commercial Appeal.
We at Nonviolence International love to see the universal praise for John Lewis, but we ask the politicians who praise him, but whose actions contradict all he was committed to, please don't use his kind loving heart to attempt to turn him into your teddy bear. He was a bold, brave, nonviolent fighter for justice especially for voting rights. Honor him by not only renaming the bridge, but also by passing the voting rights legislation named after him.
Some former elected officials also spoke at the funeral.
If only they governed with the same commitment to peace and justice as declared in their remarks yesterday.