We Are All Part of One Another - Webinar Series
Nonviolence International’s Founder Mubarak Awad
Shares his Wisdom and Warmth with Awesome Interns
Mubarak Awad is a world renowned nonviolent activist. He founded Nonviolence International in 1989 and remains an inspiration for generations. Prompted by the need to work remotely because of COVID 19, we launched a new webinar series. The first session was held with our impressive Interns and our founder. Mubarak shared both his wisdom and his warmth with the team. He told stories and suggested lessons for how we can move forward together at this challenging time. We believe Nonviolence is a force more powerful than any other in the world. Mubarak’s words and life make that point clear to all. If you are inspired by this video, please consider what groups need your active support at this critical time. People are struggling everywhere. Nonprofits are struggling. Pick out something you can do and do it. As Mubarak teaches, taking action will change the world and make you feel better.
Thanks to our friends at Nonviolence International NY who produced this video.
On the 2nd Anniversary of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 disarmament action at the Trident sub base in Georgia, friends, musicians and poets express their support for the defendants as they still await sentencing by the Federal Courts.
Featuring: Medea Benjamin, Kathy Kelly, Russell Rickford, Jeanine Hill Fletcher, Bill Quigley, Luke Nephew, Ched Myers and Elaine Enns, and friends.
Musicians: Richie Stearns, Karan Casey, Tom Chapin and the Chapin Sisters, Drank the Gold- Oona Grady and James Gascoyne
NVI is proud to be the fiscal sponsor for the this important project. Please consider donating at: https://www.nonviolenceinternational.net/donate_isaiah
Celebrating 30 Years of Nonviolence International
Check out this video produced by our friends at Nonviolence International NY.
Jonathan Kuttab is a co-founder of Nonviolence International. A well-known international human rights attorney, Mr. Kuttab has established himself as a prominent speaker on nonviolence. He is also a co-founder of the Palestinian human rights group Al-Haq and is President of the Board of the Bethlehem Bible College.
This video is part of a series celebrating our proud history and calling us to do even more in the years to come.
Please check back for more.
In this time of crisis, we celebrate the vision, commitment, and bold creative activism of our newest partner The Isaiah Project. This project supports Plowshares actions including the Kings Bay 7 who entered a naval base in Georgia two years ago.
Today, they remind us that our priorities are dangerously upside down. They rightly ask, "Why would we spend valuable resources towards building new bombs when we are completely unprepared to deal with the real threat to our security – pandemic disease?"
Enjoy the warm faces of these wonderful people and please take action with them to declare...
We need ventilators not bombs.
Pictured above: Jackie Allen, Frida Berrigan, Leah Mechtenberg-Berrigan, Cait De Mott Grady, Marie De Mott Grady and little Peter, Patrick Sheehan-Gaumer, Clare Grady, Liz McAlister, Amos Mechtenberg-Berrigan, Jacobi (Martha's gradson), James Schultz, Leah Grady Sayvetz, Lena Daloisio, Karen Pezzetti, Teresa Grady, Martha Hennessy, Sue Frankel-Streit, Ellen Grady and Molly Mechtenberg
To take action in support of their vital work, please visit this page.
To donate, please visit this page on the NVI site.
Disarming During the COVID-19 Outbreak
By Connor Paul
With the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, continuing to rapidly spread across the US, cities all around the country are taking precautions to prepare for prolonged confinements at home. As people ready their living spaces for self-quarantine and social distancing, they are making last-minute trips to the store to stock up on essentials–groceries, medicines, cleaning supplies, disinfectants, and...guns? While sectors of our nation’s economy are struggling to get by, from the airlines to bars and hotels to professional sporting leagues, gun and ammunition companies are not only surviving the economic meltdown but profiting immensely.
Even as stocks across various industries continue to plummet with the crisis worsening, some of the biggest publicly traded gun and ammunition companies have seen the value of their shares rise in the past week. According to Champe Barton of The Trace, an American independent nonprofit journalism outlet devoted to gun-related news, the stocks of American Outdoor Brands (the parent company of Smith & Wesson), Vista Outdoor, and Sturm, Ruger & Co., have all seen a significant rebound in value over the past week that far-outpaces all their competitors. From March 10th through March 17th, American Outdoor Brands’ stock price increased over 40 percent, larger than any other company in the Electronic Technology sector. Within the Consumer Durables sector, Vista Outdoor and Ruger shares more than tripled the increases made by their closest competitor.
The situation on the ground in many states supports the data evidenced above. Long-lines wrap around blocks from California to Oklahoma as potential gun purchasers engage in panic buying. Gun and ammunition proprietors are detailing huge influxes of customers, specifically first-time buyers. David Stone, who with his wife, runs one of the oldest gun shops in Oklahoma, notices the lack of research by potential customers before they are making purchases. “Some people come in and they just want an AR-15. They don’t care what the brand is, they just want the cheapest one,” Stone recently told NPR. In his store alone, gun sales are up roughly 20% and ammunition sales have increased by anywhere from 400% to 500%. Online gun and ammunition retailers have thrived just as much, if not more, than their in-store counterparts. According to both NPR and CNN International, Ammo.com increased its sales by 68% over the past month. And websites like Armslist.com are bundling packages of non-perishable food, medical supplies, and semi-automatic weapons as “corona virus preparedness kit.”
Even as “gun fever” grips the US once again, as it seems to do in times of crisis or gun legislation debate, we here at Nonviolence International are proud to stand in solidarity with our fiscally sponsored partners Control Arms (CA) and the International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) as leading advocates for disarmament. It is now more important than ever to speak out against the increased patronage of the gun and ammunition industry given the Trump administration's efforts to systemically weaken restrictions on gun and small arms purchases since he assumed the presidency. One of the most concerning actions taken by the Trump administration to reduce our country’s compliance with arms control measures was the withdrawal from the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). The ATT is the first legally binding and internationally recognized treaty that regulates worldwide arms trade for all of the 105 ratifying nations. Since the treaty entered into force in 2014, CA has published leading research through its ATT Monitor reports on the implementation of and compliance with the ATT. And while the limitation of arms sales at the international level is critical to the solution, it is just as important to promote restrictions on weapons purchases at the national and local levels.
But before we dive into the risks and dangers of this current increase in gun ownership we are witnessing, we want to assure everyone that fear and anxiety during these uncertain times are natural emotions. This pandemic is something that few of us have experienced during our lifetime (unless you were alive during the 1918 Influenza pandemic). We also have few precedents to follow when formulating solutions. But the most important thing we can all do is to act rationally and responsibly to best protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.
In these times of uncertainty and distress, the best protections we can embrace are our local first responders who are still patrolling and protecting our communities the same way they were before this crisis emerged. Even under new stay-at-home orders, police officers, firefighters, and EMT responders will all continue to operate regularly and uphold the law to the fullest capacity. If you are buying into the hysteria that widespread looting and rioting will eventually arise, you are neglecting the important role that our first responders maintain in enforcing our laws and ignoring the swift justice that will be brought to anyone who takes advantage of the current situation to engage in vigilante justice. If you or someone you know is still truly troubled by the fear of an outbreak of violence or looting, the best thing they can do is to call their local police department, fire station, or first responders’ non-emergency number (DO NOT CALL 9-1-1) and ask for the best measures they can practice to ensure the safety of themselves and their loved ones. Our first responders’ number one priority is to make us feel safe and secure as the coronavirus will not change their responsibilities or capabilities in enforcing the safety of our communities.
In addition to relying on the support of our local first responders, we must also rely on ourselves to make smart, rational decisions. When you go to the gun store to load up on ammunition or buy a weapon to protect yourself, you are potentially putting your health and the health of the many people you encounter at risk by going out to purchase non-essential goods. The main thing that we need to be focusing on is the strict enforcement of the recommended practices of social distancing, self-isolating, and self-quarantining to limit the spread of the virus. If we follow these recommended practices, there is no need to worry about having a weapon to protect yourself from others. And if you are choosing to go out to pick up essential purchases with a weapon on-person, I recommend you research your states concealed carry laws as most states require a permit to bring a weapon out in public. With the closure of most non-essential businesses, our first responders can patrol and monitor higher volume businesses, like grocery stores and pharmacies, with much more vigilance. If you think it is necessary to unholster a weapon during a fight over the last roll of toilet paper at your local grocery store, it is you who will probably be the one who ends up arrested. Rather than resort to violence and weapons, it is even more critical at this point we come together as humans and embrace the values of compassion, empathy, generosity, hope, optimism, and nonviolence. If you come across another patron reaching for the last bundle of toilet paper just as you are, perhaps instead of grabbing for it and arguing, you offer to split the rolls with them equally. And maybe if it’s a mother or father with children, you even offer to let them have some of your rolls knowing their need is greater than yours. Working together to come up with solutions is going to get us through this crisis on both the macro and micro levels of society.
Last, and most dishearteningly though, are the deaths and unnecessary injuries that will significantly rise from the increased ownership of guns and ammunition. As stated earlier, a huge portion of recent gun purchasers are first-time buyers with little knowledge of how to operate, assemble, disassemble, clean, or store a weapon. There will be plenty of people who mistakenly fire their newly purchased guns as they familiarize themselves with its functions and parts for the first time. But what is even scarier is the effect that this increasing gun ownership will have on the people who are in proximity to newly minted gun owners. As the period of self-isolating and social distancing lengthens, boredom will only continue to rise. Children will explore more of their living situations and will probably come across more guns. A lot of these guns may be poorly stored and unlocked because of novice gun owners’ lack of knowledge and experience. People may also see the leisure activity of shooting as entertainment, especially in more rural areas where new gun owners might not employ the most rigid safety precautions. However, the most chilling stories we will see involve the inevitable rise of domestic violence, accidental shootings, and suicides. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health cites multiple studies, revealing that states with high-gun ownership percentages had firearm-suicide rates roughly double the rate of firearm-suicides in low-gun ownership states, even though non-firearm suicides between the two types of states were essentially equal. Moreover, researchers at the University of Indianapolis reported that for every 10% increase in household gun ownership rates, there is a corresponding 13% increase in domestic firearm homicides. Ironically, if you live with any other people: mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, significant others and friends, even your pets; you are putting their lives in more danger by bringing a weapon into the house. To go out and purchase a gun or load up on ammunition is counterintuitive for securing the safety of yourself and everyone else in your living space, especially as we prepare to enter a prolonged period of confinement.
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus has pushed our government, our economy, and our society to a fragile state that few of us have ever seen or endured. To combat this massive existential threat, we will need to focus our collective energy on doing what is essential to provide safe living spaces and good health practices. Is going out to your local ammunition store to purchase a weapon or inviting your friends over to practice shooting essential? Absolutely not. What is essential right now and for the indefinite future is that we work together, we obey the rule of law, we limit our exposure to others as much as possible, we maintain safe contact from a distance through all the advances technology has given us, and we rely on our first responders. We will already face enough tragedy from the coronavirus in the coming weeks and months, we need not endure more heartbreak from increasing gun violence. So, rather than holstering your guns, just hold off on buying them completely.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect any official policies or positions of NVI or any of our fiscally sponsored partners.
The United States Institute of Peace just posted this wonderful new piece.
See an excerpt below and read the full piece on their site.
Nonviolent Action in the Time of Coronavirus
How Popular Movements are Pivoting
Today’s activists are already putting this lesson to good use by broadening their tactics to focus on actions that don’t involve concentrating mass gatherings. For instance, in Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters have been gathering signatures for an online petition, and organized Hong Kong’s largest-ever medical workers strike, with more than 9,000 health professionals refusing to work until the government improved its coronavirus response. And in Brazil, millions of people are participating in a massive nonviolent action against President Jair Bolsonaro by coming to their windows at a specified time and banging pots and pans together.
One critical part of this tactical diversification has been moving activism from the streets to online. While online activism has long been an important complement to real-life action, with public gatherings off the table many activists are making it a much more central aspect of their activities. In Israel, over half a million people joined a Facebook Live online protest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to adjourn the Knesset in response to the coronavirus emergency. Members of the global climate movement are keeping the movement alive through digital protests, posting pictures of themselves holding protest signs in their homes. The climate activists are hoping #ClimateStrikeOnline, #DigitalClimateStrike and other online initiatives will continue to build the movement and keep climate change on the agenda of national governments and world leaders.
On a more strategic level, movements have also used the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to provide services for the general population, to be proactive on health and safety even when governments refuse to and to reveal inequities in the existing health and economic systems. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the health system has finally gotten under control a series of deadly Ebola outbreaks, the citizen’s movement LUCHA has urged the government to strengthen its response to COVID-19. These measures include the creation of provincial-level committees of public health experts equipped with adequate resources to address the crisis and ensuring everyone's access to water and hygienic products. In Senegal, social movements have also pressured the government to increase the robustness of its response, and launched a campaign to improve social solidarity to fight the virus. Y’en a Marre, a group of Senegalese rappers, students, and other youth, released a music video spreading awareness about the virus and necessary safety precautions. In Nicaragua, a coalition of movements working to bring democratic change, has created a coronavirus emergency committee after criticizing the government for their insufficient response to the crisis.
As the global pandemic crisis continues to evolve, movements’ plans and tactics will evolve as well. The dominance of the street protest as a central tactic of nonviolent action may make this evolution difficult. But the need to shift within the broader range of nonviolent action tactics is also an opportunity for creativity and growth, as activists, just like the rest of us, are forced to innovate in response to a changing world.
Read the full important and timely article on USIP's site.
2 cases of COVID-19 in Gaza were confirmed by Palestinian officials on Sunday, March 22. Two patients returning to Gaza from Egypt were identified as having COVID symptoms and have since been isolated in the border town of Rafah.
A webinar co-hosted on Monday, March 23, by CODEPINK and our fiscally sponsored partners We Are Not Numbers and Freedom Flotilla Coalition described the situation on the ground as worrisome and panicked. Due largely to the blockade of Gaza, COVID has taken longer to spread to Gaza than other areas of the world, but now that cases have been identified panic is beginning to spread. The government has thus far responded by limiting gatherings of people and suspending schools.
However, the medical infrastructure in Gaza is incredibly tenuous and cannot handle a large influx of patients due to the spread of COVID. Capacity in hospitals is limited to the hundreds, advanced medical equipment such as ventilators are sparse, and electricity is unpredictable. Should the virus continue to spread in Gaza, the results will be devastating.
And spread is likely. The vast majority of Palestinians lack access to clean water that can be used to effectively wash one's hands. With 2 in 3 Palestinians living below the poverty line, quarantine is simply not an option for most of society. Daily work is required to provide the bare necessities of life. If quarantined, people will be unable to feed themselves or their families. Further, Gaza is only 365 square-kilometers, yet is packed with 2 millions people. In such an environment, it is practically impossible to practice the necessary levels of social distancing.
To make matters worse, Israel has only provided Gaza with 200 COVID tests kits for their 2 million population. With the ability to test only .01% of the population, it is impossible to know how far COVID has already spread.
Still, the people of Gaza will not give up. Raed Shakshak of We Are Not Numbers stated in Monday’s webinar that he has faith that the more fortunate will help their neighbors and society will band together as best they can. But without the proper medical infrastructure to manage a pandemic, the situation is critical. You can read more from Raed in his recent article on COVID in Gaza.
Protests against the occupation of Gaza have grinded to a halt in response to the pandemic. This includes our partner organization’s, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, plans to once again attempt to break the blockade of Gaza. In addition to the health risks associated with the extensive travel this mission would require, the leaders of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition want to direct fundraising to organizations that can directly aid the humanitarian response to COVID in Gaza. This unfortunately means their plans to send a flotilla to Gaza in May have been suspended. They, as well as all of us at Nonviolence International, hope we can provide resources to groups who are best able to save lives on the ground.
Once such organization is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which already has infrastructure in place to provide such resources. Although recent funding cuts from the United States have made it more difficult for this organization to be effective, additional funding would allow it to ramp up its current efforts.
We want to thank CODEPINK, We Are Not Numbers, and the Freedom Flotilla Coalition for all of the information provided in their webinar. This is a critical situation that needs to be closely monitored. We hope to check into future webinars to follow up on the situation on the ground.
If you would like to get involved, consider donating to UNRWA or another organization on the ground in Gaza. Further, fill out CODEPINK’s petition to the World Health Organization and United Nations, encouraging them to take action. If you are a US citizen, CODEPINK can assist you in reaching out to your Senators and Representatives on this issue.
Although there is a long road ahead, we at Nonviolence International truly believe there is always hope in hard times, particularly when we focus on our shared humanity. May we band together to help those in Gaza.
Images courtesy of We Are Not Numbers.
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War is a non-partisan federation of national medical organizations in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens who share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation.
IPPNW was founded in 1980 by physicians from the United States and the former Soviet Union who shared a common commitment to the prevention of nuclear war between their two countries. Citing the first principal of the medical profession—that doctors have an obligation to prevent what they cannot treat—a global federation of physician experts came together to explain the medical and scientific facts about nuclear war to policy makers and to the public, and to advocate for the elimination of nuclear weapons from the world’s arsenals.
IPPNW received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.