Nonviolence Charter: Progress Report #11 (October 2017)
Robert J. Burrowes, Anita McKone & Anahata Giri – TRANSCEND Media Service
Dear fellow signatories of the Nonviolence Charter,
How are you all? And welcome to our most recent signatories and organizations!
This is the latest six-monthly report on progress in relation to ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ together with a sample of news about Charter signatories and organizations.
Our collective effort to build a worldwide consensus against the use of violence in all contexts continues to make progress, even against rather overwhelming odds!
Our last report on 30 April 2017 was kindly published by Antonio C. S. Rosa in the TRANSCEND Media Service Weekly Digest. At the time of today’s report, we have signatories in 101 countries. We also have 110 organizations/networks from 35 countries. If you wish, you can see the list of organizational endorsements on the Charter website.
If you wish to see individual signatories, click on the ‘View signatures’ item in the sidebar. You can use the search facility if you want to look for a specific name.
The latest progress report article ‘Gandhi’s Truth: Ending Human Violence One Commitment at a Time’ was recently distributed to many progressive news websites: it was published by a number of outlets in 18 countries, thanks to very supportive editors (several of whom are Charter signatories: special thanks to Antonio Rosa, Gifty Ayim-Korankye, Korsi Senyo, Pía Figueroa and Dr. Steve Varatharajan Shanmugavelu). If you like, you can read the article (in English, Italian and Spanish), published on Gandhi’s birthday, here.
If you feel inclined to do so, you are welcome to help raise awareness of the Nonviolence Charter using whatever means are easiest for you: email, articles, Facebook, Twitter…. Thanks to Anahata, the Nonviolence Charter is on Facebook and it has links to some useful articles.
And our usual invitation and reminder: You are most welcome to send us a report on your activities for inclusion in the next report. We would love to hear from you!
In addition to those signatories mentioned in the article ‘Gandhi’s Truth: Ending Human Violence One Commitment at a Time’ cited above, here is another (inadequate) sample of reports of the activities of individuals and organizations who are your fellow Charter signatories.
So first: if you are interested in nonviolent strategy for your campaign or liberation struggle, these websites (which include photos of several Charter signatories) will be helpful:
If any of you have high quality photos of nonviolent actions that you are willing to have published on these sites, please send them to Robert <email@example.com> All photos will be acknowledged where published. Many thanks to Leonard Eiger for making photos from the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action available since our request last time.
As foreshadowed in our last report, Antonio Gutiérrez Rodero was kind enough to translate the Nonviolence Charter into Spanish, thus making it much easier for Spanish speakers to consider signing. You can see Antonio’s translation here: Thanks very much Antonio!
Congratulations are in order to two of our signatories. Antonio Rosa, editor of the TRANSCEND Media Service Weekly Digest, and Professor Bradley Olson, current Treasurer and 2012 President of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, have recently shared the Psychologists for Social Responsibility’s Anthony J. Marsella Prize for the Psychology of Peace and Social Justice, which is awarded annually to recognize outstanding psychology-based contributions in scholarship and action by an individual in one or more of the following areas: Peace and Nonviolence, Poverty, Human Rights, Humanitarian Assistance, Spirituality, and Social Action. If you would like to read something about their phenomenal contributions which led to this prize, you can do so in the article ‘TRANSCEND Media Service Receives Prize for Peace and Social Justice’: Congratulations Brad and Antonio. Richly deserved!
Lily Thapa is the inspirational founder president, in 1994, of Women for Human Rights, single women group (WHR) in Nepal. WHR is an NGO ‘dedicated to creating an active network of single women on a regional, national and international level. By working exclusively with and for them, WHR is dedicated to addressing the rights of single women and creating a just and equitable society where the lives of single women are strengthened and empowered.’ Rejecting the label ‘widow’, WHR ‘issued a national declaration to use the term “single women” instead of “widow”. The word “widow” (“Bidhwa” in Nepali) carries negativity and disdainful societal views which leaves many single women feeling humiliated and distressed.’ Working to empower women economically, politically, socially and culturally in order to live dignified lives and enjoy the value of human rights, WHR works at the grassroots, district, regional, national, South Asian and international levels. Lily has pointed out that there are ‘285 million single women in the world, among them 115 million fall below the poverty line and 38 million conflict-affected single women have no access to justice; these women are last.’ You can read more about Lily and WHR’s monumental efforts on their website. Recently, Lily was awarded the South Asian ‘Dayawati Modi Stree Shakti Samman’, which is ‘presented annually to a woman who has dared to dream and has the capability to translate that dream into reality’. Our sincerest congratulations Lily! It is nice to see you receiving some recognition for your phenomenal work.
Sadly, we must report the passing of Clive Hambidge of Facilitate Global in the UK. An evocative tribute to Clive has been written by Soraya Boyd. You are invited to read this tribute in full at the end of this report. Our love and thoughts are with you Soraya as you travel this difficult time.
Eminent rainforest activist, John Seed, continues his lifelong work to save the world’s rainforests. Currently raising money to help save the Los Cedros cloud forest in Ecuador, he continues to conduct his renowned ‘Councils of All Beings’ workshops around the world. As he noted in a recent email: ‘The best thing about the deep ecology workshops… is the empowerment that it brings from collectively honouring our pain for the Earth.’ These Councils are very engaging and can be organised through John. His email address is on his website at The Rainforest Information Centre.
Sovannarun Tay perseveres in his efforts to raise awareness of the political situation in Cambodia where the bulk of the population has been cowed by the long-standing dictatorship (masquerading as a two-party ‘democracy’). Sovannarun reports that the political situation in Cambodia is ‘getting worse and worse’. Recently, three independent media outlets were blocked and the Opposition leader was charged with treason. A complicating problem for those interested in using nonviolent strategy, which Sovannarun has made available in Khmer, to remove the dictatorship is that most ‘Cambodians think overthrowing the dictator is illegal and unconstitutional. They don’t see an alterative to elections.’ And no matter how many times elections are not free and fair or the ruling party abuses its power, ‘Cambodians still rely on politicians to handle the situation and never lose faith in elections’.
Rivera Sun continues to promote love and revolution through her novels, essays, plays, poems, workshops and radio program ‘Love (and Revolution) Radio’. If you haven’t already done so, you can check out Rivera’s inspirational and phenomenal work on her website. Moreover, in a recent initiative undertaken with Dariel Garner, they have launched ‘Live, Share, Grow: A Movement for the 100%’ which you can read about here and take the pledge here. So ‘who is Dariel Garner?’ you might ask.
Well, have you ever wanted a billion dollars? Dariel once did too. But then he changed his mind! If you want to read the remarkable story about a man who made hundreds of millions of dollars and then gave it all away so that he could discover his own life and serve the community around him, you can ‘Meet Dariel Garner, the “Billionaire Buddha”‘ here.
In her latest article ‘Great Hunger’ Kathy Kelly writes about the fact that ‘few in the prosperous West are aware of the terror faced by people in South Sudan, Somalia, northeast Nigeria, northern Kenya and Yemen. Millions of people cannot feed themselves or find potable water. Countries in Africa which the U.S. has helped destabilize, such as Somalia, are convulsed in fighting which exacerbates effects of drought and drives helpless civilians toward points of hoped-for refuge. Many have chosen a path of escape through the famine-torn country of Yemen. The U.S. has been helping a Saudi-led coalition to blockade and bomb Yemen since March of 2015.’ You can read Kathy’s evocative article ‘Great Hunger’ here.
Kathy and Alastair McIntosh (see below) were also speakers at an event in Ireland earlier this year. You can read a report about that event and see a photo of them both (on the right) with other activists here: ‘Reflections from Féile Bríde 2017: Darkness to Light’.
Dr. Steve Varatharajan Shanmugavelu, the dynamic Vice President of the International Association of Educators for World Peace (IAEWP), has been unwell for the past few months. He advised in a recent email: ‘I am crawling back to activities. Still down and almost out.’ On behalf of your fellow signatories Steve, we sincerely hope that you soon make the full recovery necessary to both resume a meaningful personal life and those fine activities that you have carried out for so long. If you aren’t familiar with the wonderful work of the IAEWP, you can check it out here.
Sami Awad, Director of the Holy Land Trust in Palestine, has recently been involved ‘in a new and emerging protest and protect movement called Sumud Freedom Camp. One of our key aims is to build a nonviolent movement that focuses on joint action towards resisting the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian people.’ But it is more than this too. In Sami’s evocative words: ‘The Sumud Freedom Camp has connected me to a movement that sees every single human being and creature on this planet as precious, suffering, and worthy of a good life. It is a movement that recognizes that while we need to protest against those who are behind the destruction, the aim is not to destroy them but create a space for true reconciliation. It is a movement that is an invitation to work together to protect the precious resources that allow us to live on earth.’ You can read more about this visionary nonviolent initiative in Sami’s article ‘Sumud, Beyond Protesting Occupation: Protecting Life’.
As you read this report, Tess Burrows from the UK and her associates are on their arduous Kailas Peace Pilgrimage to fundraise for the Tibet Relief Fund to rebuild the Bakhang school for Tibetan refugee children in Nepal which was devastated by the earthquakes. If you would like to read about and/or support this effort, you can do so here.
Graham Peebles in the UK has recently drawn attention to the situation in Ethiopia: ‘A violent picture of brutal state suppression, state corruption, widespread human rights violations and increasing levels of hardship as the cost of living escalates.’ You can read his thoughtful article here: ‘Ethiopia’s economic growth hides fear and oppression in the one-party state’.
Professor Sean Byrne is Director of the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice, which conducts a vigorous Peace and Conflict Studies Graduate Program, at the University of Manitoba in Canada. The Mauro Centre is dedicated to the advancement of human rights, conflict resolution, global citizenship, peace, and social justice through research, education, and outreach. The Centre emphasizes the cultural, religious and philosophical dimensions of peace; social, economic, and environmental justice; peace education; human rights; and the role of international organizations and standards in the quest for peace and justice. The Centre is also interested in the role of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in pointing ways for people to live in peace and harmony. It seeks to prepare leaders in a multiplicity of contexts who make a difference locally, nationally, and globally. You can check out their fine Peace and Conflict Studies course descriptions here.
In a devastating and evocative critique of the US torture program, Kristin Christman compellingly argues that the US government should ‘Take Torture off Agenda: Consider Ending Violence in a Nonviolent Way’. A brilliant use of 800 words Kristin! Separate to this, by applying her usual penetrating style, Kristin simply but effectively presents the Korean conflict in language designed to remove the rhetoric of both sides and the corporate media’s biased presentation of the complex history and politics of the peninsula. She did this in her recent article ‘Humanity sadly lacking in both Koreas’. On a more personal note, Kristin continues to demonstrate faith in the capacity of her sons to make sound decisions for themselves by actively supporting recent initiatives they took that enhanced their well-being and happiness.
Kelvin Davies continues his long-standing and dedicated work to save what is left of the world’s rainforest heritage. Through a combination of organizing, networking and fundraising, Kelvin raises substantial amounts of money to buy threatened rainforests or even restore degraded ones. This also provides protected habitat to rare and endangered species, such as those found in the Daintree National Park in Australia, including the vulnerable Southern Cassowary: a large flightless black bird related to ostriches and emus that sports a bright blue neck, a horn-like casque and dagger-like claws. For an account and some spectacular photos, check out their website.
Professor Lim Teck Ghee in Malaysia ‘has been one of Malaysia’s most principled and eloquent critics of the system, and of a ruling class that has entrenched itself, its ideas and its interests into the body politic. His writing and political engagement are the epitome of the public intellectual – thinking about and reflecting broadly upon the realities of society, and offering solutions. He straddles the worlds of rigorous scholarship, social activism and public discourse. He embraces every possible medium to circulate his message: acclaimed academic books, policy reports, position papers, online commentaries, op-eds and more besides. And his views remain steadfastly subversive.’ In a comment on his forthcoming book, one endorsement included these words: ‘Lim confronts the pillars of Malaysia’s political and socio-economic system with thoughtful analytical critiques as well as occasional doses of parody and mockery as he deconstructs the unholy alliance between racial and religious politics and elitist control of society, culture and development.’ Teck Ghee’s book, to be released in late October, is titled ‘Challenging Malaysia’s Status Quo’ and brings together some of his most penetrating analyses from the past decade. ‘They offer a critique, a challenge and a chance to imagine that another world is possible for all Malaysians.’
Anahata Giri in Australia has recently launched the first Love in Action Series, an empowerment circle that aims to help us reclaim love as a personal and political force for change that our world desperately needs. A group of 10 people participated in an eight week facilitated group conversation and inquiry that combined listening practices, reflective writing exercises, discussion, nonviolence teachings and embodiment practices to help integrate insights. They explored such questions as: How can we move beyond entrenched fear-based conditioning and bring our listening, our empowerment, our love into the world? Whether we act within the realm of the family, workplace, community or globe, our actions can help create a better world for all beings. What is your love song to the world? ‘We shared inspiring stories of nonviolent action and made commitments for our next steps to make our unique and loving contribution in the world.’ The Love in Action Series will continue: the next one will begin in October.
Professor Bishnu Pathak of Nepal recently completed an intensive study titled ‘A Comparative Study of World’s Truth Commissions: From Madness to Hope’. The study covers more than 50 such Commissions in chronological order, beginning with Uganda in 1974 and concluding with Nepal in February 2015. It exposes the extraordinary difficulty of such commissions revealing the truth or achieving genuine reconciliation. The report was published in the World Journal of Social Science Research and can be downloaded from this link and read at TRANSCEND. Another remarkable achievement Bishnu!
Dr Maung Zarni of Burma/Myanmar has been relentless in drawing attention to the plight of the Rohingya in Burma as they suffer the genocidal assault of the Tatmadaw, the Burmese military, with the active support of prominent Buddhist monks and the silent complicity of the local Catholic clergy, among others. In this interview, he mentions his own disenchantment, widely shared by those who once regarded her as a ‘democracy icon’, with Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian leader of Burma. See the interview of Zarni: ‘”I Am Deeply Troubled by Aung San Suu Kyi And Her Denial of the Rohingya Genocide”: Maung Zarni’. For his trouble, Zarni has recently been headlined on the front page as a ‘traitor’ and ‘Enemy of The State’ in the Ma Ba Tha and Military Intelligence paper ‘The Sun Rays’ in Burma! Congratulations on these accolades for your struggle for justice for the Rohingya Zarni!
In a separate initiative in support of the Rohingya, Mairead Maguire was one of a group of Nobel Laureates who called on the government of Myanmar to end the Tatmadaw’s genocidal assault on this minority Muslim group. You can read about this initiative here: ‘Intervene now, take action’.
Another signatory deeply concerned about the plight of the Rohingya, Professor Chandra Muzaffar, President of JUST International, was chair of the organising committee for the International Tribunal on Myanmar’s Crimes against Rohingya and Kachin Peoples, at which witnesses were called to testify in a court-like setting. You can read about the Tribunal and Chandra’s role in this article: ‘UM to host tribunal on atrocities against Rohingya’. The witnesses included Dr Maung Zarni (see above). You can read the recent verdict and recommendations of the People’s Tribunal on Myanmar here.
And an initiative to mobilize a grassroots response to the genocide was explained in the article ‘A Nonviolent Strategy to Defeat Genocide’.
Jill Gough and fellow activists in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in Cymru (Wales) continue their efforts to ‘rid Britain and the world of all weapons of mass destruction’ and for peace as well as human, social and environmental justice. You can read about their ongoing work, and check out ‘Heddwch Magazine’, on their website.
In his ongoing attempts to draw attention to the truth on many issues, Dr Gary G. Kohls recently reminded us of what happened on ‘9/11: The Repression of Dissent and the 16th Anniversary of the Crime and Cover-up of the Century’. Thanks, Gary, for backing up the truth with overwhelming evidence.
John McKenna recently wrote a review of a play staged in Melbourne, Australia, titled ‘The Real & Imagined History of The Elephant Man’ by Tom Wright. ‘No it wasn’t a copy of the movie or the book that we all know, but it was based on that story. Deformity, do you stare, look away, touch, laugh, or cry?’ You can read John’s review ‘Deformity is Deformity – Thanks Elephant Man’ here.
Reflecting his indefatigable efforts over many decades to make human governance systems more humane Professor Noam Chomsky was recently extensively interviewed for the forthcoming book ‘Global Discontents: Conversations on the Rising Threats to Democracy’ to be published in December 2017. You can read an excerpt from this book commenting on the perils of the Trump presidency in this just-published article: ‘The Trump Presidency: Or How to Further Enrich “The Masters of the Universe”‘. In deep appreciation of your unrelenting efforts Noam!
Pakistani Dr Mahboob Khawaja, now living in Canada, is a scholar of global affairs. Further to his report last time, he advised that the ordeal of his son, Momin Khawaja, who was wrongfully convicted of terrorism in Canada, continues. Momin was a community volunteer and young entrepreneur in computer science with no previous criminal record. There was no evidence to indicate that he was involved in any acts of violence. Nevertheless, in the heightened atmosphere of President Bush’s newly instigated ‘War on Terror’ and in another example of legal injustice, Momin was sentenced to ‘life and 24 years’ for crimes with which he was not even charged and did not commit. He remains in a high-security prison cell after 13 years. In October 2016, a formal appeal was made to the authorities for transfer to a medium security institution so that he could resume his university degree program, recover his health from the torture to which he has been subjected and experience some ‘normalcy’ under the circumstances. Officially, it should take about three months for a decision but Momin is still waiting after a year. ‘We, the family visit him on alternate weeks. The legal system here is prejudicial and biased as top judges are appointed by the politicians and they parrot the political dictum without any accountability to the public.’
In support of their efforts to secure Momin’s freedom, Mahboob and his wife Azra are requesting that those sympathetic to Momin’s plight write or email the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Minister of Justice Ms. Jody Wilson-Raybould asking for Momin’s immediate and unconditional freedom. ‘Indeed, your help will be much appreciated for this humanitarian cause. May God bless you all for your kind thought and moral support.’ The relevant contact details are as follows: The Right Honorable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0A6; <firstname.lastname@example.org> , Tel: 613-995-0253; Fax: 613-947-0310; and Honorable Jody Wilson-Raybould, M.P., Minister of Justice – The Attorney General of Canada, 284 Wellington St, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0H8; <email@example.com> , Tel: 613-957-4222; Fax: 613-954-0811. Mahboob can be contacted at <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the meantime, Mahboob’s latest article was published recently: ‘Global Politics is not about the Safeguard of Humanity and Peace but of Special Interests and Wars’.
Tess Ramiro, Director of Aksyon para sa Kapayapaan at Katarungan – Center for Active Non-Violence (AKKAPKA-CANV) in the Philippines, reports the following: ‘We continue to regularly take part in the Media Forum held every Monday morning on various national and international issues. Of particular interest to our group and our advocacy is expressing our continued nonviolent opposition to extra-judicial killings as a result of the Government’s War/Campaign against illegal drugs. As of this writing, the mainstream media claim 13,000 deaths have been reported due to the government campaign.
‘Positively, we have also taken part in the international conference on women held at the University of Santo Tomas, Manila from 20-22 July 2017. Representatives of various faith groups took part in the conference
‘We also continue to be active in the Uniharmony Partners of Manila (UPM) meetings with our Interfaith partner groups especially in light of the war going on in Marawi City, Mindanao, due to terrorist attacks and in consideration of the tremendous devastation of lives, homes and livelihood among civilians – cultural groups, indigenous peoples, lay people – and soldiers and other casualties of war, not to mention the consequences of Martial Law that has been declared throughout Mindanao.
‘We grieve with our partner-Muslim brothers and sisters who were first-hand victims of the devastation in Marawi City. (Our colleagues in the UPM narrated how they lost their ancestral homes as a result of the criss-crossing of bombs and shells from war weapons.)
‘Through the UPM, we continue to monitor the goings-on in the Congress as to the status of the Bill called SOGIE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expressions) which, although assuring rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender communities, we fear might impinge on the religious freedoms and expressions as well as rights of parents over their children.’
Tess also reported not being as well as she might, which is obviously largely due to the enormity of her load. So, on behalf of your fellow signatories, we wish you a speedy recovery which will no doubt be facilitated if you can find some time for yourself Tess. Difficult we know in the circumstances.
Vijay Mehta has advised a forthcoming symposium (on 12 October), to be held in London, hosted by Uniting for Peace. The symposium, which boasts an impressive panel of speakers, notably including Vijay himself, will consider the question ‘Can UN build a Peaceful World? – to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war’. You are all welcome to attend! Details can be read on their flyer. Vijay’s engaging events invariably attract a keen audience so if London is within reach, this opportunity is well worth considering.
Marthie Momberg in South Africa wrote a report on the recent decision of the General Council of the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) that Palestinian oppression goes against Christianity’s understanding of justice. In a bold vote for clear actions, the WCRC made it clear that such theology goes against the heart of the Bible. Marthie reports that this global body, ‘representing over 80 million Christians’, held its 26th General Council from 29 June – 7 July in Leipzig, Germany. ‘As the WCRC’s highest decision-making body the General Council issued a resolution with meaningful, action-driven solidarity [for the Palestinian struggle] and not only words of support’. You can read Marthie’s full report here: ‘World Reformed Churches on Palestine: Christianity’s integrity is at stake!’
John Avery in Denmark is writing a series of articles titled ‘We Need Their Voices Today!’ showcasing ‘people whose wise voices from the past can help to guide us today’. Featuring articles on Saint Francis of Assisi, William Blake, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, The Marquis de Condorcet, Thomas Robert Malthus, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Robert Owen, John Stuart Mill, Henry David Thoreau, Count Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Wilfred Owen, Albert Einstein, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Bertha von Suttner, George Orwell and Helen Keller, you can read a recent episode and access previous ones here.
If you haven’t seen ‘Pressenza’, it’s well worth checking out. Pía Figueroa in Chile is a key figure at ‘Pressenza’ and one of the editors. ‘Pressenza’ is an international news agency dedicated to news about peace and nonviolence with offices in 16 cities around the world. They issue a daily news service in English, Italian, Spanish, French, Portuguese and German. Recent reporting has covered the peace process in Colombia, the solidarity of Lesbos inhabitants towards migrants, the fearless response of Catalonians after the terrorist atack in Barcelona and many other subjects besides. Relying on a vast network of volunteers, including those who translate articles into other languages, and learning from nonviolent actions which are expanding all over the world, ‘Pressenza Press Agency is raising hope about humanity’s behaviour’. If you haven’t seen it, you are welcome to check out the ‘Pressenza’ website.
A recent Charter signatory has been described by BBC TV as ‘one of the world’s leading environmental campaigners’. Alastair McIntosh hails from Scotland although his work is widely known around the world. We have taken the following excerpt from one of Alastair’s books: ‘Alastair is a pioneer of modern land reform in Scotland where he helped bring the Isle of Eigg into community ownership. On the Isle of Harris he negotiated withdrawal of the world’s biggest cement company from a devastating “superquarry” plan. Alastair guest lectures at military staff colleges, most notably the UK Defence Academy. Over nearly two decades he has addressed 6,000 senior officers from eighty countries on nonviolence. His books include ‘Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power’ (Aurum), ‘Hell and High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition’ (Birlinn) and ‘Rekindling Community’ (Green Books). He is a fellow of the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh and a visiting professor at the College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow. A founding director of the GalGael Trust, which tackles urban poverty, he lives with his wife, Vérène Nicolas, in the Govan area of Glasgow.’ We also asked Alastair to be kind enough to write a paragraph to introduce himself and he wrote this: ‘My path as an activist began in Papua New Guinea in the 1970s and 1980s where I worked with appropriate technology. I came back to Scotland and applied the lessons learnt from there, also, from Australian peace and rainforest activists such as [fellow Charter signatory: see above] John Seed. My work with community empowerment, land reform and environmental protection is told in my best known book, ‘Soil and Soul: People Versus Corporate Power’ (Aurum 2001). Understanding violence and its alternatives is central to my work and Quaker witness. There is a free online chapter about nonviolence in my book with Matt Carmichael, ‘Spiritual Activism: Leadership as Service’ (Green Books 2015). Also free online is my chapter from a standard textbook of military ethics. I have additionally used violence as a lens for viewing climate change throughout part 2 of ‘Hell and High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition’ (Birlinn 2008). My most recent book is ‘Poacher’s Pilgrimage: an Island Journey’ (Birlinn 2016; Cascade in USA forthcoming). This explores the deep drivers of war and neoconservative politics both thorough theology and in conversations with officers who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. That, while making a pilgrimage alone by foot through rugged territory, an ecology of the imagination to help to reimagine the world.’ You can access Alastair’s engaging books, interviews and online publications at his website.
Marianne Perez de Fransius, based in Mozambique, has always been interested in international relations, cross-cultural communication and global events. A graduate in Peace and Conflict Studies from the European Peace University, Marianne is passionate about conflict resolution and peacebuilding, and teaches powerful communication strategies. You can read more about Marianne on the ‘Peace is Sexy’ website.
In an evocative article, Dr Hakim writes from Afghanistan that the ‘Afghan Peace Volunteers Try Permaculture’. ‘Today, we not only have systematically destroyed our relationships with fellow human beings, we have little or no relationship with Mother Earth and Nature. We are sick because of these broken relationships, and need healing. On the 10th of May 2017, the International Migratory Bird Day, Afghan naturalists and teachers at the Environmental Science Faculty of Kabul University said that due to climate changes and war, several species of birds have avoided their previous migratory paths in Afghanistan. Drought and conflict have denuded forests and green cover. Birds like migratory geese and cranes have not been seen for the past 20 years…. We are wiping one another out.’ Despite the stark warning in these words, you can see some lovely photos of their efforts at the link above.
In addition, a recent letter written by US nonviolent activist Kathy Kelly asked for support for the many efforts of the APVs: ‘We’re writing to update you on the Duvet Project and the Street Kids School, projects which our friends, the Afghan Peace Volunteers, have sustained for the past four years. A Washington Post article entitled “In Kabul, Access to Safe Drinking Water is a Matter of Money,” reported last month that Kabul’s water is becoming dangerously contaminated. “Returned war refugees camp in muddy vacant lots,” Pamela Constable wrote; “trenches of fetid waste water run beside dusty, unpaved streets.” The article explains the risks faced by people with no formal water supply and no public sewage systems. Children in Kabul’s refugee camps also find scant protection from hunger and cold, while mothers repeatedly tell us that if it weren’t for the children bringing scraps of food scavenged at the market place and working as child laborers in the streets, the families would starve. Afghans living in wretched circumstances say they have never been helped by the U.S. or the Afghan government. But Afghans have learned to help each other. We’ve watched the APV community care, profoundly and practically, about feeding the hungry, bringing drink to the thirsty, and visiting people nearly imprisoned in refugee camps. Every year, they provide warmth for families at risk of freezing to death during harsh Afghan winters. The APV organize themselves to visit families hit the hardest by corruption and war.’ You can read more about Kathy’s support for the APVs on the Voices for Creative Nonviolence website.
In a candid assessment of the state of the world’s climate, Kevin Zeese and Dr Margaret Flowers remind us of the challenges ahead of us. See ‘Climate Breakdown’.
And for a candid assessment of the enormity of the plight in which humans find themselves, this article does it fairly succinctly: ‘Biological Annihilation on Earth Accelerating’.
If you haven’t checked out the excellent ‘Ghana Web Online’ with news about Ghana and Africa from an African perspective and edited by Gifty Ayim-Korankye, you can do so here. Gifty also edits the ‘Daughters of Africa’ website and, if you haven’t read the amazing poetry by African women on this website, you are really missing out! It’s here.
In a busy long weekend of action starting on Saturday 12 August a dozen kayaktivist members of the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (GZ) in the USA plied the Hood Canal. They were joined by the boats of fellow nuclear resisters to form a colorful and defiant flotilla in the second annual ‘Boats by Bangor’ event. Proceeding past two Trident submarines at the Bangor waterfront, the protest boats hoisted signs such as ‘Resist Trident: No New Nukes’ in witnessing to the madness of the continuing nuclear threat posed by the Trident fleet. You can read Elizabeth Murray’s account of the action in ‘Paddling for Peace on the Hood Canal’ and see Leonard Eiger’s photos here.
On Sunday, GZ members and friends learned more about current issues related to nuclear weapons, engaged in nonviolence training, and were treated to a musical tribute to Pete Seeger by Hank and Claire. On Monday morning participants walked from Ground Zero Center to the Bangor Main Gate where they held a vigil during the morning shift change. Seven participants briefly blockaded the base by carrying banners onto the roadway at the gate to the main entrance. They were removed by Washington State Patrol officers and cited for being in the roadway illegally. One of the banners implored the Trump administration to stop its incendiary rhetoric toward North Korea. It read ‘No Nuclear Strike On N. Korea!’ In the words of Ground Zero spokesperson Leonard Eiger: ‘No one knows where this escalating rhetoric of President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will end. To take either leader at his word, a nuclear holocaust is an acceptable event. There is no acceptable military solution to this nuclear standoff. Diplomacy is the only way out of this mess.’ The Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action was founded in 1977. The center is on 3.8 acres adjoining the Trident submarine base at Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base in Poulsbo, Washington. ‘We resist all nuclear weapons, especially the Trident ballistic missile system.’ You can always check out GZ Newsletters by scrolling down this page of their website.
Just prior to this weekend, on 30 July 2017, GZ marked its 40th anniversary of resisting nuclear weapons with a series of panels. Each panel told the story of Ground Zero based on a particular segment of its history – from the early 1970s when Trident design engineer Robert Aldridge quit his job at Lockheed after realizing he was helping to build a first-strike nuclear weapon, through the heady decade of the 1980s when thousands converged at Ground Zero and hundreds climbed the fence onto the base, and up to the present time. GZ co-founders James and Shelley Douglass spoke at the first two panels and Elizabeth, being a relative newcomer to Ground Zero, spoke during the final panel. You can see the videos of each panel here:
HRH Prince Simbwa Joseph was born to a Ugandan Royal Family in Kampala. His grandfather was King Ndawula, one of the most powerful kings in sub-Saharan Africa. He abhors violence and is involved in many charities for helping those in need, as well as human rights organisations. He is currently manager of Nsambu and Company Advocates – a law firm and one of the oldest legal chambers in Uganda and East Africa, having been established in 1970, and a member of the East African Law Society. He is also president of the African Federation Association in Uganda, which is a member of the World Federalist Movement Institute for Global policy. In addition, he is secretary-general of His Majesty’s Ssekabaka Muteesa I Foundation which also boasts Prince Simbwa’s close friend, His Excellency Edward K. Sekandi, Vice President of Uganda, as a member. He has made presentations in the USA, UK, Japan, India, Qatar, Netherlands, Denmark and Belgium. Following negotiations with Prince Simbwa as project manager in 2014, and involving the Ugandan Vice-President in launching the project, the World Sustainability Fund and its partners agreed to provide €1.5m to launch the AFA-WFM permanent office in Kampala in support of efforts to assist Uganda to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals. In Prince Simbwa’s words: ‘Today the world is on tension due to so many things in social, economic, political disparities and pending nuclear wars. We are concerned as global citizens because if violence or war escalates those whom we call “Nalumanya ne Salumanya” in our local Luganda language (literally meaning “those concerned and less concerned”) shall be trapped equally. The African Federation Association Uganda in her annual general meeting in July 2017 condemned the violent approach to all disagreements…. Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela and elder statesman appealed to the world during his lifetime to reinvent Indian freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent approach to solving conflicts. Mandela, who spent 28 years in prison for fighting white rule before leading South Africa to multi-racial democracy as the country’s first black president in 1994, said Gandhi’s nonviolent approach which won India freedom from British colonial rule 60 years ago was an inspiration.’ Prince Simbwa is married and has four princesses – Hilary, Helga, Hilda and Henrietta – and one prince: Humphrey Ndawula.
Kulandhaisamy Susaikannu in India writes that ‘For building a world of Peace and Harmony, we start working with children. We go to schools and encourage children to debate on the concept of the stories.’ So far, Kulandhaisamy and his associates have created more than 150 lesson modules with children’s stories.
President of the Association of World Citizens, René Wadlow in France continues to cast light on issues, events and places that are easily ignored or forgotten. In a recent article, he drew attention to the breakdown of government and society in South Sudan. See ‘As South Sudan Disintegrates, People Move’.
Ayo Ayoola-Amale in Ghana has recently submitted her Ph.D. thesis ‘Paradigms of Alternative Dispute Resolution and Justice Delivery in Ghana’. She undertook the research while enrolled in the School of Public Affairs & Social Sciences, College of Conflict and Peace studies at the University South Korea. Good luck with the result Ayo!
As part of his efforts, Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh in Palestine continues to demonstrate the value of what Gandhi would have called the ‘constructive program’ with the wonderful variety of activities offered through the Palestine Museum of Natural History. The Museum and the Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability work ‘to research, educate about, and conserve our natural world, culture and heritage and use knowledge to promote responsible human interactions with our environment’. You can see the Arabic and English editions of their website, with some superb photos, here.
Dr Sohan Lal Gandhi, International President of the Anuvrat Global Organization (ANUVIBHA) has advised that the 9th International Conference on Peace and Nonviolent Action (9th ICPNA) will be held at Jaipur, India from 17-21 December 2017. The conference theme on this occasion is ‘Science, Spirituality and Universal Harmony’ and Dr Gandhi feels a sense of exhilaration at organizing this conference ‘in view of the tidal surge of violence, hatred and intolerance closing in on humanity’ and the ‘overwhelming positive responses’ to this initiative so far. You can check out their website here and contact Dr Gandhi if you wish to be sent information and an invitation to the 9th ICPNA: “Dr Sohan Lal Gandhi” <email@example.com>
Prominent journalist Jonathan Power’s latest book has just been published. Titled ‘Ending War Crimes, Chasing the War Criminals’, the book offers ‘a history of one of the most important issues of our age. It begins with an analysis of the characters of Adolf Eichmann and Heinrich Himmler, the two men in charge of “the Final Solution”. It moves on to look at the role played by some of Africa’s war criminals and also offers portraits of alleged war criminals from the Western world, including the self-confessed war criminal Robert McNamara who led the war in Vietnam on behalf of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. The book also tracks the wars and genocide in, and subsequent international criminal law trials relating to Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia. In a final chapter, it asks the question: can human rights be pursued by making war?’. You can order Jonathan’s fine book on his publisher’s website.
Bob Koehler’s evocative article about Tony de Brum, former foreign minister of the Marshall Islands, who died of cancer in August at the age of 72, is a wonderful tribute to an exceptional human being: ‘The Man Who Stood Up to Armageddon’.
Father Nithiya is the National Programme Coordinator of the Association of Franciscan Families of India (AFFI). Their inspirational work is focused on two campaigns: the Violence of Extreme Poverty and Hunger and the Right to Food Campaign, as well as the National Campaign to Stop Violence Against Women. In relation to the latter campaign, AFFI has released a DVD and a booklet as a result of a four day intensive national consultation and training organised by them in 2016. Through their vast network of educational, social and medical ministries, AFFI has committed itself to stopping violence against women using various strategies all over the country, especially through their schools and colleges. Identifying ten types of violence against women – gender selection, female foeticide, child marriage, child abuse, harassment at work, prostitution and trafficking, domestic violence and Eve teasing, child labour, effects of alcoholism of men, and unemployment and underemployment of women – the DVD and booklet include analytical data, information about the legal framework and redress mechanisms. The aim is to empower women for their safety and security. Fr. Nithiya has given seminars to teachers and students to raise awareness of how they can stop any form of violence against women in their personal life, in their families, communities and society at large. The aim is to make these AFFI resources available in various Indian languages. The AFFI National team is available for training and empowerment sessions to staff and students of schools and colleges. The DVD and booklet are available from “AFFI Programmes” <firstname.lastname@example.org> or “Fr. Nithiya OFM” <email@example.com>
In a nonviolent action to draw attention to the horror of drone murders, Joy First was one of four nonviolent activists arrested at the Wisconsin Air National Guard Base (Volk Field) during one of their monthly vigils (held for over five years now). Volk Field is a critical component of the drone warfare program being conducted by the US government in a number of countries in the Middle East and Africa. At Volk Field personnel are trained to operate the RQ-7 Shadow Drone, which has been used for reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition. You can read more about drone warfare and resistance to it in Joy’s highly informative article ‘Four Citizen Activists Arrested at Volk Field as they Attempt to Identify the Base as a Crime Scene’. In appreciation Joy!
And while we are on drone warfare, David Swanson recently interviewed long-time nonviolent activist Ed Kinane about ‘Stopping Killer Drones’, which Ed has been doing for a long time! You can read Ed’s remarkable ‘activist CV’ and listen to David’s interview of Ed here.
Showing that he is not just a first-class organiser, nonviolent activist and poet, coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space Bruce Gagnon recently wrote this assessment of the new President of South Korea (with apologies to Pink Floyd hey Bruce?): ‘Dark Side of Mr. Moon’.
Pamela Storer is currently living in Vladivostok, Russia. Like a number of signatories, she is an expatriate, in this case from north Wales. She was moved to the south of England as a child due to her father’s work, and grew up and was educated in England, before going to Melbourne, Australia with her then husband, ‘who was Aussie’. She had two children, went to Adelaide as a single parent, left nursing to study at Flinders Uni before teaching, ending up as a lecturer and head of department of Nursing Science at Flinders. Pamela left Adelaide for Queensland after her children left home to take up their own adult lives, before going to New Zealand for a while, returning to roam around Australia for a few more years and then living in Ecuador for 2.5 yrs before arriving in Vladivostok earlier this year. But she will shortly return to Ecuador. ‘I write part time, have a love of literature, poetry and music, plus psycho-philosophy. I read heaps and heaps and am always trying to learn something new.’
Philip Farruggio reminds us about the ‘Family values?’ of violent political leaders in this thought-provoking article.
Canadian Rev. Mike Kennedy, Lt(N) Retired, continues ‘to tell it like it is’ by exposing ‘the psychopaths in our government and religious hierarchies’ and drawing attention to the need to ‘immediately take action to reverse the terrible effects these psychopaths have imposed on our Planet’s people, and our beloved Planet Earth.’ He does this by engaging in what he calls ‘conversations with the Archangel Michael’ which he publishes on his website. He hopes to facilitate a shift ‘to a higher consciousness, to become One’ in which ‘a new human being created in and by the only law of the Universe – LOVE, regardless of the color of our skin, regardless of unjust laws imposed upon the masses by the hierarchies of the New World Order’ emerges.
Richard Miller, a US expat living in Thailand, cannot be ‘hands-on’ active in the US so he reads alternative media and has begun writing letters to US Senators and congressmen. He posts these letters to his Facebook site and encourages others to write their representative as well. Reflecting on his experience, he has this to say: ‘In just these few short months I have come to believe that our three branches of government are powerless to halt somebody’s drive for world conquest…. American ideals are now a sham that cannot be put into action. I keep writing, keep complaining to our elected leaders and see what can unfold.’ For more, you can check out Richard’s website.
Now read Soraya’s heartfelt tribute to Clive:
A Tribute to Clive John Hambidge
16 January 1956 – 2 August 2017
I am profoundly honoured and tremendously privileged to have known such an extraordinary human being as you.
I feel extremely blessed and I am deeply humbled to have been able to share my life with such a gentle man, a man full of wit, tenderness, empathy, compassion and love.
Sharing our life and our life’s work together was an extraordinary blessing.
With your pen you shaped the word on an empty page with the same purposeful precision as you shaped the line with your brush on a blank canvas, infusing life.
You were an enormously sensitive soul, a tremendously gifted human being who could see into the past and the future through your insightful dreams which you recorded assiduously.
A scholar with an extraordinary capacity for assimilating complex information, synthesising and articulating it with great authority, clarity, beauty, simplicity and where appropriate humour.
A rigorous man whose integrity was governed by a tremendous, holistic, cohesive intellect matched only by the incredible size of your inclusive heart.
A man whose intellectual contribution will leave a permanent legacy to the advancement of thought, art and right human relations.
A man guided by an unwavering moral and ethical compass governing your every fibre.
An exceptional man whose tireless work has contributed to making the world a better place.
A man whose every heartbeat cared deeply for the woes of the world.
A man whose humanitarian involvement and service to humanity paved the way to building bridges of understanding between people of all cultures, all walks of life, faiths and none.
A far sighted artist whose visionary compositions made the invisible visible, shedding light on ancient scapes, as yet to be discovered realms and manifold realities.
You were always a self effacing, private and humble man who counselled thousands providing advice, relief, solace and in doing so helped all chart a constructive pathway forward and that includes me.
A generous and kind man who gave of himself readily and unconditionally no matter when or where.
An outstanding man who dared to stand against the greatest enemy of humanity: injustice -in all of its many forms.
A steadfast campaigner of human rights for all who so championed women with every breath.
I thank you Clive with all my heart for every kindness, laughter and joy, for the love and light you brought to my life, for all that we shared, for all that you were and for all that you gave asking for nothing in return.
For you strongly believed that it is in the very act of giving that we receive and in so doing are given to share widely.
In your excruciatingly painful physical absence my love transforms and takes on a different form now as you transition into the great yonder you will live evermore in my heart and mind and I will be forever drawing on, being nourished, sustained, inspired and guided by all that we shared and all that you stood for.
You will continue to live in the hearts of all who knew, appreciated and loved you, whose hearts and minds you reached and touched so deeply.
I shall continue to do the work we started and shared to honour your memory promoting and protecting human rights for all, one the rule of law for all, serving humanity through dialogue and friendship so that truth, justice, freedom, peace, equality and dignity become the norm for all.
It is with deepest sorrow and infinite sadness that I bid you farewell on this day my dearest beloved darling.
I will never tire of reminding myself that ‘the heart that has truly loved is loved forever’.
I miss you beyond words. My heart and soul ache from an ache that can never be consoled.
Until we meet again my darling I’ll dream a little dream of you now and always.
I love you
Your eternal companion in this life and the next
Lastly, if you haven’t checked out ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth’ in which you are welcome to participate in response to the accelerating environmental crises, you can do so here. Anita’s ‘The Flame Tree Song’ can be heard here. Her other ‘Songs of Nonviolence’ are on her website too.
Well, as indicated above, an inadequate summary but it gives you some idea of our shared efforts.
Finally, if you or someone you know has the means and inclination to do so, any financial support for Anita and Robert to help us do this work will be much appreciated. You can see how here.
In appreciation of all of your efforts (including all of those not mentioned above)…
And don’t forget to write to us with a report on what you do!
For a world without violence; Robert, Anita and Anahata
P.S. This Charter progress report is being emailed, in a sequence of emails, to all signatories of the Nonviolence Charter for whom we have a current email address. It will also be published on the next TRANSCEND Media Service weekly digest.
Robert J. Burrowes, Anita McKone and Anahata Giri
Websites: Nonviolence Charter, The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth, ‘Why Violence?’, Feelings First, Nonviolent Campaign Strategy, Nonviolent Defense/Liberation Strategy, Anita: Songs of Nonviolence, Anahata: One Heart Yoga, Robert, Global Nonviolence Network
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 9 October 2017.
Anticopyright: Editorials and articles originated on TMS may be freely reprinted, disseminated, translated and used as background material, provided an acknowledgement and link to the source, TMS: Nonviolence Charter: Progress Report #11 (October 2017), is included. Thank you.
This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 4.0 License.
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