Israel and Palestine: Seven steps to end the cycle of violence

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The path to peace requires nonviolent action not just from Israelis and Palestinians, but also Americans, the media, aid organizations and others. The following is by Nonviolence International founder Mubarak Awad.

I have spent my life advocating for Palestinians and Israelis to use nonviolent means to resolve their conflicts. Because Israel feared Palestinian unity and mass nonviolent action, I was expelled by the government in 1988. Since then, I have, on several occasions, personally advocated with Hamas leaders to abandon armed struggle and embrace nonviolent campaigns. Yet, today, Palestinians and Israelis are once again killing each other. 

I grieve for the unspeakable deaths in Palestine and Israel. I weep for the injured and the captured, particularly the children. In this century alone, until last week, more than 12,000 Palestinians and 2,600 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. Why can’t we stop this cycle of violence?

I urge Hamas and the Israeli government to agree to an immediate ceasefire, including an immediate halt to rocket attacks towards Israel and Israeli military attacks on Gaza. Each party must stop using violence and must commit to living and working with each other as neighbors. Human life and dignity are precious. Vengeful attacks only deepen hatreds and mistrust. Here are some practical nonviolent steps: 

  1. For Palestinians: Stop the killing of Israelis. Welcome Israelis as neighbors and recognize their history. Keep struggling for equal rights. Work to end apartheid with Israelis even if you don’t fully agree on all politics. And for heaven’s sake, choose our leaders through regular elections.
  2. For Israelis: Stop killing Palestinians. End the siege of Gaza. Reverse the land grabs in the West Bank and Jerusalem, which breed hopelessness and outrage. End apartheid and stop seeking Jewish supremacy. Support a right of Palestinian return and reparations. Stop the pogroms and the threats to the Al Aqsa mosque.
  3. For the international media: Cover this conflict the way you would have liked to have seen slave rebellions and or anti-colonial massacres covered in previous centuries. Stop using the word “terrorists” to describe actors on either side. Both are motivated by perceptions of security and historical identity and are not simply trying to create fear, i.e. “terror,” in the other.
  4. For Americans: There is no military solution. Stop supplying weapons. Let’s support Israelis and Palestinians equally. Show a positive example by improving our treatment of Native Americans and ending the vestiges of our domestic racial apartheid.
  5. For the international community: The two-state solution, unfortunately, is no longer an option. Support solutions that provide rights to all peoples in the region. Keeping Gaza as an open-air prison is criminal. Therefore, have it declared as such, by international and political bodies. Provide humanitarian aid and denounce apartheid. Work for justice and equality.
  6. Humanitarian aid organizations: Urgent humanitarian action is needed, including the establishment of a humanitarian corridor both within and outside of Gaza, for the safe movement of people and the delivery of essential supplies.This includes opening Erez and Kerem Shalom/Abu Salem crossings to allow for the movement of people and goods and remove the ban on access to the sea.
  7. Soldiers and armed actors: Don’t cut another’s life short. Don’t cut your life short. Don’t seek revenge. I applaud Israelis who are refusing military service to engage in a senseless attack on Gaza. Arms are for hugging, not for harming others. We can do this.

Published also on Waging Nonviolence    Mubarak Awad helped launch the 1st intifada and was exiled from Jerusalem by the Israeli government in 1988. He was Founder of the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence, Founder of the National Youth Advocate Program and Founder and current President of Nonviolence International.

International Day of Nonviolence 2023: A challenge to take bold action for peaceful resolution

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Today, 2nd October, the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, stated On this International Day of Non-Violence, we commemorate not only the birth of Mahatma Gandhi but also the timeless values he championed:  mutual respect and understanding, justice and the power of peaceful action.

Our world confronts grave challenges:  growing inequalities, rising tensions, proliferating conflicts and worsening climate chaos.  We also see divides deepening within countries — with democracy under threat and hate speech and intolerance on the march.

We can overcome these afflictions and chart a course towards a brighter, more peaceful future.  If we understand — as Gandhi did — that the magnificent diversity of our human family is a treasure, not a threat.  If we invest in social cohesion, nurture the courage to compromise and the determination to cooperate.  If we ensure that all of us — regardless of status, background, circumstance, or faith — can live lives of dignity, opportunity and rights.  If we unite around our common humanity.

Let us remember Gandhi’s wise counsel:  “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.”  Let us heed his words today and re-commit ourselves to this essential purpose.”

Here in Canada we need to embrace this day to create awareness about the significance of nonviolence and its role in promoting peace, harmony, and unity worldwide. Nonviolence is a powerfully moral methodology for bringing about transformative change, both at the individual and social levels. It has the power to lessen people’s rage and aggression and chanel that energy constructively, fostering individual development and peaceful and respectful interpersonal interactions.

The International Day of Nonviolence was unanimously proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in June 2007. The resolution placed a special focus on raising public awareness and spreading the nonviolent message.

Canada and the International Peace Index 2023

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Measure peace? The 2023 Global Peace Index (GPI) tries to do just that. There are a variety of ways of looking at just what it means to be at peace, or to have achieved it, and this annual index is important for its contributions toward an important measure of human well being, dignity and prosperity.

Compared to other countries, Canada’s rank in the June 2023 GPI is high, at the eleventh position. However it has fallen from the sixth position it ranked in GPI 2020. For smugness, yes, we rate far above our southern neighbour, who came in at 131 out of 163 countries measured.

The ranking across countries takes into account governance types, claims that its indicators cover 99.7 per cent of the global population, and uses 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators in three thematic domains: the level of Societal Safety and Security; the extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict; and the degree of Militarisation.

The GPI also seeks to identify trends in Positive Peace: the attitudes, institutions, and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies, and examines the relationship between the actual peace of a country, as measured by the GPI, and Positive Peace, and how a deficit of Positive Peace can be a predictor of future increases in violent conflict.

The indicators are: External Conflicts Fought; Perceptions of Criminality; Internal Conflicts Fought; Incarceration Rate; Intensity of Internal Conflict; Violent Demonstrations; Terrorism Impact; Nuclear and Heavy Weapons; Deaths from External Conflict; Weapons Imports; Violent Crime; Political Instability; Neighbouring Countries Relations; Access to Small Arms; Police Rate; Armed Services Personnel Rate; Weapons Exports; Homicide Rate; Military Expenditure (% GDP); Refugees and IDPs; Political Terror Scale; Deaths from Internal Conflict; UN Peacekeeping Funding.

According to the section on Canada in the 2023 GPI: “Overall peacefulness improved in Canada, owing to improvements on the Ongoing Conflict and Safety and Security domains. The Political Terror Scale, terrorism impact, incarceration rate and perceptions of criminality indicators all recorded improvements over the past year. Less than 20 per cent of Canadians report that they do not feel safe walking alone at night in their city or neighbourhood. The Militarisation domain recorded a slight deterioration, owing to an increase in weapons exports. However, Canada is ranked amongst the 25 countries with the highest levels of weapons exports per capita.

There are subsections of the GPI which look at each of the above indicators in itself and regionally. Specific changes, either positive or negative for individual countries can be found. The report is important reading for everyone concerned with the building of more peaceful societies. That should be all of us….

Global Peace Index 2023, June 2023

Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP). IEP is headquartered in Sydney, with offices in New York, The Hague, Mexico City, Brussels and Harare.

No Belarusian Troops for the War – Call for Action Day February 20

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20th of February 2023 call for demonstrations outside Belarusian embassies everywhere, in order to draw attention to the danger of Belarus joining Russia by sending military personnel to attack Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine has raged for a year now, and the death toll and the destruction rise daily. Russia is currently showing no willingness to end its attack and withdraw, and is pumping more and more troops into Ukraine. The Western countries have responded by sending more and more heavy weapons into Ukraine. Calls for negotiations and cease-fires are marginalized or dismissed.

Previously, in February 2022, Russian troops were ordered to stay in Belarus after the end of a joint exercise with the Belarusian army. Four days later, the attack against Ukraine began, including Russian troops based in the territory of Belarus. Up until now no Belarusian troops have joined the war, though Belarus provides logistical support for the Russian military in its borders.

The right to refuse to kill is a human right, recognized by international human rights institutions, however in Belarus, this right is not recognized. Conscientious objectors and deserters are persecuted and jailed. This has meant that more than 20,000 young men have been left with no choice but to flee their homeland and seek refuge abroad, because they feared being conscripted into the Belarussian military. Most of them prefer to stay close to their former home – in the Baltic countries and Poland – which puts a heavy burden on their host countries. These countries need support from the international community to provide sanctuary for these war resisters.

A mass movement of objectors sends a strong message to Russia. Belarus under Lukashenko so far has been the stoutest ally of Putin’s Russia. When its citizens refuse to join the war, this will further demoralize the nationalist and militarist narratives in Russia.

No means No! We call to:

  • support the “NO means NO” campaign. The campaign calls on men of Belarus to refuse to join the army or to leave it if they are already serving: “Have the courage to say “No” when asked to join a war that violates international law and causes massive death, suffering and destruction in a neighbouring country! You are a hero if you object, not if you become a soldier in this war!”
  • mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers in Belarus to encourage their boys not to join the military and to help them to escape from recruitment.
  • to the Belarusian authorities
    • to respect the human right of conscientious objection to military service and
    • to restrain from participation in and complicity with the war of aggression against Ukraine by the Russian authorities.
  • the governments of the European countries
    • to establish a humanitarian corridor for Belarusian conscientious objectors and deserters.
    • to give shelter to objectors and deserters from Belarus on humanitarian grounds, without forcing them into an asylum procedure.
  • the churches to use their influence and moral weight to protect those who refuse to fight.
  • civil society in all countries to express its support for objectors and deserters from all sides in the war. Support the #ObjectWarCampaign which is demanding shelter and asylum for objectors of the war in Ukraine.
  • the civil servants and diplomats of Belarus in the embassies where protests to express solidarity with those who oppose the war occur.

For more information and to support of the appeal and information about action plans contact: info@nash-dom.info

This call is supported by Nash Dom (Our House), International Fellowship of Reconciliation, War Resisters‘ International, European Bureau for Conscientious Objection, Ukrainian Pacifist Movement, Federation for Social Defence, Agir pour la paix, Belgium and Connection e.V.: Appeal for February 20th: No Means No – to the War in Ukraine as well as Nonviolence International Canada.

This is edited from original call by Nash Dom

International Day of the Disappeared 2022, Canada still isn’t party to the Convention on Enforced Disappearances

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One of the most insidious forms of human rights violations and state terrorism involves enforced and involuntary disappearance. Enforced disappearance requires consent, conspiracy, and impunity of government forces. It sends a chill through opposition political movements which it is intended to suppress and launches a nightmare existence for the families of the victims.

The 30th August is designated as the International Day of the Disappeared.

Due to the repressive nature of this human rights crime on nonviolent civil movements, Nonviolence International is a member organization of the The International Coalition against Enforced Disappearances (ICAED). ICAED is a global network of organizations of families of disappeared and NGO’s whose principal objective is maximizing impact of the activities carried out by its members in favour of ratification by governments, and effective implementation, of the Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances and other measures to end the human rights crime of enforced disappearances.

Nonviolence International Canada has advocated for the Canadian government to join the Convention for the Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances at its soonest opportunity. As of 2022, the Canadian government is still not a state party to this important human rights convention.

As well as enforced disappearances, thousands are missing due to armed conflict and migration. To mark the Day of the Disappeared, the International Committee of the Red Cross marks this difficult day with a beautiful tribute, which can be watched here.

Also read the Nonviolence International publication: Justice Disappeared: Exploring the Links of Arms Trade, Impunity and Political Disappearances in Asia [2007]

Nonviolence International (NVI)-Ukraine has worked for years to promote peace & reconciliation in Ukraine.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Ukrainian Stop the War Coalition

Nonviolence International-Ukraine is supporting the Ukrainian Stop the War Coalition (USWC) which is building a network of activists and groups to resist the Russian invasion and to support peacebuilding efforts that can provide a platform for future reconciliation. The USWC is focusing on

1) supporting nonviolent resistance to Russian occupation,

2) promoting war-resistance, both passive and active, in Russia and Belarus,

3) strengthening the social fabric in Ukraine created by the war, such as between internally displaced people and their host communities.

NVI is asking for supporters to donate generously. Nonviolence International, based in DC, will provide administration and fiscal sponsorship support.

Steering Committee

Andre Kamenshikov, Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), regional network coordinator for Eastern Europe, 30 years of practical experience in civil peacebuilding and humanitarian work in Russia, Ukraine and post-soviet states. Based in Kyiv.

Olha Zaiarna, GPPAC regional liaison officer, researcher with experience in both government and public institutions working on peacebuilding and conflict management. (Based in Kyiv)

Dmitro Zvonok, socio-psychologist, trainer at the Ukrainian Peacebuilding School initiative, dialogue facilitator, developer of a number of educational games for dealing with conflicts on a community level, internally displaced person from eastern Ukraine.

Igor Semivolos, Head of Association for Middle Eastern Studies of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, founder of the Ukrainian Peacebuilding School initiative.

The USWC will focus its efforts in the following 3 areas. However, given the fast-moving events on the ground, priorities may understandably shift.


Nonviolence International is proud that Andre Kamenshikov, NVI Ukraine director, was part of this impressive gathering.

Civil Resistance in Ukraine and the Region

How does civil resistance work and what can it achieve? This panel shares how civilians are using strategic civil resistance to diminish the power and impact of the Russian military.

In Ukraine, civilians replace road signs to confuse Russian military vehicles, they block roads with cement blocks and iron pins, and they have set up a complex humanitarian aid system with neighboring countries. Within Russia, protests and resignations by universities, media outlets, and professionals denounce the military invasion. Join us to learn more about the strategy of civil resistance in Ukraine and the region.

Panelists include leading experts in civil resistance, some joining us from the frontlines in Kyiv.


As a member of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), Nonviolence International supports and endorses the following statement made by GPPAC. We note that the tensions around Ukraine and the potential for war will have destructive consequences for all citizens and all nations involved. Now more than ever do we stand for diplomacy in a coalition with other nonviolent actors. We hope you do the same.

Demonstrators for Peace (Source – Dmitry Serebryakov/AP Photo)


GPPAC Statement on the situation around Ukraine, February 24, 2022

As a global network of peacebuilders, GPPAC is gravely concerned by the situation around Ukraine. We condemn the military operations launched by Russia today on February 24, in violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations. We call for an immediate cessation of all military actions which threaten the lives and livelihoods of citizens of all countries involved. In particular, we urge:

  • All parties to uphold obligations under international humanitarian law regarding conduct during wartime.
  • The international community to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine.
  • Third parties, especially EU countries, to provide safe haven for those people who do not wish to take part in wars of aggression.

The international community must pursue all possible efforts urgently to resolve this crisis through non-violent, diplomatic means, and support antiwar and humanitarian efforts of civil society as well as do everything possible to guarantee the safety and security of the people of Ukraine.


Please see NVI’s database of Nonviolent Tactics. 

There is enormous civilian resistance to this war around the world. In Russia, hundreds of thousands of people have protested with signs and chanting in the streets and more than 7000 have been arrested. In Ukraine we see enormous civil resistance with tactics including various kinds of blockades, mutual aid, changing streets signs, boycotting Russian products, direct appeals to soldiers, singing. Please visit our database of 350 tactics that can inspire people around the world to do something at this time.


Below you will find a collection of our current resources on Ukraine including press releases, media appearances, statements we support, and shared perspectives. We hope that these not only inform you about Ukraine and nonviolence efforts surrounding it but also that it inspires you to walk with us in nonviolence and support peace activists bravely taking on this stand.

 

Police Officers Arresting Protesters in St.Petersburg (Source: Aljazeera)

Nonviolence International calls for asylum for war resisters, Feb 24, 2022

Nonviolence International supports the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict calling on peace-loving countries around the world to offer asylum to war resisters to help alleviate suffering and potential injury and destruction in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus.

Countries should announce that they will provide asylum for people who refuse to fight in the war. War resistance defections could happen in large numbers and serve as a deterrent to escalating warfare. The status of war resister should include those who refuse to cross borders to wage war in another country.  If soldiers request asylum because they conscientiously object to military orders or service, they should not be treated as prisoners of war but swiftly transferred to a 3rd country that will provide them safety.  This status will not be provided to those that fight and subsequently surrender. They should be treated as prisoners of war and treated humanely as per the Geneva Conventions.

We call on Belarus, Russia and Ukraine (and all countries in the world) to honor the conscientious objection of their own citizens and of those in the opposing military forces. We call on Belarus, Russia and Ukraine to cooperate with 3rd countries and swiftly transfer them abroad if the resisters so request.

If countries would like to be more generous to these courageous war resisters, then they should offer asylum to their immediate families as well.

We believe there are many who will not want to fight in this war. People who refuse to use violence must be protected. Nonviolence International stands in solidarity with all conscientious objectors around the world and supports the work of War Resisters’ International to end all war.  If the soldiers do not fight, then wars cannot be fought.

# # #


Media Releases

February 25, 2022: English-Speaking Expert Available to Speak to Media from Ukraine. 

February 18, 2022: A Chance for Peace: OSCE Must Strengthen the Ukraine Peace Monitoring Mission. The US Must Reverse Its Withdrawal of OSCE Peace Observers.


Media Appearances

Michael Beer speaks with Metta Spencer about reaching out to Russians to end the war. https://tosavetheworld.ca/episode-459-reach-out-to-russians/

Michael Beer speaks on February 23, 2022: WBAI News with Paul DeRienzo: Biden Sanctions Russia, Peacekeeping Troops Arrive, Ukraine Defiant ( Michael speaks at 13:40-18:38)


Andre Kamenshikov, NVI Ukraine Director, speaks on March 2, 2022 Democracy Now!: Nonviolence Int’l in Kyiv: Resistance Mounts to Russian Invasion as 2,000 Civilian Deaths Reported


Andre Kamenshikov speaks with NVI intern Paige Wright on March 7, 2022: Interview with Andre Kamenshikov: Violence in Ukraine and a Call for Peace


Andre Kamenshikov speaks on WORT radio on March 9, 2022: Kamenshikov on Russia’s 8 Year War in Ukraine


Shared Perspectives

Below is a collection NVI’s press releases and statements from other organizations we support.

The Humanitarian Disarmament website launched a new Ukraine War and Disarmament Resources page to increase public understanding of the humanitarian disarmament issues raised by the war in Ukraine and to serve as an information center for advocates, journalists, and others.

Former NVI Intern now teaching English in Prague shares her perspective as war refugees are welcomed.

Our friends at the Metta Center for Nonviolence have created this impressive list of relevant resources.

Don’t miss this collection from the Transnational Institute.

Statement from over 100 peace groups.

Daniel Hunter says Ukraine’s Secret Weapon may prove to be Nonviolent Direct Action.

Peace Direct’ Statement on Ukraine and Russia

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons’ Condemnation of Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

Stephen Zunes calls on us to Support International Law Everywhere

John Feffer asks that we Support Diplomacy and the OSCE

Joanne Sheehan notes that war is a crime against humanity on the Metta Center’s podcast.

Move On Petition

Examining Peace in Canada 2022

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How do we measure peace? The 2022 Global Peace Index (GPI) released in June 2022 and has the un-enviable task of determining the peacefulness in our globally diverse societies.

Compared to other countries, Canada’s has been dropping in the ranks. We were near the top in sixth position 2020 and 2019.

For smugness, yes, we rate far above our southern neighbour, who came in at 129 (out of 163 countries measured).

The ranking across countries takes into account governance types, claims that its indicators cover 99.7 per cent of the global population, and uses 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators in three thematic domains: the level of Societal Safety and Security; the extent of Ongoing Domestic and International Conflict; and the degree of Militarisation.

The GPI also seeks to identify trends in Positive Peace: the attitudes, institutions, and structures that create and sustain peaceful societies, and examines the relationship between the actual peace of a country, as measured by the GPI, and Positive Peace, and how a deficit of Positive Peace can be a predictor of future increases in violent conflict.

The indicators are: External Conflicts Fought; Perceptions of Criminality; Internal Conflicts Fought; Incarceration Rate; Intensity of Internal Conflict; Violent Demonstrations; Terrorism Impact; Nuclear and Heavy Weapons; Deaths from External Conflict; Weapons Imports; Violent Crime; Political Instability; Neighbouring Countries Relations; Access to Small Arms; Police Rate; Armed Services Personnel Rate; Weapons Exports; Homicide Rate; Military Expenditure (% GDP); Refugees and IDPs; Political Terror Scale; Deaths from Internal Conflict; UN Peacekeeping Funding.

According to the 2022 GPI, “Canada recorded the largest deterioration in score in the North America region in 2022. Significant deterioration in the Safety and Security domain in 2022 led to Canada falling four places in the GPI 2022 to 12th place, a 4.8 per cent deterioration. Anti-government sentiment in response to measures put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 coincided with significant deteriorations in violent demonstrations, perceptions of criminality and political terror indicators. Despite this fall in peacefulness, Canada continues to be the most peaceful nation in the region with notable reductions in the terrorism impact and nuclear and heavy weapons indicators.”

There are subsections of the GPI which look at each of the above indicators in itself and regionally. Specific changes, either positive or negative for individual countries can be found. The report is important reading for everyone concerned with the building of more peaceful societies. That should be all of us….

Global Peace Index 2022, June 2022

Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP). IEP is headquartered in Sydney, with offices in New York, The Hague, Mexico City, Brussels and Harare.

World Peace Congress in Barcelona 15-17 October 2021 online

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The Second IPB World Congress will provide a space for gathering and sharing experiences for all involved in international peace and justice movements.

A place where we can foster synergies between organizations and individuals, and between interconnected social movements fighting for global justice: peace and disarmament advocates, feminist and LGBTQIA+ campaigners, ecologists and climate activists, antiracists and indigenous people, human rights defenders and trade unionists.

We promote the inclusion of a peace perspective within these movements, in order to better confront the global challenges of our time: climate change and environmental collapse, gender, racial and economic inequality, the Covid-19 pandemic, mass migrations, refugee crisis, humanitarian emergencies caused by war and repression, and more.

The Second IPB World Congress is an opportunity for diverse people, groups and causes to share strategies and to articulate alternatives together. A space to create and renovate tools

and discourse, to mobilize citizens from all across the globe in favor of peace and disarmament. A place where we can (re) imagine our world, and take action for peace and justice. We invite you to join us at the Second World Peace Congress in Barcelona, organized by the International Peace Bureau.

Agenda and Registration

Nonviolence International is a Board member organization of the International Peace Bureau.

Nonviolence International will be represented by Ms. Roisin Putti at the session on military spending on 16 October at 15:00 CET.

UN International Day of Nonviolence

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The United Nations International Day of Non-Violence is observed on 2 October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, leader of the Indian independence movement and pioneer of the philosophy and strategy of non-violence.

The General Assembly resolution, A/RES/61/271 of 15 June 2007, which established the  the International Day is an occasion to “disseminate the message of non-violence, including through education and public awareness”. The resolution reaffirms “the universal relevance of the principle of non-violence” and the desire “to secure a culture of peace, tolerance, understanding and non-violence”.

Mahatma Gandhi, who helped lead India to independence, has been the inspiration for non-violent movements for civil rights and social change across the world. Throughout his life, Gandhi remained committed to his belief in non-violence even under oppressive conditions and in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Gandhi believed that the means and the ends are indivisible, and that it is irrational to try to use violence to achieve a peaceful society.

The principle of non-violence — also known as non-violent resistance or political struggle — rejects the use of physical violence in order to achieve social or political change. Often described as “the politics of ordinary people”, this form of social struggle has been adopted by mass populations all over the world in campaigns for social justice.

The late Gene Sharp, a leading scholar on non-violent resistance, provided the following definition in his publication, The Politics of Nonviolent Action: “Nonviolent action is a technique by which people who reject passivity and submission, and who see struggle as essential, can wage their conflict without violence. Nonviolent action is not an attempt to avoid or ignore conflict. It is one response to the problem of how to act effectively in politics, especially how to wield powers effectively.”

Non-violence has been adopted by many movements for social change which do not focus on opposition to war. One key tenet of the theory of non-violence is that the power of rulers depends on the consent of the population, and non-violence therefore seeks to undermine such power through withdrawal of the consent and cooperation of the populace.

Nonviolence International was founded by practitioners of nonviolence to further human understanding and use of nonviolent methods to solve human problems. We encourage everyone to honour this UN Day of Nonviolence by studying the works of key nonviolent theorists.

Nonviolence International has a variety of publications which assess nonviolent movements and methods.

[section of the above material are quoted from the UN notice for the Day of Nonviolence]

Global solidarity must remain engaged for the long haul to support the civil resistance to military rule in Myanmar/Burma.

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On 1 February in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, elected members of the national parliament were prepared to take their seats for the first time since the November 2020 election. On that morning an ‘interim president’ invited the head of the military to take all power in the country- judicial, legislative and executive.

This was not a spur of the moment action, but one for which the military had well planned. Within the coming hours you could practically keep beat with the passing minutes as notice after notice was issued by the military Commander in Chief dismissed national and local government officials, and judges. These in turn were followed by notice after notice of new appointments to those positions, appointed solely by the Commander in Chief of Myanmar’s armed forces.

In the following days, the military formed a council which was half civilian, including members of some ethnic groups as the core of government. The military seizure of power was endorsed by 23 existing political parties (most of whom had not captured seats in the November elections). Before even a week had gone by, the military appointed government’s Foreign Minister had held his first briefing with the diplomatic corps within the country to explain the legal nature of the transfer of power.

The events of 1 February reveal a well prepared and thought out action by the military to seize total control, again, of Myanmar. They have taken pains to avoid international censure by cloaking the power grab in legal clauses in the 2008 Constitution. Clauses the military wrote, which allowed it transfer to itself all state powers when vague, undefined circumstances were met.

All the actions of the military reveal that they need one thing that all their military power cannot seize for them. Legitimacy. International solidarity actions must make sure they never obtain it.

Civil Resistance

The seizure of state institutions by the military has not been welcomed by the majority of the citizenry who have for the past days gathered in the tens of thousands to say one thing to the military- it isn’t you who we elected.

A campaign of civil disobedience was launched on 3rd February, when hundreds of doctors and nurses from the government hospitals launched a civil disobedience movement calling for the release of those arrested since the coup, and called for parliament to convene with the parliamentarians democratically elected in the Nov. 8 general election.

Civil servants walked off the job or wore a red-ribbon campaign to show their defiance against the coup while continuing to work.

More broadly, citizens have banged pots and pans at 8pm every night since Tuesday to oppose military rule. By 5th February thousands of government staff, doctors, nurses, students, professors and teachers at 91 government hospitals, 18 universities and colleges and 12 government departments in 79 townships across the country were on strike.

The citizenry have urged police in Myanmar’s major cities to disobey any orders to repress them and to join the citizens in rejecting military rule.

Myanmar’s veteran activists from 1988 uprising, the 88 Generation for Peace and Open Society, called for people to take multiple approaches, including a boycott of military-run businesses, to oppose military rule. People must find other ways to reduce military revenue, they said in a statement. The military is involved in areas like banking, breweries, buses, telecoms, tobacco and TV channels. “People should stop using their services and boycott shops where their products are sold,”

Officially recognize the non-military government

Some parliamentarians did not obey the military order to ‘go home’, and remained in the capital of Naypyitaw. Three days after the military seized power they held a ceremony to swear themselves into the parliament, despite the military order to leave. They are now acting on their own as elected people’s representatives. 70 lawmakers from the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) took parliamentary oaths of office at an improvised swearing-in ceremony on 4th February at the government housing, where lawmakers normally stay during parliamentary sessions. One elected representative stated that they were “convening of the Parliament”, saying the venue didn’t matter as long as there were lawmakers in attendance. “No one can take away the legitimacy of the MP status granted to us by the people. That’s why we took oaths as parliamentarians-for the people,” Other MPs who had obeyed military orders to leave were to take their oaths online.

All governments who care about democratic values should immediately state that they officially recognize the parliamentarians who were elected by the people, not the military government. They should ask any diplomatic staff of a Myanmar embassy in their country which group they will represent. If they say they represent the elected officials support them. If they say they represent the military regime, expel them. This is the sole way by which nations can withhold legitimacy from the military formed government.

Financial Pressure and sanctions

Telenor is a Norwegian telecoms company in which the Government of Norway is the major share holderª. It is one of 4 major telecoms providers in Myanmar (the other 3 are Myanmar Post and Telecommunications, a joint venture between the Vietnames and Myanmar Army, and Qatari based telecom company.

Telenor has blocked social media (Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, Instagram) on its mobile internet at the request of the Myanmar military. It notes on its website that this request is ‘legal under Myanmar law’, but states that it said to the authorities that the order contravenes international human rights law.

Telenor’s actions demonstrate that it is willing to accept that the military government is a legitimate by stating that its laws are legitimate. Telnor agreement to act against human rights norms legitimizes the military regime, despite a 5 February UN Security Council statement which urged “respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law” in Myanmar.

Telenor is not the only company engaged with the military in Myanmar, but it is the one whose actions allow repression of dissent at this critical time, which the United Nations Security Council stated must be protected. The U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar (FFM) identified at least 120 businesses involved in everything from construction to pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, insurance, tourism and banking being owned by two military owned business conglomerates, Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC). The FFM called for imposition of an arms embargo, citing at least 14 foreign firms from seven nations that have supplied fighter jets, armored combat vehicles, warships, missiles and missile launchers to Myanmar since 2016.

Illegitimate laws must never be obeyed. The military regime has kept colonial laws, or written new ones with which it controls, oppresses or punishes the population. Like Burma’s former colonial rulers, it rules by law. There is no rule of law.

Without legitimacy, the military government will not be able to normalize its rule. This will undercut the main power of the military regime, as they need the international community to treat the situation as normal and themselves as legitimate. To stand in solidarity with the struggle in Myanmar, international citizens should persuade or pressure their governments to withhold that legitimacy.

ªCaisse de Depot et Placement du Quebec is Telenor’s third largest institutional investor.

See also: Speaking truth to power: Methods of Nonviolent Struggle in Burma

Nonviolence in Asia Series Number 2,

Nonviolence International, 2005