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29apr-6may07:: Iraqi week of nonviolence 2007

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    From: Martina Morano Dear friends, I send you information on an important campaign that is being launched in Iraq by civil society
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2007
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      From: Martina Morano <pignattimora@...>

      Dear friends,
      I send you information on an important campaign that is being launched in
      Iraq by civil society organizations, student unions and trade unions that
      joined the network LAONF (nonviolence, in Arabic). Please, spread this
      around! You can publish this article in your websites, use these contents to
      write an article signed by you for your press, call the activists of LAONF
      for interviews, whatever. We have people ready to give interviews from
      Erbil, Baghdad, Basra and Amman, I'll send their phone numbers to those who
      are interested.

      Do not hesitate to contact me or Ismaeel Dawood
      ismaeel.dawood@... to support this sparkle of hope in Iraq.

      I wish you peace and strenght,



      Martina

      Martina Pignatti Morano
      PhD student in Economics (Siena University)
      Un ponte per... Baghdad, Centro Gandhi & Quaderni Satyagraha
      Tel. +39 3290540808
      E-mail <pignattimora@...>

      ***********************************************************************


      Resisting Fear: the Iraqi Week of Nonviolence

      Ismaeel Dawood and Martina Pignatti Morano
      Un ponte per� Baghdad
      27th April 2007

      From April 29 to May 6 in Iraq not only the rumble of bombs will
      be heard. A network of associations of the Iraqi civil society, belonging to
      different political and religious affiliations, will carry on peace
      initiatives on the whole national territory within the Iraqi Week of
      Nonviolence. This event will take place while the Iraqi government meets in
      Sharm el-Sheikh (May 3-4) representative of the neighbouring countries, plus
      the G5 and G8, in the ministerial meeting that aims to restore security in
      Iraq. But is a top-down peace process feasible in a country traumatized by
      violence and insulted by military occupation like today's Iraq? The Iraqi
      civil society asserts to have the duty and the capability to bring its own
      contribution. Given the high danger faced by those who organize public
      events in these times, this is a courageous venture that the international
      community must know about, an act of civil resistance to terror and
      militarism.

      Tens of associations and more than a hundred activists have
      agreed to hold initiatives in schools, theatres, public spaces of the main
      cities in Iraq. Events are scheduled in Kut, Baghdad, Basra, Diwaniya,
      Dohuq, Erbil, Faw, Kirkuk, Maysan, Mosul, Salaheddin, Sulaimaniya, Tikrit.
      The organization is coordinated by the network LAONF (nonviolence, in
      Arabic), created in 2006 by associations that participated in training
      programmes on Active Nonviolence: a philosophy and a means of peoples'
      liberation that envisages full respect for life, and rejection of any form
      of oppression, exploitation and violence.
      Many of the initiatives are managed with children and students,
      that are now preparing paintings and banners to be fixed at the entrance of
      their schools and universities to ask for an end to violence against
      civilians. At Al-Mustansiriyya University in Baghdad - where in January 2007
      the explosion of two car bombs killed 60 and wounded 110 among professors,
      students and personnel � olive and palm trees will be planted
      to commemorate the victims of violence. In front of school buildings people
      will bury remnants of bullets and splinters, because the sons of Iraq should
      not grow between symbols of violence. Instead, they must learn to bury its
      bitter fruits and build another society with other means. In a village close
      to Mosul people of different ethnic groups and sects will play together a
      football game; in Kut teenagers of secondary schools will free white doves
      and make white balloons fly; everywhere posters and calendars will be
      distributed to be hanged at the walls of people's houses and remind them
      that violence is not the solution but the cause of their suffering.

      Besides ceremonies, there will be seminars and conferences to
      present to civil society and local authorities principles and methodologies
      of nonviolent action for social and political change. The activists of LAONF
      will not limit themselves to speaking in universities, indeed they will
      participate in the events organized by trade unions on the 1st of May,
      Workers Day. They will animate public debates on the strategy of nonviolent
      action with the Syndicate Union of Workers in the Baghdad National Theatre,
      with the unions that fight against privatization of Iraqi oil at the Oil
      Union Centre of Basra, with fishermen's unions in the Fao peninsula, the
      first zone that opposed a fierce resistance to Anglo-American occupation in
      2003.

      Lastly, the associations involved in this event have chosen a
      symbolic campaign that unites them all. At a time when the opinion of
      anybody who takes a stand is distorted to be accused of sectarianism, the
      network LAONF asks that all people commit themselves not to transfer the
      thirst for vengeance and violence to Iraqi children. In every city they will
      collect signatures and they will finally present a petition to the Iraqi
      Parliament asking for a ban on imports of toys that push children to
      violence. After a thirteen-years long embargo, Iraq needs medicine and
      books, technology for development of its civilian economy, not toys that
      induce children and teenagers to assign a positive connotation to violence.
      It is necessary to protect the youngsters from the culture of death and
      destruction that has already been imported in Iraq by foreign troops
      and combatants.

      According to the organizers, the Iraqi Week of Nonviolence
      pursues three significant objectives. Firstly the Iraqi civil society proves
      to its own people and to the international community that it is still able
      to organize national unitary events unbounded by political and religious
      powers. It is an important testimony of their willingness and capacity to
      refuse the logic of civil war and carry on common initiatives defying the
      overpower of armed groups and armies. Secondly, they aim to initiate a
      process of conscientization of civil society on the possibility of
      renouncing hatred and vengeance, in order to pursue the common objective of
      peaceful coexistence. The constructive message is directed especially to
      young generations that risk to forget how strong was till recently the
      sentiment of unity of the Iraqi people. Fighting for self-determination and
      for peoples' rights is fair and dutiful, but there are other means than
      weapons to promote a just society, nonviolent means that are coherent with
      the ends assigned to them. They allow us to shape since the beginning,
      during the fight, the model of society that we aim to promote, where women
      and men, youngsters and elders, have the same dignity. Finally, during this
      week the activists will encourage individuals and associations to join
      LAONF, to increase the number of those who accept this commitment.

      The Iraqi Week of Nonviolence takes place for the second year,
      and hopes to begin a fixed appointment for cultural and political promotion
      of nonviolent action, of making peace by peaceful means. Nonviolent means of
      fight have been used in recent history by Iraqi trade unions and social
      movements, but often without explicit and conscious adhesion to a reference
      model. The network LAONF aims to articulate in the Iraqi culture the
      universal values and methodologies of action that assigned political and
      spiritual victories to the movements of Gandhi, Martin Luther King,
      feminism, and many others. The training process of LAONF activists is
      supported by the Catalan association NOVA - Centre for Social Innovation,
      and by the Italian Un ponte per�, that have been organizing for two years
      training programmes on the culture of nonviolence, by explicit request and
      invitation of the Iraqi associations.

      Information on the initiatives already undertaken are available on the
      website www.launf.net managed by NOVA-CIS and on the website
      www.laonf.orgmanaged by members of the network LAONF from Baghdad.

      Details on the Iraqi Week of Nonviolence will be constantly published on the
      blog (in Spanish language) of the documentary-maker Alberto Arce, that is
      following this event from Iraqi Kurdistan.
      http://blogs.elcomerciodigital.com/pacifistasenbagdad/

      For further information and press interviews, contacts in Erbil, Baghdad and
      Basra can be asked to:
      - Ismaeel Dawood (Jordan), languages: English and Arabic, Email:
      ismaeel.dawood@...
      - Martina Pignatti Morano (Italy), languages: English and Italian, Email:
      pignattimora@...


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