First Report on the Week of Nonviolence: The Week of Nonviolence Has Begun in Iraq
(October 12, 2008)
Peaceful Tomorrows is honored to be working with a broad coalition of peace and nonviolence groups to make the activities of the members of La’Onf more widely known throughout the US. We are trying hard to obtain up-to-date information about events in Iraq as quickly as possible. But there have been some interesting challenges.
On Friday we received the first official press release about the Week of Nonviolence, sent from Al-Mesalla Centre in Erbil. “Election Box can Breadth Every One!” We were wondering just what had been lost in translation.
An exchange of emails with La’Onf founding member, Ismaeel Dawood, provided this: “We can create a way for all opinions to be expressed; all parties and all people can participate in the elections, if we work to make them truly democratic. So do not choose violence because you think that your opinions are not being represented.”
Still, the challenges of translation pale beside what the La’Onf activists are trying to orchestrate – getting people across Iraq to focus on how the upcoming elections can further Iraqis’ efforts to reclaim their nation and all that that must entail.
On Friday, October 11, as activities in Iraq were getting underway, we received a schedule of the events that will take place in at least 14 of Iraq’s 18 governorates. They include radio shows, sports events, university forums, and even opera.
Sadly, the next day we received a “News FLASH from Baghdad.” In response to the tragic assassination of Saleh al-Ugaili, a member of the Iraqi Parliament from Moktada al-Sadr’s movement, the La’Onf group in Baghdad organized a totally unplanned event. They hosted a public discussion in Sadr City to “contain the repercussions of any crisis or violence” resulting from Saleh al-Ugaili’s death. La’Onf endorsed the efforts of the “wise elders” and “all the voices in the city seeking to stop the bloodshed” and called for “a prompt and impartial investigation to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”
We wish we knew more about who spoke and what was actually said at the meeting in Sadr City. We are contacting people in Baghdad and hope to get more information that we can share later. Over the weekend we heard very little and then today there arrived a flood of reports from Skala, the very energetic, recent college graduate who is managing translations to English in the Erbil offices of La’Onf. Skala said there had been no electricity for a while, so she had a backlog of reports. We are reading through them right now and hope to send you a synopsis by tomorrow.
We will also be posting the photographs we receive from Iraq on our Flickr site (http://www.flickr.com/photos/laonfsolidarity/) along with the photos of support from around the US and the world.
Finally, we are so very, very thankful to all of the organizations and people who have helped us get out the message, to collect signatures and gather photos of support. We couldn’t do it without all of these organizations:
Direct Aid Iraq
Fellowship of Reconciliation
United for Peace and Justice
American Friends Service Committee
CODEPINK Women for Peace
US Labor Against the War
The Gandhi King Conference
Pace e Bene
Christian Peace Witness for Iraq
Mennonite Church USA
The Peace and Justice Studies Association
Metta Center for Nonviolence Education
The Iraq Moratorium
Buddhist Peace Fellowship
And, Voices for Creative Nonviolence/Voices in the Wilderness, whose Kathy Kelly was with us in Amman when we began planning this effort.