A coalition of Iraqi civilian organizations is committed to strengthening and healing Iraqi civil society through non-violent action.
May 7th, 2008
“We would like to remind to all parties, especially those convinced that weapons can solve the problem, that violence and weapons are the real problem.”
That was how the activists of the Iraqi peace network, LAONF concluded their plea for an immediate cessation of violence by all parties – militias, the Iraqi military, and the U.S. occupation forces with their deadly air power – in the Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad.-
Najaf 2007 Action
During 2008 Peaceful Tomorrows will work to strengthen the movement to end the U.S. occupation of Iraq by bringing Iraqis, who are employing nonviolent means to rebuild Iraqi society into direct contact with the American public and policymakers. We will partner with the Iraqi civil-society organization LAONF (which means “no to violence” in Arabic), a network of Iraqi nonviolence activists, both within Iraq and in exile, who are committed to strengthening and healing Iraqi civil society. LAONF is currently organizing their 3rd annual “Week of Nonviolent Action,” which will take place in dozens of cities and towns across Iraq in October of 2008.
By bringing the work of these courageous activists to the attention of the American public and policymakers, we hope to counter the notion that Iraqi peace requires U.S. military presence. We hope our campaign will strengthen the argument for an end to the U.S. military occupation of Iraq during a critical election season, when the future of U.S. military engagement in Iraq will be very much in the public debate. For several years, the arguments against immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq have been supported by the perception that “Iraq will descend into violence if the U.S. leaves too soon.” These arguments have at times taken a very racist tone, “All Middle-Easterners are violent by nature.” This stance is echoed on a daily basis by media pundits, politicians and the voting public who are swayed by their arguments, and who see only images of Iraqis attacking U.S. troops and their fellow Iraqis presented in the U.S. media.
The U.S. peace movement can influence the dynamics of this debate if it creates sufficient publicity for the growing nonviolence movement in Iraq, highlighting Iraqis who are using nonviolent tactics and strategies in the struggle to end the U.S. occupation, while at the same time building a civil society coalition and culture that will foster peaceful co-existence and political stability among Iraq’s differing religious and ethnic groups. Working with LAONF to further their goals in Iraq and in the U.S. will be an exciting opportunity for all in Peaceful Tomorrows. In the long term, we can create lasting bonds of solidarity and support between the U.S. peace movement and the Iraqi nonviolence movement that will strengthen the work of both movements, and educate the American public and policy-makers about the viable options for choosing nonviolence over military action when aiming to support nation-building.
Peaceful Tomorrows is planning a public education campaign, in partnership with other U.S. peace and non-violence organizations, to build solidarity for the work of LAONF. We are delighted that UFPJ, the Nonviolent Peaceforce, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and the AFSC have already expressed interest in collaborating. We look forward to partnering with additional groups as well.
Beginning in the summer of 2008 we will use these partnerships to organize nationwide house-party screenings of a documentary about LAONF. In the process, we will be connecting communities in the United States with communities in Iraq where LAONF is organizing. On the anniversary of September 11th in 2008, Peaceful Tomorrows will feature the work of LAONF in all its statements and activities, stressing that one of the most important ways to work for peace is by supporting the work of non-violent Iraqi activists. The significance of September 11th is not only because it is the day when our family members were killed, but it is also the anniversary of Gandhi’s first use of nonviolent direct action in South Africa in 1906.
We will promote LAONF’s October 2008 “Week of Nonviolence” to U.S. peace organizations and in the U.S. media, with a possible solidarity week of nonviolent action here in the United States as well. Additionally, we hope to sponsor a U.S. speaking tour for the LAONF activists if it is logistically possible.
September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
phone: (212) 598-0970