October 12th, 2010
Activists from the Iraqi Nonviolence Movement, La’Onf, are engaged in actions across Iraq to denounce the political stalemate that has left their nation without a legitimate government.
Despite their frustration with the delay in forming a new government, La’Onf activists offer a clear vision for how Iraq must move forward. “The only way to gain the trust of the Iraqi public is for the assembly of the parliament to respect the principles of democratic action, dialogue and diversity.” In actions across the nation, La’Onf members distributed their statement on the urgency of ending the stalemate. They called on all citizens to take nonviolent action to put pressure on parliamentary officials to fill the nation’s high offices, and demanded that elections take place by secret ballot so that the officials who vote would be free from threats and political pressure. Their slogan could not be clearer:
The time has come for the formation of the Iraqi national government.
Enough for the delay!
Free Opinion, one of the many media organizations that belong to La’Onf, held a legal symposium in Karbala in order to educate journalists and the public about the legal and constitutional issues behind the failure to form a government. Speakers stressed how the delay left Iraq vulnerable to regional and international intervention. They called upon all Iraqi women and men to express their opinions and make demands. The people can and must “Start the Change!” was the clear message.
In Najaf, La’Onf leaders discussed how the present competition for the position of Prime Minister was taking place outside a legal and constitutional framework. They denounced the damage this could do to Iraqis’ hopes and aspirations for democracy. Then they discussed the tactics of nonviolence that had successfully been used in the 20th century to “bring about social change without force but by directly facing repression or a tyrant.”
One of the highlights of the 2010 Week of Nonviolence was a number of marathons that were run in different Iraqi cities. These races saw hundreds of people taking to the streets in ways that reclaimed public spaces for sport. The marathons in Al Anbar, Erbil, Dewanya, and Dyala were “practice” for a Marathon that La’Onf hopes to sponsor in Baghdad in 2011. They are hoping to attract peace activists from all around the world.
Writers, poets and artists were also made important contributions to this year’s Week of Nonviolence. In Basra, the Union of Iraqi Writers brought together intellectuals, activists and academics to discuss the promotion of a culture of nonviolence. A festival in Dhi Qar included poetry readings by many famous poets. And in Baghdad, there was more poetry and also street theatre and an art and photography exhibit to inspire Iraq’s people to choose nonviolence.
Following on the great success of the Iraqi Nonviolence Forum that La’Onf organized last year, which was attended by more that 200 peace, human rights, and nonviolence activists from all parts of Iraq, the 4th Annual Week of Nonviolence is another important milestone for the growing Iraqi nonviolence movement. The organizers have been particularly busy this year and have created stylish newsletters to share information about all the events of the week. The editors urge us all to reflect with these words: “Nonviolence is not a garment to be put on and off at will. Its seat is in the heart, and it must be an inseparable part of our very being.” Inspired by the ideals of Gandhi, the La’Onf activists conclude:
Victory attained by violence is tantamount to defeat, for it is momentary.
Newsletter 1 (1.29 mb)
Newsletter 2 (0.96 mb)
Newsletter 3 (1.70 mb)
To learn more about LaOnf, view this video: