October 15, 2008
As we continue to receive updates from the La’Onf Iraqi Nonviolence Group during their third annual Week of Nonviolence, we would like to dedicate this report to the heart-full voice of Iraqi artists and poets. Movements around the world and throughout time have been led, accompanied and inspired by the imagination and beauty of musicians, singers, dancers, poets, painters, sculptors, actors, authors and many others who find creative expression for the essential yearnings of humanity.
Below is a message from Bilal, a member of the La’Onf organizing group in Baghdad, sent before the opening of their Art Exhibit on Monday, October 13. We hope these words will ground us in our values as we work to support those struggling for peace and freedom in Iraq.
In the words of our own US activist-poet David Smith-Ferri, of Voices for Creative Nonviolence and Direct Aid Iraq, when reflecting on the La’Onf efforts in Iraq:
“The promise of supporting this kind of grassroots effort is one that we can believe in without cynicism because it isn’t predicated on the lies of American superiority and the efficacy of violence, and it doesn’t gloss over challenging realities. It is one that can feed our imagination and our best instincts. It is one that we can stake our future on.”
To all who call for peace…
In the group of La’Onf Iraqi Nonviolence Group
As I am writing to you…a few moments before the peace sun rises…and my heart is shaking from love and belief in our issue…
After a few moments after the beginning of Monday morning, our peace doves will fly and color every spot on earth.
The LaOnf group of Baghdad will start our art exhibition as one of the activities during the third week…
In spite of all that has happened to us from oppression and bad memories since our childhood…after our dreams get old…our journey will continue…our peace doves will fly to contain all the epics of oppression.
The oppression that we lived in… and in spite of the practices of the occupation and the powers of darkness…and the curfew on people…. I wonder what the artist draws in such moments.
And in these moments the worst kinds of human oppression are being committed…and I wonder what we did during the curfew…and how we faced all of these moments “under the sound of bullets…”
In the middle of the mothers’ screaming and weeping over the loss of the most dear things for them…and the sounds of tanks and fighter jets that destroy our dreams and ruin our conversations…The answer…we draw…and we color…
Today we went out to scream in our loudest voice, and we chant the songs of love…that we live in peace like other nations on this earth…and our scream is a number of paintings that beat with the will of life.
What we long for…a life that is full of dignity, freedom, and peace, and in this exhibition we illuminate for you thirty paintings that elaborate on the meanings of nonviolence and peace.
It is an experiment of Iraqi youth who lived through and survived all of the events of killings and destruction…youth from different colors and places…they send a message of peace to all the nations of the earth…
My greetings to all of the activists,
Bilal, The group Artists Without Restraints, On the night of activity
[Peaceful Tomorrows would like to acknowledge and express deep gratitude to Arwa Ibrahim of Direct Aid Iraq and her parents Nagham Al-Yaqoubi and Yasir Ibrahim, for their careful and loving work in translating from the original Arabic.]
Updates in Arabic, Kurdish and English are on the La’Onf website at www.laonf.net.
Photographs from Iraq (as well as from people across the United States who support nonviolence in Iraq) can be seen on the La’Onf Solidarity Flickr Photo Gallery. http://www.flickr.com/photos/laonfsolidarity/
Photos, video and media updates can also be found at the Peaceful Tomorrows website http://peacefultomorrows.org/ Go to Newsroom for Media updates on LaOnf.