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April 2019
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Day of Peace Observed in Kabul

Kabul, Afghanistan - In the midst of confusion and violence, many have fallen prey to the evil wishes of the perpetrators and entrepreneurs of war and feel violent and confused, many times resorting to retaliation and counter violence. This was the situation in Kabul on September 21 this year with the tragic event of the Head of the High Peace Council of Afghanistan being killed by a suicide attacker in his house in the heart of Kabul. It is difficult to fix things when such harm is done, and a comprehensive peace vision is needed to intervene and change the confusing atmosphere as much as possible.

With this aim the UPF members celebrated the International Day of Peace in Kabul on September 22. Around 100 people participated in this fabulous event including volunteers for peace, school teachers and students, university teachers, and some members of civil society organizations. The program commenced with the recitation of few verses of the holy Qur'an. The program was consciously planned and designed to be a very participatory and conducive, safe, and open space, where participants felt recognized, esteemed, and also encouraged to feel at peace, which caused them to share their life stories related to peace with other participants.

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The program continued with a reading of the messages of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President Hamid Karzai on the International Day of Peace; these were followed by speeches, poems, personal peace-related life stories of some volunteer participants, and local music on themes of peace, unity, and brotherhood.

Mr. Rahman Ali Jawed, an Ambassador for Peace, in his opening remarks offered International Day of Peace congratulations to all of the participants and via them to their families and ultimately to the whole human family living under one God. He expressed his delight upon this occasion when, in the name of the International Day of Peace, hundreds of people had come together to respect and honor one another, recalling their faith in the recognition of human dignity and rights, and embodying the motto of the UN Secretary-General to "make you voice heard" in great numbers. He thanked God for introducing humankind as the supreme creature and with the capacity to think, will, and differentiate good from evil, light from darkness, peace from war and violence, beauty from ugliness, and to act upon their innate nature which is inherited from the nature of God. As the supreme creature of God, we have been commissioned to struggle for the realization and fulfillment of our mission in order to satisfy God. He added that if peace is our sacred and premier goal, the means to experience and attain it should also be legitimate and justifiable.

Mr. Jawed said that he believes that the human family life is interconnected and their relationships interwoven. In the course of history and with the light of growing awareness, people have slowly come to understand and recognize this reality. The recognition and celebration of the International Day of Peace, according to him, is fortuitous evidence of this fact. "Let’s use the opportunity to shake hands with each other within this country and with people throughout the world based on the UN standards and to achieve the dreams of our lifetime," he said. "For surely this will only come about if we all make it our goal and work tirelessly to achieve it."

At the end his speech, Mr. Jawed expressed his longing for the Afghan people to experience peace and live in peace not only one day but 365 days a year and every moments of their lifetime.

Mr. Waleyullah Rahmani, head of the Kabul Center for Strategic Studies, said, “Other countries of the world who are at peace today have not found peace easily but have strived hard for it. It has been time consuming for them, and they have achieved it at the cost of thousands of dedicated, bright, and honest people. We Afghan people can also attain peace if we work hard on the various levels of society. We can be hopeful that we will achieve our dreams.”

Mr. Aara, the Chair of the Kabul Private Schools Union and Collaborators of Education, said, “Dear participants, if we can’t bring peace in the highest political level, we can surely make peace for our children and family members at home and in our schools. For a child and also for a family member, to give a smile and to stop violence and humiliation is considered peace. Let's not deprive them of this.”

The second part of the program was designed to involve participants and give them a channel to raise their voice about what peace and democracy means according to their understanding and experiences. An invitation was given to tell stories about peace. Participants were offered opportunities to stand in front of the audience and share their dramatic life stories related to peace with the rest of the participants.

One of the volunteer speakers, Mrs. Hamida, came to the stage and said: “Peace for me means giving us the chance to express our opinions, and today UPF helped me to practice it.”

The third part of the program featured local Afghan and classic music. A music band had volunteered to add cheer to this day of peace and express peace through their art. They sang many songs on the theme of peace and patriotic songs that emphasized the importance and significance of peace, unity, harmony, and brotherhood in Afghanistan and all over the world. Among the songs were “If we are from Kandahar or Bamyan, we are brothers,” a famous local song for unity, and “We have made peace with all humanity; you do bad to us and expect good.” The poetry of Rumi is the basis of much of traditional Afghan music, and the following verse by Rumi was sung, accompanied by a mixture of different instruments:

Don't say that everybody is at war, and what my peace bears.
You are not one, but thousands; just light your own lantern.

Participants were cheering in expression of their deep feelings and enthusiasm for peace and unity, and some of them volunteered to go on stage and sang their own peace songs.

At the end of the program participants were served tea and cake. Everybody seemed happy and satisfied. In their one-on-one sharing and conversation, they expressed their desire to raise their voice and do something for peace and democracy in their own realms of private and public life. They all prayed for peace, democracy, and human rights.

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