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November 2019
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Day of Peace Observed in Helsinki

Helsinki, Finland - A seminar on “Peace and democracy - Let your voice be heard!” took place on September 21 in Helsinki. Keijo Mikkanen, Secretary General of UPF-Finland, welcomed the participants. There were two main speakers: Mr. Timo Virtala, Secretary General of Loviisa Peace Forum, and Mrs. Gudrun Hassinen, Chairwoman of the Women's Federation for World Peace. 

Mr. Virtala spoke about the challenges of peace activism under the title "Apathy, Utopias, and Dreams." He explained that no one wanted a war and that many organizations, including religious groups, have been working for world peace. He mentioned some historical figures, such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Leo Tolstoy, Albert Einstein, Rosa Parks, Buddha, and Jesus, who all have been forerunners for peacebuilding. According to Mr. Virtala each person has a seed of peace within himself or herself and that violence does not end any violence.

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Mrs. Hassinen spoke about “Peace and personal responsibility.” She explained that it was important to meet people and to understand their needs for lasting solutions. Mrs. Hassinen talked about her own personal experiences in the Middle East how her eyes were opened to consider all parties involved.

The program included also the message of Mr. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations.

After the two speeches, Mr. Rony Smolar, member of Global Peace Council of UPF, gave comments. He emphasized that democracy is a cornerstone for lasting peace in society. He expressed that it was very important to provide education about democracy for people in conflict areas. Mr Smolar further emphasized that through ongoing dialogue and communication among neighboring countries or peoples, people can learn to understand each other despite their different views.

There was a lively discussion among the audience as well, and it was clearly sensed that world peace concerns us all. At the end of the program, many participants enjoyed sharing together with nice refreshments provided by UPF volunteers and a woman from Nigeria.

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