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Day of Peace Commemorated in Kabul

Kabul, Afghanistan - UPF-Afghanistan celebrated the International Day of Peace in Kabul on September 21 with more than 160 people from different categories of the society attended. This fabulous event was held at the Gharjistan Institute of Higher Education. The program consisted of speeches, messages, cultural presentations, and refreshments.

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Amidst the uncertain situation of the country and the bleak prospects for the future, marking the International Day of Peace was a good opportunity to invite people from different ethnic, social, and religious groups to jointly reflect on the value of peace and reinforce their visions of peace. It created a safe space where people could think about modern and traditional values and mechanisms for restoring peace, rather than taking an indifferent stance toward all injustice, corruption, chaos, and moral degradation.

The program began with a recitation of a few verses of the Holy Qur'an, followed by the national anthem. Mr. Salman Ali ‘Dostzada,’ a senior UPF Ambassador for Peace, then opened the program with introductory remarks. He called the International Day of Peace a day that reminds everyone of peace and the destructiveness of war and violent conflicts. ‘It is an opportunity to withdraw a little, take a break, and ponder the fact that wars eat up valuable resources and day by day add to our miseries and losses. Dost Zada gave general information about the history of the International Day of Peace. Furthermore, he mentioned that the Afghan population has endured more than 30 years of exasperating, unabated war and turbulence. After ten years of the presence of international community in Afghanistan, Dost Zada said, people still live in an emergency situation and suffer from bad governance, corruption, and poverty under the dominance of warlords. He emphasized the need for alternative leadership from youths other than the present red-handed leaders, in order to salvage Afghan society from fear and hopelessness, albeit with the support of international community.

Aziz Noori, a professor, spoke on the concept of peace and its relation to human rights. He said that human history had been replete with war and war literature. Throughout human civilization, there had always been killings and oppressions. The warring situation and heavy cost of war and violence, made people think about how to bring about peace and human security. The search for answers has led mankind to adopt new ways of living and new approaches to managing their personal and collective affairs.

Modern thinking based on rational reasoning recognizes the high cost of war and the need to build institutions and promote a culture in which war can be avoided because it is the least probable means to achieve positive goals. As a result values and mechanisms, such as nation-states, rule of law, good governance and human rights were developed that secure peace and peaceful coexistence.

Peace is not just the ‘absence of war,’ Noori said; it is rather a situation in which universal rights, justice, and freedom prevail. As long the social, cultural, and political factors which breed violence are not addressed, there will be no peace. Human rights, according to Noori, are a good mechanism to build sustainable peace. "Human rights and peace are inalienable; human rights lay the foundation for a just peace, and transform the negative elements that cause violence, monopolization of power, discrimination, poverty, and illiteracy in all segments of society," said Mr.Noori.

Shamsullah Ahmadzai, Program Manager of the Kabul Regional Office of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, shed light on the promotion of human rights in the constitution of Afghanistan, which grantees a peaceful future for succeeding generations. He said that a failed state and a culture scarred by war were the biggest obstacles to the rule of law and to good governance; they lead to gross violations of human rights such as the denial of the right to life, the absence and lack of access to courts, insecurity, the absence of the rights to health and education. Ahmadzai referred to the execution of two females and one male in Herat and Parwan provinces, and the case of a 15-year-old girl who had been first raped and then sentenced to one 101 lashes by community clergy and elders under customary and sharia law, out of court. "We have no alternative except to work at different levels including policy-making and grassroots levels  to promote peacebuilding policies and actions that spread a culture of peace," Ahadzai concluded.

Miss Mariam, a university student, read a poem on peace. A selection from her poetry follows:

If there is to be peace in the world,
There must be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.
There must be peace in the home,
And there must be peace in the heart.

A group of fine arts students from Kabul University performed a psychodrama theatre on the occasion and amazed the spectators with their unique way of performance. The drama awakened people's conscience sending a message of peace and responsibility and encouraging people to live for the sake of each other.

Noorullah ‘Navayee’, an Ambassador for Peace, ended the program with closing remarks expressing appreciation for the speakers, distinguished guests, theatre group, and audience members for their presence in the program.

At the end, the participants shared with each other in groups, enjoying juice and cake. It was an opportunity to break the walls of division and share visions for their common future. They exchanged words and smiles, paving the way for recognizing each other in future relationships. The shared experience of joy, peace, and reflection made the event a peaceful interlude in a conflict area where negative stereotypes and prejudices govern people’s minds.

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