On 11 November 2011, The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World was launched in several countries. Brief reports of these launches, together with links to photos and blogposts, are provided below.
The Melbourne launch, facilitated by Anahata Giri, began with an acknowledgement that we were on Wurrundjeri land, that sovereignty had never been ceded, and by paying our respects to Wurrundjeri Elders, past and present. (Unfortunately, Aunty Joy Murphy, a Wurrundjeri elder, had notified us just before the launch that sudden personal circumstances made her unable to conduct a ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony as planned.)
Then Anita McKone sang her song The Flame Tree Song accompanying herself on the guitar.
Robert Burrowes spoke briefly about the purpose of The Nonviolence Charter:
‘So what is unique about The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World? The People’s Charter is an attempt to put the focus on human violence as the pre-eminent problem faced by our species, to identify all of the major manifestations of this violence, and to identify ways to tackle all of these manifestations of violence in a systematic and strategic manner. It is an attempt to put the focus on the fundamental cause – the violence we adults inflict on children – and to stress the importance of dealing with that cause. (See Why Violence? http://tinyurl.com/whyviolence) It is an attempt to focus on what you and I – that is, ordinary people – can do to end human violence, and The Nonviolence Charter invites us to pledge to make that effort. It is an attempt, as Anahata said to me the other day, to combine the deeply personal with the deeply global: to listen to our deep inner selves to restore humanity. And it is an attempt to provide a focal point around which we can mobilise with a sense of shared commitment with people from all over the world. In short, as of tonight, it is a new, worldwide movement and its specific focus is ending human violence….
‘So, together with people in Malaysia, the Philippines and the United States, tonight many of us will choose to pledge ourselves to a new, concerted and worldwide effort to end human violence, in all of its manifestations, for all time.
‘This is undoubtedly a monumental endeavour. Perhaps, it is the greatest endeavour in human history. I feel privileged to share it with you all. And I love you all for making that endeavour….
‘We are committed to leave here tonight to struggle to end human violence. In my view, there can be no greater calling than this. Whatever our differences, ending human violence is our compelling and unifying dream.’
Anahata and Robert then read out The Nonviolence Charter.
Following this, eight people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds spoke briefly about their own experience of violence and what they will do to help end human violence from now on. The speakers were Karen Thompson-Anderson, Kijana Majok Piel, John McKenna, Annie Whitlocke, Tenzin Lobsang, Isabelle Skaburskis, Frank Ruanjie and Samah Sabawi, and each of these speakers had an evocative story to tell.
Karen spoke about her ongoing commitment to self-healing, to talking about violence openly, and to teaching nonviolent communication tools and meditation to those wanting to heal from violence. Kijana spoke of spending 17 years living in a refugee camp in Kenya after being forced to flee his native Sudan, with his family, at the age of three; he also spoke of his aim, partly derived from his Islamic beliefs, to have people identify with those suffering in other places. John, who requires a wheelchair to facilitate his mobility, spoke of his work with people with intellectual disabilities and his passion for justice for these people, including those whose violence stems from their intellectual disability.
Annie spoke of the violence she has suffered throughout her life from those who were supposed to love her, she talked of her commitment to helping people understand that they can leave harmful old patterns behind and choose healthy options instead, and she committed herself to participating in The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth. Tenzin spoke of fleeing Tibet as a young child and spending many years living in India as a refugee; he also spoke of his passion to use nonviolence to liberate Tibet no matter how long it takes. Isabelle spoke of her work, including yoga therapy, with sexually trafficked girls and women in Cambodia, and her commitment to the use of art for healing.
Frank spoke about his persecution in China as a result of his involvement in the pro-democracy movement and his continued involvement in this movement, particularly through his editorship of a Chinese-language pro-democracy newspaper, since he left China in 1998. Samah Sabawi spoke of her life as a Palestinian refugee, including her work as a writer and her commitment to the nonviolent liberation of Palestine; she also read her two evocative poems, A Confession and The Liberation Anthem, the first of which was accompanied by graphic sound effects performed by her nephew Omer Elsaafin.
We wish to emphasise that we cannot do justice to the emotional power of what they said with this brief, written summary.
Following a short break, Anita and Anahata sang We Sing Nonviolence, written especially for the launch of The Nonviolence Charter, with the help of the audience. Everyone was then invited to spend a few minutes in contemplation and/or talking to someone nearby if they wished. After this, people were invited to sign The Nonviolence Charter if that felt right to them, and to speak to the audience if they wished. At the start of the signing ceremony, Tenzing Yeshi sang his beautiful song Cho Sum Mirik, about the life of His Holiness 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet. Anita and Anahata then sang Freedom for Palestine/Everyone, followed by other songs sung by Anita including her own song Nonviolence They Choose for Afghanistan.
A brief conclusion acknowledged our many co-workers and supporters, thanked below, and invited Charter signatories to invite others to consider signing.
You can see photos of the Melbourne launch, taken by:
Yolanda Farrona Perez here:
and Carly Selby-James here:
Special Thanks to:
Poster design and networking: Annie Whitlocke Support and advertising: Kaye Wright Peacekeepers: Hazel Butterworth, Jo Stewart, Patrick Glennan, Rane Bowen Ushers: Lucy Broome, Naomi Aitchison, Sarah Bonning, Teresa Harding Photographers: Yolanda F. Perez, Carly Selby-James Videographer: Paul Mather Social Media: Stephanie Anderson Financial support for Robert & Anita: James, Beryl and Thomas Burrowes, Dave Keenan
In Malaysia, the launch was organised by the International Movement for A Just World (JUST International) and was held as part of the Inter-civilizational Youth Engagement Program (IYEP) 5 held at the Shah’s Village Hotel in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
On arrival, guests were welcomed, shown the video Do unto others and given hand-made poppies. This was followed by dance performances of the Indonesian Thousand Hands Dance and the Korean Sorry Sorry. The music video Wonderful World was then shown followed by a reading of the poem I Want to See What I Saw Again by Malik Syam. Guests then heard a talk by Dato Dr. Shad Saleem Faruqi on ‘The Violence of Capital Punishment’, before hearing a guitar performance of That’s Why I Love You.
There was then a drama performance of 500 Days of Violence followed by a talk and video by Mr. Khampi on the Zomi Education Centre for Myanmar Refugees, and a singing performance by the Angels of We Are The World. Finally, The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World was read out, with the dramatization of selective clauses, the pledge was taken, the Charter was signed and poppies were placed on a ‘field’ (see photo below). The night concluded with refreshments and discussion.
Information: Helen or Haida: Tel: 03-7781 2494; Fax: 03-7781 3245; Email: email@example.com
In the Philippines, the launch took place in ten barangay (village) halls and involved the praying of the rosary and lighting of eleven candles. It was organised by Dr. Tess Ramiro, who is Director of the main nonviolence organisation in the Philippines, Aksyon para sa Kapayapaan at Katarungan (Action for Peace and Justice) – Center for Active Nonviolence, at the Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila. In her report, Tess indicated that, according to the base groups, the activity went very well. One base group alone reported an attendance of 100 persons and was supported by the parish priest.
The following base groups in the Quezon province participated: the barangays Cometa and Poblacion under KANSI Base Group, barangays Apad and Magsino under PADSI Base Group, barangays Villa Gomez and Villa Belen under Pacific-side Base Group, and barangay Guinhawa under Guinhawa Base Group (one of the bigger base groups), all in Quezon Municipality; barangays 1 to 5, under Alabat Base Group in Alabat Municipality, where the activity was held in the Parish Church and more than 100 folks took part in this activity alone; and representatives of Infanta and Nakar, under Infanta Base group, in Infanta Municipality. Altogether, several hundred people signed the Charter and signatures will be forwarded as soon as the weather allows.
Information: Dr Tess Ramiro: Tel/Fax: +(632) 4000823; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Report submitted by Tom Shea:
After a moment of silence at Seattle’s Wall of Remembrance (which lists the names of Washington State military killed in major US Wars) we began our spoken presence. Even amid a cold rain, over twenty people representing a broad variety of peace people, including four from Occupy Seattle, 8 blocks away, assembled. We spoke briefly about The Charter, how individuals can participate (Leonard had printed a one page flyer), and shared information about six of the groups present. We will be sending you original signatures from: Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, Puget Sound Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Declaration, Seattle Veterans For Peace Chapter 92, Collective Voices for Peace, USA, Collective Voces Ecologiacas, Panama, plus Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Seattle Chapter.
It was a great gathering here, with people from Occupy Seattle (two of whom in military garb), the Colgans – who’ve been holding a vigil in front of the Seattle Federal Building every Tuesday since 2004, in honor of their son killed in Iraq – a woman in a wheel chair and the Buddhist chair of the Seattle Peace Team (a group that does training and is active as peacekeepers in places of conflict in town).
You can see more photos of the Seattle launch, all of which were taken by Leonard Eiger, here:
Information: Tom Shea: email@example.com or http://wanet.org/actions/Launching-The-Peoples-Charter-to-Create-a-Nonviolent-World