In our survey of the Internet this year we found actions for the International Day of Peace in 628 communities located throughout the world. This total is similar to what we found last year, with the greatest number of actions taking place in Europe.
In Western Euope we found reference to actions in 191 communities. The greatest number was recorded in Belgium where 114 towns and municipalities participated in a campaign to fly the peace flag on official buildings, calling for a Belgium without nuclear weapons in a world without nuclear weapons. In France, the Collective for 21 September coordinated and described actions in 46 communities, including marches and demonstrations, often linked to the struggle to preserve the planet from global warming. The Collective is composed of 35 French organizations, led by Mouvement de la Paix.
Mikis Theodorakis, who passed away on September 2, was honored in Athens by dancers celebrating the Day of Peace, with the following quote from him, “”We are a vast, deep river that is constantly deepening, that is constantly widening and enriching as it moves towards this endless, wide sea, which is global cooperation in a world of peace.”
In the former Soviet countries of Eastern Europe, especially Russia, and the Ukraine, we found actions in 157 communities, most of them involving the children in schools. Following the tradition of recent years, the children made paper doves and wrote their wishes for peace, sometimes attaching them to balloons to fly into the sky and travel across the earth. This year many of the schools prepared videos of their actions and wishes.
As was the case last year, many of the actions took place in communities across the two sides of the armed coflict in the Ukraine. One of the celebrations, in Yasinovataya, took place despite being under an artillery attack. In one school after another, the war was mentioned, for example in Markivka it was said that “In the conditions of the war in the East of Ukraine, this holiday acquired a special, at the same time sublime and tragic significance. ”
In North America we found actions in 159 communities, of which 122 were coordinated and listed on the website of the Campaign Nonviolence, mobilizing “across the country and around the world for a culture of peace, economic equality, racial justice and environmental healing.” 48 of the 50 states of the United States were represented, along with the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec.
As usual, the most intensive celebration was in Philadelphia (Peace Day Philly) with 15 events, including four events with colorful flyers for which links are provided.
Ongoing wars and recent peace accords were addressed by the day’s celebrations in the rest of the world.
In Africa we found celebrations in 36 communities in 19 countries, many of them torn by violent conflict. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Youth Parliament of the Beni region declared ““We launch a vibrant appeal to all young people in the province of North Kivu to dissociate themselves from the armed groups in order to make possible the return of peace and security in our region.” In Cameroon, thousands who marched in several cities and towns said they were tired of burying civilians caught up in the fighting. They called for a cease-fire between the military and separatists. In Abuja, Nigeria, the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution called on all Nigerians to work assiduously to return peace to the country. And the African Union repeated its call for “Silencing the guns.”
In the Middle East and North Africa, we found actions in 18 communities in 12 countries. In Taiz, Yemen, the Abductees’ Mothers Association spoke of the suffering of mothers and families of the abducted, arbitrarily arrested, and forcibly disappeared individuals while waiting for peace resolutions leading to their sons’ freedom. In South Sudan, the Ecumenical Network on South Sudan called upon the leaders of South Sudan, both in government and in opposition, the security forces and citizens to finally take responsibility and resolve conflicts both national and locally through nonviolent means. In Jerusalem, some 1,000 Jewish and Arab mothers gathered for a number of events held by Women Wage Peace, including creating a human chain and a rally, demand that the government do everything possible to resolve the conflict with a political agreement. And the Arab League called on all nations and peoples, especially Arab countries experiencing armed conflicts, to immediately cease fire, abide by the cessation of hostilities, and resort to a political solution, as it is the only way to settle conflicts and disputes
In Latin America we found actions in 29 communities and 11 countries. Celebrations in Colombia were linked to commemoration of the fifh year since the signing of the peace agreement. In Bogota, the Unit for Victims reiterates its commitment to those most affected by the violence, working to implement all the actions that are the central axis of the Final Agreement with the FARC. In Medellin, the Mayor’s Office noted that the city is becoming an epicenter for the implementation of the Peace Accords, above all, putting in the center to the victims and their right to access justice, truth and guarantees of non-repetition. And in Nariño, the Third World Summit announced that San Bernardo and Tablon de Gómez iare now free of antipersonnel mines.
In Asia and the Pacific we found actions in 42 communities in 13 countries. The plight of Rohingya refugees was addressed by the Center for Peace Studies in Dhaka, Bangladesh and by the NRS Relief in refugee camps. The plight of the people of Kashmir was addressed by the Kashmir Parliamentary Peace Conference. And the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process in the Philippines called for strengthening institutional an popular support for this effort.
As mentioned above, women are playing a leading role in peace efforts in Yemen and Jerusalem. Similarly, in the Ukraine, the “Women for Peace” “demonstrated and demanded fulfillment of promises by the government and Supreme Council to establish peace in the country. “We very much hope that once again the demands of our women, which we set out in our appeal, will be heard and measures will be taken.” And in Casamance, Senegal, it is the Platform of Women for Peace that is most active.
Summing up the sentiments of Peace Day participants, and repeating a phrase of young activist Greta Thunberg, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres concluded “We need peace to recover from the pandemic and re-build shattered systems and shattered lives. We need peace to level the playing field and reduce inequalities. We need peace to renew trust in one another — and faith in facts and science. And we need to make peace with nature — to heal our planet, build a green economy, and achieve our net-zero targets. Peace is not a naïve dream. It’s a light in the darkness. Guiding us to the only pathway to a better future for humanity. Let’s walk the pathway of peace as if our lives depended on it. Because they do.”