Written by Reuel Pillay – Volunteer at ACAA
International Non-Violence Day is a celebrated day that was established on October 2nd after a vote by the UN General Assembly on the 15th June 2007.
The principle of non-violence is defined as the rejection of the use of physical violence to achieve social or political change and is known as the ‘politics of ordinary people’.
To quote Professor Gene Sharp, a leading scholar of non-violent resistance, in his book ‘The Politics of Nonviolent Action’:
“Nonviolent action is…. not an attempt to avoid or ignore conflict…. It is one’s response to the problem of how to act effectively…”
There are three main categories of non-violence action: protest and persuasion, non-cooperation and non-violent intervention
Furthermore, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had stated that the United Nation stands for the peaceful resolution of disputes and he commends the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that points towards reducing violence, promoting harmony between people and the planet and making the world safer for all.
In furthering the UN’s goal of this observed day, the Afghanistan and Central Asian Association (ACAA) is a voluntary organization that empowers and helps refugees and migrants within the UK. Throughout its 16 years of operation, the ACAA has performed pivotal work in integrating Afghans and other refugees by organizing free legal clinics, ESOL classes, mentoring and counselling, as well as offering volunteer placements.
One key example of the invaluable work which the ACAA has done is their Zanan project, which was a project by the ACAA that was commissioned by the Home Office in 2013 to help integrate marginalized Afghan women in the borough of Lewisham. The project ran from September 2016 to March 2017.
Throughout the lifetime of the project, around 35,000 people were made aware of it, with 883 people followed its progress on Facebook and 18 organizations and 13 Afghan community organizations being reached by the ACAA about the scheme. 77 individuals became beneficiaries of our project as a result.
Some of the workshop keynote speakers included Shabnam Nasimi, a Prevent Officer, and Quhramana Kakar, advisor to the UN peace network. The workshops were set out on the following topics; Building Resilience, Resilience and Leadership, Staying Safe Online, Conversation on Violence, Countering Radicalization and the last workshop was dedicated as a Women’s Day Conference. All the workshops were held with the motive to reduce violence in the community.
The aims of this project were to empower women as active citizens, promote a more inclusive message to younger generations and to challenge cultural barriers.
Empowering women and providing them with the knowledge to tackle radicalization was a key outcome of the programme. Discussions were also held about domestic violence and solutions to this, with information on relevant services provided. The aim was to tackle the prominent perception that husbands using aggression to ‘control’ their wives is acceptable. Violence occurs at all levels of society and it is critical to address them all.
These are aims which the ACAA continues to promote and support.
To quote Gandhi:
“There are many causes I would die for. There is not a single cause I would kill for”.