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International Day of Peace, 21 September 2010

Peace stories


To remember "Peace Day" on 21st September the All Pakistan Women's Association, APWA, sends this poem, in the hope that it will bring to the attention of the world our pain and our attempts at holding peace, and the pieces of our tattered environment.

The Biblical Flood of 2010 Pakistan

Aerial view of Pakistan floods

The encircling waters, a huge rounded sea,
And in the centre, in significant We,
The awe of Almighty in swift surging waves,
Has battered the dams, generations had made.

The tops of submerged roofs in distant dull sight,
Remains of some village once throbbing with life,
And the floating black carcass of livestock so dead,
That snakes seek flat refuge without any dread.

A huge angry river,  twin to its mate,
That topped o’er the rent dykes on a drastic spate,
So the mighty Indus has a brother in flood,
That flows parallel surges and makes cities mud.

And the poor rural people beset with life’s woes,
Move panic filled bodies to ridges high known,
They clutch the small children through torrents of pain,
That freeze their dazed mindset, to shout or complain.

Why has this happened and why did they break?
The conduits and bunds that our fathers had made?
Did you loose all this water to save some small land,
Of a fat greedy feudal who protected his band.

The curve of this river in due natural course,
Would have washed his flat field but not this great loss,
And have flowed with earths’ slope to a desert far gone,
Where their flowers would bloom in the summer’s last song.

people wading through water in Pakistan floods

But all this is past and this nightmare is here,
The torrents gush on, alls devastation and fear,
There’s its violent anger to find level ground,
Shikarpur, Sultankot now Dadu has gone.

One third of this nation has lost hearth and home,
And o’er this vast earth as vagabonds roam,
The children have no schools, the infants are dead,
The mothers are stone -eyed with tears now unshed.

When the last Judgment comes and they stand in the dock,
Will they cognize the evil that greed had then wrought?
Will the weeping widows and orphan girl -child
Appeal to the angels for justice on High?

Alas! That day is far off and the problem is now,
Rich cities have emptied their wealth to endow,
For the public has come to the call of the land,
And their trucks with food succor race on through the sand.

But it’s a drop in this ocean of sorrow and hurt,
The babies are sickening from black water and dirt,
Own prayers are unanswered, the Lord is aghast,
At this country that will not repent its bad past.

Mere words do not matters in God’s balanced scales,
All prater and false prayers don’t hoodwink His grace,
True intent and goodness can now save us all,
Dear Heaven, bequeath this and hear our frail call.

By Syeda Ayesha Javeri

Hadano Peace Walk Promotes International Day of Peace

Hadano Peace Walk

24 August 2010 - More than 300 people participated in the annual Peace Walk in Hadano city, Japan, on a hot day in August 2010. The Hadano Peace Messengers, a group of members of the Goi Peace Foundation and the World Peace Prayer Society, participated in the event with a banner that proclaimed, “UN International Day of Peace, September 21,” “Think about Peace” and “May Peace Prevail on Earth.”

Hideko Kurihara and Nobuko Yamaguchi led the 14-member group. They were all singing a Japanese peace song together and called out, “May Peace Prevail on Earth, and May Peace be in Kanagawa, May Peace be in Hadano city” from time to time.

The Peace Walk started at the Hadano City Office and ended at the Hadano Cultural Hall. At the destination, the group handed out origami peace dolls with the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth” – along with a big smile – to people who gathered there.

Hadano city is a member among 100 cities of Mayors For Peace. In addition to hosting the annual Peace Walk, Hadano has declared itself to be a City of Peace.

For more information, please go to:  http://navi.city.hadano.kanagawa.jp/foreigners/english/heiwatosi_sengen.html

By Yashio Mochizuki
The Goi Peace Foundation


On the wings of paper cranes, UN staffers aim to spread message of peace

mayor of hiroshima presented with paper cranes by Secretary-General Ban

The Secretary-General presented the mayor

of Hiroshima with 1,000 cranes made by UN

staff in New York and Japan.

6 August 2010 – In 1955, 12-year-old Sadako Sasaki began folding a thousand paper cranes to try to heal her leukaemia, in accordance with a Japanese tradition. Despite surviving the bombing of Hiroshima a decade earlier, she had developed the “atom bomb disease.” Over half a century later, United Nations staff members hope to harness that same spirit to remind the world of the horrors wrought by nuclear weapons.

Sadako died on 25 October 1955, having completed 644 origami cranes. Her friends completed the remaining cranes and she was buried with them in Hiroshima, where the Children’s Peace Monument now stands in her honour and children from all over the world send more than 10 million cranes each year.

To commemorate the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, dozens of UN workers at the Organization’s Headquarters in New York and at its offices in Tokyo have worked together to fold a thousand origami cranes. The cranes were then assembled into a garland that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon presented today to the Mayor of Hiroshima at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Ceremony. This marks the first ever trip by a Secretary-General to the annual ceremony.

“We expect that his presence at the [ceremony] as the first UN Secretary-General… will further develop international momentum to abolish nuclear weapons… and lead to consolidate political will of national governments that have been working for a world without nuclear weapons,” Kazuaki Oku, a Hiroshima municipal official heading atomic bomb commemoration activities, told the UN News Centre.

He commended the Secretary-General for showing “strong will toward the abolition of nuclear weapons by proposing a five-point plan to rid the world of [them].”
The paper cranes presented by the UN are highly significant, Mr. Oku said. “We believe that paper cranes could help forge the momentum for world peace and strengthen public opinion seeking a world without nuclear weapons, through conveying this episode to the world.”
Cranes, which symbolize longevity, are considered mystical creatures in many parts of Asia. In Japan, it is said that folding 1,000 origami cranes grants that person one wish, and people often send these cranes to those who suffer from illness or ill fortune in hope that their lives will improve. Through Sadako’s story, the folding of cranes has also become a symbol of world peace.

The UN cranes project was spearheaded by Kiyo Akasaka, a Japanese national and the Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information. Mr. Akasaka said “this will be a very special commemorative gift for the Secretary-General to present during his visit to Hiroshima, symbolizing the strong wishes of the UN staff for world peace without nuclear weapons.”

UN staff members folded the cranes in their spare time, with two or three made by each person. “The message we’re trying to send to the Japanese people is we want peace. That’s what the UN is about, peace and stability, and we want to prevent things like [the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki] from happening anywhere in the future,” said staff member Natalia Samoilova, who worked on the project in New York.
The cranes also helped to bridge the gap between the UN and Japanese citizens, says Shinichi Kushima, another UN staff member who participated in the project in New York. “For me, as a Japanese, it’s great that the UN cares about us,” he said.
Moreover, the project engendered wide-ranging emotions in the UN staff members who helped fold paper cranes.

In addition to being “honoured to be invited to participate,” Ms. Samoilova said that “it was much fun. I never did origami before. I admire people who are very skilful at origami and at least to [learn] how to fold a crane – especially if it’s going to be part of this big garland – oh, I felt so happy.”

Edita Zulic, another staff member who folded cranes, said that “it was interesting how it made me contemplate what we can do in our daily life to send out these messages of peace, to spread positive energy. This is a really small, small, undertaking, folding one crane. But I think when we all get together you see we make 500 or 1,000 cranes. It symbolises that one person can really make a difference.”

Young Afghan artists share their vision for peace

mayor of hiroshima presented with paper cranes by Secretary-General Ban

Photo: Fardin Waezi / UNAMA

7 September 2010 – International Peace Day campaign launched in Kabul in partnership with 12 young artists: The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) today launched “Art for Peace” in Kabul as the centerpiece of its 2010 International Day of Peace campaign. UNAMA partnered with the renowned cultural group Turquoise Mountain Foundation to mount the exhibition at Kabul’s historic Queen’s Palace at Babur Garden.

The Minister for Information and Culture, Dr Sayed Makhdum Raheen, opened the exhibition. Also responsible for youth affairs, Minister Raheen spoke of the tradition of visual arts in Afghanistan, which goes back at least 2,500 years. “Many things have happened to painters and painting in the recent decades, unfortunately,” he said, “but our young painters have recreated art in this country after all that has happened to them and to the art of painting.”

Staffan de Mistura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Afghanistan, praised the young artists and thanked the director of Turquoise Mountain, Ms Shoshana Coburn, for the collaboration in presenting the exhibition for peace.

“Of course there is not much peace yet in Afghanistan,” he said. “We all know it. But we also know that this is a crucial year in which we can together try to help Afghans to find their own peace,” said de Mistura.

“The 21st of September cannot be a celebration day, but a day of thinking and re-motivating ourselves in order to help Afghans to find peace after so many years, so many years of violence and of difficulties,” he continued.

“The trees are burned, but the future is bright,” said young artist, Asadullah Pazhman, speaking of his work.

Shoshana Coburn of Turquoise Mountain spoke of the 150 young Afghan artists who study and work with the organization, which is soon to move into the old city area as part of a refurbishment of old buildings as a cultural centre.

“The (artists exhibiting) are a very inspiring group of young people,” she said. “They do many things. They are artists obviously. But they have families, some of them work with the government, some of them work with the Turquoise Mountain Foundation, many of them are students and many of them are teachers.”

Aged from 18 into their early 30s, the artists gather every week to study and work together.

“Young Afghans are, through their own creativity and their own art, telling us what type of vision we should all be having for the future of Afghanistan,” concluded Staffan de Mistura.

Youth group illuminates Buddha site to send message of peace across Afghanistan

bamyan buddhas

“We want peace,” Afghan students grouped near a white dove sculpture in Bamyan Peace Park in the central province of Afghanistan chanted into a phone linking them with youth groups in other parts of the country.

“Peace is friendship and love and that’s how we are campaigning for peace - by making more friends and more volunteers,” said Zikrullah, a 15-year-old second grader and a member of the Bamyan Peace Volunteers, a group of school students who campaign for peace in Afghanistan.

Zikrullah dropped out of school for economic reasons a few years ago but made a commitment last year to continue his studies. He now goes to school in the mornings and in the afternoons helps his father run a shop in Bamyan city.

In his spare time, he volunteers with the peace group which helped build the park where the group is now gathered. 

“We worked for nearly two years to build this recreational area close to our school, now our school friends can come here to study and play,” said Zikrullah, who along with his friends persuaded hundreds of schoolmates to volunteer to build the park to mark International Peace Day.

In addition, the group was involved in a trekking for peace event organized by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

More recently, the group illuminated the site of the renowned Bamyan Buddhas with the word “Sulh,” which means peace in Dari, to send a message of peace to the world on the occasion of Kabul Conference on 20 July.

“Fighting cannot bring peace is the message we want to send to our Afghan country men and women, and to the world. As we say in Afghanistan: blood can not wash away blood,” said Mohammad Jan, an 11th grade student with the Volunteers.

Zikrullah and his friends have been visiting other youth groups around the province to persuade them to volunteer for change.

“I am happy with the result, we are making many peace friends,” he said.

Building relations with youth groups in other provinces of the country is a priority for them.

They sent handmade mobile phone covers to a youth group in Kandahar province a few months ago as peace souvenirs to build a stronger friendship with youths in difficult parts of the country.

“We regularly contact our friends in Kandahar, Kabul and Dai Kundi provinces to discuss problems and issues, and to plan joint programmes with them,” Jan said.

This year, the group plans to expand its Peace Day activities to its partner volunteer groups in the United States, Iraq, Palestine and Singapore.

The group members believe their work is crucial for their country.

“I work for peace because I know this is the biggest need of our country,” Jan said.

In the distance, the group was closing the telephone meeting by again chanting its slogan: “Why not love? Why not peace?”

By Jaffar Rahim, UNAMA

Afghanistan’s world cyclist preparing for next tour

9 June 2010 - Afghanistan’s ace cyclist Nadir Shah – who toured 14 countries on a bicycle in 2002-2003 with a message of peace – is planning to embark on a world tour again.
His 13-year-old son, Feroz Khan, will join him and the tour will be filmed by an Afghan film crew. Shah, 43 and a father of seven (three boys and four girls), who hails from Surkhod district in the eastern part of the country near Jalalabad, told UNAMA: “I want to show the world, once again, our wish and desire for peace.”

The dentist-turned-cyclist said he plans to tour about 20 countries this time.

The tour is supported by the Government of Afghanistan and by Abdul Satar Khawasi, Secretary of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House). The Afghan Film Department of the Ministry of Culture and Information has assigned cameraman Jawanshir Haidari to film the tour.

In 2003, Shah’s tour took him across the Middle East, Europe and the United States over 371 days. President Hamid Karzai asked him to donate his bicycle to the Kabul Museum in December last year where it is on display, highlighting his efforts to promote peace in Afghanistan.
Nadir Shah told UNAMA that he is very worried about the escalating violence. “It’s very painful for me. I want to ask strongly all the countries to bring peace here. First of all, the Afghans themselves should work for peace. Then the international community, especially the United Nations, should help us,” he said.

One thing Nadir Shah liked about his earlier tour is that he noticed that all the countries he crossed in Europe were living like a family even if Europe was at war 60 years ago.

“When I was entering Holland from Germany, I thought I had lost my way and asked the locals which way would lead me to Holland. They said I was already 20 kilometres into Holland. It looked all the same. I want to see my country like this.”

By Tilak Pokharel and Shafiqullah Waak, UNAMA

Afghanistan’s top singer uses voice for national harmony

19 July 2010 - Afghan singer Farhad Darya entertains fans of all ages at a peace concert on the eve of the Kabul Conference. The Kabul-born artist said he wants to remind Afghan leaders and the international community to think of the people of Afghanistan tomorrow when making their decisions.
Darya has said that music is a constant inspiration for Afghans and allows them to communicate through ethnic and tribal boundaries. Darya has written and sung in most of Afghanistan’s many languages, including Farsi-Dari, Pashto, Uzbek, Hazaragi, and Urdu, among others. He is a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Goodwill Ambassador.

UN Web Services Section, Department of Public Information, United Nations © 2010