Afghan Youth on the Road to Nonviolent Peace

Tired of today’s war-driven peace, youth from 24 out of 34 Afghan provinces began their pursuit of nonviolent peace at the ‘Youth on the Road to Peace Conference’ from the 18th to the 21st of September 2017.

In April 2017, the Afghan Peace Volunteers responded to Trump’s dropping of the ‘Mother of All Bombs’ on Afghanistan by reaching out to the 34 Afghan provinces through a campaign to abolish war, called ‘Mother’. As efforts grew, they decided it would be better to build visions and friendships face-to-face, so they invested their hard work, love and courage in organizing the Conference, partnering with Tamim and Latifa of the IAM Peacebuilding Project and Nangarlai of Afghan Rayan.

Taking the risk of insecure roads to gather in Kabul, the participants learnt about nonviolent relationships with Mother Earth ( including an introduction to permaculture ) and all in the borderfree human family. They learnt to use conflict resolution tools and skills. The Conference ended with the International Day of Peace celebrations, and an agreement by the youth to create Peace Parks or similar nonviolent peace-building initiatives in their home provinces.

NB The video is set to the ‘urgent’ background music of ‘Water Four Circles of Life’; one of the discussions the participants had during the Conference was the climate change-related water crisis in Afghanistan.

By Dr Hakim

23rd September 2017

00 Afghan Youth on the Road to Nonviolent Peace

Afghan Youth on the Road to Nonviolent Peace

Over four Conference days, the participants testified that, in the provinces they come from, war isn’t controlling extremism and isn’t solving any of the root problems of the conflict. Their testimonies are verified by the 2015 Global Terrorism Index which recorded a nine-fold increase in terrorism-related deaths since 2000.

The participants have since returned to their provinces, where I hope they will not join the ‘new’ local militia Trump and his generals are setting up, called the ’Afghan Territorial Armies’. If they do, they will be armed, and paid, and will join the maddening fray. They will kill or be killed. I may not see them again.

My hope that these youth will not take up arms, whether with extremists or with conventional armies, lies in the deep humanity I saw in them during the Conference – they analyzed, empathized, laughed, embraced and cried.

It is also shaped by my every day encounters in Afghanistan which prove to me that despite sheer violence from the elite few, most Afghans are like the rest of awakening humanity. Our social evolution has taught us to adopt more and more effective ways to live together peacefully. Nonviolence is becoming the sensible and natural choice of a healthier human consciousness.

But in any case, I was a little nervous before the Conference. War is raging on in almost all Afghan provinces. Would these war-divided youth relate well across their different ethnicities? Would they consider nonviolence possible or practical? The short answer was ‘yes’, as expressed in the video and poem. The youth could see through the ‘emperors of war’ today, thus freeing themselves from the false power of Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘emperors with no clothes’.

Some of the participants joined a Zoom video conference call on the last day of the Conference. Martin Sheen, U.S. Hollywood star and peace activist, shared that, even if nonviolence doesn’t change the prevalent system of war for now, it changes us. For Martin, nonviolence is essential for our personal and shared survival.

 01 Afghan Youth on the Road to Nonviolent Peace

Nasratullah ‘on the road to nonviolent peace’.

The banner behind him also says. “Love opens all borders!”


 No prison or government can restrain this awakened love.

No President will be able to withstand

the nonviolent consciousness

arising from even the most challenging of places.

It is a beautiful human development

that has taken time to evolve,

but, clearly, humankind has understood

that consumerism, inequality and war aren’t sustainable;

these have diseased our planet and our relationships.

 “Before, I was told that the other ethnic groups across Afghanistan

are my enemies,” Nasratullah from Laghman testified,

“But, I have lived with youth from different provinces

in the past four days,

so now I know for sure that

those were lies.

All lies.”

 02 Afghan Youth on the Road to Nonviolent Peace

We all share the same blue-green Earth! Ghaibullah is sixth from the left.

In the light of this new #Earth! GENeration,

Green, Equal and Nonviolent ,

I can see Trump, Ghani

and every elitist’s emptiness and fear.

“Every current leader-in-power will pass on,”

Ghaibullah from Jowzjan said with certainty,

“What I’ve found over these few days

is an emotion, a conviction.”

His face lit up,

his spirit understood his own mortality

and he said, “This is well worth

the danger I took in coming here.”

 03 Afghan Youth on the Road to Nonviolent Peace

There are so many alternatives to the ineffective ‘war on terror’

After reminding them of the prevalent ‘war on terror’

with its terrible use of force, torture,

imprisonment and targeted killing,

I ventured a question, warily,

“Do you think that putting ‘extremists’ in prison changes them?”

They shook their heads emphatically.

Their unanimous ‘no, no and of course not’

zoomed in on me from all tangents

of the circle we usually sat in,

and transported me to a heart-racing vision:

a world without incarceration, gun-wielding police and armies.

This was not a dream.

 04 Afghan Youth on the Road to Nonviolent Peace

Safar Ali, extreme right, engaged in thoughtful conversations throughout the Conference

When they saw photos of how Bamiyan Peace Park

used to be a hard, colourless yard of stones,

they applauded for the triumph of imagination.

When I told them how a trash-collecting

Pashtun orphan boy had offered me his friendship,

and how he had found life too difficult,

they cried along with me.

When I asked them if we could judge a young person

based on school results,

Safar Ali answered to everyone’s approval,

“Every human being has abilities and talents

not recognized by any school test today.”

 05 Afghan Youth on the Road to Nonviolent Peace

Habib ( left ) and Qasim hugging and loving a tree in the garden.

Qasim was one of the main organizers of the Conference.

There was tenderness from day one,

as we re-discovered love for Mother Nature,

each going out to the small permaculture garden

at the Borderfree Nonviolence Community Centre,

and hugging a tree.

Why don’t we interact enough with plants, if at all,

or write poems to the Earth,

or sing to flowers who cuddle the butterflies and bees?

When will we lose our taste for money,

or our want to be ranked higher than others?

 06 Afghan Youth on the Road to Nonviolent Peace

Some of the participants with the agreement they signed. Hasibullah is on the extreme right.

In their list of things-to-do,

they wrote with bold Dari strokes,

and said with resilient Pashtun tones,

“To create new minds..”

When the participants signed the agreement

to build a Peace Park in every province,

Hassibullah from Khost shyly used his thumb-print

because he ‘hadn’t practiced his signature before’.

I could see his indomitable strength.

I could see his practical, gentle ways,

turning the bullets, bombs, tanks, drones and fighter jets

into wimpy, obsolete objects.

 07 Afghan Youth on the Road to Nonviolent Peace

The Afghan Peace Volunteers and Conference participants celebrating the International Day of Peace

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