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Afghan Civil Society Organizations Network for Peace (ACSONP)

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Member Organisations of ACSONP

1. Background

Celebrating Peace Day at the national level provides the ground for the promotion of a culture of peace in Afghanistan and enforces national unity. Raising awareness and encouraging Afghan people all over the country to participate in peace-related events will contribute to peace building in Afghanistan in the longer term. The organising partners are of the opinion that any change in the society starts in the minds of the individuals. In order to establish peace, it is required to transmit and nurture the idea of peace at the individual level.
Hopefully, this will result in the expansion of a culture of peace according to values found in Islam. Celebrating the Peace Day is the first step of a long process. Because of the growing level of insecurity and instability in the country it is even more important for Civil Society to set a sign. They want to show that there are alternatives available and that the majority of the population is in favour of peaceful ways to solve conflicts. In 2008 consists the organising body, of Afghan Civil Society Organisations Network for Peace (ACSONP) of 139 social organisations and NGO’s across the country. It was established in 2005 with the support from the German Development Service, DED. The objectives were to organise events, round tables, workshops around peace and to exchange information.
By joint proceeding, the experience and expertise of single organisations can achieve better results. One of the first ideas was to introduce a national Peace Day in Afghanistan. In 2006, the Peace Day in Afghanistan was celebrated for the first time. A series of peace-promoting events have taken place all over the country on June 20 2006/Jawza 30 1385. Between 160 and 3.000 people attended each location. Around 51 events have taken place all over the country in 28 provinces and 11 districts in Kabul. The central event took place in Kabul, in the Ghazi stadium. These events brought together people of various social, ethnic and religious backgrounds and encouraged them to jointly promote peace in their walks of life. The success animated the organising members to repeat this event in 2007 using the lessons learnt from the previous year to improve it.
The founding members are working for peace-building and promotion of democratic values in Afghanistan and have good work experience with communities. According to the gained experience we come to the outcome that only political efforts are not enough to bring lasting peace in our war thrown country. Therefore we should work with communities and people and involve them in the real social peace-building process through advocacy, agitation and awareness raising campaigns.
ACSONP organised several functions for the mobilizations of civil society organisations toward the peace-building process in Afghanistan.
The success encouraged the organisers and the participants to repeat the celebration in 2008 and even to extend the activities. It is planned to reach out to remoter areas as well and to stretch events and start 40 days  before September 21.
The activities in 2008 will encompass similar program like last year taking into consideration that it will be the month of Ramazan. In addition to last year’s activities, ACSONP plans to offer  a 40 –day peace campaign before September 21st  as well. The Peace Prize competition will take place again for the categories poem collection, novel collection. The whole event will be carried by the enlarged ACSONP network, now being 139 partners. Preparations have started in April 2008  of this year, the responsibilities for the provinces have been distributed, the planning of program for Kabul and the provinces is on the way and the budgets were drafted on regional and central level.

The event provided a common ground for linking Civil Society to government and private market focussing especially on the various nationwide program already existing like local peace councils . The founders of the network were joined by partner organisations of Mediothek Afghanistan  and other committed organisations. In the end, 139 social organisations and non-governmental organisations came together to organise that event.
Given the fact that the partner organisations had different resources at their disposal, the organisers had proposed a series of minimum activities to take place in the chosen locations:

  • Press conferences to promote the event and announce the Peace campaign
  • A major gathering, in which members of civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, community based organisations, Local Peace Councils and other nationwide program like the National Rural Access program, the Governor and Provincial Council representatives, donors, members of the clergy and other influential people, and a majority of women and students participated.
  • Distribution of special publications: brochures, books, flags, badges, stickers, leaflets and banners created by ACSONP. A banner saying:

"Peace for Afghanistan!      Peace for Region!      Peace for World!"
Founders and members of the ACSONP
In addition to the celebration, a competition was open to recognise the best book, poem collection and Novel, Story, sports heroes that promotes peace. A prize was awarded for each category.

The members of the jury to select the winners were selected the well reputed figures of Afghan society and cultural activist The whole event proved to be a huge success. Between 300 and 3500 people attended each location. Around 56 events have taken place across the country in 24 provinces .
The central event took place in Kabul, in the Afghanistan-e- Naween Hotel . Civil society foundations and the governors in most provinces supported the celebration and participated as well.
We believe that celebrating the Peace Day at national level not only provides the ground for the promotion of culture of peace in Afghanistan but also enforces national unity.
We are in the belief that every change in the society starts in the minds of its individuals so in order to establish peace it is required to first grow the opinion and idea of peace in the minds of individuals. This will result in expansion of peaceful thinking among masses.
Peace has its roots in Islamic teachings. Since humans are social beings they would naturally want to live in peace and under rule of law. Now for us, having lived in war for approximately three decades, work for the development of peace has become compulsory.
Therefore, ACSONP is determined to celebrate this day and has planned to arrange different peace-related program all over the country. We think that by arranging a number of program, conferences and seminars we can never attain this great goal. That is why we plan to make Peace Day as inclusive as possible so that people of our country celebrate this day in big and small cities, districts, villages and communities and contribute their share as well aware citizens in this important national movement.
 

2. Goal and Objectives

Goal

The rationale behind the project is to raise awareness for the importance of peace and unity for security, stability and sustainable development in the country and to encourage people to raise their voices for that and take joint action in a bottom-up approach to promote a culture of peace in Afghanistan.

Objectives

  • To gather people in all over the country from all walks of society and spread peace messages as well as award the peace prize winners (writers ) and distribute items to all.
  • To gather people in the other regional centres from all walks of society and spread peace messages and distribute items to all.
  • To gather people in the other provinces where security allows from all walks of society and spread peace messages and distributes items to all.
  • To strengthen the current network among partner organisations by jointly carrying though this event.
  • To reach out to as many people as possible via media

3. Event organisation

The events were organised by the Afghan Civil Society Network for Peace, ACSONP, consisting of 139 organisations. The lead of this network shifts regularly. In 2008, Mediothek Afghanistan  is heading the network. Since February 2008 , regular ACSONP meetings have taken place, in which all decisions were taken in a participatory and democratic way considering the feeling of ownership of the single organisations. Upcoming problems were discussed. Strategy plan was designed Sub-committees were built: fundraising, publication, media, oversight. The committee meetings were scheduled when there was the need.
The planning and the financial handling of the events for this province. Other member organisations of the network having field offices in the respective provinces were supporting the nominated lead organisation. The lead organisations called on the provincial government, media and other civil society organisations in the respective provinces to get support.

4. Participants

The goal was to target representatives from the whole society: besides the Civil Society , government representatives and the private market. The aim was successfully achieved. It was reported from the provinces that the governors (in most provinces) or deputy governors attended as well as the mayors, the heads of several provincial departments (Women Affairs, Education, Information and culture, Haj and Islamic affairs , Security), attorney generals, parliament members, representatives from the security sector attended like police and national army as well as PRT representatives in many provinces. UNAMA was present in many provinces, UNICEF, UN-Habitat and other UN agencies attended in some provinces. From Civil society were present: representatives from all kind of shuras (provincial, district, tribal, religious, women, peace), CDC’s, Ulema and mullah imams, representatives from cultural and educational centers, national NGO’s and social organisations among them women’s organisations, international NGO’s, sports groups, youth groups, students, teachers, politicians, artists, media, shop-keepers, traders and other community members.
pupils during the peace day

5. Program planning

It was the aim to offer a program in all provinces which addresses a broad range of people: old as well as young, educated as well as uneducated, representatives from “modern” institutions as well as from traditional institutions. The concept and importance of peace was to be the central issue in the speeches and in the accompanying cultural program. In planning the activities, so-called “minimum activities were agreed on for each major celebration to guarantee a certain standard of the celebration and to show that it is a joint event throughout the whole country. In addition to the minimum activities, optional activities were part of the program in all provinces.

Minimum activities

  1. Opening with Quran
  2. Speeches by
    - President Hamed Karzai Message by Governor/ provincial Government
      representative
    - lead organisation in that province, delivering the peace ACSONP message in Dari
      and Pashto Language and announcing the winners of the Peace Prize for the
      central competition - Representative from Haj and Islamic affairs - Religious
      intellectuals
    - Representative from women’s organisation
    - Representative from youth organisation/student
  3. Poem reading
  4. Sports shows
  5. Music and theatre on local level
  6. Signing in the book
  7. Distribution of items

Optional activities around Peace Day

  1. ables/discussions
  2. Sports games (football, , volleyball, kite running, bike race, Judo, gymnastic)
  3. Theatre (showing scenes of war and peace)/Role play/artistic festival
  4. Having a local Peace Prize activists’ competition and announcing the winner
  5. Rewarding organising committee and/or students who participated actively
  6. Handicrafts and books exhibition for peace
  7. Local games
  8. Renaming Streets, places “Peace…”
  9. poetry contest
  10. Speech by representative from local shura It was decided to repeat the Peace Prize competition on a central level in two categories: Poem collection, short story collection Different items were designed to be produced and distributed among the participants.

6. Media Campaign

A media campaign was launched centrally in Kabul. In addition to that, the lead organisations addressed the local media. Two press conferences were organised on the compound of Mediothek Afghanistan . The first one has taken place on August 12; the second one shortly before Peace Day on September 16th 2008. The events were advertised with the help of banners with 8 different peace messages and one banner saying:
Peace for Afghanistan!     Peace for Region!      Peace for World!
As well, radio spots were broadcast nationwide by radio Tapesh (120 times) and City radio (28 times) from September 10. The Mediothek Afghanistan Peace caravan department and theatre teams designed and produced 2 TV dramas about peace day according to the concepts of the Peace Caravan department of Mediothek Afghanistan.
These spots were issued in RTA. As well, a trailer with the announcement of Peace Day was sent regularly at the beginning of the NSP news in RTA. The produced radio drama by FCCS (Foundation for the Cultural and Civil Society) was distributed to the provinces as well and were broadcast by local RTA station.
In of Kabul city, an announcement of Peace Day was read out from September 10 on altogether 9 times.
In the following newspapers:

  1. Cheragh
  2. Dunyaye Zan
  3. 8 Sobh
  4. Afghanistan-e- Emroz
  5. Nananai Afghanistan 

Advertisements for Peace Day were placed

A special edition about Peace Day was distributed on September 20- 21 supported by the ACSONP. All banners were produced in Dari and Pashto language. All radio spots were produced and broadcast equally in Dari and Pashto. All newspaper advertisements were issued in Dari and Pashto. UNAMA in Kabul had the task to coordinate the Peace Day activities of the UN. They had launched a special campaign “Peace one day” with the help of Jude Law. Cartoon competition. Small gathering at schools. Their approach was to reach out to different actors in society and request them to spread the idea of peace and conduct activities. In their efforts to reach out to Civil Society, they addressed the Afghan Civil Society Organisations Network for Peace. UNAMA invited are preventative from Mediothek Afghanistan to attend their weekly coordination meetings to enable a better exchange about the activities vice versa. UNAMA issued regularly information about the planned activities of ACSONP regarding Peace Day in their regular press releases, magazine and via internet. UNAMA representatives attended the events in many provinces.

7. Completed activities and achievements

In the whole country around 56 events have taken place. The venues were hotels, schools, government space, open space and tents. Between 300 and 6,000 people attended each event. Altogether more than 78,000 direct beneficiaries were targeted. It can be assumed that each of those reached out to 20 others in their direct environments that 220,000 received the messages personally and several millions via media. Only in 1 province it was decided in the two days before September 21, not to celebrate for un expected incident (the provincial governmental authority, civil society activists and local people were poisoned in the meeting organised by Governor. That one was Noristan.
The program consisted of speeches with peace messages held by the governors or deputy governors, several heads of departments, representatives from Civil Society (including different shuras, women and students groups) and Ulema. Besides that the following activities were part of the program: reciting the holy Quran, presenting the national anthem, peace prayers, peace songs, peace poems, music, theatre, dance, sports activities for peace (football, volleyball, cricket, Taekwando and gymnastic ), kite running, movies, exhibition of handicrafts and releasing peace doves. Gifts were distributed to active participants of the event and to peace activists. Round tables were initiated. ACSONP had developed a special peace message in Dari and Pashtu which was readout. The central event has taken place in Kabul. The members of ACSONP are aware that .There by they follow a typical scheme of national and international organisations to support the centre of Afghanistan. However, to achieve a maximum of visibility and publicity it was nevertheless decided to select Kabul for the major gathering. Still, the way the Peace Day is organised shows that ACSONP knows about the importance not to neglect the rest of the country as in all provinces celebrations were held. The program in Kabul consisted of speeches by :

  • Hamidullah zazai as the Rotating chair person of ACSONP
  • Dadshani Special representative of His Excellency Hamid Karzai President of Afghanistan
  • Mr. Muzafary Special Representative of independent National peace straightening commission
  • Dr Alema ded office in Afghanistan Representative
  • Prof. Hamidullah Habib the director of Kabul University
  • Maulawi Abdul Majeed the special representative of ministry of Haj and Islamic affairs
  • Saida Muzhgan safawi representative of ministry women affairs

Musical presentations were covered by the Children of AWEC office. Theatre was presented by FCCS office (Reconciliation ) Accompanying the event, members of ACSONP presented their work in an exhibition. A nationwide competition was launched for arts related to peace in the categories short story collection, poem collection. Two juries were built to judge on Dari writings, Pashto writings.
The jury members were acknowledged lecturers from Academy of sciences of Afghanistan.
Two winners were nominated in the category Pashto short story and poem collection.
winner of the category Pashto book cover peaceful livewinner of the category Pashto book cover of the second winner in the category Pashto
Two winners in the category Dari short story and poem collection.
winner in category Daribook cover of the winner in the category Dariwinner of the category Daribook cover of the other winner in the category Dari
Seven young sport athletes were awarded as well In Kabul city peace prize competition in drawing peace symbol was announced. In addition to the event itself, items were distributed to advertise for Peace Day and to spread the information: stickers, badges, flags, brochures. They showed an identical corporate design: In each location, books were displayed, in which people could note down peace messages or just sign. The books are collected now from most provinces.. The books will be handed over to President Karzai.The members of ACSONP committed a lot of voluntary work to this project. They came to meetings regularly, were willing to share committee work and most of them even supported the central event in Kabul actively besides their celebrations in the provinces. The enlarged group of ACSONP is very strong and cooperation improved compared to last year