By Ian Seo, Manager of International Press Department of Public Relations Office, Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), South Korea
During the days in May this year, global youth have walked together for the same purpose – the environment of peace and stability in the global community. With the theme of “Talk & Walk to Prevent Violent Extremism” co-hosted and endorsed by international NGOs and local organizations, citizens in 85 cities around the world have actively engaged in this peace campaign to advocate civic awareness and voluntary participation in sustainable efforts of peacebuilding.
Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL), an international NGO under the United Nations Department of Public Information (UN DPI), organized this global peace campaign along with its peace initiative in empowerment of youth as peace advocates.
Since 2013, this annual event has been underway on every May 25th as a celebration of the Declaration of World Peace, which addresses global cooperation for the establishment of international law for peace, youth engagement in communities for a peaceful environment, and increase in the role of media regarding peace-related issues.
To enhance peacebuilding efforts designated in the Declaration, HWPL has co-hosted the peace walk events around the world with international youth and local communities.
Thailand – Students holding their cards to present the word “PEACE”
On May 25th, 2,300 female students in Satri Wat Absorn Sawan School in Bangkok prepared for an event titled “Spreading a Culture of Peace”. From the support from local communities including Teachers of Country’s Council, Wat Thong Witthayaram, and World Buddhist Scout Brotherhood, the event showed unique features through the peace walk, student speeches on peace in 5 languages, and performance of card section. “The spirit of peace delivered by HWPL is truly motivating many hearts of those who desire peace. This type of event can be further developed and organized when we cooperate each other,” said Emeritus Yongyuth Vacharadul, Founder of World Buddhist Scout Brotherhood.
China – Peace education for students on harmonious world order
In Xi’an where the history of prosperity and peaceful coexistence enriched the Chinese civilization, on May 25th, 300 participants from the local community including students from Xi’an Middle School carried out the peace walk while holding posters with images of 10 articles of the Declaration of Peace and Cessation of War (DPCW). The Declaration was drafted by HWPL to advocate global cooperation for peace through peaceful conflict resolution, ethnic/religious freedom, and establishment of a culture of peace. In his congratulatory speech, Liu Li, Vice President of Xi’an Middle School, emphasized, “Today, this event is globally hosted throughout the world with a common voice of peace. Peace, development, and education are the main subjects as project in today’s globe, and it is meaningful and honorable all of us can be part of the project.”
South Africa – Youth standing first to bring out change for peace
On May 27th, 800 youth were gathered at Civic Centre, Albert Luthuli Plaza in Cape Town to celebrate the 4th Commemoration of the Declaration of World Peace and Africa Day. The role of youth in social campaigns to bring out positive changes was highlighted by Anthony Moses, Ward Councilor in City of Cape Town, saying, “I think for me today is one of the most momentous days in the history of the world that we basically have one common grip, coming together with one common understanding in order to promote peace. We see the diversity and how people can interact with a common goal in mind, which is peace. Someone needs to take the stand for world peace especially the youth. The youth are no longer the youth of tomorrow but are already in action.”
South Sudan – “Embracing peace is our duty.”
Having deep scars of national conflicts from the devastating civil wars for decades with 300,000 deaths and 2.7 million refugees, the new, young state of South Sudan was the very result of the hope of peace and stability with the majority support of 99% for independence in the region. With the help of the UN Refugee Camp and Community Aid for Relief and Development Organization (CARDO), 5,000 community members from government, school, business, and NGOs participated in the peace walk held in two different venues on May 25th and exchanged cards with messages of peace made by local students. As Peace Project Officer from National Development Initiative, Makoy Yuahnis Kuong said, “Embracing peace is our duty. We hope that leaders can listen to the voice of the people crying for peace. As long as we have the power to do so, we must continue to encourage and support peace activities like this peace walk.”
Germany – Joyful, passionate peace event attracting citizens
In Frankfurt on May 27th, the peace walk event held at Romer Plaza and Willy-Brandt Plaza displayed culturally colorful features included drum performance, photo session, face-painting, flash mob, which all attracted citizens to be better aware of the peace campaign offering easy access to civic participation in peacebuilding. Gernot Lennert, Research Director of German Peace Society (DFG-VK), enunciated the significance of this approach, saying, “It was fresh that HWPL does the peace movement very brightly and cheerfully. I will study and research about HWPL and (its peace initiative of) the international law much more. I want to make peace through co-working with HWPL.”
Republic of Korea – Center of Global Youth Peace Campaign by HWPL
Every year on the same date of May 25th, international youth and local citizens in major cities of South Korea gathered together to join in the peace walk since 2013 when the Declaration of World Peace for an initiative of global peacebuilding campaign was announced by Chairman Man Hee Lee of HWPL. 30,000 people’s march for peace, which many peace walk events in other countries model on, has become an example of advocacy of peace by citizens. In his congratulatory speech, Chairman Lee emphasized the importance of individual contribution to peace to “make an end to war and establish a world of peace as a legacy for future generations, which is the very task of every one of our global family.”
A citizen is holding a message in Korean language saying “The right to the enjoyment of peace is also in you.”
Indonesia- A Peace Movement All Across Indonesia
Last May 14, a peace campaign titled “Talk & Walk to Prevent Violent Extremism” was hosted in three cities of Indonesia including Medan, Malang and its capital city, Jakarta.
Heavenly Culture, World Peace, Restoration of Light (HWPL) under the UN Department of Public Information (DPI), and 25 NGO participated in the event. This Peace Walk Festival has been celebrated since 2013 when it was introduced as an international peace project of youth empowerment for the purpose of making peace as a legacy for future generations, inspired by HWPL’s Declaration of World Peace. In this year, it was held at Bundaran HI (Jakarta), Protocol Road (Malang), and Stadion Mini USU (Medan), with two thousand youth participants.
This campaign has its motivation the UN’s Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism presented in January 2016. It promotes public awareness that there is a danger of anyone becoming an assailant of violent extremism without consideration of deeds.
In the hand painting booth, participants put their hands with paint to print it on a paper then they left messages on paper, which show their desires for peace and preventing violent extremism. Also the youth representatives from six religions in Indonesia presented a performance with the theme of inter-religious harmony, which is recognized as a core value in the Indonesian society.
This campaign is being held globally together with the Peace Walk Festival. HWPL is promoting peace projects with local communities including, the legislation for peace, inter-faith dialogue, youth’s rights promotion, and peace education for the dispute resolution and peace development. (R01/RS5)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)