By Erika Thorne
Saint Paul, Minn. (February 3, 2011) – Friends for a Non-Violent World, an organization committed to promote non-violent living and action in personal lives, in the community, and the world – encourages advocacy in support of human rights in Egypt. Our hopes, thoughts and prayers are with the courageous, nonviolent men and women of Egypt who, are demanding an end to repression, torture, corruption, and a beginning for democracy, free elections, and economic justice.
Until Wednesday, these mass protests were almost entirely nonviolent. But the introduction of so-called pro-Mubarak demonstrators early on Wednesday precipitated violent attacks on the protesters. While mainstream media report the clashes as occurring “between the protesters,” (NPR, All Things Considered, 2/2/11), reports are coming in saying the majority of the inciters apprehended so far are identified as Egyptian Police…the forceful and brutal arm of Mubarak’s regime. (Democracy Now, 2/3/11).
James Wallis of Sojourners said today: “The streets have turned violent, with armed thugs attacking peaceful protesters. The thugs – who credible news stories report were sent and funded by the Egyptian government – are trying to send a message to the democratic and nonviolent protesters: You have no power, you will never win, no one cares.”
We condemn the violence brought by the pro-regime forces. We condemn the Egyptian military, which did not intervene in the attacks. We call for Mubarak to step down immediately; protection for peaceful protesters who are exercising free speech; an immediate repeal of the emergency laws, which have underpinned repression and attacks on human rights in Egypt for decades; and Egypt to criminalize torture in accordance with international law and prosecute those responsible for torture, including the security forces.
We in the United States have to do everything we can to protect the protesters. We can have an impact, because the US has leverage with Egypt. As people in the US, we must pressure the Obama administration to, in light of Wednesday’s events, stand firmly on the side of the peoples’ democratic movement, to stop equivocating and use US leverage, including withholding financial aid to insist Mubarak step down.
Naysayers have long declared that a nonviolent revolution wasn’t possible in a Muslim country. We believe that the rapid movements in Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt may herald the end of Arab authoritarian regimes, backed for far too long by the United States and the West. It has happened before. Badshah Khan led a nonviolent force of 100,000 Muslims, working with Gandhi to throw off the yoke of British colonialism from the Indian subcontinent.
We must move the Obama Administration and Congress in the direction of a genuine democratic foreign policy rather than one that justifies oppression, impoverishment and torture in the name of U.S. security, stability and oil. We must be willing to take risks to support our values.
Friends for a Non- Violent World is a state-wide Quaker-inspired organization of over 2000 people who affirm the dignity inherent in each human being. We share a commitment to advancing non-violence as an ethic for honoring human dignity and a strategy for achieving peace and justice.
It promotes non-violent, transformational social change through: Education of the public on peace-related issues through quarterly newsletters, weekly e-blasts, conferences, and study groups; Movement building through collaborative efforts with other peace organizations; Training individuals to live non-violently and to serve as peacemakers in their communities; Grassroots mobilization of constituents for non-violent actions, including protests, vigils, and call-in days related to various pieces of legislation.
Erika Thorne is the Managing Director and Gail Daneke is the Director of Peace Education and Advocacy at Friends for a Non-Violent World, located at 1050 Selby Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104. For information visit www.fnvw.org.