Art as Resistance, Education as Means
By Abdul Hakim Hashemi Hamidi
Dear distinguished guests Mrs. Mayor Anne Hidalgo, Mr. President Peter Ripken and all dear friends and colleagues: You are most welcome to this General Assembly and many thanks for giving me an opportunity to talk in this very magnificent event.
First of all I would like to express my deepest condolences for those people who have been killed in the black Friday attack in Paris and recently in Belgium. All these tragic events address that terrorism knows no boundaries and also show it is increasing dramatically. So, I do believe that we need multilateral efforts and struggle, which I have been awaiting for several years. However, these inhumane acts of terrorists should make us even more determined to continue our efforts until finding a humane solution.
Dear Friends and colleagues let me to tell you my story and the main reason of why I have been working since 2005, as a Human Rights Defender.
I started my human rights activities when I was living in Iran as a refugee. When I was working for Afghan refugees' rights, I was arrested by the police and jailed. I was not allowed to go to the toilet for almost 24 hours and I was beaten in front of many Afghan refugees in the police station. Seeing these insults, humiliations and violence against human dignity not only about me, but about the thousands of Afghan refugees in refugees camp and many cities of Iran made me even more determined to do my best for human rights improvement.
After I returned to Afghanistan in 2004, I decided to continue my activities in human rights, especially for women's and children's rights as a human rights defender. In consultation with a number of my friends, I established Simorgh Film Association of Culture and Art (SFACA) in Herat province. I believe that cinema and theater are a good way to influence people, and to address human rights issues.
Since 2005, for almost 11 years, I have been involved in social development program at Simorgh Film Association in Herat, Kabul, Bamiyan and Kunduz. These programs have included workshops, educational theater for capacity building, human rights, stable democracy, and elections. I have worked in villages and far districts in those provinces and held educational theater workshops in prisons, juvenile correction centers, drug addiction rehabilitation centers, women's shelters and schools, as well as for the Afghan National Police.
The subjects that we addressed were women’s and children rights; the value of individuals participation in elections and voting; education for all; the role of education in empowerment of women and young girls; family conflict resolution; and empowerment in areas of conflict and post-war recovery. We did these activities through youth outreach and created local artistic groups using theater as a means of communication across cultural borders.
Currently, I am studying in Master of Human Rights and Humanitarian Action at Sciences Po, a very prestigious university, therefore I would like to thank firstly ICORN program and; specially to the “Mairie de Paris” for this exceptional opportunity and, of course, Sciences Po University, Paris School of International Affairs (PSIA).
Dear colleagues and representatives of international organizations we are living in a complex and difficult situation. Let’s stand together in solidarity with all families of victims, migrants and people who have been suffered directly and indirectly by terrorist attacks in the Europe, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, some African countries and the United States.
How is it possible to forget those human beings who had many hopes and dreams for their future, but who have perished forever? From SHOKRIA – a 9 year old girl was beheaded by terrorists- in Afghanistan, to the people in Paris and Belgium.
How is it possible to forget those human beings who have to live under fear and panic environment with dark future? There are many women and children who have no quiet sleep, because of terrorist’s activities in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and some African countries.
Eventually, how we will answer to these moral questions?
My recommendation is to work closely and honestly with each other; civil society activists of those conflict countries and international communities. Human rights defenders and many civil society activists are really keen to be a part of international dialogue and making decision procedure regarding the finding solution for the Middle East conflict, which is at the epicenter of the crisis. We really want to work with you to prove our commitments about human rights, and as well to express the terrorists that we are not going to give up them and if there is someone who is creating issues and problems and threatening human rights and democratic values, definitely, there are many people who are committed and ready to take action.
Thank you for your attention.