CHRE launches “Participatory Course on Peace and Tolerance”

Introduction:
Center for Human Rights Education’s newly launched Participatory Course on Peace and Tolerance was held at Dar-ul-Mussarat Training Institute- Lahore on December 4-11, 2014. Thirty (30) participants joined this course from Sindh, Punjab, KPK, Baluchistan, Gilgit-Baltistan and FATA. The group consisted of male, female, and trans-genders from different religious groups- Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Ismailies. In response to the call for application for 1st PCPT, CHRE received 198 applications, but according to the policy 30 candidates were selected. Below is the account of the participants in terms of gender and faith representation.

Gender

Number

Male

22

Female

06

Transgender

02

Religion

Number

Muslim

23

Hindu

02

Christian

02

Ismailies

03

  
Participatory Course on Peace and Tolerance has been designed to strengthen concepts of non-violence, religious tolerance and respect of diversity including religious diversity in a multi-religious society for a peaceful co-existence, expose the participants to history of Non-violent movements and International Standards for peace and conflicts resolution, promote volunteerism among youth and skill development to promote non-violence, religious tolerance and respect of diversity in the society through peaceful ways and means.

PCPT  consists  of  participatory  techniques  and methods  which  helps  to  develop  understanding  on different  social  subjects,  provides  the  opportunity  to  interact  and  develop  networking with  people from diverse backgrounds and from different parts of the country. It also provides an opportunity to learn  about  different  ways  and  forums  to  highlight  different  social  issues,  helps  to  practice  the values that are helpful in building Peaceful Society and respect of human beings. It provides the opportunity to learn from renowned experts of different social subjects.
PCPT  is  designed  for  human  rights   defenders  and  educators  working  with  Non-Governmental Organizations  (NGOs),  Community  Based  Organizations  (CBOs),  and  the  students  of  the  Social Science  Departments  (Sociology,  Political  Science,  Gender  Studies,  International  Relations,  Mass Communications etc.),the officials of different state  institutions, media and other civil society groups.
 
Objectives:

  • Provide in depth knowledge to enhance conceptual clarity on Peace and tolerance while respecting human rights.
  • Encourage the development of skills, and formulation and application policies, necessary to transform that information into practical professional behavior
  • Built partnerships and networking among the participants and their organizations.
  • Sensitize participants to their practical role in protecting and promoting Peace and Tolerance in the society.

Facilitators and Resource Persons:

  • Mr. Samson Salamat (Director, Center for Human Rights Education)
  • Ms. Ayesha Rao (Monitoring and Evaluation Officer- SPO, Lahore)
  • Mr. Hassan Jaffar Zaidi (writer, historian and politics Analyst.
  • Mr. Khurshid Nadeem (Chairman, Organization of Research and Education, Writer, Anchorperson)
  • Mr. Ayaz Latif Paleejo (President Political Party, Pakistan Awami Tehreek,  Human Rights Activist )
  • Mr. Salman Abid (Director, Strengthening Participatory Organizations)

COURSE PROCEEDINGS

Opening Ceremony with an Interfaith Conference on “Promoting Peaceful Coexistence in Pakistan: Issues, concerns & way-forward

PCPT Course began on 4th of December 2014 with an Interfaith Conference on “Promoting Peaceful Coexistence in Pakistan: Issues, concerns & way-forward” at the shrine of Baba Shah Jamal, a renowned sufi saint. The Shrine of Sufi Saint Baba Shah Jamal was selected symbolically to highlight the message of sufi saints of religious tolerance and respect of diversity.

Approximately 250 participants from different walk of life and having different religious background including Hindu, Muslim, Sikh and Christian joined the interfaith Conference and the speakers were also from different faiths and religions.

The speakers of the conference were Bishop Akram Gill, Pandit Bhaghat Lal,  Syed Sikandar Rizvi,  Allama Mushtaq Hussain Jafferri,  Kiran Zahra Karbaliae, Allama Syed Ali Zaigham Rizvi, and Sajaad Ali Shah gave religious perspective of the topic under discussion while Ms. Amna Malik, Mr. Samson Salamat, Mr. Salman Abid and Abdullah Malik represented the civil society perspective.

The religious scholars while addressing the participants of the conference gave several references from the Holy Books to highlight the value of religious tolerance and respect of human beings without any discrimination for a peaceful society.

PCPT Session 1: Personal Reflection
The personal reflection session was facilitated by Mr. Samson Salamat and the reflection began with two questions!

  • Who am I?
  • What is the purpose of my life?
  • Name one of your rights which was violated?
  • Name one other person’s right which you had violated? 

 

After a deep reflection in silence, the participants shared their thoughts and were mostly of the view that they rarely had an opportunity to reflect on their own life, especially in the context of own and other’s human rights. 

PCPT Session 2: Concepts of Human Rights
Mr. Samson Salamat discussed the following topics with the participants to basically understand the concepts of human rights, its principals and importance of the respect of diversity for a peaceful co-existence.
 

  • Concept of Human Rights
  • Principal of Human Rights
  • Equality
  • Non Discrimination
  • Respect of Diversity
  • Importance of the respect of Religious Diversity in a Multi- Religious Society
  • Overview of Diversity in the Pakistani Society in the World

These topics were discussed through powerpoint presentation, group discussion and individual sharing.

PCPT Session 3: Philospohy of Non-violence
Mr. Khursheed Nadeem basically looked at the philosophy of non-violence with a religious perspective, especially according to the teachings of Islam:

  • Introduction to the Philosophy of Non-violence
  • Important elements for a non-violent social movements
  • History of Non-violent social movements
  • Ancient History
  • Modern History
  • Sub- Continent History
  • Pakistan History
  • Concept of Equality , Non-Discrimination , Respect of Diversity
  • Teaching of Different Religions
  • Teachings of Islam & Philosophy of non-violence

During the discussion Mr. Khusheed Nadeem talked about violence in a philosophical way and explained what violence means saying that violence is mostly to suppress the rights of others. Mr. Nadeem also talked about the history of violence being as old as the history of human beings. Psychological reasons also led violence against others.

While talking about religion Mr. Nadeem talked about Allah who is totally benevolent toward his creature and also wants His super being to act like Him. He also gave reference of Jainism, an old religion that teaches a path to spiritual purity and enlightenment through a disciplined mode of life founded upon the tradition of ahimsa, nonviolence to all living creatures. It was discussed as to who is God and what His relationship with His creature is. 

He gave reference from different Holy books to support his views about non violence. It was also discussed that society is a blend of different mindset and thoughts. If we introduce any philosophy which is not practical in that particular society than automatically rebellion and violence will be provoked. Truth cannot be defined in a Particular way. If something is truth for one person it can be false for another person. Means are also as important as the end is important which rejects the saying that “end justifies the means”

He also talked about non-violence movements, like rose, jasmine, orange expressing softness. Practicality of non- violence philosophy was also discussed. Examples of different religious personalities and prophets were given to support the argument that religion also denies violence and inhuman behavior towards living being and teaches us tolerance. The motive of all religions is to build and establish peaceful society by leaving ones act for Allah to punish and reward.

PCPT Session 4:Religious Extremism and Religious Intolerance in Pakistan
Mr. Hassan Jaffar Zaidi was the resource person for the session on “Religious Extremism and Religious Intolerance in Pakistan”. Mr. Zaidi in his presentation looked into the following: 

  • Historical overview
  • Contributing  factors
  • Effects on national, regional and global peace
  • Response of the state, civil society and media in curbing religious extremism.

References from history were given to prove that the foundation of Pakistan was not on the basis of religion. Pakistan was meant to be Secular state where State and Religion were supposed to be totally Separate Entities. It was discussed that Violation of Founder’s Vision was made by intermingling state and Religion.  Historical facts which pushed state of Pakistan toward theocracy were discussed in detail.

PCPT Session 5: Report Writing
Miss Aysha Rao facilited the Reporst Writing Session and used different participatory techniques including group work, Power Point Presentation and individual sharing.

The topics discussed were:

  • Basic introduction to Creative Report Writing
  • Different way to document activity reports
  • Different way to document HR violations
  • Tips for effective report writing

PCPT Session 6
Lecture on “Social Exclusion, Extremism and Intolerance in Pakistan Causes, Impact and way-forwards”
Mr.  Ayaz Lateef Palijo, renowned politician, and campaigner and advocate of human rights and civil liberties delivered a lecture to the participants of Participatory Course on Peace and Tolerance.

Mr. Palijo said that “the discriminatory behaviors against religious minorities results in social exclusion and these behaviors are the reason for the decrease of the number of the minorities in Pakistan which are forcing them to leave Pakistan and take refuge in some other countries”. “The reason for these behaviors is that we have left the sufism and have spaced extremism in our behavior and have very less habit of research and reading, which left us to depend merely on verbosity” Mr. Palijo added. 

Mr. Palijo further said that cultural gatherings, reading habits, research, knowledge and belief in arguments and reasoning are very important to bring peace. If we blindly follow others, we would become easy people to be misguided. Mr. Palijo while discussing the prevalent intolerant attitude in Pakistan said that  “ignorance and misguided education were considered responsible for whole chaos”.  

PCPT participants assess the linching of Christian Couple at Kot Radha Kishan
The participants of PCPT visited the kot Radha Kishan district Kasur, the place where a Christian couple wasbunt alive for alleged blasphemy.This visit aimed to assess the effects of growing religious extremism and intolerance on the persons belonging to religious minorities and provide an opportunity to the participants to learn how to collect data and write a report.
During the visit the participants met with the relatives of the deceased and other brick-kiln workers and collected facts about the incident. The team observed a sever sense of insecurity among the brick-kiln workers who were not ready to talk about the incident. The Christian community and the family members shared the details of incidents told that the majority of the accused arrested in this case have already been released which is creating more threat to the community.
 At this occasion participoants and CHRE team expressed solidarity with the family members of Shama and Shahzad- the couple who was burnt alive.

PCPT participants visit the Shrine of Sufi Sant Hazrat Baba Bulleh Shah in Kasur

The participants visited Shrine of Baba Bulleh Shah a great Sufi poet to learn about the teaching of the Sufi Saint in fabvour of humanity, respect of all religious and other diversity.

 

PCPT participants make good-will exchange visits to minortities worship places  
The participants of PCPT were divided into four group and made following visits to assess the challenges to different religious minority communities:
 

  • Imam Bargah (Shia Community)
  • Church (Christian Community)
  • Gurdwara (Sikh Community)
  • Temple (Hindu Community)

Lobbying Meeting with the Human Rights & Minorities Affairs Department:
The participants held a lobbying meeting with the Human Rights & Minorities Affairs Department to share their findings of Kote Radha Kishan incident and their visit of the religious minoritiy communities.

Deputy Director of the Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Department Mr. Shoaib Zafar briefed about the work his Department while the participants shared their findings and submitted several recommendations.

The participants asked question about role of the Human Rights & Minorities Affairs Department in ensuring rights of Minorities and their further plan of action to prevent inhuman incident like Kot Radha Kishen, Joseph Colony, Shanti Nagar and Gojra etc.

PCPT participants join Human Rights Day Conference
On International Day of Human Rights, Center for Human Rights Education organized a Conference at Al-Hamra Arts Council- Lahore  on “Status of the Marginalized Communities in Pakistan: Issues, Concerns and Way foward”.

Approximately 300 people from marginalized communities such as gypsy community, religious minorities, transgender, and people from different walk of life participated in this Conference.

The speakers highlighted the discrimination and inhuman attitude toward Minorities in Pakistan and other marginalized communities and criticized the Policies of the Government.   

PCPT Session 8: Formation of Individual Plan
All the participants of PCPT made Individual Plans and submitted to CHRE. The purpose of this individual plan was to put learning into practice and to contrinbute to civil society’s efforts for a peaceful society.    

The first module of PCPT ended with the Oath Taking for Peace by all the participants in which they pledged of:

  • Laying foundation of peace from their family and home
  • Avoid  discrimination
  • Reject hatred
  • Respect diversity
  • Always adopt non-violent way to achieve motives

PCPT: Comments of the Participants:
Seema Rana Maheshwary:
“This course is a best source of learning for me. I have come to this reality that until and unless we change ourselves we won’t be able to the society. Punctuality was the best characteristic of the sessions which is usually missing in our society.  We have learnt that each and every moment is valuable. There were best speakers and facilitators this course has introduced us.  I have also developed the interest in studying and research after getting known to the scholars through PCPT”.

Dilip Doshi:
“I have got new ideas from this course. To bring Peace and tolerance we need to bring change in our way of thinking. Youth has a great responsibility. We should make a team of likeminded people and start working on stability peace and tolerance on urgent basis”.

Asma Aamir:
“I was a type of person who never motivated to work as volunteer. But PCPT has induced me to work voluntarily because this is our Society if we are not striving for its betterment than who would do this. I am also disillusioned of many conservative views. I was a person who thought discrimination a religious act but now I am of the view that religion has nothing to do with discrimination. There is nothing valuable than respecting humanity. Now we should first practice our self then through our character and words convey our message of Peace and Tolerance community”.

Arslan Khan:

“This course was very practical and thought provoking. I have felt the pain of minorities who are suffering worst situation in this country. We went to Kot Radha Kishan and directly interacted with brick-kiln workers. I now got to know how helpless these people are and this put a great responsibility on us to work with great zeal and enthusiasm for the rights of marginalized community. Atmosphere provided for PCPT was totally up to the mark which made our learning effective. Speakers of the Conferences and Facilitators of the training sessions were matchless. I haven’t felt that we have wasted a single moment. Overall this Module of PCPT was full of learning”.