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Southeast Asia: Initiatives to Celebrate International Day of Peace

Various youth groups in Southeast Asia are initiating several activities to celebrate the International Day of Peace on September 21. The campaign is timely and relevant since many countries in the region are troubled by long running civil wars, border disputes, and separatist movements.

Chip Huyen, a Vietnamese youth and avid traveller, discussed how travelling can promote peace:

I believe that mutual understanding is the key to peace, and traveling gives you the first hand experience to really understand the world around us. As we understand more, we judge less. As we judge less, we are more willing to accept, rather than to hate or to be afraid of, the difference. We will not hate somebody just because they are of different color, different religion, or different culture.

Promoting Peace in Mekong

Promoting Peace in Mekong

Rithy from Cambodia believes that peace is more than just an absence of conflict:

Peace is not only one issue, Conflict or war, but it is also our daily problems such as environment, politic, religion, education, justice, especially the “Living Standard” of the people which we cannot deal only one problem and we said we have peaceful country.

Some believe that adults have to treasure the values of children for peace. Mueanfun Kongchuai from Creative Youth Group of Southern Thailand mentioned how we should respect the choices of kids.

All I want to achieve is to respect and treasure the children’s freedom of thought whenever they want to decide on their own and create learning on their own. Finally, you have to respect what children choose.

Nway Nway from Sittwe, Myanmar recited a poem titled “We are all for all” during the Myanmar Youth Conference 2012.

Why we still need to fight with each other?
Since we are living under the same sun…

Why we still need to discriminate each other?
Since we are surviving under the same moon…

Why we still need to keep the conflicts go on?
Since we are struggling under the same sky…

We are children of the world.
We are children of the nature…

Under the same umbrella of hope and peace…
Protecting ourselves from war and hatred….

So, we all are for all….
Living to learn and learning to lead….

Napalmjoy lauded the unity between young Muslims and Christians in Philippines at the Peace Tech Youth Ambassadors Assembly.

It was so heartwarming to see. It is so rare to see Muslims and Christians interacting here in the Philippines, much less interacting as friends and without prejudice. We might as well be living in two different countries when it comes to Manila and Mindanao. These are teens maturing with a mindset of peace. Growing up in a time where Muslim was a byword for fear, it is wonderful to see the next generation grow up wanting to bridge the gap that has divided my country so deeply that we’ve gone to war because of it.

‘Stop Wars Stand For PEACE'.  Flag-mob activities in ASEAN Youth Forum 2012, Cambodia. Photo from Myanmar Youth Campaign Facebook Page

Mekong Peace Journey, which focuses on building a culture of peace in the Mekong region, held a series of activities recruiting young peace ambassadors in Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam. For example, CTEP4Peace organises the Cambodia Thai Exchange program annually which aims to create better understanding and mutual trust between the two countries. Meanwhile, the Southeast Asian Human Rights Studies Network (SEAHRN) organises the annual conference on Human Rights and Peace & Conflict in Southeast Asia. In Myanmar, the Peace Network demands a stop in the ongoing civil war.

Peace Generation from Indonesia is organizing a “Rainbow for Peace” movement which is a new initiative and the first movement in Indonesia supported by community youth from the Peace Generation Yogyakarta.

The International Day of Peace will be celebrated in 8 cities and provinces in Cambodia organised by the Working Group for Peace.

Yangon-based Voluntary Youth Network composed of 17 volunteer groups in Myanmar is planning to organise several peace activities[my] such as singing peace songs and distributing peace posters with the common slogan of “STOP Civil War”.

SGM (Soka Gakkai Malaysia) in Malaysia is also organizing an exhibition – “Building A Culture Of Peace For The Children Of The World” to support the United Nations’ Culture of Peace Initiative.

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