Peace and Disarmament
"Voices of Peace" in Malaysia
"Voices of Peace: The Creative Way of Life" was the theme of a series of events organized by Soka Gakkai Malaysia (SGM) during September, their first Month of Peace, which will be held annually in September. The events aimed to enhance the public's awareness of peace issues and promote the spirit of humanism within society.
On September 25, one of the month's most notable events paid tribute to the life and poetry of Malaysia's renowned poet, Usman Awang, whose works explore the themes of love, peace, friendship, compassion and Malaysian identity. More than 60 performers and SGM members participated in the reading of his poems, which were read in six languages and also presented in the forms of dance, live music and choral performances. Mr. Usman's daughter, Puan Haslina Usman, was a guest performer.
Two of the "Voices of Peace" events focused on the role of women in the creation of peace. The first was an exhibition of the works of Malaysian women artists aged between 18 and 85, titled "The Splendour of Peace." The exhibition, held at SGM's Wisma Kebudayaan from September 10 to 25, not only featured an array of works in different mediums ranging from oil and acrylic paints to Chinese ink and batik, but expressed the artists' sentiments for peace. Co-organizers of the event included Island Gallery, June Art Space and SGM. The opening was officiated by YBhg Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun, Secretary General of Malaysia-China Cultural and Arts Association.
The second event, a lecture titled "Women and Peace," given by Professor Datin Azizan Baharuddin, head of the Centre for Civilizational Dialogue at the University of Malaya, was held on September 17. In her lecture, Dr. Azizan pointed out that greater understanding of how different cultures, science, sociology and theology view women and the physical, spiritual and emotional differences between men and women would further empower women as protagonists for peace.
At the Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), as part of SGM's Month of Peace, the UPM 2011 Peace Week was held from September 19 to 23. It was organized by the university's Institute of Social Science Studies and SGM. The peace week included the environmental exhibition "Seeds of Hope: Visions of sustainability, steps towards change," as well as a talk by International Islamic University of Malaysia Professor Dr. Abdullah Al-Ahsan on the historical context of the Arab Spring and future challenges the countries concerned face. A forum on human rights was also held by students of UPM.
SGM Selangor, Penang and Johor also rallied in the promotion of peace and organized the 2011 "Runs for Peace" in their respective states on October 2, the United Nations' International Day of Non-Violence. The runs attracted a total of some 15,000 participants who, in joining the runs, indicated their rejection of violence and support for the creation of a culture of peace. SGM Selangor first launched this event in 2005 and this year marks the fourth time the event has been held there.
In Penang, foreign students from the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) from countries such as China, Iran, Sweden and India, amongst others, joined the run. The event was co-organized by the USM branch of AIESEC, a global student organization present in over 110 countries and territories, the Right Livelihood College, the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, the Gandhiji Ashram Penang and the Taiping Peace Initiative.
[Adapted from reports from Soka Gakkai Malaysia (SGM); photos courtesy of SGM]