Jamila Raqib on Reducing Political Violence

Jamila Raqib on political nonviolence

Print Screen of Jamila Raqib at TEDxSF, from YouTube

Jamila Raquib is a woman on a mission as the Executive Director of the Albert Einstein Institution. In the time since she began working with the Boston-based organization, back in 2002, she has led many discussions on reducing political violence now and into the future. Within three years of beginning with the Institution, she was promoted to the Executive Director role.

Recently, in October of 2014, she gave a talk at the Oslo Freedom Forum about Dr. Gene Sharp’s work on nonviolence in the political and social realms. Gene Sharp is the founder of the Albert Einstein Institution and a Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Sharp wrote Self-Liberation: A Guide to Strategic Planning for Action to End a Dictatorship or Other Oppression with the assistance of Raqib.

This book is a strategic plan for use by people within politically oppressive systems, such as dictatorships. The guide provides practical ways to plan the building of a system that is both democratic and free. Self-Liberation: A Guide to Strategic Planning for Action to End a Dictatorship or Other Oppression is an open source document; you can read it for free online or download it (just click the link in this paragraph).

To quote the book, as to its intentions:

“With use of this guide to strategic planning, it is hoped that future nonviolent struggles to lift oppression can be made more effective and also be met with fewer casualties.” (p. 3)

The motivation to reduce political violence stems from Raqib’s tough childhood. When she was only five years old, Raqib and her family fled Afghanistan to escape Soviet rule. The word “oppression” is a good one to describe the family’s life when they were in Afghanistan.

The discussion of nonviolence is one that Jamila Raqib gives talks on regularly on behalf of the Albert Einstein Institution. In April of 2013, for example, she gave a presentation as part of the Pathways to Peace series. The title of her talk on that occasion was “Nonviolent Struggle: Past Use and Future Potential.” Below is a video of Jamila Raqib speaking at TEDxSF back in 2011:
 

Much of Jamila Raqib’s work is about the promotion of writings of the Albert Einstein Institution, including the above-noted document. The application of these writings to violent political struggles around the globe is what is her focus, as this is how to put the writings to practical use. She represents the Institution at many US and international events that address issues that Sharp’s organization deems to relate to its programs, educational initiatives, research studies or other related areas.

Since Self-Liberation: A Guide to Strategic Planning for Action to End a Dictatorship or Other Oppression was first published in 2009, it has been translated into Italian, Mandarin and Vietnamese.

Interestingly, I found Jamila Raqib’s Facebook page and noted a post on November 17, 2014, that partially reads:

“Nonviolent action has nothing to do with passivity, submissiveness, and cowardice; just as in violent action, these must first be rejected and overcome.”

I thought this point was well made as nonviolence, in my opinion, is actually the opposite of cowardice. I feel that it is easier and LESS brave to use violent action (whether in the political spectrum or not). Working together with other groups to reach a peaceful resolution, on the other hand, takes intelligence and respect. I vote for peace and the continued promotion of nonviolent action to achieve more democratic systems around the globe.
 
 
©2015 Christy Birmingham

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19 thoughts on “Jamila Raqib on Reducing Political Violence

  1. A very interesting post dear Christy!~

    Raqib personal story is touching indeed and I liked the way she took her own experience to prove that resistence can be more than a mere violent reaction towards a more violence state of things.

    Afganisthan and The Soviet rule!… Well the Soviet war in Afganisthan was tough indeed. It lasted nine years starting in 1979

    Getting closer, Rusia had certainly a heavy burden on its back… The Russian Revolution have birth to the Soviet Union and Stalin, one of the worst dictators ever…. Even more if we keep in mind that 40 million victims were killed during his dictatorship. (Source: From Stalin to Hitler, the most murderous regimes in the world http://dailym.ai/A3dinF)

    Well, apparently still nowadays living in Rusia is not the easiest thing, even when there are no mass-murder stakes and things are covered under the veils of legal forms.

    “President Vladimir Putin’s regime is on the verge of transitioning from mild authoritarianism to outright dictatorship. The country’s newly amended military doctrine is an especially ominous sign. Judging by it, the Kremlin’s response to the ongoing economic crisis will be to crack down on all signs of popular discontent”. Source: Leonid Bershidsky: In 2015, Putin will be an outright dictator http://natpo.st/1CRQCDz)

    One way or the other, it seems Raqib took her own story to make justice to those injustices somehow…

    From Afghanistan to Norway (Oslo) and beyond!… Her voice is her main strength when it comes to reach out Democracy!

    She states that on the video when she wonders: “How can we and weaken the oppression can we strengthen the population so that it is able to resist powerfully and effectively?”…
    ~ Well here is a hint: Non violent struggle might be the answer. Society and its institutions weaken Dictatorships without any call for weapons being involved!

    Thanks for this great reading Chris! I ‘ll make sure to read “Self-Liberation: A Guide to Strategic Planning for Action to End a Dictatorship or Other Oppression “.

    And, by the way the last paragraphs of your posts are encouraging and really touched me! Thank you! Best wishes ⭐ Aquileana 😀

    • Hi Aquileana, that is great that you found such a connection with this post. Thank you for the beautiful comment! I think she is such a compelling speaker, who has a sense of delicate urgency that is relatively new to me to hear in speakers. Her childhood experience certainly has made her more passionate about non-violence. As to your discussion of non-violent struggle, I hope that peace comes soon around the world. I hope you have a wonderful night, shining star!

    • Hi Michelle, as soon as I heard her video, I knew I had to show it within the post. It’s not every day that we have the opportunity to hear a speaker such as her. Thank goodness for technology that enables us to simply hit play and hear her words!

  2. Wonderful share here Christy. I hadn’t heard of Jamlla before. It’s always fascinating to learn about such empowering women here on your blog. I shall share and spread your words as always. ❤

  3. I vote for peace, too. Of course a non-violent approach that challenges does take intelligence, respect and even patience. This type of intellect is not always learned in a school, but is taught by such minded parenting and community upbringing.
    I’ve always thought of the old saying “A chain is as strong as its weakest link” when I think of civilization, I think. “Mankind is as peaceful as its most violent people, as civilized as its most uncivil, and as brave as its cowards.”
    We need to replace the weakest links, wisely, with strong ones, which is what I think Jamila Raqib is doing.

    • Ah, great metaphor with the chain link, Resa. Rather than using traditional classroom teaching methods, it’s wonderful to have mentors and genuine, passionate speakers, such as Jamila. Thank you for your comment that says so much about your caring spirit xx

  4. Jamilia Raqib is an inspiring young woman. Thank you for showcasing her Christy.

    I agree that violence is the cowardly thing to do.

    Have a great weekend. 🙂

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