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