Category Archives: News Update

Hunger Striking to Death’s Door: Former Guantánamo Prisoner in Uruguay Seeks Family Reunification

Read this remarkable article written by Andrés Thomas Conteris who has long served as NI’s Director of the Program on the Americas. Mr. Conteris is receiving no funding for his work.  Please consider donating to help his solidarity work.

Abu Wa'el Dhiab at press conference
Abu Wa’el Dhiab at press conference


In 2007, Abu Wa’el Dhiab (aka Jihad Diyab), surrounded by other prisoners on hunger strike in Guantánamo, decided not to join. He had refused to eat at other times (once because guards flushed the Koran down the toilet), but this time, he wasn’t ready. With his fellow prisoners nearby wasting away, he requested to be moved. Permission denied.

When Dhiab joined the strike, prison authorities acquiesced to change his cell. It was too late. He had embarked on a politically motivated fast that lasted, with few exceptions, until leaving Gitmo 7 years later.

While still at the Guantanamo gulag, a Uruguayan official visited Dhiab, age 43, saying his family would be in Montevideo to welcome him to freedom. Upon arriving on December 7, 2014, his family wasn’t there. Month after month he was told to be patient, “no te preocupes,” (don’t worry). For the full article click below.

El-Hibri Foundation Peace Award Winners

El-Hibri Foundation Peace Awards Ceremony


We would like to extend a special congratulations to the 2016 El-Hibri Peace Education Prize Winner, Eboo Patel. Eboo is the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC). He will receive the 2016 El-Hibri Peace Education Prize for his long-term leadership in building inclusive and socially just communities in the U.S. Dr. Patel founded IFYC in 2002 with the goal of making interfaith cooperation a social norm. Today, IFYC has become the largest interfaith organization in North America, partnering with college campuses to foster and develop institutional cultures of mutual understanding, respect, inclusion, and collaboration. Each year it trains 500 college students to be interfaith leaders and reaches nearly 1,000 college campuses with its messages and programs. Through IFYC, Dr. Patel’s work has advanced interfaith studies as a new academic discipline which is recognized today as a field of study and taught in over 100 colleges. In 2009, he served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council and helped launch the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, which engages over 500 campuses each year in high-quality, sustainable interfaith work. Dr. Patel has consulted with the White House, U.S. Department of Education, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, and many others to share best practices for interfaith programming and cooperation. He is the author of Acts of Faith, Sacred Ground, and Interfaith Leadership: A Primer.

You can read more about the award and other winners here.

Zaytouna-Oliva Women to be ‘deported’ / Details Emerge about the Capture


Two journalists from Al Jazeera who were on board Zaytouna-Oliva have been released and have safely reached London and Moscow. The other 11 women of the Women’s Boat to Gaza are still in detention, but we anticipate that they will be ‘deported’ soon, as they were moved yesterday from Givon Prison to a detention facility at Ben-Gurion airport.

Wendy Goldsmith, a member of the land team working to secure the release of the women stated that, “the deportation is happening much quicker than in previous flotillas. While we had a great legal team assisting the women, we suspect that the reason for the quick release was because of all the negative media attention Israel has been receiving for its illegal interception, including the demand of rock band Pink Floyd.” According to early reports from the women released, the Zaytouna-Oliva was surrounded by two warships along with four to five smaller naval boats. The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) demanded that the Zaytouna-Oliva stop its course towards Gaza. When the warning was refused, at least seven IOF members, both male and female, boarded our yacht and commandeered it in international waters.

Read more here.

Consider donating to the Women’s Boat to Gaza here.

Ships with all-women crews set sail for Gaza, hoping to break blockade

From The New York Times Women in the World staff:


Two boats packed with activists, politicians, and artists from around the world have set sail for the Gaza Strip as part of an effort to break a nearly decade-long Israeli blockade. The boats, named Amal and Zaytouna (“hope” and “olive” in Arabic, respectively), set sail on Wednesday from Barcelona, with only women comprising the crew for each vessel.

Among those aboard were Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead MaGuire from Ireland, American screenwriter and playwright Naomi Wallace, and Cigdem Topcuoglu, the professional athlete from Turkey who was on the Mavi Marmara in 2010 when the ship, in the midst of a similar attempt at breaking the blockade, was boarded by Israeli commandos. Topcuoglu’s husband was among 10 activists killed by the Israeli military in the incident.

Read more here.


NI’s unique role in Ukraine

NI is doing valuable peacebuilding work in forgotten Ukraine, and invites your support and interest. People are dying from the war every day in Ukraine. For the first time since WW2, the European continent has experienced annexation of a territory of one state by another. External interference and propaganda were used to escalate relatively minor internal tensions to the level of open violence and further – to a large-scale military conflict. The world is seriously discussing the possibility of sliding into a state of a “new cold war.”

The crisis in Ukraine has developed due to an intrinsic combination of internal and external factors. Violence was imposed on Ukrainian society through an armed intervention from Russia.  Foreign intervention on a limited scale, as it took place in April – June 2014, would never have resulted in a full-out war had it not been for the existing divisions and conflicts within Ukrainian society.

Our Role

In this situation Nonviolence International sees its task to help address current challenges by means of dialogue, education, and through the development of civil activities that bring down barriers, and bridge the fault lines in the Ukrainian society. Since the regional chapter of Nonviolence international in Russia closed because of the political situation in the country in the end of 2014, the focus of NI’s regional representative has been almost entirely on Ukraine. Over the past year in a half, activities have included:

Supporting the Ukrainian Peace-building School (UPbS) in

  • training local activists,

  • monitoring and analyzing the effects of local civil projects,

  • developing a “framework strategy” for the integration of IDPs and other conflict-affected groups, and

  • writing a book: “International experience of civilian peace-building in the post-Soviet space”.

NI also continues to coordinate the activities of the Eastern Europe regional network of the Global Partnership for Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), including the support for long-term strategies such as

  • introducing peace education into formal and informal educational institutions;

  • practical work on conflict prevention and transformation, (including the development of dialogue practices on the community, interregional and inter-state levels); and

  • enhancement of the impact/influence of civil peace-building organizations.

Civil Society

Civil society has become a powerful force in Ukraine. According to recent surveys, civil society groups are trusted beyond official government institutions and even beyond the church. However, to capitalize on these levels of confidence, to match the high expectations regarding the role of civil activists in the transformation of Ukrainian society, they themselves need to re-assess their true role and potential impact, and to design strategies that will allow to maximize the “return” on their efforts.

Right now the regional representative is serving a unique role of planning and  coordination to enhance the contributions of Ukrainian civil society to the restoration of peace in their country: These include:

  • Surveying, cajoling, and coordinating diverse peace groups who compete for funds and attention.

  • Developing a strategic plan that supports peacebuilding in Ukraine and seeks some level of support / endorsement on the part of relevant government institutions and international organizations.

There is no military solution to Ukraine’s problems. Ukraine must heal its divisions and build a society that will pull the country back together economically, socially, and politically.