The Peace Forum of Anbar and The Iraqi Social Forum

In the city of Ramadi, on 13 January 2018, Al-Ma’arif College hosted a Peace Forum, called “Anbar Al-Salam” (Anbar of Peace), in which 400 people took part. The festival was dedicated to teams of volunteers and organizations that are active in Ramadi and Falluja, many of which worked on the reconstruction of the city after the return of people who had been displaced by Deash’s occupation. The festival was open to the public, and included various activities, displayed handicrafts made by working women of the province, drawings and photographs by a group of talented young painters and artists, and booths which introduced attendees to the work of the volunteer teams.

Performers took to the stage and opened the festival with the Iraqi national anthem. After that, Zaid Al Mayouf, a member of the Anbar Forum, gave a short speech on behalf of the festival’s organizing committee saying, “Today we are launching the first steps of establishing the Peace Forum which will be an arena for cooperation and collaboration among groups, activists, organizations, volunteers and unions. We will work to coordinate their efforts to rebuild our cities and activate a strong role for civil society to build the Anbar that we are dreaming of: Anbar of peace safety and love”.

Ahmed Alaa from the Secretariat of the Iraqi Social Forum expressed his own happiness and that of his colleagues in the Iraqi Social Forum for this festival, which represented the launch of the Peace Forum. “The space that you and your colleagues are creating in the city will be fertile ground for gathering all the forces behind a positive social movement in order to build another Iraq,” Ahmed said.

Poetry played a big part in the festival: the poets Adnan Al-Fahad and Razak Al-Batah presented emotional work which praised peace and patriotism, while the Alshiraa artistic team put on a play  highlighting the importance of volunteer work, specifically the way in which volunteers have helped the displaced people and rebuilding the city after liberation from Daesh.

Musical performances also graced the stage of Anbar Al-Salam, where the musician Ayham Muhsin played music on the Oud, followed by the performance of the HHU rap band from Hit. The festival concluded with 21 volunteer teams from the city being honored for their continuous work and efforts in helping the IDPs and restoring the cities of Anbar. Memorial photos and audience laughter were the finale of this festival.

The Peace Forum is a civil space for joint action, and consists of a number of volunteer teams and community organizations active in Ramadi and Falluja. It operates in accordance with the charter and principles of the Iraqi Social Forum. The Forum has already organized various events supported by the Swiss FAI Foundation, in cooperation with the Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative, the Information Center for Research and Development, and the Italian Organization, Un Ponte Per…