Iraqi Social Forum (ISF) & Iraqi Civil Society Solidarity Initiative (ICSSI)
On Tuesday, 19 September 2017, to celebrate the International Day of Peace, and in solidarity with the city of Nasiriyah, civil society volunteer teams in the city of Hit organized a special event — a first in the city. Attended by about 35 children and interested youth, along with volunteers from youth teams and various groups in the city, the event was held at the new Shakoufyan Cultural Center. Both the center and this recent celebration are part of the Shakoufyan Initiative, which has been active in Hit city since April 2016. The initiative is coordinated and run by volunteer team members and works actively for social peace.
The event included a short speech by Ahmed Salam, one of the volunteers from the Shakoufyan Initiative. He addressed the importance of this day, and the values represented by the celebration. These values, he said, extend beyond Hit, and its residents have created a special opportunity to send messages calling for peace in all cities of Iraq, The event helps to demonstrate the idea that another Iraq is possible. To illustrate this, a group of youth stood together, their bodies forming the sign for peace, and launched balloons into the sky, each one carrying a message to a different Iraqi city. At the conclusion of the event, participants wrote still more messages on a panel entitled “Messages from Hit to Nasiriyah”. Their words were full of love and solidarity for the city, and the hope is that the panel will be displayed there.
A number of volunteer teams working in the city attended, one of the most important of which was the “Echo of Life” team, which works to raise awareness within the Hit community. Also present were volunteers from the “Basair” team, and the “Hope” team which are active in cinema, and in the production of short films. The “Afkar’ association, which provides humanitarian assistance in the city, also participated.
During the event, Mahmoud al-Hiti from the Shakoufyan Initiative explained the two primary reasons they chose the city of Nasiriyah as their partner in the event: first, they wanted to send clear messages of solidarity with the families of the victims of the recent terrorist attacks; and second, because the city of Hit is intimately linked to the city of Nasiriyah. The two cities share historical, cultural and humanitarian bonds. The location of the city of Hit, on the banks of the Euphrates, was a commercial route across the river to the city of Nasiriyah, and Hit is one of the ancient cities of Iraq which acted as an extension of those civilizations, like Nasiriyah, which thrived along the river in southern Iraq.
At the end, participants and organizers agreed to plan an annual peace event each 19 September in the city of Hit.