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CAMBRIDGE, MA—Groups of Indians and Pakistanis together joined hands in a global standout for peace in South Asia across 20 countries on Sunday, March 3 in response to rising tensions and war-mongering between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

“War is not a solution to anything. It sets us back many years, not just in India and Pakistan but in all the countries of our region. It sets back all the other agendas we are trying to work on,” said Aruna Roy, pioneer of the right to information movement in India.

Ms. Roy, a Magsaysay awardee — known as Asia’s Nobel — who lives in a small village in Rajasthan, India, is currently a visiting fellow at Brown University.

She was speaking at the Boston edition of the Global StandOut for Peace in South Asia, held in around 20 countries all over the world Sunday 3 March 2019 in response to rising tensions and war-mongering between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan.

Former Indian army officer, Parag Shirname also addressed the 150 or so students, activists and community members who braved freezing weather to participate in the Boston event, the front steps of MIT. Many had attended Dr Roy’s talk on “Challenges to Democracy in India” earlier that afternoon at MIT.

“We need to make the governments follow our vision of peace,” he said. “Every drop in the ocean counts.”

Nino Brown of the ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) coalition stressed that the people of United States “don’t want war with Venezuela” either and mentioned the “US Hands Off Venezuela” rallies are taking place around the country.

A letter by 66 Nobel Laureates has urged the prime ministers of India and Pakistan to exercise restraint. The signatories include India’s Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai who jointly won the Nobel Award for Peace in 2014.

The Global StandOut for Peace in South Asia was held at over 20 cities around the world. Participants in Washington DC also braved rain and freezing weather, mitigated by free cups of tea from a nearby restaurant.

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Besides DC and Boston, people gathered for the Global StandOut in New Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Bhopal, Lahore, Karachi, Washington, D.C., New York, Providence RI, Michigan, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, Dublin, The Hague, and other locations.

The citizen-led initiative raising a collective voice against violence and hate-narratives at a time of increasing divisiveness issued the following statement, read at all the StandOuts:

“Participants of Global StandOut for Peace in South Asia are citizens across nationalities and borders, standing together in response to escalating tensions between India and Pakistan and the looming fear of war between two nuclear-armed states.

Today, we join hands in around 20 cities globally as part of a citizen-led initiative, calling for an end to violence and the narrative of hate that is behind immense human suffering and tragedy in the region.

The StandOut recognizes the pain of the people of in the Jammu and Kashmir region and those who suffer the consequences of the violence. We stand together in calling for peace in the area and for all issues to be resolved through dialogue.

Our call for peace and dialogue comes at a time of increasing divisiveness and narrative of hatred in the region amplified by the media. We urge media professionals to review the core journalistic basics and ethics of verification and impartiality before rushing to be the first with news or analysis.

Peace makes economic sense. Without trade barriers, India and Pakistan trade, currently 2 billion dollars, could reach 37 billion dollars. Better trade relations, soft borders and free movement of people and goods would give South Asia a chance to prosper, eradicate poverty, strengthen democracies, and enable a peaceful future for the coming generations.

 

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As peace loving people alarmed at the mindless military spending across the world, we demand the immediate convening of the Fourth UN Special Session on Disarmament with an agenda to freeze the arms race and take active steps to speedily move towards the goal of disarmament and peace.”

The StandOut was supported by individual Indians, Pakistanis, South Asians, peace activists, besides bilateral and regional organizations including the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, Aman ki Asha (hope for peace), Aaghaz-e-Dosti (Start Friendship), South Asia Solidarity Group (London). Citizens Against War, Artists Unite, Universal Welfare Foundation, besides student organizations at MIT, Columbia University, SOAS (London), SAIS (Johns Hopkins University), Brown University among dozens of others were part of the initiative.

Supporting organizations in Boston include Aazaad Lab, ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), Coalition for a Democratic India, Alliance for Justice and Accountability, Alliance for a Secular & Democratic South Asia, MIT Students Against War, and South Asia Solidarity Initiative.

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