This year the International Day of Peace (‘Peace Day’) will be observed around the world on Thursday 21st September. This day is devoted to “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.”
The theme for this year’s Peace Day is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All” which aims to promote diversity, non-discrimination and acceptance of refugees and migrants.
To maximise the opportunity for people to celebrate Peace Day, the Gallipoli Centenary Peace Campaign (GCPC) organised an event in Marrickville Peace Park on Saturday 16th September.
The event which attracted some people from as far afield as Berowra was facilitated by John Butcher (Convener of GCPC) and included speeches by Moones Mansoubi (Co-ordinator of the Refugee Welcome Centre in Rozelle) and Jon Atkins (Secretary of GCPC).
Moones outlined the Refugee Welcome Centre’s mission and the support services that are currently been established to assist the social inclusion of refugees. Operating from a renovated building in the former mental health facility in Callan Park, the Refugee Welcome Centre is a joint initiative of Inner West Council and the Justice and Peace Office of the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney and is supported by Settlement Services International (SSI). The Centre will operate as a day centre, providing practical support services, as well as leisure activities such as cooking and sport for new arrivals.
Jon spoke about the United Nation’s adoption of the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty on 7th July this year and emphasised the significance of this Treaty in the light of the conflict between United States and North Korea and growing tensions between NATO and Russia. The humanitarian and environmental catastrophe resulting from any war involving nuclear weapons was highlighted and people were urged to support action by International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons‘ (ICAN) aimed at persuading the Federal Parliament to ratify the Treaty. Member states of the United Nations will be able to ratify the Treaty from 20th September 2017. It will acquire legal force when signed and ratified by 50 nations.
Topics addressed by other participants included:
- the plight of asylum seekers stranded in Papua New Guinea and Nauru;
- the work of SERVAS International which has consultative status at the United Nations;
- the campaign activities of Grandmothers Against Detention of Refugee Children (NSW);
- the need to become resolute about peace because that is what those whom we remember on Anzac Day thought they were dying for;
- Australia’s ongoing engagement with the US in wars overseas;
- the need to recognise Australia’s international peacekeeping operations;
- how peace has been defined by philosophers and others through the ages.
The event concluded with the placing of signs on the Peace Tree – a Sydney Red Gum (Angophora costata) – which was supplied by the former Marrickville Council and planted by community members in the Peace Park on Anzac Day 2016.
Additional sources of information:
- Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty;
- Inner West Council’s media release on the Refugee Welcome Centre;
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) criticism of Australia’s harmful practice of offshore processing of asylum seekers;
- International Day of Peace.