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Afghan anti-corruption committee emerges from civil resistance workshops

Afghan women participating in a workshop on nonviolent civil resistance in Kunar. (WNV/Ahmadullah Archiwal)

Afghan women participating in a workshop on nonviolent civil resistance in Kunar. (WNV/OSCAR)

A committee composed of 34 volunteers that aims to fight corruption nonviolently in Kunar province was established on October 2013 at the conclusion of five workshops on nonviolent civic mobilization in Kunar province.

The committee is the first of its type, with representatives from different sectors — including youth, religious scholars, tribal chiefs and women in the province — and two from every district in Kunar province.

The volunteers are graduates of recent nonviolent civic mobilization workshops conducted by the Organization for Social, Cultural, Awareness and Rehabilitation, or OSCAR, over the last three months. A total of 161 members of civil society, including 60 women, were trained in the workshops on nonviolent civic mobilization and connected though a Facebook group in the province.

Although the majority of the workshops’ participants were familiar with the term “nonviolence,” to many it meant pacifying people in the face of repression. However, the workshops were aimed to change the participants’ mentality about nonviolent civil resistance. The post-workshop evaluation showed that the mentality of the graduates of the workshops has changed significantly. They believe otherwise now, and think that nonviolent civic mobilization is an active way of waging struggle to fight corruption and gain their constitutional rights.

Women have been participants in all of the workshops that were recently conducted, however, one workshop was solely for them. This was the first ever workshop on the philosophy of civil resistance for women in Afghanistan, and it was held in one of the most traditional and volatile provinces in the country.

OSCAR is a pioneer of nonviolent civic mobilization workshops in Afghanistan. The organization has introduced this philosophy of nonviolent civic mobilization for the first time in the country, and has trained a large number of youth and civil society members in Kunduz and Kunar provinces. The organization has translated Civilian Jihad, which was edited by Maria Stephen, from English into Pashto and has also recently published the first book on the topic in Afghanistan, called Nonviolent Civic Mobilization Guide.

OSCAR will be monitoring activities of the committee members for the next 12 months. OSCAR will also be watching nonviolent civic mobilization related activities of the graduates and will be publishing such news in the Facebook group.