The Gandhi Foundation International Peace Award 2017

On Tuesday 17th October at the House of Lords The Gandhi Foundation gave its International Peace Award to Ramzi Abu Redwan and his organisation Al Kamandjati (The violinist). The meeting was hosted on behalf of the Gandhi Foundation by our president Lord Bhikhu Parekh who with his usual mastery of these occasions welcomed the fifty or so guests and gave an overall introduction about Ramzi and his organisation. Prior to the event starting Lord Bhikhu had hosted Ramzi and his wife Celine for tea at the House of Lords.

The evening began by Omar Hayat speaking about the power of imagination and how the world had been transformed by imagination and that music too was an audio representation of someone’s imagination and so had the possibility of changing the world. Omar Hayat went on to explain why the Trustees of the GF gave the award to Ramzi. He explained that despite the desperate situation of the people and especially children living in the refugee camps in Ramallah Ramzi sought an alternative narrative to bring together people who have been convulsed by decades of violence and animosity. He went on to read the citation which states that music breaks down the mental borders and allows us to elevate to a higher calling and helps to foster in us an ability to ‘hear’ the vision of the ‘other’ and to understand that a common relationship exists. It is precisely through these types of involvement that we will see a change in the thinking of people leading one day to a common understanding and realisation of a common destiny for all the people of the region. The citation went on to explain that though Ramzi who was born in Bethlehem and grew up in the Al Amari refugee camp he chose to direct his energy in resisting the occupation through music and using music to also show the human side of all through this common medium and although, the goals of bringing people together are ambitious and long term the immediate benefits of the Al Kamandjati music schools are on the lives of the children attending. The children are from the refugee camps and villages and have experienced first-hand the cruelty of occupation. The schools offer a sanctuary and an opportunity for children to learn to play musical instruments and of their musical heritage whilst allowing them to express themselves through music. The association reaches around 100 children every year and organises concerts and festivals to showcase their talents.

Peter Tatchell, recipient of the award in 2016, had kindly agreed to attend this year’s award ceremony and was asked to say a few words as to what the award meant to him and then passed on the award to Ramzi, as is the tradition. Ramzi then read his acceptance speech which is attached here.

Following the speech there was a lively Q&A with the audience and people were genuinely interested in what Ramzi was doing and how the occupation could be resolved.

Although, the House does not generally give permission for music to be played, a blind eye was turned towards Ramzi, who played the violin for the guests. It was a wonderful way to finish the evening, to have a world renowned artist play.

After the event ended, a few interviews were conducted by TV press crews.

For those who wish to read more of Ramzi’s life story there is a book:

Children of the Stone: The Power of Music in a Hard Land by Sandy Tolan. Children of the Stone is a story about music, freedom and conflict; determination and vision. It’s a vivid portrait of life amid checkpoints and military occupation, a growing movement of nonviolent resistance, the past and future of musical collaboration across the Israeli-Palestinian divide, and the potential of music to help children see new possibilities for their lives. Above all, Children of the Stone chronicles the journey of Ramzi Aburedwan, and how he worked against the odds to create something lasting and beautiful in a war-torn land.

Ramzi Abu Redwan & Celine Dagher

 

Ramzi Abu Redwan & Peter Tatchell

 

Audience in Committee Room 1

 

Ramzi Abu Redwan, Lord Bhikhu Parekh & Dr Omar Hayat

Categories: 1. News & Events, 2. Peace Award

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