2011 laureate: AL-Mesalla organization

AL-Mesalla  Center for Human Resources Development / Iraq

“Non-violence as a strategy to solve
our differences and built a peaceful country”.

Al-Mesalla is an Iraqi non-governmental and non-profitable organisation, based on voluntary work, with financial and administrative independence, established first in Baghdad in 2004 and in Erbil in 2006 when its activities expanded.

The organisation believes in national reconciliation and a democratic Iraq. Every year, it holds a non-violence week in October.

The organisation implements hundreds of activities throughout Iraq to promote peace, like roundtables with political parties, theatre activities in Erbil, demonstrations with trade unions in Basra, peaceful activities in kindergartens in Najaf, poetry lectures in Baghdad, inter-religious dialogue in Duhok and Mosul.

In one of the difficult moment facing the country in 2006 when sectarian conflicts broke up, Al-Mesalla was very active in getting civil society organisations from different ideological, religious and ethnic background to cooperate under the same message: “Non-violence as a strategy to solve our differences and built a peaceful country”.

Al-Mesalla works in networking among grassroots organisations. It was instrumental, for example, in the establishment of the first Iraqi non-violence group called LaOnf to raise awareness on human rights and peacebuilding in Iraq through civic education campaigns. More than 22 NGOs members regrouped in LaOnf were provided with micro grants to implement the campaign.

Al-Mesalla was established to be a tool for Iraqis in order to build a peaceful and democratic Iraq that does not threat its own people, neighbor and the world, without discrimination of nationality, race, sex, religion and color. It is an open forum to defend human rights and peacebuilding through non-violent ways. Since its establishment, Al-Mesalla includes Arabs and Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites. It is for all Iraqis from all different places of Iraq.

The organisation aims to stabilize the principles of democracy, equality, human rights, rational management, and non-violence ethics, through education of the civil society.

Its objectives are to:

  • Spread human rights culture, supporting principles of human rights in general and women rights in particular.
  • Reject all sorts of violence and discrimination on the bases of gender, races, religion and sectarian differences.
  • Spread the culture of non-violence as the only way for political, economical, social, and educational changes.
  • Build the capacity of young class and civil community organisations and strengthening their role in the society.
  • Support the neglected classes of the community, those who have faced violence or suffer from poverty to integrate them to the community

With accumulated historical differences and the presence of high tensions in the country, the promotion of non-violence in solving differences and establishing peacebuilding programmes is not an easy task. In order to do so, the organisation trains civil society activists on non-violence methods and peacebuilding. It has been doing so since 2005.

Al-Mesalla is the first Iraqi organization working on this kind of programmes. Due to the lack of non-violence and peacebuilding trainers in Iraq, the organization works in close relationship with international experts to train trainers (Spanish Nova, French non-violent intellectual Jean-Marie Muller and specialists in Lebanon). The first trainings started in Baghdad calling for peace and coexistence among Iraqis and were followed by more sessions in 2007 in Erbil. Since then, trainings have been launched in 11 Iraqi provinces.

Al-Mesalla and his partners are planning to open “Peace and Non-violence Libraries” in different cities of the countries (Baghdad, Maysan, Salahaddin, Kirkuk, Erbil and three in Naynawa Valley) that will offer books and documentation as well as film documentaries on non-violence and peacebuilding.

Al-Mesalla has aslso printed, translated and published books and pamphlets on non-violence, “Gandhi, Messenger of Peace” (for children), documentary films on Gandhi, Martin Luther King, among others. The documentary films have been shown on local TV channels and are used for trainings. Books and pamphlets are distributed in schools as well as to activists and organisations.

Al-Mesalla has also a special programme for women, which started in 2007. This programme aims at erasing violence against women, at educating women and the society about Women Rights, to provide health, logistic and social services for women victims of violence based on gender discrimination, to have train courses on small investments projects for women who have faced violence and to encourage networking among organisations working for women.

The organisation offers to women victims of violence legal, health and social services in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in the Kurdistan region of Iraq as well as with the Ministry of Interior.

Al-Mesalla is financed by voluntary contributions and has received financial support overt the years from, among others, UNOPS, the International Rescue Committee, Spanish organisation Nova, the Heartland Alliance Organisation, the Italian organisation “Bridge to…”.

For more information about Al-Mesalla, please review the following sources: