Avicenna International Award For Intercultural Cooperation For Peace-III

On Thursday March 18, 2021, the Afghan Institute for Strategic Studies (AISS), held the third Awarding Ceremony of "Avicenna International Peace Award: Intercultural Cooperation for Peace" with the presence of distinguished academics, diplomats, civil society members and media representatives attending the event. Avicenna Peace Award aims to honor the distinguished individual(s) and institution(s) whose efforts have significantly contributed to solving complex conflicts.

The program included speech by Dr Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Former National Security Adviser of Afghanistan; Dr Sima Samar, Former Chairman of the Independent Human Rights Commission of Afghanistan; Mr. Thomas Guibert, Chargé d'Affaires of the French Embassy in Kabul; Senator Dr Anarkali Honaryar; Prof. Bashir Ahmad Ansari, Researcher in Religious Affairs; traditional music and Sufi Sama performance.

This year's award (2020) was awarded to Senator Dr Anarkali Honaryar. Dr Honaryar is Sikh Afghan politician. She is the first non-Muslim member of the National Assembly of Afghanistan. Honaryar is a well-known human rights activist and has been awarded with the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize for the Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence. "for her work helping women who suffer from domestic abuse, forced marriages and gender discrimination and for her commitment to promote the ideals of human dignity, human rights, mutual respect and tolerance in her country." Honaryar was also chosen by Radio Free Europe's Afghan chapter as person of the year in 2009.

At the beginning, Dr. Rangin Dadfar Spanta stated that Hinduism is part of Afghanistan's multicultural society. According to Dr. Spanta, Hinduism is part of the history of Afghanistan and has greatly contributed to the development of the country; but unfortunately, there has been a lot of discrimination against this minority group, and other minorities in different historical periods. He called on all egalitarians to fight for a comprehensive non-discriminatory society.

Dr. Sima Samar also emphasized that Afghanistan is a country of minorities, and this diversity shows the beauty of the country. Unfortunately, in this country, discrimination is still widespread and in various forms, not only against Hindus but also against other minorities as well. According to Dr. Samar, oppression and discrimination have been part of the history of Afghanistan, not only against humans, but against historical symbols as well. As an example, she pointed to the government's recent actions against certain people demonstrate discrimination.

"Afghanistan is a country that embraces different cultures and there will be no lasting peace without respect for the rights of minorities," said Thomas Guibert. He said Afghanistan has a brilliant civilization but has been a hotbed of extremism for years. Regarding Dr. Honaryar, he said that Dr. Honaryar has always worked for the rights of minorities, especially women, and that she demonstrates her commitment to equality.

While appreciating the Afghanistan Institute for Strategic Studies, Dr. Anarkali Honaryar said that Hindus are part of Afghanistan's historical identity and, like other citizens, have played a role in building the country. According to Dr Honaryar, Hindus have experienced various forms of discrimination in Afghanistan, and unfortunately this trend is still goes on. She added that despite 20 years of democracy in Afghanistan, discrimination has not yet faded and remains strong. In the end, Dr Honaryar said, "I will continue to fight for the prosperity of this country and against discrimination against minorities."

Prof. Bashir Ahmad Ansari said that there are all kinds of discrimination in Afghanistan and this bad behavior sometimes manifests itself in the form of race, language and religion. According to him, there is no majority in Afghanistan and the multi-ethnicity of the country should be for the welfare of the country, not backwardness. Ansari added that Islam does not mean ignoring the rights of religious minorities and that discriminatory acts are against Islamic norms.