Hi, I am Emel Ajdini from Kosovo. I’m a youth worker at the NGO Integra in Prishtina, and I’ve been working in civic activism since 2008. When civic engagement and activism are done properly, you can contribute to building your community and participate in local government decision-making processes.
It’s not easy to work in a post-conflict country. But loving what you do helps you to overcome the obstacles, and gives you hope that things will change for the better. I always tell people, especially young people in Kosovo, to be active citizens, raise their voice on public concerns, and participate in various activities. In this way they will enhance their personal development and become community promoters.
Edgar Khachatryan, a.k.a. The Professor, is the director of the Peace Dialogue NGO – an organization working on peacebuilding and human rights issues in Armenia and the South Caucasus. Edgar is a strategic thinker, reasoning from strategy and deep analysis. In order to become a successful activist he believes in a proper and deep assessment of the context an activist is operating in.
Edgar has been working in the South Kaukasus for a long time, on issues regarding human rights and peacebuilding. In his masterclass on ‘mobilising people’ Edgar shared great inside on theory behind one of activists’ main questions: ‘How do I mobilise people for my cause?’ Watch his masterclass and be inspired.
Ali Sahib (33 years) is one of the ambassadors of PAX’s Kulluna Muwatinun (‘We Are All Citizens’) program in the Samawa-province in Iraq, and as an activist specialized in peace and nonviolent protest. He holds a Master Degree in Human Rights from the Arab University for Human Rights and Nonviolence in Beirut, and currently resides in Muthanna (Samawa-province). Ali regularly provides free lectures in the Muthanna University and Al Sadek University on Human Rights. He supports campaigns to build a new peaceful Iraq and has recently been involved in offering assistance in refugee camps in Northern Iraq.
His main aim is to educate people about minority rights, since the division between the different sectarian groups are still very present. Ali himself belongs to the Shia community, the majority in Iraq and especially in the southern part of the country. Due to a lack of good education and upbringing many people are very biased towards other ethnic/religious communities, which causes stereotyping, conflict and violation of human rights. Ali wants to inform people, and mainly the people from his own Shia community, that one’s identity is not terminated by religion or ethnic background. From organizing theater plays for young children to attending United Nation’s forums on Minority Rights, Ali wants to create an equal approach towards Iraqi citizens on every level.
Zuhair Lazgeen (26 years) is the citizenship ambassador of PAX Kulluna Muwatinun program in Dohuk, and has been actively involved in humanitarian assistance for Yezidi refugees. Zuhair lives in the village of Shariya, south of Dohuk. Shariya is a village which has received thousands of Yezidis escaping and rescued from Sinjar. Zuhair holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture and is an activist in Human Rights and Minority Rights.
Zuhair works as a coordinator in Harikar, a nongovernemental organisation that benefits refugees and displaced people settled across the Dohuk-province. During the last month, he has been an active volunteer organizing emergency support in Shariya. He has been coordinating with media and UN-people to bring out information he was receiving from people in Sinjar and people kidnapped by IS, documenting what happened through writing reports, linking with young people to mobilize Yezidi youth in Shariya.
Fadi Taher works for the Media House in Cairo, the capital of Egypt. He’s a photographer and videographer and gives training on the use of video, photo and visuals in activism. “The shape and form in which you present your message is closely linked to the effectiveness of that message. In order to improve that shape and form certain ground rules need to followed.” See it, film it, change it! Read more on what he taught us during the Activist Academy in Beirut this spring.
Follow Fadi on Twitter: @fishiologe
Wael Abbas is a very well known activist from Egypt who has found over 260.000 people on Twitter interested enough to press the Follow-button to watch his every step (with over 214.000 tweets we conclude he’s quite active). Wael was one of the most active bloggers and Twitter-users during the Egyptian revolution and still operates from Cairo.
Wael even has his own Wikipedia-page:
“Wael Abbas (Arabic: وائل عباس) (born November 14, 1974 in Egypt) is an internationally renowned Egyptian journalist, blogger, and human rights activist, who blogs at Misr Digital (Egyptian Awareness). He reported an incident of mob harassment of women, and broadcast several videos of police brutality. His actions led to the conviction of police for torture, but he has been harassed by the Egyptian government, and his accounts with YouTubeand Yahoo were closed. YouTube has since restored his account and most of his videos. Facebook had deleted Wael’s account but it has since been restored”
Wael is very urged to teach more activists about the different strategies to broadcast your own ‘news’ items, which was also an important part of our Activist Academy in Beirut this spring. Read about his masterclass in Beirut, listen to his tips and start broadcasting yourself!
Meet Marcell Shehwaro, an activist from Aleppo and well know for her blogs about life in Aleppo. Concerning the extreme situations that activists are facing in Iraq and Syria, her stories are extremely important and resourceful at the moment.
Marcell is 30 years old and recently fled Aleppo out of a deteriorating security situation in Syria. She is part of group called Kesh Malek, a group of activists and human rights defenders that –despite the war- keep on protesting and demonstrating against the Assad-regime and which main goal is to warrant freedoms – of press, of education, of justice – for example by providing people with revealing news and supporting projects with a similar goal. Kesh Malek organizes activities and education for young children in Aleppo and is involved in demonstrations against the regime and the armed Islamic Groups in the north of Syria. Marcell wants to counteract current polarisation by setting up schools in destroyed Aleppo, to provide the children who still live there with worthy education. One of these school is the Mustafa Qarman-school, named after one of the founders – and one of Marcell’s best friends – who unfortunately got killed by Al-Assad’s army. You can support the Mustafa Qarman school in Aleppo through PAX’s project ‘Adopt a Revolution’.
One of Kesh Malek’s most recent campaigns is #SameShit, which aim is to spread the message of Al-Assad and ISIS being two sides of the same coin – one kills in the basement, the other kills in the sunlight. Get your own stickers and spread this shit!
Read our own blog about her visit to the Netherlands in October this year and get to know Marcell even better.