Stanley Heller, Administrator, Promoting Enduring Peace
With a mixture of art, music and film, Mayson Almsiri, a Syrian White Helmets leader, and Dr. Zaher Sahloul, president of MedGlobal, were honored with the 2020 Gandhi Peace Award. Forty-five groups joined with Promoting Enduring Peace in publicizing the award. They ranged from Syrian groups, to Muslim organizations, to Left activist groups to bodies supporting human rights for Rohingya to Uighurs.
The renowned artist and journalist Molly Crabapple contributed many of her Syria drawings as did Akram Swedaan, an internal refugee in Syria. The latter artist takes exploded ordinance and paints on them. “Art on Death” as he calls them. Both their works were accompanied by music from Palestinian performer Tamer Sahouri of Beit Sahour.
Mayson Almisri was introduced by Orlando von Einsiedel, the Academy Award-winning director of “The White Helmets” and PEP President James van Pelt added his reflections. Almisri talked about working for Syrian Arab News Agency [SANA], giving out government propaganda which she combined with attending protests of the tyrant. After her brother was shot dead by a government sniper she said she fell apart until she heard about the White Helmets and joined in their work. She herself was not a rescuer but helped with first aid and civic education.
The famous Palestinian-Muslim-American activist Linda Sarsour introduced Dr. Sahloul. Sarsour is best known for her leadership of the 2017 mammoth Women’s March in DC. She complimented PEP on giving the Gandhi Peace Award some years ago to Palestinian Omar Barghouti for his BDS work and lauded Dr. Sahloul not just for his work for Syrians, but for his treatment of Palestinians in Gaza and victims of warfare around the world.
In his address, Sahloul warmly embraced the Palestinian cause before talking about the terrible toll barrel bombs and other indiscriminate weapons were taking on the Syrian population and Syrian doctors. Dr. Sahloul dedicated his award to physicians he knew who were killed in attacks on hospitals and ambulances.
We in PEP were gratified that Palestinians and Syrians were standing together at the event despite efforts by the dictator’s agents to divide them. To see the whole ceremony and hear how Syrians themselves describe the carnage go to PEPeace.org.