PMV marks International Red Hand Day

By Ali Ahmad

12 February 2015

Peace Museum Vienna commemorated the international Red Hand Day by exhibiting works of art submitted by various artists on 12 February 2015. Red Hand Day is an international campaign to stop recruiting children as soldiers in armed conflicts. Human Rights Watch reports that child soldiers are being used as weapons of war in at least 14 countries around the world. This means that these children are vulnerable to massive exploitation and violence even though the UN treaty, “the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child”, prohibits the use of children as soldiers.

Thomas Peto, a Hungarian Artist who exhibited his painting at Peace Museum Vienna believes that the world has always been a dangerous place for children to live in. He doesn’t think that the world has changed much for children; rather it has become more difficult. His art underscores this sad truth – war destroys every aspect of life in a society and what remains is ruins and graveyards where the children use the battlefield as their playground. The children are the future but they play with memories of the skeleton. Peto has painted the children naked because he wants to show the natural vulnerability of childhood. Children have pure souls which are robed by the societies they live in.

“The battlefield is the playground of adults, a place for bad games between cruel and empty souls. The destruction and despair of the battlefield makes the shadows deepen and the distances lengthen between people. These bad games of war and sorrow played by adults can make the world sad and hopeless for children. But children can’t feel the difference; their reality is the world where they grow up in. Only their parents can know the difference. Their responsibility that their future won’t be so frightening.” Thomas Peto’, Artist from Hungary.

Music to Fight Extremism in Afghanistan

By Ali Ahmad

2 December 2014

Farhad Darya, an Afghan singer, declared his first international campaign against extremism in his visit to Peace Museum Vienna (PMV) on 2 December 2014.

Darya, one of the peace heroes of PMV, believes that extremism was the biggest enemy of humanity and that enemy was beyond any religion or politics.

“Today I announce the international campaign against extremism which starts from PMV,” Darya announced. For Darya, extremism today around the world represented some sort of lifestyle, not any particular ideology.

Afghanistan is a country plagued by violence and extremism. The country has been witness several invasions and internal conflicts in its recent history. It has been home to diverse cultures and ideologies ranging from tribalism to strict Marxism, authoritarian regimes and now to a fragile democracy. Each of these regimes, however, tried to either censor or ban music in Afghanistan.

Darya said that dictatorship or reactionary regimes silenced music because those regimes were aware of the power of music to inspire people, whereas the Taliban (1996-2001) had banned music because they considered it as un-Islamic.

Right after the U.S.-led coalition ousted Taliban from power in 2001, It was Darya’s voice and music that broke the silence in Afghanistan. Darya thinks that music touches hearts and every small and big change starts from the heart.

Darya critiqued international media and said that media had only focused on portraying the negative side of Afghanistan while his country had a rich cultural aspect that they had missed completely, “media has poisoned people about Afghanistan,” he said.

Every conflict has a cultural aspect, which gets neglected during the conflict. Darya suggests that music could be a cultural aspect that could heal people. Darya believes that art promotes peace and it also creates hope and inspiration for a generation that has never seen peace in their lifetime.  Though worried about increasing extremism, Darya remains optimistic and said “this is the time to stop extremism with a smile and the time is today”.

Farhad Darya is an Afghan singer, composer and peace activist. One of the most influential singer in the war-torn Afghanistan, he is also credited with popularizing a new wave of music in his native country and promoting peace and unity among his fellow Afghans through the power of his art.

Darya was on his maiden Europe tour to perform a series of concerts for the Afghan diaspora. In Vienna, he performed on 5th December at Austria Center.

Peace Museum Vienna recognizes him as a ‘Peace Hero’ and has featured him on the Windows for Peace at Blutgasse, Vienna since June 2014.


The International Day of Tolerance

Art Exhibition Peace lies in our hands with the ‘joy-spreading’ music of Die&ii

15 November 2014

On 15 November 2014 on the eve of International Day for Tolerance 2014, Liska Blodgett, President of the Peace Museum Vienna opened the exhibition ‘Peace lies in our hands’ together with Robert Pobitschka, President of the UNESCO Club Vienna.Both emphasized personal responsibility and engagement in the peaceful resolution of conflict be it in the playground or between nations.The message that war is not an acceptable option came across loud and clear. Katarina Manojlovic, a Masters student of Peace Studies and Intern with the Peace Museum Vienna shared her thoughts on peace processes.

Reflecting the theme of tolerance day children of Class 1b VS Hietzinger Hauptstrasse, under the guiding hand of Nick Peña, delighted visitors to the exhibition with a rendition of ‘I can sing a rainbow’. Choir leader Tommy Meyer–Ortiz instigated an equally moving rendition of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ inviting us all to join our voices in harmony as instruments for peace.

Out of the realm of imagination to the world in which we live, the mere existence of the Peace Museum Vienna and its Peace Heroes exhibition in Vienna’s inner city attests to the fact that persons of vision such as Liska Blodgett and her team who come from all walks of life have made and continue to make a commitment to peace.

The paintings on exhibition “Peace lies in our hands” and “The rainbow tree…100 little doves of peace” are the collective effort of 45 children from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds living in Vienna. (read more link to all the names of the participants if you want). They carry the message that peace does indeed lie in our hands. The hand can caress, it can mould clay, it can plant seeds, it can bake bread, it can pick up a book and change the world, guide a friend out of the darkness or it can hold a gun – my hand my choice. The paintings are the outcome of workshops on peace education by Fran Wright to explore in a creative way what peace is. Paintings by the artists who facilitated the workshops are also on display at the Peace Museum Vienna: Carop, Christoph Band and Patricia Peña.

The Peace Museum Vienna has a dedicated exhibition toPeace Hero Bertha von Suttner who together with Alfred H. Fried founded the newspaper ‘Lay Down Your Arms’. On the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Alfred H. Fried Peace Journalist and Nobel Prize Winner, Robert Pobitschka presented Honorary Membership of the UNESCO Club Vienna to Andreas H. Landl, Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Friedens News Austria in recognition of his services to promote a culture of peace. Visitors to the exhibition included Ali Ahmad, journalist and member of the Peace Museum Vienna team.

According to Lynch &McGoldrick (2005), ‘Peace journalism is when editors and reporters make choices – of what stories to report and how to report them – that create opportunities for society at large to consider and value non-violent responses to conflict.’I believe the following is a story well worth reporting. One of the children who participated at the workshop was beaming with pride to see his artwork on the wall of the Peace Museum Vienna. His family had emigrated from Turkey and his friends were from Serbia and Cechnya and they had worked rather closely on the painting. He said he could still see every handprint they had made together and every word they had written for peace. He said that when he is a dad he will be able to tell his children that his painting was in a museum in Vienna with all the pictures of the heroes who had ‘done good things’. His story joins the thousands of people who pass by the photos of those peace heroes every week and stop and read and contemplate the words ‘What can you do for peace’.

The painting “Peace lies in our hands” is a collective effort of children between the ages of 6 and 15 years as well as staff and volunteers of CarBiz Caritas BildungszentrumLerncaféHebbelplatz Wien:Amir ABUMUSLIMOV, Liana AHMATHANOVA, Linda AHMATHANOVA, Magomed AHMATHANOV, Basak ALTUNTAS, Rabiya CAKIR, Zühre CAKIR, Özge DEDE, Haroon HAKIMI, Shahron HAKIMI, Talwasa HAKIMI, Muhammed IKINCI, Rabiya KAPUSUZ, Vedat KAPUSUZ, Victoria KERN, Luka NICOLIC, Fatma ÖZDAGAN, Nazente SASMAZ, Kristina STOJANOVIC, Aysenur TASYÜREK, Suayip TEKIN, Ömer YILMAZ together with the Lerncafé-Team Ingrid GRUBER, Maria BAIER, Lukas SODEK, Tilman-Otto WAGNER and volunteers Gerhard ENGL, Catalina KEGLEVIC, Wolfgang LAUBER, Maria ORTHOFER, Sandra SCHESTAK, Karl WEINWANSCHITZKY, Kurt WINTERSTEIN as well as Christoph BAND and Shahin TAVIunder the guidance of visual artist CAROP.

“The rainbow tree…100 little doves of peace” was completed by children of Class 1b VS HietzingerHauptstrasse:Mira ALEXIEWICZ, Andi CHEN, Maria CHUDOVSKAYA, Mia CONSEMÜLLER, Henrik EGGER, Laura FENGLER,Nicolas FRIED, Nelson GREGOR, Ludwig HÄRTEL, Elias HAZARE, Luca Sophie HERMATSCHWEILER, Matthias HOLZER, Romy KLEIN, Victoria KRAMMER, Nikolaus NOVAK, Julia Faith PEÑA HUERTAS, Alex PYREK, Daniel RUDNICKIS, Julian SALZER, Sophie SCHREINER, Ines TSCHELIESNIG, Emil TRIPES, Filip VAN DE PAVERT under the guidance of Dipl.-Päd. Ulrike FITZKA, Nick PEÑA and Patricia PEÑA.

Opening speech by PMV Director, Dr. Ali Ahmad a Peaceography exhibition

26 May 2016 – Wien

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,
Liebe Gäste!

Herzlich Willkommen zum Wiener Friedensmuseum und unserer besonderen Ausstellung „Frieden durch Kunst.“ Dieses Programm ist von PMV und Abdulrab Habibyar organisiert worden. Ab heute ist im Wiener Friedensmuseum 1 Woche lang Afghanische Kunst für Frieden zu sehen. Die Hauptaufgabe des PMV ist Friedenserziehung und zwar anhand der Leben von Friedenshelden und neben diesem einzigartigen Ansatz; konzentriert sich das PMV auch auf Friedenserziehung durch Kunst und Kultur.

Kunst ist ein mächtiges Werkzeug, um die Öffentlichkeit zu inspirieren und sie fördert interkulturelle Interaktion, wie Respekt, Toleranz und Akzeptanz. Kunst kann auch Hoffnung und alternative Möglichkeiten für Gewalt entstehen lassen. Kunst kennt keine Grenze im Hinblick auf ihre Wirkung auf den Menschen und die Welt und trägt maßgeblich zu gewaltfreien Konfliktlösungen bei.

Wir hören viel Wörter, viele falsche Versprechungen und manchmal diese Wörter haben keinen Einfluss auf uns. Wort ist ein Wort, und ein Bild bedeutet mehr als tausend Wörter. Wir drücken uns besser durch Kunst in einem netten und freundlichen Weise. Wir können die Ansichten der Menschen durch Kunst verändern. Kunst ist für den persönlichen und sozialen Wandel eingesetzt. Kunst kann unsere Emotionen, Gefühle und unser Verhalten beeinflussen. Wir teilen alle eine Sprache, egal wir dieselbe Sprache sprechen oder nicht. Es gibt eine gemeinsame Sprache zwischen uns und das ist Kunst.

Afghanistan ist bekannt für den Krieg, Drogen, Amerikanische Soldaten, NATO, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, usw., aber die Menschen wissen ganz wenig über die verschiedenen Arten von Kunst in Afghanistan. Afghanistan hat eine lange Gesichte von Kunst, die die Medien entweder berichten ganz wenig oder überhaupt nicht. Hernn Habibyar ist ein Afghanischer Künstler und Mastermind der Frieden durch Kunst Ausstellung im PMV.

Für Habibyar, Frieden ist wie Oxygen (Sauerstoff), der alle Lebewesen atmen können und einander tolerieren und respektieren. Habibyar will die Welt, uns, zeigen, dass sie nicht nur glauben sollten, was sie über Afghanen hören oder lesen, weil die Medien Stereotyp Afghanen als Krieger und Gewaltige Leute. Afghanen wie jede andere Nation ist ein friedliebendes Land, die in Frieden leben wollen, und lassen sie andere in Frieden leben.

Das Wiener Friedensmuseum ruft die Menschen dazu auf, Gewalt in all ihren Formen zu vermeiden. Wir vereinen uns, um den Frieden zu fördern. Wir glauben fest daran, dass das Leben Frieden ist und Frieden das Leben an sich. Der Krieg bringt uns Tod, Zerstörung und Armut. Lassen Sie uns die Gewalt nicht mit Gewalt bekömpfen, sondern vielmehr auf Gewalt mit Gewaltlosigkeit antworten. Wie schon PMV Friedensheld Mahatma Gandhi sehr weise sagte: „Es gibt keinen Weg zum Frieden. Frieden ist der einzige Weg.“

All religions, all this singing,
one song
the difference are just
illusion and vanity
the sun’s looks like
a little different on
this wall than it does on that wall
and a lot of difference on this other one,
but it is still one light


To speak the same language is to share the same blood, to be related
To live with strangers is the life of captivity
Many are Hindus and Turks who share the same language
Many are Turks who may be alien to one another
The language of companionship is a unique one
To reach someone through the heart is other than reaching them
through words.
Besides words, allusions and arguments
The heart knows a hundred thousand ways to speak