Peace and Conflict Resolution

IAHV believes that the key to achieving lasting peace, is to foster human values at the individual level. Through dialogue, conferences, campaigns and advocacy, IAHV, in partnership with the Art of Living Foundation, has worked tirelessly to resolve long-standing conflicts at the global and local level, in areas such as Jammu and Kashmir, the Iraq, the Sri Lanka, Nepal, and extremist-affected areas in India.
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About Conflict Resolution

“Expand your vision and see that inside every culprit, there is a victim crying for help. That person is also a victim of ignorance, small-mindedness and lack of awareness. It’s the stress, lack of broad vision about life, lack of understanding, and bad communication that leads to violence in society.”
- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, IAHV Founder

We do this through

  • Facilitation of Dialogue
  • Programs to promote transformation at the individual level
  • Provide training and rehabilitation for misguided militants

Peace Initiatives

IAHV and the Art of Living Foundation volunteers work to build peace in conflict-affected and conflict-prone areas around the world. In South Asia, some of IAHV peace efforts are listed below:

Northeast India 

Rehabilitating Militants in Manipur, 2010

The Situation: Separatist and militant groups have been active in the state of Manipur since 1965. These groups, are trained in warfare, know little other this lifestyle of violence and insecurity.

IAHV Intervention:

  • IAHV and the Art of Living Foundation rehabilitated 80 militants, including women,that were employed in companies across Pune.
  • The rehabilitation combined mental de-conditioning with vocational training.
  • Seven of 28 women who recently were trained in food processing, started a self-help group called Kongsang Foods.
  • Another group of 26 militants are being trained in handicraft work.
  • IAHV and Art of Living has completed a program to rehabilitate 127 surrendered youths from the Lallumba faction of Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP).

“For the first time in my life, I have started thinking properly and more clearly. Now I know what I want to do in my life and the Art of Living has given me the skills through which I can take care of my family.”
- Basarat Sahah alias David, former militant.

 Assam Riots, 2012

The Situation: In July 2012, violence broke out between the indigenous Bodos group and Bengali Muslims in the Northeastern state of Assam. More than 80 people were killed and 400,000 displaced. The violence affected more than 400 villages.

IAHV Intervention:

  • Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was invited by President Pranab Mukherjee on August 16, 2012 for conflict mediation talks to discuss solutions.
  • IAHV worked in the districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang and Bodo to encourage dialogue between opposing factions.

Naxalite Uprisings

Rehabilitating Militant Youth in Bihar

The situation: Following two decades of economic strife, high crime rates and caste wars, students, with few options, left school and took up arms.  Youth involved in the caste warfare widely suffer from alcoholism, are stuck in a cycle of violence.

IAHV Intervention:

  • IAHV’s founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar met with members of each faction in Rishikesh and convinced them to give up their weapons.
  • More than 700 rebels from rival groups surrendered their arms.
  • In 2001, Sri Sri visited the conflict-affected region of Massaudhi, and spoke to an audience 50,000 people, promoting peace and non-violence.
  • IAHV and Art of Living volunteers worked with local youth to encourage them to pursue graduate degrees.
  • 27 schools with 1,500 students are now operating in Bihar.
  • Trauma relief workshops were held for 35,000 people in the region.
  • IAHV and Art of Living opened shelters for widows and the homeless.

“I spent most of my time running from the law. I shifted drugs from one area to another. I made a lot of money, but I wasted it on alcohol. The Art of Living program gave me a new way to live my life. I am inspired to serve my community and make a better man of myself.” - Ram Kumar, Bihari youth

Maoist uprising in Jharkhand, 2009

The Situation: The state of Jharkhand has been at the forefront of the Maoist (Naxal) uprising. Jharkhand harbours the highest concentration of groups estimated to be about 20,000 combatants. The Naxals operate mainly in the rural and tribal areas. This state also provides a rich abundance of natural resources, while its people live in abject poverty and destitution.

IAHV Intervention: IAHV’s founder, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has met with community leaders  and the general public in Jharkand, encouraging them to turn away from violence, towards education, service and sustainable development. IAHV has also conducted trauma relief workshops, and programs to help  rebels reintegrate into society.

  • Due to the peace remediation efforts of the Art of Living and IAHV, and other similar organizations, Raminder Singh, the regional committee member of eight districtsof Jharkhand, UP and Bihar surrendered, causing the entire movement to collapse.
  • Over a 100 naxals, of which 30 have been hard core rebels and 20,000 villagers, have participated in IAHV- The Art of Living courses. Some of the young people who took courses have now taken up the YLTP and are working in remote parts of Jharkhand.

“There is a need to bring the Maoists into the mainstream of society. The country needs their service.” - His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar in february 2009 when visiting the naxal-infested regions of Jharkhand.

Jammu and Kashmir

Rebuilding Trust in Kashmir

The Situation: Since the Partition of India in 1947, the state of Jammu and Kashmir has experienced ongoing periods of tension and violence that continues today. Decades of instability have worn on the lives of Kashmiri communities, turning youth into militants and leaving families in a constant state of fear.

IAHV Intervention:

  • IAHV initiated peace talks  with religious and political groups in Jammu and Kashmir since 2004.
  • IAHV hosted a conference on Human Values and Non-Violence for leaders of opposing factions. This was a historic event as it was the first time opposing leaders hadcome together.
  • IAHV and Art of Living volunteers provided a workshop to help Indian Army  rebuild trust of residents, attended by over 800 youth.

“We are with Sri Sri in his efforts to revive and develop human values. We will tread his path, leaving politics aside and extend all our support to his  initiatives.”-Zafar Akbar Bhat, Chairman, Jammu and Kashmir Salvation Movement.

Sri Lanka 

Conflict in Sri Lanka

The Situation: The Island nation of Sri Lanka had been locked in a civil war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Government of Sri Lanka. Militants were largely unemployed youth and women. The clashes have killed thousands and caused significant trauma throughout the country.

 IAHV Intervention:

  • In 2005, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar established the Committee for Peace in Sri Lanka to facilitate dialogue among opposing groups.
  • IAHV volunteers met with political leaders to discuss possible solutions.
  • IAHV and Art of Living volunteers  established trauma relief workshops for youth and internally displaced persons.
  • Approximately 1800 former LTTE members benfitted from the breathing workshops.
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