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Afghan Photo Exhibit Seeks to Redefine Peace

  • A gathering outside a mosque
    Afghans celebrate Nawroz, the first day of the new year. © Anja Niedringhaus
  • People carrying red balloons
    Residents join a procession, holding on to bundles of red balloons. © Rohullah Amin
  • Police officers gathering snowballs
    Police officers carry handfuls of snowballs. © Nazir Ekhlass
  • Families on the grounds of a mosque
    Families gather on the grounds of a mosque. © Nazir Ekhlass
  • Boys and girls in class outside
    Children attend class outdoors in Bamyan Province, Afghanistan. © Jafar Rahimi
  • An amusement park ride
    People of all ages enjoy an amusement park ride. © Nazir Ekhlass
  • Families at an outdoor concert
    Families attend an outdoor concert. © Imran Nabizadeh

It’s been said that peace is not merely the absence of war, but the presence of justice. That spirit underpinned the Peace Campaign 2015 photo exhibition that ran from November 25 to 27 in the historical Bagh-e Babur Park in Kabul.

Organized by Watch on Basic Rights Afghanistan (WBRAO) with the support of Open Society Afghanistan, the exhibit defines peace in a multitude of ways that go well beyond security and politics. In these photos, peace is coexistence, freedom of speech, political and social liberties, lack of violence against women, opportunity for all, and the beauty of nature.

Taken by Afghan photographers, the photos—over a hundred in all—are meant to provoke thought among viewers, and make them consider what peace means to them. Moreover, the exhibit aims to send a message to the government of Afghanistan that ending war in the country cannot come at any price. We do not see peace as only a lack of war—it must come with social and political rights for everyone.

It already appears to be sparking debate. On a recent day at the exhibit, visitors discussed among themselves how it might contribute to the peace process and inspire young people. Representatives from several civil society organizations, media outlets, Open Society Afghanistan, and the selecting panel of prestigious Afghan artists were also present.

“If we think from another angle, these photos show another face of Afghanistan—one that is not always war and hostility,” said Mohammad Rahim Jami, advocacy and campaign manager at Watch on Basic Rights Afghanistan.

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