Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Iran’s Peace Museum

Photo: Space for Doves: A sculpture of the bird of peace is part of the new Tehran Peace Museum, which will open in City Park soon.
Scott Peterson

I found out about this through an article on the Christian Science Monitor, a great little newspaper by the way. This article was written by Scott Peterson.

The article starts off with: “In the soil of an Islamic state long defined by war and martyrdom, some Iranians are planting a new seed of peace, by opening a museum that showcases the horrors of war.”

First off, Iran has not been at war for quite some time. And they have only been an Islamic state since 1979 – when they overthrew the Shah. They have not invaded or attacked any country that did not attack them first. They did engage in kidnapping of American citizens in 1979, and did not release them until Reagan’s inauguration in 1980 (Isn’t that a co-inky-dink that it happened within an hour of that inauguration? The answer to that would be “NO”.)

The point of this Peace Museum is to document and display the horrors of war, in order to promote the idea that force is not a viable way to solve problems. It is to counter the belief that peace is the same as surrender. Here’s a bit from the article:

The Peace Museum brought together the voices of Iranian "victims of warfare … to speak of the sinister ills of war," a brochure reads. Giving people details of "its depravity [and] the acute human costs" of war – including graphic images of chemical weapons victims – is "tantamount to educating them for peace."

There is a Peace Museum in Dayton, Ohio also. I will try to go see this when I head up north next summer.

The article in the Christian Science Monitor had this to say towards the end:

During the war, Iranians were told that they were soldiers of God, fighting Iraqi infidels. Copies of the Koran found in captured trenches had been planted, Khateri recalls being told, to give the impression that Iraqis were believers. In fact, the Sunni Arab Iraqis were believers. And when Khateri's group returned remains of Iraqi soldiers to their families at the border, there were other unexpected similarities that made his heart turn against war and toward peace. “They call them 'family of martyrs,' just as we do," says Khateri. "It was really shocking psychologically to see those mothers, just like Iranian mothers, crying with photos in their hands, candles, and Korans.”

I have found in reviewing history (which I am not an expert in, by any means) that all wars start with lies, and it is the ones starting the war who are the liars. And they always follow one of two lies: 1) the war is needed to keep the people ‘safe’ or 2) the war is necessary to provide freedom and justice (or democracy) for the people we are going to war against. In some cases, both lies are operating at the same time, as when bush invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. Hitler said he had to go into Poland to protect the German people, whereas saddam went into Kuwait to “free” them.

Of course, if the invading country cared one whit about the civilians, they would be careful not to kill or harm them, and make note of it every time they do. They would take care to try to make reparations if someone got hurt or killed. Since the invaders don’t care if their invading troops lives or dies, they surely don’t care if the civilians in the country they are making war on lives or dies…. So the idea that they are bringing them “freedom” is nothing but a pack of lies. In the Iraq war case, bush is only bringing the Iraqi people the freedom of the grave and the democracy of death.

I think the idea of “peace” museums is fascinating. Maybe by documenting the horrors of war, more people will turn to forsaking violence and force as an acceptable way to address problems, and will stop their governments from following this path. However, a true “peace” museum would be about building peace and resolving conflicts without violence. This is what the Department of Peace is trying to establish via a cabinet level position. They would study what causes violence and armed conflict (including domestic violence in the USA) and do research on ways to address these issues.

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