“Break the Chain” of violence key theme at 1st IPPNW Asian Youth Congress
By Bimal Khadka, Nepal, IPPNW International Student Representative
Young doctors and medical students from throughout Asia overcame vast geographical boundaries, cultural barriers and financial difficulties to bring their ideas and energy to the first Asian IPPNW Youth Congress in Patna, India in March.
We came from Nepal, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Mongolia, and Japan to join our Indian colleagues to discuss how we can use our medical expertise to advance heath through peace throughout the region. We were supported by observers from IPPNW Germany and many members of Indian doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) who were involved in smooth and fruitful discussions on many IPPNW topics.
IPPNW co-president Dr. Daniel Bassey urged participants to “break the chain” of violence – from nuclear weapons to firearms. Dr. Arun Mitra, Dr. Ryoma Kayamo, Dr. Jeetendra, and the IPPNW Co-International Students Representatives myself and Aino Weyers also gave motivating speeches. I informed our colleagues that “It is our moral duty to use our medical expertise to help abolish nuclear weapons and prevent armed violence.”
Delegates reached a consensus to conduct a comprehensive approach to improve engagement and raise funds in Asia. A board meeting with a brainstorming question-and answer session was the center of attraction of this memorable event.
“Aiming for Prevention” was a topic of great interest during the two-day event and was also extended to the IDPD 10th National convention meeting where a plan to spread the message of health through peace and development was formulated.
We displayed an educational poster exhibition, including the IPPNW Hibakusha poster series. It also featured IPPNW-Austria’s posters on topics such as armed violence, child soldiers, the arms trade and development, One Bullet Stories and more. We discussed replicating these posters in other countries and exhibiting them in key places in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. The posters helped participants to better understand the devastating effects and harmful consequences of armed violence not only at physical, social, psychological levels but also the community and nation when the energy and resources of the country are wasted on arms and the military and defence infrastructure. And, that sustainable development and the bright future of any nation depend on investment in education, health and human services infrastructures rather than the military industrial complex.
We discussed IPPNW’s One Bullet Story project including an orientation on the subject, and recruitment was done for expanding such heart touching stories in South Asian affiliates. Students were very positive about documenting such stories at the local level.
Achievements and milestones of AFP activities, such as local research or educational programs such as the Nigeria “Bringing peace to the people” radio show, the Zambia- Austria victim assistance project, and the Arms Trade Treaty work were also spread among the participants, with discussions on how to replicate them or become involved. Again, we concluded it is our prime responsibility and moral duty to raise our voices in many ways, to our colleagues and our political leaders, to help break the vicious chain of arms and gun violence and aim toward prevention rather than curing injuries in the operation theatre.