Taking the call for peace to the middle of the conflict zone, renowned spiritual leader and founder of The Art of Living, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar addressed a peace conference in Erbil in Kurdistan, the violence hit province of Iraq on thursday. Pitching for co-existence, compassion and commitment to peace, Gurudev said, “Peace conferences are held where there is peace. I wanted to do this conference in middle of conflict."
He also visited relief camps near Erbil to give solace to hundreds of displaced Christians, Kurds, Arabs. The International Association for Human Values, a sister concern of The Art of living along with few NGO’s have been working in Iraq bringing in relief in terms of material aid. The organization along with other NGO's has collected more than 110 tonnes of food supplies to be delivered to Yazidi refugees on Sinjar mountains.
The visit which was Sri Sri's third to Iraq saw him deliberate with various leaders bringing them on a common platform to discuss peace. He also addressed the Kurdish parliament and met The Speaker of Iraqi Kurdistan, Dr. Yusif Muhammad Sadiq and senior Yazidi leader and advisor to government of Erbil, Dr Mirza Dinaayi. Mr. Abdul Hussein Abtan, Minister of Sports & Youth, Iraq flew in from Baghdad to meet the spiritual leader and appreciated the hard work of the organization's volunteers.
Addressing the peace conference titled "Protecting Women and Bringing Stability and Peace", organised by The International Association For Human Values (IAHV) he honored Kurdish Kobani woman fighter, Jeyan Haldan.
Sri Sri said, "Dark forces are creating conflict and havoc in the world. In 21st century, people want to drag us back to the dark ages." He further hoped that the conference would bring clarity, communication, commitment of participants to achieve action for peace.
"Kurdistan is a bouquet of culture and we must preserve it. Yazidis and Shabad who are facing persecution need to be preserved. Co-existence is the Divine design for the planet!", he added.
"We want to send a clear message to those who think violence is the way that they are wrong," he said while highlighting the need for educating the Youth who have not yet joined extreme ideologies about the futility of such radicalisation.
Earlier Sri Sri interacted with the inmates at a relief camp in Sinjar mountains and listened to their plight. "We could not speak the language at the camps, but we could communicate. We felt their pain," he said.
Bringing solace to the inmates who have been languishing in inhuman conditions for months, Gurudev said, "Your life will get on track soon. Please know you are not alone, there are lots of good people on the planet with you."
The Art of Living Founder, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had earlier called on Governments of Europe, America and India to save the thousands of Yazidis trapped in the Sinjar Mountains in Iraq.
Since the early stages of the ISIS insurgence in Iraq, over 1.5 million Iraqis have been internally displaced or forced to flee across borders for their safety. The Art of Living and International Association For Human Values of The Art of Living has been working to bring relief to refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs). From its base in Erbil, the team has brought relief in the form of food, water and hygiene products and reached out to more than 2,000 families.