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IMG_4347Melbourne: Friday 11th November, 2011 was a significant day for many people. In many countries Armistice Day honoured those who were killed in the Great War, commemorating the day in history when war and killing ended. All over the world, people rushed to buy lottery tickets, place bets and even get married on this auspicious day. A date such as this occurrs but once per century, and many were anxious to take advantage of it to embark on new endeavors and begin a new chapter in their lives.

It was for this reason that the People's Charter to Create a Nonviolent World was launched on Friday in Australia, Germany, Ghana, Malaysia, the Philippines and the USA: 'to end violence in all its forms'; to mark the beginning of a new era for humanity, in the belief that violence can be eradicated and that the suffering of living beings can indeed be brought to an end.

Here in Melbourne, Australia the launch was organised by Mr Robert Burrowes, Ms Anahata Giri and Ms Anita McKone. Those who spoke and provided inspiration at the event included Viv Benjamin, Karen Thompson-Anderson, Kijana Majok Piel of Sudan in Africa, John McKenna, Annie Whitlocke of the Tibetan Women's Association, Tenzin Lobsang of Tibet, Isabelle Skaburskis of Canada, Frank Ruanjie of China, and Samah Sabawi from Gaza. Through their stories each speaker told of their experiences with violence and of their philosophies on how to end it.

Of particular note was the address given by Mr Ruanjie, Managing Director of the Tian An Men Times and head of the Chinese Democratic Party in Australia. Mr Ruanjie highlighted the difference between hard violence and 'soft' violence in the form of oppression and human rights abuses, and drew attention to the plight of blind dissident lawyer Chen Guangcheng, whose 40th birthday it was yesterday but who is suspected to have been killed by Chinese authorities during his house arrest.

Speaking on the Tibetan situation was Mr Tenzin Lobsang, who explained to the audience the ongoing suffering in Tibet and the circumstances surrounding the recent tragic self-immolation of Tibetan monks crying out for freedom. The evening was ended with a powerful performance by Tibetan musician Tenzing Yeshe, before audience members were invited to sign the Charter, all hoping and praying that it would be the beginning of something different, and that November 11 would mark the start of a new and better world for the children of future generations.

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