Fremont, CA Human Relations Commission
endorses a resolution in support of a cabinet level
"Department of Peace"
By Samina Faheem Sundas
On July 24th 2006, American Muslim Voice and South Bay Department of Peace Campaign presented the resolution to the HRC in support of a cabinet level "Department of Peace"
Six out of nine commissioners were present at the meeting. We are grateful to all the commoners for allowing us to present and for compassionately listening to us and our appeals, five out six voted in favor of the resolution.
By adopting the resolution they have chosen the unpaved path to peace and have sent a strong message to the world. Fremont city is one of the most diverse city in the United states. HRC made this wonderful city a safe haven for all its citizens.
On behalf of AMV I would like to thank HRC Commissioners for adopting and strongly recommending the resolution to the city council.
I would also like to thank all of our peace partners who came and spoke at the meeting last night. There were diverse groups in favor of this legislation and every one was so convincing and compassionate about peace, especially under the current global conflict. I always believed that if we could unit for a good cause we can move mountains. Yesterday's meeting and the outcome is a good example of that.
AMV has created a partnership with Peace Alliance to work nationally on this legislation to have a "Department of Peace" for our future generation's sake.
We are determined to create a culture of peace, acceptance, mutual respect and harmony in our world.
We urge all peace loving groups and individuals to join us in this efforts. Together we can create a better world.
If you have any question please call us at 650-387-1994.
Sponsored by American Muslim Voice and South Bay Department of Peace Campaign.
Supporting Groups: Not in our Town, Fremont, SEMAH and residents of Fremont.
Inside Bay Area – July 27, 2006
Fremont may put its weight behind U.S. peace effort
By Chris De Benedetti
FREMONT — Just hours after more than 180 people died July 11 in a blast that rocked the Indian city of Mumbai, Samina Sundas told Fremont City Council members they should back a federal Department of Peace.
Since then, hundreds more have perished in warfare between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. And dozens are dying daily in the war in Iraq.
This uptick in global conflict and bloodshed is exactly what Sundas — who heads American Muslim Voice, a Newark-based civil liberties organization — says she is trying to prevent.
So the Palo Alto woman and several peace organizations are lobbying local governments to back the creation of a cabinet-level Department of Peace.
If created, it would be akin to Department of Defense, one of the White House cabinet departments that advises the president.
Fremont's Human Relations Commission officially agreed with the idea Monday, voting 5-1 to recommend that the City Council adopt a resolution supporting it.
"We owe it to ourselves and our communities to develop those strategies, to make peace a priority rather than an afterthought," said Irene Koehler, chair of the Human Relations Commission. "If there is a new department and structure created, hopefully it will provide additional support to those already doing work along these lines."
Other organizations joined American Muslim Voice at the meeting, including SEMAH, a Newark domestic violence-prevention group; Fremont's branch of Not in Our Town, which is dedicated to preventing hate crimes; and the South Bay Department of Peace Campaign.
The groups' efforts support separate bills introduced in the House and the Senate in September. The companion pieces of federal legislation propose funding the cabinet-level department by taking 2 percent from the Department of Defense's budget, Sundas said.
"Recent violence throughout the world makes a Department of Peace more necessary than ever," said Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, an original co-sponsor of the House version.
"Unfortunately, congressional Republicans hell-bent on war in Iraq and seemingly interested in military action against Iran are unlikely to pursue this sensible proposal for a Cabinet-level department that would encourage diplomacy and disarmament."
With the Fremont City Council taking its customary month-long break in August, the earliest council members might hear the item would be in September.
If the City Council were to pass a resolution, Fremont would join about 15 cities nationwide that approved the symbolic gesture. Bay Area cities that already have endorsed it include Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose and Palo Alto.
Councilmember Steve Cho said he backs the resolution in theory, but needs more information on its potential impacts. He wonders: Would a Department of Peace directly conflict with other cabinet departments? Would it add more needless government bureaucracy?
But Cho also acknowledges its potential for good. A Department of Peace might better pressure leaders to use diplomacy to find nonviolent solutions to global conflicts, instead of being too quick to go to war, as some critics of the Bush administration contend about the 31/2-year-old war in Iraq.
"It could be a check-and-balance system, much like our three branches of government," Cho said.