Organization for Social and Cultural Rehabilitation
The Organization for Social and Cultural Rehabilitation (OSCAR), an indigenous Afghan organization, works to strengthen the nonviolent movement in Afghanistan, particularly in the country’s eastern and southern provinces. Located in northeastern Afghanistan, Kunar province gained fame as the subject of the 2010 documentary, Restrepo, and is where much of OSCAR’s work is based. A mountainous region made up mostly of rural villages, Kunar is a known haven of discord and local Taliban militias and foreign Al-Qaeda fighters, including Osama bin Laden at one time. OSCAR empowers its civil sector by training civil society leaders in communications, media, journalism, gender awareness, human rights, civilian mobilization, and environment protection.
“The perception about Afghan citizens being powerless must change,” said Ahmadullah Archiwal, the organization’s director. “OSCAR believes in strengthening the role of civil societies to fight against corruption and make government authorities accountable.”
With a small staff, OSCAR relies heavily on maximum community cooperation to ensure successful projects and sustainability. A leader in educational initiatives on nonviolent tactics, also known as “nonviolent jihad,” OSCAR helps bridge the gap between local populations and political decision makers who control the purse strings, and in essence, the fate of the Afghan people.
OSCAR’s projects, which include investigative journalism workshops and a popular radio station, have mobilized several key Afghan peacebuilding organizations to provide training in nonviolent civic issues in an attempt to change the trajectory of corruption and strife in Afghanistan. But because of the security risks, few of these groups work in the challenging areas like Kunar that most need this mobilization. OSCAR operates almost exclusively in this province, and established the Kunar Center for Nonviolence in 2012. The creation of this home base has been used as a gravitational force and hub for spreading nonviolent practices. OSCAR draws its inspiration and the basis for its training and teachings from the rich history of civil mobilization in other parts of the world. Essentially a new ideology in war-torn Afghanistan, the center enables OSCAR to develop, test, and finalize its curricula so that they are consistent with Afghan values and Islam as well as international norms before their goal of rolling out educational institutions throughout the country.
“Afghans have been at war for 32 years now and they need to have peaceful and nonviolent alternatives for introducing changes in their lives and in the fight against corruption,” Archiwal said. “We hope this [center] will change the course of events in Kunar and Afghanistan.”
In addition to its pioneering teaching techniques and commitment to nonviolent practices, OSCAR operates on the principle that political stability and security in the region will also only be achieved through economic development and through tackling other key social issues. Mulvi Fazal Wahed, a 40-year-old participant in a recent OSCAR training, reinforced the group’s core sentiment. “We learned we can achieve with nonviolent struggle whatever we cannot achieve with violence.”