VIENNA, 2 October 2023 – October’s Ciné-ONU Vienna film screening was dedicated to the International Day of Non-Violence, featuring the award-winning documentary “Ahimsa - Gandhi: The Power of the Powerless”. The film shows how Gandhi’s message of non-violence influenced the Civil Rights movement in the United States, the fight against Apartheid in South Africa and the Velvet revolution in the Czech Republic amongst others.
In the discussion afterwards, led by Martin Nesirky, Director of the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) in Vienna, experts talked about how Gandhi’s message defined the 20th Century. They agreed that his philosophy is still relevant today and needs to be taught to create peace and initiate change.
The Director of the Austrian Centre for Peace, Moritz Ehrmann, highlighted that the number of deaths in violent conflicts today is now at its highest since the Rwandan Genocide in 1994. He said that having discipline and patience is necessary when fighting violence with peaceful means. The film’s Executive Producer, Simran Bedi, emphasized that Gandhi’s notions of love and compassion are the key to achieving world peace. The Chief of Office at the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs at Vienna, Rebecca Jovin, said their work is in line with Gandhi’s philosophy: “The highest goal of the United Nations is the elimination of nuclear weapons. It is about forgiveness and fostering dialogue and that is key to our work.”
Indian broadcaster and journalist Ashis Ray spoke of the importance of the media to help maintain democracy and establish harmony during these difficult times. He believes social media should not be censored but a more responsible framework is necessary to curb its damaging impact feeding hatred.
The audience expressed their interest to see the film screened in Vienna again and also to be shown in schools and universities. Simran Bedi shared this desire for more young people to see the film and to learn about Gandhi’s message and impact around the world. Bedi said: “These things do not change the world, but they definitely influence people towards non-violence."
The event was organized by UNIS Vienna in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Vienna to mark the International Day of Non-Violence on 2nd October, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, and the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Earlier the film was shown at the Vienna International Centre, with opening remarks by the Permanent Representative of India to the UN Vienna, Ambassador Jaideep Mazumdar and followed by a Q&A session with Simran Bedi and Ashis Ray. Ghada Waly, Director General of the UN Office at Vienna (UNOV) and Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) attended the screening along with UN staff and representatives from other Permanent Missions and the Indian community in Vienna.