The People’s Peace Movement, also called the peace convoy, launched a rally in Herat city on Saturday where they were joined by Herat and Farah residents who said they support the ongoing peace efforts on national and international levels.
The participants at the rally called on anti-government militants to join the peace process and become part of their own society.
The peace movement completed a 420-kilometer barefoot walk from Kabul to Balkh in August last year - which took 32 days.
Members of the movement said they want to reiterate their call for peace.
“We asked Taliban (to join peace) but unfortunately we got a negative response. Then, we went to the north, barefoot and asked the Taliban again but again their response was a no. And the same was in Kunduz,” said Aminullah Wardak, a member of the movement.
“We met with many people during our journey. Everyone wanted peace. We reiterate our call for a ceasefire between the two sides (Afghan government and Taliban),” said Sardar Mohammad Sarwari, another member of the movement.
Herat residents said every Afghan has a similar demand when it comes to peace.
“We call on the warring sides to end the 35 year war. This is the time to join a democratic and peaceful process,” said Arash Basharyar, a Herat resident.
“The peace convoy has visited Herat after their journeys to many other provinces with a message of peace. We want peace,” said Shahab Salangi, a Herat resident.
Another gathering was held in Farah province where they said they also support the ongoing talks between US and Taliban officials, in Qatar, adding that the public’s demand was for an end to the longstanding war in the country.
“We are brothers and we should sit together and we support the (peace) efforts,” said Mohammad Sarwar, a Farah resident.
“We call on Taliban to sit and talk with their own people. Let’s solve our problems by talking to each other,” said Mir Ahmad, a Farah resident, as he stressed the need for a intra-Afghan talks to end the conflict.
The Helmand Peace Convoy
They got the name when a group of at least a dozen activists staged a protest in Lashkargah City last year in March against an attack that killed around 16 people that month. About a month later, the activists left Helmand on foot for Kabul.
The activists walked through towns and villages, crossed provinces and met with local residents along the way. For 38 days, they walked and as they progressed, so their numbers grew.
About 700kms later, the group of eight had grown to an estimated 100. They arrived in Kabul on June 18 and handed over demands for a ceasefire and peace to both the Afghan government and the Taliban.
During their stay in Kabul, they held sit-in protests outside diplomatic offices in Kabul. They also met with President Ghani on a Kabul street where they asked him to accelerate the peace efforts.
The activists, whose ages ranged from 17 to 65, came from all walks of life and include students, athletes and farmers among others. It was these and other activists that then extended their walk from Kabul to Balkh.