Story of forgiveness resonates
On Tuesday, the Centre for Ethics presented two international speakers with a powerful message. Azim Khamisa and Ples Felix met after Ples’ grandson shot dead Azim’s only son in 1995. Today, the men are great friends who share their story of forgiveness and the realities of violence around the world.
Tony, Ples’ grandson, was 14-years-old when he murdered Tariq, Azim’s son, in a senseless, gang-related incident. Instead of hatred and revenge, Azim chose the path of forgiveness and compassion – an amazing choice that led to the establishment of the Tariq Khamisa Foundation (TKF).
Boys from Years 8, 9 and 10, as well as girls from Presbyterian Ladies’ College, were riveted by the men’s story. The presentation began with a video in which the audience saw Tony’s testimony and interviews. This was followed by Azim’s story, Ples’ story and plenty of time for questions from the student audience.
Year 8 student David Hora said he thought Azim was an amazing man. “I don’t know if I could forgive someone like that,” he said. “I thought the way the talk was structured was really interesting because you got to hear the two sides of the story.”
Rahul Saxena (Year 9) said the forgiveness message was very powerful. “I liked how they told the story and I thought the grandfather was a really good speaker.”
Year 9 student Cameron Veroba was also impressed at what a forgiving man Azim was. “The fact that he has invited the murderer (Tony) to come and work for the foundation when he gets out of prison is pretty amazing,” Cameron said. “There was also a strong message about how violence doesn’t solve anything – it only makes things worse.”
Azim, who has been hailed by dignitaries including the Dalai Llama and Thich Nhat Hanh, has also written four books including the award-winning From Murder to Forgiveness and The Secrets of the Bulletproof Spirit. His foundation is dedicated to transforming violence-prone, at-risk youth into non-violent, achieving individuals and creating safe and productive schools.
It was the first time Azim and Ples have visited Perth and their fifth time to Australia.