An Albertan’s crusade against bullying and violence
By Dane Benassi
On what was otherwise an unremarkable December afternoon in 2012, an Edmontonian witnessed a brutal attack that changed his life forever. Manwar Khan was on the Edmonton LRT taking his children to a medical appointment, when one passenger attacked another just a few meters away and began a ruthless beating. He desperately tried to help that passenger but was unable to stop the attack on his own. Manwar reacted quickly and pressed the emergency button putting his life at risk since he had to pass by the assailant. He moved some passengers to the safe compartment, out of harm’s way. He shouted at the assailant to stop the attack. Then, he turned to the group of bystanders and asked a couple of them to help him end the attack. He tried to intervene that day thinking that others would help, but that did not happen. Manwar was not able to stop the attack, which resulted in the death of one man.
For his heroic efforts, he received significant national media attention, letters of support from the public, friends and colleagues, and a letter of commendation from the Premier of Alberta.
However, rather than simply try and move on, he is using his experience as the impetus for change. Manwar launched a national anti-bullying initiative (Do Not be a bystander) in an effort to raise awareness about bullying and to empower bystanders. The purpose of his campaign is to encourage Canadians to stand up against bullying and violence. He has hosted 10 rallies in different cities across the province, where many Albertans joined him to show their support, including the mayors of both Edmonton and Lethbridge. The Government of Alberta and the University of Lethbridge have jumped on board with the project, helping him with supplies for posters and pamphlets to spread the message.
Manwar has also visited several schools hoping to educate kids and raise awareness about bullying and the role of the bystander. He encourages and supports others in expressing their experiences and taking action to resolve a situation.
Manwar believes the key to stopping violence and bullying in society is to create awareness, as this empowers victims to feel safe in discussing their experiences. His campaign is specifically designed to focus on bystanders and to teach them the importance of intervening in a safe but effective way. Manwar's goal is to create solidarity among victims of bullying and violence, as well as among potential bystanders, in the hopes of creating a safer society for everyone. He wants to let victims know that they are not alone and that there is help to eliminate bullying and violence everywhere.
His dream is to take this campaign all around the globe. People from all the corners of the world must be encouraged to act against bullying and violence. As part of realizing this dream, he hosted his first-ever campaign outside of Canada in Bangladesh at the North South University Campus on December 2015.
Manwar’s message is clear: we must play our part, rather than be indifferent in stopping violence and bullying. By sharing his story, as well as those of other victims who have experienced bullying, he has been able to increase awareness of the effects of bullying.