All posts by CPNN Coordinator

About CPNN Coordinator

Dr David Adams is the coordinator of the Culture of Peace News Network. He retired in 2001 from UNESCO where he was the Director of the Unit for the International Year for the Culture of Peace, proclaimed for the Year 2000 by the United Nations General Assembly.

Brazil: Lajeado Begins Classes to Train Peace Facilitators

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

An article from the Independente

The development of a culture of peace for the municipality of Lajeado is beginning to take shape. On August 7 and 8, the first group of leaders of the municipality was trained as peace facilitators.


Photo: Divulgação

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(Click here for the original article in Portuguese)

Questions for this article:

Where is peace education taking place?

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The group participated in the Basic Training Course for Restorative Justice Facilitators to learn about the methodology of Non-Conflicting Peacebuilding Circles. The training of peace facilitators, promoted by Lajeado City Hall in partnership with the Public Prosecution Service (MP), is part of the Lajeado Pact’s Restorative Justice action package.

Beginning in September, the training will also focus on the health, education, social care and culture care network. It will involve community and religious leaders, young people from the CRAS Reference Center and Specialized Reference for Social Assistance (CREAS) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs).

The course lasts 25 hours and takes place over two days. Thos interested in taking the course can contact the coordination of the Lajeado for Peace Pact by phone 3982-1104 or by email pacto@lajeado.rs.gov.br.

Dominican Republic: MINERD hosts National Student Forum for a Culture of Peace

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

An article from El Caribe (translation by CPNN)

The Ministry of Education (MINERD) is hosting this Tuesday [August 13], the National Student Forum for a Culture of Peace, within the framework of the Student Merit Recognition Program, in which 360 High School students come to reflect and analyze the different issues related to school life.

The educational activity, which this year has the motto: “Developing socio-emotional skills for citizenship and coexistence”, takes place from today until August 15 in the auditorium of the School of Evangelization John Paul II, under the responsibility of the Direction of Orientation and Psychology directed by Professor Minerva Pérez.

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish.)

Questions for this article:

What is the relation between peace and education?

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Secondary level students, 20 from each educational region, will develop debates about democracy and the construction of a new citizenship, with presentations on the problems that, in their opinion, could interfere with their training and integral development.

“In this interesting debate of ideas and considerations for a peaceful coexistence in the schools, the young people are assuming a leading role. They are committed to improving their lives, generating and discussing concrete proposals that contribute to the strengthening of a culture of peace in their respective educational campuses and communities,” explains the MINERD.

Methodology for student choice

The activities for the participation of the students in the forum, start from the first week of classes with the election of student councils, and close at the end of the year with the recognition of student effort and merit.

As part of the process, the educational and regional districts hold student congresses, where topics of interest to students are debated, proposals are made and those that best represent them are chosen. Subsequently, those students who will represent their regional team in the presentation of the proposals are selected.

The proposals developed during the forum will be included in a national proposal by a process of consensus. At the close of this forum, students are expected to present to the authorities the national proposal for a culture of peace that they will promote during the 2019-2020 school year, with a call to their peers to join their implementation and strategy “Schools for a culture of peace.”

Ivory Coast: National Symposium of Religious Leaders, Kings and Traditional Chiefs for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article from Abidjan.net

The Abbot Jacques Kouassi, Priest of the Diocese of Yamoussoukro, during the panels that punctuated this Tuesday, August 13, the first session of the work of the National Symposium of Religious Leaders, Kings and Traditional Chiefs for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence, wondered if politicians in Ivory Coast want peace or only power?

It is under the banner of “Conflict Management and Reconciliation in Côte d’Ivoire” that religious leaders, kings and traditional leaders have worked out their roles and responsibilities for effective use of inter-ethnic alliances in the resolution of community and/or political conflicts.

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(Click here for the original French version of this article.)

Question related to this article:

How should elections be organized in a true democracy?

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As a contribution, Father Jacques Kouassi took the opportunity to sound the alarm by asking his peers to carry out an analysis of what needs to be done for the good of everyone and not that of a political party.

Faced with the recomposition of the Independent Electoral Commission adopted by parliamentarians and challenged by the Ivorian opposition, he invites kings and traditional leaders to pass judgment on this to avoid the mistakes of the past.

“Without passion, let’s think about it because that’s how it starts. We religious leaders, we are going to talk, but are those who must listen, are they ready to listen? Many of us want to speak, but we must speak not to take sides but for the good of Côte d’Ivoire, “says Father Jacques Kouassi.

Reacting to the ambition of this panel to set up a conflict resolution committee to inform the state authorities, he regretted the fact that in Africa in general and particularly in Côte d’Ivoire, the authorities find it difficult to distinguish between the resources of the state and those of their political party.

He asked if the authorities would be ready to settle conflicts without bias when knowing that it involves ​​his political adversary?

“I asked myself to know, do the politicians really want peace or only want power? Do politicians in Ivory Coast want peace or seek power? ”

He says he asks himself this question constantly, without having an answer.

Meet Janna Jihad, the 13-Year-Old Palestinian Journalist Exposing the Israeli Occupation

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

A report from Democracy Now (licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License)

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report.

I’m Amy Goodman. “My camera is my gun.” Those are the words of a celebrated Palestinian journalist who’s been reporting on the Israeli occupation from the West Bank for more than six years. But Janna Jihad isn’t any journalist. She’s just 13 years old. She started telling stories about her home of Nabi Saleh when she was only 7, after her cousin and her uncle were killed in the village. Since then, Janna has shared countless videos about Palestinian resistance with viewers around the world, on Twitter, on YouTube, on Facebook, garnering tens of thousands of followers. This is a clip of Janna Jihad confronting Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank last year, in 2018.


Video of interview with Janna Jihad

JANNA JIHAD: From here, as you can see, those terrorist people, humans with no humanity, are coming to our land, trying to kill children and to make children get injured. From here, we’re sending our message and saying that Palestine will be free. From Nabi Saleh, Janna Jihad, occupied Palestine.

AMY GOODMAN: You hear that sign-off: “From Nabi Saleh, this is Janna Jihad, in occupied Palestine.” Janna is the cousin of Ahed Tamimi, the teenage activist who became a heroine to Palestinians after a viral video showed her slapping an Israeli soldier near her family’s home in the occupied West Bank. It was right after she had learned her cousin had been shot in the face by an Israeli soldier.

Janna Jihad is in the United States this month to share her stories about Palestine around the country. She joins us now in our New York studio.

Janna, thanks for making this stop.

JANNA JIHAD: Thank you. Thank you for, like, letting me come here and just, like, to speak more about my issue and, like, about my message as a Palestinian child.

AMY GOODMAN: So, when did you pick up your cellphone to start videoing? And was it your cellphone?

JANNA JIHAD: So, it was my mother’s cellphone. I was only 7 years old when I started doing journalism. It was when I saw that there were not enough journalists to cover things that happened in my village, Nabi Saleh, and also in Palestine in general. Like, when my friend Mustafa was killed, my uncle Rushdie was killed, a lot of things were happening, and the world didn’t know about how we, as Palestinian children living under this Israeli military occupation, are living, how we’re suffering, how we’re — like, how our rights are getting violated, our childhood is not given to us. So I wanted to be the voice of those children and to just be the messenger of their message, which is very important, and to raise awareness about this very important international issue.

AMY GOODMAN: So, at 7 years old, you take your mom’s cellphone, and you start videoing.

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: And posting those videos.

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: You say your camera is your gun. What do you mean?

JANNA JIHAD: So, I always say that my camera is my weapon of choice, because using my camera, it’s a very peaceful and nice way to resist this occupation. And by using my camera, I can send a message, and it can be even more effective than a gun, more effective than violence, more effective than killing people.

AMY GOODMAN: How do Israeli soldiers respond to your videoing?

JANNA JIHAD: Of course, it’s pretty hard. Like, for example, last year I got — the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Thoughts made a secret report about me, saying that I’m the next threat on their country.

AMY GOODMAN: Wait, wait, wait. You have to repeat what you just said.

JANNA JIHAD: OK.

AMY GOODMAN: The Israeli Ministry of?

JANNA JIHAD: Of Strategic Thoughts.

AMY GOODMAN: How do you know about this report on you?

JANNA JIHAD: OK, I’ll explain. So, the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Thoughts made a secret report about me, saying that I’m the next threat on their state. And this report was revealed by the Israeli fourth news channel. And after that, I got a lot of threats, intimidations by the Israeli street. And after that, I got registered by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate. And, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you are the youngest press card-carrying journalist in the world. You just turned 13.

JANNA JIHAD: Thirteen, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: What does that mean? How does that protect you to have that press card?

JANNA JIHAD: So, I’m the youngest Palestinian registered press card-carrying journalist in the world. So, I got registered after this report was revealed. And it was also right after I was stopped on the border. I was only 12 years old and four days, when I was stopped while coming back from Jordan on the Israeli border, and was interrogated for three hours. And it was, of course, illegal, because, like, if a minor got interrogated, in the international law, I have to have my parent or a lawyer, and I didn’t have any of those. And it was pretty hard for me. And after that, I got registered, which would be like a bit of protection, although it’s not really protection, because all of the journalists get killed, arrested and injured in the occupied Palestine. But it helps a little bit, you know? Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to your cousin, Ahed, for a moment, Ahed Tamimi, the young Palestinian activist who served an eight-month term in Israeli prison. She became a heroine to so many Palestinians and many others around the world, when video went viral showing her slapping an Israeli soldier near the family’s home just after Ahed had learned her cousin had been gravely wounded by an Israeli soldier, who shot him in the head using a rubber-coated steel bullet. We got a chance to speak with Ahed soon after she was released from prison, and we asked her about the conditions in the jail.

AHED TAMIMI: [translated] There were women, and there were children. There was one woman who had been detained under administrative detention. Administrative detention means the detention is based on undisclosed files, so the detainee doesn’t know why they’re detained. Administrative detainees only attend administrative courts, and their sentence is always extended. At first, it might be six months, but it’ll be renewed another time for four months. They’ll tell you your administrative detention is six months, but then, after six months, they’ll tell you they’ve extended another four. After four months, they’ll tell you another six. It’s like the prisoner — may God rest his soul — Ali Jamal, who spent seven consecutive years under administrative detention.

There are over 350 children in prison, and three children who are under administrative detention. The conditions children endure in prison are very difficult. Prison isn’t for anyone. And the prison administration puts a lot of pressure on them, so it’s very difficult. I hope for the release of all prisoners, and especially children, as soon as possible.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Ahed Tamimi. We were speaking to her in front of her house. She was broadcasting from there to our New York studio, where I got a chance to interview her. She is 18 years old. She was jailed when she was 16, turned 17 in prison. What has Ahed’s activism meant to you? Tell us about Nabi Saleh, where you all live.

JANNA JIHAD: So, Nabi Saleh is a very small village, 500 people living there. It’s like so small. Also, we have an Israeli illegal settlement built on the land in Nabi Saleh, which is only 50 meters far from the village. And there is a checkpoint on the entrance. It’s very small. We’re all one family, which is the Tamimi family. Ahed is my cousin and my best friend. She was always. You know, I am the only child, and she has no sister, so we are always together and stuff. And yeah, Ahed is like — we’re really close. We always have been going to demonstrations and marches and like everything together. And it’s pretty nice, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: And what was it like for you when she went to jail? She went to jail for slapping an Israeli soldier. So, she had just learned that your cousin, her cousin, had just been shot in the head by a rubber-tipped steel coated bullet?

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah. So, if you want, I can tell you Mohammed’s story, which is our cousin who got shot in the head, which was — he was just like literally playing. The soldiers were in the village for a couple of — for the past couple of days. And they were just shooting gas canisters randomly. There were no demonstrations, no clashes, no anything. It was just them raiding the village. And it was like right after Trump’s declaration that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel, and a lot of stuff, like, were happening in the West Bank and, you know, like a lot of demonstrations and stuff. And it was that time.

So, Mohammed was playing with his friends, soccer, on the mountain. And he was just — so, like, you know, shooting, it’s pretty normal for us, and we would play outside, because, like, you know, it’s always happening.

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Question for this article

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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AMY GOODMAN: What’s always happening?

JANNA JIHAD: When, like, the Israeli occupation forces would just like start shooting gas canisters randomly. And then, suddenly, that shooting stopped. So, Mohammed thought that somebody got arrested or somebody got injured. So he was right next to that wall. It’s not a separation well, but it’s a normal wall. And he had a ladder. So he just climbed that ladder and wanted to see if something happened. And in the same moment, he climbed that ladder and just like took a look. The Israeli military soldiers were right under the wall. And one of them just shot him with a rubber-coated bullet, which came right here, right next to his nose, and was stuck in his brain. And he was in a coma for seven days. He lost a whole one-third of his skull. And he was under treatment. He had got arrested even three times while he was treated.

And after that — so, the problem about the world is that they only see the slap, but they don’t see the whole story. So, after that, the same soldiers just came right next to Ahed’s house and wanted to enter, because Ahed’s house is in a, like, pretty high area, so they can pretty much see everyone. They wanted to go to the roof of Ahed’s house and just like shoot.

AMY GOODMAN: Of Ahed.

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Who, at the time, was 16.

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah. They wanted to go to her house, to her properties, and start shooting more children. And Ahed was pretty much — she didn’t want them to go into her house, pretty much. And then he started pushing her, and then she slapped him. And that’s why she got arrested for eight months.

AMY GOODMAN: I mean, you’re sitting here telling us this story. You’re telling us a story of when you were like, what, 10, 11 years old. Your cousin is shot in the face, is shot in the head, and now he’s lost a third of his brain or his skull in the process. How does this affect you as a child? How do you process this?

JANNA JIHAD: So, of course, a lot of difficult stuff for us as children living under this occupation happens. Like, for example, I saw a lot of people in my life getting killed in front of me. I was trying to — you know, we all — like, we get traumatized. We’re humans. You know, it’s pretty hard for us to process all of that. But we always believe that we want freedom, and wanting freedom is not easy. We have to pay the price of freedom. And the price of freedom won’t be that cheap. It’s going to be pretty expensive. A lot of people are going to get killed. A lot of people are going to get arrested. A lot of people are going to, like, get injured. But our main goal is to liberate Palestine, to live in freedom, love, peace and equality and justice, like any other human and child deserves to live.

AMY GOODMAN: You recently put out on Facebook the story of Mahmoud Salah.

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Who you say was shot in the leg by an Israeli sniper.

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Tell us what happened to him. What were the circumstances, and what has since happened?

JANNA JIHAD: So, Mahmoud Salah is a child from the village of al-Khader, next to the city of Bethlehem. So, Mahmoud Salah, he was playing after Iftar in Ramadan with his friends. He was playing soccer in the street. And his house is like basically right next to the separation wall. So, he was playing soccer, and then the soccer ball just went right next to the wall, so he went there to fetch it.

And then those Israeli soldiers in the tower shot him with a live munition, for basically no reason, in the leg. And his friends were trying to go help him, but those soldiers were faster than his friends, surrounded him. And they were shooting at his friends and didn’t allow anybody to come close to him — his family, his mom, his dad or anyone.

So they arrested his body. He fainted. He wasn’t even knowing what’s happening around him. And then, like, they didn’t inform the family about anything. After two days, they didn’t know anything about him, where was he, what happened to him. But he was at — he woke up, after two days, in an Israeli military hospital. And he had his leg cut off.

AMY GOODMAN: His leg was amputated.

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah, his leg was — like, he lost his leg, basically. And, like, none of his family was informed. And right now he’s under arrest even, for no reason, no charges. And —

AMY GOODMAN: How old is he?

JANNA JIHAD: He’s only — I think he’s only 14 years old, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: So, how do you cover these stories? Like, you don’t tweet. You’re on Facebook. What exactly do you do with your phone?

JANNA JIHAD: So, I usually try to, you know, cover whatever happens, like, for example, night raids, raids that are happening, when I’m coming back from my school on checkpoints. So, I usually even — like, usually go on live videos, because if I didn’t, if I was usually recording, they would just try to take my phone and try to break it or delete the videos off of it. So I always try to make my reports and just speak of what’s happening right in front of me, and then post it on my Facebook page. I have, like, right now about 300,000 followers. And, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: How often do you get to go to school? How often are schools closed in Nabi Saleh?

JANNA JIHAD: So, basically, our freedom of movement is violated. So, we have — me going to my school as a student is a struggle, because I face three checkpoints in my way. And those Israeli checkpoints are basically not checkpoints, but are barriers that block the street and close the whole street. And we cannot get anywhere because of those. So, usually, instead of me like reaching my school in about 25 to 30 minutes, I have to go to another way that takes me about two hours and a half to three hours to reach my school.

And it’s not only me that is getting affected. For example, my grandma started doing kidney dialysis two years ago because of how much tear gas she used to inhale, because, like, they shoot randomly at houses, at people. And, like, she has to go to the hospital three days a week, and sometimes she can’t. A lot of pregnant women gave birth to children in the car on those checkpoints. A lot of patients cannot go to the hospitals. Workers cannot go to their works. And it’s pretty hard, because we cannot go to the places we need to be at, at time. And it’s pretty — it’s a violation of our human rights.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you see as the solution for what is happening in the Occupied Territories and Israel?

JANNA JIHAD: OK, yeah. So, that’s a good question. We have the two-state solution, and we have the one-state solution. So, let’s start with the two-state solution. The two-state solution is basically dead, because, as a question, where are the borders of Israel? It was supposed to be the West Bank and Gaza for the Palestinians. But 68% of the West Bank is basically illegal settlements. And it’s pretty — it’s pretty much dead. And even like Israel doesn’t want it and is not working on it at all. Even, like, they signed on it, but it’s pretty much bad.

And then we have the one-state solution. For me, the one-state solution is the solution that would work. It can be that all of us could live together, same rights, under one government, getting exactly the same rights, me like the same as any other person. And all the refugees could come back to Palestine. All the people could live in peace, just in equality. And I have no problem with living with anybody, but a person that has — like, I would live with anybody that has a good mind, that they want peace and love and equality. And we have basically no problem. Like, welcome to our land, if you believe in peace, because it’s a land of peace, that never saw peace before. So, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you have a particular message for Israeli children?

JANNA JIHAD: So, Israeli children, I believe — we’re not the only victims, but we are freedom fighters as Palestinian children. But the Israeli children are, for me, a victim for the occupation. Because why would an 11-years-old child be holding a weapon that is even taller than him, and walking with it in the street? Why would they —

AMY GOODMAN: Have you seen that?

JANNA JIHAD: I’ve seen it. And I’ve seen children having —

AMY GOODMAN: You mean you’ve seen a settler child.

JANNA JIHAD: Uh-huh, a settler child in even like Jerusalem and anywhere we would go, like the children would be holding guns and like holding weapons. And why would a child hold that? Why would a child be raised on that mindset of killing people and on that like mindset of Zionism and really bad stuff, that we don’t want any child in this world to be raised on?

So, my message to the Israeli children is that we are all children, and we are all victims of that occupation. So, we have to stand up [to] the occupation. And, you know, the problem, I was debating that yesterday, that, like, the problem the Israeli youth are that, like, they’re going more to the right side of the government and stuff, and they’re more like a 17-years-old child would just like go and serve in the IDF. They’re supposed to go when they’re 17 years old. And it’s pretty bad, you know? And I believe that we all, children around this world, have to all unite to make this world a world of peace, love and equality and justice, because we’re the leaders of the future, and we’re the leaders of today, and we have to make a difference. We don’t have to just like repeat the mistakes of the adults right now, where they’re all separated and where, like, they’re all divided. And they just — like, we all want to live in peace. And we’re just tired of all of that, that’s happening around us.

AMY GOODMAN: Would you say that’s your message to children of the world, overall?

JANNA JIHAD: Yeah, that’s my message to all the children around the world, because we can make a difference, and we have to.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you so much for being with us. Janna Jihad just turned 13 years old. She is a Palestinian journalist, one of the youngest journalists, card-carrying journalists, in the world. She lives in Nabil Saleh in the occupied West Bank. And she is the cousin of Ahed Tamimi, who was considered a heroine to so many around the world, served time in an Israeli prison when she was 16 years old, turned 17 in person. You can go to democracynow.org to see our full interview with Ahed in Nabi Saleh. It’s been so great to have you in our studio.

JANNA JIHAD: Thank you. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you so much, Janna. This is Democracy Now! Thank you very much for joining us.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article.)

Mexico: First International Congress on Social Prevention of Violence and Culture of Peace

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

An article from Zacatecas Hoy (translation by CPNN)

In order to strengthen the actions that the State Government carries out in the area of ​​social prevention of crime, the First International Congress of Social Prevention of Violence and Culture of Peace will be held [in Zacatecas] next October.

The Undersecretary of Social Crime Prevention, Armando García Neri informed that the Congress will receive results of research and theoretical contributions on various topics, includeing urban planning, gender, substance use, rights and factors involved in childhood, communication strategies for the construction of a culture of peace, analysis of cognitive behavioral therapies and culture of peace.

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(Click here for the original article in Spanish.)

Questions for this article:

Where are police being trained in culture of peace?

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Likewise, during the congress that will be held on October 2, 3 and 4, issues related to the actions of the police as a security force will have to be addressed.

All of the above will be addressed hrough work tables, master conferences and cultural and social workshops in which the Benemérita Autonomous University of Zacatecas will have a fundamental participation.

In addition to specialists from our country, experts in the field from countries such as Canada, Chile, Colombia, the United States and Italy will participate in the congress.

Finally, García Neri stressed the importance of these types of events, as they come to enrich the strategies and actions that the state administration undertakes on fundamental and priority issue ssuch as crime prevention.

Guber poll: When Ijaw elders converged on Yenagoa [Nigeria]

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article by Omoniyi Salaudeen from Sun News Online

Worried by the previous experience of violence and electoral malfeasance in Bayelsa State, concerned stakeholders under the auspices of the Ijaw Elders’ Forum on Wednesday, July 31 converged on Yenagoa. They were there to brainstorm on the peaceful way to achieving a free, fair and credible governorship poll slated for November 16. 


Rear Admiral Jonah (Rtd), addressing participants

The conference, with the theme: Peaceful and Credible Governorship Election and Good Governance in Bayelsa State: Building Consensus Through The Ijaw Charter and IJaw Nation Code of Ethics, Leadership and Governance, drew participants from across all walks of life, including the diplomatic corps, political parties and the aspirants. The event was just for one thing: non-violent and credible election.

Flowing from the tune of the discussion at the conference, no one was left in doubt as to the imperative of the urgent need to change the narrative about Bayelsa being perceived as a violence-prone state. All participants unanimously condemned violence in whatever form as a means of aspiring for leadership position.

The guest speaker, Dr Austin Tam George, in his paper entitled: ‘Electoral Violence and Superstition of Power,’ aptly captured the essence of the sensitization workshop. In his presentation, he outlined some of the factors that promote electoral violence. These include contempt for people, lack of confidence in the electoral process, culture of impunity as well as lack of compelling message, among others. He described the entrenched culture of impunity as the greatest danger to democracy, blaming the worrisome trend on absence of deterrence. “Without prosecution of those involved in violence during election, this culture of impunity will not stop. And it endangers democracy. What we have now is democracy without the people. Electoral violence can only produce mediocrity. There can be no visionary leadership where election is characterized by violence. There can no transparency and accountability from leaders who emerge through violence. Electoral violence diminishes everyone,” he posited.

The Chairman of the event, King Bubraye Dakolo, traditional ruler and Ebenanaowei of Ekpetiama Kingdom, set the tone for discussion in his earlier opening address. He urged all aspirants to eschew violence during and after the election, adding that anyone found to instigate violence should be ex-communicated.
“An election is about brain and not about gun. Let the game be a peaceful one. I will also like to suggest that all aspirants should be made to take an oath that they will not encourage violence and anyone who encourages violence should be ex-communicated,” he stated.

The deputy governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah, who commended the organisers of the conference for the peace initiative, in turn charged the traditional rulers to ensure that the message of peace is taken to the grassroots. He also used the occasion to call on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be fair to all.

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Question related to this article:

How should elections be organized in a true democracy?

(Article continued from left column)

“Where an election is not free and fair, there will always be a reaction and you cannot predict the reaction,” he noted.

The Secretary of the IEF, Mr. Efiye Bribena, told the audience that the international community had expressed its strong support for the peace initiative, promising to sanction anyone involved in violence during the election.

“The global community is interested in the election coming up in November. They are partnering with us to have a free and credible election. Their absence in today’s event is due to security reports. They have called in to apologise for the unavoidable absence and expressed the readiness to sanction anyone involved in violence,” he said.

A major feature of the event was the signing and affirmation of non-violence agreement by the governorship aspirants as a demonstration of their commitment to a peaceful and credible election.
Signatories to the agreement included the Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (retd) (People’s Democratic Party- PDP), Dr. F. Erepamo Osaisai, Kemela Okara, Mrs Diseye Nsim Poweigha (All Progressives Congress- APC), Speaker of the House of Assembly, Tonye Isenah and Eneyi Zidougha, chairman, Inter Party Advisory Council.

The conference, which was a follow up to the earlier workshop held in May, aimed at building an enduring culture of peace and tolerance from the top to the grassroots. The Chairman, BoT, G24 Embasara Foundation and former Executive Secretary/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Arch Amagbe Denzil Kentebe, speaking with the reporter on the sidelines of the event, assured that the initiative would be sustained beyond the election period.

His words: “We have been having radio programmes where we are talking directly to Bayelsans.  Everybody in one way or the other is trying to disseminate this information. This agitation for violence is coming from the top. And that is why we are targeting political actors to make them agree to a peaceful process. The good thing about getting the politicians, who are always the culprits, together is to make them affirm that they will not be violent-prone.

“Violence comes in when someone doesn’t have something to offer. It is a very expensive programme that we have. And don’t forget we are doing it from our own personal contributions because we believe that if there is no violence during election in Bayelsa State, we will have the best of leadership. And the best of leadership will always ensure great development. What we are trying to do is to change the narrative.”

The peace conference was a collaborative effort of Ijaw Elders’ Forum, Lagos State chapter, Ijaw Professionals Association (IPA), Ijaw Nation Forum, G24 Embasara Foundation and Ijaw Women Connect Worldwide, Diplomatic Corp, Centre for Democracy (CDD) and Ijaw Nation Development Group (INDG).
Dignitaries in attendance at the occasion included: Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Rear Admiral Gboribiogha John Jonah (retd), King Bubraye Dakolo, Gen. Paul Toun – Chairman, Board of Trustees, Ijaw Professionals Association, Dr. Austin Tam-George – Fmr. Hon. Commissioner of Information, Rivers State, Barr. Efiye Bribena – Secretary, Ijaw Elders Forum, Lagos, Rt. Hon. Tonye E. Isena – Speaker, Bayelsa State House of Assembly, Barr. Iniruo Wills – Co-convener of Embassara Foundation,  and Denzil Amagbe Kentebe – Chairman, Board of Trustees, Embassara Foundation.

Building infrastructures for peace

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article by Saul Arbess and David Wick for the Ashland Tidings

Much in the way that we have a military, energy and financial infrastructure, we also need an infrastructure for peace, a critical oversight in virtually all governments in the world.

In nearly every state, military infrastructure exists, often the most heavily financed, resourced and comprehensive infrastructure of government. They are in a high level of readiness for both defense and potential aggression against other states or responding to internal conflict, typically by suppression, thus favoring war and a military view of security — that is, an armed, unstable peace.

The military approach relies on threat rather than the creation of an enduring culture of peace, based upon our common security as citizens of planet Earth and the human right to peace and security of the person and community.

A good definition of infrastructure for peace comes from the United Nations Development Program: “An infrastructure for peace is a network of interdependent systems, resources, values and skills held by government, civil society and community institutions that promote dialogue and consultation; prevent conflict and enable peaceful mediation when violence occurs in a society.”

One could see infrastructure for peace as a parallel structure to the generally highly developed and readily mobilized military infrastructure with its national, regional and local organization, except that an infrastructure for peace is not hierarchical, but most effective when organized from the bottom up — that is, intervention should occur at the level where conflict is manifest and utilize traditional peace-building methods with trusted leadership at each level, not necessarily politicians.

A principal strength of infrastructure for peace is that it develops a permanent peace-building structure on the ground at all levels, rather than an ad hoc system of responding to conflict as it arises and then disbanding until the next conflict event occurs. An infrastructure for peace would allow for early warning and intervention in potential conflict scenarios and timely responses when violent conflict has emerged.

At the local level, the Ashland Peace Commission can be seen in this light. At the state level, there is the Democratic Party of California’s resolution calling for the state to create a department of peace. At the national level, there is the U.S. Institute of Peace that unfortunately only has the powers of persuasion, and the current bill for a U.S. Department of Peacebuilding.

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Question related to this article:

How can we develop the institutional framework for a culture of peace?

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Canada has created the position of Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security with both domestic and international responsibilities, supporting the role of women in all aspects of peace work.

In every case and at every level, the goal is to transform conflict by peaceful means, with violence not seen as an option. This means that all parties to a conflict are represented — both those directly involved and external interests as well, and are adequately resourced to present and support their interests in the absence of coercion.

Restorative Justice is an excellent model for this approach, active in many countries, including the U.S.

To build an infrastructure for peace nationally, there is the movement for departments or ministries of peace promoted by the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace. Currently the Solomon Islands (2005), Nepal (2007), Costa Rica (2009), the Autonomous Region of Bougainville – Papua New Guinea (unknown date) and, most recently, Ethiopia (2018) have created such infrastructures for peace.

Afghanistan is moving in this direction. In Africa, following electoral violence, both Ghana and Kenya have formed peace-building programs without a formal department as such.

Here are some guidelines for the establishment of infrastructures for peace:

1. It works best when there is a comprehensive strategy in place involving the government and all stakeholders at the national, regional and local level.

2. Each level in the structure needs to have some autonomy so that responses to conflict can be made rapidly at the appropriate level. Local peace committees can often function where government cannot or may be regarded with suspicion. Local peace committees have been effective in defusing electoral violence by creating a dialogue between opposing sides and insuring free and fair elections, mediation and reconciliation between parties.

3. Local peace committees are encouraged to utilize traditional and culturally appropriate decision-making structures, where legitimacy exists among the parties to conflict and not necessarily rely on modern state ideas of formal organization.

Saul Arbess is co-founder of the Global Alliance for Ministries and Infrastructures for Peace and the Canadian Peace Initiative. Arbess will be one of the speakers at the Ashland Global Peace Conference Sept. 21. He will be presenting a talk on infrastructures for peace. Conference information can be found at ashlandglobalpeaceconference.com. David Wick is executive director of the Ashland Culture of Peace Commission.

Manifesto on diversity: the Land of Canaan

. . TOLERANCE AND SOLIDARITY . .

An article by Mazin Qumsiyeh

At the Edinburgh International Festival I was asked to give a manifesto
for the future. Thinking about it, I propose that briefly I address the
issue of existential need to maintain biological diversity including human
diversity. This resonates deeply with me due partly to my background in
biology and medical genetics: the former helped understand better the
evolution of diversity in nature and the latter (together with my social
and polical interests) the nature and importance of human diversity.

In many ways I think we can approach phenomena like racism, environmental
destruction, colonization and wars via a diagnostic-therapeutic approach.
As a student of science I was always keen in following this pragmatic
approach with proposing rational testable hypothesis, collecting data,
testing and retesting ideas with as little bias as is reasonably possible.
With regards to the situation in Western Asia (aka “Middle East”), I wrote
a book called Sharing the Land of Canaan, which talks about patient
history, symptoms and underlying cause (etiology) as well  as prognostics.
I addressed in more detail the therapy in a book called “Popular Resistance
in Palestine, History of Hope and Empowerment”. Here I do not want to go
over these details and I want to just focus on one issue which is human
diversity as a an imeprative – strengthening diversity as the most rational
and obvious outcome even following colonial anti-colonial struggle.

I was professor at Yale University Medical School and when I was teaching
my students I would say, you have to take a bit of patient history,
understand what’s going on, and then you make the right diagnosis, and then
you offer therapy and you look to prognosis. Taking the same approach is
the logical way of looking at things, not emotional gut feeling kind of
thing. Our subject or patient is a geographic region that is very
significant, it’s at the nexus of continents and the cradle pf
civilizations. Due to geologic and geographic location, we have rich
biodiversity including human diversity. A bottleneck for bird migration
where >500 million birds pass on annual migrations from Eurasia to Africa.
It was also a bottleneck for human migration where early humans spread out
of Africa to the rest of the world.

This is the first area on planet earth that humans went from
hunter-gatherers to agricultural and pastoral lifestyles. It is where we
first domesticated plants like wheat, barley, and lentils and animals like
goats and sheep. This is thus the fertile crescent. Jericho for example is
the oldest continuously inhabited town on Earth; It has always had people.
Of course these people acquired different religions, as religions come and
go but the native/indigenous people stayed here for 12,000 years since that
dawn of agriculture and animal husbandry.  It is what we call dawn of
civilization because when people went from hunter-gatherers to agricultural
communities their numbers went up so they lived in villages and towns and
started to organize their lives and started to be more creative creative
with the Iron and Bronze age. These people, our ancestors the Canaanites,
are depicted in hieroglyphics and in Mesopotamian reliefs as rich people
who had a fertile productive county (the land of milk and honey mentioned
in the Bible).

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Question for this article

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

How can a culture of peace be established in the Middle East?

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Our Canaanitic ancestors evolved into various tribes: Nebateans (early
Arab), Jebuisites, Hebrews, Ammonites, Phoenecians and Phyllistines among
others. Towns and villages that they inhabited prospered and as they
diversified and specialized they traded their goods. Cheese and butter of
Nebateans for perfumes from Jericho and wood from cedars of Lebanon. For
these 12,000 years we have had very little conflict here. Palestine having
multiethahnic, multireligious, multicultural and even multilingual society
for thousands of years. This may surprise some of you because you watch
western media which is basically propaganda nonsense. This country is one
of the least conflicted on Earth. We are just unlucky to be living in this
era now. If you go back before this conflict between natives and Zionism
you would go to the Crusaders, 1190 AD, another conflict that came from
outside. So we’re talking about hundreds of years with no conflict in
between short episodes imposed on us from outside.

So this is not a congenital problem, the patient is not hopeless, the
patient has had episodes, once in a while, but these native people
prospered developing religion, laws, music, and even the alphabet. The
latin alphabet was invented and evolved by our Canaanite ancestors. The
Aramaic language that Jesus spoke had significant influence as it evolved
to Arabic, Assyrian, and Hebrew. Like languages, religious beliefs also
evolved and diversified.  Our country has always been multi-ethnic,
multicultural, multi-religious, and multilingual. Very rare episodes which
came from outside attempted and failed (e.g. Crusaderism, Zionism) to
change this. Settler colonialism is not uncommon diagnosis and it is a very
destructive force for both the native humans and all other native fauna and
flora. We can cite for example destruction of millions of endogenous trees
and planting European pine trees to hide the places of the destroyed
Palestinian villages. We  can cite draining the Hula wetlands, diversion of
the Jordan valley waters (leading to desertification) and the politically
motivated Red Sea-Dead Sea Canal.

I’m optimistic because our subject, the Western part of the Fertile
Crescent has been healthy and prosperous and strong (via diversity). Its
current setback started with an idea called Zionism. Zionism is not a
complicated idea, it says that European Jews are discriminated against in
Europe, they should have their own state, so come and take this country
that is called Palestine and make it the Jewish state of Israel. Most
blacks in North America resisted discrimination but there was a minority
who decided to go make their own state created a nation state in western
Africa, Liberia, and the problem for them is the same problem that these
European Jews faced, and Herzl also one of the founders of this movement
faced, is that Liberia was not a land without a people for a people without
a land. There were people there, natives, and what to do with the natives
is always a problem for people who come from abroad to try and create new
realities on the ground.  Today 7.5 million of us Palestinians are refugees
or displaced people (of a total 13 million Palestinians).  Settler
colonialism has one of three possible outcomes: 1) Algerian model where 2-3
million Algerians were killed in the struggle and then one million French
packed their bags and went to Europe, 2) Australia and the US model
(genocide of natives), 3) The rest of the world model were descendants of
the colonizers and descendants of the colonized live in one country and
share it. There is no fourth scenario in the history of colonization.

The diagnosis and the prognosis (third scenario) is logical and attempts by
colonizers are monolithic society fail (cf Crusaderism, Zionism).  They
fail because diversity is strength. In biology when I look at the forest
and I see one species dominate I don’t say this is a healthy forest. I say
this is unhealthy, it’s going to decline. The strength comes from
diversity, so we say that’s what will happen here and that’s another reason
why I’m optimistic – we fight for equality and to maintain the country the
way it was supposed to be: multi-ethnic multi-cultural and multi-religious.

Therapy in the form of popular resistance and a global joint struggle as we
did against apartheid in South Africa is working. We just need to intensify
it.

(Thank you to Phyllis Kotite, the CPNN reporter for this article which she received by email from Mazin.)

PAYNCoP Gabon and AFRICTIVITIES inform civil society organizations about the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)

… . HUMAN RIGHTS … .

by Jerry Bibang, National Coordinator of PAYNCoP Gabon (translation by CPNN)

As part of the celebration of the African month of justice, the Citizen Movement for Good Governance in Gabon (MCB2G) and the Panafrican Youth Network for Peace Culture (PAYNCoP), in partnership with Africtivists, organized, Saturday, August 10, a public conference on the theme “African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and Access to Justice: Mechanism for this fundamental right.”


(click on photo to enlarge)

Hosted by Paulette Oyane Ondo, lawyer and human rights defender, the meeting at the Glass Cultural Center brought together several NGO leaders and associations working for the defense and promotion of human rights.

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(Click here for the original French version.)

Question(s) related to this article:

How can human rights be defended?

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In his remarks, Jerry Bibang, the MCB2G General Coordinator and National Coordinator of PAYNCoP Gabon emphasized the context of this meeting: “the activity that brings us together today is part of the implementation of the program entitled ‘Local Initiative for Justice’, which aims to set up a framework for dialogue, exchange, discussion and debate around human and peoples’ rights issues. The program, organized by Africtivistes, consists of 5 major sessions that will be held successively in Gabon, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Cameroon. ”

Through this program, “the Africtivists and all the stakeholders wish to publicize the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR), which remains little known to the general public,” he added.

In her remarks, Maitre Paulette Oyane Ondo began with a historical reminder before addressing the composition, functioning, mechanisms and conditions of referral to the ACHPR. For the lawyer, the Commission, created in 1987 in Ethiopia, essentially promotes, protects, guarantees and respects human rights in Africa. Its basic tool is the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The commission also acts as a jurisdiction between states or in case of a difference between a state and an individual or a group of people living in Africa. If the commission is accessible to all, there are, however, conditions for it to take up a case. The first condition is that the country involved has ratified the African Charter on Human Rights; and the second is that the complaint is related to a violation of the basic text. The lawyer took the opportunity to highlight the lack of involvement of Gabonese civil society with the ACHPR, before answering the many questions of the participants.

On the sidelines of this event, the public also was presented the Africtivistes platform by Boursier Tchibinda, one of the members of this pan-African organization as well as a presentation of the MCB2G, by Joanie Mahinou, the Deputy General Coordonatrice of this NGO.

Global Human Rights Movement Issues Travel Warning for the U.S. due to Rampant Gun Violence

… . HUMAN RIGHTS … .

An article from Amnesty International

Amnesty International today issued a travel warning calling for possible travelers and visitors to the United States to exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the country due to rampant gun violence, which has become so prevalent in the United States that it amounts to a human rights crisis. It aims to hold up a mirror to the U.S. using the model of the United States Department of State’s travel advice for U.S. travelers to other countries.

“Travelers to the United States should remain cautious that the country does not adequately protect people’s right to be safe, regardless of who they might be. People in the United States cannot reasonably expect to be free from harm – a guarantee of not being shot is impossible,” said Ernest Coverson, campaign manager for the End Gun Violence Campaign at Amnesty International USA. “Once again, it is chillingly clear that the U.S. government is unwilling to ensure protection against gun violence.”

The travel advisory addressed growing gun violence, mostly hate crimes, including racism and discrimination, highlighting that the traveler’s race, country of origin, ethnic background, sexual orientation or gender identity may place them at higher risk after recent attacks linked to white supremacist ideology.

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Question(s) related to this article:

What is the state of human rights in the world today?

Do you think handguns should be banned?, Why or why not?

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The action called attention to the extent to which all aspects of life in the United States have been compromised in some way by unfettered access to guns, without comprehensive and uniform regulation of their acquisition and use. By prioritizing gun ownership over basic human rights, the U.S. government is willfully and systematically failing on multiple levels and ignoring its international obligations to protect people’s rights and safety.

Amnesty International has been calling for common sense reform regarding the use and possession of firearms, including comprehensive background checks, national regulations for registering and licensing firearms, required training, a ban on high capacity magazines/assault weapons, and mandatory safe-storage laws. Amnesty International USA’s campaign to end gun violence has focused efforts on passing S.42., the Assault Weapons ban, and the Disarm Hate Act.

Background

A report by Amnesty International, “In the Line of Fire: Human Rights and the U.S. Gun Violence Crisis” examined how all aspects of American life have been compromised in some way by the unfettered access to guns, with no attempts at meaningful national regulation.

Last month, Amnesty International published a report examining how survivors of gun violence in the United States suffer years of trauma and pain due to a destructive combination of government policies which ignore their needs.