Category Archives: Europe

Traveling by Bicycle Gives Direct Contact with People

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

An article by Stip & F

After eight years of professional life in the banking sector in Paris, we decided to travel by bike to discover Europe via Morocco. This means of locomotion has become obvious to us. Economical and practical, it allowed us to travel 17000 km during a year. Meeting peope is all the more facilitated as we are in direct contact with them.


(click on image to see the video)

The same questions come up frequently in all languages: Where are you from? Why are you doing this? Where do you sleep ? Their questions allow to get in touch, to express who we are, without necessarily going through the words, but especially by smiling, and what we hope to make clear: our simplicity.

We went in search of ourselves, especially through meeting people, sharing their stories and experiences. The memory of these exchanges will remain with us forever: a Belgian family who drew our first tears at the time of departure in Spain; the Moroccan couple in the Atlas Mountains who shared everything; the kindness and the big heart of an Italian family in Cremona; the welcome and generosity of a Serbian entrepreneur; a memorable breakfast with two retirees in the middle of Finland …

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(Click here for the original version in French.)

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We also discovered a new kind of fast and intense relationship. People did not hesitate to tell us their life stories. This drove us to compassion and humility in the face of their heartbreaking stories. We listened attentively, comforted and left, maybe sometimes a little too fast … Hoping that peace has returned to their life.

These spontaneous exchanges are a great way to learn about yourself. It was rare that we had any reason to be frightened, and when that happened, it was most often based on limits to our understanding, deeply rooted in ourselves through our education and the messages conveyed by society. This experience has shown us that kindness and generosity are everywhere; you just need to open your eyes. It seems that too often, we do not believe what we see, but we see what we believe. Sometimes in the cafes, a customer pays the bill, the boss offers us a meal, a person offers us a room … Arriving with a positive intention can make a big difference.

Inevitably, some events wore on our nerves, like the rain near Foggia in Italy, which in the end was punctuated by a beautiful evening around a fire. We learned that we must welcome everything, accept it as it is, even that which we might consider negative.

Intuition became our best ally over the days in all situations. It’s about giving more space to our feelings as the best indicator. Being in close contact with the elements, we are immersed in the environment, open to capturing more information. Our senses sharpen, we know instinctively if we must extend a meeting, shorten or change course. Sometimes, we felt that an invitation was too insistent, and we refused it, at the risk of offending someone. We prefer to be in agreement with ourselves rather than compromise.

The difficulties we encountered, whether related to climate, relationships with others, or our own doubts … turn out to be ways for us to grow. Once the discomfort has passed, the field of possibilities gets bigger. This has been a journey to remember who we are, to go beyond the facades built around our ego.

We continue our journey, having become more aware and grateful for all the intentions of life. Above all, we must simply remember: the human being is benevolent by nature.

Emerald Isle Goes Green: Ireland just voted to divest from fossil fuel companies

. . SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT . .

An article by Casey O’Brien for the Sierra Club ©2018 Sierra Club. All Rights Reserved – reproduced from a Sierra Club website with permission of the Sierra Club

The global fossil fuel divestment movement just got a huge push from an unexpected place—Ireland. On July 12, Ireland became the first country to vote to shed its financial holdings in oil, gas, and coal corporations. The measure calling for the country to sell off its estimated $370 million in fossil fuel investments “as soon as is practicable” passed the lower house of the Parliament of Ireland with support from all parties. The vote marks a major milestone in the effort to move capital away from the largest carbon polluters.  


People celebrate July 12 after the passage of the Fossil Fuel Divestment Bill in Ireland. (Mark Stedman). Photo from National Catholic Reporter

“This is the next step in a progression . . . of what people considered impossible and unprecedented, but it makes perfect sense that that’s what’s happening,” said Andrew Behar, CEO of the socially responsible investment firm As You Sow. 

Ireland’s move is the latest surge in the rising tide of the divestment movement, which now includes universities across the United States, dozens of Catholic institutions, and New York City, which earlier this year announced it is investigating selling off its fossil fuel holdings. Go Fossil Free, a group that advocates for fossil fuel divestment, estimates that $6.15 trillion worth of fossil fuel assets have been sold off since the movement started in 2010. “First we had student movements, then we had mission-driven organizations—faith based and philanthropy—and now we have entire countries,” said Clara Vondrich, global director of Divest Invest, which provides institutions with guidance on how to move their money away from fossil fuel corporations.  

The move surprised some people, as Ireland has something of a reputation for being slow to act on climate, in comparison to other European nations. Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, tweeted that the news of the vote “staggered him.” The Climate Action Network recently declared Ireland the second-worst country in the EU for climate change management. The only other country to consider such a move is much-wealthier Norway, which has proposed divesting its $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund but hasn’t done so yet. 

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Question for this article:

Divestment: is it an effective tool to promote sustainable development?

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Ireland’s vote is particularly important because it reflects a major shift in the divestment movement, Vondrich explained. Originally, fossil fuel divestment was entirely driven by moral concerns—institutions pulled their money out of oil, gas, and coal companies because they didn’t want to be contributing to the destruction of a stable climate. Now, divestment is increasingly seen as a smart financial move for investors; Ireland’s divestment is as much a fiduciary decision as it is a chance to demonstrate its principles. “The divestment movement now stands on a strong three-legged stool of moral, fiduciary, and financial arguments,” Vondrich said.   

A recent report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) illustrates Vondrich’s point. The report states, “The financial case for fossil fuel divestment is strong. Over the past three and five years, respectively, global stock indexes without fossil fuel holdings have outperformed otherwise identical indexes that include fossil fuel companies. Fossil fuel companies once led the economy and world stock markets. They now lag.”    

Energy stocks were the second-worst performing sector in 2017, states IEEFA’s report, outpaced by health, technology, and other industries even as the price of oil stabilized from a low of $28 a barrel in 2016 to $75 today. Fossil fuel companies’ relatively weak performance is crucial, given that some investment institutions are required, by their charters, to prioritize profit performance and fiduciary responsibility above all other concerns. Ireland’s vote, Vondrich said, solidifies the argument that divestment is the financially savvy choice for investment managers.  

While Ireland’s vote only affects a relatively small amount of money (as national investment funds go), Behar and Vondrich agree that it carries significant symbolic value. “What started on a handful of college campuses is now the policy of nations,” Vondrich said. “Ireland’s pledge to divest takes the movement to the next level, where activists and heads of state work hand-in-hand to save the world.”  

Behar said, “This is a political statement. The fund is relatively small . . . but I think that having it decided in that venue is really important. It’s sort of like when California decided that they wanted CalPERS, the pension fund, to divest. That was a vote in the California legislature.” Behar continued, “I would equate it to when the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation made [their divestment] announcement at the 2014 climate summit in New York. That was a major moment, when the heirs of the Exxon fortune said, ‘We’re going to sell our Exxon [stocks].’” 

Vondrich said the strategy going forward is to continue to push for divestment decisions as well as divest-invest pledges in which divested funds are reinvested in enterprises committed to sustainability and clean energy. Ultimately, the goal is to demonstrate that buying shares of fossil fuel corporations is not a wise investment. 

“The fossil fuel industry is really in the long term, nonviable. So you want to get out as early as possible,” Behar said. “Our goal is removing the social license for these companies to exist.” 

BDS Victory: Irish Senate Approves Bill Boycotting Israeli Settlement Goods

. .DISARMAMENT & SECURITY. ,

An article from Telesur TV

Ireland becomes the first country to ban trade with Israel’s illegal settlements.

The Ireland senate approved the Occupied Territories Bill, which bans all trade with illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, Wednesday. The Irish government opposed the legislation, but 25 independent and opposition lawmakers secured its approval.

Ireland is on its way to becoming the first country to prohibit “the import and sales of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories.” 

The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded to the decision saying that “the Irish Senate has given its hand to an aggressive, dangerous and radical populist anti-Israel boycott initiative that undermines prospects for a dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.”

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Question related to 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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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also protested, saying the bill “is to support the BDS movement and harm the State of Israel.”

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a Palestinian-led international campaign launched in 2005 to push for the end of Israel’s over-50-year-long military occupation of Palestine, the end of the apartheid regime, and for the recognition of the right to return of the over five million Palestinian refugees.  

Despite attempts to discredit the BDS movement, Israel’s lethal response against protesters who participated in the Great March of Return, which began on March 30, has given the international campaign more relevance and victories.
 
The bill was introduced by Frances Black, a well-known singer and member of the Seanad, the upper house in Ireland’s Parliament. 

There is international consensus on the illegality of these settlements. Earlier this year the United Nations Human Rights Council published a report  on the role businesses play in Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law, “contributing to Israel’s confiscation of land, facilitate the transfer of its population into the Occupied Palestinian Territory and… the exploitation of Palestine’s natural resources.”

(Thank you to the Transcend Media Service for bringing this to our attention.)

II World Forum on Urban Violence and Education for Coexistence and Peace: Madrid, 5-8 November

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

Information from the website of the Forum (Translation by CPNN)

The Organizing Committee

On Monday, June 11, the Organizing Committee of the II World Forum on Urban Violence met in Madrid. The Forum will be held in the Spanish capital from November 5 to 8, 2018, with the aim of designing an integrated program capable of serving the expectations generated by this new edition of the Forum.

The invocation of the Forum was announced by the mayor of Madrid and co-president of the Union of Ibero-American Capital Cities (UCCI), Manuela Carmena, attended by representatives of the various organizations and platforms that take part of the Organizing Committee. They shared expectations for the organization of the Forum, raising, among other challenges, how to establish Madrid as the permanent seat of the Cities of Peace Forum and turn it into an annual event on the international agenda. The need to open a space to measure the results of the first Forum and its impact on interpersonal violence in territories and cities was also analyzed, as well as a discussion on how local leaders can contribute to “saving lives” with public policies that promote education for coexistence and peace in cities and territories.

The organizing committee currently is composed of: the city councils of Madrid, Barcelona and Paris; the Ibero-American General Secretariat (SEGIB); different United Nations agencies (UN Women, UN Habitat and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), networks of cities such as the global network of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) ), the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP), Metropolis, the Union of Iberoamerican Capital Cities (UCCI), Mayors for Peace and other platforms representing civil society such as the Spanish Association for Peace Research (aiPAZ); the Regional Federation of Neighborhood Associations of Madrid (FRAVM), the NGO Network of Madrid, the FAPA Giner de los Ríos and the Association of Educating Cities (AICE), as well as other collaborating entities that are committed to the organization and development of the forum process.

The meeting discussed the possibility of incorporating, in addition to debates and dialogues, other more dynamic ways of describing how cities, together with their citizens, confront the various forms of interpersonal violence. These include violence in sport, violence in social networks, juvenile violence, school violence, racism and xenophobia, international terrorism, LGTBIFobia, urban inequality and public space, violence against displaced persons and refugees and other more recent violence, such as the most current “aporophobia” (fear, rejection or aversion to poor people). These issues were integrated into the first draft of the working agenda.

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(Click here for the Spanish original of this article)

Questions for this article:

How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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PRE-REGISTRATION OF INITIATIVES / PROPOSALS FOR PARTICIPATION

Only one card can be registered per user. If you want to send more than one proposal, you must do so with another user / e-mail.

[The following information must be entered on the forum’s website:]

First Name

Last name

Email

Nationality

ID Number-Passport

Organization-Institution

Why did you decide to participate?

TITLE of the initiative

PLACE (City/country/region)

THEME/SPHERE (Type of violence / population affected

WHAT TYPE OF URBAN VIOLENCE DOES IT SEEK TO ERADICATE OR PREVENT?

STAKEHOLDERS INVOLVED (Impulse/collaboration)

DESCRIPTION (Summary of the main actions carried out)

RESULTS/IMPACTS/PERSPECTIVES

MORE INFORMATION (Details of the contact person, webpage, links, materials)/

PROPOSED PRESENTATION FOR THE INITIATIVE AT THE MADRID FORUM (5-8 NOVEMBER 2018)

TECHNICAL AND SUPPORT REQUIREMENTS TO PRESENT THE PROJECT IN MADRID (material and technical characteristics)

DETAILS OF THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PRESENTATION IN MADRID

First International Conference Against US/NATO Military Bases November 16-18, 2018, Dublin, Ireland

.DISARMAMENT & SECURITY.

An announcement from the  international network “No to war – no to NATO”

Dear Friends of Peace Around the World,

We are deeply concerned, and frightened, by the threat of war that permeates the present Global atmosphere.

The increasingly aggressive and expansionist actions of US/NATO forces in violation of international law and the sovereign rights of all nations, the raging wars in the Middle East, the burgeoning arms race devastating the national treasuries, the bellicose language replacing diplomatic negotiations, the economic crises facing country after country, and the destruction of the global environment through war and unfettered exploitation, and their impact on public health, have all created crises that, unless checked by popular opposition, can lead to unimaginable catastrophe and war.


None of us can stop this madness alone from within our national borders. The global peace forces must come together, mobilizing the millions in our countries, and around the world, for peace. We cannot, and should not, allow our possible differences on other issues to separate us. WE MUST UNITE FOR PEACE!

On the basis of our shared understanding, we have initiated a Global Campaign Against US/NATO Military Bases, and are inviting you and your organization, recognized as a voice of your people for peace and national sovereignty, to join this new Global Campaign by signing our Global Unity Statement. It is our sincere hope that you will accept this invitation and join in our global effort to oppose all forms of war and aggression against sovereign nations.

To join the Global Campaign Against US/NATO Military Bases, please sign our Global Unity Statement: NoUSNATOBases.org.

As the first step toward launching our Global Campaign, we will be holding our first International Conference Against US/NATO Military Bases on November 16-18, 2018, in Dublin, Ireland, hosted by the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA). It is our sincere hope that you will help us in mobilizing the maximum level of participation in this International Conference.

Additional details for the Conference, including registration and the Conference program, will be announced shortly.

As you are well aware, organizing such a broad-based International Conference requires a great amount of human and financial resources, especially since we are trying to invite experts from across the globe to make presentations. It is our sincere hope that you and your organization, based on your sense of solidarity with our common cause for peace, will make a generous donation toward covering the costs of this very important and historic Conference.

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Question related to this article:

How can the peace movement become stronger and more effective?

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For updated information on the Conference, or to make a financial contribution, please visit our web site at: NoUSNATOBases.org.

You can also contact us via email at: contact@NoUSNATOBases.org

Looking forward to your support and participation.

Yours in Peace,

Founding Organizations:

Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA), Ireland

Roger Cole, President • Ed Horgan, International Secretary • John Lannon, Member of the National Executive

Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases, USA

Coordinating Committee: Bahman Azad (Coordinator), U.S. Peace Council • Ajamu Baraka, Black Alliance for Peace • Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK • Leah Bolger, World BEYOND War • Bernadette Ellorin, BAYAN-USA • Sara Flounders, International Action Center • Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space • James Patrick Jordan, Alliance for Global Justice • Tarak Kauff, Veterans For Peace • Joe Lombardo, United National Antiwar Coalition • Alfred L. Marder, U.S. Peace Council • Kevin Martin, Peace Action • Nancy Price, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom — US Section • Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation • David Swanson, World BEYOND War • Ann Wright, Veterans For Peace, CODEPINK • Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance

Sponsoring Organizations:

• World Peace Council (WPC) • Movimiento Cubano por la Paz y la Soberania de los Pueblos (MOVPAZ) — (Cuba) • Centro Brasileiro de Solidariedade aos Povos e Luta pela Paz (CEBRAPAZ)— (Brazil) • Stop the War Coalition — (UK) • Okinawa Peace Action Center — (Japan) • Japan Peace Committee — (Japan) • Gangjeong International Team — (Jeju, South Korea) • Conselho Português para a Paz e Cooperação — (Potugal) • Belgrade Forum for a World of Equals — (Serbia) • Peace Committee of Turkey — (Turkey) • Cyprus Peace Council — (Cyprus) • Greek Committee for International Detente and Peace (EEDYE) — (Greece) • Philippine Peace & Solidarity Council (PPSC) — (Philippines) • Foro Contra la Guerra Imperialista y la OTAN — (Spain) • Palestinian Committee for Peace and Solidarity — (Palestine) • Canadian Peace Congress — (Canada) • Lebanese Peace Council — (Lebanon) • Peace and Solidarity Committee in Israel — (Israel) • Czech Peace Movement — (Czech Republic) • South African Peace Initiative — (South Africa) • German Peace Council — (Germany) • All India Peace and Solidarity Organization — (India) • Nepal Peace & Solidarity Council — (Nepal) • Swiss Peace Movement — (Switzerland) • British Peace Assembly — (Britain) • International Action for Liberation (INTAL) — (Belgium) • International League of Peoples Struggle — (Netherlands) • Comitato Contro La Guerra Milano (CCLGM — (Italy)

Finalization of activities of ‘Imagine’ Project for school year 2017-2018 (Cyprus)

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

A press release from the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research published by the Global Campaign for Peace Education

The Bi-communal Technical Committee on Education, which was established after the agreement between the two leaders in December 2015, continues its efforts to implement confidence building measures in schools of the two educational systems and promote contact and co-operation between students and educators from the two communities.


(Photo: ADHR)

Educational programme ‘Imagine’ which addresses primary, lower and upper secondary and vocational schools managed to bring together 2000 students and 194 teachers from  40 Turkish Cypriot and 40 Greek Cypriot schools from all areas of Cyprus during the educational year 2017-2018.

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Question for this article:

Where is peace education taking place?

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’Imagine’, taking place under the auspices of the Bi-Communal Technical Committee of Education and implemented by the Association for Historical Dialogue and Research (AHDR) and the Home for Cooperation (H4C) with the support of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany  and the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus has just been successfully completed on June 4, 2018.

A successful school year of peace education trainings ended with a festival in the buffer zone at the auspicious occasion of 1 June, International Children’s Day. The closing event took place with the participation of 100 primary school children ages 10-12, coming from 2 Turkish Cypriot and 2 Greek Cypriot schools.

Grounded in a holistic understanding of a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence, the programme is being implemented in two stages: in the first stage, experienced trainers visit the schools of participating students and teachers in both communities to facilitate activities that deal with stereotypes, extremism and intolerance, paving the way for voluntary bi-communal contact at the H4C. Then, in the second stage, groups of students from the two communities, who wish to participate, are paired and meet in the buffer zone where they take part in either peace education workshops with the AHDR or sports activities with PeacePlayers International.

All teachers who have participated in ‘Imagine’ were invited for a ceremony and were awarded certificates of participation. The event took place at the Home for Cooperation on June 8, 2018 in the presence of the Co-Chairs of the Bi-communal Technical Committee on Education, Dr. Meltem Onurkan Samani and Dr. Michalinos Zembylas, as well as the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, H.E. Mr. Franz Josef Kremp and Elizabeth Spehar, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General and Head of UNFICYP in Cyprus.

Free Julian Assange!

. FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

A speech by Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire at the British Embassy in Dublin, Ireland on 19 Jun 2018, reprinted by Transcend Media Service

We are here this evening to stand in solidarity with our friend Julian Assange, Editor in Chief, of WikiLeaks.   Because of WikiLeaks reporting of acts during US/NATO’s illegal wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, etc., and its highlighting of corruption by USA/CIA and corporate power, and continuing his fight in disclosing the links between the great private corporations and government agencies, Julian Assange has been threatened by high profile USA citizens, and a Grand Jury has been set up in American to try Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, for their publications.


For this, he is being persecuted and deprived of his right to liberty, human rights, etc. Six years ago Julian Assange, aware of these extradition plans of America,  sought asylum in the  Ecuadorian Embassy,  in London, where he remains today.  (He is now in his 8th year of Arbitrary Detention in the U.K.)

Although Mr. Assange’s conditions were already harsh, having no sunlight or outdoor exercise since June 2012, his situation has gotten worse since March 2018 when the Ecuadorian Government (after a visit by UK/USA officials to Ecuador) imposed conditions that are like indefinite confinement.

He is prevented from having visitors, receiving telephone calls, no internet, emails, or other electronic communications.  He is unable to speak to his lawyers except in person and his   physical health, according to doctors, continues to deteriorate. Julian Assange is unable to walk outside the Ecuadorian embassy, as he has been told by UK government, he will be arrested by the British Metropolitan Police.  He has asked UK Gov. to give assurances he will not be   handed over to American Security for extradition to America, to face a grand Jury, where he could be tortured and face life imprisonment, but UK government, refuse to give him assurance of this.    A UN working group on Arbitrary detention has deemed this an arbitrary deprivation of his liberty and a grave human rights abuse which should be ended immediately, and for which, according to this UN Group on Arbitrary detention, he ought to be compensated by Britain and Sweden.

We should all be  deeply concerned at attacks by Governments, on ’truth’ tellers and ‚’whistle-blowers’ as this is a  danger posed to our democracy, security and good Governance when ‚whistle-blowers’ are thus persecuted.  These matters of removal of basic rights of speech, information, liberty, persecution and silencing of journalists, etc., are of fundamental importance to all of us who believe in a free and democratic society.

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Question related to this article:
 
Julian Assange, Is he a hero for the culture of peace?

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We have a duty to ensure Mr. Assange, an Australian citizen, is treated no less favourably than UK citizens detained for similar ofences.  British citizens enjoy the protection of the UK Human Rights Act l998 and the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantee their right to freedom of expression.  This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, received and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers’ and to do so, without interference by public authority’ ;  He also has a right to be presumed innocent; and a right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

We have all a responsibility as Governments and as concerned Citizens to ensure that Mr. Assange’s treatment by UK Authorities accords to these standards.  As Julian Assange is an Australian Citizen and they have a responsibility to see their Citizens are protected and Rights upheld, we call upon the Australian Government to work for Julian’s Freedom and safe return to Australia.   Also we call upon the UK Government to do the utmost to restore Julian Assange’s human rights and the free and lawful operation of WikiLeaks.  Specifically, we ask UK government to:

1..Ensure Julian Assange is guaranteed full and timely access to all necessary medical and dental care;

2. Request and defend his right to receive information and impart information freely without interference by any public authority;

3. Defend Mr. Assange at home and abroad and object to threats levelled against Mr. Assange by high-profile US citizens and others;

4. Strongly oppose and refuse, any application to have Mr. Assange extradited to the United States where it is unlikely he would receive a fair trial;

5. Facilitate the exercise of his right to freedom of movement in an expedient manner;

6. Compensate him for his arbitrary detention (also the Swedish government should compensate him for his arbitrary detention).

I would like to make a special appeal to the American President Donald Trump and his Government, to close down this Grand Jury which has been established to try Julian Assange and WikiLeaks based on their publications, and confirm the US Government will not extradite him to America, but recognize that he too, (as any American Citizen, ) has a right to have his rights protected under law.

This impasse could be resolved through Mediation between Ecuadorian Embassy and the UK Government.  A text which includes a confirmation that Julian Assange will not be extradited to America and his Civil and Political Rights will be upheld by all Parties, would mean Freedom for Julian Assange.  The case of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks is deeply important to not only journalists, media, etc., but is of fundamental importance to a free and democratic society for us all.

We owe Julian Assange our deepest thanks for his courage and being prepared to tell the truth even at risk of his own liberty and life.  We can all, especially the media, and Governments, refuse to  be silent in face of such injustice and persecution of a man whose only crime was telling the truth to stop the wars and save lives.

We can refuse to be silent and thus complicit in the face of injustice and work together until Julian Assange can return in safety and freedom to be with his family in Australia, or whatever country he chooses as a free citizen of the world.

Castilla-La Mancha, Spain: The Strategic Agreement for Peace and Coexistence seeks a consensus of civil society

.. DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION ..

An article from La Cerca: Castilla-La Mancha (translated by CPNN)

The second vice president of the regional government of Castilla-La Mancha, José García Molina, has appeared at a press conference on Wednesday [June 20] to report on the latest steps taken in the preparation of the Strategic Agreement for Peace and Coexistence which was presented to the parliamentary groups last May in the Cortes of Castilla-La Mancha.


José García Molina

Following the line of work of the participative processes in the elaboration of the Law of Participation and the Law of Guarantee of Income and of Citizen Guarantees; the project has been sent to organizations, unions and political formations so that they can participate in its elaboration.

“In a democratic society with a state of law that claims to be so, there is no room for radicalized attitudes, be they political, cultural or religious, that undermine or undermine those values ​​and those principles of democracy,” said José García Molina.

García Molina recalled the months of work developed in meetings with organizations and institutions working in different social and cultural spheres, with refugees, migrants or in a situation of vulnerability, who “have made their views known about what measures could be take to implement policies to prevent all processes of radicalization and stigmatization of these people.”

The draft has been sent to “all the organizations with which we have met, and that implement their daily work in Castilla-La Mancha, eleven representative unions of the region of different sectors, and a total of 53 political formations that have regional and even local and institutional implementation.”

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(Click here for the article in Spanish)

Questions for this article:

The culture of peace at a regional level, Does it have advantages compared to a city level?

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This follows the participatory processes such as those that have been carried out in the elaboration of the Law of Participation and the Law of Guarantees of Income and Citizen Guarantees, “which have favored the broader participatory processes in the History of the Community Board “and” to make civil society a participant in the policies that need to be implemented in our region “, García Molina explained that a basic document has been prepared” that gathers the contributions that generated the highest level of consensus regarding the problems we want to tackle “.

Strategic Plan for Peace and Coexistence

García Molina seeks the unanimous signature, “or at least majority”, on the document for the preparation and implementation of a Strategic Plan for Peace and Coexistence. The plan will follow the guidelines of the European Union, “which already work in other countries “, and that brings together three main axes: social cohesion projects, projects for interreligious coexistence, and projects for the promotion of the culture of Human Rights.

The first axe includes the universality of social policies, the promotion of educational, cultural and social actions for dissemination and awareness of the international problems of refugees; and the creation of a Regional Observatory on Human Rights and Equality Policies.

Second, among the interreligious coexistence projects are the creation of an interreligious dialogue agenda, the convening of an Interreligious Annual Forum; and training modules and / or teaching units that address respect for religious diversity in social and educational centers in our region.

And finally, there are projects to promote a culture of Human Rights including the promotion of diversity and respect for cultural differences, international conferences on multiculturalism and culture of peace, and cultural exchange programs.

“What we hope,” García Molina has concluded, “is that all those social, cultural, political and union organizations will answer us to set a date for the formal signing of that Agreement.” “Our desire,” he added, “is that the support be unanimous because it sends a good message of peace, of coexistence, and above all of rejection of any form of radicalization that can generate violence.”

Nordic trip to Russia: Neighbours As Friends, Not Enemies

. . FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION . .

Statement sent to CPNN from Ingeborg Breines

We, a Nordic group of people working for peace-and cultural activities, and others interested in the subject matter, have recently been on a ten days peace- and dialogue trip to Russia. Our intention with the journey was hopefully to contribute both to mutual understanding as well as to prevent rearmament and war.


(Click on photo to enlarge)

We have met cultural instiutions and organisations, among others, the Russian branches of Phycisians against Nuclear Weapons, Pugwash, the Gorbachev Foundation, the National Committee for Co-operation with the UN’s Environmental Organisation UNEP, UNESCO, the Federation of Peace and Consideration, For Saving the People, St. Petersburg Peace Council, Soldiers’ Mothers of St. Petersburg and Movement for Conscientious Objectors from Military Service.

We are overwhelmed by the warm reception and interest meeting us everywhere. We were told how pleased they were for coming ”with open and friendly faces”.

We have enjoyed the beauty of Moscow, St. Petersburg, the landscape and the small places we visited along the old waterways, where also the Vikings sailed hundreds of years ago.

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Question related to this article:

Direct people-to-people contact and solidarity, How can it be promoted?

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Our experiences have increased the wish to strengthen the contacts we made, so important to secure peace. In the spirit of the UN Agreement to ”create peace through peaceful means”, we suggest governments, media and people in general should focus on:

– Stop creating images of people as enemies, using the rhetoric of the Cold War. This belongs to the past!

– Support Nordic-Russian people-to-people communication politically, practically and economically.

– Promote real and positive knowledge about Russia through visits, dialogues and exchange through the media and in political discussions.

– Re-evaluate the sanctions against Russia.

– Invite President Putin and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Lavrov, for conversations among neighbours in all the Nordic countries, like we have seen in Finland.

– Sign- and ratify the UN Treaty against Nuclear Weapons.

– Reduce the defence budget in the Nordic Countries like Russia has done. (Cfr. Report from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI, about military expenses in the world, 2017).

We are also happy to inform you that we have been invited to the Norwegian Parliament to talk about our experiences.

Press contacts:

Ingeborg Breines Phone: 90031659
Trine Eklund ” 95041767
Birgitte Grimstad ” 41806529


Activity Report: The Turkey-UK “Peace Education in Teacher Training” Workshop

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

An article by the Global Campaign for Peace Education

The “Peace Education in Teacher Training” workshop took place between the dates 18th-19th January, 2018, at the Ness Hotel in Kocaeli. This workshop was organized by Kocaeli University, Faculty of Education. The workshop was supported by TUBITAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) and organized under the programme of Support for Cooperation and Organizing Activities for Events within the Bilateral Cooperation between Turkey-UK. The aim of this workshop was to understand the diversity of students in schools in Turkey and the United Kingdom and to share knowledge and experience for peace education. During the workshop, participants discussed various training programs, methods and strategies necessary for the ability to live peacefully in social life, and to develop cooperation between practitioners and researchers across the two countries. Participants included 17 peace education academicians and practitioners, 10 of which were from Turkey and 7 from the UK.

The opening ceremony and first session took place at Kocaeli University, Faculty of Education. During the opening ceremony, the Vice-President of the University, Dean of the Faculty, and Chair of the event each shared their support for peace education in the university. Following this, there were ten sessions during which peace education concepts – such as the meaning of diversity and peace, content and consequences of peace education, and efforts toward pre-service and in-service teacher training were discussed. Specifically, the workshop provided space for the sharing of best practices within peace education in Turkey and the UK. During the discussions, diversity and multiculturalism emerged as core issues across the contexts. During the discussions, it was found that “diversity” is often referred to as “inclusion” in the UK, “multiculturalism” in the US, and “inter-culturalism” in Turkey. The diversities were discussed to be based on not only race, religion or nationality, but also social class, economic class, ableism, sexual orientations, academic abilities, and social deprivation. It was made clear that the starting point for diversity management depends on the perspective from which the individual educator and school approaches diversities. In particular, these approaches include perspectives that are communal, interpersonal, political and global. Concerning strategies, the participants promoted the acceptance of others, training of social skills for the classroom, role modelling, and raising culturally responsive students to manage student diversities successfully.

The aims and content of the peace education were discussed in detail during other sessions. The participants of the workshop discussed that the aims are divided into two levels: micro-level and macro-level. Among the micro-level aims, the understanding of possibilities of peace, awareness of one’s own emotional and personal sources, and the recognition of innate personal values, values about friendship and values about community were discussed. For macro-level aims, the societal peace through social justice was regarded as the ultimate aim. When it came to the content of peace education, it was divided into four categories including values, skills, knowledge and process/methodology. Compassion, respect for diversity and nonviolence were among values of peace education while cooperation, inner peace methods, conflict resolution, inquiry listening, problem solving, critical thinking, dialogue, and activism related to how to promote social change. In addition, the understanding feelings, learning human rights and children rights, environmental education, and interculturalism were among the core knowledge constructs participants felt should be included in peace education programs. Lastly gender equality in hidden curriculum, participation, and asking open questions were among the processes/methodologies discussed.

During the sessions, it was discussed that the peace education content should change according to educational stages and context of the education. Participants divided peace education content into three levels which were affective (socio-emotional), cognitive (knowledge) and practice (skills) levels. For pre-school education, the affective aim seeks to foster empathy-building by doing empathetic activities, such as empathy in the playground. For primary school and middle school, the practice level actions might include imagining alternatives to violence and improving personal problem-solving skills. The cognitive level of peace education for primary and middle schools could include intercultural engagement. Also the affective level peace education should concern generating feelings and actions toward coexistence. For high school and colleges/universities, the practice level content could include brainstorming social alternatives to violence. This would make students more aware of benefits of peace.

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Question for this article:

Where is peace education taking place?

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The effect of the country’s demographic and political structure on peace education was another topic discussed in the workshop. It was decided that demographics should only describe people, not serve as separating and labelling mechanisms. Unfortunately, it was found that the countries’ political and economic structures affect peace education a great deal. The participants discussed that the hegemony of governments surely prevents investments in peace education. In relation to this, it was put forward that schools too often promote the dominant culture and that peace educators must remain aware of this.

How peace educators should be trained both during pre-service and in-service was also discussed during the workshop. Being a peaceful person was regarded as a prerequisite to being a peace educator, but what this meant was contested. Also, the participants discussed that peace education should be an interdisciplinary field of expertise rather than being a separate one. Thus, each teacher should be trained to be a peace educator during pre-service and in-service training. Elective courses, such as the course “Peace Education”, can be added to teacher pre-service training programmes to achieve this. As the textbooks are important aspects of teaching process, they should also be taken into consideration for peace education. Thus, the language and the content of textbooks for all courses should be reviewed in order for them to be appropriate for peace education. In terms of in-service training process, the teachers should be trained to be teachers who are able to resolve interpersonal conflicts by establishing constructive and peaceful dialogue with students. In order to achieve this, in-service programs should teach: negotiation skills, interpersonal problem-solving skills, mediation skills, questioning skills, effective listening, active listening skills, empathic listening skills, reflective listening skills, reframing skills, lack of prejudice, tolerance, and an appreciation of diversity, among other skills.

After the fruitful discussions, the workshop was concluded with an agreement to continue working toward peace education across the various contexts of the participants, including work to translate key materials, and to develop joint curriculum and evaluation tools. It was made clear that each and every participant both Turkey and the UK understood they were not alone in the struggle for peace education. This clearly showed the universality of peace, and the need for it. As Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of contemporary Turkey, said: “Peace at home, peace in the world.”

In conclusion, the Turkey-UK peace education training workshop promoted peace education and the respect of diversity as an important capacity for new educators in Turkey drawing on lessons learned from the UK, and vice versa. This is particularly important today since Turkey is currently facing a migration crisis. As is well-known, nearly 3.5 million Syrian refugees have arrived in Turkey since 2015. It is important that the education system and educators are prepared to assist young refugees to participate in and prosper from the Turkish education system. Thus, it is possible to say that schools are one of the most effected organizations by this immigration process, which makes peace education and peace educators especially important. The other partner, the UK, is also affected by Syrian refugees, just as other parts of the Europe are, and participants from the UK had much to learn from Turkish educators in terms of best classroom practices in times of migration, forced displacement, and trauma.

The workshop has put forward the importance of sharing standards and best practices for peace education. Preparing a joint curriculum in order to be able to work cross-culturally, and most of all, training teachers in order to manage peace education are the key findings of the workshop. It is believed that these findings will contribute to the field, since both Turkey and the UK are important examples to define how people from different cultures could live together and what kinds of social outcomes this may produce. If the contexts and the practices of peace education in these countries are understood better, this could lead to better practices in other countries experiencing similar challenges. If short, “peace at home, peace in the world” might be achieved.

Acknowledgements:

We wish to thank Dr. Kevin Kester for his greatest contributions to our activity report. Also we wish to thank the participants: Abbas Turnuklu, Anna Gregory, Beryl Williams, Edward Sellman, Hasan Coskun, Mary Dalgleish, Mualla Aksu, Osman Titrek, Sara Hagel, Semra Demir Basaran, Terrence Bevington and Yucel Kabapinar for their invaluable contributions to the all sessions.

And lastly, we would like to thank TUBITAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) for supporting our workshop with the ID number 1929B021700437 under the programme of Support for Cooperation and Organizing Activities for Events within the Bilateral Cooperation between Turkey-UK.

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article.)