Category Archives: East Asia

The City of Hiroshima: PEACE DECLARATION

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

A declaration by The City of Hiroshima

August 6, 2021. On this day 76 years ago, a single atomic bomb instantly reduced our hometown to a scorched plain. That bombing brought cruel death to countless innocent victims and left those who managed to survive with profound, lifelong physical and emotional injuries due to radiation, fear of aftereffects, and economic hardship.One survivor who gave birth to a girl soon after the bombing says,”As more horrors of the bomb came to light, and I became more concerned about their effects, I worried less about myself and more about my child. Imagining the future awaiting my daughter, my suffering grew, night after sleepless night.”


“No one else should ever suffer as we have.”These words express the will of survivors who, having known horrors too painful to recall, were condemned to fear, frustration, and agony by the likely future of their children and their own irradiated bodies. When hibakusha tell their stories, they convey not only the horror and inhumanity of nuclear weapons but also an intense yearning for peace, born of compassion. Finally, after 75 long years of sustained activity, their demands have moved the international community. This year, on January 22, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) entered into effect. It remains now for world leaders to support this treaty, shifting their focus toward a truly sustainable society free from nuclear weapons.

The novel coronavirus still ravages our world. The community of nations recognizes this threat to humanity and is taking urgent measures to end it. Nuclear weapons, developed to win wars, are a threat of total annihilation that we can certainly end, if all nations work together. No sustainable society is possible with these weapons continually poised for indiscriminate slaughter. The combined wisdom of all peoples must be trained on their total abolition.

The road to abolition will not be smooth, but a ray of hope shines from the young people now taking up the hibakusha’s quest. One survivor who witnessed hell that day entrusts our future to the young with these words:”Start small, but I hope each of you will do whatever you can to promote and maintain the treasure we call peace ..” I ask our young to sustain an unshakeable conviction that nuclear weapons are incompatible with full, healthy lives for their loved ones. I further ask them to share that conviction persuasively with people around the world.

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Question related to this article:
 
Can we abolish all nuclear weapons?

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We must never forget that young people can certainly compel world leaders to turn away from nuclear deterrence. Three years after the bombing, Helen Keller visited Hiroshima, encouraging its residents in the struggle to recover. “Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” Her words remind us that individuals, when united, have the power to change the world. If the determination to live in peace sweeps through civil society, people will elect leaders who share that determination. Nuclear weapons are the ultimate human violence. If civil society decides to live without them, the door to a nuclear-weapon-free world will open wide. The atomic bombed city of Hiroshima will never stop preserving the facts of the bombing, disseminating them beyond borders, and conveying them to the future. With the more than 8,000 Mayors for Peace member cities in 165 countries and regions, we will promote a worldwide “culture of peace.” In a global culture where peace is a universal value, world leaders will find the courage to correct their policies.

Given the uncertainty concerning nuclear weapons derived from stalled disarmament negotiations, I have an urgent demand to make of world leaders. The time has come for a profound tactical shift away from reliance on threats toward security based on trust derived from dialogue. Experience has taught humanity that threatening others for self defense benefits no one. Our leaders must understand that threatening rivals with nuclear weapons achieves nothing of value, but treating each other with empathy and building long-lasting friendships connect directly to national self-interest. To that end, I urge all world leaders to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, achieve a deeper understanding of the bombings, fulfill the disarmament mandate of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and join the discussions aimed at maximizing the effectiveness of the TPNW.

With respect to the Japanese government, I request productive mediation between the nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states. Furthermore, in accordance with the will of the hibakusha , I demand immediate signing and ratification of the TPNW, then constructive participation in the first Meeting of States Parties . Fulfilling the role of mediator must involve creating an environment that facilitates the restoration of international trust and security without reliance on nuclear weapons. The average age of our hibakusha is close to 84. I demand more generous assistance for them and the many others suffering daily due to the harmful physical and emotional effects of radiation. I demand as well immediate relief for those exposed to the black rain.

At this Peace Memorial Ceremony marking 76 years since the bombing, we offer heartfelt prayers for the peaceful repose of the souls of the atomic bomb victims. Together with Nagasaki and likeminded people around the world, we pledge to do everything in our power to abolish nuclear weapons and light the way toward lasting world peace.

MATSUI Kazumi
Mayor
The City of Hiroshima

South and Southeast Asia: Digital Games for Peace: Creativity, Innovation & Resilience

… EDUCATION FOR PEACE …

.An announcement from the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development

The #DigitalGamesForPeace challenge calls upon youth (aged 18-35) from South and Southeast Asia who are game designers, game developers, or researchers in the fields of peacebuilding, prevention of violent extremism, or intercultural dialogue – to submit their applications for a chance to develop innovative ideas on the use of games for peacebuilding.

What is the Challenge about?

The #DigitalGamesForPeace Challenge aims to harness the creative energies of youth from South and Southeast Asia and the promise of game-based innovations in cultivating pertinent competencies for prevention of violent extremism. The Challenge is being organised by the United Nations Office of Counterterrorism (UNOCT), United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), and United Nations, Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) through the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Education for Peace and Sustainable Development (MGIEP).

Who is it for?

Youth who wish to apply must: – Be between (and including) 18 and 35 years old. – Be nationals from or have a domicile in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, or Sri Lanka. – Have experience with 1 or more of the following areas of expertise: social and emotional learning (SEL), the prevention of violent extremism (PVE) or (video)gaming. – Have good research and writing skills – Apply before June 7, 2021, 11:59 PM IST

What’s in it for me?

If selected, you will have the opportunity to spearhead a UN project. Further, your capacities on intercultural dialogue, social and emotional learning, game-based methodologies will be significantly improved such that post the project, you will have additional skills to wage sustainable peace in your respective community. You will meet and work with a formidable group of young gamechangers from South and Southeast Asia. Additionally, you will be part of a select group of individuals who will have the opportunity to meet and interact with experts from the fields of social emotional learning, game-design, and prevention of violent extremism.

Questions for this article:

Where can one find games for peacebuilding?

How do I participate?

To be considered for selection, submit the call for application on the link that helps us understand your motivations and past experiences to be a gamechanger. We are also seeking some specific information related to digital games and how you think they have the potential to promote ideas of peace, social and emotional learning and prevention of violent extremism.

Apply to be a Gamechanger

Timelines

Phase 1 (June – September 2021)

Release of Call for applications to shortlist 51 gamechangers between the ages 18-35 years. The shortlisted youth will embark upon improving their capacities on game-based methodologies for peace. This includes exclusively curated training, bootcamps, and mentorship opportunities by thought and industry leaders in the disciplines of game design/development, social-emotional learning, and prevention of violent extremism. The shortlisted youth would then review and test existing games that contribute to building intercultural dialogue and SEL competencies for PVE.

Phase 2 (October – December 2021)

21 selected youth will move into the next phase based on their activity reports and participation in Phase 1. The cohort of gamechangers will ideate, design, and develop innovative projects on the use of games for peacebuilding.

Expected Products

The final products would range from creating a repository of reviewed video games, designing alternate endings to existing games, defining ideal governance practices that define the future of gaming and PVE, designing game storyboards of SEL and PVE, adapting games for SEL and PVE curricula and other possible projects that expand the scope of games for peacebuilding. A team of experts and partners will continue to mentor the gamechangers towards the fruition of their selected project.

Expected Outcomes

1. Youth-led, innovative, game-based methodologies are harnessed to enhance social emotional learning and intercultural dialogue competencies for PVE amongst young people in South and Southeast Asia.

2. Young people in South and Southeast Asia have improved skills capacities for intercultural dialogue and social emotional learning to prevent violent extremism, using the practical guidance developed.

Expected Impact

It is expected that at the conclusion of the initiative, the long term impact will be the use of digital games by young peacebuilders, education professionals and students – to cultivate social and emotional competencies in youth for intercultural dialogue in the South and Southeast Asia Region.

Be a Game Changer! Apply Now!

Interested to learn more? Contact Dani at d.dani@unesco.org or youth.mgiep@unesco.org

Australia : Brisbane Weapons Expo Protest Planned

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

An article by Rose Lane from the Westender

From 1 to 3 June a weapons expo will be held at the Brisbane Convention Centre, but, unlike the Wedding Expo or the Health, Wellness, and Fitness Expo, for example, this one is not open to the public.


Land Forces 2021  is being organised by the AMDA Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation that originated in 1976 when it began conducting airshows. Over the past 45 years its purpose has expanded. The website states:

“The vision is for Australia to be strongly positioned as a nation at the forefront of aviation, aerospace, maritime, defence and security, with leading-edge resources and capabilities in industry, manufacturing and information/communications technology throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and around the world.”

Their mission is to take Australia to the World by bringing the World to Australia.

Land Forces 2021 attendance is “reserved for those with a professional, government agency, business, academic, scientific, operational or response involvement in land defence and related industry sectors.” Fourteen stakeholders will be in attendance, including Boeing, Saab, Raytheon, Rheinmetall Defence, and Nioa, a Brisbane-based company that, since 2016, has donated almost $600,000 to the Katter’s Australia Party, and the Liberal National Party. (disclosures.ecq.qld.gov.au)

On Saturday 1 May a public meeting and art show entitled “Disrupt Land Forces” will be hosted by a coalition of organisations, including Wage Peace, Quakers Queensland, Just PeaceUnited Nations Association of Queensland, and others. It proposes to “raise public awareness” about the Expo, and to “seek to ban the Expo using non-violent action…expose companies in Brisbane engaged in weapons designing, engineering, and/or manufacturing” and “redirect the national conversation…”

The last Land Forces Expo was held in 2018 in South Australia and attracted 15,331 attendees from 26 countries. According to a spokesperson from the Department of State Development, Infrastructure, Local Government and Planning, “hosting Land Forces in Queensland is an opportunity to showcase the amazing defence, innovation, manufacturing, and maintenance operations” of the state. He said the expo “will give Queensland small and medium businesses a platform to generate quality leads, which will boost the industry and create more jobs for Queenslanders” and that manufacturing in the defence industry “employs nearly 180,000 people across Queensland, contributing over $19.2 billion to the economy and driving innovation across a range of growth sectors”.

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Question related to this article:

How can the peace movement become stronger and more effective?

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However, local state member, Amy MacMahon argues that the money and energy invested in innovation and manufacture within the weapons industry could be better spent.

“Why are our best minds being used to make products to kill innocent human beings? Why are they not being used to create things that will foster partnerships and make the planet safer?”

Ms MacMahon argues the conflicts the Australian government has been involved in have been devastating, citing the refugees still being held in detention at Kangaroo Point as evidence. She claims that anything that feeds into warfare is problematic and that there is a lack of transparency over where public money is spent.

When asked how much money the State Government had invested in Land Forces 2021 the Department of State Development stated, “The sponsorship amount to be paid for the 2021 event is confidential under the terms of the sponsorship agreement”.

Organisers of the Disrupt Land Forces claim Australia spends $98.9m a day on defence and related industries, money that could be better spent on public housing, health, employment, and education. They claim increasing militarisation does not, as the government claims, make Australians safer:

“Australia’s national security is better served through adopting an independent foreign policy; relationship building with all our Asian neighbours; managing conflicts without violence; finding diplomatic solutions rather than depending on militarism; creating a culture of peace, e.g. adding Australia’s signature to the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons”

Christine Venner Westaway from Quakers Queensland, argues more investment in war only begets more war, and that talk of an increasingly hostile China and claims of job creation are merely used to justify making money from the arms trade. Ms Westaway cites the example of the New Zealand defence force sent to war-torn Bouganville on a peace-keeping mission as an example of how peace can be achieved without the use of weapons. In 1997 NZ troops entered Bouganville without weapons, instead taking music and culture to share with the people. As Bouganville is a matrilineal society, more female troops were included in the mission. According to NZ website RNZ,

“When the NZ led mission went in, what it did was it created space. We were able to get their trust to such an extent that they handed in their guns, and they would talk to each other.”

A documentary Soldiers Without Guns  was made about the mission and released in 2019.

MORE INFORMATION

The meeting on 1 May will be held at Jagera Hall, Musgrave Park from 2.30 to 4.30pm and speakers include MP Amy MacMahon; Binil Kattiparambil from the Islamic Council of Queensland; Gamilaraay and Kooma radio host and podcaster, Boe Spearim; and Zelda Grimshaw from Wage Peace.

Details at this LINK.

Interview with Chas Freeman on US-China policy

DISARMAMENT & SECURITY .

Excerpts from an interview conducted by Sam Kolitch and published in the Brown Political Review

Ambassador Chas Freeman is a retired career diplomat who served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs from 1993-1994, Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 1989-1992 during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs from 1986-1989 during the Cuban troop withdrawal from Angola and the U.S. mediation of Namibian independence from South Africa, Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires in the American embassies at Bangkok from 1984-1986 and at Beijing from 1981-1984, and Director for Chinese Affairs at the U.S. Department of State from 1979-1981. In 1972, he was the primary American interpreter for President Nixon’s trailblazing visit to China.


Image Credit: The Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Ambassador Freeman is the author of America’s Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East, Interesting Times: China, America, and the Shifting Balance of Prestige, America’s Misadventures in the Middle East, The Diplomat’s Dictionary, Arts of Power: Statecraft and Diplomacy, and Cooking Western in China. He has also published in prestigious academic journals such as Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, and The Harvard International Review. Prior to becoming a Visiting Scholar at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, Ambassador Freeman served as President of the Middle East Policy Council and Co-Chair of the United States China Policy Foundation. He speaks Chinese fluently, Spanish and French at the professional level, and Arabic conversationally, in addition to several other languages. Ambassador Freeman studied at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and he earned a JD from the Harvard Law School and an AB magna cum laude from Yale University. . . .

SK: Before we discuss China, how do you define “good diplomacy”? 

CF: The basis of diplomacy is empathy. It is the ability to understand how and why someone else sees things in order to persuade them of your position. Good diplomacy is all about persuading others to redefine their interests in order to conform with yours. It is also about forming relationships with people so that you can make them want to cooperate with you—not oppose you. This allows you to draw on people at a moment of crisis to gain access or to be heard. Diplomacy is also negotiation. It is about trying to ensure that bad things that could happen don’t happen. Very often, diplomats don’t get credit for what didn’t happen. But a lot of things don’t happen because skillful diplomats have prevented them from happening. So good diplomacy is complex and requires a lot of skill. 

SK: What is the root cause of the United States’ desire to confront China? 

CF: I think the rudimentary driver of the United States’ confrontation with China is psychology, not strategy. We became the world’s largest economy sometime in the 1870s. That’s 150 years ago. Now we’ve either already been eclipsed, or we’re about to be eclipsed, by China. So we’re afraid of not being number one and we’ve decided that we will hamstring the rise of China. No one on the American side has described where this confrontation is supposed to take us—it’s just an end in itself. Also, we have exercised military primacy in the Asia-Pacific region since 1945. Now, we confront the return of China to wealth and power in the region. And our position in the Asia-Pacific is precarious. What does that mean? It means that we object to things like China’s anti-access and area denial weapon system (A2/AD), otherwise known as defense. The Chinese now can stop us from running through their defenses. So this is a threat: we’re not all-powerful anymore. We are in danger of losing primacy. 

But there’s not much evidence of China wanting to replace us. They are displacing us in some spheres because they’re big and growing and successful. Do they want to take on our global dominion and hegemony role? No, but we assert that they do. We posit that China thinks and behaves like us: “We had Manifest Destiny and it took us across the Pacific to the Philippines. Therefore, China must have a Monroe Doctrine and Manifest Destiny in mind.” This is wrong. Things don’t work like that. So I would argue that we have inhaled our own propaganda, and we are living in the appropriately stoned state that that produces. If we have sound policies, we can out-compete anyone. But we’re not looking at sound policies; we’re looking at pulling down our competitor. 

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Question for this article:

Is there a growing danger of war between US and China?

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SK: Isn’t the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) indicative of China’s desire to expand its influence, if not “replace” our hegemonic role on the global stage?

CF: The initial impulse of the Belt and Road Initiative was that China had a surplus capacity in steel, cement, aluminum, and construction capability—and it extended these resources abroad. Then China looked at what it was doing and said, “Actually, it would be really good if Lisbon was connected to Vladivostok efficiently, and Arkhangelsk was connected to Colombo. Maybe we could throw in Mombasa, too. This would create a huge interconnected area in which trade and investment could flow smoothly.” So, actually, a major part of the BRI is an agreement on tariffs, customs barrier treatment, transit, and bonded storage. It is the construction of roads, railroads, airports, ports, industrial parks, fiber optic cables, et cetera, over this huge area. 

And the Chinese assumption—not aspiration, but assumption—is that as the largest and most dynamic society in that area, they will be the preeminent force in it. But this is an economic strategy, it’s not a military one. So the problem we have conceptually is that the only way we, the United States, know how to think about international affairs is in military terms. Our foreign policy is very militarized and is driven by military considerations. 

SK: China has rejected the U.S. State Department’s characterization of its treatment of Uighurs in the Xinjiang region as “genocide.” Do you agree with this characterization?

CF: I think what is happening to the Uighurs is awful—no doubt about it. We do not, however, know exactly what’s happening to them. There are terms like genocide being thrown around, which may not fit the case. But I think it is entirely appropriate that we express the view that the treatment of the Uighurs is appalling. What are we going to do about it? It is a complicated situation. I hate to keep coming back to American hypocrisy, but why does the Muslim world not line up with us on the Uighur situation? Because when was the last time we said anything about the Palestinians, Kashmiris, or Chechens? There are Muslims being oppressed all over the world, and we don’t say anything. So selective outrage isn’t very effective.

SK: China continues to defend its crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong. How will this impact U.S. foreign policy toward China? 

CF: What I expect will happen, now that ‘one country’ has been established, is that politics in Hong Kong will evolve to address some of the domestic problems in Hong Kong that have been neglected—housing, education, and social welfare, for example. So I don’t think there’s an easy answer to the Hong Kong issue, but I think that people who have written off the idea of any kind of democracy are wrong. Hong Kong’s democracy will not be focused on secession from China; it will be focused on problems inside Hong Kong. And it may or may not be effective. 

We need to get real about these problems. If we really care about the Uighur and Hong Kong situations from a humanitarian point of view, we need to try to find a way to chip away at them—not just condemn them. Condemning things doesn’t do anything but make people angry and less receptive to your arguments. These issues ought to be addressed seriously. 

SK: How does China view Taiwan’s continued push for independence?  

CF: The Chinese government sees Taiwan as a continuation of a foreign sphere of influence on Chinese territory. They see it as a continuation of warlordism, which means local independence from central control. The Chinese see an independent Taiwan as a challenge to their legitimacy. 

SK: With that in mind, do you think that we are heading toward a military confrontation with China in the Taiwan Strait? 

CF: There is no framework for keeping the peace in the Taiwan area anymore. And I think it’s pretty clear that we’re heading into a war. We seem to be heading toward a bloody rendezvous with Chinese nationalism—and I don’t think that’s too smart. We’re talking about contesting the territory of a nuclear power. Does anybody think about that? There is an underlying assumption, probably born from the thirty years since the end of the Cold War, that we’re invulnerable and omnipotent. I don’t have any problem with the use of force. But I do have a problem with the foolish use of force by picking fights you’re going to lose. Let’s pick a fight, but let’s make sure it’s one that we can win. So I think that instead of trying to bring China down, which we won’t be able to do, we should be trying to leverage its growing prosperity to increase our own prosperity.

SK: How do we do that—leverage China’s prosperity to further our own interests? 

CF: China has the world’s best technology for building infrastructure. We have infrastructure that is falling apart. Maybe their technology can be licensed. Maybe bonds could be issued against tolls on repaired roads or traffic on revamped rail lines. Maybe ports could be rebuilt. There’ve been a whole series of international meetings in recent years about the problem of American infrastructure—our ports can’t handle traffic and they’re not being modernized. I think, actually, our country needs to come to a point where we rediscover what made us great in the beginning: an openness to foreigners, foreign ideas, and best practices from abroad so that we can apply them at home. We should not be approaching the world with the attitude that we have all the answers.  

We should be cooperating with China on broad, planet-wide international problems like climate change, nuclear nonproliferation, environmental remediation, and so forth. We should be cooperating in order to bring a peaceful end to the confrontations with North Korea, Iran, and others. Lastly, we should not be pushing Russia and China together, which is what we are doing. The one maxim of diplomacy is “divide your enemies”—and we are doing the opposite. 

(Thank you to The Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research for calling out attention to this article.)

Weifang, China established their City as an International City of Peace

. . DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION . .

An article by Fred Arment for International Cities of Peace

TRULY HEARTENING. The millions of citizens of Weifang, China established their City as an International City of Peace in February. They are now deeply involved in peacemaking within their community and beyond. Take a look at this extraordinary magazine focusing on their City of Peace efforts. It is in Chinese language but, from the photos, you can see the budding of global peace in their community. This morning’s email from Weifang City of Peace Liaison Sun Li:


Special issue on peace city
(Click on image to enlarge)

“Dear Mr. J. Fred Arment,

Thank you very much for the congratulations’ link you sent me. Weifang has become an international city of peace, which is of great significance to Weifang and has attracted great attention from all walks of life in China. At the same time, with the help of Professor Liu Cheng, Weifang is making great efforts to do a good job in peace propaganda activities and fulfill the responsibility of a peaceful city.

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Question related to this article:
 
How can culture of peace be developed at the municipal level?

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Recently, we have held a lot of teaching activities. Our staff have entered many schools in Weifang City, carried out peace education, and led the children to do activities related to peace. We help children understand the meaning of peace and the beautiful vision of world peace.

Website links of some activities:
https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/8nAhZYk3a4i-2KYabMeG2g
https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/nXaaNy-keK1zKbkJga_yBw

In addition, we have published a special issue of peace city.
Link to the website of the special issue:
https://book.yunzhan365.com/dlyu/npqi/mobile/index.html

At present, Weifang is discussing cooperation with Professor Liu Cheng, planning to hold some activities on peace, hoping to let more people understand the true meaning of peace through publicity and education activities.
With respect and appreciation,
Sun Li

Black-clad women rally in Australia to demand gender violence justice

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article by Colin Packham and Melanie Burton in Reuters (reprinted by permission)

Tens of thousands of women gathered outside Australia’s parliament and across the country on Monday, calling for gender equality and justice for victims of sexual assault.



Click on image to watch the video

The March 4 Justice rallies were spurred by a recent wave of allegations of sexual abuse, discrimination and misconduct in some of Australia’s highest political offices.

Women wore black to signal “strength and mourning” and chanted “We will not be silenced”. Protestors in Melbourne carried a metres-long white banner bearing the names of women killed in Australia from gendered violence since 2008, while those outside Parliament House in Canberra prepared to deliver two petitions demanding change.

While leaders of the major opposition political parties came out to join the crowds in Canberra, a delegation of organisers rejected an invitation to meet with Prime Minister Scott Morrison in private.

“We’ve come to his front garden,” Janine Hendry, one of the organisers, told Reuters. “We are 200 metres from his office and it’s not appropriate for us to meet behind closed doors especially when we are talking about sexual assault which does happen behind closed doors.”

Recently reported scandals include a rape allegation against Attorney-General Christian Porter, who has strongly denied the alleged 1988 assault.

Porter lodged defamation proceedings in Australia’s Federal Court on Monday against the Australian Broadcasting Corp over a news article on the alleged rape. The ABC did not immediately respond to the legal action.

A former senior political adviser for Morrison’s Liberal Party has also been accused by several women of rape or sexual assault. The man has not been named, nor commented publicly on the allegations.

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Questions for this article

Protecting women and girls against violence, Is progress being made?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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The public anger over the government’s handling of the alleged incidents mirrors the sentiment on display at protests in London over the weekend following the killing of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who disappeared while walking home at night-time.

Morrison had been enjoying strong public approval ratings, chiefly for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, but a Newspoll conducted for The Australian newspaper published on Sunday showed the centre-left Labor party has pulled ahead of Morrison’s Liberal-led coalition on a two-party preferred basis.

Morrison said Australia had made big strides toward gender equality over the years, though he acknowledged the job was “far from done” and he shared the concerns of the protestors.

However, he raised some hackles by expressing pride in the right to peaceful protest: “Not far from here, such marches, even now, are being met with bullets, but not in this country.”

Among the gatherings, protestors in the seaside town of Torquay lined up on the beach to form the word “justice”.

“The start of the solution is quite simple – making noise,” Grace Tame, a sexual assault survivor and advocate who was named Australian of the Year, told the crowd in Tasmania.

CORRIDORS OF POWER

The politically charged assault allegations are expected to dominate parliamentary proceedings in coming days. Both Porter and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds – who has been criticised for failing to report an alleged rape of one of her former staff members by another – are both on sick leave.

Reynolds on Friday apologised “unreservedly” and reached a financial settlement with her former staff member Brittany Higgins over the latter’s allegation of rape by the unnamed former Liberal employee in Parliament House. Reynolds had called Higgins a “lying cow” in front of staff, a comment she said referred to comments by Higgins about her treatment after the alleged assault, not the attack itself.

Higgins told the gathering in Canberra she hoped to bring about changes to workplace culture to “ensure the next generation of women can benefit from a safer and more equitable Australia.”

Deirdre Heitmeyer, 68, said she drove for more than six hours to attend the protest.

“I can’t believe we have to still do this,” she told Reuters. “We were out in the 1970s calling for equality and we are still here.”

International Women’s Day : Images from Europe and Asia

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from the Los Angeles Times

Women across Europe and Asia shouted their demands for equality, respect and empowerment Thursday to mark International Women’s Day, with protesters in Spain launching a 24-hour strike and crowds of demonstrators filling the streets of Manila, Seoul and New Delhi.


An artist paints a message on a wall in Sana, Yemen, to mark International Women’s Day. (Yahya Arhab / EPA/Shutterstock; A.M. Ahad / Associated Press)


During a Women’s Day rally in Dhaka, Bangladesh, men hold placards highlighting violence against women. (Yahya Arhab / EPA/Shutterstock; A.M. Ahad / Associated Press)

Spain

Spanish women were staging dozens of protests across the country against the wage gap and gender violence. In Barcelona, protesters disrupting traffic into the city center were pushed back by riot police.

In Madrid, hundreds of women gathered in its central square to demand change. Teresa Sonsur, a 38-year-old social services agency worker, said she wanted to end workplace discrimination.


The 731 crosses at Forti de Vinaros beach in Castellon, Spain, represent women who died in gender-related violence since 2007. (Domenich Castello / EPA/Shutterstock)


A young woman in Barcelona attends a protest during a one-day strike for women’s rights. Right, riot police surround women on a Barcelona street during the general strike for International Women’s Day. (Lluis Gene / AFP/Getty Images)

Turkey


Women gather as they shout slogans and flash the V-sign for victory during a demonstration to mark International Women’s Day in Diyarbakir, (Turkey. Ilyas Akengin / AFP/Getty Images)

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Questions for this article

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

(continued from left column)

Asia

Across Asia, women came out to mark the day. In China, students at Tsinghua University used the day to make light of a proposed constitutional amendment to scrap term limits for the country’s president. One banner joked that a boyfriend’s term should also have no limits, while another said, “A country cannot exist without a constitution, as we cannot exist without you!”


Pakistani women rally in Karachi to mark International Women’s Day. (Shahzaib Akber / EPA/Shutterstock)


In Manila, Filipinas hold a march to mark the day and to protest President Rodrigo Duterte’s human rights abuses. (Jes Aznar/Getty Images


South Koreans supporting the #MeToo movement wear all black to rally in Seoul. (EPA/Shutterstock)

Russia

International Women’s Day is a public holiday in Russia, but opposition presidential candidate Ksenia Sobchak was one of only a few demonstrators in Moscow.


A member of the Russian feminist movement attends a rally dedicated to the struggle for women’s rights and against the patriarchate in St. Petersburg, Russia. Anatoly Maltsev / EPA/Shutterstock

(Editor’s note: For other photos from India, Turkey, Indonesia, Nepal, Japan, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Pakistan, Germany, Kosovo, Italy, Romania and France, see the report in Al Jazeera.)

South Australia Got 100% Of Its Electricity From Solar For 1 Hour

.. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ..

An article by Zachary Shahan from Clean Technica

Once upon a time, it was “common knowledge” in the energy industry that solar energy couldn’t contribute more than 5% share of electricity supply. For a long time, this was claimed to be an upper limit that utilities could handle. My, how things have changed!

South Australia is one of the best examples. The Australian state gets more than 20% of its electricity from rooftop solar power alone, and nearly 70% from all types of wind and solar together.


Photo of solar panel installation in South Australia

South Australia also broke an interesting milestone earlier this month. For one hour on October 11, South Australia got 100% of its electricity from solar power. It is reportedly the largest jurisdiction in the world to do so.

“This is truly a phenomenon in the global energy landscape,” Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) chief executive Audrey Zibelman said.

Indeed.

“Never before has a jurisdiction the size of South Australia been completely run by solar power.”

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Question for this article:

Are we making progress in renewable energy?

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A whopping 77% of that electricity came from rooftop solar panels. The other 23% came from large-scale solar projects.

Even hitting this big milestone, AEMO expects 36,000 more rooftop solar power systems will be installed in South Australia in the next 14 months.

Naturally, solar power didn’t provide precisely 100% of electricity demand in that one hour on October 11. Excess electricity from those solar power sources went into batteries or got sent to Victoria, a neighboring state, via a transmission connector.

Approximately one-third of households in South Australia, 288,000 of them, now have rooftop solar panels.

Naturally, there’s one great way that South Australians can soak up that tremendous amount of solar energy — buy an electric car and charge it while the sun is out and shining.

South Australia has been a fascinating region of the world for renewable energy and energy storage for years. Here are a few other stories about the Australian state:

With Most Electricity From Renewables, South Australia Has Lowest Utility Cost

Tesla Virtual Power Plant In Australia Outperforms Expectations

Tesla Grid-Scale Battery In South Australia To Get 50% Larger

Nothing Succeeds Like Success — Tesla Virtual Power Plant In South Australia Could Expand To 50,000 Homes

Tesla’s Battery In South Australia Breaks Stranglehold Of Natural Gas Industry

Asia and Pacific: International day of Peace

FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION .

A survey by CPNN

We have found 33 events in 13 Asian and Pacific countries. They were listed in Google during the week of September 21-28 under the key words “International day of peace”, “Dia Internacional da Paz” and 国际和平日 (Chinese). Two come from the facebook page of International Cities of Peace and two came from the website of Campaign Nonviolence. No doubt there were many events listed on the Internet in languages other than those for which we searched.

In addition to these, there are about 125 events listed on the maps of One Day One Choir and Montessori schools singing for peace, but there is no indication which took place this year and which took place only in previous years.


Korea Peace Appeal

ANNA BAY, AUSTRALIA

Peace is Possible is commemorating the UN International Day of Peace 2020 and joining with Pace e Bene Campaign Nonviolence to provide access to the recorded online conference held on 8/8/20. A peace picnic will be held at Birubi Beach on Sunday 9/20/2020 from 4-6pm

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA :

Video of event at the United Nations Association of Australia

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA :

On the International Day of Peace, the United Nations Office in Canberra in partnership with the Rotary Club of Canberra Burley Griffin organized an event at the Canberra Rotary Peace Bell, Nara Peace Park on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin. The event commenced with the performance from the Chorus of Women, Canberra’s renowned Women’s Peace Chorus. The keynote speaker Tim Weeks spoke passionately about the importance of taking collective action to bring about peace and to support those fleeing conflict.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA :

Victoria University International Peace Day forum live online with thought leaders and special guests on 21 September from 4pm to 5.30pm to explore notions of peace, marking the UN . The panelists are Mr Craig Foster, Amnesty International, Ms Mazita Marzuki, Consul General of Malaysia, Mr Charles Allen APM, Institute of Economics for Peace, Ms Rohini Kattadath, Immigration Museum, and Tom Clark, Victoria University

MINDEERUP, AUSTRALIA :

The piazza at Mindeerup will be lit up for several nights from Monday in recognition of the United Nations International Day of Peace.

ROCKINGHAM, AUSTRALIA :

The City of Rockingham has planted a gingko biloba tree at City Park to recognise International Peace Day 2020 and to commemorate 75 years since the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan. This is part of the Mayors for Peace program, which is an international organisation of cities from around the world dedicated to the promotion of peace.

BANGLADESH :

Bangladeshi youth organizer  Sumon Rahman (Ruhit Sumon) received India’s International Day of Peace Award.. Ruhit Sumon, president of the Mayurpankhi and Mayurpankhi Family Social Welfare Organization for Children and Adolescents, received this international honor in recognition of his work in protecting world peace, health and human rights through social services at home and abroad. This prestigious award is given by the Mission Global Peace Association of India. Ruhit Sumon is conducting various activities in the epidemic corona situation through its established organization “Mayurpankhi”. Corona preventive and corrective training and workshops during the outbreak, coordination of volunteers, provision of masks, disinfectants, soap for the destitute, destitute and torn roots, distribution of awareness leaflets, distribution of food and iftar items, sewing machines for self-sufficiency and employment. In addition, food, financial assistance and protection materials were provided to flood victims.

RUSSIAN EMBASSY IN CAMBODIA :

On September 21, 2020, the Russian Embassy in Cambodia held a ceremonial assembly on the occasion of International Day of Peace. Head of the diplomatic mission, its personnel, as well as teachers and pupils of the Embassy School attended the event. Ambassador H.E. Mr. Anatoly Borovik delivered address, stressing the importance of peace in the world and need of joint efforts in its attainment and preservation.

BEIJING, CHINA :

To celebrate the International Day of Peace and to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, the China World Peace Foundation, the Beijing International Peace Culture Foundation, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and Beijing co-organized the seventh “Heyuan Peace Festival” in Beijing with the theme “Promoting Peaceful Dialogue, Civilized Health, and Youth Space”. The guests at the conference agreed that mankind is a community of shared destiny, sharing weal and woe. All countries should form a more inclusive global governance system, more effective multilateral mechanisms, and more active regional cooperation through peaceful public welfare, international exchanges, technological innovation, and cultural interaction.

NANJING, CHINA :

On September 21, UNESCO, the National Commission for UNESCO, the Information Office of the People’s Government of Jiangsu Province, and the People’s Government of Nanjing jointly hosted the “Youth in Action” 2020 International Peace Day event in Nanjing . . .  As one of the activities of the 2020 International Peace Day, the “Art for Peace Youth Sharing Session” used a cross-border performance of music, poetry and dance to express the concept of peace, promote dialogue and exchanges, and stage a peaceful confession. Subsequently, young people from all over the world recite poems on the spot, and express their watch for peace in the form of poetry sessions. At the same time, the live “TV Art Installation” shows through videos the peaceful memories of artists and young people around the world, discussing a wide range of topics such as peace and aesthetics, technology, politics, and economy, reflecting on war in a peaceful way, and paying tribute to peace in an artistic way. 

TUMSHUK AIRPORT CHINA :

On September 21st, Tumshuk Airport launched a publicity campaign on the theme of “International Day of Peace”.  During the event, the airport staff introduced the knowledge of the “International Day of Peace” to the passengers. The International Day of Peace is the Global Day of Ceasefire and Non-Violence, calling on all countries and people to cooperate with the United Nations to achieve a global ceasefire on this day, and use electronic LED Celebrate the International Day of Peace with education and publicity methods such as screens, TV broadcasts, and handbooks.

WENZHOU, CHINA:

On the International Day of Peace, Wenzhou Xiangyu Junior High School Teachers and Students Learn Sign Language Together. After introducing the emblem of the United Nations, Assistant President Liu Yuee introduced the Xiangyu Education Group logo to everyone. Under her initiative, students and teachers follow the voice guidance, learn the sign language “I love peace” together, express their love for peace, desire for peace, oppose hegemonism, and oppose war of aggression.

XINHUA CHINA:

Hefei Xinhua College “World View · Watching Youth” International Peace Day Interdisciplinary Works Exhibition. The students used Chinese characters and artistic visual elements to paint the repudiation of war and the beautiful imagination of peace. . . Today’s young people should understand that mutual respect and equality are the right way in the world, and peaceful development is the future of the world.

ZHUJI, CHINA

Today is the “International Day of Peace”. Students from Huandong Junior High School and Taozhu Street Central School in Zhuji City took up paintbrushes, applied colors and thoughtfully conceived, using vivid and lively paintings to express the blessings of peace and hope for good.

BHOPAL INDIA :

Intternational Day of Peace was observed by youngsters of the city. The day began with Plantation for Peace on a property in Neelbad, Bhopal. This land is being managed by the youth initiative ANANT Mandi for the Community Supported Agriculture experiment, it is an alternative socioeconomic model of agriculture and food distribution that allows the producer and the consumer to share the risks of agriculture. Before the plantation, everyone sang the song of Jai Jagat. With the goal of contributing to our country’s Green Drive, traversing global warming and thus reducing its impact on climate change, and ultimately presenting a better environment for the next generation, the team planted more than 20 trees.

HOSHIARPUR, INDIA

World Peace Day was celebrated on behalf of the students of St. Soldier Divine Public School Una Road. An online program was organized under the leadership of Director Urmil Sood. During this, the students gave the message of world peace by making different posters and writing slogans. In the message to the students, Director Sood said that the main objective of celebrating this day is to spread peace and peace around the world, leaving aside the policy of violence and war.

JAIPUR, INDIA :

Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace. International Peace Day celebrated during the online sessions by primary students of Kids’ Pride School.

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Question for this article

What has happened this year (2020) for the International Day of Peace?

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LUDHIANA, INDIA :

The NSS unit of Gobindgarh Public College, Aloud, Khanna, observed International Peace Day. An online declamation contest was organised on the theme “Importance of peaceful living”. Programme officers Mandeep Singh and Professor B Rupinder Kaur highlighted the importance of the day. Principal Neena Seth Pajnii appreciated the NSS unit for organising such a programme. In the declamation contest, Nancy Gupta got first position. Jasmeet Kaur and Tanya got second and third positions, respectively.

MEGHALAYA, INDIA :

The Meghalaya Bharat Scouts and Guides celebrated the International Day of Peace on Monday. The programme included a Prayer for Peace by the Jt. State Secretary of the Meghalaya Bharat Scouts and Guides, W. Lyngdoh followed by a Special Message on Peace by the State Secretary, Meghalaya Bharat Scouts and Guides, A. Swer and flying of Pace Lanterns in the evening.  Online competitions on peace videos and peace slogans were also organised. Tree plantations were also held at the State Training Centre, Umtyngar on  September 10 (Pachmarhi Day) to mark the inauguration of the International Day of Peace 2020. 

RISHIKESH, INDIA :

Run/Ride for International Peace Day. Run for 5 km, 10 km . . . 100 km. Goldengate Awards. “Peace is the way to bring the world together”

KIRGHISTAN

In observance of the International Day of Peace celebrated this week, Silk Road International School has a pleasure to invite you for our “Hopes and Dreams” event held on: Friday, 25th September 2020, from 14:30 to 15:30. On this occasion, we will create SRIS Wish Tree decorated with cards, including our wishes and hopes. The school will also prepare additional art activities for children and their parents and refreshments.
We look forward to seeing you this Friday! Silk Road Primary Team

KOREA

International Peace Day: Civil society organizations call for end of Korean War. More than 350 South Korean and international civil society organizations, including the Korea office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, have launched a campaign calling for an end of the Korean War.
Although the conflicting parties signed an Armistice Agreement in 1953, there have been a number of political and military conflicts between two Koreas. The Korea Peace Appeal is an international petition set to run from 2020, the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War, until 2023, the 70th anniversary of the armistice.  The Korea Peace Appeal emphasizes four demands: 1. End the Korean War and establish a peace agreement.  2. Create a Korean Peninsula, and a world, free from nuclear weapons and nuclear threat.  3. Resolve the conflict with dialogue and cooperation instead of sanctions and pressure.  4. Break from the vicious cycle of the arms race and invest in human security and environmental sustainability. 
 
KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA :

The Pan Pacific and Southeast Asia Women’s Association (PPSEAWA) celebrated the International Day of Peace here on Monday at a leading hotel with the theme “Shaping Peace Together”. PPSEAWA Vice President Datin Dr Jayanthi Krishnan said this year, it has been clearer than ever that the common enemy is a tireless coronavirus known Covid-19 which threatens Malaysian’s health, security and way of life.

NEPAL :

We the promoter of Global Cultural Peace Walk, Nepal (GCPW/N) is organizing the local peace walk event since 2017 at the eve of International Day of Peace awaking global harmony. The nurturing activity is continued in 2020, remodeling with social value, an educational tips to Covid-19 pandemic. This year celebration are limited to the location near by the members’ residence. A cultural ghee/oil lightening were perform with creative activity at Charumati Stupa, Sankhapark in UN Park, Swayambhu, Panauti and Namo Buddha managed by Palden Lama, Surya Rana, Deva Sainju, Rajaram Karmacharya and Subarna Shrestha at each places respectively in collaboration with Namo Buddha International Cities of Peace,

KATHMANDU, NEPAL :

Lotus Mindfulness and Relaxation Services (LMRS) in Kathmandu organized a peacemaking event through meditation on the occasion of the UN International Peace Day on Monday. The organizer hosted an online event inviting international peacemakers from different corners of the world to share their experiences and encourage people to make meditation ‘The New Normal’ during these turbulent times. A total of 70 participants, mainly youths, from different countries including the US, Germany, Thailand, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal participated in the virtual event.


MASTERPEACE, NEPAL
:

VIDEO: Hear the Unheard: Stories of Nepal is being organized jointly by Peace for People and MasterPeace Nepal on the occasion of World Peace Day on September 21, 2020.

KARACHI, PAKISTAN

The National Commission for Justice and Peace of the Archdiocese of Karachi yesterday held a rally for Peace and a seminar dedicated to this year’s International Day of Peace. Various humanitarian groups, students, lawyers and religious congregations took an active part in the events . . . Participants in the peace seminar pledged to play a role in promoting peace and tolerance in society. A peace candle was lit, a dove was released, and trees were planted as gestures of peace and special prayers were offered for peace in the world.

HATTIYAAN BALA, PAKISTAN

People from different walks of life held a rally in Hattiyaan Bala town of Azad Jammu & Kashmir on Monday to mark the International Day for Peace under the aegis of Pasban-e-Hurriyat Jammu Kashmir and International Forum for Justice and Human Rights titled “Justice, Independence, Peace Rally”. Speakers on the occasion said that the world was celebrating World Peace Day while around 1 million Indian armed forces have illegally Occupied the internationally-acknowledged disputed territory of Jammu and Kashmir. They demanded United Nations and other peace building organisations to take notice of existence of immense armed forces in disputed territory. They also demanded that UN must fulfill its obligation on Kashmir issue as the resistance movement in IOK was legitimate according to UN resolutions.

PAKISTAN

Bacha Khan Trust Educational Foundation : Spreading the message of justice for minorities in Pakistan on Social Media.

JOVENES, PHILIPPINES

With the help of ZABIDA , a local partner of Manos Unidas in the Philippines, we want to get closer to the people of Mindanao on the occasion of the celebration of the International Day of Peace 2020. . . This year we want to look at the young people of Mindanao who have been directly affected by the consequences of a conflict that, with greater or lesser intensity, is still being felt despite the undeniable progress in the peace process. The conflict that has lasted for more than four decades and which confronts the Philippine government with Islamist armed groups that demand the independence of the region, has its roots in economic and political factors and branches out into very different types of violence, from attacks and armed confrontations to episodes. of bulling in schools and tensions between neighbors due to the origin or personal and family history of each person.

LIPA CITY, PHILIPPINES

In celebration of National Peace Consciousness Month as well as the International Day of Peace, Lasallian students and Partners took part in numerous activities including the 2020 Institutional Peace Concert on September 21, 2020. The concert was live-streamed via De La Salle Lipa’s official YouTube channel and Facebook page. . . The Institutional Peace Concert was not the only way that members of the De La Salle Lipa community commemorated the Month of Peace. Other activities have also been lined up and participated by Lasallians all throughout the month. Grade school students participated in an activity focused on making paper planes. The meaning behind the paper plane must not be overlooked. It serves as a symbol of hope and optimism during a time when we need those things most. The efforts placed into crafting a paper plane will enable it to fly. The same goes for the ongoing struggle for peace as the efforts made, no matter how small, can make a difference and cause great causes to take flight. Also featured during the event were the Junior High School students joining together as they formed a virtual sign of peace. The meaningful gesture represents how even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing, we can still remain united as we pursue the same goals. Senior High School (SHS) students, on the other hand, commemorated the International Day of Peace in their own unique way. Some students took to Instagram to get involved in a Story Chain. The students struck a pose while wearing their white tops and also tagged their friends to take part in the Story Chain.

SINGAPORE

International Day of Peace Celebrated at Dover Court. The children were able to articulate that peace may mean giving people the space to think and relax, or that it means not arguing with one another and respecting difference in viewpoints. Where right now it may seem the world is pulling people apart from one another, we as a community are seeking ways to build connection through shared discussion and collaborative projects. In the Library we acknowledged International Peace Day by thinking about children around the world who may not live in a peaceful country. We thought about how lucky we are to live in the safety of Singapore.  We came up with some ideas of how we could acknowledge world peace day in our everyday lives by being kind to our siblings, showing love to our family etc.  We then looked at books about children around the world and some of us coloured doves of peace and wrote poems about peace.

SAIGON, VIETNAM

Launched this week on world peace day, Vietnam based independent restaurant chain Pizza 4Ps has partnered with Ki Saigon to bring to life their mission to make the world smile for peace, one pizza at a time. The agency thought of bringing together ingredients of nations in conflict to create ‘Peace Pizzas’. By combining tastes of these countries in harmony to attempt to prove that if ingredients can be together on a pizza, so can we on the planet. Over many months, their chefs Mr. Shotaro Hirukawa & Ms. Natsumi Kobayashi worked with the Ki Saigon team to create three individual ‘Peace Pizzas’: India & Pakistan; China & USA; Israel & Palestine. To celebrate the unity of flavors the agency transformed the 4PS pizza boxes to a garden of peace. The pizza boxes were re-engineered to open to an intricate, handcrafted three dimensional flower. Each flower is made by combining the colors of the two flags: Israel + Palestine, China + USA & India + Pakistan. 27 unique handmade flowers blossom with each pizza to celebrate peace and tranquility. A total of 250 of these boxes were also displayed as an art piece titled ‘garden of peace’ at one of their marque venues, which is holding a one week event to celebrate ‘peace week’ where the pizzas will be sold. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the peace pizzas will go to the UN Peace Building Fund.

Time for Australia to Say ‘Indigenous Lives Matter’

… . HUMAN RIGHTS … .

An article by Pascale Hunt in The Diplomat

Anti-racism protests across Australia amassed tens of thousands of supporters over the weekend. The murder of George Floyd, a black man, by a police officer in the United States on May 25 provided the catalyst for a global wave of solidarity with the black community to condemn police brutality and demand meaningful change. But neither Floyd’s murder, nor the anti-racism movement that it has sparked, should be considered surprising or spontaneous deviations from the circumstances found in local communities the world over. In Australia, the glaring issue of Aboriginal deaths in custody has become the obvious parallel drawn – 432 deaths since the Royal Commission in 1991, and not a single conviction. As in the United States, these crimes have occurred against the backdrop of centuries of structural and cultural violence.
.


A rally organizer leads a march from King George Square to South Brisbane at a Black Lives Matter protest on June 6, 2020, to support the movement over the death of George Floyd in the U.S. and the deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands people in custody in Australia. Credit: AP Photo/John Pye

The nature of the unequal interactions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians within the structure of Australian society today prevents equality not only from being realized but from even being imagined. In understanding the dynamics of this reality, and if we hope to make progress toward equality and reconciliation, we should understand violence as tri-faceted in its manifestations, including not only direct (meaning physical) violence, but also structural and cultural aspects. Structural violence refers to violence that is embedded economically, socially, or legally, manifesting as unequal opportunities to realize quality of life, security, and self-actualization, whereas cultural violence is revealed in the social legitimization and justification of structural and direct violence.

The Indigenous peoples of Australia have suffered direct, structural, and cultural violence since colonization began over 200 years ago. While the exact numbers are contested, it has been estimated that there were between 300,000 and 1 million Indigenous peoples living on the Australian continent at that time, dispersed across over 200 nations – many of those lives were lost in direct combat and massacres at the time of British settlement. Today, the Indigenous peoples of Australia compose only 2 percent of the country’s population, making up a miniscule minority in their own lands – and life expectancy for Indigenous communities is some 25 percent below the rest of the Australian population. Australia has been accused of ethnic cleansing and of breaching the principles outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – according to the United Nations Convention on Genocide, Article II, assorted historical policies of child removal and forced assimilation are considered genocidal.

It was only as recently as 1967 that Indigenous Australians were recognized as citizens – and in almost all contemporary statistics, Indigenous people are in much worse circumstances than other groups in the country. One of the most shocking examples is that today, the average lifespan for Indigenous Australians is 20 years less than the non-Indigenous population, despite both groups residing in what has been called “the wealthiest country in the world.” Furthermore, it is worth noting that Indigenous identity itself never existed until the colonial event to juxtapose it – since then, Indigeneity has transformed from a colonial construct into a politicized identity, as Indigenous peoples continue to struggle for recognition of their basic rights.

It should be understood that continued suppression of Australian Indigenous peoples, appearing today in the form of structurally and culturally violent policies and attitudes, is required to maintain the security of the settler colonies’ original interest. The nature of the settler-colonial context is an example of cultural violence itself – the land was declared terra nullius, meaning “land belonging to no one,” from the outset, justifying the immediate atrocities committed as well as the subsequent dehumanizing structures that continue to characterize the settler-Indigenous relationship. The settler-colonial context in general – and the conflicts that arise from it – are distinctive in that their primary interest was, and is, in securing permanent control of the land through dispossessing native populations, achieved by suppressing the significance of Indigenous presence. In the Australian case, the significance of Indigenous people’s territorial dispossession is compounded by their deep cultural and spiritual interconnectedness with their ancestral land.

How Indigenous Australians have been affected by historically embedded structural violence is evident in that they are often required to hand over land rights in exchange for basic services that other Australians get without strings attached.

Indigenous rights that are protected in the Northern Territory Land Rights Act (1976) prevent the government and private companies from accessing rich uranium deposits – a concession that exemplifies a huge opportunity cost for the mining industry that is largely responsible for Australia’s national wealth. With this in mind, relatively recent events such as the Northern Territory intervention of 2007 – in which the government enacted a unilateral military occupation of NT communities’ land, quarantined 50 percent of Indigenous welfare payments, suspended the Racial Discrimination Act, and subjected Indigenous children to non-consensual health checks under the pretext of protecting them – can be interpreted as a strategic continuation of the original colonial-imperial agenda.

The mining industry is the biggest contributor to Australian GDP growth, and comes into direct conflict with Indigenous land rights, posing a significant struggle over the control of resources that support the maintenance of mining profits. Legislation such as the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (1976) in the Northern Territory has in some instances allowed the Indigenous community to influence development decisions – or at least share in the capital benefits – but in general, the legal, policy, and institutional environment remains hostile to Indigenous interests, heavily favoring those of mining corporations. Amendments to the Native Title Act made in 1998 imposed stricter requirements for registering Native Title claims, and simultaneously removed the “right to negotiate” from the renewal of mining leases. Not by coincidence, the NSW Office of the Environment and Heritage shows that between June 2012 and June 2013 there were over 99 applications for the destruction of Aboriginal heritage sites for development purposes – all of which were approved.

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Question(s) related to this article:

Are we making progress against racism?

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Importantly, mineral development prevents and excludes Indigenous people from being on country, hunting and gathering, and carrying out rituals. Their capacity to negotiate with developers is severely undermined by government non-funding of Native Title Representative Bodies, which exist to support traditional owners in negotiations with commercial interests, leaving many Indigenous individuals and organizations with no choice but to rely on project developers for funding. This dynamic fundamentally alters the negotiating process. Ultimately, mining companies are driven by aspirations for capital accumulation that override their ostensible commitment to corporate social responsibility norms.

The media continues to facilitate the structural and cultural violence that permeates the relationship between settler and Indigenous Australians. Conventional reporting structures that rely on official sources and dualistic tug-of-war conceptions of conflict situations often ignore the root causes of conflict, the diversity and legitimacy of various stakeholders’ perspectives, and the complexity of myriad processes taking place. In the Australian media, Indigenous peoples are often portrayed as less successful in society, encouraging perceptions that this is the outcome innate group traits such as substance abuse or lack of initiative, rather than a consequence of broader structural factors and policies that prevent Indigenous peoples from realizing their goals. This effect is multiplied due to the comparative size of the Indigenous population to the rest of the country in Australia, as well as the intense concentration of media ownership in the country, which undeniably promotes elite and private interests. A feedback loop is created when culturally violent attitudes are distributed, justifying the structurally violent system, creating more circumstances that can be reported in a way that compound both. The inevitable outcome is a reinforcement of status-quo ideology, and a barrier preventing conflict comprehension and conflict resolution.

A primary obstacle to the reconciliation process in Australia is achieving acknowledgement among the wider public that the conflict is still happening. The official reconciliation process has been a mostly top-down approach, reflective of the colonial project from which the current system derives. It has failed to seriously address the injustices that have been done – primarily, the forced dispossession of land that lies at the heart of the conflict. It has been largely symbolic, emphasizing apology and forgiveness over structural and relational change – in other words, official reconciliation has failed to address the causal connection between structurally entrenched social disadvantage and the original dispossession of land that occurred. Nuanced contextualization that accounts for the historical abuses that have characterized the Indigenous-settler relationship is essential in order to understand the nature of the contemporary conflict and explore options for holistic reconciliation and conflict transformation.

Reconciliation itself has been criticized as a replacement for calls for sovereign recognition, and for characterizing historical events as “past injustices” that are unrelated to contemporary realities. While the process ostensibly aimed to address structural injustices affecting Indigenous communities, it failed to locate these structural injustices within the historical colonial context of land dispossession and the imposition of policies that continue to control Indigenous destinies. Former Prime Minister John Howard advocated a “practical reconciliation” agenda, in which policies would be implemented to target social inequalities in areas of employment, education, housing, and health – suggesting that reconciliation efforts should “focus on the future.” This discourse emphasized friendship and forgiveness – an idea that is beneficial to those seeking to reinforce a unified nation-state, but fails to recognize Indigenous calls for justice.

Since the 1960s, there have been several nonofficial political campaigns centered on the concept of land rights and self-determination of Indigenous Australians and challenging the established history of the settler society. One of the most iconic – inspired by the U.S. Civil Rights movement – was when a group of students took part in a peaceful protest known as the “Freedom Rides,” travelling around New South Wales fostering awareness about Indigenous sovereignty. These representations of the continent’s history spurred growing demands for recognition of Indigenous rights and sovereignty, directly challenging the state’s reputation as a liberal democracy, and called for the establishment of a treaty such as had been the practice in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand. In 1988, the largest-ever protest for Indigenous rights occurred in Sydney during the bicentennial celebrations and aimed to raise awareness about the original custodianship of the continent. While over 20,000 Indigenous Australians congregated in solidarity and protest of the previous 200 years of treatment, their presence was ignored by media reports – which instead chose to cover the many ships gathered in Sydney Harbor for the government-sponsored Australia Day celebrations.

In recent decades, there has been a noticeable increase in the symbolic use of Indigeneity as a part of the Australian nation-building project – discounting the truth of Indigenous Australians and appropriating the country’s controversial history by establishing a false connectedness between settlers and the land, thereby weakening Indigenous claims to sovereignty. Instead of addressing the unequal relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, the government promoted a nationalistic rhetoric that preached a “unified Australia” at the expense of Indigenous voices. It was a presentation that was beneficial to the state – facilitating the mythic character of the Australian nation as the “lucky country” in a way that dismissed the perspective of the Australian Indigenous population. In effect, it masked Indigenous dissent in a cover of self-congratulatory celebrations that were aimed at allowing settler Australians and the Australian state to stand proud with their identity, at the expense of the message that 20,000 Indigenous Australians that had gathered for. There is glaring opportunity for the media to play a more effective role in acknowledging history and facilitating discussion about the context underpinning the present situation.

In 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd formally apologized to the stolen generations. The apology was greatly important for many Indigenous peoples and provided a sense of healing and symbolic justice. However, the over-emphasis on the apology in the media has allowed politicians to dodge meaningful reforms toward actual justice for Indigenous Australians. In February 2015, Rudd reflected on his apology, noting that as a country, “our achievements have been meager… the purpose of the apology was not to provide the nation a fleeting feel-good moment… it was to harness our collective energies for breaking the cycle of Indigenous disadvantage for the future.”

Permeating structural and cultural violence against Indigenous Australians has not been sufficiently addressed, and this hinders progress toward reconciliation and conflict resolution. The settler-colonial context, which manifests today in structurally violent attitudes and culturally violent policies with the media as a key player in maintaining the status quo, prioritizes national business interests that exacerbate the original injustice of Indigenous land dispossessions. A comprehensive understanding of the nature and context of the conflict, facilitated by dialogue and respect, is essential, along with an acknowledgement that the present situation is derived from the historical and contemporary denial of Indigenous rights, freedoms, and human needs.

It is understandable – given the history of structural, cultural and direct violence in Australia – that many Indigenous peoples feel that they will not have true justice until they are granted substantive land rights, sovereignty, and the ability to control their own destinies. While it may be too late in the game to turn over the extent of reparations that is deserved, the reconciliation process could undoubtedly involve more substantive, structural change that would make a real difference to the living conditions, dignity, and identities of Indigenous peoples, and contribute toward mending the broken relationship between settler Australians and the original custodians of this land.