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Report: Armenian-Kurdish-Turkish Dialogue part 1/3

INTRODUCTION
The Caux Forum of Initiatives of Change (IOC) is an international event in which peacemakers, human rights activists, civil servants, academics, journalists and students from all over the world gather to discuss about peaceful solutions for violent conflicts, economic inequality and human security.

Last year, in july 2016, The Hague Peace Projects (HPP) was represented by the project coordinators Bedel Bayrak, Tayfun Balcik and workgroup member Fatma Bulaz, they were involved in a lot of discussions that the forum provided for. This ranged from the relationship between white and black Americans in the United States, to Israeli-Arab dialogue, counter-terrorism and many other subjects that concern the global human security.

One of the pillars of the IOC Caux Forum is called ‘healing memory’. HPP has, with its own Armenian-Kurdish-Turkish workgroup, a special interest in the international dialogue taking place at Caux under this pillar. More specifically, the dialogue identifies the acknowledgment of the Armenian genocide, the Kurdish question, the democratization of Turkey and struggles in home countries as key issues to discuss. These problems (from 12 until 17 July 2016) gained extra momentum last year as a result of the attempted coup in Turkey on the night of 15July. A lot of participants from all over the world came to us with the question: ‘what is going on in Turkey?’ As a group we were in constant touch with relatives and friends in Turkey and updated each other and other participants until 5’o clock in the morning. The remaining days in Caux were no different.

Back in The Netherlands our activities to reduce tensions between several groups intensified. But the negative effects of the attempted coup and the following purges in The Netherlands proliferated: from violent incidents inside the communities itself, to diplomatic crises, racism and discrimination against ‘normal’ Turks and Muslims by mainstream institutions and society.

With the municipality of Rotterdam (the city in The Netherlands which bore the brunt of all the ‘Turkish tensions’ last year) HPP agreed to cooperate. We organized in November 2016 a dialogue-afternoon: ‘Time to Talk: Kurds and Turks in dialogue’. With dr. Michiel Leezenberg as key-note speaker, we talked mainly about Kurdish and Turkish literature, but also the repression in Turkey and xenophobia in Europe. After his speech the teacher Suna Floret, journalist Iffet Subasi, student Burak Yildiz, anthropologist Bedel Bayrak and historian Tayfun Balcik shared personal stories about growing up as Turks, Kurds and Armenians in The Netherlands. The day came to a conclusion with dialogue-tables for interaction with the public.

In January 2017 the municipality received our plan to organize a trip to the Caux Forum 2017 with a diverse group of people from Rotterdam. This report is meant to give you an insight about our activities with the Rotterdam delegation before, during and after the program in Caux. 

 

  1. MEET-UP WITH THE ‘ROTTERDAM-GROUP’, 3-7-2017

On Monday, a day before we flew to Switzerland, the participants from Rotterdam came together for the first time as a group.

Attendees: Tato Martirossian, Helin Dogan, Burakhan Çevik, Fusun Erdogan, Fatma Bulaz Zeynep Kus, Bedel Bayrak, Tayfun Balçik

After we introduced ourselves, we had a short dialogue-session.

Tato: ‘It is important to see the humanity of the other. Only after acknowledging each other as human beings, dialogue can be fruitful. Talking from a position of superiority have brought us nothing so far. It was a whole process for me to come to this disposition. Until I was 10 years old, I hadn’t seen a Turk in my life. My image of Turks changed enormously since then.’

Burak: ‘I had that with Kurds. So this is very important for me. My family is very conservative.’

Fusun: ‘I’m a journalist and came here after I was released from prison in Turkey. About the Armenian genocide, I can say that my grandmother was Armenian. They called her ‘Mavis’. That is not a Turkish or Kurdish name. I also had an uncle. They called him “Ermeni Hasan/Armenian Hasan”. But he never talked about his roots. I think he was afraid to do that.’

Fatma: ‘My parents come from Igdir, in Eastern Turkey at the border of Armenia. There was an Armenian church there. It was destroyed in 1960. I have Azeri roots, probably tracing back to Yerevan in Armenia. Igdir is very diverse. Azeri’s, Kurds, islamized yazidi’s make up the city’s population. About Caux 2017, I’m really interested in the follow-up, what will come out of it? I hope we can set up big seminars in Europe and show the real and diverse history of this region to everybody who is interested.’

Tato: ‘I think that we as diaspora communities have the privilege to play a keyrole in promoting dialogue and peace, because we have more access to information from several sides.’

PHOTO 1: IOC, HPP and the Rotterdam delegation just before entering the plane at Schiphol Airpart to Swtizerland.

Great Lakes Region: This is what we do

The Great Lakes Region Working Group is a group of Diaspora citizens from the conflict countries on the region i.e. Uganda, Congo, Burundi & Rwanda. All these countries have common historical experiences of war and violence. As a group, we meet to learn a lot from each other about our turbulent past and how we can use that to bring sustainable peace in the region.

Because of the geo-political problems caused by the regional despots, the conflicts tend to spread tension in all the region inform of refugee influx, cross border violence and wide spread insecurity. Whenever someone from Uganda or Burundi mentioned challenges, someone from Rwanda or Congo could share a similar experience.

Therefore as a measure to create a voice for the diaspora citizens from the GRL, The Hague Peace Projects established this group in 2015. Up to date the group has conducted two annual conferences and other smaller activities to raise awareness, inform and provide host nation, government departments, media, school institutions and the civil society with information about the region.

We strive to strengthen the commitment among the Great Lakes diaspora communities to organize for peace in the region, be involved in lobbying for human rights and take part in networking through meetings. We lobby through our programs to enable the diaspora to contribute to good governance, peacebuilding and accountability in the region.

We advocate for the inclusion of the diaspora in conflict resolution and peacebuilding in the region. Currently the news that comes from the region is dominated by conflict rather than peace. We want the world to know – despite the prevailing conflicts in the region – some peace efforts have been made although the real impact of the efforts are not yet felt by the people.

We are more and more recognized as serious partners, consulted by policy makers. We aim that in Europe, NGO’s, governments seeking to promote rule of law in the Great Lakes region, or the IND seeking expertise in the region, the voice of the diaspora should be heard.

To achieve our objectives we organize different forms of events in the Netherlands ranging from workshops, conferences, social cultural activities and forums to inform, educate and generate solutions.

Presently we have monthly thematic evenings, normally the 2nd Friday of the month, where we invite different expert speakers to help us understand the different dynamics around peace building. Our subjects are peace, elections, gender, minorities, responsible information sharing, human rights issues, civic space and democratic governance. These meetings are open to public and you are warmly welcome to attend the next event, we normally publicize the events beforehand.

 

Declaration and Plan of Action on the role of diaspora media in peacebuilding in the Great Lakes Region

Pour traduction française, voir ci-dessous

 The Hague Peace Projects (HPP) in conjunction with International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) recently concluded the second edition of Diaspora Conference on the Great Lakes Region with the main theme: “The role of media in conflict and peace building”.

The 3-day conference on November, 24, 25 and 26 attracted bloggers, media workers, teachers, advocates, activists, artists, peace workers, students and NGO workers.

The conference is a continuation of the broader mission of The Hague Peace Projects to create and facilitate a positive environment in which the Diaspora communities can contribute to peace building processes through dialogue among all parties encouraging violent conflicts in their home countries.

This year’s conference topic was “The role of media in conflict and peacebuilding” Jakob de Jonge, the director of The Hague Peace Projects convened the debate with the subject of the role of media in conflict and peacebuilding. Many of the contributors reflected on the role of Diaspora media in peace-building in the African Great Lakes region.  One delegate said: ‘This conference is like a blanket; we are getting warm already’.

The delegates encouraged a common shared vision of building a Great Lakes Diaspora media initiative which can work for peace, preach against hate, prevent violence and influence the social and mainstream media to help spread the word!

Moving forward to the next year’s conference, 3 key points were identified as the priorities to be addressed:

  1. Unity in Diversity
  2. Engagement and Responsibility
  3. An Action Plan for the Great Lakes Diaspora Media
  1. Unity in Diversity

We have common historical experiences of war and violence. We can learn a lot from the past, and from one another to inform our future. We do not wish to be messengers of hate.  This conference was a fact check for us. Whenever someone from Uganda or Burundi mentioned challenges, someone from Rwanda or Congo would share a similar experience. This helped to bring us together. Mutual understanding among us requires sensitivity to hurts and hopes of everyone: Burundians, Rwandans, Congolese, Ugandans, Tanzanians, indigenous people, women, youth and (social) media workers and audiences. We learned some lessons about unity in diversity in Africa Great Lakes Diaspora (social) media:

The conference also served as a reminder not to forget the situation of the indigenous people of the Great Lakes region, especially the Batwa. As the first people in the region, we should use media to promote the indigenous people’s right to land, to culture, and to a dignified existence. We can do this through ensuring they have fair representation in our Diaspora media, including in social media.  Indigenous people have taught us about how to live with our environment, and their knowledge should be valued, for future generations.

  1. Engagement and Responsibility

Blaming and hate speech trigger violent actions on the ground. Our responsibility is to prevent and avoid misuse of media for politically violent philosophy of “The end justifies the means “marked with motives for political and commercial manipulations of media expression. We should look at media as an instrument that needs to deal with the facts and not the opinions. And the media should try to remain impartial. If neutrality or impartiality were like colors, then these are the colors the media should wear when it informs and communicates with the public.

We should not assume that others in the rest of the world know better than we do how to make progress. We want to defend what is best in (social) media; solving problems and reporting responsibly. As one delegate said, media is like a Hammer; tools that can destroy or can mend and help solve problems.  We in Diaspora (social) media connect Great Lakes Diaspora with people in the region. This gives us some special responsibilities in strengthening the role of media in peace-building.

Our reporting should recognize that indigenous people are often the first victims of violence and of war. Diaspora media should draw attention to the situation of this group

We meet to:

  • Recognize journalists in the Great Lakes Diaspora media, and in the region who have tried to ensure balanced reporting;
  • Acknowledge those who have paid with their lives for media freedoms, and support others who live in fear, also in Europe;
  • Support the challenge of countering false information and hate speech;
  • Report on violence and conflict in the Great Lakes region in a balanced way;
  • Move away from political reporting to economic and social affairs;
  • Address issues so that people can solve their own problems where possible;
  • Avoid irresponsible insults, harsh judgments and partial truths that can incite violence.
  • Strive for fairness in reporting, including in social media.
  1. Action Plan for Diaspora Media

We need to remind policy makers in Europe that they should consult with the Great Lakes Diaspora communities in Europe. Whether they are NGO or government seeking to promote rule of law in the Great Lakes region, or the IND seeking expertise in the region, the voice of the Diaspora should inform them. We should lobby them through our programs to enable to Diaspora to contribute to good governance, peace building and accountability in the region. Diaspora people have many skills they can contribute to ensuring that NGO and government interventions help avoid conflict and polarization. They can also help advise private companies, and agencies concerned to promote peace and development in the Great Lakes region.

We propose this Action Plan to unite us in our diversity in practical and responsible ways.

The main planned actions are listed here:

  • To create a database of Diaspora (social) media organizations and individuals, especially those working on peace and justice issues;
  • To encourage (social) media practitioners to mentor and train others in responsible (social) media;
  • To agree on basic guidelines for peace journalism for Great Lakes Diaspora;
  • To use Diaspora media to raise the visibility of the need to end violence;
  • To show that conflict is a means of getting rich and securing political office in the African Great Lakes region;
  • To learn lessons from experiences in Africa and Beyond; we were inspired by Diaspora actions in Geneva for peace and justice in Eritrea;
  • To value the diverse languages of the Diaspora;
  • To establish Diaspora TV and Diaspora radio, for peace and balanced reporting.
  • To seek training opportunities, for example in peace journalism and non-violence, for those in Great Lakes (social) media.
  • To seek independence from political agendas and politicians;
  • To ensure we lobby to be consulted by NGOs, government and private firms about policies and programs in the Great Lakes region.
  • To ensure media attention for the rights and voices of indigenous people, women, and youth in the Great Lakes region and the Diaspora.

As well as journalists, those who use social media are part of the media.  They are central to this action plan, alongside professional journalists and those who work in radio, TV, the press, and who maintain on-line blogs and websites.

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The Hague Peace Projects

Communiqué de presse:

Sujet: Déclaration et plan d’action de la conférence sur « le rôle des médias dans les conflits et la consolidation de la paix dans la région des Grands Lacs en Afrique » qui avait eu lieu le 24-25 & 26 Novembre 2016

En collaboration avec l’Institut des Sciences Sociales (ISS), The Hague Peace Project a réalisé une seconde édition de conférence-débat avec la diaspora des Pays des Grands-Lacs sur le thème « Rôle des médias dans les conflits et la consolidation de la paix ».

Tenue dans les bâtiments de l’ISS, cette conférence-débat de trois jours a commencé le 24 novembre et s’est terminée le 26. Elle a attiré non seulement des professionnels des médias et des blogueurs mais des enseignants aussi, des étudiants, activistes des droits humains, artistes, des artisans de paix et même des ONG. La qualité des orateurs, tel que souhaité et invité par Jacob de Jonge, directeur de The Hague Peace Project, était basé non seulement sur leurs connaissances et expériences dans le domaine des médias mais aussi sur leurs pays de provenance dont la plupart venait des pays en conflits et où les médias avaient joué un rôle crucial.

Faisant suite à la mission de HPP, cette conférence s’était fixée l’objectif de faciliter un dialogue entre les différents membres de la diaspora et de permettre un environnement favorable d’échanges d’idées pour la consolidation de la paix dans leurs pays d’origine fragilisés par plusieurs sortes de conflits.

Trois points-clés avaient été identifiés comme priorités qui devaient figuraient à l’agenda de the Hague Peace Project au cours de l’année prochaine :

  1. L’unité dans la diversité
  2. L’engagement et la responsabilité
  3. Un plan d’action pour les médias diasporiques de la région des Grands Lacs

1.Unité dans la diversité

Nous, la diaspora, avons des expériences en commun, surtout de la guerre et des violences. Nous sommes prêts à apprendre du passé des uns et des autres. Nous ne voulons pas être des messagers de la haine. Pendant cette conférence nous nous sommes confrontés à la réalité. Chaque fois qu’un participant parlait des défis de l’Ouganda ou du Burundi, une tierce personne du Rwanda ou Congo partageait une expérience similaire. La compréhension mutuelle entre nous, demande de la sensibilité à nos souffrances et à l’espoir de chacun : Burundais, Rwandais, Congolais, Ougandais, Tanzaniens, populations autochtones, femmes, jeunes, et utilisateurs des réseaux sociaux et publics. Nous avons appris quelques leçons sur la diversité des médias et réseaux sociaux de la diaspora des Grands Lacs.

La conférence nous a aussi rappelé de ne pas oublier la situation des peuples autochtones de la région, spécialement des Batwa. En tant que premiers habitants de cette région, nous avons le devoir d’utiliser les médias pour promouvoir leurs droits à la terre, à la culture et à la dignité humaine. Nous devons assurer le reportage de ces sujets dans les médias diasporiques et les réseaux sociaux. Les peuples indigènes nous ont enseigné comment vivre avec notre environnement pour cela leur savoir doit être valorisé et protégé pour les futures générations.

  1. Engagement et responsabilité

Les accusations et les discours de haine conduisent à des actions violentes sur le terrain. Il est de notre responsabilité en tant que diaspora de prévenir et éviter des mauvais usages des médias dont les philosophies politiquement violentes de “ la fin justifie les moyens” incitent à la haine et aux conflits interminables. Il faut éviter l’usage de manipulation pour des motivations politiques et commerciaux. Nous devons considérer les médias comme un instrument qui gère des faits et non pas des opinions. Les médias doivent essayer de rester impartial. Si neutralité et impartialité étaient des couleurs, ceux-ci seraient les couleurs que les médias doivent mettre en informant et communiquant avec le public. Nous ne devons pas assumer que d’autres personnes dans le reste du monde savent mieux le genre et la nature des conflits dans nos pays que nous-mêmes. Nous voulons défendre le meilleur des médias et réseaux sociaux ; résoudre des problèmes et rapporter de manière responsable.  Un délégué a dit : les médias sont comme un marteau ; un outil pouvant soit mener à la destruction soit aider à la résolution des problèmes ». Nous, en tant que diaspora, faisons le lien entre les médias diasporiques et nos populations dans la région. Ceci nous accorde une responsabilité spéciale dans la promotion et le renforcement du rôle des médias dans la consolidation de la paix.

Nous nous sommes rassemblés pour :

  • Faire connaissance avec les journalistes des médias diasporiques de la région des Grands Lacs, des personnes qui essayent d’assurer un reportage équilibré
  • Reconnaître ceux qui ont payé de leur vie à cause de leur engagement pour la liberté des médias et supporter d’autres qui vivent dans la peur, aussi même en Europe
  • Combattre la fausse information et les discours de haine
  • Rapporter sur les violences et conflits de la région des Grands Lacs d’une manière équilibrée
  • S’éloigner de rapports politiques et converger vers des sujets économiques et sociales
  • Adresser des sujets pouvant permettre à nos populations de résoudre leurs problèmes si possible
  • Éviter des insultes irresponsables, jugements sévères et vérités partiales qui peuvent inciter à la violence,
  • Favoriser la tolérance entre nous quelle que soit la nature de nos conflits au pays,
  • Faire tout notre possible pour garantir l’impartialité des médias et des réseaux sociaux.
  1. Plan d’action pour les médias diasporiques

Nous devons rappeler les responsables politiques qu’ils doivent consulter les communautés de la diaspora de la région des Grand Lacs en Europe. Aussi, les ONG et gouvernements qui veulent encourager un état de droit dans la région des Grands Lacs sont encouragés à parler avec les membres de la diaspora afin de recevoir des informations sur la région. Aussi les indépendants qui cherchent de l’expertise dans la région peuvent être informés par la diaspora. Nous devons exercer une pression par la promotion de nos programmes et ainsi contribuer à la bonne gouvernance, à la consolidation de la paix et aux responsabilités dans la région. La diaspora a beaucoup de compétences qu’elle veut utiliser pour veiller à ce que les interventions des ONG et gouvernements soient aidées à éviter les conflits et la polarisation. Ils peuvent aussi aider à conseiller des entreprises privées et organismes travaillant dans le domaine du développement et de la consolidation de la paix dans la région.

Nous proposons ce plan d’action pour nous réunir dans la diversité.

Les principales initiatives sont énumérées ici :

  • Créer une base de données de tous les médias diasporiques et individus, spécialement ceux travaillant sur les focus liés à la paix et justice
  • Encourager les acteurs des médias sociaux à guider et former d’autres personnes sur l’usage des médias sociaux de manière responsable
  • Parvenir à un accord concernant des lignes directrices d’un journalisme éprit de paix
  • Utiliser les médias diasporiques pour augmenter la visibilité et nécessité de terminer la violence
  • Montrer que le conflit est un moyen pour s’enrichir, accéder et assurer un pouvoir politique dans la région des Grand Lacs en Afrique
  • Apprendre des actions de l’Afrique et de la diaspora : l’expérience de la diaspora érythréenne et les actions de paix et justice qu’ils ont organisées à Genève nous ont édifiés au cours de notre séminaire
  • Apprécier la diversité des langues de la diaspora
  • Etablir des programmes télévision et radio de la diaspora pour promouvoir la paix à travers un reportage équilibré
  • Chercher des possibilités de formation pour journalisme de paix et de non-violence, pour les acteurs des médias sociaux
  • Chercher à maintenir l’indépendance des agendas politiques et politiciens
  • Veiller à ce que nous soyons consultés par des ONG, gouvernements et entreprises privées concernant leurs programmes dans la région des Grands Lacs
  • Assurer que les médias fassent attention sur les droits et voix des populations indigènes, femmes et jeunes dans la région.

Ainsi que les journalistes , les personnes qui utilisent les réseaux sociaux font partie des médias. Ils jouent un rôle central dans ce plan d’action ensemble aux cotés des journalistes, ceux qui créent des programmes de radio, télévision, presse écrite et ceux qui maintiennent des blogues en lignes et sites Internet.

En conclusion, de nombreuses personnes ont participé et contribué à la réalisation de notre conférence débat sur le rôle des médias et de la diaspora sur les conflits et la consolidation de la paix dans la région des Grands lacs. L’un des participants a déclaré : « Cette conférence est comme une couverture, nous sommes déjà en train de nous réchauffer ». Tous les participants ont soutenu une vision commune pour établir une initiative des médias de la diaspora originaire de la région des Grands Lacs. Cette initiative doit supporter le travail pour la paix et lutter contre la haine afin de prévenir les violences et les conflits dans la région.

La Haye

26 novembre 2016

The role of media in Conflict and Peacebuilding in the Great Lakes Region

poster-grl-conferenceOn the 24th and 25th and 26th of November 2016, The Hague Peace Projects together with ISS is organizing a second Diaspora Conference on the Great Lakes Region with as main theme: “The role of media in conflict and peacebuilding”. We would hereby like to invite you for this event.

Order your tickets here.

The Hague Peace Projects tries to facilitate a positive environment in which dialogue among all parties is encouraged. Analyzing and discussing the conflict enables the diaspora communities to contribute to peacebuilding processes not only in their home countries, but also in their diaspora communities abroad.

Last year’s conference topic was “The root causes of conflicts in the Great Lakes Region”. It left rooms for discussion and dialogue, which is necessary in order to create unity among diaspora groups. This year’s conference will deepen the dialogue and understanding by focusing on this one specific topic.

The first day of the conference will be mainly about the function of media in the Great Lakes Region. While the second day will focus on the role of media in conflict and peacebuilding. The third and last day will be connecting the topic of media with the diaspora groups.

The schedule day 1 – Role of Media

10:00-10:30              Welcome & opening, Connie Formson (ADPC), Ewing Amadi Salumu, Jakob de Jonge (HPP)
10:30-11:00               Keynote speech 1: Media & democracy: RNW Media
11:00-11:30                Keynote speech 2: .Social media today : Sanne Kruikemeijer, assistant professor Political Communication at the Amsterdam School of Communication
11:30-11:45                Coffee break
11:45-12:15                Keynote speech 3: Media in the GLR; Olivier Nyiubugara, Lecturer Journalism Erasmus University Rotterdam
12:15-13:00               Panel discussion
13:00-14:00              Lunch
14:00-15:15               Working sessions; country by country, strengths weaknesses
15:15-15:30               Coffee break
15:30-16:00              Continuation working sessions
16:00-17:00              Plenary session; reports from working sessions

The schedule day 2 – Media in Conflict & Peace

10:00-11:00              Keynote speech 1 +questions: Media & Conflict; Marie-Soleil Frère, Director Research Center in Information and Communication, Université Libre de Bruxelles
11:00-11:30               Keynote speech 2: Dirk-Jan Koch, Special Envoy Natural Resources, Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs
11:30-11:45                Coffee break
11:45-12:00               Case speech 1: Moses Atocon, Blogger, Uganda
12:00-12:15               Case speech 2: Rwanda
12:15-12:30               Case speech 3: Burundi
12:30-12:45              Case speech 4: Marie-Louise Balagizi, DR Congo
12:45-13:45               Lunch
13:45-14:45              Panel discussion
14:45-16:00              workshops: YAGA & PAX
16:00-16:15               Coffee break
16:15-17:00                Continuation workshops 

The schedule for day 3: Diaspora and the perspectives of Media

10:00-10:15                Recap of the two days + questions/suggestions
10:15-10:45                Role of Diaspora;  Abubakar Koroma, International Organization for Migration
10:45-11:15                Diaspora & Media: Sennai Fessahaie, Eritrea diaspora
11:15-11:30                Coffee break
11:30-12:00               New Perspectives of Media; George Weiss, director Radio La Benevolencija
12:00-13:00               Panel discussion
13:00-14:00               Lunch
14:00-15:30               Afternoon program with own workshops
15:30-15:45                Coffee break
15:45-16:30                Continuation workshops
16:30-17:00                Closing words and conclusion conference
17:00-17:15                walks to HPP-office in separate groups
17:15-19:00                Dinner
19:00                           African party (at The Hague Peace Projects)

Where: International Institute of Social Sciences, The Hague
When : 24, 25 and 26 of November, 2016
Language: English

More information and the general outline of the days will follow.

Admission will be free for diaspora and students. For others the tickets are €20,- (payment at the door).Registration is required, reserve your seat here.

If you have questions, please contact us: info@thehaguepeace.org