Posts

Report: ‘Armenian-Kurdish-Turkish dialogue’ at the Initiatives of Change event: ‘Addressing Europe’s Unfinished Business’ PART 1

23 – 27 July 2018, Caux (Switzerland)

From the 23rd until 27 july a group of 15 Armenians, Kurds and Turks from Lebanon, The Netherlands and Armenia participated in the Initiatives of Change (IoC) program ‘Addressing Europe’s Unfinished Business (AEUB) at Caux Palace (Switzerland). Amongst the 15 participants there were individuals who already knew each other from the dialogue in 2016 and 2017: the Just Governance for Human Security program of IoC. This year there were new participants who heard about the dialogue initiative from the previous years.

This year’s dialogue took place in the framework of ‘Addressing Europe’s Unfinished Business’. From the introduction paper:

‘Europe in 2018 continues to face a number of challenges: migration, the rise of populism, terrorism, Brexit and relations with the Russian Federation are foremost among them, placing pressure on communities and nations within and across Europe. As a result of some of these challenges, questions of identity, nationalism, citizenship, racism, xenophobia and the legacy of colonization have arisen. Ordinary people need to feel that they can shape their own futures and make a difference.’

‘Addressing Europe’s Unfinished Business’ 2018 will focus on equipping delegates with the skills needed for developing social cohesion, trust and dialogue during these tumultuous times. We have invited some inspiring thinkers and trainers from Europe and beyond who are keen to transmit their skills to those committed to developing and healing their communities.’ 

Day 1 – Introduction to Caux and all the participants



For the third year in a row the mixed Dutch group from The Hague Peace Projects joined an event of the Initiative of Change. When we took our place at the side of the main hall, the moderator Diana Damsa was asking participants ‘to say hello in their own language’. We counted 13 different hello’s. After the interaction with the participants (181 people from 32 different countries in total) the event could really kick-off.

Young Ambassadors Program & Learning to be a Peace-Maker
Several speakers from the Young Ambassadors Program (YAP) of Initiatives of Change, talked about an ‘European Peace Voyage’ (through France, Germany, Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia) dealing with the repercussions of the Balkan war in the nineties of the previous century.

The next speaker, Marwan Bassiouni with Swiss, American, Italian, Egyptian and Dutch roots (!) introduced the program ‘Learning to be a Peace-Maker’ for young European Muslims. Bassiouni: ‘We as European Muslims face challenges with regards to the essence of our religion and the tensions that spread from it between us and non-muslims. Mediation and co-existence is something we should strive for.’ A musical intermezzo took us to the year 1948. A song written by French people in Caux, to welcome their former enemies: the German delegation.

Tatjana Peric, Lord Ashdown
Right after the music the floor was open for Tatjana Peric (Bosnia), advisor on Combating Racism and Xenophobia, and working for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). ‘The first time in Caux for me was in 1996, I came as a refugee from the Balkans and was really energized by the Caux spirit. I made plans to encourage the East-West dialogue.’ Later Peric joined the OSCE, collecting evidence for reports about hate crimes in Europe. ‘Last year there were 2154 racist and xenophobic incidents in Europe… And underreporting is still a problem. In Europe we can see a dangerous merger of anti-migrant feelings with racism.’ Furthermore, Peric emphasized the importance of platforms for young people to empower them, assist each other, build coalitions between organizations and to work internationally. ‘For the work we do, prevention is the best cure.’

Lord Ashdown, a politician from the UK, talked with force about the aggressiveness and vulgarity of president Trump. He worried whether Europe would stay together. ‘Ash and blood’ would be the alternative of a possible break up of Europe. The explanation he gave for the rise of populism in Europe: shifting powers from West to East, which is also a shift of capital. ‘We are facing the ending of 400 years of Western hegemony. A multipolar world is taking form, so it’s time to return to diplomacy. We live in a deeply interconnected world, where we share a destiny with our neighbor, even if they are our enemy.’ In this context, he also mentioned ‘second-generation immigrants’ and ‘terrorism’ in one sentence. In the q&a he would be questioned about this association. Lord Ashdown acknowledged immediately that we should also be more inclusive in our language. ‘I never talk about Western values, we have universal values.’

Dinner and introduction to how things work at Caux
So Caux started with a good discussion. After dinner we were introduced to the history of Caux and how things work here. After plenary meetings, there are community groups with different themes like empathy or courage, where people can hear each other’s story in a more smaller, personal and intimate setting.

Last year we had a meet-up between Armenians, Kurds and Turks on the first day. This year we agreed to do that on the first session on Tuesday at the allocated time and place.

DAY 2 – Inspirational speeches and Armenian-Kurdish-Turkish dialogue meeting

Syrian refugees in Turkey

Emel Topçu, Associate Professor at Hasan Kalyoncu university in Gaziantep, gave a presentation about Syrian refugees in Turkey. In Kilis, for instance, before the Syrian war broke out, the inhabitants’ number was about 80.000. Now it’s a city with more than 220.000 people. Consequently, the Syrian influx has had an huge impact on the receiving Turkish society. It also led to a Turkish xenophobic and nationalistic backlash with reactions like ‘Our children are dying in the war, why are Syrians lying on the beach?’, ‘They are partying at the sea’ or ‘They must respect the owners of the country.’

Topçu blamed some media, mainly linked to opposition parties, of speculating about a ‘potential conflict’ or ‘clash’ in Turkey, due to government policy on Syrian refugees. But Topcu was happy to say that ‘we didn’t have a clash with Syrians’. She gave two reasons for the prevention of such a conflict: ‘(1)The role of relatives and (2) civil society. 1.

Topçu: ‘The first reason is that we have a shared history. 100 years ago we belonged to the same country, The Ottoman Empire, before the Sykes-picot agreement divided us. And families got split across the borders. The second factor is the role of Women volunteers who engaged in trust building activities between Turks and Syrians.’

Independent media under pressure in Ukraine
Not everybody in the room agreed with Topçu’s story, but the next speaker, Oleksiy Matsuka from the Ukraine, was already underway delivering his talk about the conflict in East-Ukraine, which started in 2014. ‘The Eastern part is occupied, and the Crimea is annexed by Russia. We don’t recognize them, and call them separatists.’ Matsuka want attention for independent media who are under pressure. ‘A lot are closed down. There are no journalists who’s life has not changed in the Donbass region. This is why we decided to come to Caux. To talk about the very polarized situation in Ukraine.’

Matsuka: ‘As a journalist, I ask questions. I changed the tone form affirmative journalism to interrogative journalism. The reactions of the speakers changed. Uncomfortable moments are many. To doubt everything is important for a journalist.’

Being a neo-nazi in Sweden
The last speaker of the morning plenary was Peter Sundin, a former neo-nazi in Sweden. His personal story was listened closely by the audience. He told the public about his single mother, with five children and her work as a cleaner. ‘We were a poor Swedish family and blamed our economic situation on foreigners, saying they took our jobs.’

He saw his older brother as a ‘role model’. A skinhead who listened to white power music. ‘We said that the holocaust was a fraud, a made-up story to sneer on national-socialism.’ He wasn’t much at school and joined the ‘national youth’, a violent movement. When they were at school, they were confrontative, ‘we felt backed up by this group.’

Not much later, he was involved in a situation which led to the worst decision in his life. They beat up a guy and Peter punched a guy in his face. He was unconscious. ‘When he gained his consciousness, I ran back and jumped full power on his back and landed on his shoulder blade. My friends tapped me on the shoulder.’

‘The next morning I got a phone call. We were on the news. That was the moment I realized it was enough. That was the starting point of a five year long journey for deradicalization. I completely transformed my lifestyle. I had to cut ties with my family. Drop the nazi belief system, and was looking for new world perspectives. I started to watch other channels, things that I called jew-news before..’

‘I spend six months in prison for assault. Now I’m helping youngsters, so they won’t commit the same mistakes I did. Behind every opinion is a human being. So don’t only see the opinion, see also the human. Lets shift the focus on the individual. To change a opinion is an individual process.’

Everybody left the main hall with all these stories in their mind. The community group for reflection was much needed.

Lunch and first Armenian-Kurdish-Turkish (AKT) dialogue meeting

After lunch, this year’s Armenian-Kurdish-Turkish dialogue started with an introduction round in which some just told their names and where they came from, and others who elaborated on, for instance, their expectations.

One participant put the emphasis on ‘young people’ and wondered ‘whether Turks and Armenians can be friends’. Another uttered strong wishes of ‘a follow up right after Caux’, and whether the discussion can ‘move beyond the blaming game and try to have a grip on the whole picture’. Furthermore, it was been said that ‘dialogue within communities’ is also important, and in addition to that, ‘that it is necessary to reach out to groups who never come together in circles like these’. Another participant complained about the problematic sides of ‘living locally’, while the world is moving on, ‘new approaches should therefore be worldwide’. The role of ‘privileged diaspora’ to put up grassroots dialogue initiatives like these was underlined and another participant ‘discovered’ that these dialogue-sessions can have a ‘healing’ effect. An ‘action-plan’ should come off the ground this year, ‘but sometimes it feels like impossible in Lebanon’. The last participant in the circle mentioned the links of Armenian and Kurdish communities in her family.

Film by Lebanese group
After the introduction round, we watched a short film made by the Armenian-Lebanese participants of 2017 of which some were partly present again this year. The film, in which all participants agreed that a genocide had taken place, triggered a question to the group ‘whether everybody in the room was on the same page about the Armenian genocide?’

An intense debate about the term genocide followed and whether ‘Armenian Muslims’, ‘who were targeted by Armenians during the genocide (according to one of the participants), were also included as victims?’
This counter-question led to another discussion whether there were actually ‘Armenian Muslims’ before the genocide, or that they were a result of the Armenian genocide, in which Armenians were forced to become Muslims and live in Muslim-households.

Since the question of recognition is one of the most sensitive issues in Turkish-Armenian dialogue, we accepted that we heard the question and that in the following days everybody can individually decide whether he or she wants to give an answer or not.

Then one of the participants said about Armenians that ‘they were stuck in 1915’ and asked ‘How is that possible?’ One answer was that the Armenian identity was almost totally based on what happened during the war. ‘As an Armenian you cannot escape it’. The need of closure is there. And that can not begin, without justice and admittance.

Besides, or linked with ‘being stuck’, is the issue of ‘global citizenship’. A lot of peoples are afraid of the outside world. Identity and national citizenship are strong and people want to keep that alive, as a defense system for the unknown outside world.

The closing statements of this first session was that the border is closed between Turkey and Armenia.

Again, we had an interesting first encounter. But in the evening, we had an informal meeting at Caux station, in which dance-styles of several regions were performed. ‘Before I went to Caux, I never thought I would dance with Turks’, was said by an Armenian participant.

Continue reading part 2 of the report!

#WeWantJustice

Protests led by youth are met with violence;

attempts of dissent are suppressed.

In Bangladesh, mass outrage over two teenagers killed in a road crash escalated into a social movement, with high school students stepping out on the streets, holding placards demanding for road safety and the resignation of the Shipping Minister, Shajahan Khan. Shajahan Khan’s insensitive remarks about the death of the students sparked the outrage. Road safety is a major issue of concern in Bangladesh. Research indicates that last year more than 4200 people lost their lives in road accidents in Bangladesh.

Over the past few days, several images and videos have gone viral on Facebook, which testify to the allegations of brutal violence committed by the police and the Bangladesh Chhatro League (the student wing of the Awami League). BCL has been accused of thrashing and molesting journalists. On Saturday, August 4th, mobile internet was suspended for 24 hours and many complained about a lack of connectivity. Many believe this was done to suppress the dissent, since the issue was not being covered enough by local media and subsequently protesters and supporters of the movement went online to share updates, using Hashtags and tagging international media houses’ social media accounts. Many social media influencers reported that they received thousands of emails and messages from Bangladesh. Some social media influencers, including Drew Binsky, uploaded videos expressing their solidarity and concern.

Shahidul Alam, a renowned photographer and social activist, told Al Jazeera that the movement is not solely being driven by the demand for road safety: other issues too are causing public dissent. The latest update that Shahidul Alam was detained—as reported by Dhaka Tribune—has since been shared by many people on social media. However, according to Dhaka Tribune, the police have denied these allegations. Earlier the same day, Aparajita Sangita, an online activist, was detained but released afterwards—as confirmed from her Facebook account.

We, at the Hague Peace Projects, express our solidarity with the youngsters and condemn the attempt to suppress the voices of dissent through brutal violence, arrest and the suspension of the internet. 

 

References:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/08/bangladesh-officials-restrict-internet-student-protests-180805071428323.html

https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2018/08/05/btrc-no-directive-issued-to-suspend-broadband-internet-service

https://bdnews24.com/bangladesh/2018/07/31/minister-shajahan-khan-apologises-for-insensitive-remarks-about-deaths-of-students-in-crash

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/08/bangladesh-mass-student-protests-deadly-road-accident-180802174519088.html

https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/dhaka/2018/08/05/photographer-shahidul-alam-picked-up-from-his-home

https://www.facebook.com/drewbinsky/videos/1859932040710383/

8-12: The Hague Hacks Conference “Technology and Freedom”

The Hague Hacks conference aims to bring together the world of peace and technology to create opportunities and build partnerships. By stimulating cooperation, The Hague Hacks promotes development and use of emerging technologies for peace and justice. This year we shall investigate aspects of relationships between technology and freedom. We shall be delving deep in the discovery of the potential of peace, justice and technology solutions based on today’s challenges.  The conference is composed of workshops, activities and games in artificial intelligence, fake news and hate speech, digital surveillance, big data and block chain. The theme of this event will be: “Technology and Freedom”

Program:

10:00 am – 10:45 am: Introduction part 1 (3 engaging talk and 15 minute knowledge-share and Q & A)
10:45 am – 11:00 am: Coffee break
11:00 am – 12:00 am: Introduction part 2 (3 engaging talks of 15 minutes with 5 minutes of short    Q & A)
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm: Networking lunch
1:00 pm – 2:15 pm: 5 workshops part 1
2:15 pm – 2:30 pm: Coffee break
2:30 pm – 3:45 pm: Workshops part 2
3:45 pm – 4:00 pm: Coffee break
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm: Plenary session
5:00 pm – 6:00 pm: Networking Drinks

Date : 8th December 2017
Time: 10am – 6pm (Doors open by 9.30am)
Venue: Paviljoensgracht 20, 2512 BP -The Hague, Netherlands
Topics: Artificial Intelligence (AI) | Fake News /Hate Speech | Digital Surveillance | Block Chain | Big Data.

Tickets: 15,- including lunch and drinks, reserve your tickets here.

10 & 11 November: Great Lakes Region Conference ‘Women and Men in Peacebuilding

On the 10th and 11th of November we will host for the third time the annual Great Lakes Region Conference. The first edition (the root causes of conflict) in 2015 and the second (the role of media in conflict and peacebuilding) in 2016 were very successful and therefore we would like to continue and invite you for the coming conference. This year we focus on the role of women in the peacebuilding process in the great lakes region. Unfortunately, it is women that are still the victims of conflict rather than the carriers of peace and change.

The Great Lakes Region in Africa (Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and DR Congo) is one of the most vulnerable and unstable regions in the world. In the region armed conflicts have evolved for decades and human rights violations are commonplace.
Rape, torture and murders of women and girls of all ages have reached epidemic proportions since 1994. Violence against women has become a deliberate strategy of war. However, women are not just victims, they also play an important social role, they contribute to peace and stability. To create a future in a war torn society, women are an indispensable basis.

With this conference, we want to strengthen trust between men and women from this region and among women themselves so that they are able to work together for peace.

Full program:

Day 1| Friday, 10 Nov.: Women & Men in Peacebuilding: Why Gender?

13:00-18:00

13:00-13:30        Registration (tea and coffee available)

13:30-13:45         Welcome and Opening – Jakob De Jonge

13:45-14:15         Keynote 1: Peace & justice [in French] – Evelyne Ombeni

14:15-14:45         Discussion: Why Gender? Why Peace? Dr. Helen Hintjens 

14:45 – 15:15       Keynote 2: Le Mouvement des Femmes et des Filles pour la paix et La securite aux Burundi. Why is this important? [in French] – Anésie Nkanira

15:15: 15:45        Tea and coffee break

15:45 – 17:30       Women at the negotiation table. Should men be invited!? Deogratis IrambonaMarie Chakupewa – Hayinchte Muhorakeye – Antionette Mutesa –  Godefroid Nimbona – Marie Nagadya, Moderated by Sophie Kwizera

17:30 – 17:45       Round up and summary reporting of key insights of the day

17:45 – 19:00       Drinks & Networking Butterfly Bar, ISS,

 

Day 2| Saturday, November 11th: Women and Men in Peace Building – What Can Be Done Different?

09:30 – 10:00       Start (tea and coffee available)

10:00 – 10:15       Recap and Welcome – Jakob de Jonge

10:15 – 11:00       Peacebuilding from a gender and development perspective – Dr. Anthony Otieno Ong’ayo

11:00-11:30         Debate: Lobby platform: 1325 the UN Resolution on Women, Peace and Security

11:30-11:45         Coffee break

11.45-12:15         Women, development & stability in Rwanda – Gloria Uwishema

12:15 – 12:45       Gender and Reconstruction in post-conflict DRC – Marie Chakupewa

12:45 -13:45        Networking Lunch – Kenyan Delicacies

13:45-14:45         Art workshop-The influence of art in peacebuilding – (Creating Rights- Fiana. Gantheret, Justin Kabika)

14:45-15:45         Debate: Our seat at the Peace Table: women of the Great Lakes Region –  Christine Among(Uganda), Marie Balagiza (Congo), Anesie Nkanira (Burundi), Yvette Muhire (Rwanda)

15:45-16:45         Group discussions: Case studies: Moving towards an inclusive and peaceful Great Lakes Region? Future perspectives.
Rwanda: Chaired by:      Sophie Kwizera
Burundi: Chaired by:       Deogratis Irambona
Uganda: Chaired by:       Moses Atacon
Congo: Chaired by:         Bashi Cikuru

16:45-17:00         Closing remarks

17:00 -17:30 Dance performance by Jean Claude Mihigo (Ballet Ukwezi)

17 :30 -18:30 Networking Bites and Drinks –  Kenyan Delicacies

 

Where: Institute of Social Studies, Kortenaerkade 12, The Hague
When: 10 & 11 November
Free tickets, but registration required: Reserve here!

Our new project: Sudan


1 – Who are you? 
The Sudan Working group is the result of the collaboration between Stichting Phanaar and The Hague Peace Projects with the common objective to promote the voices of the Sudanese diaspora and engage in the dialogue for peace and justice in Sudan.

2 – What is the team’s mission? 
The mission of the team is to enable the Sudanese community in the Netherlands to actively engage in finding solutions for peace and justice in Sudan and raising awareness about the situation in the country by sharing experiences, knowledge, and concerns that transcend into concrete agendas and actions. 

3 – What are the goals and objectives of the team?
The objective of the team is to create spaces of dialogue that encompass the Sudanese diversity and the different perspectives of the conflict. By doing so, the Sudan working group aims to tackle issues of justice, victims participation, gender, freedom of expression,​ social enterprises, family disintegration and other related subjects in relation to Sudan and to the role of the Sudanese diaspora in an unbiased manner.

 

 

 

 

 

16-8 Film & Discussion: Rampal Coal plant: a deception of development

Join us on Wednesday 16 August for a film and discussion about Bangladesh at Nutshuis from 6:30 till 8:30.

The world’s largest mangrove forest is under treat of coal mining. The Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company (BIFPC), an energy partnership between India and Bangladesh, is building a massive coal fired power plant called ‘The Rampal Rampal Power Plant’ just 14km from this UNESCO world heritage site – a home to the last populations of critically endangered Royal Bengal Tigers. By damaging the Sundurbans with a coal plant, not only would this take away their livelihoods, and the natural resilience that millions of people in Bangladesh depend on, but it would mean burning more fossil fuels and creating more carbon emissions. This is exactly when the world should be leaving fossil fuels in the ground and be getting behind renewable energy alternatives.

Discussion:
Pro-environment activists group in Bangladesh have been protesting the coal power plant since its inception. Activists from India and other parts of the world also have joined in protest and solidarity. UNESCO also expressed its concern and asked the Government of Bangladesh to halt the project. However, despite nationwide protests and international outcry, the Bangladeshi government is hellbent on going through the project. Police brutality and arrest have become part and parcel of the anti-Rampal Power Plant movement in Bangladesh, and leading activists have faced death threats.

Anu Muhammad, the member-secretary of NCBD (the organization leading the anti-rampal protests in Banlgadesh) will join us in a discussion in ‘Het Nutshuis’ in The Hague. Anu Muhammad is a prominent Bangladeshi economist, public intellectual and political acticvist who has been in the forefront of the green energy movement in Bangladesh for years. He had faced arrest, police violance and several death threats along the way. Also activists and experts from both Bangladesh and Netherlands will join this discussion.

Deception of Development:
Bangladesh has entered a critical stage of its development in which the vocabulary around the understanding of development has gone seriously problematic. The Bangladesh state and the media both have gradually separated the idea of social and environmental equity from the vision of development, just like many other parts of the world. While the state continues to be obsessed with high-profile big development projects, farmers, laborers, poor communities, rivers, trees, forests, cultivable fertile land in this process, are perceived to be mere bunch of collateral damage that is expected to be ‘sacrificed’ in this very process towards ‘progress’. The state and the media has been displaying an one track obsession over high GDP growth as the standard of progress. The health of people, cleanness of water, fertility of soil, the quality of food and air are not considered to be worthy enough to be a part of the index of development. In the backdrop of such flawed understanding of development and such disregard towards preservation of environmental resources, it has become necessary to challenge the so called idea of development that does not perceive it necessary to preserve environmental and human integrity. ‘Deception of Development’ is an attempt of as such.

Report: Armenian-Kurdish-Turkish dialogue part 2/3 ‘the confrontation’

This is the second part of the report from the peace conference in Caux. Read here the first part.

1. Introductory speeches and meet-up with participants from Lebanon, Turkey and Armenia (4-7-2017)

INTRODUCTION
We arrived around 16.00 o’clock at Caux. The introduction was already underway. The organization requested to take our seat in the main hall without checking-in. Shontaye Abegaz, the Forum Coordinator, was talking about the ‘Six Pillars of Human Security’: good governance, food security, sustainable living, care for refugees, inclusive economics and healing memory.

From the brochure: ‘This forum brings together people working to advance just governance and human security in their situations. Every participant brings valuable knowledge and insights to the table. Through a combination of interactive sessions – plenaries, participatory workshops, training and space to reflect – we seek to co-create approaches which can help address personal, national and international challenges.’

Abegaz: ‘Our goal is create a world free from fear and hope that you can find in Caux someone you don’t know and with whom you can really connect.’

COMMUNITIES
Then, Ashley Muller stepped in, the communications coordinator, and explained about the ‘community-system’ of Caux. Every participant is registered into one of the seven community groups. In these groups people can reflect and discuss further on what has been discussed in the plenary sessions or elaborate on their own personal struggles in their home country. The community-groups are also used to divide tasks with regards to corvée duty in the kitchen, one of the most interesting community-building activities at Caux

HISTORY, CONTEMPORARY CHALLENGES AND THE ROLE OF YOUNGSTERS
The Forum Director, Nick Foster, emphasized the special history of the Caux palace after World War II. It was used as a place where warring sides (Germans and French) came together to rebuild Europe. Also Jewish refugees who escaped death camps were hosted here to recover. ‘Burning international questions were discussed back then, and hopefully we can find inspiration here for what troubles us globally nowadays. We are faced with never-ending wars in the post 9/11 era, we have identity divisions in our home countries, terrorist attacks that instill fear and hatred against Muslims.’ Foster also mentioned economic divisions: ‘the eight richest man have as much as wealth as 3,5 billion people’. A disastrous disbalance, and endangering the social cohesion in the world. Another point he made: the role of young people. ‘It is time to integrate the new generation into the decision-making process. Without their creativity, without openness, it’s not going to happen.’

Armed conflict and the ‘hope’ of diplomacy
Keynote-speaker of the opening day was Pierre Krahenbuhl, Commissioner-General for the UNRWA. He made a case for peaceful solutions in armed conflicts and drew on his experiences with the Palestinians. ‘I oppose and reject the idea of the inevitability of war. I find it impossible to reconcile with the careless idea that “wars exists”. The five challenges we face about war:

  • Most conflicts now are intrastate conflicts
  • The long duration of armed conflicts
  • Fragmentation of conflicts in thousands of armed groups
  • Radicalized non-state actors feed on general injustice and impunity
  • Focus of western powers on military intervention while there is no evidence that it did any good to resolve conflicts

All by all, the focus is too much on conflict management. Instead, we should re-legitimize conflict-resolution. Krahenbuhl: ‘A couple of weeks of ago we had the 50th anniversary of the Six-day war of 1967. I was born in 1966, meaning that if I was born in Palestine I would have lived all my life under occupation. The whole problematizing feature is that people were told: “if you believe in diplomacy, a solution will be found”. We failed to deliver on that promise. Without recognizing the pain of the other, there can be no healing,. On the other hand it is important to see people not solely as victims. They are also actors in their own lives. Dialogue is a process in which we should continuously strife to discover the humanity of the other. No security is sustainable if it comes at the expense of the insecurity of others.’

ARMENIAN-KURDISH-TURKISH DIALOGUE (DAY 1)
After dinner the Armenian-Kurdish-Turkish delegations of several countries got in touch which each other to plan the three day dialogue program ahead of us.

  • First day: two presentations about the Armenian genocide, one from Nora Kalandjian , Christine Andekian and Vardouhi Balyan, and one from Tayfun Balcik.
  • Second day: presentations from participants of Turkey (Ghamzine Hasan Kaboglu, Begum Özcan) about the shrinking political space for free media and opposition politics in Turkey and the Laz-minority.
  • Third day: presentation by Füsun Erdogan about her experiences as a journalist and her time in prison in Turkey.

PHOTO 2: Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish participants plan the three day program.

  1. ‘THE CONFRONTATION’

Presentations
The first day of the Armenian-Kurdish-Turkish dialogue at Caux began with the presentation of Vardouhi Balyan, Nora Kalandjian and Christine Andekian about the Armenian genocide and the Armenian communities in Armenia and the diaspora. In relation to Turkey and Turks, they identified the denial of the Armenian genocide as the main obstacle for reconciliation. Balyan: ‘As a matter of fact a cultural genocide is still continuing in Turkey, because, for example, Armenian schools are not funded by the Turkish state. Armenian culture in Turkey only survives through the effort of Armenians who set up their own private schools. Tayfun Balçik discussed the memoires of the pan-Turkist Sevket Sureyya Aydemir. In his presentation he focused on (1) Turkish-Islamic suffering, (2) Turkish-Islamic supremacy and (3) revenge-feelings after losing wars to Christian minorities in the Balkan (1912-1913). According to him, this historical context is essential to understand and explain (but not excuse) what happened to the Armenians and other minorities during the Ottoman and republican era.

Discussion
Vardouhi mentioned the emotions that rose up when she first came to Caux in 2015. ‘Why are you going there?’, people in her environment asked here. ‘You don’t talk with Turks’ was the status-quo. After a question about ‘what after Caux’, Bedel Bayrak explained about the follow-up activities The Hague Peace Projects was involved in last year: ‘One of the many activities we realized was The Hague Freedom Book Fair in February 2017. We invited speakers from Turkey, also people we met in Caux. The dialogue continued in different contexts and we broaden the discussion to different fields as well.’

Than a question came from a Lebanese Armenian participant: ‘but what about the lands we lost in Cilicia (South-Turkey)’. That question led to a whole quarrel about whether lands could be given back? The participant received a lot of reaction: ‘giving land back isn’t possible, because other people live their now.’ And would it be a solution? The discussion harshened. Emotions took over. A participant from the Dutch delegation felt offended and said ‘how can I give land to you, I don’t live in Turkey’. Another participant from Lebanon: ‘I’m a fourth generation survivor. My roots are very important. We want access to our roots.”

Than the journalist Füsun Erdogan intervened and said: “Armenians and Turks are two traumatized people. The Armenians still feel the pain of the destruction of their people and the Turks are traumatized by the sins their forefathers committed. Both people have to carry that history. But what is the answer? The youth should come together. Progressives in Turkey always say: because we didn’t acknowledge what happened in 1915, the Dersim genocide against Kurds in 1937 happened. And Kurdistan is still burning.’

Now a participant form Turkey reacted: ‘The discussion as it goes now will bring nothing. I think we should first start with eating and drinking, and talk about other things. If you want to persuade Turks, this is not the way.’ Some disagreed vehemently with that proposition.

An outsider to the conflict, from Nepal, was amazed by the fact that all parties were in the same room. That led to some sort of reflection by all sides. But not for long. Even after the official closing of the dialogue, the discussion went on. More eruptions of emotions occurred. But at a certain moment, (dinner-time!), we called it a day and left the room knowing, this is not over yet.

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.

Unmask the dictators from the Great Lakes Region

Tijdens de Nacht van de Dictatuur, presenteren wij het programma: Unmask the dictators from the Great Lakes Region

De Great Lakes Region is een zoetwatergebied in het oostelijk deel van Afrika waar de landen Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Sudan en Kenia deel van uit maken. Het is een regio met veel (postkoloniale) problemen en autoritaire regimes. Tijdens Unmask the Dictator zullen enkele sprekers uit een aantal van deze landen vertellen over hun persoonlijke ervaringen met het leven onder een dictatuur. Lukt het jou om aan de hand van hun verhalen te ontdekken over welke dictators het gaat? Test je kennis en maak kennis met mensen die aan een dictatuur zijn ontkomen.

Unmask the Dictator is een samenwerking van ProDemos en the Hague Peace Projects.

© Foto: Anneke Verbraeken

Waar: Prodemos, Hofweg 1-H, Den Haag
Wanneer: 8 september
Tijd: 21:30

Koop hier je kaartje!

The Future of Syria & Integration: Aspirations and Challenges

On the occasion of the Oriental Landscapes (June 16-23), Global Week for Syria and the International Refugee Day (June 20) The Hague Peace Projects and Music and Beyond Foundation are organizing a two day conference on the Future of Syria on the 19th– 20th of June. The first day will consist of a discussion surrounding the future of Syria; During the morning we will have panel discussions with high level experts involved in the peace negotiations on Syria. This will be followed by various workshops related to different aspects of rebuilding Syria. The second day will be focusing on the integration of newcomers into Dutch society, with our two main topics consisting of economic integration and social/cultural integration. We will bring together those organizations and institutions responsible for integration and the refugee community in order to promote better understanding and cooperation in the integration process.

Day 1: Future of Syria

Since 2011, the Syrian war has forced half of the total Syrian population to leave their homes and more than half a million Syrian have lost their lives. This war has profoundly destabilized the entire region and created a geopolitical standoff between great regional and global powers. Although the development of the war in Syria is uncertain, it is crucial for Syrians as well as the international community to envision a future, which strives for security, justice and peace.

Therefore, the Hague Peace Projects will bring together high- level speakers from Syria and the Netherlands to explore the possible outlines of the future of Syria. There will be a panel discussion in the morning that will also follow the recent changes and the on-going negotiation processes over Syria.

In the afternoon, several workshops will be organised by Syrian activists who are together looking for common ground to contribute to peace building in their country of origin by considering themes on workshops such as: the war economy, transitional justice, empowering women and youth, local governance and strengthening local communities.

Day 1 Monday 19 June: The Future of Syria

09.30 – 10.00
Registration  Coffee/ Tea
10.00 – 12.15
1st Panel Discussion: Future of Syria

Speakers: Rabie Nasser, Bassam Alahmad, Hala Alahmed.
Moderation: Esseline van de Sande

12.15 – 13.15
Lunch break
13.15 – 15.00
Workshop Part 1:
  • Youth Peace Initiative: Role of diaspora in peace building
  • PAX: Building blocks for a future in Syria
  • HIVOS: Women in peace negotiations
15.00 – 15.15
Break
15.15 – 16.45
Workshop: Part 2:

1.      The group Moderators from the workshops discuss the findings of the group in a panel setting.

2.      The floor opens to public.

17.00 – 18.00
Registration for the music event (free for the participants of the conference)
18.00 – 19.00
Lecture (interview with Tony Overwater)
19.00 – 20.00
Food: Syrian Cuisine
20.00 – 22.00
Concert: Salon Joussour – Rohana Overwater Ensemble

Reserve Tickets here for Day 1

Day 2: Integration: Aspirations and Challenges

After the influx of large groups of refugees from different countries in the past few years the national government, municipalities and civil society organizations have proposed many solutions for a smooth integration. Not all of them have shown clearly positive results and some policy measures even create great confusion and uncertainty among permit holders. One of the reasons of this failure could be a lack of consultation of permit holders. Thus, taking into account permit holders ‘ needs, capabilities, aspirations and suggestions for successful integration could be the most fruitful way forward for all of the parties.

Therefore, this event is intended to bring together policy makers and integration specialists from different organizations and municipalities including permit holders in order to discuss the obstacles and solutions towards a successful integration in The Netherlands.

The morning section is reserved for two panel discussions regarding specific aspects of integration, such as the labour market and social-cultural integration, where policy makers, academic and permit holders will share their knowledge and concerns. In the afternoon, permit holders together with local civil society activists will be conducting workshops to find solutions for some of the most pressing integration issues faced currently.

Day 2 Tuesday 20 June: Integration: Aspirations and Challenges

09.30 – 10.00
Registration  Coffee/Tea
10.00 – 12.00
1st Panel discussion: Integration in to the Dutch Labor Market

Speakers: Quirine Veth (workforce.nl), Catrien Smit (Den Haag municipality), Tesseltje de Lange (Amsterdam University), George Kader
Moderation: Mohammed Taha

12.00 – 13:00
Lunch break
13.00 – 15.00
2nd Panel Discussion: Social & Cultural integration

Speakers:  Kees Diepenveen (Wethouder Utrecht), Mirjam Huisman (VluchtelingenWerk) Besan Zarzar (Net in Nederland)
Moderation: Lisanne Boersma

15.00 – 15.15
Proceed to the workshops
15.15 – 16.30
Workshop Part 1
  • Khaled Elhouz and Heba Elebrahim: Education in the Netherland
  • VluchtelingenWerk Nederland: Labor integration
  • Unity in Diversity – Let’s talk Stereotypes
16.30 – 16.45
Break
16.45 – 18.00
Workshop: Part 2:

1.      The moderators from the workshops discuss the findings of the group in a panel setting.

2.      The floor opens to public.

18.30 – 21.00
Concerts

Aura Rascon – bansuri
Jol Alholo – dance
George Kadr – poetry
Ghaeth Almaghoot – clarinet
Nawras Altaky – oud
Sougata Roy Chowdhury – sarod

Reserve Tickets here for day 2

Location: Korzo Theatre, Prinsestraat 42, Den Haag
19 & 20 June

Events

Nothing Found

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria