There’s also Nineveh: a request for help contacting media around the world

To all my family, friends and colleagues in the world: I need your help. This is a personal request from me to you. It would mean a lot to me if you take a moment to read it. Thank you.

There has been Brussels, Lahore, Baghdad, Mosul…but there’s also Nineveh

We’ve all seen the terrible violence in Brussels this last week. Many of us have also seen the violence in Mosul, Baghdad and Lahore. Right now I’m in a city called Duhok, in KRG – Iraq. It’s a few kilometres from Nineveh – somewhere that has come to mean a lot to me. Over the past several months I’ve been working with people from Nineveh – people who are Muslim, Yezidi, Christian, Turkmen and more, men and women, young and old, tribal leaders, Presidents, youth, mayors, activists, journalists, survivors. Almost all of them have been displaced from the fighting and war here – the violence many of you think of connected to ‘ISIS’ / Daesh.

And these people that I have come to know, to admire, to respect, to love…are amazing. They are women who have been raped and survived or driven from their homes or had family members they love killed…and with their courage have created a Women’s Peace Alliance uniting women from all communities, working together for peace. They are young people who have seen genocide and killing and, again, been driven from their homes and had people they love killed…and have chosen to go into refugee camps and help survivors, to hold trauma recovery processes, to create themselves a youth peace centre, to take brooms and buckets and go back into their villages and towns destroyed by war and…clean up. They are President Bashar Kiki of the Nineveh Provincial Council who has become passionately involved and worked to create a Peace Council for Nineveh bringing tribal and religious leaders together – together(!) to work for peace instead of war. They are my brothers, my sisters, my family. They are courage, humanity, in the face of loss and suffering and pain few of us could even image in our worst nightmares, and instead of promoting more hatred or anger or violence, they are doing something incredibly brave, incredibly heroic, incredibly simple: they are coming together working for peace.

This week, this Wednesday and Thursday, there will be a Nineveh International Forum for Peace. More than 200 survivors, grassroots activists, NGOs, tribal leaders, religious leaders, community members, men, women, mayors, government officials, the UN, journalists, and every national and international organisation working in Nineveh will come together. They will look at the role and leadership of women working for peace. They will look at how youth are choosing not to join militias or fight but to help heal, overcome sectarianism and hatred, and build a future beyond war and violence. They will look at how we can deal with trauma healing, recovery and reconciliation, civilian protection, introduce peace education into schools, create local peace committees, build the Nineveh Peace Council…and in the midst of all the violence and war we are seeing, in Nineveh, in the world…they will work to help us find a path towards peace. Them. The people who have been most affected. They are the ones doing this.

And what I’m asking from you..my friend, my family, my colleague, someone who knows me and has linked to me here, is this: please help us tell this story to the world. Please blog about it. Comment about it. If you know someone who is a journalist – if you’re married to them, friends with them, if you are one, if you know someone who knows someone – whether it’s for a local paper, a radio station, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, CCTV, the Guardian, or any, any, any other, reach out to them, talk to them about this, help them know, realise, understand how incredibly important this is. If you wonder what can be done to stop terrorism, to stop war, to stop what we’ve seen happening in Belgium, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria, France, Turkey – this is it. This is an important and major part of it. This is people – practically, concretely – building peace.

And their story needs to be told.

And all of us need to know, there is a reason to hope – not just because it matters to, not just because we want to, but as a result of our choices and actions.

I’m asking you, I need your help: please help us get this story told.

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The Brussels Bombings: What We Can Do

 

In the face of the attacks in Brussels and Mosul, the wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, the attacks before in Paris, and what seems to be a constant barrage of incidents of violence, terror and war in so many parts of the world, many of us often feel powerless – left wondering what we can do and whether it will ever end or change. Many of us also – many, many millions and hundreds of millions – want and know that it must change – and that what is being done now, whether by governments or non-state actors like ISIS, isn’t the solution, but part of the problem we need to overcome.

Below are 10 actions we can do – short and long-term – to overcome the terror and war we are seeing – in Brussels, in Paris, in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere. There are 10. There are many, many more. We would invite you to add comments, suggestions, and additional ideas for action and practical steps. More than that: we would ask and invite you to join us and millions more, and work together to bring an end to cycles of war and violence intensifying rather than solving the very problems we need to address. PATRIR – the Romanian Peace Institute – is committed to practical action and work on the ground with our allies and partners in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen working to end the wars and violence in those countries, and practical action and work to engage governments and people in Europe, North America and elsewhere to change our own policies and actions which are both fuelling and part of the terror and war taking place in these countries and elsewhere. We know though that this can’t be done alone. That there are many amazing individuals, citizens, students, parents, journalists, artists, politicians, activists and others around the world who know that terror, war and violence as a response to terror, war and violence are not the solution but a continuing intensification and escalation of the problem. We know this – and so we are reaching out to you to see how we can do more together, and stop it.

10 Actions: Please share these broadly. This article may be reposted / reprinted. 

1. Campaign for a Ban on Weapons Trade & Sales to all countries in the Middle East and North Africa involved in funding wars and attacks on civilians in the area, including Saudia Arabia, Turkey, Iran, Israel and Egypt. Belgium has already led the way with a ban on weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. This should be built on and extended in including a total EU-wide ban;

2. Development of an active, robust international solidarity platform with the people of Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen working to end the wars in their countries – including direct / active campaigning within countries in Europe, North America, and through the Middle East and North Africa to end policies of our own engagement in, contribution to and escalation of wars in those countries. The response of tens of thousands of citizens across Europe to provide humanitarian aid and support is excellent – and needs to be increased. In addition to this though, we need to go several steps further and begin i. active and practical, real support to courageous citizens IN Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen working to end the wars in their countries; ii. engage IN OUR OWN COUNTRIES to change negative / violence and war escalating policies and actions which further feed into and fuel wars in the region – and which are themselves leading to wide-spread destruction and civilian casualties; iii. work actively to bring about real engagement at the diplomatic and political levels to bring about peace agreements in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq.

3. Citizens – and governments, media, and social, cultural, religious and other figures – can also do much more to put a narrative and practice of dialogue, celebration and respect for diversity and each other, and positively affirm the values and principles we believe in; and not leave the space principally or only to messages of ‘securitisation’, ‘terrorism’ or ‘us versus them’. This is not what most of us believe in. This is not what most of us want – in Belgium, in Europe, in North America…and in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere – but we need to be much more active, more creative, more…joyful, inspired, courageous in making that visible.

4. As part of 1, 2 and 3 above, it would be wonderful to hold forums in every major city and in schools and universities across Europe and internationally addressing exactly the issue of how do we address, respond to, and overcome the drivers, conditions and causes of intolerance, enemy images, and all extreme violence, terrorism and war – from states and non-state actors – across Europe, North America, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and more broadly. These ‘attacks’ are not happening just in Europe or the United States. European Governments and the US are ALSO themselves involved in carrying out attacks in Syria, in Iraq, in Libya, and in providing weapons for attacks in those countries and Yemen, responsible for killings tens of thousands of civilians in total. In the same way we had a global anti-apartheid movement to support the people of South Africa in the 1970s and 80s, in the same way we’ve built movements on environment, civil rights, women’s rights, and much more, we need a global movement now – and in all of our communities and countries – to transform how the world deals with conflicts, violence, war and “terrorism” – to end constant cycles of violence and policies and measures which are themselves violent and which escalate and intensify violence, and fail in any way to actually solve or address the real issues – and to bring forward real alternatives. It is our lives, our communities, our countries – all of us – that are affected, and it is time for us to change the policies and measures which are escalating this problem from all directions.

5. Creating a single web-site / web-platform which would bring together the best articles, analysis, speeches, videos, tutorials, and good information and sources that can help people ‘make sense’ of what’s happening and why, and also show what we can do – in our communities, internationally, together – and help people creatively share ideas, encourage action, inspire engagement, would also be an important step. There are SUPERB materials, videos, publications, articles out there, and a lot of good and great work being done, but all too often we’re simply not aware of it, or don’t know where we can find it or how we can get involved. A good, multi-lingual web-site which could be a resource for people in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, North America and more broadly would be a great platform to help support and catalyse efforts.

6. There’s also this summer a ‘Global Youth Rising’ gathering at which activists, movements, organisations and citizens passionately involved from across Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and all across Europe, North America and internationally are coming together for 10 days to look at what we can do in our own communities and countries and what we can do together globally to end these wars. People interested, passionate, engaged are welcome to come and be part of this (https://www.facebook.com/groups/GlobalYouthRising/). You can also help by helping to fund those coming from Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen to make their participation possible.

7. Another great step, in our communities, schools and universities, would be to organise a global week of action in which we foster and promote events, discussion, sharing, workshops and training on how to deal with the wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen; how to deal with our own countries’, militaries, and weapons companies’ contributions to these wars, and what we can do – as citizens, as students, as human beings – to help change these policies and end them.

8. Going further from this – it would be good to have an international forum before the end of 2016 to bring together organisations, activists, movements, peace workers to take our work on making all of this happen to another level.

9. And, for the immediate, medium and long-term: working to have peace education introduced as part of core curriculum into all of our schools and education systems world-wide.

10. A real challenge at this moment are also the ‘security’, ‘military’ and ‘academic’ experts, media and government officials, some / many of whom respond with ‘stock’ answers of increased securitisation, monitoring, restrictions on civil liberties and freedoms, and increased support for war and armed attacks in the region. Like hate speech and extremism everywhere, this should be actively challenged and not simply accepted as ‘expert’ advice – often by experts who have never been in the region, often promote quite extremist views, and who’s ‘recommendations’ have in many cases been proven time and time again to be the problem, not part of the solution.

We are not powerless. We are not alone. We do not have to sit back and feel that nothing can be done. We are each of us. We are all of us. We are many, different, beautiful and wonderful – in Syria, in Belgium, in Iraq, in France, in Libya, in the United States, in Yemen, in Italy, in….every home, school, office, community and country around the world.

We have as a species overcome incredible injustice, violence, tyranny and oppression in the past. Wherever there has been ‘wrong’ there have been those who with creativity, courage, love and passion have struggled to help overcome it and work for better. We can do this – with respect, with sound, intelligent, real solutions that actually address and solve problems rathe than making them worse. With action. Like marshalling our resources to respond to the outbreak of Ebola, we need to marshall our resources to respond to, overcome and transcend the war making, war intensifying, war fuelling policies of terrorist attacks – from airforces and suicide bombers, from politicians and ‘extremists’ of all shapes and stripes, whose answer to killing and war is killing and war.

This is the moment at which the candles we light…for New York, for Baghdad, for Paris, for Raqqa, for Misrata and Bengazi, for Ankara, for Sanaa, Mosul and Brussels, become lights that spread from heart to heart and mind to mind, and call us to rise, call us to stand, call us to have a dream and know that a world beyond war, hatred and violence is possible. Call us to act.

And not to stop, until we have changed and overcome this terror-war system. It can be stopped. It will be stopped. We are the ones who must stop it.

***
By Kai Brand-Jacobsen
Director, Department of Peace Operations (DPO) – PATRIR

Of Mosul and Brussels

In two days there have been bombings and death in two places close to my heart – Mosul and Brussels. In Mosul the university – used by ISIS as a headquarters but surrounded by residential areas – cafes and other areas were struck in what was described as a ‘massive daylight barrage’ of bombs dropped by the US-led coalition. In Brussels, as yet unidentified bombers carried out a suicide attack on the airport and bombing of the Maalbeek Metro station. At least 25 civilians were killed yesterday in Mosul, possibly (probably) many, many more. At least 13 people have been confirmed killed so far in Brussels. And all of these…are people who had families, who had mothers and fathers, friends, relatives, colleagues. They had hopes, dreams, fears. They woke up in the morning, and now they are dead. The point is the horror, the killing, on all sides, is wrong. ‘We’ can’t use ‘their terror’ to justify our bombing and mass killing, because ‘they’re’ also using ‘our’ killings to justify their bombings and indiscriminate killings. And who dies? People, dreams, hope, civility, all that is best in us. And in their place, a graveyard of bankrupt policies, escalation of fears, hate mongering, military expenditures, devastation, destruction. I much prefer the seed of life, than the sewage of hatred and violence. My heart, my mind, everything that I am…mourns..for the people in Brussels, for the people in Mosul. For those who have done the bombings – whether from state of the art planes we misspent millions or billions of dollars to create as instruments of death, or by strapping bombs around themselves and blowing themselves up. They weren’t born wanting to hurt, to kill. What did we do along the way, how did we fail them, to reach this moment. This is not something we can simply angrily blame on ‘them’. On ‘others’. ‘Them’ is ‘us’ if we were in that situation. Them is ‘us’ in our own governments and companies fuelling, funding, arming ‘that’ situation. ‘Them’ whether in a fighter plane or suicide vest is ‘us’, as long as we don’t unite and stop it. There is no christian, no muslim, no Iraqi or Belgium. There are human beings. Someone who woke up yesterday morning, or this morning, and won’t anymore. And the emptiness, the hole, the unspeakable sadness and pain for those who knew them, loved them, laughed with them, cared for them, at least some of whom may now want ‘them’ to suffer, to be bombed or killed for what they’ve done…and the cycle continues. Until we stop it.
Mosul. Brussels. Ankara. Raqqa. Sinjar. Paris. Not sites of bombings. Not sites of killings. Sites of…millions, millions of people. Of life. Of creativity, hope, diversity. Let us make them sites, and seeds, of change, so that no other cities, no other lives, will be added to this list.
*** This note may be reposted / shared further *** Please see also and share:
Brussels Explosion: We can do this. Not alone, but together”
We are working to build a global movement to overcome the policies, drivers, causes and dynamics fuelling war and violence in all their forms – in Mosul, in Brussels, globally. This summer there will be a Global Youth Rising international forum – gathering f0r 10 days, going in-depth into how to build and deepen our peacebuilding work globally, going into building a solidarity movement with the people of Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen working for peace in their countries; and for all of us, everywhere, to engage in real, meaningful change in our countries. You can find out more at:

Global Youth Rising
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Glo…


We don’t need to just accept what is happening. We can change it. You can help – by joining and helping to develop and build the global movement, and by helping to share and inform people about the global gathering this summer.

Brussels Explosion: We can do this. Not alone, but together.

Thinking this moment…of friends in Brussels, of friends in Iraq and Syria, in South Sudan and Mexico. Thinking of our deep need to overcome currents of anger, hatred and fear and systems of violence and war. Thinking, feeling, hoping friends in these places and more are safe, and knowing that it will not end as long as we pour fuel onto fire, as long as we respond with the very same weapons of violence that we ourselves are hurt and angered by; that it will not end until our ‘we’ is extended to include each other and not only us versus them. Brussels, like Syria, like Iraq, like Mexico, like South Sudan and so many other places, is a place of vibrance, of parents and children, of at least 200 people I know working in peacebuilding and for people’s rights and justice around the world, of people who wake up with hopes and dreams as well as fears and insecurities, of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, secularists, liberals, conservatives, socialists, communists, anarchists, bureaucrats, artists, journalists, street cleaners, guitar players, and so, so, so, so much more. It is a place of life. We’re not going to end the terror of violence – whether it comes from our soldiers, planes and missiles or other people’s bombs or corporations’ sales of weapons, unless we begin to deeply, fully, truly overcome our global war system, and the dynamics and drivers of hate, violence and war – within our own countries and internationally. This challenge is much, much more acute, intense now. Not ‘now’ today, but ‘now’ for more than a decade. We need the people of courage, of heart, of love, of determination, of vision, of passion, of humanity, of joy…who will work together, and together…transcend it. A better world is possible. It’s up to us to make it a reality. Not by hoping, not by aspiration, but by actual engagement and real choices. I’m thinking this moment, of friends in Brussels, friends in Iraq, Syria, South Sudan, Mexico and elsewhere, of my own children safe now at home, of so many children not safe in war zones, and I will recognise, witness, and honour this moment…by rising. We need to build a truly global movement to abolish war. We need to campaign actively to end arms sales to the MENA region and gradually take apart / abolish weapons companies. We need to introduce peace education into schools at all levels. We need to build upon the incredible, inspiring work that has been done in peacebuilding, especially in the last 10 years…and multiply it ten thousand fold. We can do this. Not alone, but together.
*** This note may be reposted / shared further however it may be helpful *** Please see also and share:

Of Mosul and Brussels
We are working to build a global movement to overcome the policies, drivers, causes and dynamics fuelling war and violence in all their forms – in Mosul, in Brussels, globally. This summer there will be a Global Youth Rising international forum – gathering f0r 10 days, going in-depth into how to build and deepen our peacebuilding work globally, going into building a solidarity movement with the people of Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen working for peace in their countries; and for all of us, everywhere, to engage in real, meaningful change in our countries. You can find out more at:

Global Youth Rising 2016 – July 10 – 20

We don’t need to just accept what is happening. We can change it. You can help – by joining and helping to develop and build the global movement, and by helping to share and inform people about the global gathering this summer.
Those who wish for peace