Global Crowdfunding Campaign: Please Help Support Youth Peaceworkers from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine

Personal Request for Your Support – from Kai Brand-Jacobsen, Director of the Department of Peace Operations (DPO) of PATRIR:
For Youth Peace Workers from Syria, Libya, Iraq, Yemen and Ukraine

Global Crowdfunding Campaign: Support Youth Peaceworkers from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine

Dear friends, colleagues and partners around the world,

We’ve launched a global crowdfunding campaign to raise support for amazing youth peace activists and peace workers from some of the worst war affected countries in the world today. These are young people working to stop the violence and killing in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine.

We’re trying to get support for them to take part in the 10-days International Youth Peace Forum: Global Youth Rising 2016, where they’ll receive deep training on concrete peacebuilding skills, be able to build alliances and learn together with others from around the world, and strengthen their vision, courage, confidence and abilities to work to overcome the drivers and impact of violence in their countries.

For many of us all over the world when we see what’s happening in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere we often feel powerless. We want to do something to help but we don’t know how. Here, we’re giving you a way. Even a small donation can be meaningful and make a major difference to the amazing activists and peace workers we’re trying to support.

Today there are over 300.000 children and youth in armed movements and conflicts world-wide. Over 30.000 have been recruited from 80 countries to fight for ISIS / Daesh. What we’re trying to do is something different: empower amazing and courageous individuals with the skills and tools to prevent war and violence, stop it when it’s happening, and help their countries and communities heal and recover after. To do this though, we need your help.

Please visit the “Empowering Young Peace Leaders” global crowdfunding campaign today and help make a difference the life of a courageous young peace builder – and for the future of their people and country. From $10 to $10000, every donation really does help. You can also help by sharing this appeal through your networks. It would mean a lot to us.

https://www.generosity.com/community-fundraising/empowering-young-peace-leaders/

I’ve spent 20 years working in peacebuilding around the world. I started myself internationally when I was 17. I know and believe in the power and importance of helping courageous young people in communities and countries affected by war to find a better way. Your support can help make that possible.

If you have questions or want to know more about the International Youth Peace Forum: Global Youth Rising 2016 and what you’d actually be supporting you can write to me directly at jacobsen@patrir.ro. You can also visit the website at www.globalyouthrising.org or join us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/GlobalYouthRising/

100% of all funds raised will go directly to making it possible for incredible and courageous activists and peaceworkers from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Ukraine and some incredible peace workers from other parts of the world to take part. If you have donated you can also let us know your preferences for where you’d like your support to go. We also give you the chance to meet together with those you’ve supported via skype or by phone, and to speak with some of the amazing peace workers taking part in the International Youth Peace Forum: Global Youth Rising 2016 as trainers, support, coaches and mobilisers. You can find out more about them by visiting and reading their bios at www.globalyouthrising.org

Thank you for your support. It makes a difference.

In peace,
Kai Frithjof Brand-Jacobsen
Director, Department of Peace Operations (DPO)
Peace Action, Training and Research Institute of Romania (PATRIR)

 

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

It is time to Unite. Honouring Deah Shaddy Barakat (23), Yusor Mohammad (21), Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha (19) #Iamhuman

It is time to Unite.

Please read this, share and comment.

Honouring Deah Shaddy Barakat (23), Yusor Mohammad (21), Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha (19)

On Tuesday Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha were shot and killed in the town of Chapel Hill in the United States. Deah and Yusor got married less than two months ago. All three are said to have been exceptionally bright, warm, committed people who worked in service to help improve the lives of others. Deah was involved in organising humanitarian support for Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Just Married 6 Weeks Ago
Just Married 6 Weeks Ago

In Chapel Hill and around the world there has been a tremendous outpouring of grief, support and solidarity for both families of those killed. There are people rising in Chapel Hill and across the United States…and around the world, to say: it is time. We need to stop the killing.

We need to stop the killing of ALL human beings – not to stop the killing of Christians or Muslims, of men or women, of “westerners”, “Arabs”, “French”, “Jews”, “Americans”, “Us”, or “Them”. We need to stop the killing…of all human beings.

Suzanne Barakat, Deah’s older sister, speaks beautifully of her beloved brother and Yusor and Razan. They lived beautiful lives, and they had all the possibility of the future ahead of them.

Sisters
Sisters

Their lives were cut short by violence. They were executed with shots to the head. On the same day (Tuesday, February 10) 28 people including Deah, Yusor and Razan were killed by gun violence – murdered – in the United States. Since January 1 2015 1,410 people have been murdered/killed with guns in the US, including 62 children (the youngest a few months old, the oldest 11) and 212 teenagers (between 12 – 17 years old). There have been 25 mass shootings / killings, and 229 ‘accidental shootings’ including one in which a 2 year old child killed his mother while handling her gun in a store.

Here is a truth: if this had been done by a foreign ‘organisation’ or a disease the entire country would be demanding action and mobilising to confront it. It wasn’t. It was done by people in the United States themselves, overwhelmingly by men.

In Syria, Libya, Iraq, the Congo, Mexico, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Ukraine and elsewhere thousands more have died. Have been murdered. Often by our own governments – military – police. Often by organisations claiming to fight for a belief.

Now…I am writing to you. I am writing to you and to each and all of us, and together with millions more around the world, I am saying: It is time for us to mobilise. It is time for us to unite. It is time for us to recruit one another – not to join ISIS, not to join an army, a militia, or police. Not to go out and kill in the name of religion, defence, belief, truth or justice. It is time for us to unite, to mobilise, to recruit each other to say: enough.

It is time for us to end armed violence and war.

In memory and to honour Deah, Yusor and Razan – to honour the thousands more killed around the world – to honour every mother, every father, every daughter, son and child – it is time for us to stop the violence and stop the killing.

There are moments when people think of those who have inspired them. When people think about the lives of Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. and so many others and think what they did was extraordinary. We see those who stood up for what they knew was needed and necessary, and who did so with vision, love, compassion, dedication, courage…and the very best of our humanity. We see them and we feel moved and inspired.

This is one of those times, but it is not a Gandhi or a King called upon to ‘rise’ or to mobilise and inspire us. It is ourselves.

Here is another truth. As a human being, I cried this morning as I listend to Suzanne speak of her brother; as I thought about him, his wife and her sister, and even the man – Craig Stephen Hicks – who killed them.Craig Stephen Hicks and his wife at Disney As I thought about people living in the United States and other war zones around the world whose lives are cut short by a psychotic system, institutionalisation and acceptance of violence which is a disease that, like other diseases – can be ended and cured.

So here is my pledge. Here is my commitment.

To the families of Deah, Yusor and Razan I want to send more than my condolences. I want to say thank you – for the beauty of your family members. For how they lived their lives and who they were, which is an inspiration for all who are learning of them.

More than that: I want to dedicate myself to the growing global movement to end and abolish war and armed violence. The movement of millions rising.

And I want to ask you to join as well.

It is time. It is time for us to unite. It is time to abolish war. That is my pledge. That is my commitment.

In honour and memory, and celebration of the lives of Deah Shaddy Barakat (23), Yusor Mohammad (21), Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha (19). Presente. You will not be forgotten, and we will continue in the service in which you dedicated your lives – to create a better world for every human being; a world in which every single person has the right and opportunity to feel loved, to be safe, to be whole, to be unafraid. To live.

I am asking you to help us together make that world a reality.

‪#‎Iamhuman‬

‪#‎timetoabolishwar‬ ‪#‎unite2endviolence‬ ‪#‎stopwar‬ ‪#‎endwar‬ ‪#‎endviolencenow‬
‪#‎ubuntu‬

To see the interview of

Suzanne Barakat talking to Anderson Cooper about Chapel Hill Shooting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rVLYyfn8XY

Happy New Year…and something much, much more

Rise

Happy New Year…and something much, much more

I would like to wish you a happy new year – to you, your family, friends and loved ones; but I would also like to wish you and ask of you something much more. It is important to live your life to your full potential. To laugh, to love, to sing, to dance, to breathe, to make mistakes, to admit mistakes, to say thank you, to say sorry, to fall, and get back up again. It’s important to be happy. What I want to ask of you is something still more than that too. I want to ask you to realise that your life matters. That it matters, and it matters more than just finding personal happiness or the happiness of your friends, your children, your family. That is important, yes, but it is not – contrary to what we so often promote and hear – everything. It is important, and so is remembering that we live on and in the world…a world of extraordinary, breathtaking and sensual beauty and wonder…and a world in need. Harvey Milk used to begin each of his speeches with the line “I want to recruit you”. And yes: I want to recruit you. I want us to recruit each other. I want to ask you to do more than celebrate this new year and make personal resolutions that you wish to follow, pursue, achieve to make your life better. I want to ask you to organise, to engage, to take part, to actively make yourself aware, to care. I want to ask you to breathe…to breathe deeply…to taste, cherish and experience the life that fills your lungs…and to choose to do something that actually matters with that life. To say yes – I am alive, I am on this world, and I’m going to do something about it – something that matters. I will not stand by while injustice, exploitation, war, violence, and discrimination continue. I will not stand by while this year as in so many past years millions of people around the world live in refugee camps. I will not stand by or simply drink my champagne to welcome in the new year while there are human being living on the streets or in shanty towns. I will not simply toast, kiss or smile at beautiful firework displays while billions are in poverty while some can drink champagne. I will choose to be more than that. To do more than that.

We have a global economic system that brings tremendous achievements in many ways and is fundamentally perverse, dysfunctional and destructive in far more. We have autocrats, oligarchs and in many cases systemically dysfunctional governance – or misgovernance – systems that do not create the basic parameters and foundations of opportunity and well-being for all..and often sustain tremendous barriers to that well-being and opportunity for most. Systems which fundamentally do not support the extraordinary potential of our species, or respect the extraordinary beauty and sanctity of life of other species.

We live in perhaps the greatest age ever (so far) of creative, innovative, technological and productive capabilities…while billions of human beings live with little – or without – basic dignity, security and necessities of life. We live in a world where (to paraphrase former President and commander-in-chief Dwight D. Eisenhower) we are spending not only the genius of our scientists and wealth and capacity of our societies investing trillions of dollars a year in weapons and war, but we are hanging humanity by an iron cross.

You should be happy. We all should. We should relish in the greater freedom we have than any previous period on earth to choose our paths, dreams and preferences in life. That happiness should itself be part of a life truly lived, and a life AWARE that we cannot take, celebrate or pursue our own personal pleasure, joy, nirvana, bliss and serenity if we are in a world where billions live without, and where war and violence are all too rampant…and in some cases escalating.

No president, no parent, no priest, guru or leader is more important than you, or than any of us. Experts don’t always have the answer. Decisions are not always taken or made in our best interests or the best interests of those around us. That’s why it matters that we take part, get involved, and make certain that the decisions made are those we believe in and want to see – for ourselves, our communities, for the world.

Your life matters. This moment in the world matters. You matter. For much, much more. You…we…can do something to make a difference. Not a small difference. Not helping one or two people – which is absolutely important – but the difference of helping and changing the lives of billions, and protecting this magnificent earth and world we live on.

So yes…this ‘new year’ I want to do something more than to wish you a happy new year. I want to ask you to rise – to become active (or if we already are, to become much, much more active), to discuss, to train, to learn, to get involved and stand up – to take a stand – to say ‘pasta’, no, to what you know is wrong and unacceptable, and to open your lives, our lives, to the incredible number of yeses there are in this amazing world.

In the coming years, there will be a growing movement of millions…of hundreds of millions…working in many diverse ways, but uniting to assist us to realise our potential, and to throw away, discard and overcome outdated, dysfunctional, destructive systems. There will be a movement that will build on the history of past movements – of civil rights, women’s rights, human rights, anti-colonialism, environmental, and so many more movements. It will be a movement of diversity and pluriversity. Of celebrating difference, and connection. That movement is already here, but it…we…will grow.

Arundhati Roy once said “Another world is coming, and, if you listen closely, you can hear her breathing.” If you listen even more closely, you can discover…she is already here, living inside of you…and the choices you make.

Your life, this moment, the year and the moments ahead…matter. So what I wish, what I ask of you, what I ask of myself, is that you rise, we rise, and we continue to rise, until another world…is here.