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

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I Need Your Help: Asking You To Support Emerging Peace Leaders

Support Emerging Peace Leaders:
What you can do to make a difference in 4 people’s lives, and in the world 

Dearest friends, family and colleagues around the world –
I need to ask for your help to make a difference in 4 peoples lives and their countries

I am writing to ask you for help. As many of you know I have recently taken up the role of Co-Leader of Hacettepe University Peace & Conflict Studies Global Peace Institute. There we are creating what is an exceptional MA (masters) programme to truly and deeply train, inspire, educate and empower people from all over the world with the skills, knowledge, capabilities and confidence they need to make a difference – in their communities, their countries and globally. We have an incredible student body – people coming from many different backgrounds, including from deeply war affected countries, and united by their common commitment and dedication. 

We are now trying to make it possible for four remarkable individuals: Sarwat Sharif and Aftab Ahmad from Pakistan, Shakila Enayatzade from Afghanistan, and Georgiana Mariana Rus from Romania to join us for the coming academic year beginning now in January. These four individuals are receiving ‘Future Leaders Scholarships’ from the University, but we still need to raise funds to support their living, accommodation and travel.

[To support directly click here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/support-emerging-peace-leaders/x/9643078#home%5D

Sarwat, Aftab and Shakila are coming from countries deeply affected and wracked by war and violence. Billions of dollars have been spent in equipping and training people for war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are…I am…asking for your help to raise a few thousands Euros to support Sarwat, Aftab, Shakila and Georgiana to spend one year getting one of the best graduate degrees in the world in peacebuilding, so they can make a real and meaningful difference in their communities and countries, in the world.

Fantastic 4 Thank you

You might be able to donate 5 Euros / dollars / pounds. You might be able to cover the entire costs for one or all four of them. You might know someone who can help, or be able to hold a bake sale, car wash, raise funds at your school or company to help them. For all four to cover all costs for their degrees for 1 year we need about 24.000 Euros in total. The rest we are providing from the university.

I need to raise these funds in 1 week for them to be able to come take part in time. I’d like to ask you to share this with anyone you know who may be able to help, and to get back to me directly at jacobsen@peaceoperations.org if you can.

I believe in Sarwat, Aftab, Shakila and Georgiana, and I believe we can make a difference. It’s time to say: we’re tired of the continual war and violence and use of violence fuelled by so many from heads of state to outraged groups. I want to believe in something better. I want to do something better. I want to help support and enable those who will make a difference in their countries and the world to be trained in peacebuilding.

Please – help us by donating directly even if just a few dollars / euros / pounds / yen or any currency, or as much as you’re able, and by forwarding this as broadly as you can through your networks, to friends, family, colleagues and others. This will make a difference, but we need you to help make it happen.

I’m asking you to help us change the world, and to change the lives of these four people by making this possible for them.

Thank you…for helping to make this possible, and for helping us to do something concrete and real to make a difference in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and in the world.

Emerging Peace Leaders: A Permanent Campaign You Can Help Succeed!

At the same time, this campaign is about much more than just raising support for Sarwat Sharif and Aftab Ahmad from Pakistan, Shakila Enayatzade from Afghanistan, and Georgiana Mariana Rus from Romania – though that alone would be an entirely worthy and important cause. We’ve decided to make this a permanent scholarship to support emerging peace leaders from around the world to take part in the Hacettepe University Peace & Conflict Studies international MA – quickly becoming one of the best in the world for people truly dedicated to learning how to DO peacebuilding in practice – in their communities, their countries and internationally. 

The scholarship will be dedicated to supporting extraordinary people: people of courage, people of dedication, people of inspiration, passion and commitment – people working to make a change in their communities, in their countries – often in deeply challenging and difficult circumstances. It will go to women working in their communities to overcome and prevent violent against women. It will go to youth and elders in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere working to inspire, mobilise and encourage people to unite to end the violence in their countries, to reach out across divisions, to rise for peace and stop the wars affecting their people. It will go to people in Israel-Palestine, Cyprus, the Congo and elsewhere bringing people together from ‘across’ conflict parties to go through their MAs together and build the trust, confidence, mutual understanding and real skill and commitment they need to support effective peacebuilding. It will go to people in Mexico, South Africa, Nigeria, the United States and other countries deeply affected by armed violence and help them study concretely proven and effective methods for reducing and preventing armed violence.

It will go…to people who are rising to do what is necessary and make a difference in this world. To people…being the change we need to see. And we’re asking you to be part of this.

Whether you can help by donating 5 $ or Euros or 5000 or 50.000, or by sharing this further through your networks, or by joining and reposting/sharing updates and information – or organising a car wash, bake sale, school fundraising, dinner with friends who come together to support…whatever you can do…you can do something. You can help, and make an opportunity that will change people’s lives and support peacebuilding in their countries possible. And for that…we thank you. I thank you.

In peace, in dedication,
Kai Frithjof Brand-Jacobsen

Co-Leader, Hacettepe International MA in Peace and Conflict Studies and Head of Peace Operations & Integral Development; and Director, Department of Peace Operations

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/support-emerging-peace-leaders/x/9643078#home

To Join the Support Emerging Peace Leaders Facebook Community go to:

https://www.facebook.com/SupportEmergingPeaceLeaders

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.