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

Living Peace – Statement from the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates

LIVING PEACE
Final Statement
Living Peace Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates
Nothing is as antagonistic to peace as the human mind without love, compassion, and reverence for life and nature. Nothing is as noble as the human being who chooses to bring love and compassion into action.

This year we honor the legacy of Nelson Mandela. He exemplified the principles for which the Nobel Peace Prize is granted and serves as a timeless example of a truth he lived. As he himself said: “love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

He had many reasons to give up hope, even to hate, but he chose love in action. It is a choice we can all make.

We are saddened by the fact that we were not able to honor Nelson Mandela and his fellow Peace Laureates in Cape Town this year because of the refusal of the South African government to grant a visa to H.H. the Dalai Lama to enable him to attend the planned Summit in Cape Town. The 14th Summit, which was moved to Rome, has nevertheless permitted us to consider South Africa’s unique experience in showing that even the most intractable disputes can be resolved peacefully through civic activism and negotiation.

As Nobel Peace Laureates we bear witness that – as has happened in South Africa during the past 25 years – change for the common good can be achieved. Many of us have faced guns and overcome fear with a commitment to live with and for peace.

Peace thrives where governance protects the vulnerable, where the rule of law brings justice and the treasure of human rights, where harmony with the natural world is achieved, and where the benefits of tolerance and diversity are fully realized.

Violence has many faces: prejudice and fanaticism, racism and xenophobia, ignorance and shortsightedness, injustice, gross inequalities of wealth and opportunity, oppression of women and children, forced labor and slavery, terrorism, and war.

Many people feel powerless and suffer in cynicism, selfishness, and apathy. There is a cure: when individuals commit to caring for others with kindness and compassion, they change and they are able to make changes for peace in the world.

It is a universal personal rule: We must treat others as we wish to be treated. Nations, also, must treat other nations as they wish to be treated. When they don’t, chaos and violence follow. When they do, stability and peace are obtained.

We decry the continued reliance on violence as a primary means of addressing differences. There are no military solutions to Syria, Congo, South Sudan, Ukraine, Iraq, Palestine/Israel, Kashmir and other conflicts.

One of the greatest threats to peace is the continuing view of some great powers that they can achieve their goals through military force. This perspective is creating new crisis today. If left unchecked this tendency will inevitably lead to increased military confrontation and to a new more dangerous Cold War.

We are gravely concerned about the danger of war – including nuclear war – between large states. This threat is now greater than at any time since the Cold War.

We urge your attention to the annexed letter from President Mikhail Gorbachev.

Militarism has cost the world over 1.7 trillion dollars this past year. It deprives the poor of urgently needed resources for development and protection of the earth’s ecosystem and adds to the likelihood of war with all its attendant suffering.

No creed, no religious belief should be perverted to justify gross violations of human rights or the abuse of women and children. Terrorists are terrorists. Fanaticism in the guise of religion will be more easily contained and eliminated when justice is pursued for the poor, and when diplomacy and cooperation are practiced amongst the most powerful nations.

10,000,000 people are stateless today. We support the campaign of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to end statelessness within ten years as well as its efforts to alleviate the suffering of over 50,000,000 displaced persons.

The current wave of violence against women and girls and the perpetration of sexual violence in conflict by armed groups and military regimes further violates women’s human rights, and makes it impossible for them to realize their goals of education, freedom of movement, peace and justice. We call for full implementation of all UN resolutions addressing women, peace and security and political will by national governments to do so.

Protecting Global Commons

No nation can be secure when the climate, oceans, and rainforests are at risk. Climate change is already leading to radical changes in food production, extreme events, rising sea levels, the intensity of weather patterns, and is increasing the likelihood of pandemics.

We call for a strong international agreement to protect the climate in Paris in 2015.

Poverty and Sustainable Development

It is unacceptable that over 2 billion people live on less than $2.00 per day. Countries must adopt well-known practical solutions to eliminate the injustice of poverty. They must support the successful completion of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We urge adoption of the recommendations of the High Level Panel of Eminent Persons.

A first step to ending the oppression of dictatorships would be the rejection by banks of money arising from their corruption as well as constraints on their travel.

The rights of children must become part of every government’s agenda. We call for universal ratification and application of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The widening jobs gap needs to be, and can be, bridged and credible action must be undertaken to give the millions of new labor market entrants a viable job. An effective social floor can be designed in every country to eliminate the worst forms of deprivation. People need to be empowered to claim their social and democratic rights and achieve sufficient control over their own destinies.

Nuclear Disarmament

There are over 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world today. As the recent 3rd International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons concluded: the impact of the use of just one is unacceptable. A mere 100 would lower the earth’s temperature by over 1 degree Celsius for at least ten years, causing massive disruption of global food production and putting 2 billion people at risk of starvation. If we fail to prevent nuclear war, all of our other efforts to secure peace and justice will be for naught. We need to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.

Meeting in Rome, we commend Pope Francis’ recent call for nuclear weapons to be “banned once and for all”. We welcome the pledge by the Austrian government “to identify and pursue effective measures to fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and “to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal”.

We urge all states to commence negotiations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons at the earliest possible time, and subsequently to conclude the negotiations within two years. This will fulfill existing obligations enshrined in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which will be reviewed in May of 2015, and the unanimous ruling of the International Court of Justice. Negotiations should be open to all states and blockable by none. The 70th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 2015 highlights the urgency of ending the threat of these weapons.

Conventional Weapons

We support the call for a pre-emptive ban on fully autonomous weapons (killer robots) – weapons that would be able to select and attack targets without human intervention. We must prevent this new form of inhumane warfare.

We urge an immediate halt to the use of indiscriminate weapons and call on all states to join and fully comply with the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

We commend the entry into force of the Arms Trade Treaty and urge all states to join the Treaty.

Our Call

We call upon religious, business, civic leaders, parliaments and all persons of good will to work with us to realize these principles and polices.

Human values that honor life, human rights and security, are needed more than ever to guide nations. No matter what nations do every individual can make a difference. Nelson Mandela lived peace from a lonely jail cell, reminding us that we must never ignore the most important place where peace must be alive — within the heart of each one of us. It is from that place that everything, even nations, can be changed for the good.

We urge wide distribution and study of the Charter for A World Without Violence adopted by the 8th Nobel Peace Laureate Summit in Rome 2007.

*********

Attached hereto is an important communication from President Mikhail Gorbachev. He was unable to join us in Rome due to health concerns. He is the founder of the Nobel Peace Laureate Summits and we urge your attention to this wise intervention:

Mikhail Gorbachev’s Letter to Participants in the Nobel Laureates Forum

Dear friends,

I am very sorry I am unable to participate in our meeting but also happy that, true to our common tradition, you have gathered in Rome to make the voice of Nobel Laureates heard around the world.

Today, I feel great concern at the state of European and world affairs.

The world is going through a time of troubles. The conflict that has flared up in Europe is threatening its stability and undermining its capacity to play a positive role in the world. The events in the Middle East are taking an increasingly dangerous turn. There are smoldering or potential conflicts in other regions as well while the growing global challenges of security, poverty and environmental decay are not being properly addressed.

Policy-makers are not responding to the new realities of the global world. We have been witnessing a catastrophic loss of trust in international relations. Judging by statements of representatives of major powers, they are preparing for a long-term confrontation.

We must do all we can to reverse these dangerous trends. We need new, substantive ideas and proposals that would help the current generation of political leaders to overcome the severe crisis of international relations, restore normal dialogue, and create the institutions and mechanisms that fit the needs of today’s world.

I have recently put forward proposals that could help step back from the brink of a new cold war and begin restoring trust in international affairs. In essence, I propose the following:
• to finally start implementing the Minsk Agreements for resolving the Ukrainian crisis;
• to reduce the intensity of polemics and mutual accusations;
• to agree on steps to prevent the humanitarian catastrophe and rebuild the regions affected by the conflict;
• to hold negotiations on strengthening the institutions and mechanisms of security in Europe;
• to re-energize common efforts to address global challenges and threats.

I am convinced that each Nobel Laureate can make a contribution to overcoming the current dangerous situation and returning to the path of peace and cooperation.

I wish you success and hope for to see you.

This statement reflects the general consensus of the deliberations of Nobel Peace Laureates and Nobel Peace Laureate organizations gathered at the 2014 Rome Summit but does not necessarily bind any particular participant. For example, some organizations, such as the IPCC, by their constitution cannot endorse specific policy proposals.

* Participants in the Summit were the Dalai Lama, President Jose Ramon Horta, Lord David Trimble, Betty Williams, Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakkol Karman, Mairead Maguire and twelve Nobel Peace Laureate organizations: American Friends Service Committee, Amnesty International, European Commission, International Campaign to Ban Landmines, International Labour Organization, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, International Peace Bureau, International Physicians for the Prevention of War, Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and the United Nations.

On Hamas, Hatred, Killing Civilians and Demonisation: It Must Stop Now

One of the central aspects of the latest round of violence and war in Israel and Palestine for very many (media, analysts, human beings around the world) is the continuing assertion that Hamas is the one who started the violence with the firing of rockets into Israel. The problem is: that isn’t true. The Israeli Defence Forces had begun carrying out attacks and arrests prior to the (most recent) launching of rockets by Hamas. Three Israeli teenagers had been killed prior to the launchings. A Palestinian teenager had been beaten and then burned to death. There are charts showing the death tolls in which you will see Palestinians — Palestinian civilians — being killed every week in the weeks and months leading up to the rocket attacks.

So here is to me what is essential: ALL acts of violence and armed aggression in Israel and Palestine DO NOT aid the cause of self-defence or create security and freedom for Israel and/or Palestine. They are bankrupt and defective strategies and the actions of the IDF, Hamas, and others – and any group using violence. Killing of civilians is in no case ‘collateral damage’ or ‘unintended consequences’ that can be blamed on the actions of the ‘other’ side -holding them responsible and blaming them for the ‘consequences’ of OUR ‘legitimate acts’ — whether being waged for ‘self-defence’ (of either side) or to ‘end occupation’. The one who does the act is in every case (also) directly responsible – and the violence on ALL sides must be stopped.

Academics, journalists, analysts, and all people involved, however, must have the responsibility to stop the gross/foolish and unbalanced act of ‘blaming’ the “evilness/psycopathy/wrongness” of Hamas who ‘started’ the war and “cares about nothing but death” and “exterminating Israelis/Jews”. Let me make my own position clear: I DO NOT AGREE with Hamas, and yes: I know the tactics they are doing/using worsen the occupation and further war, hatred and violence. Let me also make this position clear: I DO NOT AGREE with the Israeli government and IDF, and yes: I know the tactics they are doing/using worsen the occupation and further war, hatred and violence.

Any honest, balanced person of any knowledge and understanding of the situation, of any integrity, is well aware: there are no more “fanatics” on the Palestinian ‘side’ than on the Israeli ‘side’. To the incredible sadness and shame of all of us, you can find examples across both of people calling for the complete death-killing-extermination of the other. This is, sadly, one of the realities and results of decades of war, violence, occupation and fuelling hatred and demonisation of the other across ALL sides. And to anyone who says or cites examples about just how horribly this is done by the ‘other’ side, or references statements or messages from their ‘leaders’ or civilians, academics, activists or others to show how horrible, horrifying and outrageous it is, and doesn’t also cite examples from their own side or the side they ‘support’: this is prejudiced/biased. I have been to Israel and Palestine too many times to be ignorant or prejudiced enough to not be aware that there are copious and overwhelming examples of this from both sides. I have also been to Israel and Palestine enough times to have seen and come to love, admire, celebrate and respect the incredible humanity, beauty, integrity, courage of so, so, so many people on both sides – of two peoples with such extraordinary histories of perseverance, of surviving persecution, of experiencing and living through what know people, know human beings should ever live through. Of two peoples who, were it not for the history of violence, war and occupation, and were we to transcend and end the violence war and occupation, would be extraordinary comrades, colleagues, lovers, friends. The poetry, religion, history, philosophy, and richness and beauty of life of both peoples is simply…breathtaking. One of the reasons why so many people fall in love with them. Unfortunately – when exposed to ‘one’, we often then take part ourselves in feeling the outrage and demonisation/condemnation of the other.

So to be clear: To see this only from one side requires active, wilful blindness/ignorance, and to perpetuate messages/stories that one side is calling for the extermination/killing of the other without recognising there are far too large numbers of people – including in government, military, and senior leadership, media, and academic positions – on all sides doing the same, to take part in delegitimising, condemning and ‘vilifying/dehumanising’ one group without recognising that acts which are killing civilians and ideologies/philosophies/beliefs that the other must die are being promoted across all sides, promotes and continues the violence/war. It contributes to the very thing you – each of us – wants to end / overcome.

Any Israeli or supporter of Israel who denounces Hamas or any Palestinian, Palestinian leader, supporters of Palestine or others for promoting those messages must also address messages by senior members of the Israeli government, cabinet, Knesset as well as media, academics and public who do the same.

Any Palestinian or supporter of Palestine who denounces Israel, the Israeli government, or Israeli leadership and citizens or supporters of Israel for promoting those messages must also address messages by Palestinians, Hamas and supporters of Palestine who do the same. Any one who loves the people of Palestine and/or the people of Israel, who is able with your eyes, your mind, your heart to understand and sympathise with their struggle – of either or both peoples – should stop for a moment, should breathe, reflect, and recognise the incredible beauty, courage, wisdom, richness, and heroism of the ‘other’ as well, and how bankrupt, wrong, futile and destructive ALL violence, dehumanisation, and one-sided presentations of the conflict/war/violence/occupation are too ALL.

The “logic” (or insanity) of violence/war/killing produces this. The logic of demonisation, dehumanisation, and creating false caricatures of absolutely ‘evil’ enemies produces this. It is time for us to all STOP IT, and make it stop. Look at Hamas’ demands for a ceasefire. Treat it as a rational, logical actor – because it is. The clear reality is: they are all legitimate demands. Look at members of Hamas, or members of the IDF, or settlers, or Fatah members, or young children, or peace activists, or any single human being in Israel and Palestine, or any single human being active, involved in, caring about, acting on, demonstrating about this issue around the global: for each, for ABSOLUTELY EACH AND EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM, there are aspects of what they want, need, feel that are ABSOLUTELY LEGITIMATE. There are also aspects – far, far too many aspects – of hatred, misunderstanding, use of violence, willingness to do against the ‘other’ what we would not accept ourselves – that we need to overcome and stop.

The truth is: if I was in Israel as a young Israeli man I would far too likely have joined the IDF and be taking part in the war and occupation. If I was in Gaza as a young Palestinian man I would far too likely have joined Hamas and be taking part in the war and resistance to occupation. I would like to believe that I would have the courage, integrity, strength, wisdom, to be one of those who’s refused to take part in the IDF, or one of those who’s refused to take part in Hamas. Many, many Israelis and Palestinians have. If I was even more hopeful, I would like to believe I would have the courage to be one of those Israelis and Palestinians working to overcome the hatred, violence, demonisation and dehumanisation on all sides, and to work for a real, just, lasting peace based upon recognition, dignity, respect, freedom and security FOR EVERY SINGLE PALESTINIAN AND ISRAELI. For every single human being.

I would like to believe I would have that courage, but I will not be naive, insulting or foolish enough to claim that I know what I would do faced with the incredible brutality, propaganda wars, and history of broken promises and demonisation of the other on all sides. That is why I have such profound respect for those people in Israel and Palestine who are rising for peace; and why I wish those of us around the world coming to simplistic conclusions or furthering/promoting demonisation and dehumanisation of any one side, would demand from ourselves greater integrity and wisdom.

The simplistic, unacceptable and continued denunciation of Hamas OR the IDF, of Palestinians OR Israelis, or of ANY actor/group/institution in Palestine and Israel is part of what fuels the war/violence/occupation and continues hatred and demonisation. People need to draw upon their integrity, honest, and courage to go beyond this.

 

To state it very clearly: I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT SUPPORT the use of violence by Hamas. I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT SUPPORT the use of violence by the IDF. And I am too well informed, and have too much honesty and integrity, to be able to condemn/denounce either one and support the other as a ‘legitimate’ response/reaction to/defense against the actions of the other. I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT SUPPORT THE USE OF VIOLENCE BY ANY GROUP IN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE and the continued funding, support for and provision of weapons to any of these groups. I therefore call for a total boycott, disinvestment and sanctions on all weapons, weapons transfers, and acts of violence in Palestine and Israel, and call for a total outreach, dialogue, engagement and reaching out to ALL people of Palestine and Israel, including both those I sympathise with, and those whose actions go against any and everything I can understand.

The use of violence:

– is not furthering the cause of independence and ending occupation. It is continuing the occupation and the division, fears and hatred it stands upon;

– is not contributing to or achieving self defence. It is continuing, fuelling, escalating and intensifying the realities of hatred, division, fears and conflicts;

Any and every time we take part in being ‘baffled’, ‘shocked’, ‘outraged’ at the ‘inhumanity’ of one – either – side willing to stand by or call for the use violence against the ‘other’, or to legitimise the violence and ‘response’ of either: we are directly pulling the trigger that is killing someone in Palestine and Israel, we are firing the rocket, we are kidnapping three teenagers; we are beating to death or burning a 15 year old boy. Every time you do that, you are feeding into and fuelling the division, misunderstanding, propaganda, myths that enable the violence to continue. We need, all of us, to stop it. We need, all of us, to find something better. To find the courage and humanity within us to recognise the courage and humanity within every single human being in Palestine and Israel, and call for an end to all of the violence, all of the war, all of the occupation NOW – and for peace, security, recognition and freedom for every single Palestinian and Israeli, not only those we sympathise with and support.

With deep respect and appreciation, In sadness, solidarity, determination, commitment, and open to listening to any one who things I’m radically wrong or mistaken, or anyone who wishes to add their own voice and vision, or/and to anyone who wishes to join together and engage in building a true peace movement for real peace, dignity and security and ending the occupation for ALL the people of Palestine and Israel, KaiNot in My Name

Letter to the Movement / Citizens of Romania (#1): “Why an ‘open space’ web-site / platform would help the movement”

Letter to the Movement / Citizens of Romania (#1):

“Why an ‘open space’ web-site / platform would help the movement”

Call to Global Action for Romania and Rosia Montana: Sunday, September 15
Call to Global Action for Romania and Rosia Montana: Sunday, September 15

 

Dear Friends –

 

The movement is growing but we are in a moment where our ability to share information effectively, to help get our message out, to help support people in becoming involved, in seeing or imagining themselves how they can contribute, and enabling good, easy communication between activists and engaged citizens across Romania and internationally really matters.

 

AT THE MOMENT we have been using Facebook very effectively and we havewww.rosiamontana.org as a main reference site. Thousands of activists and concerned citizens supporting the movement have felt and are expressing the need for something more. This Letter #1 seeks to: 1. Identify the need; 2. Share some ideas that could help us address it; 3. Ask YOU specifically if you can help create this site / platform to support Salvati Rosia Montana.

 

1. THE NEED, THE OPPORTUNITY, WHAT WOULD HELP

 

Four key things have been identified for a site that would profoundly help the movement. It could be:

 

i. A place where great documents, materials, pamphlets, posters can all be collected and put together so that people can find them easily and not have to search across many pages on FB. This should include: in Romanian, Hungarian, English, French, German, Spanish to start, and possibly also other languages if people can translate (there are many people able and willing to support the movement with this, so if we have a site up this could be managed easily and much more rapidly and effectively then we’re having it done now).

 

ii. A place where people can easily and openly communicate and share together on different topics / lines that can help build the movement. Some people might want to discuss and share ideas on ‘strategy & actions’ (how to develop the movement further and in a healthy direction). Others might want to share and have a space / forum they can discuss and exchange together on:

 

– how to reach out to and involve more people in the movement

– how to positively and constructively engage media and journalists 1. in Romania and 2. Internationally

– using arts, music, theatre and dance in your community / city to inspire and engage people for ‘Romania with dignity, jobs and self-respect’ or ‘Salvati Rosia Montana’

– research & materials development (to help write/develop great materials and to collect superb publications, reports, analysis and materials out there)

– coordination groups/action groups/discussion groups for different towns/cities so people can discuss and share information to help them organise

– and any other possible topics that would be relevant for people to be discussing and sharing on

 

These should be ‘open forum’/ ‘open space’ with people able to share and post ideas and discuss them together, and where people could ‘click’ support for ideas to show those they feel really resonate or could help the movement. These ‘on-line’ forums should also be complemented with on-site forums in each town/city/area. This technology is pretty easy, and has been developed for many movements and citizens’ engagements.

 

iii. A place where we can very easily upload information on ‘activities’ and ‘events’ taking place so people can ‘at a glance’ find what’s happening in their city, town, community, and also be inspired by what’s being done elsewhere

 

iv. A place where we can load great photos, videos, do it yourself guides, etc.

 

PHILOSOPHY / CORE IDEA AND HOW IT COULD HELP THE MOVEMENT

 

A) What’s important to be clear is: the idea is not to create a site which would ‘tell’ people what to do (a top-down organisation). The exact opposite. The site would be a ‘PLATFORM’: an enabling ‘space’ where people can come together and discuss more easily, and have a ‘one-stop’ source of information and useful materials to help to make it easier (and more effective) for them to get involved – and to be a democratic space where we can share information, ideas, inspiration, and discuss together.

 

B) A key philosophy and pillar of strategic thinking behind this is that: we need to support our ability to reach out to our broader societies, many of whom do not use the internet. The point isn’t to ‘put all our focus on a site’, but to create an ‘enabling space’ where it makes it easier for us to i. find what we need instantly and ii. share our ideas, successes, challenges and find support with each other.

 

C) This is important because: there are literally thousands of people asking ‘how can I get involved’ and a space like this could bring great information, inspiration and examples which i. they could use or ii. could inspire them to develop their own ideas. Having good materials gathered together (and available in several languages), will also overcome the difficulty that hundreds of people are asking ‘where can I get good information on this’ because media or potential supporters want it (there are some excellent materials already gathered on rosiamontana.org and other sites but they are all ‘static’ and depending on someone uploading them. A platform/open space site could be built to enable people/activists to upload great information directly – decentralising, democratising, and making it much faster and more effective).

 

2. HOW COULD IT BE DONE?

 

It could either be done by developing / enhancing the existing www.rosiamontana.org or by creating a solidarity / complementary site, closely connected, but that would be designed as a forum / platform model (using wiki technologies or building from easy to use platforms such as ning sites such as the Peace and Collaborative Development Network (PCDN) – which provides an easy to use platform/basis for people to add information, connect and link together, create different forums/discussion/work groups, post ideas, share videos, pictures, etc. and make it easy to find everything:http://www.internationalpeaceandconflict.org/)

 

I know absolutely nothing about site development and how to do this, but I know that Romania is one of the leading IT countries in the world and I know that there are hundreds of people supporting Salvati Rosia Montana who could help the movement but setting something like this up overnight.

 

It would be helpful though to not create 20 different sites like this and to duplicate efforts. If there are people / designers / programmers who can create something like this, it would be good if they: 1. Communicate together; 2. Create an ‘action group’ that takes it upon themselves to create this

 

SO

 

3. CAN YOU DO THIS? Or DO YOU KNOW SOMEONE WHO CAN?

The last two weeks have seen an amazing ‘rising up’. A breathing. A finding of dignity, courage, hope, passion, joy, dedication, determination and engagement. From the history of movements and ‘eruptions’ around the world though, we know this can far too easily collapse as well. RMGC/Gabriel Resources Ltd has extremely bright, capable, dedicated people committed to putting forward a project which will make their shareholders rich and be devastating for the country – and for those who need jobs in the region, as there are much better economic alternatives that can help create sustainable, real jobs and use the gold/wealth in Rosia Montana to support the people in the area and the country, not a misleading foreign corporation. To move forward..to build a real movement that will be dynamic, vibrant, and able to GROW; to build a movement that will be successful; to build a movement that will build upon all of the amazing energy, inspiration, creativity and passion that has come forth…we need to help put in place some of the ‘support’ foundations that can help with that. This is a ‘Do it Yourself’ (DIY) / ‘Do it Together’ (DIT) movement. There’s no person guiding, leading, or with the time, energy or capacity to do everything that’s needed to help it, to make it succeed. It’s a movement that needs: YOU.

 

If you have the skills, technology, understanding/knowledge to be able to set a site like this up and/or help create the site (or host it or whatever else is needed): please step up. If not: if you know a friend or friends who can, please speak to them. If you are an IT site designer/creator or a web-company that does this, you can also help out by quickly getting it set up – and then helping to improve it as needed.

 

In solidarity

 

#rosiamontana

#salvatirosiamontana

#romaniarising

Roşia Montană: Romania Rising

ImageAn Interview by Diana Campean for Revista Bulevard (http://revistabulevard.ro) with Kai Brand-Jacobsen, Canadian-Norwegian-British by background, and now ‘adopted’ by Romania.

[This interview is currently being translated into Romanian and will be published shortly on http://revistabulevard.ro]

Mr. Brand-Jacobsen works as the Director of the Department of Peace Operations (DPO) of PATRIR – the Peace Action, Training and Research Institute of Romania (www.patrir.ro). He has experience working in mediation and peace processes, violence and war prevention, and post-war recovery and reconciliation, as well as training, strategy and organization of civic engagement and nonviolent actions around the world. He is an advisor to governments, UN agencies and missions, and civil society organizations, and is passionate about Romania – a country he calls home.

 

I see that you are very engaged now on the issue of Roşia Montană. Tell me, what’s your opinion about what’s happening right now with Roşia Montană?

 

I think at this point it’s essentially about two issues: a community’s, and a people’s demand for dignity, and to be treated with respect; and a country and people around the world standing up for the environment. To tell you the truth – what’s happening now in Roşia Montană and across Romania is beautiful. In Bucharest, Cluj, Timisoara, Iasi, Baia Mara and cities, towns and villages across the country, citizens of Romania are getting involved and standing up for their country, for themselves, and for each other. People are taking part in demonstrations, celebrations, concerts, workshops, writing articles, discussing and sharing together. There’s a new energy, a new spirit to the engagement. What you feel everywhere is a sense of commitment, a sense of solidarity, and most of all a sense of hope and confidence. And they’re not alone. There have also been solidarity demonstrations and events all across Europe and around the world, and many politicians across the EU are stating their concerns and opposition to the RMGC project.

What’s happening now in Roşia Montană, in Romania, is at it’s heart about the fundamental desire of people in Romania to have good governance, to hold politicians accountable, and to do away with decades of abuse, corruption, bad governance and broken promises. It’s also a sign of change. People aren’t simply complaining anymore. They’ve gone beyond pessimism and cynicism, and are instead asking and discovering themselves what they can do and how they can get involved.

It’s about all Romanians – every grandparent, every entrepreneur, artist, student, worker, teacher, doctor, journalist and even every politician…about every citizen in this country, asking ourselves: what type of country do we want to live in? How do we want to be treated and to treat each other? What do we want for the future of our country?

Good governance, environmental protection, and economic development don’t just happen, especially in a context of often substantial corruption and bad or misgovernment. But they can happen, from people becoming involved, standing up for what’s important, and being part of shaping what they want for the future of their country. That’s what’s happening now in Roşia Montană and across Romania.

 

What’s your position about this project, about people vs. politicians’ reactions?

 

I’m skeptical of the project. I’m not against mining. Anyone who uses computers, phones or other products would be hypocritical if they were to say they’re against all mining. I do, however, believe 1. That we need to dramatically improve the environmental standards of how mining is done; and 2. That when mining is implemented, the resources and profit should principally benefit the population of the area and the country. In the case of this project, I believe the track record of RMGC and Gabriel Resources Ltd. in Romania over the past 10+ years has involved too much dishonesty, lying to the Romanian population, manipulation and disinformation, and fuelling bad governance and corruption. I can understand and have profound sympathy for the many people and families in Roşia Montană who want the project. And this is the reality. Many families there do want the project. They want it because it promises them jobs, opportunities, and a better standard of life. I think this is a challenge we need to honestly engage and address. It’s also a challenge that affects much of Romania, particularly the countryside, and not just Roşia Montană. There is a profound need to develop a real, robust plan for improving standards of living, infrastructure, and social, cultural and economic, employment opportunities across Romania’s rural areas. The RMGC project though is not the answer. If a country with a responsible record, from Romania or internationally, and practicing good practice, sustainable mining techniques wants to engage in cooperation with the local population and national government, and with integrity and the highest standards, this should be supported. This company has not done that.

I don’t think though that it should be about ‘people’ vs. ‘politicians’. Politicians are elected by people. They are, or should be, the servants of the country, doing a service that should be honoured and respected. Today unfortunately that’s not always the case, though there are many wonderful politicians and public servants across the country that are doing their best. I think sometimes there are differences because people have different, legitimate points of view. It’s hard to see how to best address the challenges of economic development, overcoming poverty, creating jobs, and protecting the environment. When there are legitimate differences based on legitimate points of view, we need dialogue, mutual respect, and collaborative leadership. A reality today though is that too much of our political class is, effectively, corrupt, dishonest, abusive and incompetent, and does not act in the best interests of their constituents and the country.

Politics though isn’t just about voting. It’s about the life of the community, the country, what type of society we want, and the decisions and actions we take to create it. Today, real politics in Romania is happening in people’s lives, and in the streets and piatas of the country where these demonstrations are taking place.

 

You followed the demonstrations. What do you think about Romanians’ protests? Are they doing it right?

What I saw on Sunday and in the lead up to the demonstration was powerfully inspiring. I think Romanians across the country and internationally, if they saw the demonstrations, spoke with those involved, take the time to know why people are coming out onto the streets – they would be proud. What we’re seeing now is a creative use of social media to mobilize and engage people. People across the country discussing and engaging their friends and colleagues. Coordinated efforts to reach out to and engage the media to provide better and proper, honest coverage and reporting of what’s taking place. In some areas we’re seeing musicians getting involved. On Sunday in Cluj you could see entire families, grandparents, people walking their dogs, pregnant mothers and parents with their babies. This is definitely a very good, and very beautiful way of protesting, because it’s a way that’s fundamentally built on creating a respectful, inclusive space where all the citizens of this country can take part. Together with this, workshops, discussions and events are being organized in many towns and cities across the country.

The dedication, commitment, courage and integrity of those who’ve been involved in the Save Roşia Montană campaign in Romania for more than 10 years now has been an inspiration to many across the country. As more and more people become involved in the coming days, I think it’s important to take the time for dialogues – to listen to people’s questions, concerns and their opinions, and talk to each other to engage more and more people. If we’re saying we want a better Romania, a Romania with good governance, with respect and dignity – we need to also manifest that in the way we’re engaging. For example, I think it would be wonderful to reach out to teachers and professors and encourage them to hold ‘dialogues’ and discussions in their classes, so that students and the new generations of Romanians are deeply thinking about and engaging on these issues. It would also be good for national media to hold public dialogues – respectfully – with those supporting and those opposing the project, and giving space for informed discussion so that people in the country can form their opinions.

I would also strongly encourage those engaged in the movement or those concerned with what’s happening in Roşia Montană to:

be creative. What’s happening now in Romania is extraordinary and beautiful. This is a wonderfully creative country. Let’s use the arts, music, theatre, and creative forms of expression to reach out to and inspire people.

use our government. Whatever we think about the government and political system in Romania, it should – it needs – to be there to serve us. Romanians all across the country should be speaking to their local city halls, elected authorities and prefectura to get them to oppose the project, and should be writing to their representatives in Bucharest and to their MEPs to state their opposition

be visible. The demonstrations are important moments to come together and show an incredible democratic unity and engagement. It would also be great to stores to put up signs in support of Roşia Montană, to put posters and pictures in our windows, on our cars. Let’s encourage engagement and celebration of this incredible movement across the country.

In other demonstrations and democratic movements around the world we’ve also seen the importance of organizing workshops and training programmes which create a space to bring people together, create links, inspiration, and improve peoples skills for democratic organization and participation. Modeling what people want to see (as I wrote above) is also very important. If we’re saying we want to be treated with respect, we should treat others with respect, even if we don’t agree with their policies or approaches.

I can only respect and appreciate the engagement and dedication that we’re seeing across the country – and do all I can to engage and support it, as someone who considers Romania home, and believes in the beauty and potential of this country.

I know that you’ve been involved in what’s happening with citizens’ risings in other countries like Turkey and Brazil. Can you compare this with what these things that are happening right now means for Romania?

I’m a firm believe in the importance of solidarity and learning from people’s movements and struggles around the world. What we’ve seen in Turkey and Brazil are expressions of the deep challenges and contradictions those countries are facing and going through right now – just as Roşia Montană is an expression of these in Romania. Some of the things we can learn from these movements – from both their success and challenges – include:

–       generate hope and inspiration, and help people identify with what’s happening. People become involved when they feel there’s something worth becoming involved for.

–       Unite people – don’t demonize. One of the major challenges in Turkey and Egypt today is the deep polarization and seeing anyone who doesn’t agree with you as an ‘enemy’ or ‘terrorist’. This often happens in Romania and around the issue of Roşia Montană as well, with insulting, demonizing or belittling those who don’t have the same opinion. I think Roşia Montană and Romania deserve and need better. We can stand up for what we believe in while treating every human being with dignity and respect.

–       Fundamentally – it’s about coming up with real solutions to real challenges. Demonstrations can be sustained from a while. From days to weeks to even years. At the end of the day though – there are also significant, real challenges and contradictions facing the country. We need to find the way to mobilize the intelligence, capacity, and engagement of the people of Romania to address these. The politicians have shown for the last 20+ years that they can’t. At least not on their own. It’s also not only their job. It’s a job for all of us.

Like Brazil, Turkey and many other countries, what’s happening now in Romania is fundamentally about governance and how we, as a society, as human beings, want to live – to be treated and to treat each other. It also links with the global movements we’ve seen around Occupy over the past two years. This is an incredible moment in the world. In the face of economic crisis, of increasing gaps between the rich and poor, of escalation of wars and violence by a few countries, people – every day people – are saying they want something better. They’re rejecting pessimism and the message that there’s nothing they can do except surrender to the interests of corporations and abusive elites, and celebrating our amazing capacity as a species to create, to innovate, to solve problems. We can definitely compare – even if the situations in each country are quite distinct – and, more than that, we can learn from and support each other.

What do you think Romanian people who are against RMGC project should do?

 

Stand up. Get involved. Raise your voices. Have the courage to take part. Join the demonstrations. And more than that – bring your neighbours, your friends, your colleagues. Especially that section of society that reads Boulevard, that travels to Greece and across Europe and internationally for holidays, that has relatively good jobs or believes in art, creativity, good cooking, design…come out and join the rest of your country! Harbouring hopes for a better future in our hearts and reading about it in magazines is wonderful. This is a time when you can do more and you should expect more from yourself. Harvey Milk, an amazing human being, campaigner and politician from the United States used to start every speech saying, “I’m here to recruit you”. What’s happening now, this moment, is here to ‘recruit’ every Romanian, everyone who lives in this country, to stand up, get involved, and allow yourself…for one moment, for a life time…to hope, and to be part of making something better.

 

In our first interview, you told me that you would like to see in Romania a movement of masses, with the entire population standing up and becoming involved for what they love. I would like to think that this is happening now. Not with all the people, but thousands. What do you think?

I agree. In part that’s exactly what’s happening now. This movement, this becoming involved, won’t happen just in one moment or one place or one issue. It will happen in thousands and thousands of moments across the country. It’s taking place in schools when teachers are doing their best to educate and inspire. It’s taking place every time a journalist sits down to really write about what’s happening in the country, and to inform and encourage people to take part. It happens when people are coming together, discussing, standing up for their rights, creating, making something better. At the heart of the movement around Roşia Montană isn’t just saying ‘no’ to what people oppose and reject – bad governance, corruption, an abusive company. No. At the heart of what’s happening today around Roşia Montană, across Romania, is an extraordinary, wonderful, inspiring yes! To hope. To self-confidence. To solidarity. To mutual respect. To knowing that it is possible to be the change, and to make what you really love and believe in come true. This is what’s happening today in Romania.

Thank you!

Note: Together with many thousands of others across the country Kai Brand-Jacobsen is involved in promoting and encouraging people to take part in a day of action and celebration on Sunday, September 8th. Events will be taking place all across Romania and around the world (https://www.facebook.com/events/175025629350851/?notif_t=plan_user_joined). The aim is to bring more than 100.000 people out into the streets of Romania in a celebration of the country and in support of Roşia Montană. If you’re in a town, city or village where an event is happening come take part. If you don’t know of anything planned in your area, perhaps you can help to organize something.

If Gandhi were alive today, using the methods of contemporary NGOs

GANDHI[Written in early 1999]

If we were to take the operationalisation, functioning and approach of modern day NGOs and impose them upon Gandhi and the struggle for swaraj (‘home-rule’) in India we would have a movement and campaign which would be neither a movement, nor a campaign.

Rather than swadeshi (‘self-reliance’) and sarvodaya (‘welfare for all’), nourished by a subsistence economy and way of living it would have been donor dependent, relying upon funds attained either from abroad, or from the government and ruling elites (through foundations, etc.; therefore, a Gandhi relying upon funding from the colonial authorities or British aristocracy for his struggle for independence from those authorities, or dependent upon other external governments funding the swaraj movement for their own aims and ends).

It would have been project-based, with little or no long-term thinking and strategic planning, with demand for immediate, short-term results/‘output’, and an evaluating committee to judge whether the output from the project was worth the investment.  The projects themselves would be developed at the headquarters of the organisation, or initiated following suggestions or changed donor focus from abroad.

“Beneficiaries” and “target groups”, those whose lives the projects are intended to improve, would be identified (in that order, with identification of “beneficiaries” and “target groups” following development of the project, rather than vice versa).  Each initiative would demand a logo or bill-board identifying the foreign supporter or agency providing funding to it.

Ashram’s would be identified with whichever development agency or NGO had made their creation ‘possible’, the result of ‘assistance’ and ‘intervention’ by foreign or foreign-trained engineers, NGO workers, and others importing material and designs for the construction of the homes and schools.

Food would not be grown locally, but provided through aid, increasing or decreasing depending upon the harvests in Europe and North America.  What local production of food there is would have to be changed to accord to the latest guidelines and scientific methods of agricultural production, including genetically modified crops, herbicides, pesticides, etc., and other techniques developed in universities, research institutes, and laboratories in the First World.  Agricultural tools would have to be imported or given as tied-aid, replacing wooden tools and instruments with tractors and modern machinery.

The Young India would be published with appropriate reference to “generous support from….”, and would receive funding only upon the condition that it was not seen to be to critical, radical, or in any way questioning or threatening the over-all interests of those providing “support” (therefore, if funding were to be received from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office or from the colonial authority, the paper and its articles could not be seen to be critical to Britain or the colonial authority).

To strengthen their chances of success and the work for democratisation and human rights, foreign trainers would be brought in, and Gandhi and other Indians would be brought to universities and training centres in Great Britain and other parts of Europe and North America, to receive the same wonderful education in governance, democracy, human rights, civil liberties and freedom, as those governing in the name of the empire, preparing them, on a micro-level, to repeat la mission civilisatrice and to carry the white man’s burden within their own communities and villages.

The spinning wheel, and home-spun cloth would be replaced with factories and manufacturing to strengthen “social development,” ‘improving the living-standards of the poor,’ and incorporating them into the global economy.

And India, would still be a part of the Empire today.