It is time: Manchester & Syria

As we stand united against terrorism, let us also unite against the UK-backed US airstrikes that have killed 225 civilians this month in Syria. Terrorism is terrorism is terrorism, whether carried out by ‘lone attackers’, terrorist networks, or tax-payer funded uniformed institutions carrying out war crimes against civilians.

It is time, past time, for a global movement of citizens and governments united to overcome all forms of terrorism, war and state-sponsored organised violence and weapons sales. At the end of World War I we launched the League of Nations. At the end of World War II we launched the United Nations. Today we need an equal response – a united surge forward by citizens and governments – to turn back the tide of the insanity of militarism and violent extremism by state and non-state actors. In the week in which we’ve seen agreement on the largest weapons sale in recent times to Saudi Arabia – a country escalating war, violence and instability and fuelling and funding terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East; and the attack in Manchester; we – ALL of us – can and need to do more.

Many people still haven’t heard about the field of peacebuilding. It’s a field that has developed an incredible breadth and depth of knowledge of proven and effective tools that help to prevent violence, end wars, and support recovery, reconciliation and healing afterwards. It’s a field where we know ‘choices’ matter: whether we choose to invest in war or intelligent and effective approaches to addressing and preventing violence; whether we choose to rally to leaders promoting obscene militarism and fear or whether we discover within ourselves the resolution, intelligence, humanity and courage to find real, practical, needed solutions. We have had and have the women’s movement overcoming incredible odds and opposition to wage the struggle for women’s rights. We have had and have the environmental movement struggling to overcome destructive and rapacious practices devastating our earth and life systems. It is time, it is past time, for a new, powerful, resolute, inspired, creative, courageous, committed, dedicated peace movement: one that will actively wage peace, resist, blockade and actively prevent the insanity and mutually assured destructiveness of militarism and terrorism; and one that will evolve the brilliant, possible, practical and real solutions to help us address the actual drivers, conditions and causes of terrorism and violence.

It is our time. Citizens, organisations, governments, businesses. Our capacity for innovation, for ‘solving’ broken systems, for reaching out to each other across artificial and unneeded dividing lines – is part of the extraordinary beauty of what it means to be human.

It is our time to rise. It is our time to abolish militarism, terrorism and war.

United beyond hate, beyond fear, beyond terror, beyond violence. Humanity is more than that. It is up to all of us to rise and overcome all forms of violence, war and terror. We stand with Manchester, with Raqqa, Mosul, Baghdad and everywhere – in any city, village or home – where women, men, girls and boys are experiencing violence, war and terror; whether from an individual entering a stadium, or state institutions dropping bombs from the air.

No child, no daughter, no father, no mother, no son, no uncle, aunt, friend or stranger should ever have their life taken, ever be injured, ever experience or know the terror of violence and war. Not in a stadium. Not in our homes. Not in our schools or cities.

It is within our grasp to transcend the terror of violence.
That is our power as humanity – united.

#timetoabolishwar #militarismterrorism #globalpeacemovement#uniteforpeace #rise

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

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

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

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

Global Youth Rising 2016 – July 10 – 20

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

21 Things you can do for Romania and Rosia Montana

A letter to all the people of Romania – at home and abroad. To journalists, lawyers, judges, police officers, students, artists, civil society, civil servants, unions, workers, grandparents, children, teachers. To all Romanians who dream of a better future and those who are getting involved to build it. To those who’ve given up hope and those who are discovering it. To anyone who’s ever wanted, ever dreamed, of something better for yourself, for your family, for your country. To every Romanian, every human being, who wants dignity, life, joy, creativity, opportunity…and a better tomorrow.

21 Things you can do for Romania and Rosia Montana

Saturday September 1st saw one of the most dynamic, creative and encouraging celebrations of Romania and Romanian citizens’ engagement for our country. In cities, towns and villages across Romania people came out to stand up for ourselves and the country – to say no to RMGC and Gabriel Resources pillaging of Romania and hold the government to account. Above all, we demanded to be treated with dignity and affirmed that the people of Romania are taking control back into our own hands (control of our lives, control of the country, control of our future).

Next week, on Sunday September 8, the demonstrations and events and activities across the country will be even larger. Many tens of thousands, across Romania and internationally, will take part in one of the most extraordinary acts of celebration, hope and solidarity Romania has seen for years – possibly in our life times. Whatever you’re background, whatever has made you care and feel you should get involved, here are…. ideas which might help you see what you can do – and how you can be part of making a better future for Romania.

1.    Inform yourself about what’s really going on

You deserve to know the truth and be able to form your own opinion. It can be difficult sometimes to get accurate, good quality information on what’s happening in Rosia Montana, especially since too much of Romania’s own media is not covering it and doing their job to ensure Romanians are well informed. Fortunately there are a lot of great posts on FB and great sites, and several international media writing more on what’s happening. Check out these sources. Beware though that some international sources are citing incorrect information, like CNN and Reuter’s saying that Romania will get 75% of the profit. It won’t. Instead Romania will get a tiny portion of the profit which won’t come close to countering the environmental destruction and waste the project will create, or the corruption and bad governance the project has fuelled the past 10 years and more.

2. Share what you’re learning and what you think with others

Just as important as informing yourself is helping to share that information and inform others. Most people in Romania don’t feel entirely comfortable with what’s happening in Rosia Montana. Because of the company’s falsification and misrepresentation over the last many years, many Romanian’s have received a lot of incorrect information. Take the time to discuss with others and share your thoughts and opinions together. One of the most important things we need to build a better future for Romania is to take the time to listen and discuss with each other, to get involved, and inform each other about what’s really happening – and what we really want. It’s not only about complaining about ‘how bad’ things are. It’s about really talking things through, and focusing on what we can do and getting involved. Don’t be afraid to state your opinion and to engage your friends, family, neighbours, colleagues and any one else you talk to. We need everybody to get involved, and you have the power to help convince and inspire people to.

3. Know what you feel comfortable with

There are many different ways of getting involved to make a change – and make your voice count. The list below contains many of them. You might come up with your own ideas as well. The most important thing: find what feels right for you, but get involved. Whether it’s writing a song, sharing information on Facebook, writing to your Member of Parliament, donating to support the campaign, painting signs, organising a discussion with others in your community – whatever works for you, but find someway of ‘standing up’ and taking part, and, if you can – come join the demonstration / celebration of dignity and for a better Romania on September 8th all over the country.

4.    Take part in the Demonstration and Celebration of Dignity on September 8th

September 1st demonstrations and celebrations all across Romania and internationally inspired many. Grandparents, students, business people, artists, lawyers, journalists, activists, and many, many more came out to take part. You could see people walking their dogs, entire families out together, pregnant woman with signs over their wombs that their babies want a better future to be born into (and not one where cyanide is used for mining!). The demonstrations / celebrations on September 8th though will be much, much larger…and even more fun! And these really are celebrations. They’re about us – all of us – making a choice for something better, and coming together to make it happen. On the 1st people spoke about the fantastic energy, the courage, and the inspiration they felt. People taking part knew why they were there. They’d made the choice that they wouldn’t sit back. On September 8th there will be many thousands more joining in even larger events and activities. If you’re in a town or city where these are being organised – come take part! If there isn’t something organised yet in your town, city or village, talk with your friends and others and help organise an event there.

There are many more ideas. Here are 10 more quickly:

5.  write to your Member of Parliament and Member of the European Parliament (MEP). They are elected by us and they’re there to serve us. Let them know how you feel and call for them to oppose the project and evict RMGC and Gabriel Resources from Romania.

6.  Put up a ‘Salvati Rosia Montana’ (Save Rosia Montana) sign on the window of your house or apartment, on your car, wherever you can. Make it visible. Soon you’ll see tens of thousands of apartments, houses, cars across the country with the same sign.

7.  Use art – painting, drawing, design: create pictures, posters, messages for Sunday September 8th. Be colourful and creative. Help inspire people with your messages and get more and more people out.

8.  If you know journalists…talk to them, write to them, have them invite you on their shows or interview you. Get them to cover what’s happening and practice professional and responsible journalism by informing people correctly.

9.  If you are a journalist…use your skill and profession to ensure people in Romania are well informed and have the facts and information they need to make their own decisions. Don’t censor yourself or misrepresent the story. Do your job well so that you and all you know can be proud of you. You have an important responsibility, and you know you can do it.

10.  Organise ‘discussion cafes’ and events to share information. If you work with an NGO, if you’re a student, or whatever background you might have, arrange events in cafes, at the university, in your organisation or local town or city hall. Use whatever spaces are available to you. Organise discussions to inform people and help get them involved. The decision about what happens in Rosia Montana isn’t up to the ‘government’. The government is there to serve us. It’s up to you, to all of us. Let’s get together and take that decision to stop the destruction of Rosia Montana, and demand dignity and good governance for Romania.

11.  Write articles and posts about what’s happening: Send your opinion in to your local newspapers and media. Call in to radio programmes. Write posts on Facebook or opinion pieces for newspapers and publications.

12.  Make a beautiful sign for ‘Salvati Rosia Montana’ and stand outside in a public place, announcing the demonstration / celebration for dignity on Sunday, September 8

13.  Write a song, sing it, record yourself, put it on Facebook, and use your music to get people to believe in themselves and come out and take part

14.  Write a song, sing it at a local café, park, pub, public space, and inspire even more people to get involved

15.  Talk to your parents, your boyfriend, girlfriend, children, grandparents, friends, neighbours and get them to take part

16.  Make a t-shirt in support of the September 8th demonstration and wear it through the coming week

17.  If you’re part of an organisation, try to get them to publicly support the Save Rosia Montana campaign and Romanian’s call for dignity and good governance

18.  If you’re an artist or celebrity in Romania, raise your voice – use your ability to inspire and encourage people to get involved

19.  For local authorities and city halls across the country: pass resolutions in support of the Save Rosia Montana campaign

20. For student organisations: inform your members, arrange workshops and discussions, and encourage people to come out and join the demonstration/celebrations

21.  Believe…in yourself, in each other, in the fact that you – we – can make a better future for Romania, and we’re getting involved to do that.

These are just a few ideas. There are many more. Be creative. Think of what you can do. Reach out to and involve friends, family, neighbours. Take part – and years from now you’ll know you did what you could and you got involved, and were part of the change creating a better future for your family, your friends, your children and loved ones. For Romania.

Dignity begins in Rosia Montana.

Dignity begins in your choice to get involved.

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