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Rohingya: On the Brink of Genocide – Combating Extremism

Photo Credit: Kevin Frayer | Getty Images

Dear Friends:

The photos are heart-wrenching. In one, a woman embraces the lifeless body of a toddler. In another, a teary-eyed young boy holds out his hand, desperate for food. These are the faces of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority community in Myanmar—now facing ethnic cleansing. Maybe you’ve seen their faces in the news:

Persecuted by Buddhist extremists for decades, the Rohingya are also part of one of the largest refugee communities in the United States.

That is why, for this month’s installment of Combating Extremism, we invite you to learn more about the Rohingya and to start a conversation in your community about extremism and this crisis:

The Rohingya Crisis is a stark reminder that extremism touches people from all religions. By combating extremism anywhere, we combat extremism everywhere.

In solidarity,

Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO

P.S.: If you want to support the Rohingya, here is a list of organizations taking action.

P.P.S.: And if you want to support Tanenbaum’s work in bringing clarity to these complex issues, please donate here.

Peacemakers in Action Network: A Model for the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention

Photo Credit: KAICIID

Photo Credit: KAICIID

Last month, the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention co-convened the “Forum on the Role of Religious Leaders in Preventing Incitement that could Lead to Atrocity Crimes.” The major outcome from the forum was a “Plan of Action for the Prevention of Incitement to Violence that could lead to Atrocity Crimes.” The Plan of Action is a draft document that will be revised and finalized during five regional meetings set to take place during the next year; and a “Declaration will be adopted at a plenary meeting of religious leaders” in 2016.

Eight major areas of consideration were highlighted in the plan – many of which are already being done by Tanenbaum and our Peacemakers: 1) “Monitoring” incitement to violence that could lead to atrocity crimes; 2) Developing, speaking out, and circulating “alternative” messages to counter incitement and hate speech (Tanenbaum Peacemakers do this!); 3) Engaging in dialogue with the speakers and the potential audience; 4) Developing and revising education, curricula and capacity building (Tanenbaum’s education program does this!); 5) Engaging in or strengthening inter-religious and intra-religious dialogue and activities; 6) Engaging in dialogue on grievances; 7) Strengthening clarity of thinking and of message (Tanenbaum is a thought leader on the issues that fuel extremism); and 8) Engaging with political leaders (Tanenbaum Peacemakers often do this).

The Plan of Action also referenced several additional focal points , including the “mapping and networking of religious leaders who actively work to prevent or counter incitement that can lead to atrocity crimes around the world.” At Tanenbaum, we believe the UN and its partners have a model to reference and further explore in Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers in Action Network.  Why not start where successes are happening – by learning about the religious Peacemakers already in action and having a powerful impact as they work together around the globe?

For well over fifteen years, Tanenbaum has identified religiously motivated Peacemakers working in areas of armed conflict, whose lives and liberty have been at risk in pursuit of peace. Thirty courageous Peacemakers with diverse experiences of conflict from 23 countries have been recognized for their peace work with the Peacemakers in Action Award. Convened every two years to share knowledge, successful practices and the common bond of their faith-driven work, the Peacemakers formalized their Network in 2011.

As a Network facilitated by Tanenbaum, the Peacemakers communicate regularly and even travel to each other’s homelands to work together to help build peace. Later this month, two Nigerian Peacemakers, Pastor James Wuye and Imam Muhammad Ashafa, will join their fellow Peacemaker, Dishani Jayaweera, in Sri Lanka to train religious leaders from different faith traditions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Christianity). Already well-known in Sri Lanka for their work in Kaduna state, Pastor James and Imam Ashafa will serve as inspirations, models and experienced Peacemakers to Sri Lankans hoping to bring lasting peace to a country still recovering from a decades-old conflict.

As the United Nations Office on Genocide Prevention smartly prepares to utilize a resource – religious leaders/actors – sorely underutilized in creating the conditions for a more peaceful world, Adama Dieng, UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, should strongly consider the Peacemakers in Action Network as a model for its efforts to map and network religious actors actively working to prevent or counter incitement that can lead to atrocity crimes around the world.

Peacemakers in Action Media Update, July-September 2011

Check out the latest media coverage of some of Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers.

Benny Giay, West Papua Indonesia

Benny tells us in emails that the situation in West Papua is precarious. Civilians are shot every day, and he is investigating the death of a pastor who was shot in August. He is busy preparing a peace framework to integrate into the Christian education programs at his church. He is also negotiating with the Indonesian police and security officials, trying to mediate the conflict with the Papuan independence movement.
 
Read this article for more information about the conflict in West Papua, and to read about Benny’s concerns for the security of his church and his own personal safety.
 
 
Betty Bigombe, Uganda

Betty’s plate is full as the woman MP of Amuru district and Minister of Water for Uganda. Click the links below to read about her actions on some of the most recent issues for her ministry and her district.
 
Two new profiles of Betty’s work negotiating peace with the LRA are also available online. You can read more in the links below.
 
 
Chencho Alas, El Salvador
 
Chencho’s work with the Foundation for Sustainability and Peacemaking in Mesoamerica has been focusing on Honduras lately, where tensions have simmered since the coup in 2009 and a land dispute has escalated violently. Read more about the current situation at the New York Times.
 
You can also follow all the latest news from Chencho at his new blog.
 
 
Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, South Africa
 
Nozizwe and her NGO, Embrace Dignity, forge a new approach to ending prostitution and sex trafficking in South Africa, challenging both the pro-legalization lobby and the “moral right.”
 
 
Rabbi Menachem Froman, Israel/Palestine
 
Read about the July housing protests in Israel, and hear Rabbi Froman’s thoughts in this article and video.
 
Rabbi Froman visits Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, at the end of Ramadan and states his support for Palestine’s bid for statehood with the United Nations.
See a photo of Rabbi Froman with Abbas here:
 
After a mosque in a West Bank community was burned in retaliation for the demolition of several Jewish homes, Rabbi Froman visits the community to condemn the retaliation and call for peace. He is joined by members of Eretz Shalom, a settlers’ peace movement. Find the article and video below.
 
Check out the video below for Rabbi Froman’s thoughts on numerous issues facing Israel and Palestine today.
 
 
Canon Andrew White, Iraq
 
Andrew recently returned to Iraq from Beirut, where the High Council of Religious Leaders held another conference. Participants reaffirmed their commitments to achieving peace through dialogue, rather than military efforts. FRRME hopes that these talks will build the momentum for grassroots dialogues, and increase the sense of unity in Iraq. Challenges still remain, however, and just days after the conference, 22 Shia pilgrims were killed in an apparently sectarian attack.
 
GodTV, a Christian television channel, recently spent time with Andrew and his church, St. Georges. Check out the special they produced online.
 
Andrew was also interviewed for Christianity Today and the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Read about those interviews below.
 
 
 
Sakena Yacoobi, Afghanistan
 
Check out these recent videos of Sakena. First, hear her address the World Forum Foundation, on her work in Afghanistan and the effect of poverty on children. Then, listen to her acceptance speech at the Enterprising Women Hall of Fame induction, giving her perspective as a businesswoman.
World Forum Foundation – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UIt2NNrK3UE

Enterprising Woman – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_B396BjNoc&feature=related