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Taking South Africa’s Peace Movement to Honduras

What do South Africa and Honduras have in common? Quite a lot if you ask Tanenbaum Peacemakers in Action Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, a former parliamentarian in South Africa, and José “Chencho” Alas, a lifelong El Salvadorian peacebuilder. The Peacemakers realized the similarities between their countries in 2011, when Chencho invited Nozizwe to Central America to work with a group of peace activists seeking to restore justice and democracy in Honduras. There, Nozizwe led trainings and shared about South Africa’s experience with reconciliation and democratic transition after Apartheid.

After seeing that the challenges facing Hondurans resemble those during the Apartheid years, Nozizwe invited Chencho to Cape Town to garner support from the African National Congress (ANC). As you read this, Chencho and Nozizwe are meeting with high-level government officials, learning about South Africa’s transition and gaining technical support for the peace movement in Honduras. Since former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya was deposed in 2009, peace, justice and participatory democracy in Honduras have disintegrated. Similar to the ANC’s struggle against the repressive Apartheid government, the Honduran peace movement faces a series of formidable challenges. This Peacemakers in Action Network intervention will bring much needed support for all Hondurans working to restore peace and democracy in their country. We look forward to hearing more about their incredible work in South Africa and Honduras and will be sure to let you know when we do.   
 

Fighting for Female Leadership: Peacemakers Media Update

Below, find some updates from Peacemakers in Action around the world,

Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, South Africa

Noticing a reluctance to integrate women into the highest levels of leadership in the ANC by the ANC’s women’s league (ANCWL), Nozizwe recently wrote a fiery opinion piece for the magazine Amandla. Her article emphasizes the need for increased, female leadership in South Africa and a greater commitment to feminism as a means of resolving inequality in South African society overall.
http://www.amandla.org.za/amandla-magazine/127-amandla-issue-28/1622-its-time-for-women-to-lead-south-africa–by-nozizwe-madlala-routledge

Archbishop Abuna Elias Chacour, Israel/Palestine

Over the Christmas season, Archbishop Chacour received a visit from Israeli President Shimon Peres. President Peres visited Chacour’s official residence and sang traditional Christian carols with a choir comprised of local children.
http://www.algemeiner.com/2012/12/21/with-chanukah-over-israel-turns-to-christmas-celebrations/
 
A video of a lecture given by Chacour at the University of Portland is now available online in two parts. He describes his experiences growing up as well as his view on the situation in Israel and Palestine.
Part One: http://archive.org/details/scm-172098-archbishopeliaschacour-myearl
Part Two: http://archive.org/details/scm-187994-archbishopeliaschacour-ourpli

Imam Muhammad Ashafa and Pastor James Wuye, Nigeria

Imam Ashafa and Pastor Wuye are now offering counseling, conflict transformation workshops, and mediation trainings in Libya to help promote reconciliation and dialogue there.
http://thelibyainitiative.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=49:module-by-imam-muhammad-ashafa-and-pastor-james-wuye-&catid=3:conflict-transformation-training&Itemid=53

Rev. Canon Andrew White, Iraq

Canon Andrew White was recently interviewed on Marcus and Joni, a Texas-based talk show. The interview covers Andrew’s work and extraordinary experiences that have marked his time in Iraq.
http://www.daystar.com/ondemand/marcus-and-joni-pat-schatzline-and-andrew-white-01-08-2013/
 
Andrew was also featured as the keynote speaker for the Veritas Forum at Hope College this January.
http://whtc.com/news/articles/2013/jan/11/anglican-pastor-in-baghdad-speaks-at-hope-forum/

Ricardo Esquivia, Colombia

Ekklesia, a think-tank that investigates the application of faith and religious values in the public sphere, wrote an article about Ricardo’s Programme of Ecumenical Accompaniment in Colombia (PEAC).
http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17294

Sakena Yacoobi, Afghanistan

Sakena was interviewed on American National Public Radio (NPR) about the gains made in Afghanistan in relation to women's rights, but also their fragility and their dependence upon the stability of the government and its security forces. She emphasizes the responsibility of Afghanistan's youth to remain within the country and work for its future. She also briefly describes the risks she experiences in her line of work.
http://www.npr.org/2012/12/02/166336692/rights-for-afghan-women-improving-but-fragile
 
Sakena also opened this year’s Global Washington conference. Global Washington (GlobalWA) emphasizes innovation in global development.
http://globalwa.org/2012/12/the-power-of-education-sakena-yacoobis-hopes-for-the-women-of-afghanistan/
 
Sakena’s keynote for GlobalWA can be found here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iMu5T4MdrQY&feature=youtube_gdata
 
Finally, Isobel Coleman from the Council on Foreign Relations identified Sakena as one of the “remarkable women of 2012.”
http://blogs.cfr.org/coleman/2012/12/20/remarkable-women-of-2012/

Classrooms for Peace in Countries with Violence

What do Afghanistan, Indonesia, and Nigeria have in common? Tanenbaum! 

This winter, Tanenbaum trained more than 45 teachers from these countries about inclusive education. We know that teachers who are trained to create an environment of inclusive education can sow the seeds of sustainable peace. That’s why our Peacemakers, who have asked for our assistance in the past, welcomed the opportunity to share what we’ve learned with the teachers who reach their nations' children.

Tanenbaum’s Education team designed and created the trainings based on Tanenbaum’s The Seven Principles for Inclusive Education. Then Tanenbaum’s Conflict Resolution team produced the training presentations and translated selected materials into Hausa, Indonesian and Dari.

Mark Fowler, Tanenbaum’s managing director of programs, and the Conflict Resolution team worked closely with Peacemakers in Action in Afghanistan, Indonesia and Nigeria to select participants, coordinate and facilitate the trainings and conduct a follow-up discussion.

Technological constraints, however, almost prevented the trainings from taking place. Tanenbaum staff planned to conduct the training via Skype broadcast to groups of 15 teachers in each country.  

Skype, a live video connection service, however, is not reliable in Afghanistan, Indonesia and Nigeria because of poor internet connections, frequent disruptions in service and the limited availability of technological resources. Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers on the ground provided the Conflict Resolution team with their technological constraints.

We learned that our Peacemakers could project PowerPoint presentations with ease. So, Tanenbaum created PowerPoint training videos with audio narrations then sent hard copies of the trainings, on branded DVDs, overseas.

Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers’Jamila Afghani (Afghanistan), Jacky Manuputty (Indonesia) and Pastor James and Imam Ashafa (Nigeria) – and the teachers’ response to the training were very enthusiastic. In fact, they are currently planning to use the materials as resources to train additional teachers in their respective countries.

The teachers who enrolled in the training are looking forward to sharing their new knowledge with their students and, ultimately, encouraging their students to become tomorrow’s peace activists.

Bruce Crise         
Peacemakers in Action Network Coordinator

Funding for these trainings was provided by the El-Hibri Charitable Foundation.

A Dinner Conversation: Interfaith Leaders on Syria

On Monday, August 6th, Tanenbaum hosted an interfaith dinner for our Syrian Peacemaker Hind Kabawat, and her friend and longtime mentor, Father Paolo Dall’Oglio.

Father Paolo, an Italian priest who has lived in Syria for over 30 years, was expelled from the country in June for openly criticizing the Assad regime and its crushing response to the civilian opposition. His visit to New York was part of a North American tour which aims to garner greater support for the Syrian opposition and encourage a global response to the violence which has killed nearly 20,000 people since it began 17 months ago.
 
In attendance at the dinner were the two prominent Muslim members of the Syrian expat community in New York, as well as Dr. Burt Visotzky from the Jewish Theological Seminary, Rabbi Joe Potasnik who is currently serving as the Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis, and a high profile representative of the Greek Orthodox Church. Despite the wide range of faiths and backgrounds represented at the table, the conversation focused on just one topic: the bloodshed in Syria and what can be done to end it. Each dinner attendee was impressed by the intrepidness of Father Paolo and Hind Kabawat, who continue to work for peace, justice and freedom of expression in Syria at great personal risk. Each offered their support and vowed to help Father Paolo, Ms. Kabawat and the Syrian people in any way they could.
 
On August 10th, Rabbi Potasnik invited Father Paolo to his talk show Religion on the Line, which airs every Sunday on WABC, to help him reach a greater audience. The interview demonstrates the passion and righteous ire of a man who was expelled from the country he loved for his outspokenness and dedication to peace and interfaith harmony.
 
You can catch last Sunday’s installment of “Religion on the Line” by following the link. Father Paolo’s interview begins 41 minutes into the show.
 
 
Bruce Crise,
Peacemakers in Action Network Coordinator

 

Celebrating International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day.  I was invited by a friend of Tanenbaum (and a member of our Workplace Program Advisory Council), Ana Duarte McCarthy, to attend Citigroup’s roundtable discussion titled "View from the Top: A Conversation with Inspirational Leaders," celebrating women leaders. I am consistently impressed with Citi’s commitment to diversity of all sorts, and to recognizing talent. Working with Citi over the years, I have witnessed how the company recognizes the power of diversity’s forgotten child – religion – and addresses religious diversity and inclusion. Today’s program demonstrated their commitment in a new light and made me reflect.

I was moved by the panel of women leaders who spoke. The heads of companies. The head of a major global philanthropy. As they shared their stories, I was struck by their emphasis on the power of mentoring. It made me think about Tanenbaum’s Peacemakers and especially about our women Peacemakers and our new Network. 
 
Tanenbaum works with inspiring religiously-motivated women from across the globe who have a vision of their home countries as sanctuaries of peace rather than centers of violence. That’s what they work for and what we support. Two of them celebrated today in different ways. Nozizwe Madlala Rutledge, a Quaker from South Africa, honored women through her current work on women’s rights and interrupting the sexual trafficking of children. Jamila Afghani from Afghanistan participated in a call on Skype with other Tanenbaum Peacemakers about our new Network. During the call, Jamila spoke about her flourishing work with Imams to promote women’s rights, and shared that all the women she celebrates with today work and pray for a peaceful Afghanistan for all. The Peacemakers Network has a goal of tackling violence in conflicts worldwide – but it also is a place where the Peacemakers escape isolation and find fellowship, where new techniques for solving problems are shared and ideas emerge for forging ahead. In short, it is a place where some of the world’s great (and mostly ignored) heroes and heroines mentor each other. 
 
What a way to start this day. 
 
Joyce S. Dubensky
CEO

Peacemakers in Action Media Update, Nov 2011-Jan 2012

Featured story: Bill Lowrey works for peace in Jonglei State

South Sudan became the world’s newest country in 2011, after a largely peaceful referendum in support of splitting off from Sudan in the north. Independence represented a new dawn for the people of South Sudan at the end of decades of conflict with the north.
 
The hope and excitement for South Sudan is still palpable in the new nation, but conflicts—many violent and intractable—persist. Longstanding internal tribal divisions have escalated into brutal attacks, centered on cattle raiding and exacerbated by high-powered weaponry. The conflicts spiral out of control as tribes carry out retaliatory raids, furthering the cycle of violence.
 
In Jonglei State just this month, dozens have been killed in tribal violence, and many thousandssome estimates as high as 150,000—have been forced to flee their homes. The state had been declared a national “disaster area,” but the South Sudanese government is all but powerless to curb the fighting due to a fundamental lack of resources and infrastructure. Humanitarian aid groups face similar obstacles in responding to the needs of the wounded and displaced.
 
Peacemaker in Action Bill Lowrey has worked for many years to make peace on the ground in Sudan and South Sudan, and he is responding to these crises. In recent months, he has conducted trainings and workshops in South Sudan with religious leaders and members of the government, encouraging local leaders to revive traditional conflict resolution methods to settle disputes nonviolently.
 
Back in the United States, Bill has worked with members of the Sudanese diaspora to push for peace back in their home state of Jonglei. This Jonglei Peace Initiative, made up of members of the four main tribes of Jonglei State, recently met in Washington, D.C. and issued a statement condemning the violence and outlining the first steps toward peace. The group plans to send its own members to Jonglei to advocate for peace at the community level. Click here to read the full statement.
 
The conflict in Jonglei is bloody and fierce, but Bill Lowrey and the Jonglei Peace Initiative are working to put an end to the violence and foster peace between the tribes. Their efforts align with the vision of South Sudan as a new nation united to create a better future.
 
Hind Kabawat, Syria
 
As the violence in Syria persists, Hind continues to advocate for peaceful solutions. She wrote an article discussing the crackdown of security services on opposition student protestors and calling on both sides to seek a resolution through forgiveness and reconciliation. http://www.omeganews.info/?p=893
 
Pastor James Wuye & Imam Ashafa, Nigeria
 
In the aftermath of the Christmas Eve bombings in Nigeria, two authors held up Pastor James and Imam Ashafa as an example of interfaith cooperation in Nigeria. The first was Tanenbaum President Georgette Bennett, and the second was Imam Mohamed Magid, President of the Islamic Society of North America. To read their perspectives on the violence and James and Ashafa’s reconciliation efforts, click the links below.
 
Betty Bigombe, Uganda
 
Betty urges the government to involve youth in all of its activities, saying, “Most youth are creative and can cause positive change in society. I challenge ministries which haven't engaged them to do it immediately.”
 
The Global Peacebuilding Center at the United States Institute of Peace posted an excellent short video of Betty describing her experiences negotiating with the LRA. http://vimeo.com/33796663
 
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton quoted Betty in her keynote address at the International Crisis Group’s “In Pursuit of Peace” award dinner. Betty is mentioned in relation to her critical role inside peace talks between the government and rebel negotiators.
 
Rev. Canon Andrew White, Iraq
 
Andrew has been awarded the International First Freedom Award by the First Freedom Center, a non-profit organization founded to advance religious freedom. The Center recognized Andrew for his extraordinary reconciliatory work in the Middle East. Congratulations Andrew!  http://www.firstfreedom.org/education/ffacurrent.html
 
 
Sakena Yacoobi, Afghanistan
 
Sakena will be honored for her leadership and humanitarian efforts by the German Media Prize this February. The annual event seeks to honor outstanding personalities for exceptional performance, leadership and visionary qualities. This year, the prize chose to focus on “quiet peacemakers,” who have had little media coverage in relation to the impact of their work. Well done, Sakeena!
 
Rabbi Menachem Froman, West Bank
 
Rabbi Froman hosted female musicians in Tekoa’s synagogue to protest the increasing exclusion of women from the public arena. According to Rabbi Froman, Jewish precepts are not meant to keep men and women away from each other, but “to protect the main thing, which is the connection" between men and women.
 
Rabbi Froman also spoke out against “price tag” activists, who present settlers as “gangsters” who cannot live together in peace with Palestinians.  http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4164498,00.html
 
Benny Giay
 
Protestors in West Papua marched in late November to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their independence movement. Benny is quoted by Survival International about the mounting tensions between Papuans and the Indonesian government.
 
Less than a week later, Benny relayed details about a remote Papuan village, which had been burned in retaliation for the deaths of two police officers. The people of the village fled into the bush and are now refugees.

 

Tanenbaum Peacemakers the Focus of College Course

Since Tanenbaum published Peacemakers in Action: Profiles of Religion in Conflict Resolution in 2007, the Tanenbaum Peacemakers have been popping up in curricula around the country and around the world.  Dr. Pamela Couture, Jane and Geoffrey Martin Chair in Church and Community at Emmanuel College in Toronto, has taken the study of the Peacemakers to a new level, developing a course called “Religious Peacemaking” that uses the stories of the Peacemakers as course-long cases. The course culminates in a Peacebuilding Conference featuring Peacemakers Jose “Chencho” Alas and Rev. Canon Andrew White on January 18-19. It is heartening to see the Peacemakers connecting to the next generation of religiously-motivated leaders while carrying out their critical work.