Working closely with the IFOR members in the Netherlands and Belgium, the International Secretariat launched a new project to support the efforts of its members to encourage reconciliation in their societies by challenging racism, xenophobia, and other forms of discrimination and social alienation. The project seeks to promote nonviolence as a means of addressing the structural violence that these social ills represent. The name of the project is inspired by the phrase “Beloved Community” made popular by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was a member of IFOR’s branch in the United States.
Focused on Europe, the Beloved Communities Project seeks to encourage European members of IFOR to establish connections with communities that are targets for discrimination and social alienation. IFOR recognizes that many of these communities have migrated to Europe from areas of war and conflict. The International Secretariat and the branches engaging the partnership see this as an important part of IFOR’s historic stance against war and it’s commitment to the transformation of unjust social political and economic structures.
As a feature of the Project, the Secretariat brings peace and human rights activists, organizers and nonviolent practitioners from IFOR’s global network to speak about their experiences, share the lessons they’ve learned and reflections on working together as a global community. The goals for these visits include building connections between human rights movements, inspiring and encouraging young people who are feeling the brunt of discrimination and lending support to efforts to encourage discussion and introspection within communities about important topics related to structural violence, militarism and war.
Inaugurating the project, October 19-25, IFOR and Kerk en Vrede hosted Derecka Purnell and Nyle Fort, two activists from the Black Lives Matters Movement in the United States. Fort and Purnell met with a variety of organizations in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Antwerp, Belgium. They spoke of their experiences challenging police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, U.S.A. and the various ways they've engaged the movement as students at their respective Universities.
Continue to check our website for more information about the developments of the Beloved Communities Project.