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Nonviolence Education

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ONAD Responds to Call for National Dialogue in South Sudan

Amid escalating violence, IFOR's Branch in South Sudan, the Organization for Nonviolence and Development (ONAD) joined a coalition of organizations who have responded to the call for National Dialogue issued by South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit. 

The coalition of organizations is known as "The Voluntary Civil Society Taskforce on Implementation of the Peace Agreement." It is a coalition of over 20 diverse and non-partisan South Sudanese civil society organizations and networks. The Taskforce is interested in genuine and full implementation of the Peace Agreement and a quick end to the suffering inflicted on innocent citizens of South Sudan by the political crises in the country.

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FOR India's Work in Defense of Children

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FOR India's Work in Defense of Children

FOR India, has a long history of work supporting young people. Amidst rapid changes in society there has been an increase in problems effecting young people in particular. FOR India offers a brief report of its experience in hopes to encourage other IFOR members in their work to support youth: 

We are sharing this based on training programs and interaction with 600 school counselors over a period of past 3 months.. This training for 600 government appointed counselors at government schools. All the counselors  in 14 districts  all over Kerala in batches of 50 each are given intensive  training  for a period of 4 days in practical hands on skills and also given inputs on the application of enacted laws. 

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Introducing the Geneva Fellowship & Martina Lanza

Earlier this year, IFOR was pleased to receive a grant from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust to help expand it's work at the United Nations in support of conscientious objectors around the world. IFOR saw a need to grow the capacity of human rights advocates to defend C.O.s and has created a Fellowship that will allow human rights professionals to learn more about the right to conscientious objection while gaining experience working to support those whose rights are being threatened or violated.  The fellows will work along side IFOR's main representative to the UN in Geneva, Derek Brett for a period of 6 to 12 months. 

We are pleased to introduce our first IFOR Fellow for this project, Martina Lanza.  Martina has an M.A. in Human rights and International Relations and her principal interests are Children’s rights, conscientious objection to military service and nonviolent conflict resolution. 

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Disarm! For a Climate of Peace

September 30 – October 3 more than a thousand people gathered at the Technishce Universität Berlin, Germany to discuss the most pressing challenges for peace in our time. The International Peace Bureau convened the "World Congress" in conjunction with its annual meeting. The Disarm! For a Climate of Peace gathering was supported by 50 international peace organizations including IFOR. Many IFOR members primarily from Europe and North America were in attendance. Topics of discussion included: opposition to NATO Expansion, Military Recourses and the Environment, the Impact of Climate Change on Peace and Security in Africa, the Nuclear-Climate Nexus and Sustainable Peace and many more.

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Action and Prayer for Syria

Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost, and millions of people have been displaced. This week during the opening week of the UN General Assembly, on Wednesday September 21, the International Day of Peace, IFOR is supporting the Global Day of Action and Prayer for Syria.

ACTION: Among those displaced by the war are millions of children. These children will not only need to grapple with the horror and trauma of war and displacement, their education has been disrupted which will also impact the rest of their lives. In addition to calling for an end to the war. IFOR is supporting the YOU PROMISED campaign launched by Theirworld, an effort to support the education of refugee children wherever they are.

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Expressing Concern for Human Rights in Turkey

On September 14, during the 33 Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, IFOR's Main Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Derek Brett, expressed concern for the situation of Human Rights in Turkey. In his statement, Brett noted that:

"Even before the massive detentions and new restrictions on the freedom of movement, assembly and expression which followed the attempted military coup, we were deeply concerned about the deteriorating human rights situation in the country, and disturbed by the lack of attention which it has received in this Council. Our contacts on the ground report ongoing breaches of International Humanitarian Law and widespread human rights violations, particularly in the south-east of the country, including the targeting of civilians in military operations, extrajudicial executions, the demolition of towns and villages, leading to massive displacement, and the torture and long term detention of civilians, particularly in prisons in the cities of Urfa and Siverek." 

IFOR called on the Turkish authorities to heed the repeated appeal for unfettered access to the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the staff of his office, particularly to the South – East of Turkey.

IFOR also hosted a side event for diplomats and others featuring Peri Hevi, a journalist who spoke about the human rights situation in Turkey after the election of June 2015 and Ramazan Baytar, independent activist who spoke about the coup attempt and the aftermath.

IFOR maintains contact with many human rights activists in Turkey, particularly conscientious objectors. Derek Brett spoke about the situation facing conscientious objectors during the side event hosted by IFOR. 

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IFOR Condemns Violence in Juba

IFOR's international leadership stands with it's branch in South Sudan, the Organization for Nonviolence and Development (ONAD),  condemning the ongoing political violence in the capital city of Juba. We also call for the immediate release of the South Sudanese journalist Mr. Alfred Taban.

On July 13, 2016 ONAD released the following statement:

“ONAD is disappointed with the recent eruption of armed violence in Juba the capital of the Republic of South Sudan. The fighting that erupted between forces loyal to the Sudan’s People Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) in Government and Sudan’s People Liberation Movement/Army SPLM/A – in Opposition started since 7th to 11th July 2016. The organization is concerned that the conflict resulted to lose of lives, destruction and looting of properties. The violent conflict has further displaced thousands and inflicted significant suffering on the civil population at a time they are supposed to enjoy the peace dividends. While, ONAD appreciates the order and call for ceasefire by the President and the First Vice President, the organization calls for compliance of commanders, genuine political will and commitment to full implementation of the security arrangements and the whole Agreement on Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS). While the organization welcomes the quick response of the United Nations, African Union Commission and IGAD Council of Ministers on the recent deteriorating security situation in the country. ONAD is concerned with the IGAD Ministers recent call during their 56th Extraordinary Session demanding to establish an intervention brigade and increase the number of troops from the region to inter alia secure Juba.
We do not believe having more troops will make Juba secure. More troops will only make civilians more insecure. Right now civilians need PEACE without weapons, more humanitarian and nonviolent protection responses. ONAD wishes to take this opportunity to encourage regional and international community to rather pressure the political leadership to fully implement the peace agreement in letter and spirit.”

—Moses Monday Executive Director

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IFOR Endorses Statement of Feminist Caucus Meeting at UN

IFOR representatives in New York attended the Sixtieth Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. During the session, a diverse group of young feminist advocates, gathered working for gender, reproductive, economic, ecological and social justice and political transformation. IFOR's representative to the United Nations, Patricia Ackerman was among those present for this feminist caucus.

The caucus produced a statement addressing several areas of concern: youth participation, climate change and justice, sexual and reproductive rights and legal barriers, sexual and reproductive health services, education, comprehensive sexuality education, and gender based violence.

The full text of the statement can be found here.

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IFOR Responds to Paris Attacks

War will not end terrorism, reconciliation will

The International Fellowship of Reconciliation expresses deep grief and sadness for the victims of the most recent terrorist attacks in Paris, France. As a global fellowship, we recognize and lament the fact that communities around the world have already been suffering from similarly appalling violence for years. As a community opposed to violence we find these acts reprehensible and the indiscriminate killing they represent abhorrent.

As a multi-faith community we pray for and with the victims of this violence, the families who have lost loved ones, the medical and security personnel who are called upon to respond amid the chaos and the community as a whole who seek a way to move forward. As people from many faith traditions, we recognize how painful it is to experience such horrible things committed in the name of one’s faith and we express solidarity with our Muslim sisters and brothers around the world who have repeatedly denounced such acts as unrepresentative of Islam.

We express grave concern for the repeated calls for retribution and the extent to which governments and elected leaders have responded with more calls for war.  The recent acts of terrorism do not exist in a vacuum, they exist within a global context of instability caused and exacerbated by ongoing war, clandestine operations, military and police repression, poverty and neglect.

We reject the notion that more war, more „merciless“ killing can produce a solution to the problem of terrorism. We do not ignore the need for security. Security is something that all human communities desire, and one person’s security must not come at the expense of others.  IFOR remains committed to finding ways to discourage violence and build the beloved community. We are committed to finding ways to prevent young people from choosing violence as a means of forming or asserting their identity. We are committed to challenging war and the unjust structures that allow violent ideologies to flourish.

We express concern for Europe’s minority communities, some of whom are likely to experience harassment and ill treatment simply because of their perceived ethnicity or their faith.  We call upon Europeans and people of conscience everywhere to resist the temptation to respond in fear to acts of terrorism and war. We call upon all countries to continue to be hospitable to war’s victims and those fleeing the violence of hunger and persistent poverty.

We invite all people of conscience to join with us in seeking a nonviolent solution to these pressing challenges of our time.

A PDF of the statement translated into French is available here.

A PDF of the statement translated into Spanish is available here.

 

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IFOR & Omar Ba launch new efforts in Flanders

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IFOR & Omar Ba launch new efforts in Flanders

The IFOR Secretariat responding to requests from local activists has joined with local community organizer Omar Ba to launch the formation of a new IFOR group in Flanders. Omar Ba, a native of Senegal, and long time resident of Antwerp, Belgium is a well-known voice within Flanders on matters of multiculturalism and social inclusion.

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Bombspotters Appear in Court

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Bombspotters Appear in Court

Monday, 26 October 2015 seven activists connected to IFOR’s Belgian branch Agir Pour La Paix appeared in court to face criminal charges for their action on February 11, 2012 to denounce the presence of nuclear weapons on Belgian soil.

The courtroom in Mons was packed with supporters of the Bombspotters, including 3 members of IFOR Germany who traveled to show their support. The IFOR International Coordinator was also there to express solidarity with the Bombspotters. Over 50 Belgian and international organizations have expressed support for the Bombspotters and the importance of their act of civil disobedience. 

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IFOR Secretariat Launches “Beloved Communities Project”

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.

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IFOR Germany Sends Letter to German Government in response to Refugee Crisis

On Thursday, September 10, 2015 The German Branch of IFOR sent the following appeal in response to the refugee situation confronting Germany and other European countries to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, German President Joachim Gauck, the group chairmen of the Bundestag as well as the prime ministers of the federal states and the Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration:

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MIR Congo Holds National Assembly

The national council of the branch of IFOR in the Republic of Congo, Movement International de l Reconciliation Congo (MIR Congo) was held from 17 to 23 August 2015, the Séminaire Saint Gabriel de Dolisie. It coincided with the organization of the 5th Edition of the '' National Meeting of Initiatives of Peace '' under the theme: "Dare to dialogue and build peace among people and nations through non-violence and reconciliation." The following statement was released following the meeting : 

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FOR India's Nonviolence Education & Training Programs

Gender sensitization, mediation & youth empowerment

Dr. Suseela Mathew from the FOR India facilitated the trainings and provided the following summary:

This training-meeting of women activists and leaders held during January and February 2015, was a part of a series of five conversations and analyses which led to a re-evaluation of bigotries and prejudices and all the demons within standing in the way of women empowering themselves. The issue of gender in the context of relationships, understanding and viewpoints articulated by participants drawing from their own life and experiences gave an insight into reality visited as a group in a safe, free, learning environment. In order to change the reality, women need to be aware of their capacity and potential. Central to the discussions was the pointed reference to violence and lawlessness which diminishes and endangers the lives. Nil tolerance to domestic violence and abuse of women is essential. Women need to discover the sadness of their silence in this age of rapid growth of literacy and digital access. This silence must be decoded and the message and the nuances of this silence has to be interpreted to make known that women can contribute to their own well-being and growth and to their family well-being and growth. Women can contribute to every field where visible and invisible barriers exclude their inclusion.

The following are a few photos from the trainings. The first was a program conducted for adolescent children in life skills and nonviolent peer mediation. About fifty girls and boys participated.

The second program was for physically challenged  adolescent children to empower them to use the possibilities and opportunities  available to them. Gender sensitization was another component of the training.

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