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IFOR/MIR France Responds to Paris Attacks

Translated from original text in French

Living together in brotherhood

In recent days, Paris and Saint-Denis has been the scene of violence that has dumbstruck us. These terrorist acts were claimed by the Islamic State, which is also responsible for numerous attacks like the one against the Russian Airbus above the Sinai or the one in Beirut the day before that of Paris.

In these times marked by collective emotion at the thought of all the victims of these deadly attacks, we call to resist the fear of the other, resentment and hatred and we want to oppose all forms of amalgam or revenge that could justify and cause racist, xenophobic and anti-Muslim acts.

Fight against terrorism and their preparation must be done in compliance with the individual and collective freedoms, strengthening the cohesion of our society through greater solidarity and fraternity.

But it seems essential to break the spiral of violence. Military interventions and wars, which are based on excessive militarization and maintain the lucrative arms trade, will not bring lasting and just solution to the ongoing conflict. They will only lead to more death, destruction, refugees and bring new acts of terrorism.

Our world needs to develop a culture of non-violence and peace, of dialogue and tolerance, to strengthen democracy and social justice, and justice between peoples. It is urgent to support and empower all those who are carriers of these values o that they can take action toward their fellow citizens and their leaders. This is the best way to work for the safety of all and to take care of our lives and of all those around us.

We believe that God calls us to a disarmed love for our brothers and sisters in humanity. We call upon all believers to join us on this active nonviolence way to lay, with all the inhabitants of our planet in danger, the foundations of a world where everyone can live with dignity in an insured peace and towards an appeased future.

Paris, November 19, 2015

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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 & The 30th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

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IFOR & The 30th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

During the Session, IFOR hosted a group of ten human rights activists from Mexico, Colombia, South Sudan, and Western Sahara, brought to Geneva through their partnership with the SweFOR, IFOR's Swedish branch.

Representing a variety of different organizations in countries facing similar yet distinct challenges to human rights, the activists experienced a week of training on the various ways in which the work of the United Nations in Geneva can help to protect human rights on the ground.  They attended debates in the Human Rights Council and watched it adopt the Report on the review of a member state under the Universal Periodic Review; they met with staff of the High Commissioner's Office working with some of the Council's special procedures, and heard how these take up complaints about human rights violations sent to them by activists in country; they saw two of the ten “treaty bodies” - the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Committee on the Rights of the Child – questioning delegations from a “state party”.  Some met with the World Council Churches – also based in Geneva – and the Lutheran World Federation; meanwhile the rest of the party met with other leading ngos – Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and also with UPR-Info and the CCPR Centre - ngos with the specific purpose of facilitating the access of in-country activists to specific UN procedures (the Universal Periodic Review and the Human Rights Committee, which oversees the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, respectively).

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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 : 

IFOR Austria Commemorates the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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IFOR Austria Commemorates the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

The 70th anniversary of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was marked in Austria by various commemoration events, in two of which FOR Austria was actively involved. In the evening of August 6th the annual Hiroshima day event, co-organised by the Hiroshima Group Vienna, the Vienna Peace Office and the Austrian sections of ICAN (International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons), IPPNW (International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War) and IFOR (International Fellowship of Reconciliation), took place in front of St. Stephan’s Cathedral in the centre of Vienna. It included symbolic non-violent actions (“dismantling” of a nuclear weapon, Target X/Die-in and circle of silence, “decontamination” of passers-by by the Austrian Red Cross), information stalls, peace songs and a lantern parade in commemoration of the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

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FOR Peace Presence: Advancing Peace in Colombia

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FOR Peace Presence: Advancing Peace in Colombia

The Fellowship of Reconciliation Peace Presence, an organization founded and supported by branches of IFOR, is dedicated to providing safety, political visibility and solidarity to communities and individuals in Colombia who are working to promote human rights, peace and justice has released it's first ever annual report as a new independent organization.

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FOR Activist's Video Goes Viral

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FOR Activist's Video Goes Viral

Rev. Anthony Grimes, a member of the National Council of IFOR's branch in the United States witnessed a police altercation while in Amsterdam for a project sponsored by Kerk en Vrede and the IFOR Secretariat. IFOR International Coordinator, Lucas Johnson, also witnessed the incident. Rev. Grimes video received over 168,000 views and stirred controversy in the Netherlands. IFOR and Kerk en Vrede release the following statement in response to the controversy:

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Concern for Burundi

Amid escalating violence in Burundi, the IFOR Secretariat remains in contact with our members in Burundi. Expressions of concern from throughout the IFOR community continue to come and we continue to seek ways to support efforts to de-escalate the conflict and bring the violence and threats of violence to an end. Our sisters and brothers in Burundi remain in the thoughts and prayers of the IFOR community. 

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IFOR Expresses Condolences & Solidarity with Nepal

Nepal has suffered a second earthquake while still recovering from an earlier earthquake that had already claimed many lives and injured thousands. Members of IFOR, several of whom are still recovering from other disasters express their condolences for the loss of life and express solidarity with IFOR's branch in Nepal: Bikalpa Gyan Tatha Bikas Kendra, in Mahankalphant, Kathmandu.  

Bikalpa Gyan Tatha Kendra is engaged in relief work trying to support victims of the earthquake. Their efforts include attempts to address the physical and psychological wellbeing of children many of whom are now sleeping in tents after the destruction. More information about Bikalpa's activities can be found on their Bikalpa Earthquake Relief Facebook Page.  

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IFOR Europe discusses Child Recruitment, Nuclear Disarmament, & Trauma Healing

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IFOR Europe discusses Child Recruitment, Nuclear Disarmament, & Trauma Healing

Representatives of the European branches of the IFOR gathered in Bremen, Germany April 17-19, 2015. Representatives were from Branches and Affiliates in Austria, Belgium, England, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Wales. 

They were joined by Junior Nzita Nsuami from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), who was forcibly recruited at the age of 10 by the rebels seeking to overthrow the Mobutu dictatorship and fought in the DRC itself and Angolafor the next 12 years before finally passing through a demobilization and reintentegration programme sponsored by the international community.  He subsequently committed himself to the cause of helping those who as child soldierspassed through similar traumatic experiences; he has now been appointed a UN goodwill ambassador on the subject of child soldiers.

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Peace and Planet: Mobilize for a Nuclear Free World

On the eve of the 2015 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Nations thousands will mobilize in New York City and in other cities around the world to declare their support for a nuclear free world. The Peace and Planet Conference will be held on April 24-25 and will feature Reverend Osagyefo Sekou, a Fellow of IFOR’s branch in the United States.

On April 26, There will be an interfaith convocation ahead of the mass mobilization. The service is being coordinated by IFOR’s Representative to the United Nations, Mark Johnson. Several members of IFOR will be among those contributing to the service. The Convocation will be held in Tillman Chapel, Church Center at the United Nations, 777 First Avenue, New York, New York. The Service will begin at 10:30 AM. All are welcome to attend. More information about the service can be found on the Peace and Planet website.

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IFOR supports Egyptian Conscientious Objectors

IFOR is standing with an international coalition of organizations supporting the movement against compulsory military service in Egypt. The International Secretariat joined the IFOR branches in Austria, and Belgium as well as our historic partner War Resisters International in a statement of solidarity with the No to Compulsory Military Service Movement and with the Egyptian conscientious objector, Mark Nabil Sanad. The coalition called on the Egyptian government to

“respect international standards and meet the obligations to which it has committed itself. This includes recognizing the right of Mark Nabil Sanad to conscientious objection to military service.”

To read the full statement or find out more information about the No to Compulsory Military Service Movement in Egypt you can visit their website here.

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IFOR Provides Statements at 28th Human Rights Council

At the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, IFOR partnered with several organizations to offer testimony on the human rights situations in Tibet, Eritrea, and Bolivia.

Tibet: March 13

John Gaudette who works with the IFOR Affiliate, The Tibetan Center for Human Rights spoke under Agenda Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights civil, political, economic, social and cultural including the right to development. 

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Supporting the Rowntree Charitable Trust

IFOR Joins FOR England in supporting the Rowntree Charitable Trust

In recent weeks, the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust has come under increased scrutiny by and pressure from British authorities due to it’s funding of a controversial organization in the United Kingdom.  The JRCT is a Quaker organization that has a history of supporting peace and reconciliation including work supporting Conscientious Objection through IFOR and others. IFOR joined FOR England in a public letter expressing support for the Trust. 

Learn More about the JRCT

The BBC Reports on the JRCT Controversy

Read the letter of support for the JRCT that was published in the Times.

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Bombspotters Activists Threatened with Prison

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Bombspotters Activists Threatened with Prison

February 11, 2012, Seven pacifists entered into the NATO military headquarters also known as the SHAPE facility (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe), in an act of civil disobedience. The Bombspotters (Bomspotters in Dutch), as they called themselves, were there to denounce the presence of nuclear weapons on Belgian soil. They recorded their act of disobedience and posted videos of their actions on the internet. They have been issued a criminal summons to appear in court on October 26, 2015 the activists face up to five years in prison and a substantial fine.

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