Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

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A press release about Syria from Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire

August 25, 2013

Mairead_Corrigan_Gaza_crop

Press release 26th August 2013
Mairead Maguire, Nobel peace laureate, today appealed to the Rt. Hon. William Hague, British Foreign Minister, and M. Laurent Fabius, French Foreign Minister, to stop calling for military action against Syria which, she said, will only lead the Middle East into even more violence and bloodshed for its people.

Maguire said:

Arming rebels and authorizing military action by USA/NATO forces will not solve the problem facing Syria, but indeed could lead to the death of thousands of Syrians, the breaking-up of Syria, and it falling under the control of violent fundamentalist jihadist forces. It will mean the further fleeing of Syrians into surrounding countries which will themselves become destabilised. The entire Middle East will become unstable and violence will spiral out of control.

Contrary to some foreign governments current policies of arming the rebels and pushing for military intervention, the people of Syria are calling out for peace and reconciliation and a political solution to the crisis, which continues to be enflamed by outside forces with thousands of foreign fighters funded and supported by outside countries for their own political ends. Having visited Syria in May, 2013, after leading a 16 person delegation I returned convinced that the civil community, with groups such as Mussalaha, who are working on the ground building peace and reconciliation, can solve their own problems if their plea for outsiders to remain out of the conflict is honoured by the international community.

During our visit we met with all sections of the community, most of whom are sick of violence and death and want peace and reconciliation and a political solution. We met with the Syrian Prime Minister and 7 other government ministers, and we were assured that the Government did not use sarin gas on its own people, and they invited the UN to send in inspectors to see what was happening. Currently there is an International Commission of Inquiry on Chemical Weapons in Damascus staying at Four Seasons Hotel, which is less than ten minutes from the areas where the chemical weapons were allegedly used. The western media, particularly vocal being the British and French Foreign Ministers, are accusing President Assad of using chemical weapons on his own people but have no proof of this accusation, rather some things point to rebels as the ones who used such weapons.

The question must be asked, what would it benefit Assad to use sarin gas in the vicinity of visiting international UN inspectors and in his own environment and neighbourhood where it would affect his soldiers, etc., personally, I do not believe the latest accusations against the Assad government using sarin gas, and in order that the world can hear the truth, I would appeal to the International Commission of Inquiry to go into the areas in question immediately and report as quickly as possible. In the meantime I appeal to the Foreign Ministers of Britain and France to encourage, as the Syrian people wish, dialogue and negotiation as a way forward.

We all remember the fear, panic and lies spun by the British and American governments, and others that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and it was not true. Let us learn the lesson of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya where so many millions have been killed in invasions and war, and many continue to die in violence. Violence is not the answer, let’s end this ‘war on terror’ and give nonviolence and peace a chance.

Mairead Maguire
Nobel peace laureate
http://www.peacepeople.com
info@peacepeople.com
peace people, 224 Lisburn road, Belfast. Bt307NW. N. Ireland

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“Countdown to Zero” – an End to Nukes

June 16, 2010

By Judith Hand

Countdown To Zero

One of the most hopeful movements afoot in the world—a movement that should be dear to the hearts and minds of all people of good will—is a campaign to eliminate nuclear weapons. Alliances of powerful voices have formed, and with a new film by Lucy Walker and Participant Media, “Countdown to Zero,” they make the case for why and how this goal should be forwarded.

One of the movement’s strongest features is that it has supporters on the right and left of the political spectrum. An article by George P. Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, all world-savvy leaders, was, entitled “Toward a Nuclear-free World.” Published in the Wall Street Journal (Jan 15 2008) it sets the tone for the need to rid ourselves of this danger.

A force behind the film is Global Zero. Two GZ founders are Queen Noor of Jordan, and film producer Lawrence Bender. The GZ website has more than 200 political, military, business, faith, and civic signatories and hundreds of thousands of individuals and organizations from around the globe. Organization already in this struggle for years like Ploughshares Fund and WAND (Womens Action for New Directions) are stepping up pressure on US legislators and rallying their members.

On 5 April, 2009, speaking to a crowd estimated to be over 20 thousand in Prague, US President Barack Obama said “”the US will take concrete steps toward a world without nuclear weapons.” He has been moving in that direction, and with the wind of people-pressure at his back, he can make huge progress.

Now is the time for all global citizens to demand action from their politicians. Politicians only act when the citizenry demands! You can find when and where the film will show in any US community. Anyone who would like to see us abolish war should understand that ending the production, storage, and existence of nuclear weapons would be a huge, positive step in that campaign to make that dream a reality. Support the cause by viewing the film and telling family, friends, and colleagues to also see it.

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An AFWW Report: World Peace Conference, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 16-17 May, 2007

July 11, 2007

Keeping up with the movers and shakers in the peace movement! The World Peace Conference uplifted and encouraged five hundred of us from all parts of the planet (except, sadly, the Middle East) in the kind of coming together that’s essential for workers in any campaign. We refreshed our vision, absorbed energy and new ideas, and experienced critical opportunities for networking. Sponsored by the New Mexico Department of Tourism and organized by conference producer Majorie Mann and conference designer and activist Louise Diamond, this WPC offered high profile speakers and a fresh approach to group management. The rousing concert by the Indigo Girls at the beautiful outdoor Santa Fe Opera house, accompanied by lightning and rain climaxed in a perfect ending to a new beginning of the ever-growing groundswell of change.

A crucial ingredient became apparent in the view of AFWW, and should take on new focus as we create the momentum of paradigm shift. We peace-seekers do not yet share an agreed-upon, united front with specific, measurable goals toward which all of us are working. We need a plan, one that embraces all of the elements described on the AFWW website, and leaders to keep us all on track.

Ending war, in the view of AFWW, is a task equivalent in complexity and difficulty to putting a working, permanent human base on Mars: a vast challenge, but doable. It will require that we create the international equivalent of a NASA if we are to succeed. There are around this globe, many thousands of government, grassroots, and international organizations working on various aspects of this great campaign, but we do not yet have an overarching focus: we are thousands of organizations pulling separately. We need to be thousands pulling together.

When that finally happens to a critical mass of the world’s peace-seekers, nothing will be able to stop us from achieving the goal of ending war and much, much more.

The outstanding keynote speakers offered dynamic insight and challenge. Nobel Laureate Jodie Williams was awarded the prize having brought together 1400 NGOs to focus on a campaign to ban land mines. Another Nobel Laureate, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, showed that a single powerless young girl can bring powerful forces into action, such as in her crusade for indigenous people’s rights and subsequent candidacy for the President of Guatamala. Via video, the Dali Lama (spiritual leader for a nonviolent campaign to free Tibet, offered practical perspective and spiritual focus, and nonviolence exemplar and activist, Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, gave us a role-playing task that quickly revealed the culturally transmitted attitude of aggressive thought that colors even simple transactions—unless we learn to truly think non-violently in our own corners of the world. All were inspiring in their own unique way.

For those interested in group dynamics, the program structure itself was new to us, a technique called “Open Space Technology.” Under the guidance of trained facilitators, this technique allowed the hundred of participants to self-select topics of interest to them in five general areas: Our Youth, Our Promise; Demilitarization and a Peace Economy; Knowing the Other as Ourselves; The Living Spirit of Peace; and The Politics of Peace. AFWW representatives attended the sections on Demilitarization and a Peace Economy and The Politics of Peace where they met other conference attendees with similar concerns.

At the associated Peace Fair, several dozen groups presented their wares or their cause, from Amnesty International USA, to Mediators Without Borders, to Americans for a Department of Peace and Nonviolence, to Vajra Dakini Nunnery. AFWW also had a table, featuring Judith’s books, the AFWW website, and … a novel.
A novel? Yes. AFWW gave away forty promotional copies of a novel that needs a publisher. Carl Sagan once said, and AFWW also believes, that before people embrace a huge change in their lives—in this case, the paradigm shift to peace that all the conference attendees seek—they must first experience the vision of that reality in their stories. So Judith and her colleague, Peggy Lang, have written a political suspense novel, ASSASSIN’S ROSE. It features a heroine, Claire Alden, whose philosophical commitment is to nonviolent means of conflict resolution and using aggressive nonviolence as demonstrated by Gandhi and Martin Luther King as the means to achieve social justice and a better world.

Claire is challenged to run for the U.S. Presidency, and should she be elected, she commits herself to immediately appoint a Secretary of Peace and Nonviolence, greatly expand the scope and budget of America’s Peace Institute, and appoint a parity government cabinet with equal numbers of men and women. A charismatic leader who profoundly threatens the status quo stirs us assassins. Reviewers give the story high marks as a fast-paced tale of suspense with an intriguing love story. The hope is that by sharing the book with other activists who are interested in ending war, word of mouth may help ASSASSIN’S ROSE find that necessary publisher.

The world’s peace-seekers may not yet be united by a shared vision and plan, but networking conferences like the one in Santa Fe are critical to moving us closer to the day when we do put a shared plan into action.