The WRI Statement of Principles reminds us that “War is an avoidable form of organized violence. However, its roots go deep. WRI seeks to address these roots, including by changing processes of socialisation, and by transforming the patterns of domination that affect every aspect of life, both within society and between societies.”
The past shapes the present and the future. This is even more true after war or dictatorship. How we deal with this past determines our future. Working with the relatives of victims of political repression, and having lived it personally, has led me to conclude that dealing with the past means ‘ learning to live / cope / struggle with it in the present.
WRI had already visited Sri Lanka and had been in Batticaloa in March 2003. As a follow up of this we decided to accompany the process of dealing with the past with war affected women. Rajan Iruthayanathan organised the workshop with local organisers and activists who know well the people, history and politics of the area. The women came from two villages, where almost each family has lost somebody during the war.
The ceasefire between Sri Lanka Security Forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), has lasted now for two years though many issues have not been dealt with and tensions remain. Nevertheless people are now turning their attention from the immediate fear of direct attacks to reconstruction, rehabilitation, and resettlement of displaced and war affected communities. In addition to this some who have long-term vision want to pose questions related to the responsibility for war crimes and the remedial measures for those who under went trauma.
The topic of Serbia and its political situation has been lingering in the news since the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, including the NATO bombing. Many things about this country and the region as a whole have been exposed to the world, apart from one: the truth! All sides involved, from the republics of ex- Yugoslavia to the international community, tell only their version of the conflict. This is not the way forward. If it continues, there is a dark future ahead for Serbia, as well as for many neighbouring countries.
Stasa Zajovic, on behalf of Women in Black from Belgrade, wrote on July 15th 2002 a letter to Serbian war veterans' and refugee organisations of Bratunca and Srebrenica, explaining why they had paid tribute to the Srebrenica massacre:
The past has been a battlefield in Kosovo for the past century. Since Serbia's bloody conquest of Kosovo in 1912, the rival “victim” historical narratives of the Serbian and Albanian communities in the territory have fuelled cycles of ethnic domination and sometimes atrocities. What people choose to remember or know and what people choose to honour or celebrate continue to shape the future.
During the last three years, Peace Brigades International (PBI) has been providing an international presence in Mexico for human rights defenders whose lives and political space have been under threat as a result of their struggle for human rights. At the request of local NGOs, PBI set up two teams of international volunteers: one in Mexico City and one in the state of Guerrero.
Today, 11 September 2003, these are our reflections about the transition, the dictatorship and the military coup:
We have been invaded by a series of commemorative acts. Faced with this, we think that the memory should not be spent in the form of remembrances and commemorations, that the act of remembering should not paralyse nor bring to a close the construction of a freer society that respects the dignity of all men and women.
International Conscientious Objectors' Day 2004 focuses on conscientious objection in Chile and Latin America. Jointly with Ni Casco Ni Uniforme War Resisters' International is organising an international seminar and nonviolent action training in Santiago, culminating in an international nonviolent action on 15 May - International Conscientious Objectors' Day.
The activities will start with an international seminar “Social Militarisation in Latin America: Experiences of Resistance to the New World Order” at the Universidad Bolivariana in Santiago, Chile, on 10/11 May 2004.
Thirty years after the military coup in Chile, one of its principal "humanitarian legacies" continues to be the task of working out the pain of the unforgettable memories left by the merciless disappearances. Much has been written and is known about the devastating impact that someone's disappearance can have on an individual, a family and a community.
APF is an organisation whose members are pledged ‘to renounce war and the preparation to wage war, and to work for the construction of Christian peace in the world'. It has members in some 30 countries around the world some of which are experiencing military conflict. The latest (October issue) of its newsletter, The Anglican Peacemaker focuses on the ongoing conflicts in Africa which are of real concern to some APF's members.
War Resisters' International was founded in 1921 under the name "Paco". It is based on the WRI declaration:
War is a crime against humanity. I am therefore determined not to support any kind of war, and to strive for the removal of all causes of war
War Resisters' International exists to promote nonviolent action against the causes of war, and to support and connect people around the world who refuse to take part in war or the preparation of war. On this basis, WRI works for a world without war.
The Broken Rifle is the newsletter of War Resisters' International, and is usually published in English, Spanish, French and German. This is issue 60, March 2004.
This issue of The Broken Rifle was produced by Roberta Bacic and Andreas Speck, with help from Mitzi Bales, Katarina Putnik, Susi Bascon, Howard Clark, Oscar Huenchunao, and many others, who provided the information used in this issue.
This issue is part of War Resisters' International's Dealing with the past project.