Youth of Nepal in Peace Building

The civil war against the autocratic monarchy came into operation in Nepal from 13 February 1996. Through the signing of Comprehensive Peace Accord between the rebel group and the Government, the 10 years long civil war came to an end on 21 November 2006 along with the management of combatants and, arms and ammunitions. The message of conclusion of civil war was given internationally and nationally. As a result of civil war, some political change like end of monarchy, promulgation of new constitution,entry of federal democratic republican system etc. took place. Due to such political change, it seemed like Nepal was in Peace.


But the civil war, done in the name of change, has resulted into various events of human rights violation, victimized the citizens, created turmoil in peoples heart, violence in the society and people have lost their parents, husband/wife and children. Many were tortured, raped and led to homelessness. More than seventeen thousand people were killed and more than three thousand went missing. The pain of yesterday’s war is still alive today. Many rape victims are still bleeding due to uterine prolapse. People are struggling on the edge of life and death due to their injury. There are hundreds of wives still in pain and waiting for their husband, having the hope that their husband will return one day. Many people still live with the question that, why were their loved ones killed? Who killed them? Although it is told that peace was restored but due to these cause there is still unrest and turmoil in some communities. Until the questions of these people is not answered there will always remain unrest in their mind.


We can only imagine the pain of the person to whom their family left by saying that they will return in few minutes and has not returned for 20 years. Until today those families are still suffering to know the truth and are fighting for justice. Those families are not just seeking the truth and justice but also raising their voice to ensure that the same does not repeat in the future.

banglanatak dot com, Kolkata has been operating the Peace Waves program in the Asia as a small effort to grant peace in the society and persons of the society among the unrest created due to the culture, rites, discrimination on societal understanding and other different reasons. In the first phase, the Peace Waves program was operated in participation from various states of India, Nepal, Bangladesh and other countries for two days and the participants were requested to operate a program in their own places in order to restore the peace. Following the request, I had organized and operated a program being based on the story of victims of civil war that occurred from 13 February 1996 to 21 November 2006. I operated the program by showing the documentaries of civil war in order to make people aware about the changes that civil war brought to the life of victims and to raise the questions like,how to decrease the unrest scattered in the mind of victims and society?, what role can youth play to provide justice and to send the message that such events should never occur in the future and no one should suffer from such pain ever. My institutions, Voices of Women Media and Conflict Victim National Alliance, had helped me in the organization of program. The program was organized in Kathmandu Metropolitan City, 13 Chagal, Nepal. The interaction took place in participation of more than 500 students from Sarawoti Niketan Higher Secondary School on May 6, Shanti Niketan Higher Secondary School in May 09, Shree Geetemata Higher Secondary School in May 10, Kanti Ishwori Rajya Lakshmi Higher Secondary School in May 13, Paropakar Higher Secondary School in May 17 and Lesnal College in June 03.
The things that I learned from banglanatak dot com workshop helped me a lot during the organization and operation of this program. By providing the information about the past, the questions like, what impacts the victims have faced?, how to bring peace in the mind of families of victims? and what can we do to ensure that such events does not take place in future? were discussed with the students.

Teachers and students said that, to move forward together in the campaign for justice and also because students are the future of the nation, for non-repetition of similar incidents, this program played a vital role amongst young student.
I have always been working to bring peace in the peoples mind and in the society but banglanatak dot com has given me the required motivation and I am very thankful to the institution. I appreciate the work of banglanatak dot com in this matter.
Reactions of Students:
• I did not know such events occurred and many people are still awaiting for justice.
• In order to restore peace in the society, these types of programs are necessary.
• Not only us but other people should also know these things.
• Until they do not get the justice, there would not be peace in their mind and in order to restore peace in their mind, justice must be delivered.

Peace resides within us

Amer Eltony formed a musical band named Mawlawiya in the year 1994 to safeguard Egypt’s Mawlawiya heritage. His idea was to create an artistic-spiritual ambience inspired by their rich cultural  endowment. His main aim was to achieve an audio-visual alternative to spirituality which he has gained through portrayal of their songs, dance and poetry on stage.

Elton’s view of peace is very humane as he believes that peace resides within us and to wake that we need to love all the men and all that makes up the world. It is through their performance on stage that they conveys the message of peace. Their songs should make the audience across the society feel what they feel inside them. This unites them from heart to heart which is more important to be spread kindness than anything else and this is what they are doing.

The growth of the virtual world which may seems to impact negatively today’s youth has a positive influence to Amer Eltony. Through media and social networking sites their concerts and performances are reaching to a whole new section of  people connecting them on a better level. Peace has a better future if today’s youth  love himself, loves his family, his country and consider all humans his brother.

 

Music just not speaks to your ears but to your feelings

Annette Bellaoui is the coordinator and co-founder of the Copenhagen World Peace Music Festival – an annual Danish music festival. She also directs the organization  ‘ Missing Voices’ a musical consortium that empowers and promotes Muslim and non-Muslim women to independency and self-growth through music which is more than just entertainment.

To her: “Music just not speaks to your ears but to your feelings”

Peace thrives in human spirit through music; it has all the powers to eradicate the human and worldly distress  that has dawned upon us. This view stands for what Annette seeks from peace through music. Her concept of peace is absence of any kind of trouble. Her idea to combat socio-religious political extremism would be music. Musical experiences can bind strangers into a bond of fellowship.

Annette’s work has impacted peace in two vital ways one through  her company which serves as a music school for children and teenagers that offers free musical education to them. It has opened a new avenue for them to express their emotions and provide that inner peace which might have escaped them for years. This school of music teach songs in fourteen languages because Annette believes children are pure so they understand more about each other’s language and culture. In spite of such diversity, they would no longer remain a stranger to the others existence and that will promote acceptance and love in them.

Being a strong independent woman herself Annette established a music band specially for Muslim women who are considered  a benighted creature incapable of any strength. This gave those women a soulful voice with other such women of Christian and other background. They all sing together the folk songs which sends the message of peace. Few years back there was a great agitation between Palestine and Israel that led to trouble within her musical band belonging to these two different nationalities. Annette took this situation to be a great opportunity to convey the message of greater understanding and cohesiveness. She encouraged a performance where the Palestinian and the Israelite musicians held each other’s hand and sang in Arabic, Palestinian and Hebrew.

To her, music and food has the ability to share artistic tradition and abolish fear so she wants more and more fellow youth to engage in activities which can be done together one of which is music, sports and others. Her conversion to Islam has taught her that life on earth is not just about an individual but it’s about standing united as one. This acceptance and inclusive way of living comes from the art of kindness and sharing where music has a great power to show who these people really are.

 

Peace is worth our everyday effort

Felix is a national of Ghana West Africa and a fellow of Indian Council for Cultural Relations. He is currently enrolled for Masters in Communication for Development (C4D) at Tezpur University, Assam.

The article summarises the radio production work submitted by Felix, our peace waves participant from Assam, India. The actual work can be accessed @ https://www.bongonet.net/rewind/explore/123

In this episode, Felix used what can be termed as a hybrid radio production format; Musical talk show to engage his audience on the subject matter of peace, and what it means to him. Audience in between, are introduced to nice reggae songs from renowned musicians like Lucky Dube, Culture and Peter Tosh.

If what we work for is not peace, then it’s not worth our struggle!

In the words of the Noble Peace Laurette, Martin Luther King Junior, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Peace essentially is the absence of war. Regardless of how one sees or defines it, peace is essential for our normal everyday existence. Without it, there is no chance at the times and opportunities we desire for ourselves.

“Peace to me is the absence of violence. It comes in so many types. Regardless how you describe or sees it. Peace is essential for our normal day existence. Without peace, it is to be appreciated that most of us will not have theopportunity to the life and times we desire, and the kind of aspirations we have for ourselves…”

“…so, at a point in time, we all must contribute at least, a bit of our time, to any initiative that seeks to maintain the peace process across the globe.”

But can there be peace without an appreciation of equal rights; right to religion, freedom of association, movement?

“I don’t think so! Even as we talk of peace, it is relevant we talk about the appreciation of equality and justice for all…”

In our drive for a peaceful world, we must also endeavor to ensure the enjoyment of equal rights- and most importantly, the prevalence of justice everywhere.

If indeed we are peace-loving, we should have no difficulties with others enjoying their rights.

“if we can appreciate people for who they are, and not what they practice, I believe we can maintain the peace process…”

“we all have to know we are different in terms of what our practices are.  But the good thing is, we unity is in our diversity. We can’t all led our lives practicing a common belief…”

Sharing the world through radio…

Excerpts from an interview with Georgios Markakis, veteran radio presenter from Greece

“I don’t have an organization working on peace but peace is a colour I always include in my life. It is like an ingredient I use in my everyday cooking. Democracy and peace both mean a lot to me. I have collaborated with George Papendreou , a popular Greek politician for several years. Being beside a politician, I have had to respect his ideals and values. I have learnt to believe in his thinking without being judgmental about his beliefs. It is important to spend time together to work constructively. His way of work too is very accommodating. He gives importance to the opinion of each of his team members and takes a consensus to create synergy. He had an important role in reintroducing the Olympic Truce where member nations are requested to lay down their arms so that the games may be carried on peacefully. This brings people to discussion and the moment people start discussing a lot of the animosity ends.  He infact managed to do the impossible getting the leaders of North and South Korea photographed together.

I have been on the radio for 40 years. I collaborated with Papendreou since the year 1996. I am into culture. I travel around the world looking for interesting sounds. I not only look for music but lyrics with a message. I am trying to build a platform where the youth can coexist. I am following WOMEX since 1999. More than 2500 people meet there to share local colours of their place. Being exposed to different cultures helps fight xenophobia.

One needs to have the mind to judge the press in this age of fake news. We must be able to question any views. Now the media is very flexible. Everyone has access to technology and the means to reach out to people instantly. Thus it is important to filter the news that is relevant.

Once when Papendreou was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the corresponding Turkish Minister was visiting Greece, there was an evening dinner organized for the officials from both the nations. I was to play the music. I played examples of Turkish and Greek songs which had the same tune. These were songs made in the period of 1930-50s. I play these songs on the radio till date. This was just the message that I wanted to give out to the politicians that although there maybe differences at the policy level, both groups of people share a similar culture and thus should coexist. I still play songs in Greek, Turkish and Jewish which are very similar in structure. These 3 major world religions meet at the Eastern part of the Mediterranean. Thus musicians and artists should probably have their own parliament where they focus on commonalities rather than differences.

A young guy informed me of an app that would hear a language and translate it into another language almost instantly. They will call it Babylonia. Babylon actually faced a crisis and crumbled as they had people from so many different places and they could not communicate. After 4000 years, there is finally a solution to that problem thanks to technology.

I am not a preacher but one can easily understand what I am trying to promote from my radio shows.  I once played a song that just kept saying, ‘Stop fascism’ and then another song that explained what fascism is.

 

The younger generation is not aware of the war crimes committed during World Wars. So the youth need to learn and empathise so that these occurrences do not happen in the future. I feel responsible in sending out the right facts. Even then I would say there is no absolute. You have to be open to changes in beliefs.

I have faced challenges too. It was the time of the apartheid in South Africa in 1982. I played a song about the atrocities committed against the coloured people. My producers had an issue with that stating that it might affect the diplomatic ties our country shares with South Africa. I still feel if he had done his research he would not have had an issue with it.

I have been instrumental in setting up a radio channel with the broadcasting wing of the European Union where the idea is to play music from across the globe.

My message to the youth is to be open to and absorb different cultures. See what it tastes like. Feel it. This way one will be able to shape a better opinion. There will also be a lot of things about cultures that seem attractive but may not work for you. You have to learn to keep reinventing yourself to avoid getting stagnant.  Keep your mind open and pick what suits you best but at the same time having respect is most important. “

 

Being a Cypriot

Musician Demetris Yiasemides shares on what it is to be a Cypriot

Although Cyprus is a tiny island, there is a lot of political turmoil going on for  the last 40- 50 years. The situation has a deep impact on people’s lives as well as the culture and music of the region. The music is structured in such a way to bring people to dialogue and unify the people of the island. Cyprus primarily
has 2 communities- the Greeks and the Turkish. They are separated by a green line where only the UN can intervene. There was no interaction between the 2 communities till 2004. Although it has opened up a bit in the last 10 years with people travelling to different regions. There have been lots of collaborative
efforts which have brought both the communities into discussion. The music is carefully composed to include the sentiments of both communities and stand for what is Cypriot. We band mates are great friends. It was a journey for all us to our roots and search for traditional tunes. We have then improvised
and come up with our own compositions.

Words of Wisdom by the great musician Mario Lucio from Cape Verde

Peace is something we share. We may be at peace with ourselves but it is important to share it with people.  Peace is definitely not just the politicians’ prerogative. It is for every individual. A nation cannot be in peace if the leaders are not in peace. So we must make an effort to bring peace within ourselves.  The moment we are at peace we must share it with people. It multiplies creating a positive impact. With this a real network can be established. A small collective can grow into a community.

When I was awarded with the WOMEX Personality of the Year, I realized that I have a team of 13 but we never fight with each other, the reason being that culture unites us. We become ambassadors of peace as it is this energy we share with the world. The audience too imbibes this peace. Music and culture is a great way to bring peace. This inspires us to give it our best every time we are on stage as we are there with a mission.

It takes time to understand and discover ourselves. It is very important to have real interactions rather than virtual. People are losing patience due to so much information available at the click of a button. People need to utilize technology very diligently. People are becoming more individualistic with a lot of ego. This leads to suffering. It is thus very important to have real interactions.

 

Into the Heaven of Freedom

 

Susmit Bose is a renowned urban folk singer who sings to spread the message of peace. He has been making music since the 1970’s, and has performed widely in India and abroad. He participated in the International Folk Song Festival in Havana, Cuba in 1978. He has also been involved in making documentaries and films on socio-cultural aspects of India. He composed the score for the film “I am Kalam”. Singing in English, many consider him to be a source of social change for the generation of English educated Indians. Although Susmit does not necessarily agree with it, he has often been called the “Bob Dylan of India”.

He has set Rabindranath Tagore’s poem “Where the Mind is Without Fear” to music. The dramatic emphasis of the song is on the lyrics: “Into the heaven of freedom my Father, let my country awake”. Passionate as he is about peace and justice, he is not commercially motivated while making music. This allows him to speak freely and openly about social issues although his aim is not to directly bring about social change.

“All Rise” is an inspirational song about human dignity. Although music alone is not enough for peace, it is a very strong message for communicating the message. “I’m still a hippy at heart,” said Susmit, so let the power of peace prevail.

 

Border Conflicts and Solutions – Points to ponder and dialogue upon

There are many reasons why nations dispute over land. Perhaps the greatest reason why nations dispute land is due to natural resources. What makes land very valuable is what is on or under the land. For example, is there is gas, gold, oil, or any number of other commodities, then that land is very desirable.

There are debating the deposit of natural gases in the disputed area. Another reason of dispute is access to water, which make the land more fertile. In short, there is usually something about the land that both nations want.

Often boundary disputes result from differences between distinct cultures, ethnic groups, or political systems. Boundary disputes resulting from religious differences and ethnic differences are also important.

Another possible cause is the lack of clear borders. Sometimes, land is a surrogate for a desire on each side to have power.

https://www.enotes.com/homework-help/what-major-reasons-boundary-disputes-403391

Rather than looking at how border disputes can be resolved, the governments should be looking to how they can prevent cross-border tension. The answer, it appears, may lie with education.

Whether such education focuses on cross-culture acceptance due to the multicultural nature of the region, or looks to the implementation of more efficient economic practice in the region – particularly in agriculture, given the importance of water and poor irrigation practices – education can have a significant impact on lessening tension in the region. However, these governments will need to work together, ensuring all groups are included on an equal footing.

https://www.peaceinsight.org/blog/2015/08/the-causes-and-consequences-of-cross-border-conflict-in-kyrgyzstan/

Territorial disputes are traditionally regarded as the most common sources of war. Yet, research focusing on the question why territorial disputes arise has been rare, and has usually relied on power-political assumptions. Typically, the emergence of territorial disputes has been explained in terms of rational strategic and economic interests and changing power relations. Many of today’s territorial disputes can be better explained from a normative perspective, by referring to subjective conceptions of justice and international norms.

As an emotive issue, territory is loaded with a number of emotional and normative elements which today are likely to surpass its `rational’ economic or strategic value. Therefore attempts to resolve territorial disputes which do not take into account the normative dimension underlying such disputes are likely to fail.

In this view, the root of national identity rests on a claim of historical affinity to land. Because people’s sense of identity and belonging are grounded in particular territories, symbolic attachments matter more than territory’s intrinsic value.

 

Attachment to territory is primordial, an element in the formation of group identities forged through a historic process of territorial socialization that imbues land with historical, mythical, or religious meaning.

A prevalent approach in the literature on territory and conflict focuses on the association between nationalism and territorial affinity. If territory is fundamental to one’s national identity, she may object to its division irrespective of the cost of continued control.

In this view, humans, like other animals, are biologically programmed to keep and protect a territory they perceive as theirs, and are thus more likely to go to war over territorial disputes than other issues.

A different strand highlights ideology and identity, arguing that the roots of collective identity are grounded in particular homelands

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/246143317_Explaining_Territorial_Disputes_From_Power_Politics_to_Normative_Reasons

Territorial disputes occur when official representatives of one country make explicit statements claiming sovereignty over a specific piece of territory that is claimed or administered by another country. Territorial disputes lead to militarized conflict more frequently than other types of diplomatic disputes involving maritime, river, identity, economic, cultural, or other issues. A majority of interstate wars have been fought between countries embroiled in one or more territorial disputes. Countries who share contiguous borders are more likely to fight wars with each other than non-contiguous states, especially if they have disagreements over specific pieces of territory. Territory that is more valuable because of natural resources, religious sites, or historical homeland claims generates more violence. Wars also spread or diffuse across geographic boundaries. Territorial disputes can be resolved successfully with peaceful conflict management tools such as arbitration and adjudication through international courts. The successful settlement of border disputes promotes democratization and helps secure the stability of shared borders in the long run. State borders have also become more difficult to violate in recent decades because of the emergence of a norm of territorial integrity. The general decline in territorial conquest stems in part from increasing economic interdependence among countries in the world. While disputes over traditional land borders have decreased over time, other types of territorial disputes have become more prevalent, such as competition over maritime resources in areas around islands or homeland areas.

https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199743292/obo-9780199743292-0178.xml

Forgive the past to survive the future

Forgiveness does not come cheaply; it comes deeply from the heart. In 1995, truth and reconciliation commission was formed in South Africa as an aftermath of apartheid, as a deal between the former white-minority regime and the African National Congress. Formal hearings began on 16 April 1996. It was amazing to see that the leaders that evolved in the camp decided to forgive instead of prosecuting. The nation thought it was immensely important to heal than to punish. They opened their arms and welcomed the individuals to admit their crime fully. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was created to investigate gross human rights violations that were perpetrated during the period of the Apartheid regime from 1960 to 1994, including abductions, killings, torture. Its mandate covered both violation by both the state and the liberation movements and allowed the commission to hold special hearings focused on specific sectors, institutions, and individuals.

We all read and learnt about the aftermath of the apartheid but very few of us wanted to know what happened after the commission was held. Here was the chance for the South Africans to begin anew. But even after two decades of the TRC commission there is barely any changes. What remained were the traumatic memories of the stories that were told. According to sources there were widows whose husbands were brutally killed by the apartheid forces present at the hearing. Suring their testimony all they could do was to let out a scream which still haunts many who were present.

Significant and Impact

The reconciliatory approach was seen as a successful way of dealing with human-rights violations after political change, either from internal or external factors. Consequently, other countries have instituted similar commissions, though not always with the same scope or the allowance for charging those currently in power.

In one survey study, the effectiveness of the TRC Commission was measured on a variety of levels:

  • Its usefulness in terms of confirming what had happened during the apartheid regime (“bringing out the truth”)
  • The feelings of reconciliation that could be linked to the Commission
  • The positive effects (both domestically and internationally) that the Commission brought about (i.e. in the political and the economic environment of South Africa).

The differences in opinions about the effectiveness can be attributed to how each group viewed the proceedings. Some viewed them as not entirely accurate, as many people would lie in order to keep themselves out of trouble while receiving amnesty for their crimes. (The Commission would grant amnesty to some with consideration given to the weight of the crimes committed.) Some said that the proceedings only helped to remind them of the horrors that had taken place in the past when they had been working to forget such things. Thus, the TRC’s effectiveness in terms of achieving those very things within its title is still debatable

In a series of photographs, Gonzales Day shows lynchings of black bodies with the images of the ropes and bodies removed from the scene of the crime, leaving the white spectators in the photographs. The series invites the viewer to cast the gaze not on the victims of the lynchings, but rather on the spectators to this crime, gleefully standing by to witness this atrocity to its conclusion.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_and_Reconciliation_Commission_(South_Africa)

Other TRCs around the world

Following South Africa’s truth and reconciliation commission, many more truth commissions have been created and continue to be created. These include repeat commissions in some countries where the first commission was constrained and new governments felt it had not carried out a full accounting for the past. It has become a model for other countries. Commissions have been widespread in the aftermath of conflict as components of peace agreements in Africa since the 1990. For example, Congo and Sierra Leone have used truth commissions. Chile’s Commission for Truth and Reconciliation was followed by a Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture in 2003. Approximately 3,000 people died or went missing during the years of Augusto Pinochet‘s rule. Pinochet’s successor created the first commission in 1990. The Nepalese Truth Commission was followed by a new commission in 2014; and there have been calls for a new truth commission to supplement the Panama Truth Commission established in 2000.

Commissions have also started to operate with targeted mandates related to indigenous peoples or the aftermath of colonialism. Canada’s truth commission focused on the legacies of Indian residential schools and indigenous-settler relations. Canada sanctioned a program that allowed the kidnapping of native children in order to assimilate them. In 2006 schools that were set in Indian residential areas sued Canada and began the process towards enacting a truth and reconciliation commission.  Also, Australia has held a National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families. On the other hand, Germany has held two truth commissions on human rights violations in the former East Germany.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Truth_and_reconciliation_commission