Friday, July 15, 2016

Just Governance for Human Security Day Four Report

 

Day four of Just Governance for Human Security 2016 began once again with morning reflections in the bay window of the great hall, with views of the spectacular mountain scenery for which Caux is famed.

 

The human factor focused on course co-convener John Bond’s experiences working with indigenous Australians on issues of reconciliation, and the culmination of this work, which was the apology to the stolen generations by the Australian government in 2008. He advised participants feeling overwhelmed by the considerable work there often is to be done on issues of governance that, while the road towards this healing moment was certainly rocky and took time, the results were well worth it in the end - “I think that anyone who wants to make a difference needs to recognise that this may take 10 years or more. And those years will contain pain as well as deep satisfaction. But if you commit yourself, and decide to live in the answer, you will see changes which you never thought possible”

 

Plenary: Addressing the root causes of extremism

 

What turns a person towards violent extremism? What can win that person to better ways to overcome injustice?

 

Anjum Ali, Initiatives of Change USA board member, moderated Day 4’s plenary, stating that is was her role to act as a bridge between the West, as an American, and the East, as a Pakistani and Muslim. She reflected on her recent first-hand experience of the discrimination and profiling that African Americans have been facing for hundreds of years.

 

Ajmal Khan Zazai, Paramount Chief of Paktia Province, Afghanistan acknowledged that, while poverty often fuels extremist machinery, most radical leaders (such as Bin Laden ) are extremely rich. He commented that radicalism was born out of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and introduced by the Pakistani military as a way to stand up against the Soviets and Communism - arming radicals was classified as having been a grave mistake. He stated that the tribes, who have always fought Afghanistan’s wars, would lay down their weapons after fighting and go back to farming, however the radicals kept their weapons.

 

Gatta Gali N’Gothe, Opposition Leader of the Parliament of Chad, remarked on how Boko Haram was able to get their hands on so many weapons and cargo in Nigeria, and the reasons for their rise. He commented on the lack of ‘neighbourliness’ and lack of commitment, stating also that extremism is often hidden within ourselves.

 

John Franklin of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC, spoke of the destruction of the lives of African Americans in Tulsa in what became known as the “Tulsa race-riots” of 1921. When oil was found in Tulsa, it quickly became the oil capital of the world, giving the area the name ‘Black Wall Street’. Fuelled by jealousy and hatred, many of the poor white population attacked affluent African-Americans, many of whom were forced to leave. The community was heavily bombed and black ‘Tulsans’ were gunned down in the streets, resulting in mass casualties, however figures were never reported accurately, no reparations were made and the massacre was largely covered up. A museum / centre for healing has only recently been established in Tulsa.

 

Following on from this, M. Susan Savage, Former Mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma, exclaimed at how it was possible to dehumanize and act against one’s neighbours in such a way, speaking of the race riot as “Tulsa’s shame”. She reflected on the considerable time it took as a community to understand the impact of the atrocity, stating that the lack of action from government officials led to mistrust and inequality. Tulsa never confronted its own history, which resulted in a lack of real healing. In 2000 as mayor of Tulsa, she was unequivocal in her apology to African Americans, bringing the community with her, and when the KKK came to Tulsa in 1996 the city rallied against them in unity. Change, she said, has been occurring in all sectors of the community, however this work is never done and there is always much, much more to do.

 

Workshops

 

The Red / blue partnering exercise was available again to participants, more information about which can be found here.

 

 

Healing history – an African-American experience delved more deeply into the history of the race-related massacre that took place in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the US, and how the community failed to deal with this trauma for some time, but have since begun a process of truth-seeking and healing. The workshop explored some of the struggles African-Americans have experienced and gave context to the race riots in 1921, along with the aftermath which played out across many generations. The work that communities within Tulsa continue to do to bring about healing, and the importance of presenting the history of the race riot accurately as part of the healing process is well reflected by the development of the Greenwood Cultural Centre, an African- American Library, museum. At the end of the presentation, questions were taken on the education system in the U.S. with regards to curriculum development dealing with the history of race massacre, generating further discussion on race relations and social healing.

 

East European challenges: The fight for political reform in Ukraine opened with the session’s moderator asking the participants to write down one challenge that they think was most important within the context of the East European region. Participants were then asked to categorize the written challenges into groups according to their similarities for further discussion. Issues included problems of communication, internally displaced peoples, issues around Crimea and East Ukraine, the geopolitical expansion of NATO and other tensions between different powers in the region. Participants were instructed to link these challenges with  those of human security more broadly, and to imagine a world in which these challenges were then peacefully resolved.

 

Following on from the theme of this morning’s plenary, a workshop on Addressing the root causes of extremism was facilitated by Dr Imad Karam, Executive Director of Initiatives of Change International and Ron Lawlor, who has had extensive experience in government and consulting in Australia over the last 25 years. The workshop looked at extremism in terms of three layers: roots, secondary, results, and built on examples from the previous day’s workshop. Roots were identified as being fear (of the other, of uncertainty, of globalisation), emotions, ignorance, ego and selfishness, trauma, historic wounding and grievances, identity, and a lack of love. Secondary layers included poor governance, systemic injustice, inequality and poverty, power imbalance and marginalisation, propaganda and the normalization of violence and abuse, and the results were violence, repression, immoderate and uncompromising policies, and state initiated or encouraged wars.

 

The Turkish-Armenian Dialogue session began with a documentary aimed at showing the difficulties Armenians living in Turkey face on a day to day basis.  The movie included interviews with Armenian descendants and Kurds living in Turkey and also explored the issue of islamization of Armenians. A discussion followed the film screening and the question of threats to Armenian cultural heritage was raised.  The film was dedicated to the lives of ordinary Armenian descendants in modern Turkey.

 

The workshop India: ushering in ethical governance from village to national level looked at IoFC Asia Plateau’s Grampari initiative, discussing the impact of access to clean water from a spring box – a low cost solution developed to filter contaminated water – which has tremendously improved the health of people from multiple villages. The initiative aims not only to provide clean water access but also to replenish the springs, and much of the work is done through extensive community involvement. The session  further explored IoFC Asia Plateau’s work empowering youth, police officers, government officials and those who come from low-income backgrounds. The centre provides both skills-based training and training with a focus on personal transformation.

 

Evening Programme

 

Participants were treated to a one woman show by performance artist Vanessa Adams-Harris, a member of the Tulsa, Oklahoma delegation - “Big Mama Speaks” remembers the Tulsa race-riots from the point of view of the elderly big mama, who looks back over the events of 1921, the impact they had on her life and the lives of so many others, and the importance of remembering.

 

Evening film viewings rounded out the day and included a new production by Initiatives of Change International, in partnership with the UNDP – “A Film for Northern Uganda” looked at the reconciliation process in northern Uganda, while “For the love of tomorrow” was also shown in French.

 

For a full photographic recap of the day please visit the CAUX-IofC flicker page and catch up on the conversation via Twitter and Facebook.

 

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