American Friends Service Committee
Patrica Watson, Editor
Sara Burke, Assistant Editor
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.
Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.
A Low Mark for the Peace Movement?
Letter to the Abolition-usa email list from Joan Russo, head of the Green Party of Canada and leader of the Global Compliance Project on UN documents and treaties.
Not only the Dutch Embassy was remiss in not granting visas to Yugoslavian peace groups but also the organizers of the Hague Peace appeal were derelict in their duty to ensure that a strong statement related to Yugoslavia be issued at the conference. Why did the organizers prevent the carefully crafted statement on Kosovo from being presented at the plenary? Why was Bill Pace, who is purported to support the NATO bombing, permitted to prevent the organizers from allowing a statement? Why were two Albanians-the most ardent supporters of NATO-allowed to speak at the plenary? Why did (Conference President) Cora Weiss, when asked at a press conference about a statement on Kosovo, state that there was division within the peace movement? Why was Ramsey Clarke, who was asked to participate by the Dutch Peace groups, prevented from speaking? Why did the organizers describe the request to have a large protest in front of the International Court of Justice during the NATO presentations to the ICJ as being "too political?"
The Hague Peace conference organizers have
seriously erred and have discredited the peace movement. I was
told that the US even used the fact that there was no statement
from the peace movement in the Hague as an indication that there
was support for the NATO intervention. Which groups were involved
with the decision making, and whose interests are they really
Creative Expression in a Season of Destruction
Orhan Maslo is a drummer. He played during the opening session of the Hague Appeal for Peace Conference with the Drummers from Sarajevo. Four young men in black T-shirts, with the words 'WAR child" emblazoned across them, and an attractive young woman in a vibrant red top drummed their way into high energy rhythms. Words had dominated the morning and then out came these young people, almost all of whom had survived a war. With the simple tools of beat and spirit, they communicated the heart of the conference's message: We are human and humans deserve to live.
Arriving at The Hague in a war-weary state, I wept when I saw them. I had not slept well since the NATO bombings began and my creativity felt completely curtailed. Images of humans cowering beneath invisible bombers dominated my mental terrain. Creative expression seemed incompatible with this season of destruction, yet here were these young people courageously evoking the desire to dance.
Orhan and I talked the following afternoon. He is from Mostar - a city in western Bosnia that endured two assaults during the recent civil war. After repelling the Serbs, Mostar turned upon itself and pitted Croats against Muslim in an unequal battle for control. Orhan fought in the predominantly Muslim sector of East Mostar and survived a severe siege that starved the inhabitants and forced many to huddle in darkened basements for weeks on end. He still carries the war with him. Pieces of shrapnel remain just under his skin, and his eyes are prematurely sad for someone so young and robust.
"How is your health?" I asked.
"I was never sick during the war, but after the shooting stopped, I was ill every day for four years. Occasionally, my heart races for no reason and I cannot eat the way I used to. Sometimes, I just want to go to Australia and live in nature for five years and forget...and...rest."
Today a precarious peace hovers over Mostar. The nationalists still preach ethnic division. Orhan cannot walk through the western sector of his hometown because his history as a combatant from the east-side could prompt an ad hoc beating. His music, however, remains a constant amidst the tension. He works at the Pavarotti Music Center, traveling sometimes to village schools to ignite rhythm among children of his former enemies. He also brings music to physically and mentally handicapped children. "Their life is so hard," he muses. "My difficulties are nothing compared to their problems." I marvel at the resiliency of his compassion. Although damaged in body and confined by the divisions of his homeland, he still wanted to inspire others to fly.
Treaties forge a necessary but superficial peace, but mere signatures of the militants cannot eradicate the attitudes or memories of the people who have suffered during the war. A permanent peace begins with a rejuvenation of the people and their capacity to craft their own resurrection. Because Orhan reminded me of this truth, I am not so tired now.