Dates for your diary
8 November 2001. Sydney Peace Prize Lecture PEACE AND JUSTICE: THE SEARCH FOR ABORIGINAL
RECONCILIATION by Sir William
Deane, 6.30pm. As with all previous Peace Prize lectures, this event promises
to inspire. Seymour Theatre Centre, 9351 7940, $25/$15
Tuesday 4th December 2001. CPACS AGM 6pm at CPACS
The World May Never be the Same Again
Reconciliation in Walgett 7
Virtual Colombo Plan 8
Editorial Note. In the six months since the last edition of PeaceWrites we have witnessed human suffering: in Australia in the hardening stance towards asylum seekers; in America, the Middle East and Afghanistan in the unspeakable acts of terror, and violent retribution. In response CPACS has called for dialogue (Stuart Rees’ article page 3); it has staged forums to
dispel myths regarding Asylum
1, and to
highlight the stereotyping in the backlash against Muslims , (page 3. Through its
research CPACS has sought understanding in order to implement change towards a
just society (Aboriginal Night Patrols and Delivery of Disability Services,
page 7). The key themes of this newsletter: understanding and attaining human
rights; the pursuit of non-violence and social change; and reconciliation (the
latter being the theme of this year’s Peace Prize Lecture by Sir William Deane,
and the reason for the visit to Walgett, page 7) form a major part of our graduate
programme in peace and conflict studies.
CPACS is about building peace networks between students and Peace -Studies
institutions and hence welcomes contributions from past and present students , pages 3-6 and with
other peace studies centres, such as the Toda Institute for Global Peace and
Policy Research, Honolulu, Hawaii , page 5. CPACS
applauds Kofi Annan on his Nobel Peace Award and
welcomes new strategies to combat inequalities such as the Virtual Colombo Plan , page 8. CPACS is
creative ; as exemplified in poetry , page 6. CPACS is also
about informing , peace is not
easy. How to be creative, rather than destructive, requires vision, commitment
and an unshakeable belief in our shared humanity.
§ Dr Jean-Pierre Fonteyne, Senior Lecturer and Convenor,
Graduate International Law Program, ANU
§ Eileen Pittaway, Director, Centre for Refugee Research,
University of New South Wales
§ David Bitel, President, Refugee Council of Australia
Aims of the Forum:
1. Provide facts and dispel the myths currently being propagated by some of our politicians and significant parts of the media;
2. Explain the law and Australia’s legal responsibilities; and
3. Propose and promote a framework for an ethical and humanitarian policy for the treatment of asylum seekers in Australia.
Attended by a responsive, 250-strong audience, the forum was convened by Anne Deveson, AO, writer, broadcaster and documentary film maker with a long involvement in human rights issues. Key speakers focussed on “dispelling myths” after which Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees facilitated a lively panel discussion on “promoting justice”.
It is a myth that the rest of the world supports Australia’s current stance on asylum seekers. On her recent return from the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, and UNHCR and EU meetings in Geneva and The Hague, Eileen Pittaway felt ashamed to be Australian. She was continually asked: “Why are [Australian] people supporting the Australian government’s approach to asylum seekers?” Non-government organisations and foreign governments alike have been appalled by the Australian government’s emphasis on its national sovereign right to stop asylum seekers coming to this country, an approach the UNHCR claims may contravene the 1951 Refugee Convention to which Australia is a party.
Myth Two: There is a queue.
It is also a myth that there is a “queue” of refugees offshore seeking asylum in Australia. Pittaway described the appalling conditions in a refugee camp she visited in Sri Lanka, where the people are desperate to go home and are subject to violence and disappearances. There is nowhere for UNHCR to take people to protect them, and there are roadblocks everywhere preventing people reaching embassies or the UNHCR office to lodge refugee applications: “There is no queue for these people”.
Myth Three: They want to come here.
Pittaway also argued it is a myth there are thousands of refugees wanting to come here - the majority want to go home but do not have a safe home to return to.
. We’re not part
of the problem.
Identifying and addressing the root causes of why so many refugees are unable to return home, and how these causes can be addressed is the responsibility of us all. These root causes include racism, the arms trade and gem smuggling supported by the West which in turn contribute to the poverty and conflict that result in refugee flows.
. Australia has a refugee problem.
is a myth. According to Dr Jean-Pierre Fonteyne, an expert in both law of the
sea and international refugee law, Australia does not have a refugee problem. In emphasising the government’s
legal responsibilities in relation to asylum seekers and refugees, he pointed
out that according to the 1951 Refugee Convention, Australia is obliged to
listen to the claims of all asylum seekers and to accept as refugees only those
who can show that they face persecution if they return to their home country.
He presented statistics to illustrate that European countries face
annual refugee flows greater than
Australia has experienced in more than a decade. Between mid-1989 and mid-2001 (12
years), Australia received applications from approximately 12,500 asylum
seekers who had arrived in Australia, of whom just 3,500 were granted refugee
similar number were allowed to stay on other grounds. By contrast, there are
currently some 54,000 people, many from the US and UK, who have overstayed
their visitor visas, and more than 1 million immigrants (as opposed to asylum
seekers) were accepted by Australia over the same period of time. By
comparison, in a single year in the late 1980s Netherlands received 14,000 asylum
seekers just from Sri Lanka; and
last year in
2000 Norway, with a population of barely 4 million, took 20,000 refugees.
This theme was followed up by panelist Juliana Nkrumah of the Australian National Committee on Refugee Women, who spoke about the experiences of African countries with far more limited economic means and resources that are forced to cope with much greater numbers of refugees and asylum seekers. Tanzania, for example, has a ratio of one refugee per 76 people, whereas Australia has one in nearly 2000. Tanzania cannot afford it, but they survive, and the result is local integration. Juliana emphasised that most refugees do not want to leave their homes; they are forced to leave because of conflict and other threatening conditions: “so when they get here, let’s welcome them!”
Detention is acceptable under HR law.
David Bitel, immigration lawyer, President of the Refugee Council of Australia, and Secretary General of the Australian Section of the International Commission of Jurists, told the forum about the horrors of mandatory detention for asylum seekers in Australia. He described as a national disgrace the detention of innocent children, including unaccompanied minors such as the orphaned 8-year-old Afghan child who has been locked up in Woomera detention centre. The detention system operating in Australia is condemned by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, the UN Human Rights Committee and by all major non-government organisations including Amnesty International and the National Council of Churches. A recent bipartisan Parliamentary Committee review of detention centres in Australia recommended the end of the system in its present form.
. Workable refugee application
Nasiba Akram, a spokesperson for the Council of the Representatives of Afghan Community Associations in NSW and active member of AUSTCARE, described three problems with the offshore refugee application procedure: the massive number of applications of which very few are processed; the potential for illegal treatment when the applications are handled by local officials in corrupt countries; and the opportunists who falsely claim to be Afghan refugees.
The role of the Forum was not just to debunk myths, but also to offer solutions towards PROMOTING JUSTICE by reforming refugee application procedures:
1. Establish a refugee application-processing centre
in Australia for offshore applicants
would help avoid
these problems and reduce the number of “queue jumpers”.
2. Asylum seekers should not be held in detention but should be released into the community as is done successfully in both New Zealand and Canada. Their family groups should be left intact, and the processing time should be reduced.
3. The Alternative Detention Model proposed by the Refugee Council and other NGOs should be adopted. Such an alternative detention model would include a limited period of detention to allow for checks of health, bona fides and character, followed within three months by community release with conditions while the case is determined. The system would include provision for judicial review of the determination regarding refugee status.
4. The issue of refugees should be removed from the Immigration portfolio and placed under the control of a neutral government department where the proper legal issues could be addressed undistorted by immigration considerations.
Ideas for influencing policy changes
1. Write letters to politicians; 2. Participate in talkback radio;
3. Obtain celebrity community spokespeople; 4. Produce media fact sheets listing available speakers; 5. Obtain signatures for a newspaper advertisement (as was done by writers on the international committee of PEN, who obtained 2500 signatures and raised more than $130,000 for a two-full-page advertisement published in The Weekend Australian on 6-7 October 2001.)
CPACS videotaped the event, and SBS Radio made a recording and conducted interviews for broadcast on their French language program. A New York-based journalist from International Media Services also attended and interviewed a number of the speakers. Channel 7’s Sunrise program aired an interview with Stuart Rees on 12 October and with Eileen Pittaway on 23 October.
the forum provided the opportunity for people to become informed
; to lobby for alternatives to mandatory detention and to address the root causes of refugees including war, racism, greed, economic
inequalities and poverty. As Anne Deveson urged: “It is important that we don’t
feel powerless. It is up to us to speak, not to be silent any more, to get hold
of the information and to get it out there quickly.”
For further details on refugees and asylum seekers see:
www.refugeecouncil.org.au, www.crr.unsw.edu.au, www.ncca.org.au, www.austcare.org.au, www.fecca.org.au, www.immi.gov.au, www.hreoc.gov.au, www.rrt.gov.au, www.unhcr.org, www.amnesty.org, www.hrw.org,www.jesref.org
CPACS wishes to thank the
speakers, individuals and organisations who volunteered their
time, resources and ideas to make this public forum possible
including Wendy Lambourne, Cheryl Minks, Julia Champtaloup, Emilie Priday, Jane
Sloane, John Telford, Alex White, Jane Fulton, Paul Clark, Barbra Wagner, Sarah
Fraser, Lynton Manuel, Tanya Burke, Fabia Chan, Abe Quadan, Roslyn Simms, Patsy
Garcia, Lynette Simons, Maike Enghardt, Justin Archer and Brendan O’Dwyer
(Pluto Press), Margaret Hinchey (Catholics in Coalition for Justice and Peace),
Linda Bartolomei (Centre for Refugee Research, UNSW), Stella Cornelius
(Conflict Resolution Network), Cathy Preston-Thomas (Refugee Council of
Australia), Marcia Belzer (AUSTCARE), Liz Biok (Legal Aid), Natasha Verco
(Student Representative Council, University of Sydney), Refugee Action
Collective, and James Thomson (National Program on Refugees and Displaced
People, National Council of Churches in Australia).
To place the current refugee debate in focus, the following is a recent UN report of Friday, 19 October 2001
3,500 Afghans enter
Pakistan under ‘chaotic’ conditions: UN refugee agency
19 October – In what may be the largest one-day exodus since the start of the bombing campaign in Afghanistan, more than 3,500 Afghans entered Pakistan in “chaotic” conditions, the United Nations refugee agency said today. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), people were apparently fleeing in panic, arriving at the Chaman border crossing without food or belongings. The influx Friday comes on top of some 10,000 people who have arrived in Pakistan’s Baluchistan Province over the past six days. The UN agency is asking Pakistani authorities for permission to provide water and food to the new arrivals. “It is somewhat worrisome to see this number of people coming across,” said UNHCR spokesman Mr Redman in Geneva at a news briefing. “We don’t know if it is going to continue, but this is by far the largest number of people we’re aware of thus far.”
Sydney’s Muslim community and
postgraduate students from the University of Sydney Centre for Peace and
Conflict Studies jointly challenged the negative stereotyping of Muslims in
Australia at a CPACS forum on 24 October
at the Centre for
Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney.
In response to the current refugee crisis in Australia and the recent events in the United States and Afghanistan, the students have developed educational resources aimed at building understanding and tolerance of Islam. Their resources are the result of interviews conducted over the past eight weeks with Muslim and non-Muslim participants who have noted and experienced widespread incidences of discrimination, intimidation, and violence, including: physical and verbal attacks against Muslim women and girls; defacing of mosques, churches, and Muslim-owned businesses; and the continual unjust association between Islam and terrorism
At the forum a statement of common interest and goodwill was declared: “To maintain the integrity of our multicultural society, we stress the importance of support for cultural differences and universal rights, the crucial role of dialogue across and within cultures, and tolerance of all religions. We cannot change the world without recognising the need for change within ourselves. We believe in the possibility of embracing diversity and difference as forces which unite, rather than divide, us.”
The students will contribute their research findings and educational resources to the Muslim Women’s National Network of Australia and the University of Technology Sydney Law Faculty – joint recipients of $60,000 in Commonwealth Government funding to work toward lessening racism and discrimination against Muslims in Australia.
Commentary post 11th September, 2001
terrorist attacks on
The World Trade Centre in New
York and the Pentagon in Washington, CPACS and the Sydney Peace Foundation have
sent messages of condolence to the US Embassy and to our colleagues in peace
studies institutions in the United States. Commentary on the event, from
members of CPACS, academics, students, the NGO community, of all creeds and
races, has been falling across the Editor’s desk. In the following pieces,
dialogue and compassion, not armed conflict and vengeance, is the process towards lasting peace.
To start, the following is an article written by CPACS Director, Professor Stuart Rees. It featured in the Sydney Morning Herald on 10th October, 2001 and is accessible online:
As bombs rain on Afghanistan, calls for conversation and understanding are coming from the most unlikely sources, writes Stuart Rees. After several days of bombing, a United States-led military victory in Afghanistan might look certain. But each day of conflict is one less opportunity for dialogue between the two sides - and therefore a step away from long-lasting peace. In personal relationships and in international affairs, the consequences of not conversing with those who oppose or threaten you are often disastrous. Isolated people seek violent remedies.
The most recent issue of Jane’s Intelligence Review concludes that the imposition of sanctions against Afghanistan had isolated its people and its leadership and had cut off Western operatives from those sources of intelligence which come only through human contact.
During and after the war against the al-Qaeda networks and the Taliban, dialogue - among opponents and allies - will be required to maintain a coalition against terrorism and to build a just peace. Such dialogue should revolve around searching questions about the causes of the conflicts. Powerful countries and interest groups will have to reflect on their policies. Principles for peaceful co-existence will have to be made explicit.
Persistent questions about conflict in the Middle East focus on the legality of settlements on the West Bank. In this controversy, it should be possible to examine the relationship between respect for the identity of a people and the security of a region, yet the British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, recently incurred the wrath of the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, because he mentioned the prospect of the creation of a Palestinian state. Addressing Israel’s security by considering the human rights of Palestinians does not imply any condoning of violence from either side.
In Europe, across the US and in Australia, an encouraging dialogue with Muslim community leaders is forestalling a backlash of resentment towards their people. In such dialogue, frank questions can be raised - such as why the Koran may be used to justify fanaticism - without ever being disrespectful to the tenets of a major religion. Unless these exchanges continue, the predictions of a “clash of civilisations”, a “Jihad versus McWorld conflict”, will be confirmed.
A Gandhian premise in peace negotiations requires the promoters of non-violence to examine their own attitudes. After the events of September 11, representatives of the peace movement will have to revise their assumptions about a common humanity. If you have seldom experienced tolerance let alone the freedoms of a democracy, it is difficult to imagine the meaning of such values. People who join the ranks of terrorists enjoy violence and act without remorse. Acknowledging this highlights rather than undermines the significance of dialogues for peace.
In a political climate in which a majority of the public are said to favour the overwhelming use of force against the Taliban and in which political leaders say they respect such opinion, support for peaceful dialogue has come from an unlikely source. Those who have suffered terrible personal loss and who do not see why more innocent lives should be lost in the interests of retribution have challenged President George Bush’s oversimplified equation: “If you are not for us you are against us.” Professor Orlando Rodriguez, of Fordham University, who lost his 31-year-old son Greg in the attack on the World Trade Centre, was horrified by calls for a huge military response. “Not in my son’s name you don’t. I do not want my son’s name used as a pawn to justify the killing of others.”
A few days after the destruction of the World Trade Centre, a friend of mine was on a commercial jet leaving Los Angeles airport en route to Calgary. Just before take-off, the pilot announced that the doors were closed, saying: “We are all alone. We could be a family. Please turn to the people next to you and introduce yourselves. If during the flight anyone stands up to threaten you, I want all to act together against that person. Terrorism will not be defeated by armies or by the latest computer technology but by caring for one another. Now sit back, relax and enjoy the flight.”
During an Australian election, making the case for dialogue - in particular with conditional supporters such as Pakistan and Indonesia - is more important than having a prime minister posing as a military warrior. The grieving father and the visionary pilot should be emulated by promoting social and foreign policies which enable people to live together peacefully and to care for one another. Those objectives require steps towards a just peace and a response to Salman Rushdie’s claim (Herald, October 8), “It’s time to stop making enemies and to start making friends’’.
Monday 17 Sep 2001, email
from Veronica, an American student in our Graduate Peace and Conflict Studies
Programme: I feel like I must make a small statement on behalf of myself,
and many other Americans that I know, on the “arrogance of power” that has
seemingly spread like wildfire across the world. I sincerely hope that everyone
realises that 280 million people cannot all be summed up as supporters of
American foreign policy. I for one
have never supported American politics and I know many other Americans who were
America’s biggest critics as far as foreign relation matters go
, we knew of the
mistakes occurring and feared for this kind of retaliation (although not on
such a massive scale). Innocent
Americans who didn’t even support such ‘American Imperialism’ have deceased and
already all Americans are encapsulated as one entity of arrogance and
dominance. It is true that this can be seen as a ‘wake up call’ for our
nation’s leaders but let’s not forget how many other nations take part in
America’s sanctions and policies in other countries. We are not alone in this
corrupted game of power politics.
With peace & solidarity....*Veronica*
Email from Anne Boxberger who completed her MA in Peace and Conflict Studies earlier this year and is now working on projects and research in the Office of International Education at the University of Richmond, USA: Dear Jane, Even with the violence and conflict that are always apart of our world, I never could have imagined the events of the past 24 hours here in the US. I just wanted to send you a quick message at CPACS to say
that, while overwhelmed, I am suddenly in a position
to use so many skills that I learned during my year
there. While all of my family and friends are safe, there are
those close to me who are still missing loved ones,
and many in my immediate community. It is a horrible
time. Yet people all over the country have pulled
together in an amazing display of love, donating
blood, time, money, and prayers. I have been very
impressed by many of the country’s leaders, who are
emphasizing that while the perpetrators do need to be
found and held to justice, now is a time for the
country to work on getting through the recovery of our
own people, and to mourn for ourselves. I do have
many fears for the future, for the potential for
further bloodshed. But for now, the country grieves.
Please send my thanks to everyone at CPACS for their
commitment to peace and justice. I can see now, more
clearly than ever, just how needed they are.
Reaction to 11th September from Abe Quadan
Abe was born to
Palestinian parents in a tent in a refugee camp in Jordan. He finished
his high school education in Jordan and arrived in Australia in 1972. Abe
worked as a volunteer assisting the newly arrived migrants. He is
currently completing a Masters Degree in Dispute Resolution at UWS
he is a Senior Project Officer in the
area of Performance & Policy Analyst - Multicultural. Abe is the
Membership Secretary and Secretary of the Australian Arabic Palestinian Support
The world stopped for the victims of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre. We also shared with the citizens of America their grief and sorrow. The Moslems and the Palestinians also stopped to grieve with the victims because they are part of this world. The Palestinian school children stopped for five minutes silence and donated blood to the injured.
The USA intelligence pointed the finger at Osama Bin Laden. The Moslem and Arabic community is being singled out for collective punishment for no reason except that the terrorists claim that they are Moslems and of Arabic background.
The USA declared it a war against terrorism. But who is the terrorist in the American language? The Moslem and Arabic community don’t trust the American interpretation of the word ‘terror’.
The world may have changed now, according to the American media. We sincerely do hope that it has changed and is ready for reconnection with our world.
Reaction to 11th
September from Samira, a Muslim girl born in Sydney in 1985, currently in
year 9 in Liverpool Girls High School. Since the terrorist attack Samira
is now aware of a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment in her daily life, as she
explains: What have I got to do with it? I personally think that everyone shouldn’t judge the
whole community by one or two people doing the wrong thing. Take America for
noo-one turned against the white Americans
when the bombing with McPhee happened in Oklahoma. Why is everyone against the
Middle Eastern people now that Osama Ben Laden is the
major suspect? At first I was confused about this whole thing. That’s because
everyone was ‘bagging out’ the Arabs and did not stop to think about asking me
what I thought about the whole situation regarding the “Arabs” since I am half
Arab. After noticing that I had not been asked I interrupted and gave them my
fair share on what I thought about this whole thing. But now I understand how
it is to be treated like nothing, not even human. No one deserves this,
whatever their background, nationality, colour or religion.
Reaction to 11th September from Professor Majid Tehranian Director, Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research, Honolulu, Hawaii, 19 September, 2001.
Terrorism: The Search for Measured Responses
September 11, 2001 may be considered a defining moment in world history. For a decade now pundits have been groping for a new catch phrase to identify the main features of the post-Cold War era. End of History, Clash of Civilizations, and Globalization have been obvious candidates. These terms catch an aspect of the phenomenon but distort others. None of these terms seems to fit the new reality of a global war of terrorism and counter-terrorism that seems to lie ahead of the world. There is no catch phrase to grasp the tragedy and complexity of this new reality. Since both state and non-state actors are acting with wilful planning, we may call our troubled times, “The Era of Death by Design”. There is also no panacea for the crisis. The problem seems to have three linked features. First, we have witnessed mounting terrorist acts in the past 40 years carried out both by state and non-state actors. Second, we are witnessing the rise of a new global system characterized by growing gaps among and within nations. Third, we now live in a global fishbowl in which Hollywood extravaganzas as well as starving children in Africa are displayed for all to see on television screens. The envy and hatred generated by global communication seems to have outpaced the benefits.
In the past decade, Western powers have demonstrated that they can destroy their adversaries in Iraq and Yugoslavia with high tech weapons without much damage to themselves. Terrorism has consequently become the weapon of choice by the weaker states and groups. The suicide attacks in
New York, Washington, and Israel are part of that lesson. The “enemy” in this case is not a territorial state. It is the fringe elements of a much larger global resentment against the way the world is being run. We have entered into a new form of politics and warfare. Against the commodity fetishism of globalization, identity fetishism has become the ideological vehicle of the marginalized groups. Benjamin Barber has called it “Jihad vs. McWorld”. Against the market fundamentalism of neo-liberalism, religious and ethnic fundamentalism is the new battle cry. Against post-modern cosmopolitanism of the centers, pre-modern kinship and tribal loyalties are the cultural orientation of the peripheries. Since the advanced industrial world is powerful but highly vulnerable to sabotage and surprise, the new weapon of shock terrorism is deadly and effective. In future, it may include other weapons of mass destruction. The types of weapons that could possibly be deployed by terrorists in the future are too horrible to contemplate. The response to terrorism cannot be divorced from its underlying causes. Both problems are global in scope. The approach must be commensurately global. Despite its shortcomings, the United Nations system continues to provide us with a useful institution under which a carefully devised strategy of war on violence and poverty can be fought. The United Nations counter-terrorism and peacekeeping forces must be reinforced. We need a standing UN peacekeeping force that is fully equipped with counter-terrorist intelligence and the necessary means to prevent tragedies such as that of September 11th.
That is necessary but not sufficient. The world community under the UN auspices must demonstrate that it cares for the fate of some two million people in the world today living on $2 a day. UN member-states should commit themselves to a war on world poverty and injustice by tangible means. A certain portion of national defence budgets, say 10%, should be allocated to the UN peacekeeping and poverty eradication programs. The world cannot afford to continue
rich, two-fifths in abject poverty, and another two-fifth struggling for
a decent life.
As Huxley has said, “civilization is a race between education and catastrophe”. We often learn through our pains and sufferings. Historical leaps often result from major human tragedies. The League of Nations resulted from World War I. United Nations emerged out of World War II. This time, global terrorism has proved to be a scourge of humanity. Its victims have paid a high price. For their blood not to be in vain, we must learn to come together. We must establish a more democratic and just global governance. We must pledge to a new rule of international law for nations large or small.
The New York pictures show the dust of death
and firemen digging to avoid despair
described in mourning through a million words
the world may never be the same again.
Yet beeches burnished by an autumn wind
elsewhere are changing as they always did
and flintstone walls erect ‘round stately homes
still stand as monuments to ancient crafts,
while on Broadhalfpenny Down the cricketers
in flannelled white play for unbroken time
and horses grazing in the dipping sun
are munching silhouettes for everyone.
Back on the other side the rubble mounds
are called ‘ground zero’ where the divers dived
followed by thousands as the twin towers crushed
victims without a hope and most not found
even as bits of life’s impermanence.
Unless we see the horses in the fields
or marvel at the skills which built those walls
and count the lovers’ candles for the loved
to dull the hates, divert the schemes for wars,
the world may never be the same again.
Stuart Rees, Bedhampton, 17th September 2001
On the eleventh day …
On the eleventh day of the ninth month
The twin peaks of capitalism were reduced to a smouldering pyre.
A conflagration of volcanic intent showered the pyroclastic demise onto unprotected heads.
We tried to tether our emotions to the stable repose of sanity
As hatred pierced and erupted with crushing dissolution.
Faces pressed against tortured glass – they said their oodbyes.
Our insides somersaulted, retched, clawed as choices were forced
Between death by burning and death by falling.
Horror glazed our ocular sense as people began to leap …
America was under attack …
Who would perpetrate such hatred against the dominance of stars and stripes?
The list was long …
This was not Hollywood, the sparkles of the silver screen
This was pure hatred in human form.
The nihilists of life, galvanised by loathing, smothered six thousand breaths.
These vessels, these urns of damnation … these men … were people like you and me
Yet their pain, their perceptions of injustice had mutated into an internecine belief that by
Extinguishing life they would visit God … as friends.
These attacks, these gargantuan assaults, were not for God, they were simply a projection
of fear. An attempt to reduce to ash a notion of capitalist freedom that had terrorized
Maimed as it blossomed in floral unrestraint.
Yes, we hear words of revenge – whispered through tears.
Who can deny such a plea? If your lover was burnt beyond recognition your soul would
Claw your mind for violent retribution.
Yet what are we to avenge?
Who are we to destroy?
Who is the enemy crawling through the trench of human demise?
After guns have discharged, death blown across desert sands, amputees crawled through
Khaki clad detritus, we will realise, in a splash of stars, that what we seek to destroy
Lurks in the recesses of our minds … not in mountain caves.
It is fear, yours and mine, the inability to touch the leper’s hand.
The cause lies in the denial of interconnection, fear of the river that merges into sea,
Horizons that dance with clouds … our own impermanence.
When smoke has dissipated in atmospheric change, we
must sit silently and breathe.
Untether our hearts and souls. We must delve under the rubble of our own defeat and
Capture the true essence of freedom … what it really means to blow a kiss to the wind.
We must not rebuild towers but touch flowers,
Blow petals across divides … feed those who grovel in sand. We must gaze at the moon
And punctured skies and cast our mantle of despair into blurry night.
Then embrace …
Place skeletal fingers on tired brows and caress furrows, plough fear from sunken,
Time to create a vocabulary of gentle acceptance
Cast old, tired words toward the sun
Watch them fade into oblivion … an eternal light.
Our attack on terrorism must begin at home.
Yes, find the individuals of mass death then kick through policies, like autumn leaves,
And discover the reasons why hatred has medusa’s head.
Hatred is a genetic code … sits on velvet throne … is corpuscle red.
It has an antiquity, a past, a biology and a view. To eradicate terrorism we must
Search the caves within and let the dove take to silent wings.
Mike Edwards, Sydney, 4 October 2001
Seminar - Principles of Conflict Resolution
Dr Stella Cornelius engaged in a dialogue with Professor Stuart Rees on “Principles of Conflict Resolution” at a CPACS seminar on Tuesday 4th September. Dr Cornelius generously shared her rich experience and enthusiasm, bringing the principles of conflict resolution to life. From an early age Stella was aware that “everything that happens in the world is our concern and responsibility”. This belief led her to draw on her diverse experience in fashion, management and social activism to eventually establish the Conflict Resolution Network. The purpose of the CRN is to research, develop, teach and implement the theory and practice of Conflict Resolution throughout a national and international network.
Stella has spent a lifetime training people with “a lot of good will but not much good skill” into competent practitioners of Conflict Resolution. During the seminar Stella demonstrated that good listening, empathy, co-operation and flexibility are essential skills to the creative management of conflict. The principles of viewing conflict as an opportunity rather than a threat and “turning opponents into partners” challenged the audience to view conflict from a more positive perspective. Practical suggestions for our daily lives included the use of “and” not “but” in our language as a way of enhancing dialogue.
This seminar generated lively audience participation and inspired us to realise that Conflict Resolution is an important tool that can be used to enrich our lives. We thank Stella and Stuart for their valuable contribution.
September 10th –11th I attended a series of
Reconciliation workshops in Walgett and Lightning Ridge for the parents, school
children and community leaders of the two communities. The workshops were
by Councillor Joan Treweeke, Chair of the Walgett Shire Reconciliation
Group, in collaboration with Ms Linda Burney
and Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees
from the NSW State Reconciliation Committee (SRC)
and Regional Coordinating Management Group. (RCMG)
titled ‘Developing Tolerance and Non-Violence’ they were essentially
educational exercises intended to address the community’s concerns with
bullying and with the task of living within and between cultures. For the Walgett workshop the room was
effectively staged for a theatre of reconciliation and non-violence. Powerful
symbols of reconciliation were woven into the majestic banner at the entrance
to the Meeting room. Indigenous art and poetry coloured other parts of the
room, and the words ‘pride, respect and courage’ captured the attention of all
participants reinforcing the integrity and vibrancy of the Gamilaroi culture (the
term for the indigenous people of Walgett and outer lying areas). The principal
facilitators were Stuart Rees, Sue Lindsay
and Phil Duncan. Phil
Duncan’s presence, being a Gamilaroi himself who grew up in Moree, was
particularly effective in gauging the interest of all the school
children, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal. Stuart and Phil’s interaction at
centre stage was a powerful symbol of reconciliation and tolerance of
diversity. It projected a captivating visual image of ‘black fellas’ working in
harmony with ‘white fellas’.
The two facilitators
performed the moving language of non-violence, reconciliation and tolerance.
They extended hands, reconciled and embraced each other. Their language was of
deference, warmth and graciousness, earning respect and perhaps inspiring the
school children. The intention was however to ensure the school kids owned the
workshops, to view themselves as the key players. ‘Ownership’ and ‘solidarity’
were reinforced by small group discussions and having representative students
report back to the larger group on the ideas they generated.
groups identified their common experiences of local violence, the feelings such
violence generated for them, its possible causes, and strategies to prevent it
came up with innovative strategies to deal with violence such as a school court
run by students, or a
kid’s help line. Equally inspiring were the
ideas generated by community members in a subsequent workshop at Walgett RSL such as an
active cultural centre housed with local artwork, indigenous artefacts and
functioning as a space for youth interaction. I thought it would also be ideal
as a base for a local student-run radio station. These subsequent workshops
again highlighted the power of teamwork and collective ideas, strengthening
community networks and a vital bridging of social divisions on the road towards
Recommendations from two
CPACS research projects have formed the basis for
projects. The first: ‘Off The Record: Gaps and Shortcomings in NSW
Disability Services’, undertaken by
The second research project: ‘Impact
of Aboriginal Night Patrols as a Juvenile Crime Prevention Strategy’, by Lynda Blanchard of CPACS and Leah Lui of the
Koori Centre, investigated the effectiveness of Aboriginal night patrols in the
towns of Narrandera, Kempsey, Forser and Dareton from 1998 to 2000. Based on
their findings, the NSW Government
the operation of Aboriginal Night Patrols over the next four years.
“Indigenous night patrols take young people home or to youth centres where they are less likely to harm themselves or become targets of violence. They [the patrols] also create opportunities for communication with vulnerable young people” said Lynda Blanchard. In this way the indigenous community is taking responsibility for crime prevention. Leah Lui said the community patrols also appeared to be cost-effective: “The resources needed for just one night patrol group to be sustained total approximately $70,000 a year, a little more than the annual cost of one incarcerated youth”.
Award to the
Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan.
CPACS endorses the
statement by Margaret Reynolds, National President of United Nations
Association of Australia, who said: “We see this Award as timely recognition of
the vital importance of the United Nations and its Secretary-General in helping
effectively to global crises and problems”. Past recipients of the Nobel Peace
have issued a statement calling for the United Nations to organise an
international conference on terrorism
“which will investigate its root causes, propose measures to address those
causes, and provide international standards to ensure that security needs are
met and that the perpetrators of such acts are brought to justice”. They also
call on governments and peoples of the world to take concrete steps in
developing a Culture of Peace and Non-violence, and to work for a peaceful and just world.
Commonwealth People’s Festival.
the postponement of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), the
People’s Festival went ahead in Brisbane in early October. Participants,
including Lynda Blanchard from CPACS, came from over 50 countries and covered a
wide spectrum of age and background. Some of the issue raised were:
a) the Commonwealth must recognise itself as an association of developed and
developing countries where poverty is a serious problem; b) nearly 60% of the
people living with HIV-AIDS are in Commonwealth countries; c) women still
account for only 7% of the parliamentarians in Commonwealth countries; d) the
Commonwealth must address the rights of its Indigenous peoples; e) the
Commonwealth has a unique role in building cultural diversity across the world;
f) peace and security must be a major focus of the Commonwealth; g) civil
society should be represented at the decision-making table. Compiled by
David Purnell, National Administrator of United Nations Association
New Initiatives: The Virtual Colombo Plan – bridging the digital divide between rich and poor
Launched on 2 August in
Sydney, the Virtual Colombo Plan is an initiative of the Australian Government
and the World Bank to deliver a digital education programme aimed at 250
million children and adults who currently have poor, or no, access to
education. Without access to
education the economic predicament of the poor cannot be reversed. Girls and
women comprise 65% of the target group. The Virtual Colombo
plan will use
computer technology so that, in the words of James D. Wolfensohn, President of
the World Bank: “The remotest village has the possibility of tapping a global
store of knowledge … distance
education offers the potential to extend learning opportunities to millions who
would otherwise be denied a good education” (World Development Report,
Of the five books under review, two core themes emerge: Reconciliation; and Non-violence.
Andrew Rigby, Justice and Reconciliation: After the Violence, Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, Colorado, 2001. “A well-constructed and elegantly written book. Rigby brings together the experiences of peoples in South America, in Europe, and in South Africa who have searched for justice and reconciliation following years of violence and criminal acts in the name of states.” – Stuart Rees
Mohammed Abu-Nimer (ed.), Reconciliation, Justice, and Coexistence: Theory and Practice, Lexington Books, Lanham, Maryland, 2001. Part One of this edited volume comprises eight chapters discussing theoretical frameworks for reconciliation in peacebuilding, while Part Two covers case studies from Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Israel, Northern Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia and Rwanda. Wendy Lambourne of CPACS has contributed a chapter to this volume.
Raymond G. Helmick, S. J.,
& Rodney L. Petersen (eds), Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Religion,
Public Policy, and Conflict Transformation, Templeton Foundation Press, Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, 2001. With a foreword
by Desmond M. Tutu, this edited volume contains chapters on the theology of
forgiveness, forgiveness and public policy, forgiveness and reconciliation, and
examples of seeking forgiveness after tragedy.
Authors include John
Paul Lederach, Donald Shriver, Joseph Montville, Douglas Johnstone, and Ervin
Staub. Topics covered include truth commissions, track two
diplomacy, genocide and non-violence as they relate to reconciliation and
forgiveness. Case studies include Gandhi, Northern Ireland and Mozambique. A
useful appendix lists organisations promoting reconciliation.
Mathews, D. War Prevention Works, Oxford Research Group - firstname.lastname@example.org -
This is the first in a series, which aims to raise awareness of the strength of non-violence by ordinary people to contain or resolve violent conflicts, without the use of force.
Peter Ackerman & Jack
DuVall, A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict, Palgrave, New York, 2000.
This theme resonates in Ackerman and
DuVall’s new book, and video, A Force More Powerful which raise s
awareness of the strength of non-violence and its ability to bring about social
change. CPACS members and students engaged in dialogue on the power of
non-violence during a seminar with Jack DuVall on 20 September 2001. In
launching the book, Professor Judith Kinnear, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, told the
audience that the book was not only compelling, but should be compulsory for all students at this
 Linda Burney is Director General of the NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA).
 Stuart Rees is also Director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), The University of Sydney.
 Sue Lindsay is Administrative Officer for
the NSW SRC/
 Phil Duncan is Project officer for the NSW
of Aboriginal Affairs.