October 2012

Doctrine Divides, Action Unites



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►  Julio Martins da Costa: ‘I Focused on the Bible and . . . Didn’t Have to Compromise with Any Other Faith’
Bruce Van Voorhis
The School of Peace (SOP) held by Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF) in India presented a challenge for this Christian participant who had been active in his church and faith community in East Timor before coming to Bangalore, for meeting people from other countries and religions for the first time pressed him to re-examine his views about other faiths and to think more deeply about his own religious beliefs—a transformation that continues. [Read more]

►  Religious Fascism in Pakistan
Naeem Shakir
A blasphemy case against Rimsha Masih, a minor girl with Down’s syndrome from the Christian community, has once again illuminated the use of the law as a tool of persecution against Pakistan’s religious minorities. Sadly, her case is one of many incidents in the country this year against Hindus, Ahmadis and Shias. Through this article, the author, a lawyer, also explains how the rule of law and Pakistan’s democratic institutions are also being assaulted as well. [Read more]

  Why Is There Violence against Women in Nepal When Women Should Live in Freedom?
Mohammad Ayatulla Rahaman
Based on his observations of gender relations in his country, the author makes a plea to end various forms of gender discrimination as well as violence against women in Nepal in this dialogical article. [Read more]

►  Self-employment Begins the Road to Liberation for Freed Kamaiyas in Nepal
Anita Rai
Since July 2000, the Kamaiyas in Nepal have been free from their bonded labor through a decision of the government that banned this exploitative system and cancelled their debts. However, the freed Kamaiyas have remained mired in poverty more than a decade later. A program conducted by the Society for Participatory Cultural Education (SPACE), however, has been working with the freed Kamaiyas to make the end of their servitude more meaningful to their lives. [Read more]

  Peace Funds in Burma Should Be Based on Local Needs
Zoya Phan
While welcoming increasing expressions of international aid for ethnic communities in Burma, the author explains how local ethnic communities organized themselves over the years when this aid was not forthcoming. This valuable experience and expertise that her Karen community and others in the country have gained over a long period of time, she notes, should be an asset to the recent pursuit to provide aid, but unfortunately, the international community seems resolved to disregard it. [Read more]

►  The Power of Someone Else’s Story
Ryan Ansin
The author writes in this article about his experience of using photography and social media and other media channels as a platform to give grassroots people a voice to share their lives. In this process, he notes that understanding is fostered by helping to negate stereotypes, prejudices and labels of those who are different. [Read more]

Winning the Peace through Social Media Advocacy

On Oct. 6 and 7, 2012, Peace Multipliers Internationale (PMI) conducted the program Training on Winning the Peace through Social Media Advocacy in the Philippines. A 2012 School of Peace (SOP) alumni from Mindanao, Mohalidin “Mhodz” E. Suga, was invited as one of the resource people to share about the topic “Digital Peace Activism: Social Media for Advocacy and Basic Photography.” A total of 30 college students and student leaders from public and private colleges and universities in Cotabato City in Mindanao took part in the program.

Winning the peace in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao is a primary concern of everyone, especially to the people of Mindanao, and to civil society as a whole. To win peace, it is useful to have a tool, especially one that is taught to the young and dynamic members of society. This mission is where social media finds its role. Living in a boundary-less community, advocacy and education through the distribution of information are two major roles of social media, and consequently, young people ought to be taught how to become more responsible social media users.

One of the major lapses of different organizations and advocates of peace is they lack tools, such as the use of social media, in winning peace. Peace-building initiatives that are geared towards strengthening relationships can be inadequate if sustainability is not planned thoroughly. In local and resilient communities, capacity-building is not the sole solution. Resiliency in this context pertains not just to the capacity of local communities to respond, manage disasters and maintain peace but also the ability of the community to communicate and seek help in just a click of a finger because lives can be lost in the blink of an eye. Towards this end, a multistakeholder approach was undertaken to support and prepare local communities in disaster risk management, working towards lasting peace and using boundary-less communication.

Generally, the two-day training aimed to raise the level of awareness of the youth participants on different issues in Mindanao and to train them to become peace advocates through responsible social media advocacy. Specifically, the training aimed to harmonize the understanding of the participants on the concept of peace and the current peace situation in Mindanao and to train the participants on the use of social media as a tool for peace advocacy.