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International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

As the Rev. Patti Ackerman, FOR-USA liaison to the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR), heads for The Netherlands to co-deliver training through the Women's Peacemaker Program on masculinity next week to two dozen delegates from around the world, we are reminded on this day of the important context of such work as it relates to violence against women.

Here is Secretary Ban Ki-moon's message:


Finding Traction on Colombia

Mark Beach's account and associated links are a very helpful review of the attention by delegates from 80 countries at the World Council of Churches UN Advocacy Week to the issues related to Colombia which we might expect governments at the United Nations to attend to, but which they do not.

World Council of Churches — Feature
Contact: + 41 22 791 6153 +41 79 507 6363 /

For immediate release — 23/11/2009 13:59:19

By Mark Beach (*)

Free photos available, see below

For nearly four hours, church activists participating in the World Council of Churches' (WCC) United Nations Advocacy Week meetings in New York delved deeply into the tragedies and injustices of the current bloody conflict in Colombia.

The facts and figures were compelling and the stories personal.

Call Your President Today — Dial 202-456-1111

Some FOR members have asked if FOR and other faith-based organizations have access to the President Obama's assessment process concerning his Afghanistan and Pakistan strategy. The answer is yes on a number of levels.

The digital world provides a field of communication which makes it much easier to test and construct messages and bring many individuals and organizations into line behind consensus messages. This means that almost anyone can direct a message to the President's team, or gather signers to statements and documents. We do that with increasing frequency and we also use this path to leverage our support across collections of allies like UFPJ and PeaceAction for example, or Christian Peace Witness (CPW) and the Olive Branch Interfaith Peace Partnership (OBIPP). Letters and statements are typically signed by dozens if not hundreds of individuals and groups. Petitions are signed by thousands. Telephone and email campaigns may generate still more responses.

The Difficult Road to Copenhagen

As we approach the 7 December start of the Copenhagen meeting of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, it is important to recall the important role that non-governmental organizations have played in building awareness of the ecological dimension of world society.

While it is unlikely that the governments in Copenhagen will be able to agree upon a binding treaty to extend or replace the earlier 1992 Convention, Copenhagen provides an occasion for governments to finalize their national priorities and emission-reduction targets.

But an ecologically-sound world society requires more than a reduction of “greenhouse gases” or slowing deforestation. There needs to be a profound and world-wide examination of the relations of humans within nature.

The Saharawi non-violent activist Aminetou Haidar, confined in the Lanzarote airport in Spain on hunger strike

Aminatou Haidar
View larger image

Nacho Martín, Spain

Photos: Man Chagaf

The Saharawi non-violent activist Aminatou Haidar, who is also known as the Saharawi people’s Gandhi and recognized with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2008, remains since last Sunday on a hunger strike confined to the Lanzarote airport (Spain) after that Morocco expulsed her by force from the Western Sahara Occupied Territories last Saturday. The facts have been reported by human rights organizations sources, the Spanish police, the NGO Communicators for Peace and the Saharawi Journalist and Writers Union (UPES).

Despite of the fact that doctors are afraid for her health, since she suffers a stomach ulcer, Haidar assures that she is not going to abandon her demonstration until the Spanish Government allows her to take a flight to return to his home in El Aaiun, Saharaui Territories’ capital invaded by Morocco since 1975 violating the United Nations resolutions and the international law.

Haidar states that she feels kidnapped in the Lanzarote Airport and denounce a connivance between the Spanish Government and Morocco to expulse her from Western Sahara when she was returning from the US. Moroccan authorities stripped her passport and all her documentation. Subsequently, Spain accepted her entrance to the country without any document.

Haidar told the captain of the aircraft that she was forced to take the flight and she did not want to go to Spain, but to Western Sahara, one of the last African colonies according United Nations resolutions. Currently, the Spanish Government forbids her to take any flight to Western Sahara or to other airport where she could get access to other flight to come back home.

Compassion can change the world

The Olympia Fellowship of Reconciliation uses a variety of media to get out the word about their efforts for justice, peace, and nonviolence. Examples include a monthly television show broadcast on local public-access TV, a film series, and a partnership with the local newspaper, The Olympian, to provide op-ed perspectives on current issues. This past weekend, Jody Tiller Mackey, co-chair of the Olympia FOR's steering committee, published the following perspective in the newspaper:

Faith, Fear and the Future of Nuclear Weapons Forum, Nov. 19, 2009 in Washington, DC

The Muslim American Society has announced a forum on nuclear proliferation and nuclear abolition next Thursday, Nov. 19, in Washington, DC.

Faith, Fear and Future of Nuclear Weapons Inter-Religious Response to the Global Crisis
Thursday, Nov. 19, 2009, 2:00 to 3:30 PM
Rayburn House of Representatives Office Building, Room 2168
50 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC

Presenters will include:

  • Jonathan Granoff, President, Global Security Institute and international nuclear abolition advocate
  • Dave Robinson, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA
  • Ibrahim Ramey, MAS Freedom Civil & Human Rights Director
  • Moderated by MAS Freedom Executive Director Imam Mahdi Bray

The Impossible has Happened

Yes, that's right the Impossible has happened. Where were you 20 years ago today? In Germany and throughout Europe and North America, the 20th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall has been celebrated today.

On March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill used the phrase the "Iron Curtain" in a speech in Westminster College in Fulton, MO. That reference to the social, political and economic division of Europe became symbolized by the Berlin Wall. The date of Churchill's speech is often cited as the start of the Cold War. More than a continent was divided. With the division of Europe and the Cold War, a mindset was developed. That mindset was a lens through which the world would be seen and understood by millions. What was possible was framed by that mindset.

Love is how we'll ask for peace.

Gentlefriends: Here is a step into another world, the Beloved Community. Our friends and colleagues in the Olympia FOR, and especially Doug Mackey, are nurturing our introduction and support of this group of Afhgan Peace Youth Vigilers.

Watch these Afghan peace youth vigilers say with the world “Love is how we’ll ask for peace.”

Please take our next small steps with us. Love and peace from Afghanistan,

Hoodwinked by War

We are so deeply saddened by the tragic taking and horrible loss of life at Ft. Hood, Texas. Our grief-filled hearts go out to all who are personally touched by this madness.

The lesson we take is that none of us can live in a world of war and injustice and stay sane. The tools of a warfare society (minds bred to violence, spirits darkened by despair, hearts hardened to loss, eyes blinded by false promises of security through might, weapons of deathly power housed in a culture of shrinking civility and rising vituperation) pose an additional and profound threat, especially to the American Muslim community in this moment.

We each need to reach out to secure, protect and ensure that this tragedy does not feed bigotry and ignorance and result in more violence and death. While our hearts ache let our acts be those of nonviolence. May our compassion breed a commitment to end our warring presence in the world.

Pray for peace, preach peace, practice peace.