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FOR staff on internet radio re: Colombia

This coming Sunday and Monday, the annual Colombia Days of Prayer & Action will be held across North America. FOR is one of a dozen national organizations cosponsoring this year's events.

As momentum builds toward this important international solidarity effort, drawing both faith and secular U.S. communities into deeper relationship with our sisters and brothers in Colombia, staff members of FOR's Latin America program are being interviewed on the challenges facing Colombia by numerous media sources.

Earlier today, FOR Colombia campaign organizer Liza Smith was interviewed on KAOS radio (Portland OR) by Kim Dobbs. We are hopeful that an MP3 audio file of the interview will be posted in the next couple days on the station's website — if and when it is, you'll be able to access it here.

Breaking borders, breaking structures, breaking guns—through nonviolence, love, and the imagination

By Kristen Kuriga

L09 Youth Delegation Broken Gun ast night I dreamt I was in Colombia. I was walking down the street at night alone and the lighting was dim. A man with a machine gun came out from behind a building and forced me to the ground. He put his gun up to my head and I could hear him slowly pulling the trigger back. My heart was pounding as I lay with my face on the cold concrete. Am I going to die? Everything was in slow motion. As I heard the bullet coming out of the gun I grabbed the end with my hand and bent it. I stood up, took the gun from the man, and broke it with my hands. I threw the gun on the ground and walked down the dark street alone.

Tax resistance ideas & actions; plus Louie Vitale on Democracy Now!

Tax Day is this Wednesday, April 15th. For the past two years, my partner & I engaged in war tax resistance, withholding 51% (in 2007) and 54% (in 2008) of our federal taxes, in protest of the many ways that U.S. foreign policy was killing innocent civilians and militarizing the world. While we still have many reasons for concern about our nation’s addiction to militarism — the continuing occupation of Iraq and the massive increase in U.S. troops to and bombings in Afghanistan (& Pakistan) — for several reasons we’ve decided to not engage in tax resistance this year. Still, I will be on the steps of the Rockland County courthouse this Wednesday at noon, with fellow members of the Rockland Coalition for Peace & Justice, protesting the billions of dollars used for war that should be used for ending poverty and addressing social injustice instead.

Intense — full of life — big

by Kristen Kuriga

When friends have asked me about my time in Colombia, my initial response is intense — full of life — big. In the span of ten days I witnessed and experienced the context of the conflict in Colombia, its effect on youth, and the creative ways that ACOOC and the Red Juvenil have developed an alternative path for youth built on the principles of nonviolence, conscientious objection, and art. And I met people who inspired me and filled me with a sense of possibility and resilience. In the midst of armed conflict and daily violence, poverty, and the repression of dissident voices, the youth that I encountered emanated love, life, joy, and celebration. What was at the core of this? I saw community, self-created family, vision, play, and most of all creativity!

National radio tomorrow: FOR leader George Houser & FOR staff Ruby Sinreich

Free Speech Radio News is a nationally-syndicated progressive political radio program that appears on more than 60 FM radio stations nationwide, including the Pacifica network (such WBAI in New York City and KPFA in Berkeley, CA). On tomorrow’s program (Thursday, April 9), the voices of both FOR Communications Co-Director Ruby Sinreich and long-time FOR leader George Houser will appear during a feature segment about the Journey of Reconciliation (JOR).

The feature was developed recently by FSRN’s North Carolina-based reporter/producer Lynda-Marie Taurasi, who attended the JOR commemoration that was held five weeks ago in Chapel Hill, NC, at the end of February. George Houser traveled from New York to participate in this commemoration, and Ruby Sinreich played a key role in helping the local activist community organize the program and affiliated events that week.

Colombia Peace News: March 2009

Help FOR support peace efforts in Colombia and demilitarize U.S. policy.

FOR in leadership at national anti-war march

On Saturday, April 4th, two national anti-war coalitions — United for Peace & Justice and the Bail Out the People Movement (affiliated with the International Action Center/ Troops Out Now Coalition) — organized some 10,000 peace activists in New York City to call for an immediate end to the Iraq occupation, a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and massive investment in jobs and ending poverty at home. Fellowship of Reconciliation staff and leaders were in the forefront of this national mobilization.

Fun and Noise... Silence and Reflection... are Strategies of Resistance

Last Friday was over the top, the cup brimming full. It was fun, deep, emotional, and extremely creative. Besides for playing trust games, group rhythm exercises and silk screening t-shirts with messages like “No Army Defends Peace,” we used council practice to open up a space in which folks from the U.S. could share their personal experiences. Council practice brings with it certain principles: speaking from the heart, deep listening, and offering what you have to say spontaneously, without too much planning from beforehand. In the midst of the incredibly vibrant and energetic space of the Red Juvenil house, we created a quiet circle in which each person picked up a green plastic ball in the center when he or she was ready to speak. The question was: what has been your personal experience of violence?

Truth and reconciliation in Korea

International news this weekend focused on the (failed?) effort by the North Korean government to launch a rocket into orbit — one which would allegedly have the capacity to send an armed missile at targets in Japan, the U.S., or other sites. Analysts are debating whether the initiative achieved its goal, and regardless of its success, world leaders have condemned the initiative, which sparked an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council. This satellite test ironically happened at the same time as multiple efforts to change U.S. policy relative to the Korean peninsula have been gaining momentum, and will unfortunately threaten the viability of those efforts.

One of Our Best Days So Far

[Ed. note: this brief reflection from San Francisco-based youth activist Rafael Moreno was sent from Colombia, where Moreno & other members of the Fellowship of Reconciliation's youth arts & activism delegation have been visiting young activists in Bogota & Medellin.] Yesterday's visit with members of Red Juvenil was one of the best days of the trip so far. Many of the youth and staff at Red Juvenil remind me of the organization I’m part of — HOMEY’s (Homeys Organizing in the Mission to Empower Youth). I guess it’s because the youth are free to be themselves, have fun, and nobody is seen as more important to their organization than another person; everybody is treated the same.