PeaceWays Spring-summer 2014 is here

PeaceWays Spring-Summer 2014 (click to view pdf)

Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Friends Peace Teams!

- History of Friends Peace Teams and its three initiatives: African Great Lakes Initiative, Peacebuilding en las Américas, Asia West Pacific Initiative

- Major programs and recent deveopments

- Plans, schedule and registration form for the 20th anniversary celebration: PeaceQuest 2014, June 2-22, 2014

 

 

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HROC Rwanda’s New Website

In remembrance of the 20th anniversary of the genocide and war, and in honor of all the amazing peacebuilding and healing work being done by the staff of HROC Rwanda and every single one of the HROC workshop participants, we wanted to share with you HROC Rwanda’s new website! We hope that this website will serve to increase publicity and give you all an easy way to share information about HROC Rwanda with anyone in your circles who may be interested in the work. Check back with us often, as the staff in Rwanda will be keeping everyone up-to-date on the latest goings-on at the new HROC Center via the news blog!

  As we come to this 20th anniversary memorial week, please help us honor and recognize all those working so hard towards a healed and peaceful Rwanda by sharing our webpage with your family and friends.

http://healingandrebuildingourcommunities.org

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Please Join Us for PeaceQuest 2014

Please join us for our 20th anniversary celebration in Baltimore, Maryland June 20-22, 2014.

The celebration will consist of talks and workshops teaching about personal, local and global peace techniques and initiatives combined with a musical celebration for the occasion. Please click here for a complete copy of the program.

Registration is now open. Please click here  to learn more about registration for the conference.

We hope to see you in Baltimore!

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Join the Team in Kathmandu for the First AVP Workshops

Written by Sarah Rozard
Monday, 04 March 2013 16:04

Join the Team in Kathmandu for

the First AVP Discernment Workshops

and AVP Trauma Workshops in Nepal

Dates: Tuesday April 16th to Wednesday May 1st
Venue: Kathmandu, Nepal
AVP: experience preferable
Contact: John Michaelis,  awp@friendspeaceteams.org

Background

Bhutan
The kingdom of Bhutan, a small country bounded by West Bengal, Sikkim, Tibet and China, has interested me since I learned they base their economy on the GHI (Gross Happiness Index) rather than GDP (Gross Domestic Product). However, my opinion of Bhutan has changed since I learned that seventeen years ago they forced out more than 100 thousand of their population. Most of these were ethnic Nepalese and more than fifty thousand of them are still housed in refugee camps near Damak, in South East Nepal.

Escalating Violence
Substance abuse in the refugee camps – mainly alcohol consumption by men – has risen to the point where violence against women and children has become a serious problem.

 

Events to Date

There has been an active AVP group in Nepal since 2008. They requested training to run a series of workshops including T4Fs and in September last year Friends Peace Teams trained facilitators for that purpose. Twenty workshops, including two Training for Facilitators, were held in the refugee camps in the following three months.

 

FPT AWP Team in Nepal

In Peace,
Sarah Rozard
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Update on Goma: How Someone Can Get 97% of the Vote

Written by Administrator
Thursday, 03 January 2013 15:35

Report from Kenya #202 – December 19, 2012

 

Update on Goma

How Someone Can Get 97% of the Vote

__________________________________________________________

 

 Update on Goma

Report from David Bucura, AGLI Central Africa Coordinator:

 

On December 12th to 15th, I was in Gisenyi and went in Goma for two days on 13rd and on 14th. I had meetings with committee members and we set criteria how we may give food to chosen families. We agreed on 101 families including rape survivors and displaced people from Masisi. The situation in Goma is better now, but most people I spoke with lost hope because they do not know what will happen tomorrow. Goma is controlled by the police, but I heard that M23 [the rebel group] are not far from Goma, just 5 kilometers away. During the night, there is a lot of shooting, and fear is still there in some places. I was advised not to go to some places as well. But, most people from the committee were present. The distribution was done at CAPP office. It was a nice place because there is a fence. With the funds AGLI sent, we bought 65 sacks of maize (corn) flour and 15 sacks of beans and gave food to 101 families.

 

The HROC training for Healing Companions started on Monday with 15 participants. Most of them are not staying at Peace Center as they feared to spend a night there because they want to be with their families. Only 4 people from Sake are staying at Gisenyi Peace Center. Theoneste will give you more detailed about it when it is finished.

 

__________________________________________________________

 

How Someone Can Get 97% of the Vote

How is it possible for a politicians to get 97% or more of the vote as Mwai Kibaki did in his home district and Raila Odinga in parts of Nyanza Province in the 2007 election? In the 2012 US election, the highest Barack Obama received was in the District of Columbia with 90.9% of the vote and his second highest total was in Hawaii at 70.5%. Romney’s highest total was 72.8% in Utah. After closely observing a number of African elections, the following are some of the techniques used to ensure an overwhelming vote for the favored candidate.

 

The first condition is to assert tribal and ethnic solidarity, emphasizing that our group must remain 100% united or our opponents from the other tribes will win and discriminate against us. While this is the ethnic underpinning, it only works if it enforced.

 

The first tactic is intimidation of anyone who opposes the ethnic candidate. Recently Uhuru Kenyatta and his supporters demanded that the other Kikuyu candidates – Martha Karua and Peter Kenneth – forgo their candidacy to support ethnic unity. His party was rebuffed by these two others saying that he was implementing a dictatorship. I saw a comment in the paper that the minor Luo candidate, Raphael Tuju, had to wear a helmet in Kisumu (Raila’s home area) to protect himself from being hit by rocks. When I was on a speaking tour after the last election, the brother of a Kikuyu candidate who supported Raila instead of Kibaki, told me that he was vilified and even feared for his life as he campaigned for his brother. After the last election a number of prominent Kikuyu — mostly human rights activists — opposed what Kibaki did and a “hit-list” of twenty-five Kikuyu “Traitors to the Tribe” was circulated.

 

At the local level, numerous methods are used. Campaigners for the favorite candidate tell voters that their votes are not secret as they will know how a person voted. Since the voting booths are no more than 3-sided cardboard boxes on top of a school desk – one at the voting station I observed was close enough to the window that someone at the window could see how a person voted – votes can well believe that their votes are not “secret.”. They are also told that if they don’t vote for the appropriate person their kids will not be able to go to school and they will not be able to obtain service at the local hospital. Another tactic is for the politician to hire 100 to 200 youth and have them march down the road, singing the praises of the candidate and waving branches in the air. They block the road and no one tries to pass as, if they hit someone, their car would be destroyed and the driver perhaps killed. I myself have been intimidated by this show of force. These youth group are frequently those who get into fights with youth from other candidates. At night shortly before the election, groups of supporters will travel to people’s houses and “remind” them how they should vote, sometimes leaving them with a bribe. In an election where people are issued with voter cards in order to vote, candidates will “buy” the voter cards in areas where they are weak – the price was a little over a dollar in the 2010 Burundian election where I heard that this happened. Bribes are also given on election day – the going rate in Kenya in the 2007 election was 1000 shillings, then worth about $15. The purpose here, though, is to make sure that the voter actually goes to the poll and votes appropriately.

 

In areas in Kenya where there are members of minority tribes who might vote for the wrong candidate – in other words, almost everywhere – extra means are used to intimidate them. Just recently our Call-in Center received a report before the 2013 Kenyan elections, Nandi youth cut down the maize (corn) of a Kikuyu farmer who had fled his plot during the 2008 post election violence. This was intimidation, not only for that particular farmer, but all the Kikuyu in the area. A Kikuyu I heard at a recent meeting in Eldoret commented that he would be accused of voting for the Kikuyu candidate even if he hadn’t and of course he had no way of proving it. The solution to this dilemma we heard at a listening session which we just held in Musimbi — a local village where in the 2008 post-election violence, the Kikuyu had fled to the Lumakanda Township Primary School where I had gotten to know them. The Kikuyu all said that they would refuse to register to vote so that they couldn’t be accused of voting for the “wrong” candidate. In certain areas this is a major reason for the poor registration of voters for the upcoming Kenyan elections.

 

Election day in Kenya next year is March 4, a Monday and a holiday (hint, hint, America). Minority people from an area will travel back to their home area on Saturday or Sunday to vote — not where they presently live and work – so that they can safely vote for their preferred candidate. Moreover they will be “out of town” if any post-election violence or intimidation occurs against their minority group. The result, though, is to increase the percentage of total vote for the favored candidate in both the area where the person is leaving and his home area where he will vote.

 

All then is ready for election day, where everything is calm – the only commotion I saw when I observed one election was when a rich businessman wanted to cut in line because he had work to do, and those in line strenuously objected – he left without standing in line and voting. Elections observers, both local and international, report that everything is fine with people patiently waiting in line, clearly unaware, or unwilling to confront, all the pre-election activity that forces voters to vote for a particular candidate.

 

Inside each polling station are partisan election observers for each political party who, just by their presence, can intimidate voters. Also elections are every five years so people have forgotten how to vote. Our election observers have seen polling official, who all come from the local area, point to where voters should place their mark as they showed elderly voters how to vote.

 

Then any post-election violence or intimidation is the prelude for the following election so that voters are intimidated long before the electoral landscape has even been determined.

 

By these means plus others that I haven’t noticed yet, an almost 100% vote for the favored candidate is assured. Is this a “free and fair” election? I don’t think so.

 

__________________________________________________________

If you would like to be added to this listserve, please send your name and email address to dave@aglifpt.org.

Please donate to AGLI’s programs by sending a check to the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams made out to Friends Peace Teams/AGLI  to 1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 or go to our webpage at www.friendspeaceteams.org to donate by debit/credit card.

 

__________________________________________________________

Since 1998, David Zarembka has been the Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams. He has been involved with East and Central Africa since 1964 when he taught Rwandan refugees in Tanzania. He is married to Gladys Kamonya and lives in western Kenya. David is the author of A Peace of Africa: Reflections on Life in the Great Lakes Region (available atwww.davidzarembka.com).

 

__________________________________________________________

David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya
Phone in Kenya: 254 (0)726 590 783   in US: 301/765-4098
Office in US:1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/647-1287
Webpage: www.aglifpt.org

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AGLI Year End Report 2012

Written by Administrator
Thursday, 03 January 2013 15:26

__________________________________________________________

Report from Kenya #204 – December 29, 2012

 

Prospects for Peace and War in Eastern Africa

__________________________________________________________

 

But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid.

 Micah 4:4

 

With the end of the year approaching, it seems useful to make an assessment of the prospects for peace and war in the greater Eastern Africa region. I will more or less go from east to west – Somalia, Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and North and South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

 

Somalia:

No doubt that the best news in the region is that the area around the capital of Somalia, Mogadishu, is booming after two decades of strife. There is a major building boom, international countries and companies are returning, and a new government, more legitimate than any in the past decades, has been installed. In percentage terms, economic growth is extraordinary, but this is due to the fact that the base is so low – an issue indicating why countries coming out of conflict usually have such large growth in GNP. Somali piracy has also declined significantly, although the center of the piracy was the Puntland region, north of Mogadishu.

 

Recently the Somali National Army — assisted by AMISOM troops mostly from Kenya and the local Ras Kamboni militia and paid for by the US taxpayer — took Somalia’s southern port town of Kismayo, not far north of the Kenyan border. The Kenyan press reports how brave the Kenyan troops were in this victory, but in reality the city was secured by the usual method of “fighting” in the area – the government side built an overwhelming military force and the targeted group faded away, ready to fight another time or conduct guerilla warfare. This is good as otherwise the city would have been destroyed similar to what is happening in Syria. The Ras Kamboni militia favored by the Kenyan troops is no more than the usual warlord group in the region, looking to control resources. For example, when the city was captured, there were four million bags of illegally cut charcoal worth $40 million on hand for export to the Middle East. Developing a stable, locally- supported government in the city is still elusive.

 

Much of the rest of the country is still controlled by al-Shabaab, who have fled from any direct military confrontation, but who still control vast parts of the countryside. This illustrates one of the problems with the military solution so beloved by the international community – it is all too easy for rebels to retreat and wait for a better day and then fighting re-erupts, perhaps under a different name. In the current, complex conditions of society, there are many openings to disrupt and destroy for political gain. Real defeat of insurgents comes, not when they are militarily defeated, but when conditions have improved so much that the local population no longer supports them. This implies negotiation, good government, and economic development of education, health, transportation, food production, and so on. Somalia has a long way to go to fulfill these conditions, but there is no doubt that optimism has returned to the most failed state in the world.

 

Kenya:

 A secure, prosperous country of Somalia will have major benefits for Kenya. Since the October 2011 Kenyan attack on al-Shabaab with its invasion of Somalia, al-Shabaab has retaliated with attacks in northeastern Kenya and Nairobi, killing dozens of people and wounding hundreds. Recently there have been grenade attacks in the Eastleigh section of Nairobi, a predominately Somali neighborhood. As those who read my posting know, there are five major tribes in Kenya. The sixth biggest tribe is the Somali who are about 2 million or 5% of the population. Significantly in the listing of tribes in Kenya, the Somali are not even included! Yet they are the original inhabitants of a large part of northeastern Kenya – in the 1960’s Kenya fought a war with Somalia which wanted to annex that part of Kenya to Somalia (as well as the Somali part of Ethiopia and Djibouti). Immediately after the first grenade attack in Eastleigh, youth from outside Eastleigh converged on Eastleigh and begin beating up on Somali and destroying their shops – Somali have a strong commercial entrepreneurial tradition (some Somali merchants can be found in Turbo close by our house). Moreover al-Shabaab did not claim responsibility for these grenade attacks even though terrorist organizations including al-Qaeda often claim responsibility for attacks that they have nothing to do with. If al-Shabaab was not behind these attacks in Eastleigh, then who was? And why?

 

It is important that Kenya have a peaceful election on March 4, not only for Kenya, but all the rest of the region because most trade goes through Kenya. As I have indicated in previous posting, there is considerable amount of pre-election violence, much more than before the December 2007 election. Thursday night another one of our HROC participants from Mt Elgon was shot, wounded and taken to the hospital – for the first HROC workshop we did on Mt Elgon, he hosted the facilitators in his home. The Call-in Center has received two reports of hate leaflets being distributed. None of this is being reported by the media so I wonder how much is going on in other parts of the country that we do not know about. Perhaps I am pessimistic about the upcoming election because, compared to the pre-election period for the 2007 election, I am more attuned to reports of violence and intimidation and also because, with the Call-in Center, I have more information. I will be keeping you updated on the election situation in Kenya.

 

South Sudan:

 South Sudan is now about a year and a half old and it is still tottering. One problem is that after decades of armed violence, youth know how and are willing to use guns – there is a lot of insecurity in this large country with a relatively small population. Tensions between Sudan and South Sudan continue. Sudan wanted $35 per barrel to transport South Sudanese oil to the world market – the normal rate is about $2 to $3 per barrel – so South Sudan, rather than agree to this extortion, closed down its oil fields, leaving it essentially penniless. There have been numerous small armed skirmishes between Sudan and South Sudan, but none, thankfully, have escalated into major fighting. Sudan itself has at least three major regions of this largest country in Africa trying to obtain independence like South Sudan – all a function of mis-government from the center in Khartoum.

 

At least Sudan and South Sudan are talking and negotiating since any renewed fighting will be extremely negative for both. Considering the situation in many parts of eastern Africa, this must be considered as a major positive point – talking rather than fighting.

 

Uganda:

 The YouTube video sensation, Kony2012, viewed over 100 million times, demanded the capture/death of Joseph Kony and his chief lieutenants by the end of 2012. With only a few days left in the year, he has not been caught even with the “help” of 100 US military advisors – these are based in Kampala, far from the area where Kony might be. The speculation in the region is that there real purpose for the US soldiers is to shore up Yoweri Museveni, another pro-US dictator who has long passed his time in power.

 

Kony has not been in Uganda for the last five or six years and northern Uganda is slowly returning to normal. The international community has allotted significant funds for its rehabilitation. Recently the Office of the President has stolen $13 million earmarked for this rehabilitation. As a result, a number of European countries have suspended $300 million in aid to Uganda. The Ugandan Government has responded by passing an allocation to re-pay the embezzled funds. The international community gives aid, which is stolen, and then the country — that is, its taxpayers — reimburse the international community, leaving those who stole the funds with the loot in hand. A number of government officials have been suspended from office, pending an investigation, but as is common in the region, the stolen funds will not be returned to the Ugandan treasury.

 

Uganda has been accused in a United Nations’ report of supporting the M23 rebels in North Kivu in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). It has denied the accusations and has threatened to withdraw its troops from the AMISOM force in Somalia. It is a bluff as one has not heard much of this threat lately – Uganda and its military benefit too much from the financial support they received. Uganda soldiers get over $1000 per month while in Somalia while back home in Uganda they might get more like $100 per month (if, in fact, they get all their pay). The number of Ugandan troops killed in Somalia has been suppressed because, if the actual number were know, significant resistance would develop in Uganda for their continued deployment in Somalia.

 

Ironically, President Museveni has taken the lead in promoting the diplomatic solution to the problems with M23 in North Kivu. He is hardly a disinterested party. But the fact that nothing permanent will be resolved until Rwanda, Uganda, and the DRC have reached an agreement on how eastern DRC will be ruled by Kinshasa when this region is much more politically and culturally tied to East and Central Africa.

 

Rwanda:

 Rwanda was also indicted by the UN report mentioned in the Uganda section. Rwanda also vigorously denies any involvement with the M23 rebels in North Kivu and has threatened to remove its peacekeeping troops from Darfur. The international community does not believe Rwanda’s denial and has also suspended aid, including a small amount of military assistance provided by the US. After eighteen years in power and using the genocide to justify any actions the government takes — this includes its two invasions of the DRC and support of client groups there — the luster of the current regime has become tarnished in the international community. Opposition is also growing inside the country, even among some of its previous Tutsi supporters, some who have had to flee the country. While there have been a number of grenade attacks in Rwanda, at the present time there is no likelihood of major violence within the country.

 

Burundi:

 Burundi, like Rwanda, is essentially a one-party state as there is no viable opposition. Any opposition politician, a critical media person, or human rights advocate is arrested and imprisoned. One good example is a reporter, who reported that many more Burundian soldiers have been killed in Somalia than were officially acknowledged and was thrown in jail.

 

There have been numerous killings and assassinations in the country since the 2010 election. Government forces and their para-military supporters have killed a number of opposition politicians, some not even particularly prominent (the purpose here is to give a warning to others). On the other hand, there have been massacres and assassinations of government supporters. While the government usually claims that they are just “bandits” looting the population, others think that these killings are done by one of the various opposition groups, whose leaders fled the country after the last election. Frequently these attacks originate from South Kivu.

 

Therefore the situation in Burundi is still precarious and can easily degenerate into renewed violence. When the opposition or critics of the government – Burundi is considered by independent investigators to be even more corrupt than Kenya or Uganda – are silenced, the seeds for violence are sowed. The government responds with greater repression in a continuing downward cycle. It is unclear where Burundi is headed in this respect, but I put it on the danger list.

 

North Kivu, DRC:

The most precarious situation in the region is in North Kivu. While the rebel group, M23, has evacuated Goma after holding it for twelve days, they are still close to the city and probably can re-capture the city if they want. When they were first attacking the city, prisoners knocked down a prison wall and 1200 escaped. There is little security in the town and so, when a person is accused of stealing, according to my sources, he is lynched by the local population. While the Congolese government and the rebels are in negotiations, their demands are so far apart that it seems unlikely that any agreement satisfactory to both sides can be reached. The result is probably an interim agreement to cool the situation down in the short run, but not a permanent solution to the conflict. A long-lasting solution will depend upon the Congolese government functioning as a legitimate government – something that hasn’t yet happened in the history of the Congo.

 

In 2006, the governors of the various provinces were given much more authority to make decisions at the local level – previously all decisions were made a thousand miles from Goma in the capital, Kinshasa. In theory this decentralization is a step in the right direction towards making this large country (the size of the US east of the Mississippi River) governable. In other parts of the DRC, this change has helped, but in eastern Congo this does not seem to have been effective. One main reason for this is that the Congolese army is no different than the rebel groups – in fact, before M23 revolted in April, it was part of the Congolese army.

 

South Kivu, DRC:

 South Kivu is similar to North Kivu in that there are numerous competing rebel groups vying with the Congolese government and army for control of resources. While South Kivu is often the staging ground for rebel groups to attack Burundi, Burundi, both politically and economically, is unable to muscle the situation as Rwanda and Uganda are able to do in North Kivu. Interestingly enough the Tutsi group in South Kivu, the Bayamulenge who have been in South Kivu for well over a hundred years, has felt manipulated and abandoned by the Rwandan government and therefore are not in the type of client relationship that M23 is. This may make it easier to make some kind of accommodation that is acceptable to all the various groups, but, as in North Kivu, this is a long way off.

 

Summary:

A country-by-country summary as I have given above also underestimates how all these countries are linked – Rwanda and Uganda in North Kivu; Burundi Rwanda, and South Kivu; Burundi, Uganda, and Kenya in Somalia; Kenya with all the other states; and so on. While progress may be made in a country or two, the region will only become stable when all these countries are post-conflict – think of the Hundred Years’ War in Europe versus the current European Union.

 

 On the one hand, there are positive developments — particularly in the formerly hopeless situation of Somalia — and there is no overt fighting or wars at this time in the region. On the other hand, in too many places the potential for a flare-up caused by some spark can easily ignite one or more of these countries into flames. The crucial issue is the March 4 election in Kenya as chaos in Kenya would be detrimental to all the other countries in the region. The international community is playing an unusually heavy hand in suspending aid to Uganda and Rwanda – a necessary, long overdue step in pushing the governments in the region to act responsibly. Talking and negotiations in Sudan/South Sudan and Rwanda/Uganda/Congo are significant steps towards some resolution and much better than armed conflict. In most countries the situation is fragile, yet recovering from war, misrule, genocide, and rebellion is a decades’ long process.

 

Too few people in the region are able to sit, unafraid, under their banana trees.

 

__________________________________________________________

If you would like to be added to this listserve, please send your name and email address to dave@aglifpt.org.

Please donate to AGLI’s programs by sending a check to the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams made out to Friends Peace Teams/AGLI  to 1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 or go to our webpage at www.friendspeaceteams.org to donate by debit/credit card.

 

__________________________________________________________

Since 1998, David Zarembka has been the Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams. He has been involved with East and Central Africa since 1964 when he taught Rwandan refugees in Tanzania. He is married to Gladys Kamonya and lives in western Kenya. David is the author of A Peace of Africa: Reflections on Life in the Great Lakes Region (available atwww.davidzarembka.com).

 

__________________________________________________________

David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya
Phone in Kenya: 254 (0)726 590 783   in US: 301/765-4098
Office in US:1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/647-1287
Webpage: www.aglifpt.org

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Worries- Report from Kenya #187

Written by Administrator
Monday, 15 October 2012 11:12

Report from Kenya #187 – October 9, 2012

Worries

 

__________________________________________________________________

 

Dear All,

 

 

Now I have new worries. The African Great Lakes Initiative with our partner organization in Kenya, Friends Church Peace Teams (FCPT), has, as part of our election violence prevention program, trained citizen reporters and initiated a Call-in Center. Peter Serete, a long time peace worker with us, has become the coordinator for the Call-in Center. To date he has trained about two hundred citizen reporters.

One of our first trainings was in Turbo Division where we have worked since the 2008 post election violence. Within a day or two of the training, the Call-in Center received a text message from one of the newly trained citizen reporters. He said that Nandi youth in Turbo town were meeting at a local hotel (restaurant to us) to watch the evening news. Our reporter overheard them saving in the local language that, what happened in 2008 was minor compared to what was going to happen during this election. And this was before the election cycle had even begun and it is not clear what political alliances will be made. A week later we received another message from Turbo that Nandi youth had cut down the corn (maize) of a Kikuyu who had been an internally displaced person in 2008. The local chief called a meeting on this incident and Peter attended , but did not feel that much was being accomplished as far as violence prevention was concerned.

It became clear to me that the citizen reporter/Call-in Center concept was working. Moreover, it will allow us to have knowledge of many more incidences which would have at best been known only locally in the previous election. This brings my new worries: How can we respond to all these incidence? Since the situation looks dire, there may be many. Will we be overwhelmed? Then there is the more specific question, “How will we respond in different situations?” People have already been asking us this question and frankly we don’t know the answer. Each incident is different and will need a specific response. Yet, what are our guidelines? Eden Grace (FUM-African Ministry and Treasure of FCPT) asked if we will have the resources needed to respond to these violent incidences. My response was “No, but we need to do what we can with whatever we have.” Will we be effective? This is another worry of mine.

These were only minor incidences with what came next.

Mt Elgon had been the site of a two year rebellion (2006 to 2008) by the Saboat Land Defense Force over land allocation on Mt Elgon between two clans of the Saboat. Perhaps 600 people were killed and another 100,000 were displaced. Calm was restored when the Kenyan Army came and killed a number of the rebels including its leader. The underlying issues, though, were not addressed. To address the trauma from this conflict, FCPT/AGLI has done a number of HROC workshops/follow up/community celebration, AVP workshops, and mediation sessions. In particular, we did a cycle in Kubura, high up on the mountain. Judy Lumb, Gladys, and I attended the HROC community celebration in Kubura in March. Let me say that it is difficult to get that high up on the mountain near the bamboo line. Banana trees do not grow and the area does not look like it is in the tropics.

Peter had no sooner finished the citizen reporter training at Kubura when he received the following message on August 27, “Forming of armed gangs at Chepkurkur & Kubura sub-locations, looting & threat leaflets to businessmen.” Then on Sept 6, he received the message, “Four people were killed yesterday night at Lomorio village, Kapsokwony by unknown armed gang.” Peter wrote, “This and many others may be early warnings which call for intervention. As peace makers we can’t remain silent. I managed to attend the district peace committee meeting in Kubura and I feel little has been done by the administration. FCPT is helping in monitoring the situation and the challenge remain with FCPT on how to intervene.” What we decided to do was conduct a civic education workshop in Kubura and then a series of HROC workshops in Lomorio. This is happening as I write.

Geoffrey Kironget Chepkoi was one of the participants in first series of HROC workshops. On October 10, the Call-in Center received a message that he had been shot dead the previous night in a political assassination since he was a strong supporter of the current MP (member of parliament). Peter called the contact citizen reporter and with the help of other citizen reporters and a Turning the Tide resource person visited the home of the deceased.He lived in a small village called Chewangoi which is in Kopsiro division near Kipsigon Market. He left Chwele market at around seven after having some tea with friends. He took a motorbike to his house. At around 8:00 pm his wife told our citizen reporter , “My husband came and he looked tired and tense. He asked me to prepare the bed for him to rest which I did. He had just seated on the bed, removing his shoes. Then I heard a big bang on the door. A stranger come in and shot my husband who died on the spot with one shoe in his leg –in front of the eyes of my children and me. The man flew [away] on a motorbike.”The widow believes that her husband was politically killed by rivals whom she was reluctant to mention. Peter reported, “The community around is calm, which is a dangerous indicator.  Our contact citizen reporter is a lead HROC facilitator. He listened to the family and helped them to start their journey towards healing which will take time and he is willing to follow up with the family. Having known the man who died as our HROC participant, we have asked the committee planning for the funeral to include FCPT in that program and they have accepted.In the civic education that just ended yesterday youth said, ‘If the police will fail to stem insecurity, then, the area residents will be forced to form youth groups to guard the region in a move to ensure there is no loss of life and property in a region volatile to inter-clan wars.’”Since this murder is a police matter, the funeral date has not yet been arranged.

Do you see why I am worried?

 

Peace,

Dave

 

David Zarembka, Coordinator
African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams
P. O. Box 189, Kipkarren River 50241 Kenya
Phone in Kenya: 254 (0)726 590 783   in US: 301/765-4098
Office in US:1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 USA 314/647-1287
Webpage: www.aglifpt.org

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If you would like to donate for this program in Kenya, send a check to the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams made out to Friends Peace Teams/AGLI and earmarked for “Kenya Election Violence Prevention Program” to 1001 Park Avenue, St Louis, MO 63104 or through our webpage at www.aglifpt.org.

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Since 1998, David Zarembka has been the Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams. He has been involved with East and Central Africa since 1964 when he taught Rwandan refugees in Tanzania. He is married to Gladys Kamonya and lives in western Kenya. David is the author of A Peace of Africa: Reflections on Life in the Great Lakes Region (available at www.aglifpt.org).

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Tears: A Poem by Julio Cochoy

Written by Administrator
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 14:56
The following poem is written by a man named Julio. He is indigenous man who was 13 when Guatemalan Army soldiers occupied his town, Utitlan, terrorizing the residents. His uncle was killed brutally by the soldiers, and the family (or at least the boys) stayed inside their house for a year, afraid they would meet the same fate. His first book, Breaking the Silence, include testimonies from 36 families from the town. He’s working on his second, My Journey from Hate to Hope.

Paz–Val Liveoak

Lagrimas

Hoy llegaste a mi
te sentí tibio con mis lagrimas
tu carita arrugada se rio conmigo
sentí de nuevo tu energía

no tengo tu presencia física
pero estas cerca de mi ser
vives en mi mente
permaneces en mi corazón

ya no me duele la injusticia
de tu muerte
porque vives en la memoria
de mi pueblo

vives en la voz de tu familia
vives en la mente de tus nietos


Tío, hoy te redescubrí
en la eternidad

©Julio Cochoy11 de septiembre de 2012

Tears

Today you came to me
I felt you in the warmth of my tears
your wrinkled face laughed with me
I felt again your energy
You are not physically present
but you are close to my soul
you live in my mind
you remain in my heart

The injustice of your death
no longer hurts me
because in the memory of my people
you live on
You live in the voice of your family
you live in the minds of your grandchildren

Dear Uncle, today I rediscovered you
in eternity

 

©Julio Cochoy September 11 2012

Julio is pictured here at a presentation of his first book, Voices Breaking the Silence. He is 2nd from the left, with the microphone.

 fpt pla julio_at_book_peseantation
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Friends Peace Teams