The Peace Times
World Day of Peace. "The world must be educated to love Peace, to build it up and defend it." - Pope Paul VI, 1968 January 1 is the World Day of Peace!
Resources for 2014 World Day of Peace: The Vatican has announced the theme and title for the annual World Day of Peace message that Pope Francis will release on January 1: “Fraternity, the Foundation and Pathway to Peace.” In his 2014 Message for the World Day of Peace (January 1). . . , Pope Francis urges us to open our hearts in a new way to our brothers and sisters affected by poverty, hunger, conflicts, migrations, inequalities, pollution, underdevelopment, and injustice. When we break free from indifference and see ourselves and members of one human family, we can truly "encounter" one another and build peace.
Atenea D.J., 3º A
Gov’t plans amnesty for MILF insurgents
This photo taken on October 15, 2012, shows members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels raising their rifles during a ceremony at Camp Darapanan in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao province. The government will grant amnesty to MILF rebels facing rebellion-related charges or pardon convicted ones under a newly signed pact in which the insurgents agreed to have their 11,000-strong force deactivated. AFP PHOTO
KUALA LUMPUR—The government will grant amnesty to Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels facing rebellion-related charges or pardon convicted ones under a newly signed pact in which the insurgents agreed to have their 11,000-strong force deactivated. Presidential Peace Adviser Teresita Deles said on Sunday that the planned amnesty, which would need congressional approval, would cover only fighters of the MILF and exclude insurgents who broke off from the main Moro group and continue to threaten attacks. A pact signed by government and MILF negotiators in the Malaysian capital on Saturday says the granting of amnesty and pardon is aimed at facilitating “the healing of the wounds of conflict and the return to normal life.” The “normalization annex,” as the pact is called, is the final component of a peace agreement expected to be formally signed soon. “We have just been discussing the next steps and our goal is to be able to get a good schedule for that,” chief government negotiator Miriam Coronel-Ferrer said in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday. “We have set a time frame of between February and March,” Ferrer said. The talks that began in 1996 with the MILF are aimed at ending an insurgency in Mindanao that has left an estimated 150,000 people dead since the 1970s. After a final deal is signed, the two sides will write a Bangsamoro basic law and submit it to Congress for approval. The basic law will create the Bangsamoro autonomous region. President Aquino has promised to certify the Bangsamoro bill urgent when he submits it to Congress. MNLF opposition Another insurgent group in Mindanao, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which signed a final peace agreement with the government in 1996, opposes a separate peace with the MILF. An MNLF faction led by Cotabato City Vice Mayor Muslimin Sema did not reject outright the peace accord signed on Saturday, but said it wanted all prior agreements enforced first before the enforcement of the deal with the MILF. On Sunday, MILF chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal thanked Sema for not rejecting the normalization deal between the government and the MILF. Iqbal, speaking in Kuala Lumpur, said the peace agreement was for all the Moro people. “Of course, we continue to reach out to everybody, including the MNLF, that the agreement that we are going to sign with the Philippine government is for everybody and we are very inclusive,” he added, referring to the comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro, the final peace agreement between the government and the MILF. 1996 peace deal Iqbal assured Sema that the annex on power-sharing included the mechanisms on how the 1996 peace agreement between the government and the MNLF would be integrated into the agreement with the MILF. “The Bangsamoro Transition Commission, of which I happen to chair, is tasked to look at the 1996 peace agreement and see the elements [there] that can be inputted in the Bangsamoro basic law that we are crafting,” Iqbal said. Members of the MNLF were invited to join the Transition Commission but they declined, as it could run in conflict with the ongoing tripartite review of the Organic Law of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Sema told the Inquirer that the MNLF’s “silence on any impending agreement is not our choice but it is forced upon us, lest we are branded as spoilers.” Sema cofounded the MNLF with Nur Misuari but the movement eventually split, with Sema now leading the Committee of 15. Misuari, on the other hand, is now a fugitive, being hunted for instigating an attack on Zamboanga City last September. He claimed the government reneged on the 1996 peace agreement. Sema’s group did not support the Zamboanga attack and urged its fighters not to join Misuari’s loyalists. But Sema awaits the next tripartite meeting. “After Zambo, no talks took place but consultations were made by the PCSP (Peace Committee in Southern Philippines) and the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation). We have posted our preparedness to proceed with the meetings,” he said. The PCSP is chaired by Indonesia, the third-party facilitator for the tripartite talks. Weight lifted Iqbal said it was as if a huge weight was lifted off his shoulders after the final document that made up the peace pact between his group and the government was signed early Saturday evening. “The burden upon my shoulders has substantially disappeared,” a smiling Iqbal told the Inquirer following the signing of the normalization annex. Iqbal has been the MILF chief’s negotiator since 2003, facing off with nine government chief negotiators over nearly 10 years to arrive at a peace agreement that ends four decades of fighting in Central Mindanao. The work is not done for both panels, which will continue to work on the implementation of the peace deal until an exit agreement is signed in 2016, they hope before the term of Aquino ends. But Iqbal has another important responsibility: chairing the Bangsamoro Transitional Committee, a joint government and MILF panel that is writing the Bangsamoro basic law. The law will govern the Bangsamoro region that will replace the ARMM. “Our focus now is the crafting of the basic law. We have to do that and time is running to finish the job on or before May this year,” Iqbal said. After the draft law is enacted by Congress, a plebiscite will be held in in Central Mindanao to ask the people if they want to be included in the new Bangsamoro region. Iqbal does not want to call Congress “the next battleground,” after facing the government on the battlefield with weapons and then moving on to the negotiating table to hammer out a peace agreement. He said he would rather consider Congress “the next avenue of engagement.” Iqbal and the MILF panel met with the lawmakers who attended the signing on Saturday. “The discussion was very cordial and friendly, and we promised them that from time to time we would reach out to them. We told them that we firmly believe that the collective wisdom of Congress would finally pass a good legislation for the Bangsamoro,” Iqbal said.—With a report from AP http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/569627/ph-to-grant-amnesty-pardon-muslim-rebels
Juan Manuel R. N. 3º B
Whatever happened to Turkey’s peace process? The peace process between the Turkish government and the PKK (Kurdish Workers’ Party) guerrilla movement which was revealed publicly in March seems to have slowed to a glacial pace. After some deft public relations interventions in September and November, Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is not expected to make any serious moves before the March 2014 local elections. In April, we speculated that Erdogan was spurred to initiate peace talks with the PKK by the mass nonviolent uprising of Turkish Kurds last autumn, sparked by a Kurdish prisoners’ hunger strike that began last September (see PN 2556, and 2552-2553). It may need another dose of grassroots mobilisation to force the government to get serious with the peace process. The initial signs were promising. The government passed laws in January allowing the use of native languages in court cases. The PKK reciprocated with the release of eight prisoners and the declaration of a ‘formal and clear ceasefire’ in March. The PKK also began withdrawing thousands of its fighters from Turkish territory in May, a process that was conditional on further concessions by the government. These were not forthcoming, and the withdrawal was suspended in September. At the end of September, Erdogan announced a limited package of reforms generally seen as inadequate.
http://peacenews.info/node/7479/whatever-happened-turkey’s-peace-process Christian E., Sergio C. and Manuel C.3ºA-B
A former Norwegian Minister proposed Wednesday to former U.S. intelligence analyst Edward Snowden for the Nobel Peace Prize , in a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee. "It has helped to reveal the extreme level of monitoring by nations against other nations and citizens," said Socialist former minister Baard Vegar Solhjell explaining his initiative told AFP. " Snowden has helped people to know what happened and to stimulate public debate" on trust in government , which is " a prerequisite for peace." In a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee obtained by AFP, Solhjell and his fellow party Snorre Valen said not necessarily endorse or approve all disclosures of Snowden, but praise for exposing " the nature and technological capability of monitoring modern " . "The level of sophistication and depth of surveillance which underwent citizens worldwide are issues that have left us stunned and have led to a debate ," they wrote in their letter . They added that the actions of Snowden have " led to the reintroduction of trust and transparency as an important principle of global security policies ," they added . Records of the National Security Agency (NSA ) of the United States leaked by Snowden in 2013 revealed widespread surveillance of individuals and institutions in the U.S. and elsewhere . According to the website specializing in WikiLeaks leaks , Snowden, who now resides in Russia , requested asylum in various countries including Norway last summer bloreal . Solhjell , who was environment minister until the leftist government lost power last year, told AFP that he was aware of the request for asylum Snowden adding that this had to be processed in the normal way . "This issue has not affected our decision to propose to Snowden for the peace prize ," he said . The deadline to submit nominations for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize ended on February 1 . Among those who can submit nominations include politicians and lawyers worldwide , as well as academics from some disciplines. In July 2013, a Swedish professor of Sociology , Stefan Svallfors , Snowden nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize after the deadline , but the application is still valid for 2014. Antonio T. 3ยบ B
The future of Assad threatens the peace summit on Syria: The possibility that Syrian President Bashar Assad delegating power to a transitional government was about to ruin Monday, once again, the peace summit Geneva II. This demand of the opposition Syrian National Coalition and its allies has run into a complete rejection of the delegation sent by the regime. The UN mediator for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, was forced to admit on Monday what is already obvious that in Geneva "did not expect any miracles." Much of the day on Monday, the fourth direct contacts between the regime and the opposition, was invested in deciding how to leave safely allow 500 civilian families the center of Homs, a center of revolt, besieged by the regime for 18 months. The delegation of Assad vowed on Sunday to let them leave the fenced areas, in the first agreement reached by both parties to this peace conference. "The parties are discussing how. I think the government wants to fulfill, but it is not easy because there are snipers and other problems, "Brahimi said Monday at a news conference. These difficulties highlight the challenges of Geneva II. It is represented the National Coalition, the political arm of the secular Free Syrian Army, but other rebel militias, many jihadists fighting against both Assad and against secular rebels, and do not accept any dialogue. Actually, the day on Monday should have been treated as political issues, such as implementing the Geneva press I. This was signed in June 2012 by the UN, the Arab League, the U.S. and Russia, among others, calls for a political transition in Syria to end a conflict that has claimed 130,000 lives. The regime can not accept the idea of transfer of power and has remained defiant conversations regarding this requirement of opponents. "The other party has the ability to recognize Syria and its territorial integrity, or does not care what happens to the people of Syria," he said Monday Bouthaina Shaaban, an adviser to Assad sent to Geneva, according to AFP. The official delegation has tried to focus every day of discussion in the presence of Al Qaeda and related groups in Syria, calling all opponents generically terrorists, traitors and paid agents of the enemy, without admitting any fault on their part.
For now, the great achievements of the pact have been Brahimi for evacuation of civilians in Homs and ensure that both parties accept the word go in meetings, something that opponents initially resisted. The UN mediator also tried, so far unsuccessfully, that the system accepts the entry of humanitarian convoys to besieged areas, something for which both sides should declare a ceasefire. He said Monday, "Unfortunately there is still no agreement on cessation of hostilities."
Miriam H. and LucĂa S.3ÂşB
Syria Geneva II peace talks witness bitter exchanges Syria's government and main political opposition have traded bitter accusations on the first day of a major peace conference in Switzerland. The opposition and US said President Bashar al-Assad had no legitimacy and must step down from power. Syria's foreign minister had a terse exchange with the UN's Ban Ki-moon over the length of his speech and said only Syrians could decide Mr Assad's fate. The conflict has left more than 100,000 dead and millions displaced. The summit is discussing the Geneva communique which lays out a political transition plan for Syria. Wednesday's initial meeting, involving speeches from 40 or so foreign ministers - has now ended. The direct talks are scheduled to begin in Geneva on Friday. At a fractious evening news conference, during which there were repeated calls for calm, Mr Ban spoke of the suffering in Syria, saying: "Enough is enough. The time has come to negotiate." He said that "the really hard work begins on Friday", adding: "We have a difficult road ahead, but it can be done and it must be done." Mr Ban dwelt on the Geneva communique, which calls for a transitional government in Syria, saying he was disappointed with the attitudes of both the Syrian government and its ally, Iran. UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi said he would speak to the Syrian government and opposition delegations separately on Thursday and that he hoped both teams would meet in the same room on Friday. This would be the first face-to-face meeting between the Syrian government and the main opposition the National Coalition - since the conflict began in 2011. At his press conference, US Secretary of State John Kerry stressed that the Geneva communique and its call for political transition was the paramount focus of the summit. "Every delegation, with one exception, embraced the Geneva communique," he said, referring to the Syrian government. Syria's foreign minister and the Syrian national coalition president delivered angry statements. "No-one has done more to make Syria a magnet for terrorists than Bashar al-Assad," Mr Kerry said. "You cannot save Syria with Bashar alAssad in power." A member of the Syrian team, UN ambassador Bashar Jaafari, criticised the exclusion of Iran from the meeting, and condemned many of Wednesday's speeches as "provocative and repetitive statements based on hatred towards the Syrian government". He also accused Gulf states of "inciting terrorism" in Syria.
'Inflammatory rhetoric' The BBC's Paul Wood, in Montreux, says there were some extraordinarily ill-tempered scenes and some very direct language at the morning meeting. Syria's Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said some states attending the talks had "Syrian blood on their hands" and called the opposition "traitors". Addressing Mr Kerry, he said: "No-one in the world has the right to confer or withdraw the legitimacy of a president, a constitution or a law, except for the Syrians themselves." Mr Muallem ran far over the allotted 10-minute slot for each speaker, ignoring Mr Ban's attempts to intervene. "You live in New York. I live in Syria," Mr Muallem told the UN secretary general. "I have the right to give the Syrian version here. After three years of suffering, this is my right." The US state department condemned Mr Muallem's remarks as "inflammatory rhetoric", and urged the government to take "real, concrete steps to increase humanitarian access and improve the lives of the people suffering the most". The head of the National Coalition, Ahmad Jarba, said the Syrian government must sign up to a deal to transfer powers from Mr Assad. Mr Jarba said that this would be "the preamble to Bashar al-Assad's resignation and his trial alongside all the criminals of his regime". He added: "For the Syrians, time is now blood." Mr Jarba displayed a photograph taken from a report by three war crimes investigators which alleged "systematic" torture and execution of opposition detainees in Syria. The report was released on Tuesday but dismissed as not credible by Damascus. Our correspondent says that when the talks go
behind closed doors there will perhaps be a more constructive tone - with discussion of practical matters such as ceasefires and access for humanitarian aid. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the talks "will not be simple, will not be quick", but that there was "a historic responsibility on the shoulders of all participants". He also repeated his insistence that Iran should be involved. The UN withdrew its invitation to Iran this week over its refusal to back the Geneva communique. Iran's President Hasan Rouhani said on Wednesday that the "lack of influential players" attending meant he doubted "its ability to resolve the Syria crisis".
Juan J. M. 3ยบA http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25836827
Kpalimé, Togo: Muslim Imans Train for Peace and Nonviolence Some 200 preachers and imams of the Muslim religion ( from all regions of Togo ), have been in training since last Saturday [ 28 December ] in Kpalimé on the entrenchment of peace and non- violence, The training was begun Thursday afternoon on Agou Peak (about 117 miles north of Lome) during an excursion organized by the Muslim World League according to Agence Savoir News.
Immediately after getting out of the bus, they gathered around the highest point of Mount Agou where they received a good deal of information after facing east for prayer. According to Kossi Agbana, the technician at the relay center of the Togolese Television (TVT) in Agou, Agou Peak is the heart of Togo, because that is where all information from TVT Radio Lomé, Radio Kara and TV5 Monde must transit before being broadcast to other localities . In the 1800s the height of Mont Agou was 1020m but because of erosion it has been reduced to 986m altitude, he explained. Imams and preachers of Islam were briefed on the whole process: from the production, dissemination and reception of images and sounds on television sets. According M. Agbana, it is the microwave installed by Togo Telecom that feeds us the image and sound. They also saw the transmitters of Radio Lomé , Kara and RFI and those of the TVT and TV5 Monde and the new transmitter (not yet functional) installed recently to receive the TVT on satellite. Before, it was the analog transmitters that were used and the images were black and white, but more recently the images are in color with the Secam system, he explained. " We organized this trip to allow preachers and Imams from all parts of the
country to know the highest mountain in Togo and visit the facilities of relay centers of radio and television transmitters" for his part stressed Malam Abdoulahi Mouhamed Yolou, the representative of the World Islamic League in Togo. Remember that these preachers and Imams are trained on the concept of the culture of peace and nonviolence. Organized by the ' Islamic World League', this course aims to inform and educate preachers and imams on the values of peace and non-violence according to the Holy Koran.
MANUEL Ă NGEL D. S. 3ÂşA
Philippines and Muslim rebels clinch peace deal The Philippine government and the country's largest Muslim rebel group completed talks Saturday on a deal to end four decades of fighting that has killed tens of thousands of people and helped foster Islamic extremism in Southeast Asia. The accord between Filipino negotiators and the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front calls for Muslim self-rule in parts of the southern Philippines in exchange for the deactivation of the rebel force. Military presence in the proposed autonomous region would be restricted. Officials from both sides announced the conclusion of talks in Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, which has brokered the years-long negotiations. The accord and three other pacts signed last year make up a final peace agreement that is to be signed in the Philippine capital, Manila, possibly next month, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said. "This will give the just and lasting peace that our brothers in Mindanao are seeking." said Lacierda, referring to the volatile southern region and homeland of minority Muslims in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation. Saturday's accord has been the most significant progress made over 13 years of negotiations to tame a tenacious insurgency that has left more than 120,000 people dead and derailed development in Muslim-populated southern regions that are among the most destitute in the Philippines. Under the peace deal, the Moro insurgents agreed to end violence in exchange for broader autonomy. An existing five-province Muslim autonomous region is to be replaced by a more powerful, better-funded and potentially larger region to be called Bangsamoro.
Clara G. 3ยบ A
Pakistan enters peace talks with Taliban The first formal meeting between Pakistan's government and a Taliban-nominated team has been held in Islamabad, officials say. The talks are aimed at charting a "roadmap" for negotiations that will try to end a decade-long insurgency. The government set out five conditions, including ending hostilities, saying a "journey for peace" had started. The Taliban team agreed to travel to the north-west to discuss the conditions with the leadership. Militants from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have been waging an insurgency inside Pakistan since 2007. The talks initiative was announced last week by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, following a spate of attacks. More than 100 people, including soldiers, died in Taliban attacks across the country in January. Thousands have been killed since the TTP came to the fore in 2007. Doubts over success The first session lasted about three hours at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa House in Islamabad. The head of the Taliban team, Maulana Sami ul-Haq, read out a joint statement afterwards. It listed five basic conditions that had been set out by the government side: All talks be held within the framework of the constitution The scope of the talks should remain confined to areas affected by violence, not the whole country All hostilities should cease during talks The Taliban should clarify the role of a separate nine-member committee that they have established The talks should not be protracted The Taliban team agreed to travel to Miranshah in the north-west to take the conditions to the leadership and pledged to report back to the government committee as soon as possible.
Both committees agreed that neither side should initiate an act that might damage the talks process.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-26065385 Antonio David P., 4ยบA
North Korea in 'reconciliation' call to the South The letter, published in North Korea's state media, comes weeks before South Korea is due to hold joint military drills with the US. South Korea dismissed the letter as having a "hidden motive". Correspondents say that tensions on the Korean peninsula traditionally rise ahead of the annual drills, which Pyongyang has condemned as provocative. Last year, the military exercises, known as "Foal Eagle", led to an unusually sharp and protracted surge in tensions. The North threatened pre-emptive nuclear strikes, as nuclear-capable US stealth bombers flew practice runs over the peninsula. The military drills scheduled for next month are a source of great irritation to the North, which sees them as aggressive preparations for war. While North Korea is appearing to offer reconciliation, its rhetoric has been accompanied by thinly-veiled threats not to "rashly reject" the proposals, the BBC's Lucy Williamson in Seoul reports. The question on many minds is what the North will do when the drills go ahead, our correspondent adds.
Marina H. C. 4ยบ A
Philippines and Rebels Agree on Peace Accord to End Insurgency
MANILA — The Philippine government and the country’s largest Muslim insurgency group negotiated the final details of a peace accord on Saturday that many hope will end more than 40 years of violence that has killed tens of thousands of people and helped nurture Islamic extremism in Southeast Asia. The agreement will create an autonomous Muslim-dominated region in the restive south of the predominantly Christian country, handing much of the responsibility for security there to local authorities as well as a large share of revenues from the region’s wealth of natural resources. The militants have agreed to disarm, with many expected to join Philippine security forces. Although many challenges to sustained peace remain — notably that some militant groups have refused to join the agreement — the deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is considered a signature achievement for PresidentBenigno S. Aquino III. Mr. Aquino has vowed to end the conflicts on the island of Mindanao that have bedeviled thePhilippines for more than a century and that would eventually hinder the nation’s ability to expand its economy and catch up with more prosperous neighbors.
“The agreement represents the culmination of decades of excruciating diplomatic efforts aimed at ending the conflict in Mindanao,” said Richard Javad Heydarian, a political science lecturer at Ateneo de Manila University. “This provides an unprecedented opportunity to end one of the world’s longest-running intrastate conflicts.” The groups left out of the agreement are the most violent in the southern Philippines, including the Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, which has carried out kidnappings, bombings and beheadings for more than a decade and says it wants to set up a strict Islamic state. The peace deal is expected to be signed within the next several weeks, but analysts consider that just a formality. They say the true test of the pact will be in its implementation; a peace deal with another militant group in 1996 failed in part because of widespread corruption in the area it was supposed to control. The negotiations were brokered by Malaysia, where the deal was reached, and countries including the United States and those in the European Union are expected to help in the implementation, providing aid and advice on good governance. Those countries want to sap the strength of Islamic insurgencies in the region. On Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry offered congratulations for “concluding negotiations toward an historic, comprehensive peace agreement. This agreement offers the promise of peace, security, and economic prosperity now and for future generations in Mindanao.” The conflict between Muslim insurgent groups on Mindanao and the Christian-dominated government in the north of the country has simmered since the late 1800s. Every government since Philippine independence in 1946 has struggled to resolve the violence, through peace talks and sometimes military action. In recent decades, the conflict has claimed an estimated 120,000 lives and displaced more than two million people. It has also kept the southern Philippines mired in poverty even as the country has undergone an economic renaissance of sorts, becoming one of the fastest growing economies in East Asia, with a growth rate that surpassed China’s in some quarters last year.
“In a world looking for peaceful solutions to all troubles, we are grateful that we have found ours,” Teresita Quintos Deles, a presidential adviser on the peace talks, said Saturday. The Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have been working on the details of the peace deal since October 2012, when they reached a framework agreement for ending the conflict.
Earlier interim agreements dealt with sharing power and resources. Under those deals, the national government will retain authority over national defense, foreign policy and monetary issues, while the newly formed autonomous region, to be called Bangsamoro, is expected to have broad local powers. The two parties also agreed that 75 percent of the tax revenue from metallic minerals mined in the region would stay in Mindanao. In addition, half of the taxes collected from fossil fuels developed in the region would remain with local authorities. Saturday’s agreement dealt with the delicate issue of disarmament. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front agreed to incorporate some of its 11,000 fighters into Philippine government forces and gradually disarm the others with the oversight of a third party yet to be named. After the deal is formally signed, it must be passed by the Philippine congress and approved through plebiscite in the newly formed autonomous areas, but analysts consider passage extremely likely. The success of the agreement may hinge in good part on the ability of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which will now be in charge of internal security in the autonomous area, to curb the violence of other militant groups. To do so, the peace deal envisions Muslim authorities working closely with Philippine security forces. Another major group, the Moro National Liberation Front, signed the 1996 peace deal, but that agreement allowed the rebels to retain their arms and did little to end the violence. Those militants oppose the latest deal, which they say encroaches on the autonomy they were granted under their own pact. Factions of the group were involved in an incursion into the southern city of Zamboanga in September that left more than 200 people dead, most of them militants. Government negotiators have said that bringing greater prosperity to Mindanao and empowering the largest peaceful Muslim groups in the area will help decrease violence and lawlessness. The United States has about 500 Special Forces troops based in Mindanao to help the Philippine military fight the most violent groups. One analyst expressed skepticism about the chances for a lasting peace.
“The Aquino administration is in a hurry to finish this and claim credit for peace, but this isn’t peace,” said Bobit Avila, a columnist for The Philippine Star newspaper. “It will not bring peace unless all the armed groups in Mindanao will join in.”
“I can visit Muslim countries around the world without fear, but I can’t go to Mindanao or I will be kidnapped,” Mr. Avila said. “I don’t think this agreement will change that.”
José Manuel N. S. 4º A
In a Polluted Stream, a Pathway to Peace MORRO BAY, Calif. — PEACE talks are under way again in Jerusalem. If the past is any guide, the two sides are stymied over difficult issues like settlements and borders. The negotiators badly need a new approach, and one is right beneath their feet, in the Kidron Valley, the deep ravine that runs from the Old City through the West Bank toward the Dead Sea.
As it snakes its way through the Judean wilderness, the Kidron comes to Mar Saba, a spectacular monastery slung upon a cliff. Orthodox Christian prayers have been chanted there every day for some 1,400 years. The monastery and its domes and chapels are protected on one side by stone walls and on the other by the deep gorge of the Kidron, or Wadi Nar, as the Arabs call it. If you descend the innumerable steps to the fast-flowing Kidron Stream, a vile smell rises to meet you. The flow is raw sewage from Jerusalem, coursing at a rate of 8 to 10 million gallons a day. Jerusalem treats two-thirds of its wastewater at a plant in the western part of the city. The remainder, which emanates mainly from Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem but also from Jewish housing, has been held hostage to the political impasse since 1967. Underground and out of sight near the Old City, the sewage breaks into the open at the separation barrier, where the West Bank begins; picks up additional loads from Bethlehem and the impoverished town of Ubeidiya; passes beneath the monastery; and eventually, though some is diverted by settlers for irrigation, it reaches the Dead Sea. In the malodorous water lies a political opportunity. The Kidron Valley traverses an area holy to three world religions. Cleaning up the basin ought to be a lead item in the current talks, a cause instead of a consequence of peace. After all, the pollution is owned by both sides and breaches any possible future boundary between them. Compared with issues like the Palestinians’ right of return, the Jewish settlements and the final status of Jerusalem — not to mention the borders themselves — solving the Kidron’s problem is straightforward. More important, if the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government can work together on an uncontroversial civil project, one that improves the quality of life for all residents, they will start to develop a mutual trust. Over the last six years, an Israeli lawyer named Richard Laster — a professor at Hebrew University — has laid the foundation for a solution. Heading a team of Israeli and Palestinian officials and academics, Mr. Laster produced the Kidron Master Plan. The group proposes diverting the wastewater from the valley and constructing a sewage treatment plant in Ubeidiya. The plant would be paid for largely by international development agencies but jointly owned and operated by Israelis and Palestinians. The managers would sell the treated wastewater for local agricultural use, and Ubeidiya would get a modern landfill for its trash. While the environment healed, a new park and
tourist trail would link Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ubeidiya and the Mar Saba monastery. The Kidron would be, in Mr. Laster’s words, “a platform for peace.” Water rights — and water quality — are crucial matters in this area of the world. If Palestinians and Israelis are going to live side by side, they will have to share the scarce rivers and aquifers that crisscross their national demarcations. Friends of the Earth Middle East, a transboundary environmental group, has promoted the importance of water-sharing. Representatives of the group are now on tour in the United States talking up “cross-border environmental peacemaking.” Secretary of State John Kerry, when coaxing the two sides back to the peace table in May, held out the prospect of a $4 billion development package for the West Bank in the wake of an agreement. But that is putting the cart before the donkey, as it were. Foreign donors and investors ought to support infrastructure projects in the West Bank now, especially those involving Palestinian and Israeli stakeholders. The place to start is the Kidron, a place of portentous crossing-over, a place that figures in the Judgment Day narratives of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. However, it would be naïve to play down the present-day obstacles. Whenever they have been asked to approve a sewage treatment plant in the past, each side has held out for a site where it can exert full control. In addition, the Palestinian leaders in Ramallah are wary of any moves to “normalize” relations with Israel, demanding a whole loaf when half a loaf might do. It’s up to the United States and the international parties in the diplomatic process to push for an environmental resolution in the Kidron. Of course, the negotiators have much more to discuss than sewage. But when you talk to Mr. Laster about the peace talks and the borders to be drawn, he soon becomes impatient. “Borders are irrelevant,” he says. “If the water table is polluted, it doesn’t matter where they draw the line. Even if there’s no agreement, you still have to fix it.” Jeff Wheelwright is the author, most recently, of “The Wandering Gene and the Indian Princess.”
Cristina P. B. 4º A
Iran Delivers Surprise, Money, to Jewish Hospital TEHRAN — The brother of Iran’s president walked into Tehran’s only Jewish hospital on Thursday, delivering a surprise donation along with the message that the Health Ministry would give more attention to hospitals that traditionally serve Christian and Jewish Iranians. “We are very happy,” a nurse there said by telephone. “This is a good sign.” The hospital, the Dr. Sapir Hospital and Charity Center, received $400,000 from the government of President Hassan Rouhani, the semiofficial Mehr News Agency reported. Another Iranian source, the semiofficial website Tabnak, said that the amount was $200,000, but that a second installment in the same amount would be coming. The leader’s brother, Hossein Fereydoon, who goes by Mr. Rouhani’s original family name, was quoted by Tabnak as saying, “Our government intends to unite all ethnic groups and religions, so we decided to assist you.”
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Since taking office in August, Mr. Rouhani has embarked on a campaign to engage the world after years of isolation under his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who never missed an opportunity to denigrate Israel and deny that six million Jews had died in the Holocaust. Mr. Rouhani’s approach toward Jews and the care he takes when mentioning Israel form a central part of his effort to undo some of the damage — international censures and sanctions — from Mr. Ahmadinejad’s two terms. The gift to the hospital comes after the president’s social media team wished Jews around the world a happy Rosh Hashana, in September. In stark contrast to Mr. Ahmadinejad, Mr. Rouhani rarely mentions Israel and avoids talking about the Holocaust. While the Islamic republic’s ideology prescribes that Israel — “the Zionist regime,” as it is referred to here — is a mortal enemy, never to be recognized, Iran is also home to the largest population of Jews in the Middle East after Israel, though that number is dwindling. Jews are an officially recognized minority, with a population of about 9,000. “We can clearly see that Mr. Rouhani is trying to take distance from Mr. Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust-denial policies,” said Farshad Ghorbanpour, a political analyst close to the government. Some are interpreting Mr. Rouhani’s gentler approach toward
Israel as a policy change, pointing to several Middle Eastern meetings to which both countries sent representatives, even though Iran does not officially recognize Israel. During the Munich Security Conference last Saturday, the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, gave an interview in which he was reported to have said that Iran could consider recognizing Israel someday. “After the problem with the Palestinians is resolved, the conditions that will enable recognition of the State of Israel will be established,” he was quoted as telling a German television station, Phoenix. In a separate speech at the conference, Mr. Zarif said the Holocaust was “tragically cruel and should not happen again.” On Thursday, Mr. Zarif denied the comments attributed to him during the interview, saying his words were distorted. He did not deny his comments about the Holocaust. Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-Israeli who teaches Iranian politics at theInterdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, said Mr. Rouhani’s gestures were “rare for recent years,” and described Mr. Zarif’s remarks about an Iranian decision regarding relations with Israel in the event it finalizes a peace deal with the Palestinians as “a first in itself.” “They may or may not decide to recognize Israel,” Mr. Javedanfar said in a telephone interview, “but to say that they will decide on it is unprecedented.” http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/07/world/middleeast/iran-delivers-surprise-money-to-jewishhospital.html?ref=middleeast&_r=0
Rafa B. 4º A
peace for the brave The Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, and President of the Organization for the Liberation of Palestine ( PLO) , Yasser Arafat shake hands at the White House , tucked behind the U.S. President , Bill Clinton. They are frozen in a postcard, in Jerusalem. "Shalom , salaam , peace ." A euro which is still unsurpassed picture of peace in the Middle East, the " brave" , which fixed the Oslo Accords that September 13, 1993 . The same table was forging the Camp David agreement (1978 ) between Israel and Egypt gave birth to the first hint of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. " Pessimists say that brought radicalism and violence. Optimists , who has not been as effective tool and another without it today would not have dialogue. It was the cornerstone of the solution to come, " summarizes the Gazan political analyst Adnan Abu Amer. Oslo really did what seemed impossible : Israel and the PLO recognized each other , the Palestinian entity renounced the use of violence, an autonomy plan for Gaza and Jericho was implemented - no Israeli military presence , the example will create two neighboring states , the foundation for homeland security and economic cooperation sat ; created the Palestinian Authority would take the reins of the administration , security, defense, foreign policy and the economy kept Israel and a transition - five established years after he should reach a final peace, May 4, 1999 . Everything was negotiated in secret , remember Yossi Beilin, Israel's deputy foreign key in the process. The Norwegian Institute of Applied Science ( Fafo ) mediated since 1992. The initial idea was to discuss pending issues from under the Madrid Accords (1991 ) . " We felt confident that we were on to a real partner," he says, and after 17 months of meetings saw that you could go further. On September 9, 93 parties were given letters of recognition . " That meant demolishing a pillar of Zionism , which denied the existence of a Palestinian people before the creation of the State of Israel and the PLO unusual commitment to break the Palestinian Charter that denied the legitimacy of Israel ," said Uri Avnery founder of the Gush Shalom peace group . Beilin stressed that Oslo opened the doors to peace with Jordan and downgraded diplomatic and economic boycott of the Arab world to Israel, but prevented them from seeing the illusion that extremism rose followed , on both sides, which caught in the assassination of Rabin and the Second Intifada. So now calls " stop the extremists on both sides ." Is " disappointing " , he says, that has not gone further . Nabeel Shaath was one of the Palestinian negotiators . For him it is "essential" rating , for the first time, these agreements collected large unresolved issues : Jerusalem , refugees, settlements , security, borders and resources. "I thought, peace has begun. Then they began to advance the rightwing in Israel and the agreement was applied selectively , "he laments . Hanan Ashrawi , who was spokesman for the PLO, welcomes the return to the land of their leaders, from North Africa , and 300,000 Palestinian families , plus the launch of an administration, but the colonies, the division of land in areas a, B and C , with different degrees of control of Israel, or the lack of connection of the West Bank and Gaza "have not changed much ."
LAURA C. 4 ยบ A
Veterans for Peace UK demonstrate at the Cenotaph Ben Griffin from Veterans for Peace UK on taking the message to the Cenotaph As a child I was captivated by the somber parades of Remembrance Sunday. The soldiers in their greatcoats, the veterans wearing their medals, and ‘The Last Post’, all played a part in recruiting me into the army. Since I left the army, the weeks leading up to Remembrance Sunday have become hard for me to endure. The public relations campaign waged each year by the Royal British Legion hides the brutality and stupidity of warfare. Diamanté poppies, girl bands and children dressed in ‘Future Soldier’ T-shirts are all deployed to attract the unthinking into participating in a glorification of war and the military. There is a distinct lack of remembrance. I am not alone among veterans in thinking this. Veterans for Peace UK were formed in mid-2011. We have attracted veterans of all three services, ranging in experience from D-Day to Helmand province, Afghanistan. Veterans for Peace UK was formed in mid-2011. We have attracted veterans of all three services, ranging in experience from D-Day to Helmand province, Afghanistan. Our aim is to advance the cause of world peace through nonviolent action. We speak in schools to counter the propaganda of military recruiters, stand in solidarity with military resisters like Michael Lyons and Chelsea Manning, fast in solidarity with the men held in Guantánamo Bay, hold public events to expose the true nature of warfare by telling our own stories, and protest in the street. Reclaiming remembrance This year, on Remembrance Sunday, 10 November, we walked (no marching) to the Cenotaph under the banner ‘Never Again’. We decided not to wear our medals or berets. Among the 18 veterans who attended were men who had served in the Second World War, South-East Asia, Northern Ireland, Oman, Macedonia, Afghanistan and Iraq. The message on the back of our tops read ‘War is Organized Murder’, a quote from Harry Patch, who was the last survivor of the Western Front in the First World War when he died in 2009. We were followed by around 80 supporters. The response from bystanders was initially confused and then, as the penny dropped, mostly positive. As we neared the Cenotaph we were stopped by the police; we had not informed them of our intentions. A negotiation between the police and my self-ended with an agreement to allow the veterans and our bugler to approach the Cenotaph. The tension built as we waited for the Salvation Army to finish their ceremony. We walked into the enclosure surrounding the Cenotaph and lined up facing it. Day veteran Jim Radford sang the song ‘1916’, by Lemmy Kilmister. Afghanistan veteran John Boulton read the poem, ‘Suicide in the Trenches’, by Siegfried Sassoon. A wreath of mostly white poppies was then laid by Northern Ireland veteran John Bourton. ‘The Last Post’ was played, after which there was a minute of silence during which we tried to remember all victims of war. It was a sombre and moving event which took courage to participate in. Next year, we hope to have many more veterans committed to peace walking with us to the Cenotaph. We extend our invitation to former enemies who are currently excluded from the ‘official’ state parade.
María R. N., Antonia A.P. and Rafa C. 4º A
Peace is a riddle that will take time Analysis Roger Boyes Diplomatic Editor Published at 12:01AM, January 20 2014 Persuading the Syrian opposition-in-exile to attend peace talks in Switzerland this week was a significant diplomatic success for the West. The problem is that it might be the only one as the competing sides face off across the negotiating table in Montreux. One Whitehall official described the preparation for the Syrian peace conference as being akin to the ancient riddle of the fox, the goose and a bag of beans. A farmer has to bring all three across a river but has to prevent the fox eating the goose, and the goose eating the beans. โข
Enlace: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/sitesearch.do? querystring=the+peace&p=tto&pf=all&bl=on
Natalia M. T. 4ยบ A
Household wealth seized by state Constantin Gurdgiev Published: 26 January 2014 I n John Maynard Keynes’s book The Economic Consequences of the Peace, the economist observed that by “a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens”. Last week’s price hikes at VHI, the health insurer, serve as a timely reminder of the salience of Keynes’s analysis. On-going confiscation of household wealth through targeted price increases has been a core feature of the response to Ireland’s financial crisis.
The much vaunted recovery has been a tale of financial repression. Since 2008, governments have underwritten inefficiencies in public services and the cost of recapitalising failed banks with the sweat of Irish consumers and taxpayers.
Enlace: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/public/sitesearch.do? querystring=the+peace&p=tto&pf=all&bl=on
Jennyfer C. P.
Israel-Palestinian peace talks: the key issues What are the main sticking points in the John Kerry-brokered framework agreement between Israel and the Palestinians?
Borders/territory The US secretary of state, John Kerry, says negotiations on borders should be based in the pre-1967 "green line" – the armistice line drawn in 1949 at the end of the war that followed Israel's declaration of a state – with agreed land swaps to compensate for Jewish settlements in the West Bank that would be incorporated into Israeli territory. For Israel, this would mean giving up settlements deep inside the West Bank. The rightwing Jewish Home party, a key member of the coalition, has declared this a “red line”. The 1967 line is broadly acceptable to Palestinian negotiators, but the actual route of the border and land swap details are crucial.
Jerusalem Both Israel and the future state of Palestine want Jerusalem as their capital. Israel, which annexed East Jerusalem after the 1967 war, rejects any division of the city. The international consensus is that Jerusalem would have to be the shared capital of both states. But recent speculation suggests that the framework agreement may refer to the Palestinian capital in “greater Jerusalem” - which could mean areas cut off from the city centre and holy sites by the separation wall. This would be unacceptable to the Palestinians.
Security Israel wants to maintain a long-term military presence in the Jordan Valley, a corridor of land in the West Bank adjacent to the Jordan border, which is under its control. It says this is vital for its security. The Palestinians say they will not accept the continued presence of Israeli forces within their state, and they must control their own borders. The US has suggested that Israel maintains a military presence in the Jordan Valley for a limited period of time.
Refugees The Palestinians insist that those people – and their descendants – who were forced to flee in 1948, when Israel declared its state amid a bloody war, must have the right to return to their former homeland. Around 5 million Palestinians are registered as refugees. Israel refuses to countenance the return of any refugees, saying an influx would endanger the Jewish character of the state. Previous negotiations have suggested allowing a symbolic number of refugees to return, plus compensation for others.
Antonio M. 4ยบ A