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T H E U N C O N F E R E N C E C E N T R E , B A N G KO K - T H A I L A N D N O V E M B E R 2 8 T O 3 0 , 2 018


The logo designed by award winning Australian designer Daniel Sim represented ideas of Peace, Hope and Love. The swerves convey the momentum and achievements through the power of Togetherness, harnessing the Passion and Creativity of our young leaders. It overall icon forms an abstract shield aligning with the vision of The Peace Summit, which is to inspire a new generation of Peace Activists, to start new initiatives and to promote Sustainable Peace.



TABLE OF CONTENT Overview . . .......................................................... 3 Purpose ............................................................. 4 The True Meaning of Humanitarianism . . .... 6 A Message to Youths . . ...................................... 8 A Conversation of Peace ................................. 10 Lessons from a Giant Sequoia ....................... 13 Being Examples of Peace . . .............................. 14 An Unforgotten War ........................................ 16 The Great Escape ............................................. 20 A Pledge To Forgive ......................................... 24 Surviving the Killing Fields ........................... 28 Peace Masks Project ........................................ 32 Youth, Peace and Security . . ............................ 36 Sharing Gary ..................................................... 38 Lessons on Peace ............................................. 42


OVERVIEW The world is filled with conflicts that threaten to disrupt civil, social, racial, religious and global peace. We face a mounting task of ensuring that peace prevails. With this in mind, Humanitarian Affairs Asia organised the inaugural Emerging Leaders’ Peace Summit at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand from November 28 to 30, 2018. The conference gathered 400 young leaders from 47 countries, giving them insights and a broader perspective on this vitally important subject. Peace is a universal cause. Through the summit, delegates made connections with others with similar interests, and dedicated themselves to being peacemakers in their communities and the wider world.


P URPOSE The 2018 Emerging Leaders’ Peace Summit may have been held over three days, but it strives to have a lasting impact. Some 400 delegates were mobilised as Humanitarian Affairs Peace Ambassadors to strengthen peace efforts around the world. For a year at least, they will lead initiatives of their own and encourage other youths to play an active role in building inclusive and harmonious societies. Peace Ambassadors play a role in the promotion and achievement of sustainable peace, in line with UN SDG 16. The





sessions and meaningful activities to equip them with the life skills to empower others and be a champion of peace. They had the opportunity to formulate and share innovative ideas concerning the promotion of peace and justice which the world needs today.




THE T RUE M EA N I N G O F HU M AN I TA R IA N IS M The journey to become a humanitarian is

Humanitarians don’t need to work for a

different for everyone said Ms Yuan-Kwan

particular organisation or carry a relevant

Chan, who heads the Asia-Pacific office of

job title, shared Ms Chan, who is also the

UN OCHA. Attending the Peace Summit is a

editor of ReliefWeb.

good start, she told delegates. “You could end up becoming a musician Out of curiosity, Ms Yuan-Kwan Chan searched

who promotes the universal language of the

for the meaning of ‘humanitarianism’ in the

arts to a community that has never seen a

Oxford English Dictionary. It simply refers

piano or a violin,” Ms Chan said.

to the promotion of human welfare. “You could end up becoming an investigative There were several words associated with

journalist in a far flung part of the world,

‘welfare’, but ‘happiness’ stood out. Ms

telling the story of a human being whose

Chan, head of the UN OCHA’s Asia-Pacific

story has never been told before,” she

office, felt it captured the spirit of being a


humanitarian. “Or, you could work for a major corporation, work

leading its philanthropic division and

tirelessly for the happiness of others, no

encouraging your colleagues and your

matter their country of origin, status or

senior directors to learn how to make


giving back a






more prominent organisational goal. These

Ms Chan encouraged delegates to take

are just several of the ways that you will


become humanitarians.”

become humanitarians, after hearing from





survivors of conflicts, entrepreneurs and ReliefWeb,





most importantly, their peers.

700,000 reports, maps, infographics and job listings, is a good resource for budding

“Some of these people may end up playing

humanitarians. More than 30,000 reports

prominent roles in the rest of your lives.


Their messages and conversations will be






emotional, thought provoking, inspirational and perhaps abit provocative,” she quipped.

Delegates can also take part in blended learning activities, which are conducted

She urged delegates to keep an open mind.

both online and on-site. They will also be

“Part of the challenge of becoming an

informed of conferences and webinars.

effective leader means learning how to simultaneously embrace the fact that we all

Setting aside three days to attend the Peace

have different opinions, and yet hopefully,

Summit demonstrates one’s commitment to

we all do share a common overarching goal,”

building a better world.

Ms Chan summed up.


A M ES S AGE TO YOUT HS Dr Jo Sauvarin, who spoke on behalf of AsiaPacific UN agencies, dived into 5 ways that youths can further the causes of security and peace. Youths have an important role to play in the promotion of peace. UN Security Council Resolutions 2250 and 2419, and the UN youth strategy is testament to this belief, said Dr Jo Sauvarin, Regional Adviser, UNFPA. “They focus on the important and positive role that young people can play in the prevention and resolution of conflict, rather than young people being seen as perpetrators or victims of conflict,” she explained. Dr Sauvarin thanked Humanitarian Affairs Asia for organising the Peace Summit, which featured a diverse line-up of speakers. “It’s these personal stories that accelerate the recognition of young people’s positive role in peace and security,” she said.




Speak up at home

“Too often we hear about the minority of youth participating in acts of violence, terrorism or xenophobia. Youth as peacebuilders need to be heard strongly in their local community, speaking out against discrimination and religious intolerance.”


Make sure schools are free from violence

Use technology to further peace efforts

“Your voice has the potential to be heard as peacebuilders in many online fora, countering hate speech and negative attitudes which divide our communities.”


people “Please take a personal pledge to share

the discussions on peace in this meeting with younger peacebuilders who are not here. Give freely of your time in the future, to ensure that the next generation of young leaders achieve even more than you are going to achieve.We then

“As university leaders, particularly relevant is ensuring that educational institutions are firstly, spaces free from all forms of violence. Secondly, ensuring that these institutions are accessible to all youth including marginalised youth, and thirdly, taking steps to address young women’s equal enjoyment of their right to education.”



Share their experiences with younger

have all of you together for peace, but also a new generation ready to step up into their role.”

Ms Sauvarin capped off her speech with some advice for young leaders.

Your choices, ideas and “innovations are already transforming the world but it is a long path. Cultivating social cohesion, which is essential for






“Globally, our society is very diverse. We are not all the same, with the same opportunities for participation. My generation has not done very well on inclusion. There are marginalised communities who do not have a say, ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, LGBT communities and many other marginalised groups. Your generation can and must reach out to include young agents of peace from these communities who are not already part of established youth organisations. Working together, we are much stronger and we must lead by example.”

peace, is a long-term process, she said. Being involved “make changes and



small efforts

can be multiplied if many young people






” she charged.



A CO N V ERS AT IO N OF P EAC E In a welcome address, Mr Kim Solomon,

This was the motivation behind the inaugural

Secretary-General of Humanitarian Affairs

Peace Summit of Emerging Leaders, held

Asia, urged delegates to reach out to strangers

from Nov. 28 to 30 at the United Nations

with kindness and understanding. Only then

Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand.

will they become true ambassadors of peace. After






On a trip around the world, Mr Kim Solomon

countries will spend a year as Peace

visited Palestine, which is located in the

Ambassadors. They will start conversations,

Middle East.

initiatives and projects that promote peace

He didn’t expect to encounter a face-off

in their communities.

between the Israelis and Palestinians. Mr Kim stressed: “Most of you come from The Israeli troops were carrying guns

very advanced countries where there is rule

while their rivals were armed with stones.

of law. You are civilised, you understand

Without any warning, the troops started

things. But certain people who... I talked to,

firing, putting the Secretary-General of

they don’t really understand.”

Humanitarian Affairs Asia in harm’s way. He challenged delegates to start getting to Luckily, a group of Palestinians pushed him

know people from other countries. They

into a van and they subsequently fled the

could start by making five friends at tea

scene. This brought another experience to


mind. When he visited the West Bank, Mr Kim immediately associated the loud sounds


there with fireworks. He only found out later


that rockets were being launched.








because people,

The landlocked territory is a hotspot for

you will have hatred because you

attacks by Palestinian militants on Israel,

mistrust people, you do not really

and Gaza terrorists on Jerusalem.

understand,” Mr Kim said.

“I was thinking, why on earth are people doing these things and risking their lives?” Mr Kim shared. At the core of the conflicts, he later realised, was a lack of understanding between opposing camps.


“Get to know people who are

His advice for emerging leaders? “However great you do, always remember something – understand the people whom you are taking care of. Do not abuse your authority, and more importantly, serve with a loving heart.”



LESSON S F R O M A GIAN T S EQU O IA The world’s largest tree can grow up to 24 storeys in height. It takes 20 adults holding hands to surround its base. But, dig a little deeper and you will unearth a vital secret. The giant sequoia, true to its name, towers above virtually every other tree. They can live for as long as 3,000 years. Given its stature, one expects the tree to have deep roots, allowing it to draw enough nutrients to function and grow. It does not. Ms Janice Leong, Regional Director of Humanitarian Affairs Asia, used the sequoia

Creating a peaceful and inclusive world is not an easy task. Because of this reality, peacebuilders should not be quick to judge others. Instead, they should keep an open mind and work together towards a common vision, she shared. Extraordinary things happen when people put their differences aside. Ms Leong recently listened to a podcast centred on a woman whose family was killed, all because they came from a different tribal group. Her sister and mother were raped before their deaths. The atrocities were committed by a man who was their neighbour.

as an example for peacebuilders in an increasingly hostile world. “They survive because they live in groove with their root system, entangled with numerous other trees. In other words, they support each other. They could not survive alone,” she said.





responsibility of a certain group of people, institutions and countries. It’s



Here, today and right now, we will support each other through this peacebuilding journey.”

Riddled with guilt, he told her where the bodies were hidden. He also confessed to the crimes at a community meeting. They are still neighbours today, and watch each other’s children when things get busy. “Both came to a mutual understanding, both came to a mutual agreement to forgive. It is a miracle, but this happens when we see forgiveness and truth,” Ms Leong said. She hopes that the Peace Summit would support a long-term peacekeeping strategy, that settles disputes through dialogue instead of war. “We may not achieve much as an individual, but the powerful force for good by a group of likeminded people is unstoppable,” she summed up. 13

Dato’ Mazliham Mohd Su’ud was just a

“I’m only an average student. I am a kampung

kampung boy from the Malaysian town

boy. At that time, my ambition was to become a

of Batu Pahat. Today, he heads one of the

school teacher like my father and stay in Batu

country’s leading universities. He urged

Pahat, my hometown,” Dr Mazliham shared.

delegates to chase after their dreams and play an active role in maintaining peace.

Still, he gathered enough courage to accept the offer. Picking up the French language was

Dato’ Mazliham Mohd Su’ud grew up in a


village, located over 200km from Malaysia’s capital of Kuala Lumpur.

“Because our command of French was weak, we were not able to answer basic day-to-day

The village had a small Malay-medium school

questions correctly,” he said.

where he could get an education. His father had other plans.

For example, a cashier would typically ask “vous mangez ici?” at fast food joints, to

Dr Mazliham was enrolled in a larger English

determine if he wanted to eat-in or takeaway.

school in Batu Pahat town, some 12km from home. It was there that his eyes were opened

“Pas ici mais sur la table” or “Not here, but on

to a world of opportunities.

the table,” Dr Mazliham would often respond. His greatest takeaway was an understanding of

After doing well in the national ‘O’ Level

French culture and their way of life. This was

examinations, he received a scholarship to

in line with his religion, Islam, that encourages

study in France. He had only heard of the

believers to be tolerant of differences, Dr

famous Eiffel Tower. He had never taken a

Mazliham said.

plane. 14


“My religion, Islam, teaches us to be moderate.

Kuala Lumpur, one of Malaysia’s leading

This concept of moderation in Islam led us

universities. He encouraged delegates at the

to be more respectful and appreciative to

Peace Summit, who were between 17 and 35

others. We learn to empathise with others as

years of age, to be leading ambassadors of

extremism is never – and will never be – part


of the teaching of Islam,” he added. “I know that there are still a few conflicts As a Malaysian, Dr Mazliham has never

to be solved in this region. If this can’t be

experienced war. But, he witnessed the effects

solved by the present leaders, I’m sure with

of war on other Southeast Asian countries

your different views and perspectives, your

such as Cambodia and Vietnam.

generation will be able to handle this conflict better than us,” Dr Mazliham said.

“I saw people from these countries seeking refuge in my country. I can feel their

“A better world awaits for you, a new world

sufferings, having to flee their country and

based on advanced technology that you will

leave behind all their belongings and also

create. For this important role, all of you will

family and friends,” he said.

have to take the responsibility and you need to be prepared. I am confident that you will

“Southeast Asia is now transformed into a

be successful in this task,” he concluded.

region of peace and progress. It is our task to maintain this peace and stability,” he added. Dr Mazliham is currently the President and Chief Executive Officer of the University of




As a U.S. Marine, Mr Derek Schwartz had several deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. War brings nothing but suffering to civilians and their communities, he said.

“But we also had to work with the Iraqi soldiers and they will get killed too, right along with us. They were trying to protect their own streets from this war that was going on,” he added.

Mr Derek Schwartz clearly remembers the first time he killed a man. It happened on his first deployment in Fallujah, a city in Iraq’s province of Al Anbar.

One day, he was in place for an ambush with five other soldiers. A car drove down the road and stopped. Someone fiddled with a box it before planting it on the ground.

Fallujah was a stronghold of insurgent forces, after the Americans captured Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in December 2003.

These were the tell-tale signs of an improvised explosive device (IED). In these cases, there was a strict protocol to follow.

“Every time we drive down the road, it’s like playing Russian roulette. Whose vehicle is going to get blown up today?” said Mr Schwartz, who was with the United States Marine Corps.

Mr Schwartz knew it by heart. Gripping his rifle, he shot at the wheels of the car. When it did not stop, he struck its hood. He placed a shot at the corner of its windshield. Then, he shot to kill.

A man, drenched in blood, ran out of the car, raising his hands in surrender. “I thought I missed. Then I get a phone call over the radio: ‘You need to get out of your position and come and meet us. You just killed somebody,’” Mr Schwartz said. “My heart went from here, till I had to take a shovel and start digging in the ground to see how far my heart went. There were explosives in the vehicles, these guys were trying to put in an IED, but I wasn’t being shot at,” he shared.

“I felt like I just lost my world. That was probably one of the worst feelings in my life, taking another person’s life. There was no glory in it. It was nothing like you see in the movies.”

The platoon thought he was a hero because he had made a difficult shot. His commander congratulated him and offered a phone call as a reward. Mr Schwartz’s dad, a helicopter mechanic, picked up. “I started crying. ‘I didn’t mean to do it,’ I told him. At the bottom of my heart, I didn’t know what to do myself,” he said.

THE MISSION CONTINUES He had little breathing room after the incident. There was no time to mourn, even when you lost friends on the field. “They died one minute, and the next second you are right back out there doing what you’re doing. Time doesn’t stop and war doesn’t stop to wait on you,” Mr Schwartz said. At one point, he served as a driver on vehicle no. 4. The vehicle was not armoured because it carried TOW (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided) missiles to


stop insurgent trucks with machine guns. The survival rate in a vehicle like this was zero to none.

yourself up. Every once in awhile, you will go and take them out and the collateral damage will happen,” he added.

He was only driving because someone was pulled away for camp guard duties. One morning, he was told to hold off on driving because Lance Corporal Stephen Baldwin was back.

Even in the heat of war, Afghanistan found a special place in his heart. Mr Schwartz knew what he was fighting for. He was fighting for a village that was trying to survive the Taliban’s rule.

That same day, the insurgents attacked. They used a truck packed with propane tanks and anti-tank mines.

The Marines put in a well and dykes, so the people could get water. They met with villagers every day. The elders were very appreciative and thanked them for providing security.

To help delegates visualise the explosion, Mr Schwartz said it would have taken out a third of the 350-strong audience. The rest of the room would be hit by shrapnels. Baldwin was killed. When he was found, his skull was cracked and his eyes were bulging out. The rifle he was holding had exploded, too. “That was supposed to be me driving. I escaped that one that day, but I will never forget them waking me up and saying don’t worry about driving today, someone else is going to drive for you,” Mr Schwartz said.

SMALL MERCIES He returned to Iraq in 2009 after training in Washington D.C. and Canada. This time, it was a peaceful mission. After he reenlisted, Mr Schwartz was deployed to Afghanistan. The Taliban was a formidable enemy, with ambush spots that they had been using for hundreds of years. They were ruthless too. “We were up against people that were killing children. It was not uncommon to get shot at with RPGs (rocketpropelled grenades) from a rooftop. You want to take these guys out, but you can’t do that because they are holding up a child and looking at you,” Mr Schwartz said.


“The only thing you can do is duck and cover

When they were out on patrols, they would stop for children who needed medical help. Mr Schwartz enjoyed giving them stationary, that they could use to write and draw. “That pen and paper to an Afghan child is about a million dollar paycheck. These kids brought joy to our lives in a war zone,” he said.

POST-MILITARY LIFE In 2014, Mr Schwartz was medically retired. He was hit a few times on the field and sustained a traumatic brain injury. This caused memory loss. Because of the violence he witnessed, he also developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It didn’t help that his first wife had left him. “Alcohol was my friend, bad decisions were my friend. It was pretty bad when you go to sleep at night wanting to drink so you can forget, you wake up the next morning remembering everything,” Mr Schwartz said. “I hate war, I hated seeing the things that I saw. But I don’t think that there’s going to be 100% absolute peace any time soon. Because where I’ve been at, what I’ve seen, is that there’s people out there who want to kill you,” he elaborated.

“There are some very bad people in this world... and sometimes you have to get rid of that cancer with the full might of the military. Wherever that full might stops at, I don’t know.” Everything changed when he met his wife, Linsey. She has a Masters degree in counselling and was a constant source of support as he tried to find his way. He went back to Afghanistan in 2015, working for Raytheon, a U.S. defence contractor and industrial corporation. It was his job to train elite Afghanistan soldiers. What he enjoyed most was learning about their culture and faith. He also wrote letters of recommendation for those who wanted to seek asylum in the U.S.

construction management. He is excited about building a new life. Many American veterans are not as lucky. Some 22 veterans die every day because of PTSD. One of his fellow veterans died from a drug overdose. Another is still in the army, even though he lost a leg, because he doesn’t know what else to do. “Little do people like that know – and what I knew – is that the more you hold it in and the more you isolate yourself, it makes matters worse. You are not able to stand in front of a group of people and tell them this is my story, this is what I’ve been through and these are my struggles,” Mr Schwartz said. “Once you start learning that you are not alone in this struggle, it’s kind of good to know. It makes you feel whole.”

Mr Schwartz is currently a student at the Texas A&M University, where he majors in 19


T H E G R E AT ES CA P E Growing up, Ms Rahila Haidary cared little for toys, dresses or bags. All she wanted was an education. This dream almost cost her life and that of her loved ones. One of Ms Rahila Haidary’s earliest memories in Uruzgan, one of the 34 provinces in Afghanistan, was following her grandfather to the mountains when winter came. He put her in a large pot and she slid down its slopes in glee. “You can only imagine being born in a beautiful place like that. When it snows, it looks like it’s wearing a beautiful white gown,” Ms Haidary said. “With everything being gifted so naturally, I always thought that if heaven was described to me, then it looked like this,” she added. Reality was a bitter pill to swallow. She was part of the Hazaras, a minority ethnic group that was persecuted in Afghanistan. In the 16th century, more than 60 percent of Hazaras were killed during a genocide. Those who remained were left to die in the mountains, but they managed to survive. At age of 6, she asked her mother if she could attend a madrasa. Her mother said “no, you are a girl” and refused to elaborate. In the Taliban-controlled village, men were allowed to go out but women were rarely seen on the streets. The dream was too strong to ignore. One day, Ms Haidary wore her male cousin’s clothes and walked to school. She sat at the back of the classroom. Still, the children started whispering when they realised she didn’t belong. 21

“I was not a tomboy. I liked dresses, I liked to play, I liked dolls. I was just another normal girl, but I had different desires. I had opened my eyes to a better world. I could not see the darkness coming,” Ms Haidary said.

CAST AWAY Soon after, the teacher kicked her out. This caught the attention of the Taliban. That night, Miss Haidary’s father was upset and stressed. Her parents had an intense conversation. She found out later that the Taliban had stopped her father on the streets. “If we see your daughter again, we will kill her,” they threatened. Escaping was the only solution. The next morning, her father took her aboard a van that was travelling to the border of Pakistan. Her mother burst into tears. “I wish I could cry, that I could let it out. I couldn’t. I was figuring out what I had done to my family. I had made room for my family to suffer, for my dad to be subject to more torture, as if he hadn’t had enough before,” Ms Haidary said. To cross the border, her father ran, carrying her in his arms and crouching as bullets whizzed past. The risk paid off. They made it safely to Quetta, the provincial capital of Pakistan, where some extended relatives lived. Before returning to Afghanistan, her father enrolled her in school. He told her to devote herself to studying so she wouldn’t miss home. In the morning, Ms Haidary attended a Persian school. In the evening, she went to an Uttu school, to learn about different cultures and languages. She even secretly tutored girls who did not have the luxury of an education. “That as a method worked for me to be able to survive, to not miss my family. To not miss that when I came home, my mum had cooked something for me. To not wish that my mum 22

could give me a kiss when I was leaving for school,” she said. Things went awry at home. Her father’s siblings were killed by the Taliban. He feared that he would be next, so he brought the rest of the family to Quetta. When they were safe, he left and promised to return. Six months passed. The family had almost given up hope. Then, the phone rang. It was her father calling from Christmas Island. He had flown from Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city, to Indonesia. From there, he spent 12 days on a cramped boat that was picked up by the Australian navy. He was safe. “My mother could not believe me. I had seen her eyes going dry, that sparkly bit going away every day. She had become an emotionless person,” Ms Haidary said. “When I broke the news, I could see that joy on her face, that little smile. That was the moment that I felt truly happy. My mum was coming back. She was getting that sense of hope again,” she added. The family was reunited in 2011. Ms Haidary, her mother and her siblings were granted humanitarian visas that allowed them to live in Australia.

A FRESH START As the plane began its descent into Melbourne, Ms Haidary was captivated by its lights. “I could feel a sense of hope. I am flying into this land of opportunity and now I can take on a new journey,” she said. “My world was transformed from a small village, where I had never seen a television. There was no electricity, there was nothing called digital. Now, I ended up in a country where it’s all different,” she added.

Besides the copious amount of paperwork, Ms Haidary had to get better at English to stay in a class with peers her age. Her hard work paid off. By the end of Year 12, she had completed a diploma in interpreting and gained admission to the University of Western Australia. In 2014, Ms Haidary was one of UNICEF Australia’s Young Ambassadors. The role allowed her to share her experiences with youths and stand up for issues like refugee rights. She remembers a particular conversation with a 6-year-old boy, who said: “I just wanted to let you know that today when I go home, I’m going to tell my mum that Muslims are not bad.”

“That was the moment. I could feel the difference that I was making. It was beyond fighting for children’s rights, it was beyond equality, it was more about humanity,” Ms Haidary shared. “I hope that people will understand that being a refugee is not a choice. When they come through this difficult journey, you don’t push them away but you give them a safe home,” she said. Ms Haidary is in the midst of starting a social enterprise that supports women in Afghanistan. Every Afghan woman can sew dresses and make embroidery. By giving them a platform to sell their wares, she hopes that they will be able to draw an income and be independent. She encouraged delegates to do something for the underprivileged. “Think practically. Think about that small change that you can make in your community. It could be volunteering with a refugee family. It could be teaching a refugee woman English,” Ms Haidary said. “Trust me, the joy, the pleasure that comes with it, you can’t buy it anywhere else, no matter what part of the world you travel to.” 23

A PLE D GE T O FO R G IVE In 1994, more than 800,000 people were killed by ethnic Hutu extremists in Rwanda. They targeted members of the minority Tutsi community. Mr Hyppolite Ntigurirwa survived. Then came the extraordinary: He decided to forgive. He was only 7 when his father was killed. Mr Hyppolite Ntigurirwa watched as the perpetrators carved up his father’s body and fed it to the dogs. The horrific genocide targeted ethnic Tutsis, a minority group in Rwanda. He would later learn that many of his relatives had suffered a similar fate. Mr Ntigurirwa hid among bodies in a mass grave. Sometimes, the only drink he had was rainwater, that was laced with the blood of those who were murdered. He lived in the jungle and waited for the danger to pass. 24

When he was found, he was forced to be a child slave. Mr Ntigurirwa escaped to a refugee camp where there was little food and diseases were rife. “Luckily, I survived. But my eyes saw what no child should see and my ears heard what no child should hear,” he said. He enrolled in school, but his mind was fixated on the killings and rapes he had witnessed. Even today, these images are his nightmares, Mr Ntigurirwa told delegates. Still, school was a source of hope. A teacher noticed that he wasn’t speaking in class and asked him why. Mr Ntigurirwa said there was simply no space to contribute. So, the teacher started a theatre club that enabled him to put his thoughts into a play.

BRUSH WITH HATRED It all started when Mr Ntigurirwa had to stopped attending secondary school because he could not pay for transport. He kept going back to the moment where his father was killed.

“Everything changed in my mind when I realised that what was killing Rwandans was not blood or body or people, but a hatred that resulted from an ideology that was taught for generations and generations before the genocide,” Mr Ntigurirwa said.

He wanted to kill the perpetrators, which included neighbours and family friends. They shared the same neighbourhood, culture and language. He played football with their children.

“After that realisation, I made the most important decision of my life. I chose to forgive. I chose to forgive those people who killed my father, my relatives and all those innocent people. I chose to forgive them,” he added.

“People who committed the genocide went to the same church as my dad. There are pastors and priests who killed people,” Mr Ntigurirwa said.


By sheer chance, he ran into a medical doctor who helped him return to school. When he was introduced to sociology, his first thought was: “I can become a very good killer if I know how people interact.” Sociology taught him a great deal. Most importantly, it made him understand that people were heavily influenced by their environment.

Mr Ntigurirwa went back to the village where his mother still lives. He visited the people who killed his father during the genocide. He hugged them, shared a meal and played with their children. “The only choice I had was to put peace over revenge if I wanted peace. I have forgiven not because it’s easy to forgive, but because I want them and the world to learn the price of lasting peace,” he explained. 25


“I believe only good can overcome the evil, and peace should be something you give, not something you ask others to give you. By that, I want to live by example,” he added. While the government is a strong driver of how people act, he believes that education starts at home.“I know anyone can be anything. I was a cute kid, vulnerable, but when I turned into a teenager I wanted to be a killer, I know your kid can be anything depending on the opportunities they get, what they learn, and the education they get,” Mr Ntigurirwa said. “What you tell your child is what will happen to them and to your neighbour’s child,” he told delegates.

HEALING RWANDA He wants other genocide victims to be at peace too. So, Mr Ntigurirwa founded the Be The Peace Organisation, which aims to halt the intergenerational transmission of hate. It connects post-genocide born students with survivors and perpetrators. Through art, debates and community activities, the organisation promotes a culture of everyday peace. For instance, a young woman’s father was imprisoned for crimes committed during the genocide. Because of this, her family was made to compensate victims through property and other means.

This situation can be hard for a young person who did not live through the genocide, Mr Ntigurirwa said. As a symbol of forgiveness, the organisation encouraged a victim to plant a fruit tree in the family’s garden and vice versa. They also shared milk, which is highly valued in Rwanda. “Families of both survivors and perpetrators have come together and they are rebuilding peace in the country. This is not children simply staying in class. It’s about taking the peace message outside of the classroom and back into their community,” Mr Ntigurirwa said. “What I’m worried about is not what happened and what is happening. It’s what can happen tomorrow. By doing this, I hope we are influencing them to stop transmitting hate but peace,” he added. 2019 marks the 25th year since the genocide. Mr Ntigurirwa will be doing a 100-day walk across Rwanda. He plans to plant trees, get to know people, and spread love and joy. He invited Peace Summit delegates to join him for a day or two. The walk will take place from 15th April to 25th July. “It’s secure, it’s nice, it’s green, it’s clean,” he said. “During the genocide, there were people who are killing others but there were people who were hiding others. So I always choose to see the goodness in humanity more than anything else, and that helps me.”




Ms Ponheary Ly had her education disrupted because of a brutal civil war in Cambodia. Her father, who was a teacher, was killed. Decades later, she started the Ponheary Ly Foundation that has put hundreds of underprivileged children in school. When bomber planes flew across Cambodia one night in 1970 and bullets rained from the sky, the eight-year-old Ponheary Ly was mesmerised. “The lights were beautiful so I applauded. I didn’t understand, but my parents worried a lot,” she said. The life that she knew was about to change. The Khmer Rouge started a witch hunt for the educated. Education was associated with the West, and the communists wanted to stamp out any sign of American influence. They offered 3,000 riels, worth around US$1,000 at that time, to anyone who killed a teacher. The life of a teacher’s wife was worth 1,500 riels and that of a teacher’s child was worth 500 riels. Ms Ly’s father was a teacher. The family had to escape and live with an uncle in the countryside, where no one knew them. They were forced to return to the city after several months.

“Almost everyday, grenades exploded,

Her father’s salary was not enough to support a family. So her mother, who had little formal education, opened a bookshop. Her mother loved to read, and her father often brought her books to encourage the habit.

PAINFUL SEPARATION On 17th April 1975, Vietnamese forces withdrew from the country, leaving it in the hands of the Khmer Rouge. They immediately put an end to education. To the Khmer Rouge, the educated were the enemy. They separated families and grouped people according to age. Each group was forced to perform different tasks, from farming to the digging of canals. Ms Ly could not bear the separation. She often sneaked out at night to see her mother. When a soldier found out, he tied Ms Ly to a tree that was infested with red ants. “You cannot imagine how the red ants came towards me, for about two to three minutes. I always calm myself down (by saying) that it is fair for the red ants, because I ate them alive too,” she said. On another occasion, she was tasked to prepare food for pigs. The food was for her too – and she was to have her meals with the animals.

sometimes in the market, sometimes in the cinema. Sometimes, the mortar shells fell in front of my school. Once, it fell in front of my class,” Ms Ly said. “We knew how to protect ourselves. When we heard the sound of mortar shells, we slid under our desks. So we were very happy to be in school but we feared every day,” she explained.

One day, Ms Ly spotted ‘new people’, who were not part of the communist revolution, marching past. She spotted her father, mother and siblings. The next day, she was allowed to join them at a prison camp, which was formerly the site of a pagoda.




She was too late. The Khmer Rouge had already killed her father. He was rounded up along with those whom they believed were educated.

By the time the Khmer Rouge fell, Ms Ly was 16. She had lost her father, sister, uncles, aunties and cousins who had lived in another part of the country.

The nightmare continued for those who were left behind. “The soldiers forced us to work very hard and treated us worse than animals. We could not have clean water to drink, not enough food to eat, so we ate whatever we could to stay alive,” Ms Ly said. “I ate raw crickets, grasshoppers, millipedes, scorpions, frogs and every leaf from the forest to be alive,” she added. Many died from starvation and many others were murdered by sadistic soldiers. The same soldiers asked Ms Ly’s mother why her children were alive.

In 1987, she received a scholarship that allowed her to study in a Russian university. Four years later, she became an English teacher in Siem Reap. Later on, she got a job in a French cultural centre. She went to France on scholarship from the its government.

Her mother kept quiet. The soldiers whipped her and pressed a smouldering log against her arm. “My mother screamed in pain, but all of us, her children and the other people who slept in the same place stayed still and pretended to be asleep. It was very painful, but she had survived,” Ms Ly said.

Cambodia was different when she returned in 1995. The country was opening up and quickly becoming a popular tourist destination.

She did not expect the death of her sister, who was only five months old. Ms Ly and another sibling had obtained traditional medicine and some rice from the village.

“I noticed that more and more children were selling postcards and other items. Tourists found the children so cute. They liked taking photos with the children, giving money to the children, buying souvenirs from the hands of the children. Unfortunately, this just encourages parents to send their children to the temples, instead of sending them to school,” Ms Ly explained.

They boiled the medicine for their mother. Then, they decided to feed their sister. “We didn’t think about ourselves. She just opened her mouth, swallow. Especially the flat rice, we gave and gave. And then too much in the stomach and she died,” Ms Ly said. “We, both my sister and I, felt like if we were selfish, we would not have killed our sister. We are the murderer of our sister. We buried her and we cried a lot,” she added.


This did not stop her from rebuilding her life. She sold vegetables in the market and enrolled in a teacher’s training school. While teaching in a primary school, she picked up French and English.

So, her family opened Seven Candles Guesthouse in Siem Reap. Ms Ly served as a tour guide, taking guests around temples in the majestic Angkor Wat complex.

“I was concerned with what I saw, but it gave me an idea. What if those tourists gave money to support the children in school instead?”

GIVING OTHERS HOPE In 2001, she managed to send one girl to school. Ms Ly had helped more than 200 children by 2005. That year, a chance encounter with Ms Lori Carlson, a tourist from Texas, gave the project a new lease of life. Ms Carlson was keen to help. She registered Ponheary Ly Foundation in the U.S. and spent some time working at rural schools in Cambodia. Two years later, she quit her job, sold her property and came to Cambodia to work fulltime as the foundation’s President. Last year, the foundation sent 2,800 children to school. Its scholarships cover supplies and those who live far away can stay in a dormitory. Because of the genocide, two thirds of Cambodia’s population are under 30 years of age. Less than five percent of children from rural areas complete high school, Ms Ly said.

“It’s not about the number of the children we have, but it is about what the education means to Cambodia. Education means opportunity and new life. Education is needed to develop future Cambodian leaders,” she shared. “In university, we have three aspiring doctors, one engineer, architects, teachers, two nurses ... many subjects. We may have lawyers and journalists in the future.” Ms Ly starts every day with a smile. “Sometimes, I go to the capital city of Phnom Penh and I meet my old students, my former students. Thinking about them makes me happy and makes my life very bright,” she said. “I have many students that I built with my hands. They are my bright future. They are the light for me. They say that lighting the candles is better than cursing the darkness. This is my work.”


P EA C E M AS K S P RO J ECT Activism does not have to be provocative. Art is an effective way to reach the masses and convey a message of peace, said Ms Kya Kim of the Peace Mask Project. A stunning display of 100 peace masks was the centrepiece of the inaugural Peace Summit, held at the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, Thailand. They are moulds of hibakusha survivors, who were affected by the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The subjects were aged 8 to 92. Most of them were Japanese. The Peace Mask Project, which is the brainchild of Founding Artist Myong Hee Kim, also included eight non-Japanese subjects of Korean, Chinese and


American nationalities, who were present in the affected areas. “Whenever I see these masks in person, I’m always struck by how unique each individual mask is. There truly are no two faces alike,” shared Director Kya Kim. “And yet when you step back and view the mural as a whole, it’s not possible to identify the nationality, gender, or age in some cases of each face,” she added. “Nuclear weapons are a global threat. It does not discriminate. The masks, through the magic of art, were able to display that part of our humanity that cannot be divided.”

STARTING YOUNG Ms Kim’s journey as a peacebuilder is dotted with victories and setbacks. When she was a second-year undergraduate at Antioch College in Ohio, former United States President George W. Bush announced that the country will invade Iraq. “I remember that moment, sitting in the cafeteria with a bunch of people with our eyes glued to the TV screen, watching the State of the Union in complete shock. There was a heavy silence on all of us, until one voice said: ‘What are we going to do?’” Ms Kim recalled. “I don’t remember who it belonged to, but it snapped us awake to our responsibility as university students and also as American citizens to do something,” she said. Ms Kim organised trips for students to join protests in Washington D.C. and New York. She also put together study groups, to keep students and other members of the community informed. She drove all night to attend lectures and workshops by her heroes, such as peace journalism pioneers Jake Lynch and Annabel McGoldrick, Dr Johan Galtung, the principal founder of peace and conflict studies, and Ms Amy Goodman, the co-founder of Democracy Now!. Because of activism, she was rarely in class, even though she had switched her major from creative writing to peace and conflict studies. At the end of the term, the lecturer couldn’t pass Ms Kim because she didn’t have the attendance required. But, she understood the value of education outside the classroom and recommended her for a Ploughshares award, which recognises writers. Ms Kim subsequently passed the class. 33

GETTING OVER A LOW The Iraq War went ahead despite impassioned protests. “I did have a burnout after that activism. One of the things that I realised was that we were so angry trying to stop that war, and at that protests were always anti. Anti-war, anti this, anti that. I felt exhausted and I thought there has to be other answers,” Ms Kim said. She turned to Dr Galtung, who “gave me the blueprint for understanding what I was experiencing and didn’t have words for. So instead of being anti-war I went into conflict transformation and peace building.” Ms Kim went on the Peace Boat’s 54th global voyage as an onboard web reporter. She worked as a project associate who helped to plan and implement the Peace Mask Project from 2005 to 2008. In 2014, she returned to take on a larger role in the community-led initiative. The initiative


is a collective effort of hundreds of volunteers, supporters, models and trainers. It can be an intimidating process. “The plaster is applied over your whole face except for two straws to breathe, and that plaster hardens. A few people have described it as being buried alive, and then when it’s taken off, it’s like a rebirth,” Ms Kim explained. “You can’t speak and you can’t see, and when we are working with people who have experienced some violence or conflict, if they are in the same room together, we have them touch each other and talk each other through the whole process,” she said. The project has fronted various peaceful causes. In 2002, the masks of 1,580 individuals, who were either Japanese or Korean, were displayed at exhibitions in Yokohama and Seoul. This coincided with the World Cup, that was cohosted by the countries that year.

ROAD TO PEACE Ms Kim has a master’s degree in conflict transformation from the School of International Training. She also an international relations university lecturer in Kyoto, Japan. Given her academic background, she saw it fitting to brief delegates on peace and conflict theory. Like the roots of a tree, conflict is a natural process that is neither negative or positive. How one reacts to it can either promote more violence or more peace, Ms Kim said. She used the metaphor of an iceberg to illustrate how peace can be achieved. Only a small portion of an iceberg peeks above the surface. This often makes the news: peacekeeping operations, the eradication of violence and where peace is a zero-sum game. The other 90 percent lies beneath. These includes art for peace, peacebuilding, and new and unexplored pathways toward reconciliation, Ms Kim shared. Being a peacebuilder is “not an easy path to follow as it’s highly personal, with very little in the way of a roadmap. I wish you, today’s generation and tomorrow’s leaders, all of the support and encouragement you will need to build a sustainable, positive peace,” she said. “Be that lone voice that calls for action when you see violence. Do the work to develop conflict intelligence and above all, remember that creativity is the key to peacebuilding, so live artfully,” she quipped.


YO UT H, P E A C E AN D S EC U R IT Y At a session centred on UN Security Council Resolution 2250, panelists shared that youths play an important role in peacebuilding. Delegates were tasked to promote peace and security in their communities. What is the cost of war? Ms Kriselle Marie Aquino, Peace Programme Officer at the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process in the Philippines, posed this boggling question to delegates.

“The cost of war can also be translated into, what’s the price for peace? Imagine how many bags of rice we can buy with bullets, and how we can end poverty at the same time,” she challenged. Ms Aquino noted that lawmakers were starting to value the opinions of youths in the push for peace. The Youth Peace Table is one such initiative. It tells the stories of youths after engaging with them on the ground. 36

“There is this need to articulate the voices of young people who may not be articulate, who are not able to express themselves, who are traumatised by conflicts since they were children,” Ms Aquino said. “We may not realise individually, with different contexts in our countries, the different kinds of violence we experience,” she added. “But I think the youth today are very dynamic ... and the fact that you are taking part in this dialogue already proves that young people need a seat at the table and even own the table.” Mr Mridul Upadhyay, Asia Coordinator at The United Network of Young Peacebuilders, said there were three levels of activities that promote peace. First, there are community initiatives, such as those that integrate refugees into society. Mid-level initiatives include educational and training programmes. Conferences like the Peace Summit, which gather like-minded individuals, fall under this category too, he said. The top level comprises of policy changes made by government leaders and agencies. Even so, every small action counts, Mr Upadhya told delegates. “It’s not one person’s responsibility to be peaceful or to bring peace to others. It’s everyone’s responsibility,” Mr Upadhya said.

“So learn about rights, learn about other’s space, how to be mindful. Learn about religion before you speak about it. There is a lot of conflict happening because people speak about it, but they don’t have enough knowledge around it,” he added. Before engaging in conflict, take stock of your own privileges, Mr Joel Mark Baysa-Barredo suggested. He is the Programme Manager for Research at the Mahidol University’s Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies. Women and those with fewer resources and different sexualities often have a harder time than an average person, he said.

“Knowing about these realities is no rocket science. I am not asking you to live a life of someone from the Global South. You need to be mindful of your reality. You need to be mindful of the present, of what you can do,” Mr Baysa-Barredo added. “If you have the privilege of knowledge, resources or power... make sure that you do not become a source of suffering for the other person. You have the responsibility to make a change, not for the worse but for the better in your societies.” 37

P E AC E WORKSHOP The year is 2040 and a new island, Gary, has sprung up in the South China Sea. Eight countries are vying for control and discussing how to proceed with the island. In addition, 12 stakeholders ranging from private sector companies to intergovernmental organisations and nonpro�its want to in�luence countries on their position. They’ve all gathered at the United Nations to discuss how to proceed. This activity is a microcosm of tensions in the South China Sea, where China and smaller Southeast Asian neighbours have contesting territorial claims. Peace Summit delegates were assigned to country or stakeholder teams. All countries had to give a two-minute proposal on Gary. The effectiveness of stakeholders was evaluated via popular vote. The judges were Mr Marco ven den Heuvel, Project Manager at UN ESCAP for the systemic mitigation programme, Ms Yuna Yun, Youth Peace and Security Specialist at UNFPA and Mr Adam Martin, Victim Support Assistant at the Australia-Asia Programme to Combat Traf�icking in Persons.


Here is a summary of the solutions presented:

Brunei We’re proposing that Gary become the first UN-governed territory in the history of the world. This solution will prevent further conflict over the strategic location, which is key both militarily and economically for countries in the region. What this means is that primary stakeholders will retain decision-making power over the future of Gary. It will prevent countries like China from claiming Gary as their own territory and putting international peace at risk. As Brunei relies heavily on oil, we have dedicated the next few years to fully diversifying our economy, so we are not relying on it any more.

Vietnam Our vision is an inclusive community that works in the best interests for the sustainability of the island, without harming other nations’ vital interests. We seek to implement a treaty named “Nice Gary”. We have worked very hard during the negotiations to create mutual and peaceful agreements with other countries and key stakeholders. The negotiations were not only about the interest of the island, but also about the interest of sustainability. I think we all taught China today that we can’t be a bully and get away with it.

China We started off with a strong position of stating our territorial claim to the island of Gary. We have been in intense negotiations and have come a long way from that original position. Firstly, we will relinquish our claim of sovereignty in favour of having an international treaty for managing the island’s resources. We’re willing to extend the “Nice Gary” treaty and the agreements on that treaty to the entire South China Sea. That has been our negotiating position but there still has been some difficulty getting to the signing of an actual treaty. We want to come to the table and talk about this in a peaceful way.

Japan We want to work with all stakeholders and countries toward stability and a prosperous region where objectives are met. We acknowledge that we have done poorly in sustainable fishing and we will remedy that through the implementation of quotas or reducing our practices generally. If any deforestation occurs on the island of Gary, we need to replant the trees there and protect the viability of the island. We don’t want to have any oil extracted from the island, in line with the global emphasis on renewable energy. While we didn’t sign the “Nice Gary” treaty, we are in full support of establishing a research base on the island for the purpose of combination. We are completely against one-party dominance.


Australia We have close relationships with everyone in this discussion. We deeply value this, and as a result, we want this to continue by keeping Gary as an international space. We have signed the “Nice Gary” treaty, but we would like to focus on specific governance measures that we believe is fair for all the parties involved. We would like to propose something akin to the UN Security Council. All eight countries in the area will have a vote on this committee. Matters like how we extract resources and who gets to extract these will be subject to the majority vote. Stakeholders will be able to come to the table and have their voice heard too. In light of China’s willingness to move off their position, we are interested to see if this governance model could be extended to a larger area surrounding the South China Sea.

Singapore Singapore is very much a neutral party. We believe it would be better for Southeast Asia to benefit from Gary than one individual power. We have signed the “Nice Gary” treaty, and want to thank our stakeholders who have advocated for a sustainable solution. Our whole process has been focused on ecological integrity, to protect life in the sea and on land. We care about responsible consumption, production and partnership. The only thing we have requested surrounding Gary is access to drinking water, which has been included in the treaty.

Philippines The Philippines had difficulties in achieving its sustainable development goals. We acknowledge this and wish to move forward. We also come from a place of experience when dealing with land disputes. Even with intervention from the UN, it can be difficult to arrive at a peaceful outcome. For this reason, it is our firm stance that Gary is not to be owned by anyone, but to be shared by everyone. We do not seek to use the resources on Gary. While we understand that many stakeholder groups and countries will be affected, we encourage you to shift your focus from using Gary to investing in one another, and in particular, the Philippines. We have concerns in the areas of mining, fishing and building a sustainable economy. Stakeholders like Timber have said we want to invest in you while helping with Gary. We are willing to work together and collaborate with other Southeast Asian countries with similar issues.


The judges shortlisted Australia and the Philippines as the top two teams. After a vote, team Philippines, which went on stage holding peace signs, was declared the winner. Its members were Ning Shen, Sharon Steiner, Lesley Ngazire, Nonjabulo Mhlongo, Caitlin Phillips, Rebecca Hofmann, Regina Chapoy Olavarrieta, Shahryar, Song Linhong, Cian Liou, Tanyaporn Promburom, Jenny Huang, Ahmad Maged Elatik, Joy Roselyn Rukanzakanza, Cheryl Jendrachowski and Karandeep Singh. The team that represented Leprechaun, one of the largest internet retailers in the world, was declared as the best stakeholder. It was their mission to establish a presence in the growing Southeast Asia e-commerce market. It comprised of D’Arcy Ertel, Annabelle Rose Waterworth, Rochelle Sophocleous, Quinn Squires, Regina Shumway, Kate Murray, Kirnvir Dhaliwal, Caroline Soegaard, Jesse Neill, Chen Yi Wei, Matthew Schultz, Lam Hiu Man Gloria, Justin Winchester, Thi Bich Ngoc Pham, Ryan Werbin, Keerthan N Nayak and Aaminah Siddiqi.



LESSON S ON P E A C E At a parallel session, Mr Kim Solomon, Secretary-General of Humanitarian Affairs Asia, asked delegates to come up with a viral way to promote peace. This has to be meaningful, accessible and done in good taste, he said. Join hands and twirl to form a gigantic ‘peace roll’. Draw a card with an activity that promotes peace, and pass it on to a friend once you’re done. Challenge yourself to prepare a dish from a culture that’s unfamiliar to you. These were some of the suggestions from delegates at the inaugural Peace Summit. After a 1.5-hour parallel session, a group that came up with the idea, #funds4peace, was declared the winner. They presented their idea to the rest of the room at the summit’s closing ceremony. #funds4peace recognises that people come from different countries with different issues and needs. A delegate from Canada, for instance, shared that she was concerned about missing and murdered indigenous women. For a delegate from Zimbabwe, the low number of employed women was a priority. A delegate from India donated to support the poor, who could not afford nutritious food.

Leslie from South Africa pledged some rand, the country’s currency, toward peaceful land sharing and xenophobia. “There’s been a lot of issue about the land, up and down, fires and everything. The land must be shared peacefully, there must be negotiation, there must be peace,” he said. The group quickly put their idea into action. They figured that if everyone in the room donated a small amount, it would be able to greatly benefit a cause. So, they went around during lunch break to collect money for the Ponheary Ly Foundation, which supports education in Cambodia. Ms Ponheary Ly, who went on stage to receive the funds, took awhile to gather her thoughts. “I’m too excited. I don’t know what to say, but more than thank you. I promise you that our students will be happy and our students will move forward,” she said. “I want the whole world to be very bright, full of joy, happiness and beauty like the flowers everywhere. Everyone smiling, laughing, having fun and having peace together.”





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