Transnational Communities & Conflict Policies Work Package 3 Report Hugh Miall Anna Orrnert Dogus Simsek
University of Kent Conflict Analysis Research Centre
With contributions by Kosovo Young Lawyers (Flutura Kusari, Armend Bekaj, & Liridon Shurdhani)
Grant Agreement number: 210615 Project acronym: INFOCON Project title: International Civil Society Forum on Conflicts Funding Scheme: Research for the Benefit of Specific Groups Research for Civil Society Organisations Name, title and organisation of the scientific representative of the project’s coordinator: Stephan K AMPELMANN Secretary-General / Project Manager Stichting Internationalist Review po box 75 brussels 1040 belgium + 32-(0)‒26–08–24–11 firstname.lastname@example.org www.infocon-project.org
Disclaimer 1 The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7 / 2007–2011) under grant agreement Nr. 210615. Disclaimer 2 The views expressed in this document are purely those of the authors and may not in any circumstance be regarded as stating the official position of all partners in the INFOCON consortium.
Table of Contents List of tables · 7 1. Introduction · 9 1.1. Objectives of the Study · 9 1.2. Overview · 9 1.3. The Role of Transnational Communities in Conflict · 9 1.3.1. Diasporas as Fullers of Conflict · 10 1.3.2. Diasporas as Peace-Builders · 11 1.3.3. Diasporas as Sites of Competing Political Processes · 11 1.3.4. Diasporas and Conflict Transformation · 12 1.3.6. Diasporas and Asymmetric Conflicts · 13 1.4. The Context of Conflicts in Kosovo, the Great Lakes and Turkey · 15 1.5. The Role of Civil Society Organizations · 15 1.6. Involvement of Civil Society Organizations in Four European Cities in Homeland Conflicts: Summary of Findings from Work Package 2 · 15 1.7. Influence of Transnational Communities in Countries of Origin · 16 1.7.1. Kosovo Albanians and Serbs · 16 1.7.2. Turks and Kurds · 17 1.7.3. Great Lakes · 17 1.8. Involvement of Transnational Communities in Peace‑Building · 17 1.8.1. Kosovo Albanians and Serbs · 17 1.8.2. Turks and Kurds · 17 1.8.3. Great Lakes · 18 1.9. Involvement of Transnational Communities in Lobbying · 18 1.9.1. Kosovo · 18 1.9.2. Turks and Kurds · 18 1.9.3. Great Lakes · 18 1.10. Involvement of CSOs in Dialogue and Peace‑Building · 19 1.10.1. Great Lakes · 19 1.10.2. Kosovo · 19 1.10.2. Turks and Kurds · 19 3 | Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies
1.11 Potential for Involvement of Transnational Communities in Conflict Mitigation in the Countries of Origin in the Future · 19 1.11.1. Kosovo · 19 1.11.2. Turkey · 19 1.11.3. Great Lakes · 20 1.12 Dialogue between Transnational Communities in Cities of Settlement · 20 1.12.1. Great Lakes · 20 1.12.2. Kosovo · 20 1.12.3. Turks and Kurds · 20 1.13. Analysis · 20 2. Transnational Communities from Kosovo · 23 2.1. The Kosovo Serb Diaspora · 23 2.1.1. The Kosovo-Serb Diaspora: IDPs in Serbia and Refugees Further Afield · 23 2.1.2. Serbian Diaspora Worldwide · 25 2.1.3. Serbian diaspora in the uk · 26 2.2. The Kosovo Albanian Diaspora · 27 Germany · 29 Switzerland · 29 Italy · 30 United Kingdom · 30 United States · 30 2.2.6. Canada · 30 Other · 31 Influence of the Kosovo Albanian Diaspora · 31 2.2.1. Kosovo Albanian diaspora in the uk · 33 2.2.2. The Kosovo Albanian Diaspora’s Economic Contribution · 34 2.2.3. Civil Society Peace Building Activities and Involvement of the Diaspora · 34 2.3. Imported Conflict and Peace‑Building amongst the uk‑Based Diasporas · 35 3. Transnational Communities from the Great Lakes · 37 3.1. The Burundian Diaspora · 37 3.1.1. Waves of Migration · 37 3.1.2. Characteristics and Activities of the Diaspora · 38 3.1.3. Imported Conflict in Europe · 39 3.1.4. Diaspora’s Historic Contribution to Conflict · 40 3.1.5. Diaspora’s Involvement in Peace‑Building · 40 3.1.6. The Burundian TC in the uk · 41 Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies | 4
3.2. The Rwandan Diaspora · 41 3.2.1. The Rwandan Transnational Community in Brussels · 43 3.2.2. The Rwandan Transnational Community in Ranstad · 44 3.2.3. The Rwandan Transnational Community in Berlin · 44 The Rwandan Transnational Community in the uk · 44 3.2.4. The Rwandan TC’s Role in Conflict Resolution and Peace‑Building · 45 3.2.5. Possible Reasons for Lack of Involvement by Rwandan TC · 45 3.2.6. Conflict Resolution and Peace‑Building Initiatives: Perceptions from the TC in the uk · 46 3.2.7. TC Initiatives and Economic Development, Politics and Peace‑Building in Rwanda · 48 126.96.36.199. Economic Development · 48 188.8.131.52.1. Investment and Small Business · 48 184.108.40.206.2. The One Dollar Campaign · 48 220.127.116.11. Dialogue · 49 18.104.22.168.1. Intra / Inter-Rwandan Dialogue · 49 22.214.171.124.2. Other Dialogue Initiatives · 51 126.96.36.199. The Political Process · 51 188.8.131.52.1. The TC Vote · 51 184.108.40.206.2. Political parties in the TC · 52 4. Transnational Communities from Turkey · 53 4.1. Turkish Migration to the uk · 53 4.2. Kurdish Migration to the uk · 54 4.3. Diaspora Worldwide · 54 4.4. Assessment of the Role of the Surveyed CSOs in Homeland Conflicts · 54 4.5. The Turkish Diaspora and Imported Conflict · 56 4.6. Movements towards Peace‑Building · 56 4.7. Transnational Links among Turkish and Kurdish Organisations · 57 5. Conclusions: Scope for Action by CSO s and Host Societies · 59 References · 61
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List of Tables and Figures Figure 1. Interactions between Conflicts, Neighbouring States, and Distant States · 11 Table 1. Distribution of Interviews · 14 Table 2. Geographical Distribution of the Kosovo Albanian Diaspora · 27
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1. Introduction 1.1. Objectives of the Study
he overall objective of the infocon is to create a better understanding of how Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) representing Transnational Communities (TCs) can help in preventing and resolving conflicts in Europe and the world. The research aims to verify past research on TCs and their role in conflict, produce new insights into the dynamics and current role of CSOs, and provide conflict-sensitive policy recommendations. The objective of Work Package 3 is to assess the scope and influence of CSOs from TCs in preventing, managing and resolving violent conflicts in their countries of origin.
1.2. Overview This report reports on research on the roles of transnational communities from Kosovo, Turkey and the Great Lakes, based on surveys and interviews with representatives of CSOs in London, Brussels, Randstad and Berlin, and in the countries of origin, case studies of the three conflicts and the four cities of settlement, and a report commissioned from Kosovo Young Lawyers on the role of civil society and diasporas in Kosovo. Diasporas from these conflicts are perceived to have played a critically important political role in conflict in the past. However, our research suggests that at present civil society organizations representing these transnational communities play a limited role in efforts to resolve or prevent conflicts in their homelands, although they are active in advocacy in the countries of settlement. We found more evidence of active engagement in dialogue and peace-building efforts among CSOs in the countries of origin than in the countries of settlement. A survey of peace-building initiatives by civil society groups underway in Kosovo showed that the initiatives come from within Kosovo not from the transnational community. This suggests that, while transnational communities are important in economic support to their home countries, reliance on transnational communities to promote peace-building at the post-conflict stage may be less effective than initiatives in the countries of origin. We found most evidence of interaction and engagement in dialogue among the Great Lakes diaspora communities, with more activity among the Burundian community than the Rwandan. The report starts by placing the study in the context of contemporary trends affecting migration and conflict. We then review the academic debate about the role that diasporas play in conflict and conflict resolution. The report goes on to analyse the survey of CSOs in both the countries of settlement and the countries of origin as they relate to engagement in conflicts in the homeland. The final section draws conclusions and discusses implications for policy. 1.3. The Role of Transnational Communities in Conflict Transnational communities are an increasingly significant aspect of contemporary politics. The proportion of the world’s people who live outside their countries of origin stands now at 3 per cent. This is increasing with migration and globalization. Transnational communities appear for many 9 | Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies
reasons, including forced population movements, flight from persecution or conflict, economic migration, escape from environmental stress, the legacy of colonialism and trade. They are dynamic groups, subject to inflows and outflows with continuing migration. The term ‘diaspora’ is used here in the sense of a national, religious or cultural group that is dispersed from a country or region of origin to two or more foreign regions and retains affective links with its country of origin. A ‘transnational community’ is understood as a part of a diaspora resident in a particular foreign country or city. It is acknowledged that only parts of a transnational community may engage at certain times in transnational practices. Esman’s definition (2009:14) of a transnational community is applicable: ‘any transnational migrant community that maintains material or sentimental attachment to its country of origin, while adapting to the limitations and opportunities in its country of settlement’. Conflict-generated diasporas are those that originate from violent trauma or flight. In the context of globalization, conflicts take on the character of a Moebius strip. Elements inside a conflict may be reproduced on the outside, and outside pressures influence domestic processes. Diasporas play a central role here. This gives them a potentially dual role: as fullers of conflict, and builders of peace. 1.3.1. Diasporas as Fullers of Conflict The academic literature has seen conflict-generated diasporas mainly as actors that fuel conflicts. Kaldor (1999) cites examples of ‘long-distance nationalists’ in diasporas who contribute to new wars. Lyons (2006) argues that conflict-generated diasporas can contribute to the protractedness of conflicts by supporting armed factions with remittances, acting as spoilers, and sustaining a polarized view of the conflict which their geographical isolation gives them little incentive to change. Collier and Hoeffler (2004) found statistical evidence for the significance of diasporas as a correlate of civil wars. Taking the proportion of a country’s population living in the USA as a proxy of the size of diasporas, they found a significant correlation between diaspora size and involvement of countries in civil wars. But others criticised their methodology (Hall, 2008) and arrived at different conclusions (Sambanis, 2002). Cederman, Girardin and Gleditsch (2008: 1) showed that ‘the risk of conflict is high when large, excluded ethnic groups have transnational kin in neighbouring countries.’ They suggest that the significance of external kin group support for ethnic groups in conflict depends on whether the group is dominant or dominated. Links between external kin groups and dominated or excluded ethnic groups are particularly prone to result in violence. Plentiful case study evidence supports the view that some groups in diasporas intervene actively in conflict situations. Frequently cited cases are the Cuban diaspora in America, the Tamil diaspora’s support for the LTTE, the Kurdish diaspora’s support for the PKK, the Croat diaspora’s financial and political support for Croatia’s armed succession, and the armed regional diasporas that have intervened in the conflicts of the Great Lakes. However, there is danger of coming to misleading conclusions by selecting cases on the dependent variable, namely armed conflicts with diasporas. It is also possible to point to many examples of diasporas which are not generated by conflict and do not contribute to conflict in their homelands. Indeed, migration may potentially contribute to peaceful change. In the case of Albanian migration from Albania, for example, migration eased potential inter-ethnic and inter-regional cleavages and supported the development of the economy (Miall, 1996). It is not diasporas as such that contribute to conflict. They need to be understood in relation to power relations in the host and home countries and stages in the conflict cycle. A systematic comparison of diasporas in countries experiencing civil conflicts and those without such conflicts remains to be carried out. Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies | 10
1.3.2. Diasporas as Peace-Builders In contrast to the prevailing view that diasporas fuel conflicts, there is increasing attention to their role in peace-making, conflict resolution attempts and peace-building work. Cochrane, Baser and Swain (2009) give the examples of the Americans for a New Irish Agenda, a group of journalists, lawyers, business and labour leaders which emerged in 1992 and lobbied for the new Clinton Administration to take a leading role in the Irish peace process. They also point to the Tamil diaspora’s support for the Norwegian-sponsored peace process in Sri Lanka, which helped to bring the LTTE to the peace table in 2002. Despite the violent course of the war since then, a significant element of the Tamil diaspora has continued to actively support peace-building and dialogue efforts and to search for constitutional frameworks that might resolve the conflict. Mohamoud (2005) cites the example of diaspora groups in Sudan who supported private radio stations which broadcast programmes designed to contribute to peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction. For example, the diaspora sponsored radio station ‘Nuba Mountain’ aims to raise consciousness about peace-building amongst the diaspora and promote trust-building between divided communities. The Somali diaspora played an important role in establishing the Nairobi peace talks on Somalia in 2002 (Farah 2009), The Acholi diaspora in Lodon have brought together representatives of the government of Uganda and the Lords Resistance Army for talks. (Baser and Swain, 2008 ) Hall and Kostic (2008) question the prevailing orthodoxy that transnational communities tend to harbour feelings of grievance and antagonism toward perceived enemies longer than homeland communities. They argue that, on the contrary, when transnational communities are ‘structurally integrated’, transnational communities are less likely to hold grievances than communities in the homeland. Through educational and job opportunities, they are more likely to be empowered with the confidence to deal with the past and enabled to envision a common future with other groups in both the homeland and the hostland. Drawing on evidence from attitude surveys on transnational communities in Sweden from Bosnia, they claim that ‘conflict-generated diasporas are likely to be more moderate in their approach to homeland politics and inter-group reconciliation in comparison to their homeland kin.’ (2008: 18). Demmers (2007) points out that diasporas should not be essentialised. ‘In practice, diasporas, much like ethnic groups, are imagined (transnational) communities, and the product of interactive processes of identification and ascription. People identify with certain diasporic imaginations of community for a plethora of reasons, and with a variety of degrees of commitment.’ Koinova (2009), in contrast with Collier, argues that diasporas can be moderate actors in postconflict period, if the violence is over and post-war reconstruction is taking place. She argues that diasporas tend to become radicalized when moderate actors in the homeland lose legitimacy, and are no longer believed to be capable of delivering independence. Conversely, diasporas tend to behave moderately when national aims are achieved and support from the international community for independence is believed to be present. 1.3.3. Diasporas as Sites of Competing Political Processes Can both of these views be right? Are diasporas both peace-wreckers and peace-makers? One way of moving beyond this disjunction is to appreciate that diasporas are generally not seeking either conflict or peace as primary aims. Rather, people in diasporas pursue varying agendas, seeking security for themselves and recognition for the projects with which they identify. Since a defining character of a diaspora is a material or sentimental attachment to a country of origin, it is not surprising that diasporas tend to be interested in nation-building. As Vertovec (2005) points out, ‘diasporas play an increasingly significant part in the development of nation-building in poor 11 | Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies
countries and in ones which have undergone major transformation, such as Eastern European and former Soviet states’. Nation-building activities can fuel conflict in some circumstances and contribute to peace-building in others. Conflict is likely when a diaspora represents a suppressed minority that is pursuing a contested state-building project. On the other hand, if a suppressed minority succeeds in establishing a state, its diaspora may pursue post-conflict peace-building to help the state to become consolidated. It is therefore a mistake to identify diasporas as a whole with either conflict-fuelling or peace-making practices. Rather, these may be different means to achieve the same ends at different stages of a conflict cycle. As Ostergaard-Nielsson (2006) says, ‘diasporas are often politically heterogeneous with political networks working towards different aims and with different methods.’ They contain varied groups, often reflecting different waves of migration, different levels of political engagement, and different views from the home society. What makes conflict-generated diasporas distinctive is that they constitute a group generally representing a particular ethnic group, that is, one side of the conflict. They are thus likely to represent less diversity than the population of the home society. On the other hand, there is still a good deal of diversity. It is likely therefore that diasporas will reflect a range of political views, and it is possible and indeed likely that different tendencies will favour support for peace-making activities and support for forceful prosecution of a conflict at the same time. We conclude that diasporas should not be seen as either fuellers of conflict or as peacemakers, but rather as sites where significant processes of conflict and conflict transformation may take place, and where processes of conflict and conflict resolution in the hostland and in the homeland can fuse. Some argue that networks of associations in countries of settlement are more likely to reinforce ‘bonding social capital’, since they tend to reinforce links within the same ethnic community (Putnam, 1993, Varshney, 2001, Fearon and Liatin, 1996). ‘Bridging social capital’ is more likely to develop in the countries of origin, if different communities have to live together. Diasporas could contribute to bridging social capital, if they invest their political efforts and economic support into peace-building; but in so far as they support their own community, they may tend to reinforce divisions. If this view is right, civil society peace-building may be more likely to be effective within countries affected by conflict, than in the diasporas. 1.3.4. Diasporas and Conflict Transformation The processes that influence protracted social conflict – access to resources, security, and identity, processes of governance, civil society, integrity of institutions, norms and standards of human and minority rights, patterns of economic interdependence – all now take place in a transnational space. The same is true of intangible factors – discourses about conflict, historical memories, changing sense of identities. In principle transnational communities can change the external context, balance unbalanced conflict structures, influence political actors, change the framing of issues or goals, and provide leaders and even heads of state. They may be a point of intermediation between external actors and internal ones – as when the American Albanians decided it was essential to drop the ‘greater Albania’ aspirations in order to have some impact in US politics (Hockenos, 2003; 204). In situations like Kosovo, Turkey and the Great Lakes, diasporas participate in three-way interactions between the country affected by conflict, neighbouring states and more distant countries. Neighbouring kin-groups and more distant diasporas can play a role either in fuelling conflict or in building peace. This leads six pathways for such conflicts: (1) protracted social conflict which becomes violent without intervention of a diaspora (2) conflict which is resolved without interTransnational Communities and Conflict Policies | 12
vention of a diaspora (3) conflict which is intensified by intervention of a neighbouring kin group, or which diffuses to a neighbouring state (4) conflict which is mitigated by the intervention of a neighbouring kin group (5) conflict which is fuelled by a long-range diaspora (6) conflict which is mitigated with the help of long range diasporas. Figure 1 illustrates some of the dynamics involved. As the figure makes clear, diasporas are only one element involved in this complex.
Protracted Social Conflict CONTEXT
Contextual background e.g. colonial legacy, multiethnicity, historical social formation
Acceptance needs recognition of identity & culture met unmet Access needs eg political & economic participation Security needs Nutrition, housing, physical security
Pattern of international economic/political linkages Exploitative Supportive
Governance & the state Legitimacy capacity
Nature of conflict constructive
Role of military Civic politics Militarised politics
destructive Communal Actors confront use violence
Figure 6 Transformation of Protracted Social Conflicts
Neighbouring States State actors Communal actors
Western states State actors Social actors Diasporas/TCs
Diasporas Figure 1. Interactions between Conflicts,
Figure 1 Interactions between conflicts, Neighbouring States, andneighbouring Distant States states and distant st 1.3.6. Diasporas and Asymmetric Conflicts When diasporas are large and can harness external resources, they have a potentially important role in balancing asymmetric conflicts. Where the conflict is caused by asymmetric power relations between ethnic groups, establishing a balance may be a necessary precondition of negotiation. This is a potentially important role for diasporas in conflict transformation. It parallels the role of kin groups in conflict identified by Cederman, Girardin and Gleditsch (2008). Where an excluded group can draw upon the support of a diaspora, especially if the diaspora is itself capable of engaging the support of powerful political actors in host countries, this may change the balance between dominant and excluded groups, allowing for negotiation, and a balancing of an asymmetric conflict. 13 | Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies
For example, in the Northern Ireland conflict, the Irish Americans were an important factor in the pan-Nationalist coalition that balanced the dominance of the Unionists and laid a basis for negotiations. It is significant that the Irish Americans were a historically established migrant group, not a diaspora generated by a recent conflict. Their influence in the politics of the US, and the US wish to contribute to the resolution of the conflict, enabled them to play a role in the peace process. In order to balance a conflict in this way, a diaspora needs to be able to to mobilise support in the host country, to pursue a policy that is compatible with the host country’s foreign policy preferences, and to represent the weaker (or excluded) group in the homeland. In contrast, where a powerful diaspora with the support of a powerful host government supports the stronger party in a conflict, the effect is to maintain the asymmetric structure of the conflict. This may weaken moves towards negotiation. Whether a diaspora group is able to mobilize such support clearly depends on the size, level of integration and political importance of the diaspora group, the political system of the host government, and the wider foreign policy objectives of the host government. The complex nature of this relationship and the importance of differences within diasporas can be illustrated by reference to the case study literature (e.g. Smith and Stares, 2007). Examples of ‘excluded groups’ with significant transnational communities in the United States include the Irish Americans, the Kosovo Albanians, the Sri Lanka Tamils and the Palestinians. Transnational communities representing ethnic groups who are in government in their countries of origin include American Jews, American Armenias, Macedonian Americans and Sinhalese. The Jewish lobby has tended to support Israel and represent Israeli interests to the US government, but the diaspora is divided and includes critics of Israeli supporter and activists who have organized mediation attempts. The American Armenian lobby has been able to enlist US support in NagornoKarabakh, securing a small but politically important element of US funding for the Armeniandominated Nagorno Karabakh government (Tooloyan in Smith and Stares, 2007).The case of the Cuban Americans shows that diaspora lobbies which can mobilise their ethnic voters in strategic states can at times have a significant influence on US policy-making, in that case supporting uncompromising US policies towards Cuba and resisting prospects for compromise. The Albanian Americans lobbied strongly for Kosovo Albanian independence, but it was probably Milosevic’s intransigence and not the efforts of the diaspora which affected US policy. Other groups, however, have little apparent effect on hostland policy. The Tamils in particular have been able to get no significant government support. In the case of the conflicts under consideration here, Kosovo is a clear case where excluded minority gained external support that changed the balance of the conflict, although the outcome was not a negotiated one. But in the post-conflict environment, the influence of the diasporas on European governments is very limited. In Turkey the excluded group is a minority and the government is in a strong position because of its alliance with western states. Western pressure on Turkey to moderate its policy towards the Kurds, which saw some fruits in 2002–3 when the government carried out a range of reforms in Turkey in 2002–3, has definite limits; and the Turkish government criticises European states for their failure to prevent the PKK raising funds in the diaspora. In the case of Burundi and Rwanda, the European governments act principally as donors, and are inclined to support civil society as part of their policies on democratic consolidation and governance reform. This may create more openings for diaspora civil society groups, even though they face a very polarized political situation at home. Where there is scope for a greater influence on policy (as, arguably, in Brussels and the Netherlands), there is evidence of more activity.
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1.4. The Context of Conflicts in Kosovo, the Great Lakes and Turkey The conflicts themselves clearly set the scope of what conflict mitigation is possible. In the case of the Great Lakes, where it is dangerous to step out of line with the government, the diasporas represent a space for free deliberation and taking of initiatives; also the diasporas tend to be economically and educationally advantaged compared with communities at home. In the case of Kosovo, the diaspora was a crucial site for the Kosovo Albanian independence struggle during the years of Serbian repression, but at present its resources are more limited, and the focus of donors, NGOs and the international community is on peace-building in Kosovo. The future of the enclaves in Kosovo is as a matter primarily for actors in Kosovo, though the status question and the question of recognition remain matters of general concern. The transnational communities play an advocacy role there, but their role in peace-building is perceived to be limited, In the case of Turkey, civil society organizations tends to focus on human rights, but perceive themselves to have limited purchase on the armed confrontation between the Turkish government and the PKK. 1.5. The Role of Civil Society Organizations If the role of diasporas in conflict mitigation has been somewhat limited in practice, expectations of the role of civil society organizations in transnational communities in conflict resolution in the homeland should be appropriately modest. Most such organizations are concerned with supporting individuals to adapt in the host society. Lederach (1997) makes the case that the middle-level leaders and civil society have an important role in peace-building. In principle civil society represents a means of developing social capital and trust. Much depends on whether conditions allow for civil society organizations to create a serious and autonomous role, and on whether the social capital they develop is ‘bonding’ or ‘bridging’. Civil society organizations do not necessarily have goals and views that are distinct from their societies, nor is it always easy to distinguish them from political actors. Devic (2006) argues that in the case of Kosovo, CSOs created by international funding positively damaged the evolution of a genuinely autonomous civil society. One should not overrate the role of civil society actors, but they may be able to play a positive role alongside other domestic and international actors. 1.6. Involvement of Civil Society Organizations in Four European Cities in Homeland Conflicts: Summary of Findings from Work Package 2 We now turn to these findings of the survey carried out by infocon on the involvement of civil society organizations in transnational communities in conflicts in their host and homelands. Researchers from four university teams carried out interviews on civil society organizations in London, Brussels, Amsterdam and Berlin in January-April 2009, as well as in the homelands of the transnational communities: Kosovo, Turkey and the Great Lakes. The teams aimed to interview a representative sample of civil society organizations, by selecting at least ten organizations from each transnational community, representing different categories of organization. CSOs were chosen to represent trades unions, religious / philosophical organizations, social and cultural associations, media organizations, community groups and associations, women’s organizations, social rights movements, opinion leaders (excluding journalists and think tanks), economic actors such as chambers of commerce or business groups, professional organizations, and student organizations.
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The study was carried out in conjunction with ten civil society organizations representing transnational communities, or the interests of transnational communities, migrants or minorities. Previous research has focused mainly on politically active individuals, factions and parties (for example, Hokenos 2003) or individual households. This is believed to be the first study to have systematically examined the role of civil society organizations from transnational communities in homeland conflicts. It is worth noting that the selection of civil society organizations was not intended to capture a random selection of the transnational community population. The civil society organizations may not necessarily represent the opinion of diaspora communities as a whole, and the respondents may be more articulate, more politically active and perhaps more oriented toward the homeland than others. Nor should the transnational community be seen as having cohesive views. People without strong political views, or out of sympathy with the leadership of their own community, may be less likely to be represented by CSOs. Transnational communities are divided by a number of significant cleavages (including age, rural / urban origin, regional origin, income, employment status, educational level and political and religious affiliations) and we have not been able to sample across them all. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with representatives of 228 CSOs, 154 in cities of settlement and 74 in countries of origin. The researchers attempted to interview equal numbers of CSOs representing the main parties in the conflict, though this was not possible in every case. In some cities sufficient populations of CSOs were not found. Table 1. Distribution of Interviews London Brussels Randstad Berlin Country of origin Total
11 20 20 – 34 85
11 – 13 5 17 46
15 20 19 20 23 97
37 40 52 25 74 228
1.7. Influence of Transnational Communities in Countries of Origin Interviewers put a standard questionnaire to respondents in one to two hour interviews. The first group of questions concerned the influence of communities in the country of settlement on the country of origin. In the countries of settlement, we asked ‘Do you believe your community in this city has any influence on national policy-making or public opinion or policies in your country of origin?’ The majority of respondents answered no to this question. In the country of origin, we asked ‘Do you believe the community in European cities have played a significant role in the situation in your country.’ 1.7.1. Kosovo Albanians and Serbs In the case of Kosovo Albanians, in London about a third perceived a slight influence, while two thirds perceived only a potential for influence or no influence. In the Randstad, about a quarter of respondents saw some influence through networking or the media, but the majority did not; one respondent replied, ‘It is only possible to influence from within Kosovo’. In Berlin only one out of five respondents saw any influence. In Kosovo itself, almost all Kosovo Albanian respondents saw Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies | 16
the diasporas as having played a major influence in the past, though most saw its role as diminished now. Kosovo Serbs perceived their diaspora as having had no influence. 1.7.2. Turks and Kurds In all of the cities the Turkish respondents perceived Turkish communities in Europe to have very little influence on Turkey, and the majority of Kurdish respondents also perceived that their communities have little influence. This was the case in London, Berlin and Randstad; in Brussels, respondents who answered positively saw the possibility of indirect influence through the EU. In Turkey, none of the Turks interviewed saw a significant influence of the Turkish communities in Europe, but exceptionally, almost half of the Turkish Kurdish respondents believed that European communities had either contributed to defining the Kurdish identity, or developing projects and initiatives that benefited their community. 1.7.3. Great Lakes In London, Tutsi respondents perceived that only a small pro-government elite is able to have any influence on the situation at home. In the Ranstad, respondents either said there was no influence or that influence was indirect, for example through the Dutch government. In Brussels, few respondents answered positively; rather, several reported that the homeland government influences the diaspora. In contrast, in the Great Lakes, respondents responded more positively to the question of whether their own communities in Europe affect the situation in the homeland. Half the respondents from Rwanda, and almost all those from Burundi, saw such an influence. It is striking that, on the one hand, most respondents in the cities of settlement perceive the current influence of transnational communities on the homeland to be limited, but that, in the countries of origin, respondents were more likely to see the role of the communities in Europe as significant. This suggests that they see the potential for a significant role – and that they value the contribution of remittances. 1.8. Involvement of Transnational Communities in Peace‑Building The second group of questions involved peace-building. We asked respondents in the cities of settlement ‘if your community has been involved in efforts towards peace-building, dialogue, reconciliation, or similar efforts to mitigate the conflict in the country of origin.’ We asked respondents in the country of origin ‘has the community [label] living in European cities contributed to dialogue, peace-building or conflict mitigation efforts in your country’? 1.8.1. Kosovo Albanians and Serbs Kosovo Albanians and Serbs gave no evidence of current peace-building initiatives; those who did not respond negatively referred to the diaspora’s historical role. In the Ranstad, similarly, most respondents answered negatively. In Berlin, too, four out of five answered no; a Serb CSO referred to involvement in protests in the city. In Kosovo itself, none of the respondents interviewed said that either Kosovo Albanian or Serb communities in Europe were active in peace-building in Kosovo. 1.8.2. Turks and Kurds In London, there was no evidence of involvement by CSOs in peace-building efforts in the homeland, though a number referred to human rights activities and lobbying of Parliament in this context. Similarly in Berlin, most respondents replied no, though some referred to a dialogue organized by the European Parliament. In the Randstad, 13 of the 19 respondents said their community 17 | Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies
was not involved in peace-building in Turkey; positive respondents referred vaguely to dialogue or constitutional change. In Brussels most answers were also negative. In Turkey, none of the Kurd respondents and all but one of the Turkish respondents said their communities were not involved in peace-building; the sole Turkish respondent saw Turkish communities in Europe as ‘bought’ by the international community. 1.8.3. Great Lakes In London, Burundians said their community was not involved, and most Rwandans said the same, although some referred to advocacy activities carried out for peace and justice. In Brussels, similarly, the great majority of respondents said the community was not involved. Randstad was an exception: 75% of respondents cited dialogue or reconciliation activities, though the remainder added the caveat that these could only be carried out if one agreed with the Rwandan government. There was a different picture however among respondents in the Great Lakes. Among Burundian CSOs, all Tutsi respondents and almost all Hutu respondents said that their communities in Europe were involved in dialogue, reconciliation or conflict mitigation activities. In Rwanda, a quarter of the Tutsi respondents and under half of the Hutu respondents said their communities in Europe were involved. 1.9. Involvement of Transnational Communities in Lobbying We asked respondents in the cities of settlement whether their community had tried to influence the people or government in the host country, or other international actors, in relation to the conflict in the country of origin. In the countries of origin, we asked whether respondents believed that their communities in Europe had been able to influence international actors in relation to the conflict. Here answers were more positive and there was considerable evidence of lobbying and advocacy activities. 1.9.1. Kosovo In London, respondents referred to lobbying of MPs, the All Parliamentary Group for Serbia, national and international NGOs and the US and uk governments. In Ranstad, respondents referred to lobbying of the Dutch government, NATO and the media. In Berlin, however, most respondents said that their community had not been active in this way. Three quarters of Kosovo Albanian respondents in Kosovo believed that the diaspora had influenced international actors. No Kosovo Serbs believed that their community in Europe had an influence. 1.9.2. Turks and Kurds In London, about two thirds of the respondents referred to some kind of lobbying or media activity. In Ranstad, the transnational communities had lobbied Dutch government and politicians. In Brussels, they had lobbied the EU, NGOs and others. In Berlin, Kurdish groups had been active in lobbying German politicians and the public. In Turkey, the majority of Turkish and Kurdish respondents believed that the communities in Europe had had an influence on international actors, though this was seen negatively by the Turkish side. Both communities perceived the international community as supporting the Kurdish cause. 1.9.3. Great Lakes In London, respondents answered that the community had tried to exert influence through Media, human rights groups, the government and the UN. In Ranstad, respondents had lobbied the Dutch Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies | 18
and other Western governments. In Brussels, the Rwandan and Burundian respondents said that their community was not involved in such lobbying, though Congolese respondents referred to lobbying of the EU and US. In the Great Lakes themselves, respondents overwhelmingly believed that the communities in Europe had influenced international actors. In Burundi, almost all the Hutu and all the Tutsi respondents said that this was the case. In Rwanda, all the Hutu and half the Tutsi thought the same. 1.10. Involvement of CSOs in Dialogue and Peace‑Building Finally, respondents were asked if their own CSO has been involved in influencing the conflict, influencing the international actors, or efforts towards accommodation. CSOs in the countries of origin were asked whether their particular organization cooperated with others of their community living in European cities in any of these efforts? 1.10.1. Great Lakes In London, one respondent referred to campaigning activities, but most said they were not involved. In Ranstad respondents referred to generic campaigning and political activities. In Brussels the majority said they had no activities, with positive respondents citing cultural activites. In the Great Lakes CSOs, in contrast, all Burundian CSOs said that they had cooperated with European organizations in these efforts, and 60% of Rwandan Hutu and 75% of Rwandan Tutsi respondents said that they had cooperated with European partners. 1.10.2. Kosovo In London and Randstad about half the CSOs said they were involved in activities of some kind: mostly advocacy work. In Berlin, most CSOs said they were not involved. In Kosovo only two of the 14 Kosovo Albanian CSOs interviewed had cooperated with European partner CSOs; on the Kosovo Serb side, there were none. 1.10.2. Turks and Kurds In London, three of the 11 Kurdish CSOs said they had had involvement with human rights organizations in Turkey; the Turkish respondents said they were not involved. In Randstad, the majority of respondents said they had been involved in such activities, but referred mainly to demonstrations. In Berlin most said they had not been involved. In Turkey, three out of seven Turkish respondents and six out of seven Kurdish respondents said they had cooperated with CSOs in Europe. 1.11. Potential for Involvement of Transnational Communities in Conflict Mitigation in the Countries of Origin in the Future We asked respondents in the countries of origin whether they believed their communities in Europe could play a potential role in mitigating conflict in the future. 1.11.1. Kosovo Five of the 12 Kosovo Albanian respondents thought there was potential here, though the Kosovo Serbs saw none. 1.11.2. Turkey In Turkey, very few respondents were positive about the potential.
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1.11.3. Great Lakes Again, the Great Lakes respondents presented the most positive picture. All the Burundian CSOs believed that transnational communities could play an important future role in conflict mitigation, and most of the Rwandan respondents believed the same. 1.12. Dialogue between Transnational Communities in Cities of Settlement The final question was about whether the CSOs were involved in dialogue with representatives of the opposing community in the host country. This question did identify some examples of dialogue, detailed further below, but the majority of CSOs were not themselves involved with dialogue efforts. 1.12.1. Great Lakes In London, the communities were very polarized and no dialogue attempts between them were reported. ‘Peace and justice’ activities were perceived to be one-sided. In Randstad, some respondents declared that they had been involved in such efforts, but the nature of the activities was unclear. In Brussels, dialogue workshops have taken place and continue. 1.12.2. Kosovo In London, no such dialogue had taken place; for Albanians, it would ‘depend on Serb recognition of Kosovo.’ In Randstad, a number of respondents cite TV debates and workshops. In Berlin no dialogue was reported. 1.12.3. Turks and Kurds In London there was no evidence of dialogue efforts between the communities. 1.13. Analysis The survey showed that, contrary to the impression sometimes given in the literature, most CSOs and most members of the transnational community are not strongly involved in homeland conflicts. There are also clear differences by phase of conflict. We find, as one might expect, that lobbying and advocacy are greater while the conflict is acute. In the post-conflict stage, lobbying and advocacy activities seem to take second place to survival and adjustment to the host society. Several conclusions stand out from this mixed set of results. First, there are significant differences between the conflicts. The Great Lakes respondents in general see much more scope for transnational community involvement than do those from Kosovo or Turkey. Respondents from within the countries of origin are generally more positive about the prospects for conflict mitigation, and in some cases report more involvement in mitigation activities, than do respondents in the European cities. In all cases, lobbying and advocacy is the major form of activity in relation to conflict. We interpret these results through the lens of the perceptions of parties in different settings. In certain cases, reconciliation and dialogue projects are seen to favour a particular party in conflict, given the setting. For example, in the Great Lakes, the governments have been active in promoting reconciliation, and what reconciliation or ‘peace and justice’ mean is seen to have a political loading. Different parties may thus have different projects and outcomes in mind, while nevertheless accepting a common aspiration to reconciliation. In Kosovo, peace-building, refugee return and reconciliation are seen by the Serbs to be on the terms of the Kosovo Albanians, and it is difficult to find a shared interpretation of what they mean. In Turkey, in contrast, a common Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies | 20
response is that there is no conflict between communities; only what is seen to be one-sided repression, or terrorism, depending on which side of the fence one stands. In these ways, conflict and ‘radical disagreement’ continue, infecting even the terms of peace (Ramsbotham, 2009). Thus, while the survey gives us valuable and intriguing evidence, we need to go further into the nature of the dialogue and conflict migitigation efforts and their meaning to the conflict parties. This is pursued in the following sections. The report continues with a detailed examination of the role of the diasporas from Kosovo, Turkey and the Great Lakes, examples of peace-building initiatives and interview evidence drawn from transnational communities.
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2. Transnational Communities from Kosovo 2.1. The Kosovo Serb Diaspora
xisting literature on the Kosovo Serb diaspora appears to be scant. This may be due to this community’s small number of refugees abroad (the majority of Serbs who fled Kosovo after the NATO airstrikes went to Serbia, where they were classified as IDPs by a regime who still considered Kosovo a part of Serbia) as well as, what appears to be, their lack of formal organization as a group separate from the Serbian diaspora. Some research has been done on Kosovo Serb communities in refugee camps in Serbia, although seemingly less attention has been given to them compared with the relatively diverse literature that exist on Kosovo Albanian refugee communities around the world. The Serbian diaspora more generally has been vocal about the conflict in Kosovo and politics in the Balkan region. Any discussion of the role of the diaspora in the Kosovo conflict and its resolution would be incomplete without at least a brief overview of this group. Although there are several books on the Serbian diaspora written in the Serbian language (for example, Belgradebased Marko Lopusina’s 2001 book on Serbs in America), there seems to exist only a limited body of academic research written on the Serbian diaspora written in English.1 Research has started on Serbian remittances (for example, Lerch, Dahinder and Wanner 2007; De Luna Martinez, Endo and Barberis 2006; Petree, and Baruah 2008). Articles can be found on websites such as Serbian Network and Serbian Unity Congress,2 but it is difficult to ascertain their accuracy and objectivity. There is more research available on the Kosovo Albanian diaspora. Older literature focuses on the emergence of the LDK and the KLA and the diaspora’s support to Kosovo during the parallel system and war. More recently studies have examined the role of the Kosovo Albanian diaspora within the context of the migration and development debate, and emerging literature reflects this (Haxhikadrija 2009; Mustafa 2007; ESI 2006). Less attention has been paid to the diasporas’ role in resolving remaining conflict and building peace in Kosovo. The following sections draw on the existing literature and infocon interviews to sketch the characteristics, dynamics and activities of the Kosovo Serb and Albanian diasporas with regard to the conflict in Kosovo and their potential contributions to peace-building. It must be highlighted that infocon’s remit focuses specifically on the conflict between Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo, and was not designed to investigate other non-Serb minorities, though they have also been adversely affected throughout the conflict. This is particularly true for the case of the Roma communities who were targeted by both sides at different periods and continue to suffer as a result.
2.1.1. The Kosovo-Serb Diaspora: IDPs in Serbia and Refugees Further Afield The migration of Serbs from Kosovo happened in two main waves. The first wave was after the end of the NATO air campaign in 1999, when the majority of Serbs left Kosovo due to fear of revenge 1. Pryke states: ‘There has been no ethnographic research on British Serbs in contrast to the larger groups of Ukranians and Poles who also came to Britain after World War II in similar circumstances… There are only three published pieces of research in English on the Serbian diaspora: an anthropological examination of the Milwaukee community by Padgett (1989), a study of the politics of the British Serb Lobby by Hodge (1999) and a more recent ethnography of Australian Serbs, focusing on mental health issues, by Proctor (2001)’ (Pryke 2003: 153). 2. http://www.srpska-mreza.com http://www.serbianunity.net/sucinfo/
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attacks from returning Albanians following the withdrawal of Serbian security forces. Most went to Serbia, some to Montenegro or Macedonia, and only a handful to countries further afield (Baraulina et al. 2007). The second significant wave followed the spate of violent attacks on Serbs in Kosovo in 2004. There is no consensus on the total number of Serbs that left Kosovo. UNHCR reported that 155,000 non-Albanians (mainly Serbs and Roma) fled Kosovo for Serbia by the end of July 1999, while an additional 23,000 went to Montenegro. Two years later the number of non-Albanians displaced to Serbia was reported to be 201,641 and to Montenegro, 29,451 (Simonsen 2004). Seferi (2008) also quoted UN data, stating that there were 227,000 non-Albanian IDPs in Serbia. Global Balkans Network (2007) placed the number at 280,000. In a survey for Riinvest, Mustafa (2007) suggested that a significantly lower estimate of 100,000 ‘Serbs and other non-Albanians’ resided abroad. Meanwhile, the European Stability Initiative (ESI) suggested even fewer Serbs displaced to Serbia (65,000) while the the IDP Working Group (2004) suggested that the number of Serb and other IDPs from Kosovo was 205,391 in Serbia and 18,019 in Montenegro. The ESI report stated that officially 20,000 Roma were registered as IDPs though the actual number is believed by some to be as high as 40,000–60,000. Since Serbia still considered Kosovo to be a part of its own republic, Kosovo Serbs were given IDP (rather than refugee) status by the Serbian government and retain their rights as Serbian citizens.3 The majority of IDPs were concentrated in urban areas of the central and southern parts of Serbia (in cities such as Kraljevo, Kragujevac and Leskovac), while in Montenegro IDPs ended up in the municipalities of Podgorica, Bar and Berane. There is little evidence that the Kosovo Serb IDP community in Serbia has been organized or influential with regards to the conflict in Kosovo. A number of authors have highlighted the extreme poverty and discrimination suffered by Kosovo Serbs in IDP camps in Serbia (Mai 2008; Seferi 2008; Global Balkans Network 2007; IDP Working Group 2004). The IDPs’ lack of political or financial mobilization may be due to their focus on everyday survival rather than the political cause of Kosovo. Mai (2008) highlights that the Serbs (and Roma) from Kosovo were the ‘third significant wave of conflict-affected migrants’ to arrive in Serbia, following the large volumes of refugees fleeing war in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia. The large influx of IDPs from Kosovo resulted in even more people competing for already limited resources in the Serbian camps. Since the beginning, life for Kosovo Serb (and, to an even greater degree, Roma) IDPs was characterized by extreme poverty (Global Balkans Network 2007).4 In addition to being destitute, Kosovo Serbs faced discrimination from a variety of sources. Discrimination ranged from everyday anti-immigrant sentiment to employment and wage discrimination. Despite their IDP status, Kosovo Serba were not, according to the IDP Working Group (2004), treated equally with their Serb neighbours. Additionally, many IDPs (were) still looking for food and non-food basics on a daily basis. Many IDP families also (had) family members who (were) missing, a situation which only (compounded) their economic, social and emotional vulnerability. (IDP Working Group 2004)
It seems that the Kosovo Serbs, in Serbia were too focused on daily survival to engage in any significant organised political activity with regards to Kosovo. At the same time, the total number of 3. This was in contrast to the refugee status given to Bosnian and Croatian Serbs that arrived in Serbian camps. 4. Global Balkans Network states that refugee / IDP camps are either Serb or Roma. Kosovo Serb IDPs often live in shelters in provisionally organized collective centres (abandoned schools or other formerly state-owned buildings) on the fringe of urban areas. Roma camps are primarily informal, with entire families squeezed into shelters built of nylon tents or metal shipping containers measuring 2.8x3m or 3x5m.
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Kosovo Serbs further afield, appears too small in numbers and too widely dispersed to organize or assert influence with regards to either the conflict at home or Belgrade’s policies. Moreover, it has been noted that the Kosovo Serb diaspora’s role in Serbian politics is very much secondary to the political interests of inner Serbia. The issue of return of Serbian refugees and IDPs to Kosovo remains problematic Although the interim administration and UN Security Council has identified return as a priority,5 less than 2% of IDPs displaced from Kosovo in 1999 had returned by 2004 (IDP Working Group 2004). Statistics differ, depending on the source, but all accounts are rather dismal (Ivanisevic 2004; Mai 2008; Simonsen 2008). One infocon respondent suggested that the issue of returns ‘has been the international community’s biggest failure in Kosovo’.6 Significant challenges for returnees include the determination of property rights, limited freedom of movement (a point highlighted by most Serb infocon interview respondents, but denied by many Kosovo Albanians, particularly in Pristina), lack of electricity and water. The number of returnees, only a trickle to begin with, is understood to have slowed significantly after the violence in March 2004. Nevertheless, numerous sources highlight that most refugees and IDPs want to return to Kosovo – though many believe this is not possible under the current political situation. To date, returnees have been mostly poor rural Kosovo Serbs who are unable to support themselves in Serbia and are drawn to the prospect of returning to productive land. Educated Serbs who once held white-collar jobs in Kosovo’s urban cities no longer have jobs to return to in Kosovo and are less tempted by existing prospects there. Job prospects for these educated people in Serbia, however, are also limited (Cocozelli 2004). Mustafa (2007) stated that a significant portion (79%) of remaining Serbs in Kosovo also plan to migrate, due to unemployment, due to dissatisfaction with the current political situation and problems related to freedom of movement. Ivlevs and King (2009) suggested that ethnic Serbs in the south-east enclaves of Kosovo reported higher desires to emigrate than their fellow Serbs in the northern and central enclaves due to particularly high levels of poverty in these areas, and greater isolation from Serbia. 2.1.2. Serbian Diaspora Worldwide Kosovo Serbs constitute a mere fraction of the larger Serbian diaspora worldwide, which numbers an estimated 5.5 million. The largest populations of Serbs abroad are in the USA (1.8 million), Canada (700,000), Germany (700,000) Australia (200,000), Austria (200,000) and Switzerland (200,000) (Michaletos 2008). The Serbian diaspora developed in five main waves: (1) anti-communist dissidents who fled Yugoslavia before the 1960s, (2) guest workers who migrated to Europe in the 1960s and 1970s (Baraulina et al. 2007, Petree and Baruah 2008), (3) families joining guest workers in the 1980s (De Luna Martinez, Endo and Barberis 2006), (4) refugees affected by the ethnic conflicts in Yugoslavia in the mid‒1990s, when 300,000 people fled abroad, and (5) during the Kosovo conflict following the NATO air strikes and the retreat of Serbian forces from Kosovo, though in this last episode the majority moved to Serbia and neighbouring countries. The Serbian diaspora was, from its inception, internally divided and poorly organized (Pryke 2003; infocon 2009). Although the community was not initially nationalistic, the outbreak of conflict in Yugoslavia in the 1990s changed that. The war provided a focal point for political mobilization and a reason to unify heterogenous Serbs worldwide. Serbian lobbies created networks and coalitions with other ethnic lobbies, including the Greeks, Russians, (right wing) Jewish and 5. Tasked to a joint committee comprising UNMIK, KFOR, UNHCR and OSCE. 6. Interview in Mitrovica, 6 May 2009
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increasingly with Armenian groups. The Serbian lobbies in the US and Canada are particularly well networked, although they lack a centralized authority. This lobby relies on grassroots organisations and social networking websites, and uses the Internet to disseminate information. (Michaletos 2008) Examples include the American Council for Kosovo (represented by Serbian, Jewish, Greek and Anglo-Saxon communities – but with the notable exception of Albanians from Albania) and the Advisory Board of American Council for Kosovo. The Serb Orthodox Church also plays a pivotal role in the life of the Serbian diaspora. The Serbian government has a Ministry of Diaspora and keeps lists of Serb organisations abroad, which are posted on government and embassy websites. 2.1.3. Serbian diaspora in the uk It is not easy to ascertain the total number of Serbs living in Britain as Home Office figures did not originally distinguish between different groups from the Former Yugoslavia. The Serbian Council of Great Britain estimates that 70,000 people of Serbian origin live in the uk today (however the vast majority are not from Kosovo). Pryke (2003) gives a more conservative estimate of 30,000. No Serbs spoken to during infocon’s research were from Kosovo or mentioned personal knowledge of Kosovo-Serbs in the uk. The Kosovo-Serb population in the uk appears to be very small and there is no evidence of its organization as a distinct grouping. infocon research did identify one organization focusing on the Kosovo Albanian diaspora, which reported surprise at the voluntary involvement of some Kosovo Serbs. After initial unease, trust was built between the minority Kosovo-Serb attendees and the organisation’s majority Albanian membership. However, this is the only evidence found of Kosovo-Serb involvement in any CSO in London (infocon 2009). Whilst there are organisations that attempt to unite the Serbian community in the uk by virtue of their ethnicity, there are potentially significant differences between those who have lived in the uk for many years and those who have more recently settled here. One respondent suggested that the more recently settled might be called a ‘diaspora’ for their continued strong orientation to the homeland, whereas those who have lived in the uk much longer are more concerned with their hybrid identity in the uk. The respondent went on to say that this difference in orientation all but disappears when it comes to the issue of Kosovo, which unites Serbs, wherever they were from and however long they had lived in the uk. However, because of the relatively small size of the community and their successful integration in the uk and lack of organisation, the potential of this shared feeling for political mobilisation was not exploited. Further differences amongst Serbs were not identified during interviews with Serbian CSO representatives but suggested by Kosovo-Albanian interviewees. In particular, it was suggested that the unanimity of the Serbian voice in Kosovo may reflect the dominant voice of the Belgrade government rather than the general Serb population either in Serbia or in Kosovo, for whom everyday material concerns, the issue of EU membership for Serbia and living with ‘the new reality’ in Kosovo may be more pressing. Whilst the Serbian community in the uk is active in supporting Kosovar-Serbs who left Kosovo, a Kosovo-Albanian respondent suggested that the Kosovar-Serb population had historically been regarded as ‘second class’ Serb by Serbia and that if it was not for ‘interference from Belgrade’, this population might feel more confident about staking a more positive claim upon the new Kosovo. (infocon 2009) As with the Serbian diaspora in other countries, an impression gained of the Serbian TC in the uk was of the importance and centrality of the Serbian Orthodox Church, not only in its religious dimension of the community but also in legitimating community organisations. Existing research indicates that the British Serbs did little to contribute to either the breakup of Yugoslavia or the conflict in Kosovo.
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There was some fundraising but this was primarily humanitarian in nature. There was talk among some of the youth of going to fight in Bosnia / Croatia, but few did so. (Pryke 2003: 154)
With regards to the conflict in Kosovo, infocon’s research suggests that whilst representatives of Serbian CSOs might express discomfort with aspects of historic and contemporary political regimes in Former Yugoslavia and Serbia, this did not (at least at an organisational level) challenge public identification with the stance of the Serbian government vis-à-vis Kosovo. This may suggest the possibility that the CSOs interviewed tended to represent more conservative positions and possibly excluded, by default, those whose views differ. Amongst the few Serbs spoken to in London, the narratives of the causes of the Kosovo conflict pivoted upon the figure of the former Yugoslav leader Tito. According to one respondent, the nature of politics post-Tito and post-communism politics was to blame for the appeal to voters for solidarity on a ‘nationalistic card’. This respondent added that Serbia had the ‘wrong politicians’. Another view was that Tito’s immigration policies of the 1950s were to blame: ‘Tito’s immigration policy of the 1950s importing Albanians [to Kosovo]’, together with the ‘Albanians’ high fertility rate’ and ‘Serbs selling up their homesteads and land to Albanians in the 1970s onwards’ had all led to a ‘tipping point’. One respondent said that Milosevic’s speech in 1989, ‘was provocative, but there had been previous provocations to it’. In both these narratives, international actors figured as having worsened the situation. One respondent described USA and NATO involvement as ‘triggers to an intractable worsening of the situation’. Amongst the few Serbian CSOs contacted, there was a great and urgent sense of political grievance, although no clear evidence of active intervention in conflict in Kosovo or mobilisation to this end. 2.2. The Kosovo Albanian Diaspora The growing political tension in Kosovo throughout the 1980s and the violent confrontations in the late 1990s were the main factors that created the Kosovo Albanian diaspora worldwide. While a significant number of guest workers were in Germany and Switzerland prior to this, the Balkan wars greatly intensified the pressures to migrate. Milosevic’s policies and high Kosovo Albanian unemployment, drove migration during the 1980s and 1990s. The armed conflict led to a sharp increase in outward migration which peaked in 1999. Thereafter, high unemployment in Kosovo continued to be a driver of Kosovo Albanian migration. Four main phases of emigration from Kosovo can be identified: 1. 1960 to 1988. Prior to the 1960s many Kosovo Albanians fled to Turkey during the first years of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Haxhikadrija 2009). From the 1960s – 1980s, migrants were mainly poor and unskilled guest workers with low levels of education, recruited to Germany and Switzerland from rural areas, and accompanied by their families. These guest workers included ethnic Albanians, Serbs, Bosnians and Croats who all initially belonged to the same Yugoslavian social and cultural organisations in their countries of settlement. It was only during the 1990s, with the outbreak of war in the Balkans, that the diaspora communities began to divide along ethnic lines. 2. 1989 to 1997. During this phase of growing conflict, when most Kosovo Albanians were dismissed from their jobs, the primary motive for migration was economic. Young men also left to avoid army service in the Yugoslav wars (particularly between 1992–1995). During this period, the United Kingdom became a new destination for Kosovo Albanians. These emi27 | Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies
grants were mainly young, male and educated, both rural and urban areas. Unlike economic migrants in the past, these individuals often maintained the intention to return to Kosovo once the situation stabilised again. 3. 1998 to 1999. The exodus of refugees caused by the war in Kosovo was mainly short-term, and mainly to neighbouring countries. Approximately 90,000 left to countries further afield during this period, and it is believed that many of these have since returned to Kosovo. Several authors have noted the difficulty in providing accurate estimates of the total number of Kosovo Albanians abroad (iom 2004; ESI 2006; Korovilas 2006; Haxhikadrija 2009). This is partly due to the lack of accurate census data on migration in Kosovo, and partly because of the way immigration data has been recorded in host countries. For many decades separate data for Kosovars, or data disaggregated by ethnicity, was not gathered, as most host countries recorded country of origin simply as Yugoslavia or, later, Serbia. A ‘common yet disputed estimate’ of Kosovo Albanians abroad is 800,000 (Haxhikadrija 2009). 4. 1999 to 2008. The iom Mission in Kosovo has estimated that approximately 190,000 people returned to Kosovo during this period. From 1999 onwards, many host countries no longer welcomed new migrants and many actively encouraged a policy of return.7 Moreover, during the 1990s many of the political asylum seekers who arrived in Germany had their claims for asylum rejected and were instead granted ‘toleration permits’ (duldung). These permits allowed them to remain in Germany on condition they would return to Kosovo once the situation there had stabilized. In 1999, following the withdrawal of Serbian forces from Kosovo, the German authorities announced that 180,000 Kosovo Albanians had lost their legal status and must return home. Since then, many of the émigrés who arrived in Germany during the 1990s have returned home through assisted voluntary return programmes, deportation or unassisted. Those who remained abroad did so by finding ways to extend their residence, for example through education. In Switzerland, where immigration rules remained more liberal, migrants who had been in the country long enough gained permanent residence permits, and were able to bring their families over. From 2000 onwards, family unification accounted for the majority of new arrivals. Although it is difficult to establish exact numbers, it is believed that over half million Kosovars still reside abroad. While a significant number of migrants have returned to Kosovo following the cessation of hostilities, outward migration is still happening, primarily due to the high unemployment and low salaries in Kosovo. Research has indicated that approximately half of Kosovo’s youth would prefer to migrate, if possible, due to the poor economic climate in Kosovo. Despite this, economically driven migration is more limited than before. A number of sources have documented the darker side of population movement from, through and even to Kosovo, human trafficking. Kosovo was initially a transit route for traffickers but – due to the post-conflict economy, organized crime and problematic border controls – has more recently also become a destination for victims of trafficking (Limanowska 2002). The following table gives the approximate distribution of the Kosovan TC according to Mustafa (2007). As the historical main destinations for guest workers under Tito’s Yugoslavia, Germany and 7. As a result of the large numbers of returnees from Western Europe after 1999 (assisted by UNMIK, iom and other humanitarian organisations), Germany and Switzerland set up liaison offices in Pristina to assist with the return process. They also provided assistance to returnees in the form of housing assistance, emergency subsistence payments and job training.
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Switzerland have continued to home the largest numbers of Kosovo Albanians abroad. Regional displacement to Albania (45%), Macedonia (30%) and Montenegro (15%) involved mainly Kosovo Albanians from rural areas and took place primarily during the conflict (iom 2005). Table 2. Geographical Distribution of the Kosovo Albanian Diaspora Country Germany Switzerland Italy Austria Scandinavia uk USA France Canada Neighbouring Countries
% 39.4 23.2 7 6.7 5.8 4.8 3.5 2.1 1.6 3.7
Source: Riinvest Household Survey (Mustafa 2007)
The following sections highlight some of the key characteristics of the Kosovo Albanian TCs in of some of these countries, based on infocon research and other sources. Germany Approximately 300,000 Kosovo Albanians currently reside in Germany (Haxhikadrija 2009), which was a key destination for Kosovo Albanians even before the war began. The Kosovo Albanian government-in-exile moved from Slovenia to Stuttgart in the early 1990s. From there it also operated a network of hundreds of LDK branch offices and the Fund for the Republic of Kosovo (the official treasury of the state in exile, also known as the Three Percent Fund). This Fund, which a majority of the diaspora contributed to (reportedly without coercion), paid for the parallel education, health and social welfare structures, and the exiled government’s political activities. Kosovo Albanians in Germany were later instrumental in providing funding through the Homeland Calling Fund (which was set up specficially to collect money for the armed struggle in Kosovo8) as well as fighters for the Kosovo Liberation Army. Once the government’s nonviolent strategy was perceived to have failed, Bukoshi tried to set up the Armed Forces of the Republic of Kosovo (FARK). This was perceived by some to be in direct competition with the KLA and Bukoshi’s efforts to reconcile the two ultimately failed (Hockenos 2003). Switzerland Estimates of Albanian-speaking migrants in Switzerland vary from between 95,000 – 200,000, of which a third are believed to be Albanians from Kosovo (Dahinden 2005; Haxhikadrija 2009). Many of these were labour migrants, families and – later – refugees and asylum seekers. Haxhikadrija observed that this last group, in particular, was low-skilled with low education levels. Switzerland became a bastion of more radical Kosovo Albanian opposition activist groups (some which reportedly also had links with the criminal underworld9). Opposed to their nonviolent approach, 8. According to Hockenos (2003) contributions to Homeland Calling were reportedly often coerced. 9. Hockenos (2003) provides some insights into these relationships.
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they eventually broke with Rugova and Bukoshi’s exile government and Switzerland became the birthplace of the Kosovo Liberation Army and its political front, Homeland Calling (Vendlindja Therret). Kosovo Albanian refugees in Switzerland, unlike in Germany, had the right to work and were able to contribute significantly to the Homeland Calling Fund. Italy As the West European country closest to Kosovo, Italy became one of the first destinations for refugees fleeing the war. Research by De Sario et al. (2000) highlighted that many Kosovar refugees (primarily Albanians and Roma) that ended up in Italy had hoped to reach friends or relatives in Germany or Belgium. Because of European law, they were forced to stay (or were returned if they tried to leave) to the first country they entered in Europe. Many lived in poor and destitute conditions in asylum holding centres, faced with racism and discrimination from their Italian hosts. De Sario et al. noted that the social conditions of Kosovar refugees in Italy depended to a great extent on which part of the country they ended up in. Refugees in Northern Italy were able to secure work permits and developed social networks to help each other, while those in the south held residence permits granting the right to ‘humanitarian asylum’. These permits did not permit refugees to work and there was no social welfare system to support them. (De Sario et al. 2000). United Kingdom During the early 1990s, more educated, highly skilled and economically well-off migrants from urban areas of Kosovo also left Kosovo (many fleeing military conscription). Many settled in the uk and intended to return to Kosovo once the political situation had stabilized. In 2000, the House of Commons claimed that there were approximately 17,000 Kosovo Albanians in London. . A second government-in-exile fund for Kosovo (called Everything for an Independent Kosovo), was set up in London to collect money for military engagement. This reportedly collected approximately $ 30 million (Hockenos 2003). More information on the Kosovo Albanian TC in the United Kingdom follows below. United States Although there were a handful of Kosovo Albanians in the United States during the 1960s and 1970s, they did not begin to arrive en masse until the 1980s. By the end of the 1990s, there were more than 200,000 Albanians from the former Yugoslavia in the US and the majority of these were Kosovars (Hockenos 2003). Though not as active as its counterparts in Europe in contributing to the Three Percent Fund or providing the KLA with fighters, the Kosovo Albanian TC in the United States proved invaluable in political lobbying of American politicians to further the Kosovo Albanian cause. Some Albanian Americans (part of the Atlantic Brigade) also went over to Kosovo to fight with the KLA. Many of these returned to the United States once the war had ended. 2.2.6. Canada Kosovars first came to Canada in 1999 as a result of UNHCR’s efforts at alleviating pressures on the refugee camps in Macedonia. The Kosovars who arrived as a part of this programme were (unlike many other asylum seekers) immediately granted legal refugee status (Sherrell and Hyndman 2006).10 More than 7,000 Kosovars (mostly Albanians but also some Roma) came to Canada during this time (Abu-Laban et al. 2001) Very few Kosovars lived in Canada prior to 1999, and the lack of pre-existing networks established by predecessor migrant groups meant that new arrivals 10. Given its somewhat remote geographic location, Canada does not have a prior history of receiving large volumes of asylum seekers and does not have a policy of temporary asylum.
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could not rely on this type of support network. Perhaps as a result, the Kosovo Albanian diaspora in Canada has been less active as a transnational community. Their geographical location (far from Kosovo) and their immediate legal status in Canada has also made them less likely to return permanently to Kosovo (Sherrell and Hyndman 2006) Other infocon research has also identified approximately 40,000 Kosovo Albanians in Belgium and 10,000 in the Netherlands (the majority which arrived as a result of the conflict in Kosovo). Neither grouping is currently very politically active with regards to events in Kosovo, although Belgium also has a historic Albanian community, which has been active and absorbed many of the Albanians that arrived from Kosovo. Influence of the Kosovo Albanian Diaspora The Kosovo diaspora has accused the Kosovo government of neglecting the challenges faced by the diaspora as they struggle in difficult conditions in the host countries. Diaspora members reportedly consider the system of political parties in Kosovo to be anachronistic. A common complaint among the diaspora is the lack of practical support offered to them by the Government of Kosovo, for example in acquiring relevant documentation. Following Kosovo’s declaration of independence, personal and travel documentation from the former Yugoslavia was deemed invalid by host countries. Members of the transnational communities have complained of facing obstacles when trying to obtain new documents, and feel the government has not provided sufficient assistance. Many (inside and outside of Kosovo) are arguing for changes to the current visa regime to make it easier for Kosovars to travel. The perception of many infocon respondents was that the Government in Kosovo lacks a clear policy on the diaspora. A recent debate, started by a political opposition party, has focused on the need for a Ministry for Diaspora in Kosovo. The Government of Kosovo has a Department of Diaspora (a fact that was not widely known among many of the organisations interviewed by infocon in May 2009), which has existed for nearly a decade (previously named the Department of Non-Residential Affairs). Initially located in the Ministry of Culture, this department moved to the Office of the Prime Minister two years ago, and works with diaspora on issues related to documentation, investment and culture.11 The department has also been part of a working group that, together with the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Education is writing a Diaspora Law, which, it is understood, will serve to clarify the government’s policies related to diaspora – including organization of diaspora, facilitating diaspora investment and institutionalizing the diaspora’s political participation (Haxhikadrija 2009). The existence of the Department of Diaspora is, however, viewed with cynicism by some as a public relations exercise by the government, and it remains somewhat unclear what the department’s main objectives and activities are. The Government of Kosovo launched a Brain Gain programme in 2008 (headed by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology) to attract back to highly education members of the diaspora to contribute to rebuilding the nation. Similar non-governmental initiatives are also underway.12 Investment Promotion Agency of Kosovo also exists to encourage investment from the diaspora, with an office in Vienna to represent German-speaking countries (Haxhikadrija 2009). To date, however, there has been little official collaboration between the TC and organisations 11. Haxhikadrija (2009) reports that there are plans for extending this office with new staff. 12. KFOS and UNDP run the Capacity Building Facility (CPF) which provides incentives for diaspora experts to return to Kosovo and take up employment in government institutions. Haxhikadrija states that between 2004–2007, however, only a handful of experts were actually recruited into such positions.
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and institutions in Kosovo. Aside from the government’s limited efforts to engage with the diaspora and informal links between political parties in Kosovo and their members abroad, relationships between the TCs and the homeland are largely based on familial and friendship networks. infocon research identified one CSO in Kosovo that reported that it has recently begun to harness the human and financial capacity that exists in other countries, by successfully raising funds from the Kosovar TC in the United States.13 The historic contributions of the Kosovo Albanian diaspora are widely acknowledged as crucial to getting Kosovo where it is today. The diaspora’s financial contributions kept the parallel systems running and many Albanians from starvation during Milosevic’s rule in the 1990s, and material and human contributions of the diaspora to the war efforts were also significant. Financial remittances from the diaspora are still considered important to keeping Kosovo’s economy afloat and supporting families in the face of high unemployment and poverty and a weak social support system. The high unemployment and poverty levels, coupled with a rapidly growing young population, are seen by many Kosovo Albanians to be potentially more destabilizing than the still unresolved ethnic issues. While infocon respondents emphasised that the diaspora’s economic contributions should not absolve the government of its responsibilities to tackle these issues, interest in the diaspora’s financial contributions still remains strong, as does concern that remittances are dwindling and are likely to continue to do so as the global financial crisis continues. Beyond their financial role, however, the diaspora’s potential contributions post-Independence remain somewhat unclear. ‘What other role is there?’ mused one respondent, while another commented that the general perception is that ‘politically, we don’t need them anymore’. Haxhikadrija (2009) suggests that in recent years the Kosovar diaspora in Switzerland (and, as infocon research indicates, other countries) has become increasingly disorganized, lacking a focal point for coordination of activities. The diminished political and financial importance of the diaspora following the end of the war, and the gaining of independence, has led to a sense of disillusionment and loss of purpose on the part of the diaspora, as well as an increasing sense of alienation from the current government (Dahinden 2005, Haxhikadrija 2009, infocon interviews). With the achievement of the common goals of the uprising, and independence, the TCs are becoming increasingly fragmented as they align with different political parties in Kosovo. Having focused on supporting Kosovo’s government-in-exile for so many years, members of the diaspora are increasingly focusing on themselves, their families, and life in the host countries. Haxhikadrija’s report (2009) highlights the important potential role of the second generation of the diaspora in reversing the declining political organization of organisations in the TCs. He states that second generation immigrants have slowly started to organize themselves along different structures – that is, less along ethnic or national membership and more around professional and educative resources. Whereas the first generation of migrants invests in infrastructure at home (houses, etc.) and has a more or less nationalistic orientation, the second generation is more interested in know-how-transfer and adopts a much more critical perspective. The idea of second generation migrants is to organize themselves and make their knowledge accessible to either other nationals with integration problems or for the development of their country of origin. Student associations are an example of such an association… Another example is young people who are motivated to make their knowledge accessible for building up enterprises in their region of origin. However… these ideas are until now still more of theoretical character than that they have been put into practice. (Haxhikadrija 2009, paraphrasing Dahinden and Moret 2008) 13. It has plans to do the same in Western Europe.
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2.2.1. Kosovo Albanian diaspora in the uk Almost all the Kosovars in the uk arrived during the 1990s. The first group included people seeking political asylum as the conflict between the Serbian government and the Kosovo Albanian population intensified. This early group tended to be more politically active, and sometimes fled on account of their political engagement. The crisis of 1999 led to a much larger exodus of civilians, including many who were not politically active. The British government airlifted more than 4,000 Kosovo Albanians from the camps on the Macedonian border in April 1999, and large numbers arrived by other means, reaching a maximum with 1,500 ‘spontaneous’ arrivals in September 1999. Many of those evacuated by the uk Kosovo Humanitarian Evacuation Programme were flown to Leeds and then dispersed to reception centres. Following the easing of the crisis, people began to return to Kosovo, and by the year 2000, only 200–300 Kosovo Albanians remained in Leeds. Kosovars who stayed longer settled mainly in London, and in other areas where housing was affordable. Exact numbers are very difficult to establish, partly because Home Office figures did not distinguish between different groups from the Former Yugoslavia and partly because statistics can include those from Albania as well as from Kosovo. Estimates of numbers given by respondents during this research and from other documented research with the Albanian population in the uk put the uk Albanian population at 70–100,000. It is estimated 50–60,000 are in London. However, this includes Albanians from Albania as well as those from Kosovo. The extent to which the civil society organisations interviewed by infocon reflect the TC as a whole remains unclear. It is possible that the TC displays greater complexity than can be surmised from the organisations. For example, it was conveyed by Kosovo-Albanian CSO representatives that there is a strong desire to present a united front. This was presented as a desire to restore a sense of cultural esteem and unity between Albanians due to historical conditions. As one respondent conveyed it, to ‘fight amongst ourselves’ was ‘to do what the Serbs have done to us’. This framed a desire for unity within a discourse of two sides in which one had to be for or against one’s own side. Not to be clear about one’s allegiances could lead to charges of betrayal. infocon research attested what has been reported elsewhere, namely, that those who arrived in the uk in the early 1990s were mainly highly educated and from urban areas whereas those who arrived later in the 1990s tended to be from rural areas and without the same educational attainment. The interviews suggested that this rural / urban divide continues to characterise the contemporary uk Kosovo-Albanian population. The community was also divided formerly between those who supported the KLA and those who resisted the taking up of arms. It was noted that this latter division historically correlated with the rural / urban division. However, respondents noted that these differences in means if not political orientation had all but disappeared as it became evident to the Kosovo-Albanians concerned that armed resistance was unavoidable and the end (independence) justified the means. That said, it was commented that a subtle division may be emerging between those who now valorise the armed resistance and those who merely saw it as unavoidable. A more noticeable tension was suggested between those who are cultivating a stronger sense of themselves as ethnically defined Albanians from Kosovo; those who define themselves as both Albanian and Kosovan; and those who conveyed a sense that it was necessary to define themselves as Kosovan, a category that does not preclude (but at the same time does not depend upon) them being Albanian. These differences were evident in the various ways in which people described their identity: Albanian, Albanian-British, Kosovo-Albanian-British and British-Kosovan. One respondent reported, ‘I am Albanian not Serb, but I am also Kosovan which can include Serbs’. To now be able to choose how one defined oneself seemed important and there was notable resist33 | Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies
ance to the notion that any particular identity might be imposed. In some ways these descriptions pointed to an openness to multiple identities and subtle differences of orientation towards the new state of Kosovo. Albanian CSOs are considering creating an umbrella Albanian Council, not dissimilar to that which exists in the USA. Whilst this will present a united public front, there was uncertainty as to whether such a body would necessarily strengthen or add value to individual organisations’ work. Where inter-organisation cooperation happens anyway to mark key events it was questioned whether the umbrella organisation was necessary. Since individual organisations appeared to be very focused upon local and immediate needs of their members in the uk and display uncertainty as to what role the diaspora now had vis-à-vis Kosovo, it may be that the umbrella organisation will be a conduit through which these uncertainties can be worked out. The rapid rate of return to Kosovo has been one of the distinctive features of the Albanian TC in the uk. Already by August 2000, more than half of the original evacuees who had arrived in 1999 had returned to Kosovo, in addition to a large number of Kosovars who had not been part of the official programme (Smart 2004). The majority of those still in the uk wish to settle permanently. 2.2.2. The Kosovo Albanian Diaspora’s Economic Contribution The diaspora contribution to the economy of Kosovo is significant. About 70% of migrants send remittances to their families in Kosovo. Just under a fifth of all Kosovar households receive remittances. Of these households, about 13% have received cars, 48% clothes and textiles, 13% electronic and appliances. Based on Kosovo Young Lawyers’ estimates, the annual inflows from the diaspora are (a) cash remittances, € 170 million (b) in kind contributions, € 22 million (c) visitors’ contributions (diaspora tourism), about € 125 million. The total annual inflow is around € 317 million, approximately 14 per cent of Kosovo’s GDP. Interviewees in Kosovo were convinced that the knowledge, experience and skills of the diaspora are of great potential benefit to economic recovery and to the fostering of good relations among the ethnic groups in Kosovo. However, respondents point to the current lack of an adequate legal base for relations with diaspora groups, and to a weak institutional structure and slow reforms to public administration which discourage investment from abroad. The government has a draft law to establish a Kosovo Diaspora Agency, and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology has launched a ‘brain gain’ campaign to draw on the human capital in the diaspora. In general, however, the population see the diaspora mainly as a source of remittances. 2.2.3. Civil Society Peace Building Activities and Involvement of the Diaspora To determine the degree to which the Kosovo Albanian diaspora is involved in conflict mitigation, reconciliation and peace-building in Kosovo, we commissioned a survey of current peace-building initiatives by civil society actors in Kosovo (Kosovo Young Lawyers, 2010). Civil society developed in Kosovo in the period of ‘parallel institutions’, and took on a range of responsibilities from medical care to poverty relief to human rights. It played an autonomous role in this period, mediating between citizens and government. Following the conflict in 1999 however, with the arrival of international donor organizations, authentic CSOs found it difficult to maintain their autonomy and identity in the face of donors’ programmatic agendas. The gradual decrease of donor funds has made the CSO sector’s financial sustainability uncertain. Since 1999, there have been numerous attempts at peace-building and reconciliation between the ethnic communities residing in Kosovo. Many such initiatives have been supported by international donors. A handful of local NGOs have successfully bridged the ethnic divide between Albanians and Serbs. Examples are the Youth Initiative for Human Rights and the Humanitarian Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies | 34
Law Centre. A number of organizations cooperate with Serb refugees in organizing returns. For example, Community Building Mitrovica (CBM) facilititates returning Serb refugees and organizes dialogue between the receiving community and the IDPs. Respite for Children offers holidays for Albanian and Serb children away from the conflict. The Council of Bosnian Intellectuals in Kosovo supports scientific and cultural contacts across the ethnic communities. The Balkan Sunflowers projects promotes intercultural projects in education and the media. The Young Professionals Exchange programme organizes visits between Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo. And there are many more examples. However, we found no evidence that any of these initiatives had come from the European diaspora, or that the diaspora had been actively engaged in such conflict mitigation work. Rather, when diaspora groups had been involved, as in the case of the Serb IDPs, it was at the initiative of the Kosovo-based CSOs. The conclusion we draw from this evidence is that at present, civil society initiatives on conflict mitigation, peace-building and reconciliation are coming overwhelmingly from within Kosovo rather than from the diaspora. This supports the thesis that ‘bridging social capital’ develops more readily in the countries of origin where contacts between the communities continue. 2.3. Imported Conflict and Peace‑Building amongst the uk-Based Diasporas The overriding impression gained from infocon fieldwork is that while there was no evidence of live conflict or confrontation between Kosovo Serbs and Albanians in the city of settlement, there is little or no contact between the two groups on an organised level. Both Serbs and Albanians interviewed reported that they rarely had occasion to meet one another, in part because the communities reside in different areas. At the same time, it was noted that when Serbs and Albanians do meet as individuals or in the course of day-to-day business, there is no overt hostility. This was attributed to these individuals being ‘just ordinary people’. When more sustained contact had developed, interviewees indicated that this could lead to disclosures of positions that either departed from the dominant discourse in which case contact continued, or if sustained contact led to disclosure of more extreme positions, contact was discontinued. A sense of transnationality infused interviewees’ talk about contact with ‘the other side’ in the city of settlement. As a Serb or Albanian, one was also a fellow British citizen with the perceived responsibilities this involved, including multi-cultural tolerance. Although there was a common undertone of distrust, amongst Albanians interviewed there was a greater openness towards dialogue with no generalised descriptions of Serbs mentioned, whereas among the few Serbs spoken to there was evidence of a derogatory perception, and a tendency to stereotype the Albanian community by its criminal elements. Common objectives of both the Albanian and Serb CSOs encountered were to develop pride in their respective heritage and identity, to inform, educate, and facilitate supportive networks and to support self-sufficiency and integration into the uk. This was a theme whether the CSO was focused on children’s mother-tongue, supplementary education, family education, newspaper or magazine journalism or web-based platforms. Whilst none of the organizations we interviewed in London restricted membership by ethnicity, they attracted members from the same group with the notable exception mentioned above of the Albanian CSO with Kosovo Serb members. Linguistic difference is an obvious explanation. Even though none of the organisations had an explicit political aim, it would appear that celebration of cultural heritage is easily perceived in political terms. Were a non-Albanian or a non-Serb to be interested in the other’s organisation as representing part of a Kosovan heritage, it would be difficult for non-ethnically defined members to 35 | Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies
integrate easily. As regards membership of particular CSOs, residential proximity appeared to be a factor. Unlike in the Turkish and Kurdish community, there did not appear to be strong political cleavages within either the Albanian or Serbian CSOs, such that membership of particular CSO would appeal on political principle. Kosovo-Albanian respondents shared a general openness to the possibility of Albanians and Serbs living together in Kosovo. This might reflect the confidence of those who perceived themselves as victors, but one Kosovo-Albanian respondent repudiated this view, and said that to see it like that was to misunderstand the nature of the Kosovo-Albaniansâ€™ struggle and demean the loss of life. Generally, the possibility of constructing opportunities to meet and build peace in the city of settlement was regarded very cautiously by both Serbs and Albanians in London. On the one hand, it was described as potentially counter-productive and provocative in a situation where outright conflict was rare but on the other hand it was recognised that lack of conflict did not necessarily mean friendly and relaxed relations. Respondents were focusing rather on the immediate needs and activities of their organisations. In general, there was a sense amongst both Albanians and Serbs interviewed in the uk that there was a limited amount that individuals or organisations in London could do to affect what was happening in Kosovo now.
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3. Transnational Communities from the Great Lakes 3.1. The Burundian Diaspora
small body of research exists on the Burundian diaspora. Notable ethnographic work by has been carried out in refugee camps in Tanzania by Liisa Malkki and Simon Turner. Turner has also conducted in depth research with the Burundian diaspora in Belgium. The iom and the UN have also carried out studies on migration patterns of Burundians, particularly during and after the civil war. In addition, there is a small emerging body of work on remittances back to Burundi (see for example, de Bruyn and Wets, ND) Some project documentation is also available on conflict resolution initiatives involving the diaspora. An overview of the Burundian diaspora is presented below, drawing on these sources and on a handful of interviews conducted with members of the Burundian TC in London and the West Midlands. A detailed analysis of historical events in Burundi, their impact on ethnic relations and, subsequently, migration, is beyond the scope of this paper and can be found elsewhere (see, for example Malkki 1995) It has been noted that traditional power relations were less institutionalized and social relationships more complex in Burundi than in Rwanda, which resulted in a slower process of ethnic polarization. Nevertheless, since Burundi’s independence in 1962 the country was characterised by tension between the dominant Tutsi minority and the Hutu majority. Events in neigbhouring Rwanda (including the Hutu revolution and subsequent influx of Tutsi refugees in 1959) played a key role in strengthening ethnic divisions and increasing tension between the Hutus and Tutsis in Burundi. This came to a climax in a violent civil conflict in 1994. A peace process began in 2000 with the signing of the Arusha accords, but the country continues to face challenges in building national unity and strengthening the war-battered economy. 3.1.1. Waves of Migration Migration from Burundi happened in three main waves during the last three decades: 1970s‒1980s: Political oppression and violence. Although a handful of Burundian government critics left the country in the late 1960s, real mass migration out of Burundi began in 1972, after the Hutu insurgency against the minority Tutsi government resulted in the death of thousands of Tutsi and a counter-attack by the government that was believed to be aimed at eliminating educated and elite Hutu. This killed up to 200,000 Hutu and forced thousands more into exile. The majority went to Rwanda and Tanzania, but a handful went to Europe – mainly to Belgium due to colonial ties and existing education scholarships. The oppressive ruling strategies that Burundi’s government instituted during the 1970s and 1980s resulted in government opponents seeking exile outside of the country. A 1987 coup returned the country to insecurity and in 1988 thousands of Hutu were massacred and thousands more fled abroad – mostly to Rwanda. Hutu opposition parties began to form in the refugee camps and diaspora communities. The diaspora during this time was mainly Hutu, and directed its energy into political opposition organisation. 1990s: Civil war. Political reforms in Burundi during the early 1990s resulted in the return of some members of the diaspora from neighbouring countries and Europe. In 1993, Melchior Ndadeye became the first Hutu president to be elected in the country’s first democratic mul37 | Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies
tiparty elections. This heralded a brief period of optimism before Ndadeye was assassinated later that same year, an event that plunged the country into a violent ethnic conflict that was to last for more than a decade. The Hutu reacted to Ndadeye’s assassination by killing up to 30,000 Tutsi, which in turn resulted in the killing of an equal number of Hutu by the army and Tutsi militias. A new wave of refugees (mostly Hutu) fled Burundi at this time – primarily to Tanzania and (then) Zaire. A number of Tutsi government critics were also forced to leave Burundi, which produced a more ethnically mixed diaspora than before. 2000s: Fragile peace process and destroyed economy. Many exiles returned to Burundi after a fragile peace agreement was signed by most parties to the conflict in Arusha in 2000. The peace process has not proceeded smoothly, but remains in place. The high political insecurity of the preceding decades also weakened the economy and resulted in an exodus of economic migrants – both Hutu and Tutsi – who sought asylum in Europe and North America. These were less interested in politics than individual economic success. This wave ‘blurred the borderline between refugees and economic migrants’ (Turner 2008a). While it is difficult to know exactly how many Burundians reside outside of Burundi, a range of sources suggests that the diaspora comprised hundreds of thousands of Burundians in neighbouring countries and tens of thousands in Europe and North America during the twelve year civil war. Work by the World Bank suggests that the main destination countries for Burundians were Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Canada, Belgium, United Kingdom, France, United States, Italy and Germany (Ratha and Xu ND). According to the Human Development Index (UNDP 2009) more than 90% of Burundian migrants went to other African countries. iom figures (2007) gathered by the Banque de Crédit de Bujumbura (BCB), suggesting that about 10,000 Burundians live in the European Union, 3,000 in North America (United States and Canada), and about 300 in Asia. The primary destination countries in Europe include Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Switzerland, and the biggest Burundian diaspora community in Europe is believed to be in Belgium. Refugee Rights (2008) suggests that between 2002 and 2007, an estimated 378,800 Burundian refugees were repatriated from around the region. 3.1.2. Characteristics and Activities of the Diaspora The Burundian diaspora has contributed to both conflict and peace-building. Before and during the civil war, refugee camps in Tanzania were hubs of political mobilization and military training. Burundian Hutu refugees in Rwanda are also documented to have been actively involved in that country’s 1994 genocide. Palipehutu (Burundi’s first Hutu opposition party) was born in a Tanzanian refugee camp, while Nairobi became an unofficial capital of Burundian exiled political opposition and political opposition networks spread to Europe. Diaspora members in Europe and North America were not directly involved in the conflict, although were involved information collection and dissemination and lobbying of international bodies. They were also involved in peace negotiations and a number of exiled politicians returned to Burundi during and after the peace negotiations to take part in rebuilding the government. The peace process has brought about a shift that has taken place in the role and activities of Burundian exiles: The role of the Burundian diaspora has long been to express what was impossible to say inside the country for fear of political retribution by the regime in place. However, as the political space in Burundi has expanded with the recent political reforms, the role of the diaspora has diminished or at least changed. Burundians in exile no longer need to play the
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role of the watchdog, fighting for the right to express a multitude of opinions and to have access to unbiased information. (Turner 2008)
Nevertheless, the political leadership at home (many of them former members of the diaspora) continues to take seriously the perceived power of the more radical exiled community and maintains regular contact with the diaspora in Europe – holding meetings and dialogue with them (Turner 2008). 3.1.3. Imported Conflict in Europe By the late 1990s the Burundian diaspora in Europe was mixed, comprising the revolutionaryminded students that had been in Europe since the 1960s, politically active (including radical) Hutu who arrived in the 1970s, joined by Hutu and Tutsi human rights activists, journalists and other non-partisan critics of the government during the 1908s‒90s, and the non-politicised Hutu and Tutsi from elite families that migrated for economic reasons. As Turner observes, in Belgium, the largest Burundian community in Europe, the diaspora ‘rather than mixing freely and creating an alternative to the antagonistic politics inside [Burundi] … managed to create separate groups that did not mix.’ (Turner 2008a) In addition to ethnic cleavages between Hutu and Tutsi, additional divisions developed within the Hutu diaspora based on when its members had left Burundi and on political developments at home and in the country of settlement. The cleavages between the radicalized opposition views of the earlier arrivals, the more moderate views of later arrivals shaped by experiences of democratic reform and the non-political views of the economic migrants further splintered an already fragmented community. One arena in which the imported conflict has become evident is the virtual on-line arena (Kadende-Kaiser 2000; Turner 2008). While Kadende-Kaiser’s work (2000) highlights the use of the internet as a medium for bringing different sides together in dialogue, Turner sees the internet as reinforcing existing divisions, with each side creating its own websites to disseminate views that are at odds with those of others. He observes that views on the political reforms currently being undertaken in Burundi are split. One group supports the current peace and nation-building processes and the other opposes them. The oppositino ‘[express] opinions that could not be expressed elsewhere’ and ‘the kind of knowledge that the old regime would not permit in Burundi’ leading Turner to conclude that ‘even a pluralist, democratic spirit of peace and reconciliation relies on exclusion’ (Turner 2008). One of Turner’s respondents (a recent arrival) lamented how divided the diaspora in Belgium was compared to back home in Burundi. ‘In Bujumbura, we are far beyond that stage,’ the respondent was quoted as saying. ‘Now we get together and try to make things work, regardless of whether you are a Hutu or a Tutsi’ (Turner 2008b). The same research report also documented, ‘although nobody mentions it and nobody likes to admit it,’ the existence of three separate main cultural organisations in the same city – one comprising Hutus that arrived during the 1970s, a second Hutus that came from the 1990s onwards, and the third mainly Tutsi (Turner 2008b). Turner observed the feelings of resentment and bitterness in exile (often transmitted to the younger generation who never experienced the conflict in Burundi first hand), which differed drastically from the newer arrivals’ higher willingness to compromise. Divisions between Hutu and Tutsi are made more complex by sub-divisions within the Hutu community as well as newer arrivals (both Hutu and Tutsi, often younger generations from the cities) who are more open-minded and less political. The newer arrivals accuse the older refugees of being ‘out of touch’ with what is going on in Burundi and being stuck in an ethnic mind-set that (arguably) no longer exists in Bujumbura (Turner 2008b). 39 | Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies
Turner’s research indicates that despite significant divisions and polarized views in Belgium, there are three arenas in which opposing groups of the diaspora will interact. The first two (religious and the transnational business arena) are to some degree depoliticized. The religious arena in particular seems able to create a depoliticized space for Burundians in exile. In Belgium, Hutu and Tutsi Protestants attend the same churches, and are united by common religious beliefs. Within the business arena a small group of Muslim traders identify neither as Hutu or Tutsi (a phenomenon also alluded to by infocon respondents in the uk). Turner suggests that It is doubtful whether such a non-ethnic, Muslim business community actually exists. But the idea that it does is prevalent, and it could be a potential space of respite from the ethnicized and politicized space of the Burundian diaspora in Belgium. (Turner 2008b)
The third arena – ‘recontres’ – are a distinct space for political discussion among a small group of exiles where ‘tout le monde se connait.’ These ‘recontres’ provide a space to meet and debate the trustworthiness of the political transition process in Burundi. Turner observes that ‘during the breaks, they drink beer and chat before going back to arguing’ (Turner 2008b). The tendency of Burundians in exile to maintain conflict-enforcing views has been acknowledged by US-based INGO Search for Common Ground. To counter this, the organisation recently extended to the diaspora, its conflict resolution radio programme Studio Ijambo, which claims to have reduced tensions between Hutu and Tutsi and created dialogue in Burundi (Search for Common Ground 2002). 3.1.4. Diaspora’s Historic Contribution to Conflict Several authors acknowledge the key contributions of the Burundian diaspora to the political processes at home. Malkki’s work focuses on the birth of ethnic awareness and the political mobilization of Burundian refugees (many of them peasants) in Tanzania, later constituting violent opposition in the civil war. Hutu intellectuals in both Rwanda and Belgium created political movements inspired by Marxist and Fanonist ideas. Seeing themselves as the ‘revolutionary avant-garde’ (Turner 2008), they focused on information collection, analysis and dissemination to counter what they perceived as the Burundian government propaganda regarding the country’s official history. Their awareness raising campaigns were targeted at members of their own diaspora and a more general international audience. The opening up of the political arena in Burundi in the early 1990s, led some members of the diaspora to become more moderate. Negotiations between the government and various opposition groups during peace negotiations also included leaders in exile. While many members of the diaspora chose to remain in Europe after the end of fighting, others returned home to participate in the political process. Many who remain in exile are cynical about the potential achievements of the political process. Nevertheless, the Burundian model is held up by many Rwandans in the diaspora as a way towards peace that could also work in Rwanda. 3.1.5. Diaspora’s Involvement in Peace‑Building There is evidence that attempts have been made by members of the diaspora to hold dialogue between the opposing members in the TC. The perceived success of these has been variable. Turner refers to the unsuccessful creation of a discussion forum for Hutus and Tutsi students by a former student at Louvain La Neuve University. Other Hutu accused him of being a traitor as a result and it seems that the project failed (Turner 2008b). Between 1998 and 1999, the Field Diplomacy Initiative together with the Belgian University of Leuven, carried out a dialogue initiative with the Burundian diaspora in Belgium to examine views around the longstanding conflict in Burundi and promotion of peace (Public and International Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies | 40
Law and Policy Group 2009). Similar initiatives have been carried out with the Burundian diaspora in other parts of the world. Kadende-Kaiser’s work (2000) highlights the positive interactions made possible by Burundinet – a communication network that was frequented by some 200 Burundian exiles during a certain period of the civil war. She claims that active members (mostly an elite group comprising university students and professors) represented a range of groups and views (although that it was impossible to discern specific ethnicity from the information given by members). In this context, Burundinet became a mediated forum, staffed by volunteers, whereby ‘through anecdotes, updates, comments on news reports, and proverbial sayings… members continuously attempt to make sense of the ongoing violence’ (Kadende-Kaiser 2000). However, as mentioned above, Turner’s findings were that, rather than encourage dialogue, the websites set up by opposing groups mirrored existing fragmentation in the community. 3.1.6. The Burundian TC in the uk While it is difficult to ascertain how many Burundians live in the uk, the community is rather small compared to the (also relatively small) Burundian diaspora worldwide. Rough estimates from members themselves place the total in the low thousands. While there may have been a handful of Burundians in the country during the 1970s, the community as a whole is quite new to the uk, and many of its members arrived from 1993 onwards, following the large-scale violence between Hutus and Tutsis in Burundi. The Burundian diaspora was dispersed across the country and there is little evidence of formal organization of the community as a whole. With the exception of Burundian diaspora members in the West Midlands, who established a formal organization, other groups are organized more informally (for example, those in London, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Liverpool and Glasgow). The informal groups were said to have mainly social and cultural objectives, and aim to serve as support networks for their members. As such, they assist with issues related to integrating into the uk and / or providing financial assistance. Churches were also identified by Burundians themselves as focal points for community activity, attended by both Hutus and Tutsis. While it appeared that none of the community organisations were very politically active, some have attempted to reconcile Hutus and Tutsis living in the uk, with the assistance of the churches. At least one non-London-based community organisation has promoted events that support both Hutus and Tutsis (for example, through promoting Burundian artists or athletes living in the uk). This is not to say that divisions don’t exist –allegedly they do. But these tensions have generally not manifested in live conflicts between different members of the community. Leaders of one community organisation observed that Tutsis are more likely to attend events supporting Tutsi members, and Hutus those events supporting Hutus. On the whole, however, their contributions to peacebuilding in Burundi seem scant. This may be, as Turner observed, because they constitute newer, more apolitical, arrivals. 3.2. The Rwandan Diaspora There is an extensive body of academic research and related literature devoted to the study of Rwanda, particularly during and after the 1994 genocide.14 Much of this focuses on attempting to identify the country’s path to violence in 1994 (including the international community’s impotency 14. In infocon’s interviews in the uk, all the respondents interviewed, as well as this researcher, assert that what occurred in Rwanda between April and July 1994 was a genocide, in which (estimates vary between different respondents) between 500,000 to one million Rwandan Tutsi were killed. Hutu respondents were keen to also highlight the death of Hutu, both during the genocide and at the hands of the RPF.
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in stopping the genocide) and / or analysing Rwanda’s ongoing processes of justice and reconciliation, as a part of the post-genocide reconstruction process. Significantly, as Buckley-Zistel (2008) highlights, ‘after the genocide, remembering in Rwanda is not uncontested: different groups in Rwanda have different views of the past’ (Buckley-Zistel 2008). Nevertheless, as Nigel Eltringham (2003) points out, ‘Too few (non-Rwandese commentators) would admit that any attempt to describe or explain the Rwandan genocide of 1994 will encounter multiple perspectives many which defy synthesis.’ In the vast body of work on Rwanda very few scholars have managed to remain completely objective in their research, which has largely polarized the academic community into pro- and anti-Kagame camps, each subscribing to a distinct (and often mutually exclusive) narratives of Rwanda’s experience of genocide and of the country’s process of recovery and reconstruction. Despite (or perhaps because of) the wealth of literature on genocide and post-genocide Rwanda, comparatively little has been written about the Rwandan diaspora – despite their significant numbers in neighbouring countries such as Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania and the DRC and in Europe and North America. A handful of narratives describe the history of the RPF in refugee camps in Uganda, the development of post-genocide political opposition parties in Kenya and Eastern Congo, and the formation of armed Rwandan rebel groups in Eastern Congo. Researchers have highlighted lessons for humanitarian aid workers in Rwandan refugee camps (Pottier 1996) and problems caused by spontaneous and unorganized return (Reyntjens 1995) and problematic repatriation initiatives that did not take into account the specific and diverse needs of Rwandan refugee women (Schoeman and Naude 2007). Eltringham carried out research among members of the political class in Rwanda and the Rwandan diaspora in Europe, exploring how these two constituencies accounted for the 1994 genocide (Eltringham 2004). Rebecca Davies has explored the role of the diaspora and returnees in reconstruction and development in Rwanda (Davies 2008). On the whole, suprisingly little has been written about the Rwandan diaspora and their relation to the conflict and genocide.. This section aims to contribute to the nascent body of literature on this topic by presenting an overview of the Rwandan TC in infocon’s case study cities (Brussels, the Randstad, Berlin and London), including diverse views and activities related to the post-conflict and post-genocide reconstruction processes in Rwanda. It draws on infocon interviews conducted in 2009 and 2010, as well as other existing research. infocon interviews15 revealed a multitude of perspectives among the Rwandan TCs on the conflict, the genocide and peace-building. On a number of occasions respondents declared that ‘the situation in Rwanda is complex.’ Sometimes this statement was made to preface the answer to a particular question. At other times the message was reinforced by sometimes contradictory answers to different questions in the same interview. A range of views emerged, not necessarily along the lines of ethnic division. Like Eltringham (2003), we found that it is not possible to define a single perspective that can integrate all these positions; and it is not a question of two diametrically opposed positions. Eltringham suggests that indeed many of the multiple perspectives on the Rwandan conflict defy synthesis. The Rwandan government dominates official discourse on Rwanda’s past and present, particularly with regard to the country’s experience of genocide and violent conflict. While many Rwandan Tutsis believe this is necessary to maintain stability and security, there is ‘growing disquiet at the country’s slide into oppression, exclusion and dictatorship’ (Davies 2008). Eltringham reminds us that [c]onflict is ultimately about disagreement. To properly understand conflict, we must give 15. Conducted predominantly with CSO leaders and opinion leaders, but also a few ‘ordinary’ Rwandans as well as embassy staff.
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voice to these disagreements and how they are articulated. The real challenge is not to choose between the relative value of representations, but to create the conditions in which separate realities can inform one another. (Eltringham 2003)
This research thus highlights some of the multiple viewpoints and understandings that exist in the Rwandan TC and does not claim to represent them all comprehensively. As before, we cannot be sure of how representative the leaders of CSOs are of Rwandan opinion in the diaspora. Some preferred not to be interviewed. In some cases ‘hidden discourses’ (Eltringham 2003) may not have been openly expressed. Nevertheless, this research, like Eltringham’s, highlights the diverse public discourses We also note that the remit was to explore Hutu and Tutsi views and if there is a Twa voice in the diaspora, this has not been captured. 3.2.1. The Rwandan Transnational Community in Brussels Of all the infocon case study cities, Brussels has the largest Rwandan population. This is largely due to the fact that Rwanda was a former colony of Belgium. During the 1960s, many migrants from the Great Lakes region came to Belgium (Brussels in particular) to study at university on governmental scholarships, although many of them returned to their countries of origin upon the completion of their studies. Academic migration continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s. During this time poverty also spurred migration. An idealized picture of Belgium was painted by former students and others who lived in Belgium, and these images were also transmitted back home through music (infocon 2009). Following independence (Rwanda became independent in 1962), the Great Lakes countries saw years of political instability which led to a new wave of political migrants. This peaked during and after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. More recently, family reunification became another factor in migration to Belgium. infocon research (2009) indicates that TCs from the Great Lakes are concentrated primarily in Brussels-city, Molenbeek, Schaerbeek and Anderlecht. The Great Lakes community in Brussels is very fragmented, with subdivisions including religion, language, nationality (Rwandan, Burundian and Congolese), and ethnicity . The Rwandan community in Belgium is politically active, particularly in comparison with its counterparts in other parts of Europe and North America, a fact that has been attributed to the number of former politicians living there. (infocon 2009). For example, Francois Nzabahimana founded the opposition party FDU-Inkingi (the Unified Democratic Forces, formerly Republican Rally for Democracy16) which has recently sent candidates back to Rwanda to contest the presidential elections there. Civil society organisations in the Rwandan TC in Belgium are engaged in a range of activities and claim to represent a range of interests. Some are focused on recognition and remembrance of the 1994 genocide as a Tutsi genocide, and advocate the trial and punishment of suspected genocidaires, while others engage in advocacy on the issue of recognition of, and justice for, the Hutu that were killed during the genocide and by the RPF. Other CSOs claim to be neither ‘Hutu’ nor ‘Tutsi’ but to want to be a platform for ‘all voices’. Some CSOs are less political in their aims and focus more on helping members of the TC in exile rather than supporting causes in Rwanda. They offer legal support and advice to asylum seekers and aid integration of Rwandans into life in Belgium (for example, Humura, Les Amis de Wetchi) culturally, socially and professionally (infocon 2009). Confrontations between Hutu and Tutsi are reportedly more common in Brussels than in any other of infocon’s case study cities. This may be in part because communities in Brussels live in much closer quarters (unlike London where the dispersal scheme has spread Rwandans out not just over different parts of London but all over the country) and also 16. An outline of the emergence of Republican Rally for Democracy in Eastern Congo’s refugee camps is given in (Ndahiro, 2008).
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because some respondents allege, members of the TC in Brussels comprise former government members and therefore hold more radical views. 3.2.2. The Rwandan Transnational Community in Ranstad Rwandans17 started coming to the Netherlands after 1993 / 1994. Rwandans live in towns close to the Belgian border as well as in the bigger cities of the Randstad. On the whole, the Rwandan population in the Netherlands is small. Many migrants are highly educated but face the challenge of not having their academic diplomas recognized in the Netherlands. Language is another barrier to integration. Despite being a relatively small TC, Rwandans in the Netherlands are quite active and ‘more or less openly, divided along ethnic and (often but not always parallel) political lines.’ These CSOS ‘range along a continuum of being more or less open to the other community.’ (infocon 2009) 3.2.3. The Rwandan Transnational Community in Berlin Official statistics indicate that the Rwandan population in Berlin is small, at merely 28 people, although unofficial sources estimate the number at about 200–300 people, or about 50 families (infocon 2009). This includes Rwandans who have gained German nationality as well as those who are not registered. There are only a couple of civil society organisations (mainly comprising Rwandan Hutus) with a low public profile and limited range of activities. It was not possible for the infocon researcher in Berlin to interview members of the Rwandan TC there. The Rwandan Transnational Community in the uk It is difficult to establish the total number of Rwandans living in the uk. In 2992, UNHCR estimated the total number of Rwandan refugees in the uk in 2002 at 1,575. According to uk Home Office statistics, 3,720 asylum applications were received from Rwandan nationals between 1992 and 2003 (ICAR 2004). The Hope Survivors Foundation website estimates the total number of survivors living in the uk at 2,500 (which would put the total number of Rwandans in the country at higher than this). The Rwandan TC as a whole is fragmented and (as a result of the uk’s asylum dispersal policy) spread out all over the country. Substantial Rwandan communities exist in London, the West Midlands, Oxford, Manchester, Reading, Leeds and Glasgow. Even within London, Rwandans are dispersed, rather than living in concentrated areas. Although Rwanda has recently strengthened its Anglophone ties (joining the Commonwealth in 2009 and making English the official language for education), the uk was not a popular destination for migrants from Rwanda in the past. Before the 1994 genocide, only a handful of Rwandans lived in the uk for education or work purposes. The first wave came in 1994, and in the years directly following the genocide, and included both Tutsis and Hutus. From 2001 onwards, a second wave began including many Hutus who had not previously left Rwanda. This group included some who had been imprisoned after the genocide, some who claimed discrimination by the new government, and some who came for economic reasons). For many Hutus who left Rwanda at this time, the DRC was no longer a feasible destination due to the war in the Eastern part of the country. This second wave also included Tutsis who were critical of Kagame’s regime. The Rwandan TC seems fragmented along political lines (which often, but not always, mirror 17. Due to a long history of policies in the Netherlands targeted at preventing one city from becoming too powerful (OECD 2007) metropolitan functions (that are in other countries focused in one capital city) are spread over a polycentric urban areas that includes the country’s four largest cities: Amsterdam, Utrecht, Rotterdam and the Hague. Together they behave as one metropole. This area is called the ‘Randstad’ (Van Nimwegen and Esveldt 2006). The ‘Randstad’ was chosen as the urban case study in Holland in order to be comparable with the metropoles in infocon’s other case study cities. (van Houte in infocon 2009)
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ethnic divisions). Perspectives on the situation in Rwanda are generally informed by the experiences individuals had before, during and after the genocide (which were, in turn, influenced by belonging in different ethnic groups18). Despite these divisions, tension does not seem to have manifested into open conflict in the uk in the way it has, for example, in Brussels. One explanation for this is the dispersed nature of the Rwandan community in the uk. Individuals and groups with differing viewpoints tend to steer clear of each other. Rwandan CSOs in the uk are generally: (1) social or cultural (community organisations, survivor groups); (2) economic (business and investment associations); (3) activist (advocacy and lobby groups); or (4) religious (churches). The activities of some organisations span more than one category. For example, community organisations can provide social networks and support to its members, organize cultural events as well as supporting economic initiatives. While some of these groups claim to transcend Tutsi / Hutu identities, it seem that (with a few exceptions) identity divisions remain prevalent. 3.2.4. The Rwandan TC’s Role in Conflict Resolution and Peace‑Building infocon research indicates that, with the exception of a handful of initiatives (outlined in more detail below) there is currently limited involvement by the Rwandan TC as a whole in conflict resolution and peace-building in the country of origin. Slightly higher levels of activism have been observed in both Brussels and Randstad than in any other European cities (including in the uk), and the following sections explore possible reasons for this. They also highlight the handful of initiatives that have emerged in the TC and explore these in more detail – including how they are perceived by the Government of Rwanda as well as groups or individuals in the TC who are not involved in them. 3.2.5. Possible Reasons for Lack of Involvement by Rwandan TC Out of a total population of several thousand Rwandans in the uk, only a handful are actively involved in political or other activities intended to alleviate the conflict that led many of them to leave their homeland. There are several other possible explanations for this. Many Tutsi survivors (who were in Rwanda prior to and during the genocide) perceive themselves as a minority in Rwanda, and possibly also in the TC. The current Rwandan government, comprised mainly of Tutsis from the Rwandan diaspora in Uganda, is perceived to neglect the diverse needs of survivors in Rwanda, including housing, education, medical treatment and counselling for HIV / AIDS, particularly for women who contracted HIV / AIDS as a result of rape. Some respondents have suggested that they feel that certain Rwandans (both in Rwanda and abroad) who may not have been in Rwanda during the genocide, use the genocide to generate publicity for Rwanda in a way that is insensitive to those who lived it. In addition to suffering from trauma, isolation and poverty, many survivors in the TC have legal problems related to their lack of official status in the uk. As a result, survivors in the TC may be primarily concerned with everyday survival rather than involvement in their country of origin. One respondent suggested that many survivors in the TC do not wish to be involved in peace-building because they ‘just want to forget what happened (during the genocide).’19 Members of (reportedly mainly Hutu) groups in the TC in London outside the mainstream of those who maintain relationships with the Rwandan government have also been reported to suffer from psychological stress and trauma following their experiences in Rwanda, 18. There are two predominant views on ethnicity in Rwanda. The first, that Hutu, Tutsi and Twa were artificially created constructs by colonial powers bent on dividing and conquering the Rwandan people; and the second, that the different groups are ethnically different, stemming from different geographic origins. 19. Interview in the uk 1 April 2010
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which impedes their involvement in activism regarding the situation in the homeland. One activist said that many Hutus in the TC who lost family members or have family members in prison in Rwanda are ‘mentally traumatized.’ They feel they are not allowed officially to mourn their dead. In response to requests to get involved in particular opposition actions, members of the TC are reported to say: ‘please don’t traumatize me more, I have been traumatized enough.’20 In addition to trauma and psychological stress, fear of being accused as genocide deniers, revisionists or perpetrators was a factor inhibiting members of the Hutu community from political involvement. Some (mainly Tutsi) Rwandan TC members that maintain close links with the Rwandan government suggest that the lack of overt opposition activity is an indicator of low levels of support for the opposition movement, while (Hutu) opposition activists suggest that fear of being seen to openly oppose Kagame’s government means that anonymous support (via Internet messages and financial contribution) is more common than open opposition. The arrest of four Rwandans in the uk on charges of genocide involvement in 2006 reportedly intensified this fear, even though the uk’s High Court ultimately blocked their extradition to Rwanda. Due to a loophole in British legislation that prevented them being tried in the uk instead, the defendants were freed in 2009. This decision was strongly condemned by the Rwandan Ambassador to the uk as well as some human rights groups (Aegis Trust for example launched a campaign for change of legislation to try genocide suspects in the uk), but celebrated as justice by supporters in the non-mainstream TC groups. Several active members of the non-mainstream groups who openly express their criticism of Kagame’s government believe they have been branded ‘terrorists’ by the uk government and that they are suspected of having links with FDLR members in the DRC.21 3.2.6. Conflict Resolution and Peace‑Building Initiatives: Perceptions from the TC in the uk A member of one of the (mainly) Tutsi community groups in the TC highlighted that the current Rwandan government is made up mainly of returning members of the Rwandan diaspora from Uganda and, as a result, recognizes the potential of the diaspora to contribute to rebuilding the country. The respondent stated that the diaspora is often referred to one of Rwanda’s provinces.22 The Rwandan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation’s Diaspora General Directorate23 website states that The government of Rwanda has realized the evolving important role of Rwandan Diaspora in the national development of the country. This importance is envisaged in the diverse sectors of Rwanda such as; Education, Health, Private Sector Development, Trade and Investment, Knowledge transfers, Image building, Culture development, Unit (sic) and Reconciliation, Community development, Remittances, etc.
The Rwandan diaspora’s contribution to remittances and investment is seen as critical to Rwanda’s economic development. Little has been written about the Rwandan diaspora’s potential to contribute to post-conflict reconstruction (Davies 2008). Nevertheless, despite the Government of Rwana’s explicit emphasis on unity and reconciliation as an area of diaspora contribution, the actual involvement of the TC in appears, at least to date, to be limited. Rwanda’s National Unity and Reconciliation Commission’s website makes no specific mention of diaspora. Interviews with Tutsi 20. Interview in the uk 31 March 2010 21. For instance, several Hutu activists report frequent detention and questioning while traveling in and out of Britain. Real or perceived, the sense of persecution is fairly acute for some members of the TC. 22. Prior to 2006, Rwanda was composed of 12 provinces. In an attempt to decentralize power and increase the multi-ethnic makeup of provinces, these were consolidated into five provinces: Northern, Eastern, Southern, Western and Kigali province. 23. MINAFFET website http://www.minaffet.gov.rw/content/view/78/179/lang,english/
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and Hutu members of the TC indicate that in two of the government’s main vehicles for building unity and reconciliation (gacaca and ingando) there has been no evidence of direct involvement by the TC. This may in part be due to geography – these initiatives take place in Rwanda and many members of the TC do not return there. Some Tutsis as well as many Hutus express scepticism about the effectiveness of these initiatives in practice. Some survivors believe gacaca poses a danger to the very people it is supposed to serve, because witnesses are frequently subjected to threat, intimidation and even murder, particularly in rural areas outside of Kigali where security is more fragile than in the capital. Others in the TC argue that while gacaca is an effective tool for achieving genuine reconciliation in theory, its potential has been distorted by its use as a tool for extortion, blackmail or revenge against enemies, whether or not they were actually involved in the genocide. Another criticism is that prosecution is selective; influential people will not face gacaca charges. Others go further and argue that gacaca strengthens divisions within communities by contributing to an atmosphere of suspicion, distrust and fear, created by false accusations. ‘The government is forcing reconciliation’, according to one respondent, ‘forcing people to ask for forgiveness is not going to work (in the long term)’.24 One Tutsi survivor has stated ‘Unlike what is suggested in Rwanda, I have never heard survivors of the holocaust being asked to reconcile with the Nazis’.25 Others criticised the top down reconciliation initiatives carried out by the Rwandan government and international actors, arguing that genuine reconciliation must come from the bottom up, from the Rwandan people and that this is a long term process that must evolve naturally rather than being forced. Similarly critics argue that ingando is a politicized project (‘teaching politics’) and constitutes ‘brainwashing… a control system. But, as such, it is very effective’26). It is seen as being used to selectively target only certain members of Rwandan society (returning rebels from the DRC and secondary students transitioning to University). One Tutsi argued, however, that the criticisms of gacaca and ingando and of the Rwandan government’s peace-building and democratisation initiatives more generally are unfair. ‘Sometimes people forget where Rwanda has come from. Rwanda is only 16 years out of the genocide – governments in the West have had hundreds of years to develop.’ This respondent suggested that while the government may be forceful on reconciliation, there are no better alternatives. ‘Let’s be pragmatic. The alternative is that people are killing each other.’27 This respondent believed that if the current reconciliation initiatives lead people to live in peace, Rwandans ‘will eventually start to realize the dividends of peace.’ The respondent continued The international community needs to understand that Rwandan’s aren’t deaf… we hear the criticisms. Rwandans know what is good for them [human rights and good governance] but these things won’t happen just because the international community [wills it]. The Rwandan government is willing to act on these issues – but it takes time.
The respondent highlighted that Rwanda’s own democratic systems were destroyed under colonialism. Others also take the view Rwanda’s space for political debate is limited. Some consciously choose not to engage in political activities – although they attended social and cultural events and support church-sponsored activities to help other Rwandans living in need in the TC. 24. Interview 1 April 2010. 25. Kayigamba, Jean Baptiste, 2008, ‘Without Justice, No Reconciliation’, A Survivors Experience of Genocide’, in Phil Clark and Zachary Kaufman (eds), After Genocide: Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Reconciliation in Rwanda and Beyond, Hurst Publishers Ltd, London. Kayigamba lives in the uk since 2001. 26. Interviews on 1 and 8 April 2010 27. Interview in the uk 8 April 2010
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Most respondents said that justice is crucial to the peace-building process in Rwanda, although justice was defined differently depending on respondents’ experience of the genocide and its aftermath. 3.2.7. TC Initiatives and Economic Development, Politics and Peace‑Building in Rwanda Despite limited evidence of the engagement of the Rwandan TC as a whole in conflict resolution and peace-building in the country of origin, there are some diaspora-led initiatives that stand out. These are can be understood as falling into three broad categories: economic development, dialogue and political process. The following sections outline these initiatives and where possible report how they are perceived by other groups. 220.127.116.11. Economic Development Rwandans in the transnational community frequently identify poverty as an obstacle to genuine and lasting peace. Economic development is perceived as crucial to peace-building. One infocon respondent suggested that the emergence of a middle class in Rwanda will contribute to stability, by giving people a stake in economic development. ‘People don’t want to destroy their achievements.’28 Hutu respondents were less optimistic about this and many believed development initiatives in Rwanda benefit only an elite minority. One cited the recent initiative to ‘provide a goat for every family’, questioning how families struggling to feed themselves would be able to feed a goat. A few Hutu respondents expressed the fear that increasing, frustration resulting from poverty and lack of access to genuine development opportunities will boil over into renewed violence. Nevertheless, most respondents saw economic development as a key to future peace and stability. The differences arose about how equitable current economic development initiatives are. 18.104.22.168.1. Investment and Small Business Rwanda’s national development programme Vision 2020, launched in 2000, emphasised human resource development and capacity building, building on the ‘skills, capital and trade connections’ of the Rwandan diaspora (Davies 2008). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation established a Department Diaspora in 2001, and a Diaspora General Directorate in 2008. This has held several Rwandan Diaspora Global Conventions, and established an investment and export promotion agency which encourages investment from the diaspora (Davies 2008). When asked about peace-building initiatives, several Tutsi respondents pointed to these development initiatives. While it is difficult to gauge the extent of expatriate investment to date, anecdotal evidence was offered of Rwandans from the uk returning to start up successful small businesses. Some Hutus felt that opportunities for diaspora to invest in Rwanda are limited to those Rwandans who support Kagame’s government. ‘If Hutus want to contribute they get accused of helping the FDLR.’29 While conflict sensitive economic development has been said to contribute to peace-building, it is not yet clear to what extent small businesses and investments by the Rwandan diaspora are contributing to conflict-sensitive development and peace-building in Rwanda. 22.214.171.124.2. The One Dollar Campaign In 2009, members of the Rwandan diaspora launched the One Dollar Campaign,30 which was also supported by the Diaspora General Directorate in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. The campaign – supported by the Diaspora General Directorate, survivors’ organisations in 28. Interview in the uk 8 April 2010 29. Interview in the uk 31 March 2010. 30. One Dollar Campaign website: http://www.1dollarcampaign.org/
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Rwanda (IBUKA, AVEGA and AERG) and the Commission to Fight Against Genocide aimed to improve living conditions and social welfare of vulnerable genocide survivors, by building homes for orphaned genocide survivors. The campaign collected donations from members of the TC and ‘friends of Rwanda’ at genocide memorial events and through the campaign’s website. Some Hutus criticised the One Dollar Campaign for only aiming to help Tutsi genocide survivors, saying there was no equivalent for Hutus in Rwanda who may also have lost family members and property in the genocide. 126.96.36.199. Dialogue 188.8.131.52.1. Intra / Inter-Rwandan Dialogue The Intra-Rwandan Dialogue was founded by Isidore Munyakazi, a Tutsi residing the United States, and Elysee Ndayisaba, a Hutu residing in Belgium. It began as an anonymous debate on one of the many Internet forums on ‘the Rwandan problem’ and then became a face-to-face dialogue to which other Rwandans where invited (Intra-Rwandan Dialogue 2006). It aimed at finding ‘by peaceful means a lasting solution to the Rwandan problem’. The first meeting took place in Spain in 2004, supported by the Spanish organisations Fundacio S’Olivar and the Associacio de Drets Humans de Mallorca. The location was chosen on the basis that this was a ‘neutral country which had no prior involvement in the geopolitical stakes of Central Africa’ (ibid). The goal was to engage in dialogue with the aim of creating ‘true mutual understanding’ in order to arrive ‘at common interpretations of a given matter.’ It was stressed that arriving at a common interpretation doesn’t mean that the parties involved in the dialogue always have to agree with each other; rather, they need to have the same interpretation of the matter they disagree on… Dialogue differs from reconciliation because the latter implies re-establishing harmony among the people who have previously been divided by conflict, harmony that has been regained by asking for and granting forgiveness.31
Participants included Hutu and Tutsi individuals from political parties and Rwandan civil organisations from the diaspora in Belgium, Canada, France, Holland, Italy, Switzerland, and the United States of America. It was emphasised that the dialogue was an ‘Intra-Rwandan’, not an Inter-Rwandan Dialogue as not all elements of Rwandan society were represented. Participants were invited as private individuals and included both Hutu and Tutsi from different regions and organisations. The participants agreed to: (1) analyse the root causes of ‘the Rwandan plight’, (2) analyse the present situation; and (3) suggest ways and means to solve the plight as it had been defined by the participants. Although agreement was not reached on all the issues discussed, the discussion ‘unfolded in a calm and peaceful atmosphere. Discussions were held in an open and frank way, and no issue was regarded as taboo’ (ibid) and the initiative was heralded as the start of genuine dialogue between the diverse participants. After a second meeting in Barcelona in 2006, one of the recommendations drawn up by the participants was to expand this dialogue to ‘all sections of the Rwandan population’ (Intra-Rwandan Dialogue 2010) in order to make it an Inter-Rwandan Dialogue. Subsequent dialogues were in 2007 in North America (attended by Rwandans living in USA and Canada) and Europe (attended by Rwandans living inBelgium, Holland, Germany, France and Italy). Participants in Intra / InterRwandan Dialogue also agreed that the conflict in eastern DRC undermines peaceful coexistence and socio-economic exchange between Rwandan and Congolese people, and that Rwanda plays a 31. Ibid
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major role in this conflict. An invitation to participate was therefore also extended to Congolese people and in 2007 a dialogue was also held in Kinshasa. The dialogue initiative identified the crucial role of women, youth and children in building a peaceful Rwanda and a Women’s Platform for the Inter-Rwandan Dialogue was held in Barcelona in 2008. This brought together Rwandan women from several European countries to discuss the impact of conflict on women as well as women’s participation in the peace-building process. Following another Intra-Rwandan Dialogue meeting in Spain in 2009, the initiative’s website issued a statement that: After exploring all problems that led Rwanda into cyclical conflicts in the past five decades and looking at the current situation in Rwanda where many signs and conditions that led to previous conflicts including genocide still prevail, the DIR group has committed itself to call upon Rwandans and friends of Rwanda to do everything necessary to diffuse and prevent any new conflict through a Highly Inclusive Inter-Rwandan Dialogue (HIIRD) in which would participate the different representatives of all Rwandans including the Civil Society and all Political Parties from inside and outside Rwanda. This is the only adequate framework for establishing a fresh environment of trust between the ethnic groups along with any other division, essential to Truth and effective reconciliation, peace and sustainable development in Rwanda and subsequently in the Great Lakes region of Africa.
In December 2009, the United Nations published a report on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo by their Congo Experts Group, which was mandated ‘to monitor implementation of the arms embargo imposed on non-governmental armed groups operating in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and, in particular, to investigate the financial and material support such groups enjoy.’32 The report highlighted ‘diaspora support for local FDLR commanders, documenting the overall supreme leadership of the group’s military commanders in Europe, North America and some parts of Africa and its monetary support to them.’ The report also alleged links between some the Inter-Rwandan Dialogue participants and members of the FDLR. The Inter-Rwandan Dialogue has vehemently denied any links with the FDLR and filed a formal written complaint to the UN citing such allegations as false.33 Rwandans who are not involved in this initiative responded differently to questions about it. One Tutsi survivor seemed reluctant to discuss it, while a Tutsi member of the TC expressed scepticism about the initiative suggesting it was being driven by the FDLR. The Rwandans outsourced what they are fighting for so it loses meaning. I never understood what the aims of Inter-Rwandan Dialogue were – nobody ever sat down and explained them to me… Why is it being pushed by people with questionable aims?… Inter-Rwandan Dialogue was perhaps hijacked by these people, which killed it before it was properly understood. Now it’s being used as a stick to beat the current government. Who knows, it might otherwise have been a good idea.34
Participation in Inter-Rwandan Dialogue has grown significantly since its first meeting in 2004, with the group of participants expanding to more than 120 Rwandans from different backgrounds and experiences.35 The dialogue has been endorsed by H.E. Abdoulaye Wade (the President of Senegal) and 1980 Nobel peace prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel. In 2007 a group of Spanish 32. UN Press conference on Final Report of Democratic Republic of Congo Experts Group http://www.un.org/News/briefings/ docs/2009/091207_Mahtani.doc.htm
33. Meeting with representatives of the Inter-Rwandan Dialogue in Brussels 16 April 2010 34. Interview in Brussels 19 April 2010 35. Rwanda Dialogue website: http://www.rwandadialogue.org/
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parliamentary groups36 submitted a joint non-legislative motion in support of the Inter-Rwandan Dialogue process in order for it to be debated by the Committee for International Cooperation for Development in Spain. In 2010 a group of senators in Vermont also issued a joint senate resolution ‘supporting continuing implementation of the Inter-Rwandan Dialogue’.37 184.108.40.206.2. Other Dialogue Initiatives Pax Christi International, a Brussels-based, ‘global Catholic peace movement and network’ that ‘works to help establish Peace, Respect for Human Rights, Justice and Reconciliaton in areas of the world that are torn by conflict,’38 facilitates dialogue between members of the Rwandese Hutu and Tutsi diaspora in Brussels. infocon research suggested that there is no collaboration between this and the Inter-Rwandan Dialogue. Some respondents also referred to dialogue initiatives by the Rwandan government in Rwanda, although interviews indicated that members of the diaspora are not significantly involved in these. 220.127.116.11. The Political Process Paul Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) party has been in power in Rwanda since 2003. Although a number of opposition parties officially exist, there is widespread skepticism from Rwandans in the TC (including both Tutsis and Hutus) about how genuine of an opposition of these parties actually constitute. One Tutsi respondent, generally supportive of the current government, suggested that ‘The Rwandan government may not have an interest in strong opposition... but they have no choice.’ This respondent, like others, commented on the ‘immature’ nature of opposition, most of whom are linked in some way to the RPF. The respondent stated that even Kagame has complained of this saying that this is why political space is being claimed by ‘outsiders,’ (a reference to the diaspora-led UDF-Inkingi party that returned to Rwanda this year to take part in the August 2010 presidential elections). A recent Human Rights Watch article stated: The Rwandan government and the RPF have strongly resisted any political opposition or broader challenge of their policies by civil society. On several occasions, the government has used accusations of participation in the genocide, or ‘genocide ideology,’ as a way of targeting and discrediting its critics. The current RPF-dominated government has been in power in Rwanda since the end of the 1994 genocide. (Human Rights Watch 2010)
A Tutsi respondent noted that while Rwandans living in the uk tend to identify with the RPF, there are ‘silent people’ in Rwanda who are unhappy with the current system but have to ‘go along with it’ because there are no viable alternatives. ‘It is about survival.’ 18.104.22.168.1. The TC Vote Although the right of the Rwandan diaspora to vote in Rwandan elections is enshrined in the constitution, many Rwandans face difficulties in exercising this right in practice. One obstacle for Rwandans living in the uk is that, due to the uk government’s asylum seeker dispersal scheme, Rwandans are spread out across the country. Historically, members of the TC were required to place their vote at the Rwandan embassy in London. Some were unable to travel due to financial constraints or work commitments. As a result, reportedly less than 1,200 of several thousand 36. The Socialist Party, Popular Party, Catalonian Party, ERC Party, Basque Party, Izquierda Verde, Canary Coalition and Mixed Party 37. Joint Senate Resolution, Montpelier, Vermont http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/2010/resolutn/JRS056.pdf 38. Pax Christi International website http://www.paxchristi.net/international/eng/about_cont.php?wat=basic
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Rwandans voted in the last election.39 Rwandan community leaders are asking for polling stations to be set up in other parts of the country with significant Rwandan populations to make voting more accessible in the upcoming presidential elections. It is not clear how many Rwandans intend to exercise their right to vote or what they believe the political process in Rwanda can achieve.40 22.214.171.124.2. Political parties in the TC In 2010, representatives of UDF-Inkingi41 (United Democratic Forces, a coalition of political parties and individuals in the TC who are opposed to the current government of Rwanda) led by Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire (from the Rwandan TC in Brussels) returned to Rwanda with the aims of standing in the August 2010 presidential elections. In February, Mrs. Ingabire and her assistant were attacked by a lynch mob in front of a government office, and Mrs. Ingabire faced repeated questioning by the Rwandan Criminal Investigation Department. In March she was placed under ‘half freedom’ which limited her from seeing family and prevented her from traveling abroad. Supporters of UDF Inkingi believed this is part of the government’s strategy to prevent the party from formally registering and preventing them from running in the upcoming elections. Human Rights Watch stated Victoire Ingabire, president of the FDU-Inkingi, has faced an intensive campaign of public vilification since she returned from exile in the Netherlands in January 2010. She has been widely condemned in official and quasi-official media and described as a ‘negationist’ of the genocide for stating publicly that crimes committed against Hutu citizens by the RPF and the Rwandan army should be investigated and those responsible brought to justice. (Human Rights Watch 2010)
As a diaspora-initiated party UDF Inkingi appears to have support amongst the TCs, although it is not possible to quantify this. One Hutu respondent stated that there is no official membership, and that the party relies on ‘supporters’ rather than ‘members’. Due to fear of reprisals, some members of the TC are reluctant to openly show their support – but they contribute financially and by sending messages of support via email. The Internet has been an important tool for mobilizing political support and communicating UDF Inkingi’s message – amongst members of the Rwandan TC residing in different countries as well as in Rwanda. Supporters seem to be mainly, but not only, Hutus in the diaspora. There are also critics of UDF Inkingi in the TC. One Tutsi respondent suggested that Mrs. Ingabire is an ‘opportunist’ who does not understand the situation in Rwanda, that she is ‘using the ethnic card.’ This respondent reflected that due to the still fragile political situation in Rwanda the government will not permit talk of ethnicity which is deemed potentially destabilising.
39. Interview in uk 8 April 2010 40. As stated earlier in this report, one impact of infocon’s chosen methodology is that interviews have been conducted mainly – though not exclusively – with leaders of different groups within the TCs under study. It is unclear to what extent their views and opinions are representative of the larger communities. 41. UDF Inkingi website http://www.fdu-rwanda.org/
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4. Transnational Communities from Turkey
he conflict between Turks and Kurds in Turkey has a long history, spanning the past 50 years. It intensified in the 1980s after the military coup in Turkey. According to Mesut Yegen (2007) this was because [t]he left-wing opposition in Turkey, including that of the Kurds, was soon annihilated. An armed opposition led by the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) resumed in the mid‒1980s and lasted for fifteen years, with some thirty thousand causalities. (Yegen 2007:135)
A second factor that intensified the conflict was Turkey’s new role in the international division of labour as the traditional import substitution-based economy was replaced by an export-substitution economy. This meant that the huge social and economic transformation in Turkey accelerated social differentiation and increased social inequality between Turks and Kurds. In 1984, the war between the Turkish state and PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) began in earnest (Icduygu, Romano and Sirkeci: 1999), and alienation between Kurds and the state increased during the 1990s (Yegen, 2007). During this period, Kurds migrated en masse to Turkish cities which had opportunities in the tourism, industry and finance sector, such as Istanbul, Bursa, Mersin, Adana, Antalya (Saracoglu, 2009). Many Kurds also migrated abroad, especially to Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Austria. The main reasons for their migration were discrimination, social inequalities, economic conditions and the forced assimilation policies of the Turkish state. Living in Turkey became more difficult for many Kurds during the 1980s and 1990s. The use of the Kurdish language was banned by the Turkish state in different spheres of social life after the military coup until 1991, based on the claim that the use of ethnic languages could harm national unity (Saracoglu, 2009:648). As a result, Kurds whose mother language was Kurdish felt alienated from the state. Unable even to give Kurdish names to their children, they felt discriminated against. In addition to the assimilation policies of the Turkish state, Kurds cite economic inequality and anti-Kurdish sentiments in the popular media as reasons for leaving (Saracoglu 2009). While some Kurds continued to live as they had before, suppressing their ethnic identity and choosing to accept a Turkish national identity, others rejected Turkish identity, strengthened their own ethnic identity, and constructed social networks that connected Kurds abroad and in Turkey. 4.1. Turkish Migration to the uk Migration of Turks from Turkey can be traced back to the late the 1960s and early 1970s, mainly due to economic reasons. Turkish-Cypriots who lived in England had already established catering and textile companies, and received employees from Turkey (Cicekli, 1996:191). The number of Turkish migrants increased in the 1970s. (Kucukcan, 1999:62). Later they were joined by their families in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This created a different social position for the women who were left behind for many years to look after children and run life in the villages without recognition and the men who lived their own’. (Mehmet Ali, A.; 2001:7). Following the military coup in 1971, many intellectuals were tortured and arrested. This spurred 53 | Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies
a first wave of political migration to the United Kingdom. These young and mainly well-educated political migrants established organisational structures and networks in the United Kingdom that reflected their political positions vis-à-vis the situation in the homeland. Another political clash which prompted migration was the clash in Kahramanmaras between Sunni-Muslims and Alevi-Socialists (a branch of Islam which is based in Anatolia). Being Alevi implies faith, practices and beliefs which differ from the Sunni ones. In 1978, Sunni-Muslims attacked and massacred more than a hundred Alevi people in Kahramanmaras and destroyed many villages and houses. In the late 70s and early 80s, a large number of Alevi people from Kahramanmaras consequently migrated to the United Kingdom. This also led to the construction of transnational networks networks among Alevi people in Turkey, the United Kingdom and Germany. In addition, beginning in the mid‒1970s, an increasing number of Turks started coming to London on their own initiative using their social networks and kin relations. A further military coup in Turkey in 1980 drove a second major wave of migration to Europe, especially to Germany and the United Kingdom. This led many intellectuals, educated people, trade union activist and professionals including Turks, Kurds and Alevis to migrate to Europe, some seeking political asylum in Britain (Mehmet Ali, A.; 2001:7–8). The military coup in Turkey motivated both politically active people, and those who were disillusioned with Turkey’s economic and political instability, to seek alternative places of work and residence. 4.2. Kurdish Migration to the uk Migration from Turkey rose again at the end of 1980s because of the conflict between Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish government in the eastern and south-eastern Turkey. Many Kurds were displaced from their villages and had to migrate to Europe. As a Human Rights Watch report put it (1999:10). ‘Since 1984, Southeastern Turkey has been the scene of serious fighting between government security forces and the PKK (Workers Party of Kurdistan), a militant armed Kurdish group whose explicit claims range from complete independence to regional autonomy within Turkey.’ While many came to the uk on student and business visas, many also sought political asylum in the uk. The Kurds from Turkey also built social networks and used them to settle in the uk, find jobs and accommodation. Kurdish men tended to arrive to the United Kingdom first, and after finding jobs and earning sufficient money, they brought their wives and children to the uk. 4.3. Diaspora Worldwide Consequently, there are a large number of Kurds and Turks living in Europe today, with the largest populations in Germany, but significant numbers in France, the uk and the Netherlands. The significant Kurdish diaspora in Europe assist the Kurdish cause through lobbying, by raising their voice in Europe and building strong and worldwide social networks. Women and young people are also active in Kurdish and Turkish organisations, actively working towards the interest of their respective communities. 4.4. Assessment of the Role of the Surveyed CSOs in Homeland Conflicts Understandings of the conflict differ between Turkish and Kurdish migrants in London, which has led to very different interpretations of it. Some Kurdish community members do not agree that there is a conflict between Turks and Kurds, emphasizing that the tension exists between the Turkish state and the PKK. While some members would agree that there is a ‘war’, others prefer to Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies | 54
refer to it as a ‘Kurdish situation’. So, there is disagreement about to what extent the situation is an ‘ethnic conflict’ as well as who is involved in this conflict. Some Turkish migrants and community representatives believe that ‘there is no war and there is no need for peace.’ For them, the conflict is a result of terrorism by PKK (in depth interview with Servet Hassan, the representative of Federation of Turkish Associations in uk). It has been difficult to define the conflict between Turkish and Kurdish migrants living in London, because even though the definition of conflict differs greatly between Turks and Kurds in London, tension between these communities is visible. A representative of Halkevi (Kurdish organisation) states: There is tension between Turks and Kurds living in London. Whatever conflict happens in Turkey, it has reflected to London and Europe. Turks and Kurds in London do not get along. When I say Turks, I mean nationalist Turks. I have many Turkish friends who are not nationalist. The nationalist Turks use violence against Kurds in London. Kurdish people also attack Turks. (Interview in February 2009 at Halkevi).
In 2008 Turks in London organised a protest against Kurds in London as reflection of the conflict in Turkey. A representative of Komkar (Kurdish Advice center) also stated that ‘whatever happens in Turkey is reflected on Turkish and Kurdish migrants in London and this creates tension between these two communities.’ (Interview in January 2009). A representative of Daymer also stated that: When I first came to this country in 90s, Kurds and Turks socialised and worked with each other. They used to have same organisations. But now nationalism and racism is increased within the communities and Turkish people take a stand with nationalist Turks. There is tension between Turks and Kurds. It is an evidence of separation between Turks and Kurds in London (Interview in March 2009 in Daymer).
It is important to emphasise that the Turkish community in London is not homogenous and comprises both nationalist and leftist Turks. While some leftist Turks are members of Kurdish organisations, other Turks attend nationalist organisations. Organisations such as Halkevi, Daymer, Komkar and Gikder include both Kurdish and Turkish members, but their Turkish members are mainly political migrants. Many of them migrated after the military coup in Turkey in 1980. There are also nationalist Turkish organisations in London. Turkish community representatives and individuals also refer to the tension between Turks and Kurds. The representative of Federation of Turkish organisations stated that they can experience the tension in everyday life. She said: It is reflected and we feel it very strong here. When I go to Turkey, people are not inside the situation and it does not affect their lives. In London, when we go to a restaurant or in parliament we meet people related to PKK. People in Halkevi started Kurdish nationalism and get close to PKK and at this stage we stay away from them. (Interview in March 2009)
Both Turkish and Kurdish migrants mention awareness of the tension in everyday life, but different respondents try to solve the problem in their own way, reflecting to their particular political standpoints. The representation of Gikder (Refugee Workers Association) stated: What we actually do from time to time and when these provocations take place by the Turkish state, we try to raise awareness and when there are massacres in Turkey by the Turkish state to Kurdish people or any other part of the communities that live in Turkey, no matter whether they are Turkish, Kurdish, Azeri, Gurci, Laz, Cerkez or whatever, we tend to take streets and protest against it. (Interview in January 2009 in Gikder)
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The Halkevi representative noted that Turkish consulate and organisations do not want to discuss the issues happening in London with them. ‘The Turkish Consulate ignores our invitations. We invite them to the activities we hold on but they avoid talking to us. We wanted to discuss with them but they did not.’ In contrast, a representative of the Turkish Federation Association believed that it was difficult to deal with PKK because she believed the British government supports them: ‘It is not possible to solve the problem as an organisation. English government, parties and parliament supported PKK until 2007.’ A Turkish journalist works in London agreed that negotiating with Kurdish organisations is difficult. She said: As a Turkish journalist, I would not call it as a war and peace, but a Kurdish journalist would call it as a war. Turkish people in London think that there is no way to sit down and discuss the situation with Kurdish people. I also do not think we could negotiate with Kurds. (Interview, January 2009)
Representatives and elites of both Turkish and Kurdish communities share a sense of inability to discuss the situation together. While they do not want to come together and negotiate, at the same time many nevertheless express an aspiration to solve the tension and problems between them. 4.5. The Turkish Diaspora and Imported Conflict The tension between the Turkish state and Kurds is strengthening separate identities in the diasporas. While Kurdish refugees attend Kurdish organisations and organise their own activities such as Newrooz and Kurdish language courses, Turkish migrants have strengthened their sense of Turkish identity while living in the uk. Nevertheless, respondents from both Turkish and Kurdish side emphasised that the conflict is between collective groups (political parties and institutions) rather than individuals. 4.6. Movements towards Peace‑Building As mentioned above, both Turkish and Kurdish communities in London seek to solve the problems between themselves, but conceptualise the problem, and peace building, in different terms. In the case of Kurdish side, building peace requires discussion and dialogue. A Turkish journalist and member of peace building association states: We wanted to do something in Europe to stop the war and bring peace. We had to have same kind of organisation in Europe, not just in Turkey. If there is a war in Turkey, the conflict, tension is also reflected to Europe. There are organisations and individuals based in London as a representative of Turkish state. They have some activities and stay close to the state. There are also diverse organisations as well. There are conflicts and separation between these organisations and whatever happens in Turkey between Turks and Kurds have been reflected to Europe. The state has supported this separation between Turks and Kurds and thought that it is unnecessary to speak with Kurdish organisations and leftist organisations. There are many things to be done regarding to peace building, but this is very difficult to solve. Two sides should be in this association. This is difficult at the moment (Interview in March 2009).
While both sides want to peace but theory, they have not been active in pursuing it in practice. The very few peace building activities that exist aim to create dialogues between Turkish and KurdTransnational Communities and Conflict Policies | 56
ish sides and discuss the issues with international authorities. The difficulty of bringing two sides together, however, has affected the prospects for movement towards peace building. There would appear to be scope for discussion of minority protection and constitutional issues 4.7. Transnational Links among Turkish and Kurdish Organisations Many Kurdish and Turkish organisations have transnational connections. They use their transnational connections to strengthen their influence. Transnational links are important for organizations on both sides. For example, Turkish organisations in London receive support from the Turkish state, the Turkish Consulate in London and other Turkish organisations in Europe. Komkar, Daymer and Halkevi all have various branches in Europe. ‘Komkar is organised throughout Europe and takes more plural line on the Kurdish issue in Turkey’ (Ostergaard-Nielsen, 2006:4). Having various branches in Europe also allows these organisations to support their compatriots in Turkey (Ostergaard-Nielsen 2003:63), and disseminate information about Kurdish diaspora in Europe and the Kurdish issue in Turkey. Internet and printed media play an important role in staying in touch with political events in London. Organisations use their transnational links to be updated about the political developments and situation in Turkey. If Turkey were to enter the EU, European minority rights standards would apply, but at present the Turkish government denies that the Kurds are a minority.
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5. Conclusions: Scope for Action by CSO s and Host Societies
ur survey and interviews of civil society organizations from transnational communities from Kosovo, Turkey and the Great Lakes reveal very different patterns of engagement with homeland conflicts. Each diaspora is made up of different waves of migrants, and migrants often come from different backgrounds in their home society. We should not expect diasporas to be cohesive actors, and our findings confirmed this picture. There is rarely a single diaspora view. It is misleading to see diasporas as collective political actors, either fuelling conflict or making peace. Precisely because they are open and leaderless structures, transnational communities offer an important space for participants to engage with contemporary conflicts. It is possible to for initiatives to develop in transnational communities that might not be possible in the home environment. In principle the situation of diasporas allows for new ways to frame situations and new forms of collective action. The evidence of the survey suggests that views of transnational communities themselves are mixed about the scope for influence in the home country. In the case of Turkey, we found little optimism about the prospects – this reflects the Kurdish community’s frustration with making progress and the Turkish government’s unwillingness to recognize Kurds as a minority. Similarly there was little evidence of involvement in conflict mitigation activities. There was, however, a considerable engagement on the Kurdish side in advocacy, lobbying, and efforts to influence the situation indirectly through the EU or the European Parliament, and counter-demonstrations by members of the Turkish diaspora. Lobbying and advocacy sometimes takes peaceful, constructive forms, but there is also evidence that the rival claims of the communities contribute to polarization and tensions and some evidence that the conflicts were taking new forms in the European cities (‘autonomisation’). The political space for moderate activity, pursuit of reforms and minority rights will depends to an extent on the course of relations between the Europe and Turkey, and there is evidence of Turkish and Kurdish migrants working together, though generally in organizations which have a radical political agenda. In the case of Kosovo, the general perception was that the Kosovo Albanian diaspora had played a crucial historical role in the struggle for independence, but the communities in European cities regard their scope for influence now as limited. We found little evidence of participation in conflict mitigation or peace-building activities from Europe. A survey carried out by Kosovo Young Lawyers showed that while there is a good deal of cross-community reconciliation and peacebuilding underway in Kosovo, the European diaspora communities play little role in it; if anything, initiatives in Kosovo reach out to the diaspora. There was a great deal of involvement in advocacy, lobbying, and efforts to influence international actors. Again, this can be seen as a peaceful and constructive form of activity, although lobbying and counter-lobbying generates some tensions, though no direct conflict, between the rather polarized Albanian and Serb communities. There was little evidence of involvement or influence on the part of the very much smaller Kosovo Serb communities in European cities. Perhaps surprisingly, the conflicts in the Great Lakes, which are recent and still on-going in the DRC, showed most evidence of diaspora involvement in peace-building and reconciliation. Although most respondents in European cities saw the influence of their community in the home59 | Transnational Communities and Conflict Policies
land situation as limited, about half the respondents in Rwanda and all the respondents in Burundi thought that their communities in Europe had played an influential role. We found more evidence of involvement in peace-building and conflict mitigation activities, and two examples of on-going dialogue work involving members of the diaspora. While it is difficult to assess the political impact of these initiatives in the Great Lakes, there is evidence that new initiatives and political developments in the diasporas can be important. A significant factor here is that the governments in Rwanda and Burundi have embraced reconciliation as a policy aim, and this may help to explain the level of involvement by the diaspora in such efforts, and also the wish of opposition groups to develop dialogues of their own. As in the other cases considered here, it is characteristic that the nature of the disagreements underlying the conflict affects the terms of peace, so even what constitutes reconciliation and peace-building can be a charged and divisive issue. Yet, if any of these initiatives have the potential to make a significant contribution to a peace process, they deserve support and nurture. Capacity-building, training and workshops can all contribute to such efforts. Intra-party dialogues may be as important as inter-party dialogues when conflicts are polarized. Diasporas offer distinctive opportunities for dialogue, such as the Intra-Rwandan Dialogue. Even if dialogue does not lead to agreement, the clarification of interests and positions and better understanding of conflicting strategies may help to limit more violent strategies. When diasporas became engaged. Even when the activities of transnational communities are not directed towards reconciliation and peace-building, it is important to recognize the value of engaging members of diasporas in ‘political means’, such as debate, advocacy, political mobilization, and so on, which may help to ‘hold the ring’ when progress on peace processes is not possible. If European host societies can provide fora for agonistic dialogue, debate and discussion, even between groups who radically disagree, this is a valuable function. The media, national parliaments and the European parliament all play a valuable role here. Conflict mitigation efforts among civil society organizations may have better prospects when the organizations provide bridging rather than bonding social capital. Where, as in Belgium, Hutu and Tutsi protestants attend the same church, and members of the elite in the diaspora meet together, it may be possible to seed new initiatives. Even in London, when Kosovo Serbs and Kosovo Albanians attend a cultural association or Turkish and Kurdish members work in the same organization, they take a step beyond conflict. Economic development that benefits all the communities in conflict rather than just one may have more stabilisng effects for a post-conflict country. But such developments also need to be supported by positive international engagement with the conflict, appropriate development of institutions and a political process that offers a way forward. The international community has become aware of the importance of harnessing diasporas for development purposes, particularly since the volume of remittances now exceeds that of overseas development aid. It should be wary of attempting to harness diasporas for the purposes of conflict mitigation and peace-building. Some diasporas are already seen as agents of western governments, and this is not helpful for any party. European societies perhaps follow their best traditions when they not only offer asylum but also open themselves to deep, critical and inquiring engagement with those who have been driven from their homelands, creating places where those with intractable differences can speak and debate.
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