Amnesty, Front Line monitors for Corrib Gas situation, Co Mayo
Amnesty International Ireland and Front Line have appointed a full-time human rights monitor, and completed training for a number of volunteer monitors, who will deployed to attend protests against the Corrib gas project in the coming weeks. The decision by the two organisations to deploy monitors follows a report by Front Line published in April 2010, which raised serious human rights concerns around the policing of the protests and called for independent human rights monitors to be sent to Corrib. Since then Amnesty International and Front Line have been working together to make the plan a reality and have made contact with local protestors, Shell, the gardaí and other interested people in Mayo.
“Our clear focus is on the policing of the protests taking place at Corrib, the actions of protestors, the gardaí and private security personnel at those protests, and the protection of human rights,” said Colm O’Gorman of Amnesty International Ireland. “We take no position on the Corrib project itself, the route of the pipeline and the location of the terminal, or the proposed licensing agreement. But those people who object to the project have the right to protest against it in a peaceful manner without their human rights being violated.” For Amnesty International Ireland and Front Line see respectively http://www.amnestyinternational.ie and http://www.frontlinedefenders.org
IPC Summer school: Capturing and sharing the learning
Irish Peace Centres – a consortium which comprises Co-operation Ireland, the Corrymeela Community, and the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation - is now well established and working effectively. To mark the end of the first phase of Peace III funding, the consortium is hosting an International Summer School from 1st - 4th August at Corrymeela Centre, Ballycastle. The four-day residential event will engage our colleagues from practitioners and academics, to the groups and individuals with whom we work, as a way of sharing and exploring the learning that has been captured at a local and international level. The Summer School will be a celebration of thinking, talking and acting for peace where delegates are invited to challenge the consortium and inform us so that the models and programmes for peace-building that are borne out of this dialogue will be both focused and relevant.
The programmes showcased at the event will capture the thematic areas of the consortium’s work: women and peace-building; ex-combatants and storytelling; theology and peace; interpersonal relationships and well-being. The programme of activities aims to be inclusive and co-operative where delegates will have an active and informative role; it will be an opportunity to understand peace-building and reconciliation work through an integrated approach. It is hoped that the event will mark a critical juncture in Irish Peace Centre’s learning and design of peace-building programmes for the future. Visit Irish Peace Centres website: http://www.irishpeacecentres.org
Northern Ireland: Day of Reflection
The Day of Reflection will again be held on Tuesday, 21st June 2011, the longest day of the year. The Day of Reflection is an initiative promoted by Healing Through Remembering (HTR), a cross-community organisation that focuses on ways of dealing with the past relating to the conflict in and about Northern Ireland. The Day of Reflection is a day for personal and private reflection; a day to acknowledge the deep hurt and pain caused by the conflict, to reflect on our own attitudes, on what more we might have done or might still do, and to make a personal commitment that such loss should never be allowed to happen again. It provides a voluntary opportunity for everyone in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain and further afield to reflect upon the conflict in and about Northern Ireland and the future that is before us. It is offered as a day for personal, private and individual reflection, for example, at home or at work or within a family, group or organisation. This year HTR will be marking the Day of Reflection with a reflective opportunity at the Linen Hall Library from 10:30am to 2pm. There will be a space for reflection, an exhibition and occasional guest readings and song. Tea and coffee will also be available. See http://www.dayofreflection.com or contact Healing Through Remembering, Alexander House, 17a Ormeau Avenue, Belfast BT2 8HD, ph 028 9023 8844.
Countdown to Zero launch, 21st June
Countdown to Zero is the new film by Academy Award nominated documentary-maker Lucy Walker. It traces the story of nuclear weapons up to the present day as nine nations now possess nuclear weapons capabilities, with the world in a frightening balance that could be shattered by an act of terrorism, failed diplomacy, or a simple accident. The film makes a compelling case for global disarmament and features an array of international statesmen. The launch on 21st June will be screened in the Irish Film Institute, Dublin and the Queen's Film Theatre, Belfast and the film will run in both venues between Friday 24th and Thursday 30th May. Special showings will also take place in the Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre, Naul, Co. Dublin and in the Nerve Centre, Derry/Londonderry on launch day - Demand Zero Day - 21st June at 18.30. The launch will feature a live satellite/web link to a panel discussion at the gala launch at BAFTA in London. The film's distributors are facilitating special ambassador showings if it isn't on at a cinema near you. Full details on http://www.countdowntozerofilm.com or contact email@example.com.
Irish CND promotes Global Nuclear Abolition Day - Saturday 25 June. The International Campaign for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), of which Irish CND is an associate, has designated June 25th as Global Nuclear Abolition Day, in advance of the meeting of the USA, Russia, France, China, and the UK in Paris on 29-30 June to discuss nuclear security issues. Irish CND is calling on individuals and peace groups to join marking the day - a list of suggested actions for either individuals or groups is available on http://www.nuclearabolition.org, everything from organising public protests to tweeting for nuclear abolition, or contact at +353-86-3621220 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Irish ship ready for Gaza
At the end of June the crew - Shane Dillon [skipper], Pat Fitzgerald and John Hearne - sailed it from its storage location and arrived at a new berth in a country close to the port of departure. Everything went smoothly and the vessel is in excellent condition. The boat is now positioned for the flotilla and will depart for the assembly coordinates in international waters on the weekend of 24th -25th June. The boat itself is fully paid for - the price of €70,000 was covered by donations from the extraordinary ordinary people of Ireland. However, roughly €14,000 is needed before sailing in order to cover fuel and other miscellaneous expenses including satellite technology. Donations can be made by cheque (make out to 'Irish Ship to Gaza' and post to Fintan Lane, 12 Lennox Place, Portobello, Dublin 8), put directly into the ISTG bank account or made via PayPal; for details go to http://www.irishshiptogaza.org Irish Art for Gaza prints can also still be purchased with all proceeds going to the ship: http://www.irishart4gaza.com
Shannonwatch on US use of Shannon
“According to newspaper reports, including one in the Irish Examiner, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said that he and U.S. President Barack Obama had "agreed there would be no change in respect of the US forces using Shannon Airport as a stop-off". The Taoiseach has no mandate or right to enter into such an agreement, and it flies in the face of the programme for government he signed up to just a few short months ago.
The current programme for government, which one can read on the Taoiseach's own official website, says "We will enforce the prohibition on the use of Irish airspace, airports and related facilities for purposes not in line with the dictates of international law". But the agreement made with Barack Obama suggests that the Taoiseach wants to redefine international law. We have not heard any official statements from the government in relation to the use of Shannon Airport and Irish airspace by rendition planes, but we now know from its leader that they are not bothered about possible breaches of human rights and humanitarian law by U.S. forces, or about neutrality laws, or about UN mandates for that matter.
No change in respect of U.S. forces using Shannon means that it could be used for another illegal invasion - like Iraq in 2003. In other words, Shannon Airport might well be part of an ill-advised and destructive attack on Libya, or whatever country the U.S. selects next for regime change.
It also means that they can continue to take dangerous military equipment through the civilian airport without adequate oversight or safety procedures. It could mean that Special Forces assassination teams pass through the airport, or that planes used to transport prisoners to places where they are illegally detained and maybe even tortured can come and go as they please. In effect it gives carte blanche to the U.S. forces to do as they please at Shannon.
The issue of neutrality is one that does not seem to bother the Fine Gael government very much either, but it should. The Hague Convention on Neutrality states that “belligerents are forbidden to move troops or convoys of either munitions of war or supplies across the territory of a neutral Power”. Ireland has in the past allowed military aircraft of various nations to refuel at Shannon but this was normally on the basis that they were carrying no arms, ammunition or explosives and that the flights in question were not part of military exercises or operations. But since a previous government agreed to make Shannon available for an invasion of Iraq we have been in breach of the Hague Convention.
Finally it is worth reminding the Taoiseach and Fine Gael of a sentence in their 2003 document on neutrality (Beyond Neutrality: Security, Social Justice and Responsibility) which says: "Let us be open with the people and let us put the issues clearly before them" (p.5). Its time to start doing what your party say you should do, Mr Kenny. Start a proper debate on Irish foreign policy. Focus on providing genuine humanitarian support for victims of war, violence and natural disasters. And stop making foreign policy by stealth, in your chats with visiting presidents.”
900 Chernobyl children for Ireland
The first of six flights carrying 900 Chernobyl children arrive into Ireland on Bank Holiday Monday 6th June as part of the Chernobyl Children International (CCI) annual airlift of children. The children coming from the heart of the contaminated Chernobyl zone will be hosted by hundreds of Irish families throughout Ireland as part of CCI’s 25th Anniversary Rest & Recuperation Programme. Despite the economic downturn, Irish host families continue to raise funds to support these children to ensure they benefit from a cleaner Irish environment. Nationwide, over 900 children will travel this summer to all corners of the country.
Many of the children making the trip come from very impoverished backgrounds in Belarus. While giving the children a memorable summer holiday, their trip to Ireland also provides respite from the high levels of radiation to which they continue to be exposed as a result of the Chernobyl explosion. The summer is a particularly dangerous time since the intense heat in their own countries contributes to the redistribution of radioactive materials. The arrival of this summers’ children brings the total number of children who have benefited under the scheme to over 21,000 since 1991.
Dr Nesterenko, a leading Belarusian scientist who recently met with Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, outlined the benefits of even short holidays out of Chernobyl radiation zones. Dr Nesterenko stated that tests carried out on the children have shown that their radiation levels drop by 30-50% during their stay in Ireland. Many of the children suffer from a variety of Chernobyl-related illnesses and receive ongoing medical treatment while in Ireland. In addition, a number of children will receive specialist care at the Barretstown Camp in Kildare.
Adi Roche, CEO, CCI, said, “We are so proud that in this Special 25th Anniversary year, despite the economic downturn over 900 children will receive recuperation. Irish families continue to thrust their hands out in hope and love to the children of Chernobyl. This is an extraordinary achievement made possible by the unwavering commitment of these families. I cannot thank the people of Ireland enough for ensuring the candle of hope will never fade, even in these difficult times.”
Conflict resolution, Mediation and Peacemaking at Glencree
This course runs for 6 days from 8th – 13th August with three modules covering the above topics in detail (see website for course). Participants also complete a short assignment which they subsequently present to the group. It is recognised as a basic professional mediation training course by MII/Mediators’ Institute of Ireland. The course director is Geoffrey Corry who is widely experienced as a practitioner and trainer. The cost is €895 including lunch. Full course details are available on the Glencree website.
No to Nato – No to War international conference in Dublin
From 25th – 17th April the annual meeting of the international network of “No to Nato – No to War” took place in Dublin. More than 150 participants from different countries, including ICAN-Europe Senior Campaigner, Arielle Denis, shared their views on the new Nato strategic concept and its militarist security vision. Despite Nato's reiteration of its nuclear weapons stance, it's becoming clear that Nato nuclear policy is questioned by some of its most important members. A recent IKV Pax Christi report based on interviews with the 28 national delegations to Nato, indicated half of member states would agree to the withdrawal of tactical US nuclear weapons from European soil, and 10 more would not oppose such a decision. [From Irish CND]
Shareholders at Shell's AGM in The Hague, Netherlands on 17th May received a last minute correction to Shell's annual report, admitting corporate responsibility for bribery, slavery, pollution and human rights abuses on five continents, and pledging to do better. Shell 'admits' that it is “causing a lot of unwanted and unnecessary damage” in its global oil and gas operations. The company also states that Shell “has learnt from these mistakes” and pledges to take “full responsibility to prevent and mitigate costs for the environment and people affected by our operations”. The spoof report published by Friends of the Earth International highlights 12 cases from 5 different continents.
Commenting, Molly Walsh with Friends of the Earth in Ireland said "What is clear from this report is that Shell are a destructive and dangerous company the world over. There are examples in this report from Kazakstan to Brazil, but we need look no further than Northwest Mayo to see Shell trying to trample over the rights of a local community. The community resistance to Shell's attempts to build a high pressure gas pipeline in Erris, County Mayo has resulted in the kind of human rights violations that are Shell's trade-mark on every continent. Its time for Shell to take full responsibility for their actions here and everywhere."
Friends of the Earth's document displays climate and other environmental impacts from Shell’s oil and gas operations, but also shows the involvement of Shell in the violation of human rights and labour irregularities. Furthermore, the report lists cases of corruption and interference with politics in order to ensure business profits. The document, which should serve as a wake up call for Shell's shareholders and board, is backed by an in-depth report about the 12 cases involving life threatening pollution, bribery, slavery and violation of national and international laws.
The spoof report can be downloaded here. Molly Walsh of Friends of the Earth Ireland can be contacted on 087 9252829.
FOE NI: Make sustainable development a priority / Planning review
Friends of the Earth have congratulated the newly elected MLAs and urged them to put sustainable development at the heart of Assembly business. The campaigning group is calling on Assembly members to prioritise three key pieces of work: a Climate Change Bill with legally binding greenhouse gas reduction targets; full support for the Green New Deal; and reform of the planning system to make it more transparent, have greater community involvement and have sustainable development as its primary purpose.
Friends of the Earth Campaigner, Declan Allison said: “Congratulations to all the successful candidates. We are looking forward to working with you on the vital task of moving Northern Ireland towards a low-carbon, sustainable future. Fuel prices are rising; the recession continues to bite; and climate change rolls on. The best way to tackle all three is to put sustainable development at the heart of Assembly business. Key to achieving this is full support for the Green New Deal; a fair planning system; and binding greenhouse gas reduction targets.”
Meanwhile, Friends of the Earth have placed advertisements in local papers across Northern Ireland asking people to fill in a survey about how they view the planning system. The survey is being conducted by Dr Geraint Ellis of Queen’s University Belfast on behalf of Friends of the Earth .The survey is the first phase of an investigation into the planning system in Northern Ireland by Friends of the Earth. It is being undertaken to improve FOE’s understanding of what the people of Northern Ireland think about how planning operates in the region and what needs to be done to make it better. The survey can be viewed online by going to http://www.foe.co.uk/ni and should only take around 15 minutes to complete. Alternatively the public can email Friends of the Earth at email@example.com or phone on 028 9023 3636 and they can post a copy. Friends of the Earth can also send a researcher to interview in person.
International Alert seeks Senior Peacebuilding Trainer & Facilitator
International Alert is recruiting a Senior Peacebuilding Trainer and Facilitator, based in London. Leading and facilitating strategic peacebuilding analysis processes, you will design and deliver training in order to influence the policies, plans and behaviour of governments, intergovernmental organisations, donors, communities and NGOs, in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. Specifically, you will facilitate strategic analysis and decision-making processes, contribute to the development and implementation of strategy, capture learning from programmes and promote learning within Alert, and contribute to the overall effectiveness and sustainability of the Training & Learning team and the Peacebuilding Issues Programme (PIP). Educated to degree level (in a relevant field), you will have proven experience of designing and delivering training, and of facilitating learning processes, as well as experience of facilitating analysis, planning and strategy development. This post also requires a combination of excellent interpersonal, writing, analytical and problem solving skills. Fluency in written and spoken English and in either French or Russian is also essential. Salary £34 - £42k. For the full job requirements (the person specification section of which will form the basis of short-listing) please visit here. Alternatively, contact Rebecca Shepherd on 020 7627 6874 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Closing date: 5pm GMT, Wednesday 29th June 2011. Interview date: w/c Monday 11th July 2011.
Death of Devi Prasad, 1921-2011
We regret to record the death of Devi Prasad who played a very significant role in the War Resisters International (WRI) and the wider nonviolent movement.
Devi Prasad, WRI's General Secretary from 1962-1972 and chairperson 1973-1975, died on 1st June in Delhi. An artist and potter, Devi graduated from Rabindranath Tagore's Shantiniketan before moving to Sevagram where he worked with Gandhi from 1942 to 1947. Post-India's independence, he remained active in the Gandhian movement, especially in the field of education. Devi's period as General Secretary of WRI was dominated by the Vietnam war, where radical war resistance was raising the issue of the deeper need for nonviolent social revolution. It also coincided with the 1968 Soviet military intervention in Czechoslovakia, where WRI organised a direct action project with activists travelling to several Warsaw Pact capital cities to protest. In 1971, WRI and Peace News launched an even more ambitious nonviolent direct action project, Operation Omega to Bangladesh, to challenge the Pakistani blockade of the future Bangladesh. In 1983 he returned to India from where he promoted the 1985-86 Triennial conference, Resistance and Reconstruction: the Power of Nonviolence, in the Swaraj Ashram, Vedchhi, Gujrat, and his detailed history of WRI from 1921-1974, “War is a Crime against Humanity: The Story of the War Resisters' International”.
In WRI’s words “bald details cannot convey what we most valued about Devi: his encouragement of youth, and his steady presence offering reflectiveness, a continual reference to basics of nonviolence, and his habitual good-humoured charm.”
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