Just A Second! Exploring Disarmament for Development

Students participating in Afri's 'Just a Second' schools project, holding up a banner to raise awareness about the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS)
Students participating in Afri’s ‘Just a Second’ schools project, holding up a banner to raise awareness about the Global Day of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS)

Report by Rose Kelly, Afri Development Education Co-ordinator, 6th May 2014

‘Out beyond notions of wrong-doing and right- doing there is a field, I’ll meet you there.’ ~ Rumi

These were the favourite lines from poetry of young peace activist Aseel Asleh.

Aseel, who described himself as a ‘Palestininan citizen of Israel’, was a member of the international organisation Seeds of Peace .With his fellow members of that organisation, Aseel worked towards the manifestation of such a ‘field’ as Rumi describes. At 17 years of age, while attending a Seeds of Peace event, Aseel was shot and killed by Israeli security forces.

On the 29th April 2014, Afri facilitated a World Cafe event in St. Enda’s College Galway for over 70 young people all of whom are around the age Aseel would have been when he was shot and killed. The young people came from St. Enda’s, Salerno and Gort Community College. The session was the culmination of months of work involving a wide range of activities including art, story, drama, discussion, creative writing and imagining, as part of the Afri ‘Just a Second’ project.

The intention of the ‘Just a Second’ project was , starting with a focus on the amount of money spent on militarisation every second, to consider the real cost of war and militarisation; to imagine the alternatives; and to come up with ways in which we can work together to help bring about this alternative.

Symbols and story played a significant part in the unfolding of the project. At the event on the 29th April, we had several of these symbols in evidence eg peace cranes, dreamcatchers and St. Brigid’s Peace Crosses. Likewise, into the mix , we brought the stories of child/teenage victims of militarisation. Through their stories, we brought their presence into the room both as witnesses and inspiration. Six years old Celia Griffin who starved to death during An Gorta Mór, Ten years old Sadako Sasaki who died of Leukaemia, ( the A-bomb disease ) a decade after the bombing of Hiroshima and Aseel Asleh. We did our best to manifest Rumi’s field in the bright and spacious gym hall.

The three ‘questions’ up for discussion at the World Cafe were…

What are the real costs of militarsation?

How can we create an alternative Dream?

What am I/we going to do to make this happen?

What the young people came up with together was heart-warming and hopeful.

The event finished with the participants writing a message for peace on large sheets of paper which were then photographed as a contribution to the International Peace Bureau’s Global Day Against Military Spending.(GDAMS)

I began this piece with a reference to Rumi and to Aseel Asleh, not just because we included his story on the day but because, with a spine-tingling serendipity, as I opened my laptop to begin writing, waiting for me was a message from one of Aseel’s good friends, Jen Marlow. Today would have been Aseel’s Asleh’s 31st birthday.

Post Hedge School Impressions: A Disarming Event

Rob Fairmichael attended the International Peace Bureau council meeting and Afri Hedge School in Dublin in November and wrote this report…

Ruairi McKiernan speaking at the 2012 Hedge School, “Non Violent Struggles for Democracy”. Tomas Magnusson (IPB) and Lina Ben Mhenni (Sean MacBride Peace Prize laureate for 2012) are seated on the right.

A Disarming Event
‘Disarming’ in English can mean two quite different things. So far as the peace movement is concerned it implies the process of disarmament, of overcoming militarism, and building a real and lasting peace. But ‘disarming’ can also imply pleasant and charming in a low key way, possibly through calming hostility and building confidence. I certainly was not hostile to the International Peace Bureau (IPB) to begin with but I think I could describe the IPB council meeting and related conference as being disarming in both senses. Significantly, this was the first ever IPB council to be held in Ireland.

Andy Storey (Afri), Rose Kelly (Afri) and Paddy Reilly (Kimmage DSC). Photo by Derek Speirs.

There were two or three related events. The first was the IPB council business event. The second was a conference which Afri runs in different locations throughout Ireland every autumn but which this time was co-organised with IPB, using IPB people as speakers and resource people. Also speaking at the Hedge School were Afri’s Rose Kelly and Kimmage DSC’s Paddy Reilly, in a session on “Climate Change, Resources and War” chaired by Afri Chairperson, Andy Storey. The conference title was “Joining the dots: Disarmament, Development, Democracy.” In order to make a tangible response to the threat of Climate Change, participants in the Hedge School planted a rowan tree which was then named “Lina [Ben Mhenni]’s tree”. In addition there was the award of IPB’s Sean MacBride Peace Prize to two prominent women involved in the ‘Arab Spring’. Continue reading “Post Hedge School Impressions: A Disarming Event”

Global Day of Action on Military Spending

Global Day of Action on Military Spending, April 17th 2012

Over 130 different actions will take place in 40 countries worldwide, with participation in over 50 cities in the United States alone. The events, which coincide with Tax Day in the United States, emphasize the staggering amount of taxpayer money that goes toward military spending. Amidst global economic and climate crises, groups will be calling for a shift in spending from war and militarism to expenditures on human need.  An annual report on global military spending will be released on the same day, and is expected to show an increase.

Continue reading “Global Day of Action on Military Spending”

Education for Liberation day

Approximately 70 students took part in Afri’s ‘Education for Liberation’ event in Blanchardstown Institute of Technology on Thursday March 8th.  Following an introduction by Rose Kelly, Joe Murray gave a presentation on the theme of ‘militarization and famine’, which looked at the Millennium Development Goals agreed by the UN in 2000 and how world leaders have failed to make progress towards achieving them by the target date of 2015.


Continue reading “Education for Liberation day”

Libya: International Peace Bureau condemns military strikes and urges political negotiations to protect the civilian population

Statement issued by the International Peace Bureau (IPB), 21 March 2011

A new historical era opened three months ago with the popular uprisings in Tunisia and then Egypt, the first of the ‘Arab spring’ season. These rebellions brought hope to millions and youthful energy to societies suffering decades of repression, injustice, inequality, especially gender inequality, and increasing economic hardship. The Libyan revolt was inspired by these largely nonviolent victories, but, as the world has witnessed with dismay, has rapidly become militarized and is now embroiled in a full-scale civil war. Continue reading “Libya: International Peace Bureau condemns military strikes and urges political negotiations to protect the civilian population”