Countries in South Asia have recently been highlighted in the global arena due to the conflict and violent situations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. The ethnic conflicts, civil wars, communal and political violence have rendered the region in an unstable situation, where almost daily occurrences of bombings, violent assaults have dominated the global media reportage. Sri Lanka continues to suffer from a 25year old ethnic conflict and has recently reached the climax when rebel controlled areas were captured by Sri Lanka’s government military forces. The building-up of US forces in the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan and the terrorist attacks within these two countries further indicate a long drawn strategy of violent military offensive to end the conflict. India has recently reeled from similar violent incidents brought about by intolerance, extremism and politization of religion, threatening peace and stability in this democratic stronghold.
The geo-political situation of the entire Asia Pacific region has likewise been volatile in the recent years. Peace and security remains a major concern in many countries where Militarism and Military intervention are resurging. The people and Churches in Japan have time and again, asserted their will to keep “Article 9” a provision in their constitution aspiring for international peace based on justice, renouncing war and threat of force as means of settling international dispute. This assertions were made following the continuing build-up and re-alignment of US Military bases and its forces in Japan, South Korea, Philippines and Guam, purportedly US’ strategic response to the threat of China’s military and North Korea’s nuclear build-ups. This situation has increased the tension between North and South Korea and the vulnerability of the region for yet another era of “Cold War” in Asia.
The on-going internal conflict between Muslim and government forces in southern Philippines and southern Thailand have taken toll on the lives of the civilians population as tension continues to escalates. An ominous conflict is threatening the peace between the borders of Cambodia and Thailand and the continuing repression and suppression of the people’s democratic rights in Burma by the Military government remains in the forefront in the agenda of Human Rights and Social movements in the region.
The region continues to suffer from conflicts and war, violence and threats to peace and human security in the context of Global Financial Crisis, which according to the UN, will further aggravates existing conflicts and people’s vulnerabilities. In the face of all these, human lives and welfare are undeniably at stake. As of this month there are 180,000 people trapped in the cross-fire in Sri Lanka, making this as one of the worst humanitarian crisis in recent years. Thousands of people have died in the bombing and military assaults in the cities and hinterlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Civilians, including peace advocates and Human Rights workers have been summarily executed and indiscriminate bombings in southern Thailand, and justice has not been served to the victims of the communal violence and burning of churches in Orissa India. People’s rights and welfare seems to be the least of the concern of those that instigated these conflicts and the powers that be.
In these situations, Christians are called to be prophetic witnesses in the mission to build God’s Kingdom of peace and to do justice in this world of conflicts (Micah 6:8). We are called to be instruments of God’s peace and reconciliation in situations of war and conflict by speaking for peace and raising awareness of the importance of dialogue and reconciliation in our communities. As Human Rights and social justice advocates, we are called to respond in concrete ways to be in solidarity with people who are poor, marginalized and whose rights to life, liberty and dignity are violated and threatened as Jesus Christ himself has been commanded in Luke 4:16-21.
The WSCF Human Rights Justice and Peace Workshop aims to contextualize the Human Rights Framework in the realities of war, conflict and threat to human life, liberties and peace. From previous HRJP Workshops, we have learned that it is crucial to put in perspective and concrete situation the understanding and use of Human Rights tools to enable young people to effectively become Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) and advocates in their local contexts. It is this light that we have proposed for the Human Rights Justice and Peace (HRJP) Workshop this year with particular emphasis in the crucial issues of ongoing armed conflicts, militarism and war in many countries in our region. With the following aims and objectives:
In general, the HRJP Workshop aims to mobilize Christian youth to work for human rights, justice and peace in Asia Pacific countries by providing them the Faith motivation, knowledge, skills and framework of analysis for human rights, justice and peace advocacy work.
In particular the Training-Workshop aims to:
The Human Rights Workshop will have several components:
There will be 25 participants coming from Churches and SCM students from all the member movements of WSCF Asia Pacific. Specifically the following criteria will be used:
NOTE: Please fill-up attached application form and send to WSCF AP Regional Office via email, fax or post on or before May 30,2009. Address is: wscfap[at]netvigator.com; WSCF AP office, unit 1-2, 18/F, 280 Portland Street Commercial Bldg., Mongkok, Kowloon, Hong Kong SAR; Fax: (852) 2782 3980