Tag Archives: Conflict

Visions of Division

To mark the end of our Conflict theme, Andreyna Valera collates this exclusive photo essay, depicting the remarkable stand off on the North Korean border.  

Last December, the relationship between North and South Korea was especially tense. Tourists were told the tours around the Demilitarize Zone (DMZ) and Joint Security Area (JSA) could be easily cancelled. These places catch the attention of thousands of views from all over the world every year, attracted by what can be considered the most similar place to hell on Earth.

First thing you are told when you step in the Korean DMZ is that you are not allowed to make eye contact with North Korean soldiers, not either gesticulate towards them to not ‘provoke’ any reaction. There is also a dress code that must be respected: no broken jeans or flip-flops, it can be used by North Korea to confirm one of their many lies about the rest of the world and manipulate saying how poorly the rest of people live that they cannot even dress properly.

1

An American Marine takes the lead of the tour as soon as you arrive. He makes you to sign this document where it is advised “the possibility of injury or death as a direct result of enemy action”. Although the JSA is a neutral territory, the safety of visitors cannot be guarantee in a hostile enemy act. Afterwards, another American soldier makes a presentation of the Korean War, how the Armistice was signed and the creation of the DMZ. They never sign a peace treaty so technically they are still in conflict.

Untitled

North and South Korean soldiers stand face to face overlooked by American soldiers, who also impose a strict photograph policy on visitors. A stunning performance for those who visit this location: Panmunjeom. The glass doors at the back of the picture have strange forms that North Korea uses to take pictures of tourists and provoke American soldiers playing with lights and reflections.

3

American and South Korean soldiers work shoulder to shoulder. There is an important American military base in Itaewon, North Seoul (South Korea). The US also played a decisive role as creating the DMZ as in the Korean War.

4

The static defensive position that South Korean soldiers keep constantly comes from the Martial arts. All South Korean soldiers have been formed with taekwondo training intensively, due to military service is still mandatory. Representatives from both Koreas meet in this room to negotiate; the north part of the table is for the North of Korea and the south for the South.

5

A fake town built by North Korean government as a propaganda strategy for worldwide tourists that visit the DMZ. There are many buildings and towers illuminated regardless nobody lives there. Satellites have proved that electricity is a luxury in most of the country.

6

This town is inhabited. However, there are restraints to take pictures from this point and all pictures must be shoot behind a mark line controlled by South Korean soldiers.

7

Korean people, from both North and South, leave their desires of union and reconciliation among them represented in those coloured pieces of clothing. The few familiar reunion agreed with North Korea have taken place in this area.

8

This bridge was used to exchange prisoners after the Armistice in 1953: once the bridge is crossed, there is no way to go back to the other side ever again.

Advertisements

Just another case of identity fraud?

rockcohen

rockcohen

With Ukraine in turmoil over what to do about Crimea and the build-up to the European elections across the continent Pandeia is pleased to launch our new theme of ‘National Identity’.

To identify yourself as a citizen of a particular nation on this planet is usually a birth-right. The many forms and documents that have to be filled in on a daily basis in civilised society, force each person to take a position on their nationality — and in turn their identity — from an early age. But, in this globalised world, where one single tweet can make a Blackpool beautician famous seemingly throughout humanity, what does it mean when we pledge an allegiance to a flag, a country or even a continent? It is this question with which Pandeia launches our new theme of ‘National Identity’.

The crisis in Crimea has brought the concept of nation states and ‘National Identity’ under intense scrutiny. The term ‘Ukraine’s territorial integrity’ has been the sound bite with which the West has criticised Russia’s actions. Ukraine’s territorial integrity with regards to Crimea, it is argued, comes hand in hand with the country’s national identity. However, it is undoubtedly more complicated than that. Russian President, Vladimir Putin’s claims to do everything within his power to protect ‘ethnic Russians’, while deeply worrying in an immediate conflict context, actually contains underlying connotations that are the crux of the main issue affecting not just the continent but the globe in the 21st century.

To declare a geographical area as belonging to one state government is to whitewash from history the many years that came before those particular state boundaries were drawn up. In Crimea for example, the Tatars who are indigenous to the peninsula, have for centuries battled against Russian rule. It is of course natural then that these are the people most worried about the looming Russian annexation of Crimea. Complications inherently arise when diverse ethnic cultures are banded together under one banner, or more usually one flag. As national identity is often as much of a construct, as the flag that represents it.

For examples of these complications, it is prudent to look no further than the last major conflict to afflict continental Europe — the breakup of the former Yugoslavia and in particular the recent struggles in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Following the Dayton agreement, the aforementioned nation state was born and a new post-conflict era was heralded. However, nearly 20 years on, the country is blighted by structure of its government, designed to force the three ethnic identities — Bosniaks, Croats and Serbs — to collaborate together. As the inhabitants of Bosnia have learnt merely heralding a ‘new united nation’ doesn’t always result in a one. This struggle has prompted the recent protests with one banner reading “There is no ‘Bosnian people’” a concise assessment of national identity in the country.

The future of indigenous populations is at times most relevant when discussing ‘National Identity’. The North American indigenous populations have for years attempted to preserve and foster their cultures in an environment which often places the Nation at the forefront of any discussions on identity. As the nation state’s identity has begun to subsume the indigenous populations, new attempts to diversify and maintain their distinctiveness have been made. This was most recently the case when the Latoka tribe from the Pine Ridge reservation declared they were looking into making the ‘Mazacoin’ their national currency. In a statement of intent towards sovereignty and a form of national identity, the Mazacoin — a bitcoin variant, an alternative virtual currency — would replace the American Dollar in the area. Its use is coherent with the concept of trading and bartering that occurs across many indigenous populations, and the minds behind the concept, believe that by adopting a digital currency the Latoka tribe can shed decades of poverty. Currency in itself shapes such strong feelings of national identity and pride and the Mazacoin could be the start of a new kind of sovereignty in the 21st century.

It is no wonder then, that currency has become the new battleground in the independence debate that threatens to engulf Scotland in 2014. The concept of a shared monetary union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK has been championed by the YES Scotland campaign, while all three of the main political parties at Westminster have deemed the notion inconceivable. In questions of independence, much is made of national identity and the Sterling currency perhaps carries with it more identifiers of national pride than any other. Particularly in the run-up to the European elections, the prospect of a ‘European identity’ is continually disparaged in the UK, in favour of the British or more usually the national identity, be it Welsh, Scottish, English or Northern Irish. In Britain, this is even more of a surprise, for as history shows it is a nation formed of many different ‘identities’ — from the Anglo-Saxons, to the Vikings, to the West Indians of the ‘Windrush Generation’, Britain’s national identity, to be ‘British’, means not one single identifiable factor.

Maybe the one problem with ‘National Identity’ is, that it doesn’t really exist in the first place.

By Jamie Timson

UK: The Bottom Line

Spall

Radicalization, heavy drinking, bullying and a high profile library ban are just some of the major topics in this week’s UK press. Rachel Barr looks at everything from the army, and controversy in the London Mayor’s office to the Nek-nominate craze in this week’s Bottom Line.

Army Chaplain Conducts Memorial Service in Helmand, Afghanistan

Warrior Shepherd

ALLEGED RAPE AND BULLYING were the factors included in the suicide of British soldier Anne-Marie Ellement, in a recent inquest into her death. It was reported that the two men alleged to have raped her were not prosecuted, inspiring  the coroner present to call on the Ministry of Defence to review its help with vulnerable soldiers. Speaking out to the BBC, the Corporal’s mother said that her daughter had been “bullied, belittled and overworked and driven to the depths of despair”. The Army’s director of Personal Services has responded by stating that future lessons to be learnt and their priorities to prevent this kind of tragedy will come from the coroner’s report, and that they were deeply sorry for the ministry’s failures.

 

7079752387_561283cfd4_b

zacgoldsmith

MUSLIM CHILDREN at ‘risk of radicalization’ should be put into care, argues London Mayor Boris Johnson, deeming extremist indoctrination a form of child abuse. Writing in his weekly column in The Telegraph, he claims that political correctness is preventing counter-terrorism officers from doing their jobs and stopping “the infection of radicalisation” on vulnerable young people “before it is too late”. In response, the Muslim Council of Britain has stated to the BBC that Johnson’s column looked more at generating headlines than solving problems, and that young people of all faiths should not have to worry about the risks of living in a ‘Big Brother’ society.

 

 

5661646031_9d030704d6_b

natscot

SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER Alex Salmond risks being banned from all Council buildings in Aberdeen, in a move the Scottish National Party has deemed “an act of madness”. Aberdeen’s Labour led council will debate a motion this week which would ban the First Minister and his ministerial team from everything from council offices to schools and libraries, after claims of his ‘bullying tactics’ emerged last year. The council and Salmond have had some years of disagreements, which will come to a head in the decision of the ban, to be made on Wednesday.

 

Meanwhile, The Student Press are talking about….

NEK-NOMINATE, the “social drinking game for social media”, which involves downing something alcoholic within 24 hours of someone nominating you, filming it and then tagging three other ‘nominees’ to do the same – or worse –  when you post it online. The game has become an online craze and is now ‘out of control’, according to an interview with the Irish Rugby player responsible for it’s success. Speaking to The National Student, Ross Samson said the game had ‘snowballed’ and he wanted nothing further to do with it – after videos emerged with people having sex on camera while downing their drinks, and others had drank theirs mixed in with dead, blended mice.

3339394544_03bbd420cc_b

reachout

Blogging for Warwich Student Union, Zoe Buckland is concerned that peer pressure for the drinking game might be even stronger because it is online. Her concern derived from the three deaths which have implicated the craze as a possible cause – calling out to students to “stay safe” and reassuring them that it’s “okay to say no”.

Death or no death, the game involves  two “really unsurprising, predictably lame, facets of the culture of our generation”. Writing for Durham’s Palatinate, Toby Hambly points a figure at the ‘narcissistic culture of social media’ and lad culture – a ‘double whammy’ of internet predictability when the two are combined. In knowledge of this age of vanity and binge drinking, Hambly concludes,  we should reserve our outrage for things truly deserving of it, not something so predictable and determinable as Nek-nominate.

 

 

 

It’s not a question of immigration – it’s a question of integration

Multiculturalism, cultural exchanges and shared  knowledge can be argued as key factors to an ever developing society. With that in mind, argues Niklas Jakobsson, Sweden should not only be one of the most forward-thinking countries in the world – they should be blowing the other nations out of the water. What’s gone wrong? 

According to official immigration statistics and a national census, 1.5 million of Sweden’s 9.5 million inhabitants were born outside of Sweden. This makes up for 15 per cent of the country’s population – numbers which are nearly unmatched and unrivaled in comparison to the other 205 sovereign states in the world.

Yet the country is following a worrying European trend with far-right parties gaining momentum, creating animosity and displeasure against immigrants and immigration. Unemployment, a rise in violence, an over-representation of immigrants in crime and ‘benefit fraud’ are some of the catch-phrases and slogans used to shove blame and responsibility on immigrants in Sweden.

A key concept in journalism is to have balance, to respect and cover both sides of a story – and in the case of Swedish immigration there are two very clear sides. In Sweden, you are for immigration, or you are against it. Wholeheartedly. There is little – to no – room for a middle-ground, a sensible debate that not only brings out the positive aspects of a liberal immigration policy, but discusses its flaws and where it needs work.

But ponder the possibility that these problems that have arisen in Sweden over the last decade might not have to do with where the immigrants are from, who they bring with them or how easily they are allowed to enter? What if it has to do with the fact that a large portion of immigrants are dropped in to a society that is closed, cold and requires a lot more effort to be integrated in? What if, integrating immigrants from day one will give them a lot more in the long run than just allowing them to enter the country without prerequisites and demands?

A question of figures
According to Swedish Member of Parliament, Hanif Bali, almost 14 per cent of immigrants are unemployed, compared to four percent for ‘native’ Swedes. This is a relatively staggering figure – and a figure that on its own could lead one to believe that it is unwillingness among immigrants to work that is the main issue. The Swedish Criminal Service does not distinguish between Swedish nationals with immigrant decent and Swedish nationals born in the country. However, they do claim that 32 per cent of prisoners in Swedish jails are foreign nationals with 160 nationalities represented. With all the overwhelming statistics put on the table – what should the debate regarding immigration then be?

The debate in Sweden should not revolve around how many immigrants are in prison, how many are unemployed or what benefits they are getting without fulfilling the right requirements. The debate should be about why immigrants are in prison, why immigrants are unemployed and why immigrants feel the need to claim benefits that could be distributed to other people – immigrants or natives – that are in greater need of them.

Because until the underlying issues behind the socioeconomic problems surrounding the Swedish society and its immigration policy are thoroughly investigated, the current downward spiral will only keep going down. The further down the spiral Sweden falls, the closer it will get to a point where there is no turning back – where the built up anger and animosity against immigrants and immigration will cause terrible events like the ones on Utøya, Norway, in 2011.

Lack of cooperation, respect and willingness to improve
Politicians, journalists and the common man should stop talking around each other and start talking to each other. Realizing that both parties have a common ground – the well-being of Sweden – would be the first step towards working together on an extremely complicated issue. But the way that the immigration debate is going only shows a lack of cooperation, respect and willingness to improve.

Unfortunately, the media plays a large role in creating this clear-cut split between pro-or-2265691662_3bae969475_danti-immigration. A predominately left-oriented and humanistic media landscape shapes a narrative that allows for very little debate and alternative opinions. This has led to a surge in ‘free’ online news outlets which ‘highlight’ the ‘problems’ with immigration. In essence, by excluding and taking away the possibility of a healthy debate, the media fuels these websites, giving people on the fence that extra push towards a ‘news outlet’ which only caters to views that highlight negativity with immigration.

In a world where journalism should bring people together, nourish free speech and the right to an opinion, the Swedish media landscape is shooting itself in the foot. It is not only driving people away from reading traditional news, it is a major factor in the downward spiral that the Swedish society is in when it comes to debate surrounding immigration.

In order for Sweden to fully develop and take advantage of all the knowledge and benefits that comes from a cultural exchange and a multicultural society the country must start with embracing that it is not perfect. With every positive comes a negative. The positive will never be fully appreciated until the negative is dealt with. In the case of immigration, the negative is the lack of integration. If every Swede claims to have the country’s best interest at heart, then start by taking a step towards people with a different opinion rather than further distancing yourself. This applies to every politician, journalist and every other person in Sweden that has a single care about the future and prosperity of the country.

Burning flames in the hearts and streets of Santiago

Linn (2)Photo: Linn Helene Løken

 

Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile has left a highly privatised education system. Recently students have taken to protest in the streets to put an end the legacy of the dictator. Pandeia’s Ida Nordland translates a report directly from Santiago.

A blanket of polluted air covers Santiago. On the ground thousands of people have gathered. Drums are pounding the pace of the march they have started. The whistles join in, along with the loud shouts from the protestors: ”La education no se vende, se defende!” Chile’s educations are not for sale, they are to be defended.

“It is only during the last couple of years that people have realised that education is a right, not a privilege for the wealthy,” says Roberto Reveco, a film student at the University of Chile.

Today, most of Chile’s public schools and universities are private. While less and less public funds are spent on the public educational system, many choose to pay for a private education of better quality. The price for a bachelor’s degree in Chile varies, but may cost around 2000 euros. In comparison, the average income in Chile is 4.000 euros a year.

Pinochet’s Legacy

The privatisation process began 40 years ago. In 1973 Augusto Pinochet took the power from socialist president Salvador Allende in a military coup. Pinochet ruled Chile for 17 years and more than 40.000 people were victims of torture, random arrests, killings or abductions.

Pinochet left behind a strong market-oriented policy. Only between 1980 and 1981 were 87% of all schools transferred from public to private control. The current education system is a result of this total privatisation.

Today, there are private institutions everywhere, but lately the students have begun to speak up, especially against the profit-seeking principals. The former Chilean minister of education Harald Beyer was fired in April because of a new scandal: The boards at several universities had created companies that rented out premises to their own universities. In this peculiar way, the rent was sent to the principal’s own bank accounts.

The Penguin Revolution

”We are fighting for our education, our country and against the fraud that is being carried out by the authorities,” explains a teenager at Estacion Mapocho, the end station of the march. He is holding an anarchist flag.

“Last night the police changed the route of the demonstration which made people go to the wrong meeting point. They do this to prevent us from gathering in a peaceful manner. In the morning the police continued to stop traffic and block streets so we couldn’t attend the protest. That is the kind of system we are fighting against,” the teenager expresses.

The first wave of student demonstrations began in 2006 when high school students started the  ”Penguin Revolution”, named after the pupils’ penguin-like uniforms. The penguins protested against fees to enter higher education and for free public transport for pupils and students. The movement began with relatively small demands, but is now fighting for a restructuring of the entire educational system. The message on the banners are clear: ”Educación publica, gratuita y de calidad” – public, free and good education.

Camouflaged Challenges

It’s burning, not just in the hearts of young students. It’s literally burning. A bus stop is in flames. Around it a group of youngsters have gathered, covering their faces in headscarves. They are called ”los encapuhados” – the hooded.

They fight against the system with rocks and homemade molotov cocktails. They represent the Chilean student organisation’s perhaps biggest challenge to be taken seriously, although they represent only a small group. The police respond with tear gas, tanks and arrests. The clashes were expected. They occur after every protest.

The violent game is legacy of the dictatorship, which has left deep traces in Chile. The fight for a public education continues nevertheless, – slowly but surely. As the young teenager with the anarchist flag puts it: ”There is always something to fight for.”

 

Originally by Linn Helene Løken for Momentum

Sexual Violence: A Weapon of War?

Conflict has changed dramatically since the turn of the 21st Century but as Tessel Stabel explores, one recent resolution of the United Nations Security Council could just be another empty gesture in a sea of disillusion 

‘As many here are aware, for years there has been a debate about whether or not sexual violence against women is a security issue for this body [United Nations Security Council] to address. I am proud today we can respond to that lingering question with a resounding ‘yes’. This world body now acknowledges that sexual violence in conflict zones is, indeed, a security concern’.

Condoleezza Rice

 

With these words, then Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice opened the day-long ministerial-level debate on Women, Peace and Security: sexual violence in situations of armed conflict on the 19th of June 2008. The session resulted in the UN Security Council defining sexual violence as a threat to international peace in the unanimously adopted United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1820.

Some say the resolution signed that day is a historic milestone, since sexual violence is now recognized as a weapon, a substantial threat and from that point became punishable. A lot of this kind of violence even continued in post-conflict resulting in a  setback on sustainable peace on the long(er) term. UNSCR 1820 especially addressed the sexual violence committed by men on the bodies of women and girls: the first follow-up resolution after UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security (WPS) signed in 2000.

From this moment, the United Nations Security Council acknowledged the changing nature of warfare – especially affecting civilians and women to be excluded from peace building processes. It addressed the impact of war on women and the key role of women in conflict management, conflict resolution and sustainable peace. It was seen as a landmark  in the international legal framework addressing the need of the participation of women in conflict management.

However, ‘UNSCR 1820’ was the first  to be adopted as a response to the weak sections concerning sexual violence prevention: the first to frame conflict related sexual violence as a matter of international security, a threat to international peace and to acknowledge the need for a specific security response to protect women and girls during and post conflict.

On paper, UNSCR 1820 indeed seems a historic milestone within conflict management. However, civilians and especially women and girls have been victims of sexual violence during and post armed conflict through history – Reality did not particularly change. If else, it did around the atrocities in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda when the world was confronted with rape camps and ethnic cleansing-rape.  The framing, however, did change in 2008. This was a start.

But then why did the Security Council decide at this particular time and place to securitize the specific framing of sexual violence as a threat to international security?

Since the establishment of the United Nations Security Council’s agenda through the adoption of UNSCR 1325, the Security Council gathered to celebrate its anniversary every October. In March 2008, the Security Council broke this pattern and released a Presidential Statement on the occasion of International Women’s Day. From here, A resolution on the Intensification of efforts to eliminate all forms of sexual violence against women was adopted and in April the first UN-wide Organization UN Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict was established.

In 2008 dynamics eventually really sped up. In February, another resolution called for eliminating rape and other forms of sexual violence in all their manifestations, including in conflict and related situations. A month later UN entities set up UNITE to End Violence against Women to eliminate violence against women and girls in conflict and in times of peace. In May 2008, the UN Security Council started an investigation on the alleged ongoing  sexual exploitation of children in the Democratic Republic of Congo by UN Peacekeepers. Media all over the world accused the Security Council of running behind the facts and being too bureaucratic and passive on the matter. Thereafter, the conference Women Targeted or Affected by Armed Conflict: What role for Military Peacekeepers? was held. Here it was decided that the Security Council’s agenda for June 19 2008 would be set on the matter. For the first time since 2000 a WPS official Security Council meeting was to be held apart from the anniversary meetings. The draft-resolution was adopted anonymously although several states emphasized that sexual violence is not a matter of international peace but rather of domestic politics. However, the meeting on the occasion of the (openly disputed) future of peace operations in Africa the day before seemed to have changed their minds.

Hence, the final punch to UNSCR 1820’s adoption, after a radio-silence of nearly 8 years, seems to have been the (future) of the openly criticized UN peace operations combined with the prominence of the atrocities in the DRC. UNSCR 1325 & 1820 got 4 more WPS UNSCRs. Despite of their unanimous adoptions only a limited number of UN member states, major UNs agencies and departments have prompted action. Taking into account the circumstances UNSCR 1820 got adopted one can only hope, not only for the sake of women and girls in war torn countries but for the credibility of the UN (Security Council) itself, that these were no empty gestures.

 

 

 

Visions of Division

To mark the end of our Conflict theme, Andreyna Valera collates this exclusive photo essay, depicting the remarkable stand off on the North Korean border.  

Last December, the relationship between North and South Korea was especially tense. Tourists were told the tours around the Demilitarize Zone (DMZ) and Joint Security Area (JSA) could be easily cancelled. These places catch the attention of thousands of views from all over the world every year, attracted by what can be considered the most similar place to hell on Earth.

First thing you are told when you step in the Korean DMZ is that you are not allowed to make eye contact with North Korean soldiers, not either gesticulate towards them to not ‘provoke’ any reaction. There is also a dress code that must be respected: no broken jeans or flip-flops, it can be used by North Korea to confirm one of their many lies about the rest of the world and manipulate saying how poorly the rest of people live that they cannot even dress properly.

1

An American Marine takes the lead of the tour as soon as you arrive. He makes you to sign this document where it is advised “the possibility of injury or death as a direct result of enemy action”. Although the JSA is a neutral territory, the safety of visitors cannot be guarantee in a hostile enemy act. Afterwards, another American soldier makes a presentation of the Korean War, how the Armistice was signed and the creation of the DMZ. They never sign a peace treaty so technically they are still in conflict.

Untitled

North and South Korean soldiers stand face to face overlooked by American soldiers, who also impose a strict photograph policy on visitors. A stunning performance for those who visit this location: Panmunjeom. The glass doors at the back of the picture have strange forms that North Korea uses to take pictures of tourists and provoke American soldiers playing with lights and reflections.

3

American and South Korean soldiers work shoulder to shoulder. There is an important American military base in Itaewon, North Seoul (South Korea). The US also played a decisive role as creating the DMZ as in the Korean War.

4

The static defensive position that South Korean soldiers keep constantly comes from the Martial arts. All South Korean soldiers have been formed with taekwondo training intensively, due to military service is still mandatory. Representatives from both Koreas meet in this room to negotiate; the north part of the table is for the North of Korea and the south for the South.

5

A fake town built by North Korean government as a propaganda strategy for worldwide tourists that visit the DMZ. There are many buildings and towers illuminated regardless nobody lives there. Satellites have proved that electricity is a luxury in most of the country.

6

This town is inhabited. However, there are restraints to take pictures from this point and all pictures must be shoot behind a mark line controlled by South Korean soldiers.

7

Korean people, from both North and South, leave their desires of union and reconciliation among them represented in those coloured pieces of clothing. The few familiar reunion agreed with North Korea have taken place in this area.

8

This bridge was used to exchange prisoners after the Armistice in 1953: once the bridge is crossed, there is no way to go back to the other side ever again.