November 29th marked the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, a global day of observance to bring the continuous struggle of the Palestinian’s to the forefront. Important to this solidarity is assisting Palestinians in telling their own stories. Chelsea Moore reports.
Moore: What were once ten are now nine in the UN training program for Palestinian journalists after the Jerusalem home of one of the journalists was demolished by Israel. His family now lives in a tent next to the ruins. This is a stark reminder of the struggle that continues for the people of Palestine. The program, initiated by the General Assembly, is meant to assist Palestinian Journalists in telling the story of their people to the world. Miruat Abu Soud, is a journalist in the program who has lived her entire life as a refugee.
Soud: It’s our responsibility to meet people and tell them about the situation in Palestine, in East Jerusalem. In particular how people suffer. Newly there is more settlements, issues going on, in Jerusalem especially, and also the houses which have been confiscated by Israeli settlers, which has been given by the United Nations to those refugees. So maybe this is a chance to tell people about the situation there and also to stand in solidarity with the Palestinians.
Moore: Wessam Hammad, a journalist and refugee from Gaza, has not seen his family in two years because of difficulties of getting in and out of the strip. He believes educating people about the situation in Gaza will help bring results.
Hammad: Talk about the situation over there. Talk about how much people are suffering. I come from Gaza, people are really devastated. Guys here, they have no idea what is happening over there and we are really expecting from this day that some rights or some decisions, or anything to rescue Palestinians. I am very optimistic, but this is what I’m looking for. So I would invite everyone to come and talk to Palestinians.
Moore: Illuminating the voices of Palestinians Journalists is an alternative to what some see as the one-sidedness of Israeli accounts. Soud spoke of a recent press conference she attended for the Israeli Military on the issue of Gaza.
Soud: They were talking about the situation in Gaza, how good the situation, how things can enter Gaza and people can go out whenever they want, especially sick people. This is our opportunity to send our own voice and tell people how the situation really is in Gaza, not like the Israeli’s are trying all the time to reflect the fake message of the situation. It’s not at all as they try to publish all the time. It’s horrible in Gaza, especially in Gaza.
Moore: Despite the difficulties ahead for the Palestinians and the peace process Hammad believes one must always carry the message of peace.
Hammad: We have to be optimistic, and we always hold the message of peace, holding the message of our rights it might take a lot of time, which is the reality. We have to keep on and on and trying to do our best to achieve the peace and to get our rights and to get done with this issue.
Moore: That was Palestinian Journalist Wessam Hammad and before that Miruat Abu Soud. This is a Deconstruction Production, I’m Chelsea Moore.
Although the Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most widely and rapidly ratified treaty in history, it is going to take more than just governments and traditional civil society to see that its promises are met. Chelsea Moore reports.
Moore: Mayra Avellar Neves may be younger than the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which turned 20 this Friday, but she has dedicated her childhood to fighting for the rights of other children. In fact, youth from all around the globe are rising to the occasion, calling on governments and citizens to uphold their promise to the children. Mayra was awarded the 2008 Child Peace Prize for her work against the violence in the favela where she lives in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Mayra: Can you imagine how is it to live your life with a war going on in front of your door? Is it fair that we have to wake up under the sound of bullets? Children have the right to protection. Some weeks ago in a Favela called Mandela, a 15 year old boy was asked by his mother to go out to empty the trash. When in the street he was shot in his head by the police, he died. And do you know why it happened? He was mistaken to be a criminal because he was black. I stand for the beggars. I stand for the eight-year-old boy who died at 8 am when he was going to the bakery. I stand for those who died without even knowing why. I stand for my people. That’s why I’m here for.
Moore: 16-year-old Syed Aown Shahzad, a young activist for children’s rights in his home country of Pakistan, tells of his experience working with fellow children in displaced persons camps after the devastating earthquake that struck his nation.
Syed: I had a chance to speak with a boy from these camps when he was rescued by the Pakistan Society for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled. He told me how much he wished to study. I asked, why? And he replied with a smile and said, “because education is like a ray of light and I want that light.” Millions of children like him hope for the same light. I urge you to listen to their call, but also respond to them and take concrete actions.
Moore: Millicent Atieno Orondo, lives with her father in an informal settlement, Kangemi, in the outskirts of Nairobi. At age 15 Orondo was selected to deliver the closing statement, with recommendations, at the General Assembly’s “World Fit for Children” in 2007. Today she remains committed to children’s rights, especially education.
Millicent: What are the governments doing to ensure that children are protected and their rights are fulfilled? It is quite impressive that most countries have free primary education but still in many countries, for example mine, children are too many in a class, there are few teachers, few books, and other important facilities are still a problem. I am terribly hurt as a child to know that over 100 million children are not in schools. Have we forgotten what Mr. Mandela said? That education is most important weapon in the world today.
Moore: Millicent called on governments and individuals to help empower children so they may claim their rights.
Millicent: I urge all of you to support children’s collective action, so that we can join hands and change the world of children today and tomorrow. As we say two years ago, what matters to us most, is results. Children don’t just want resolutions, children want solutions. We don’t want to hear any good intentions, we want to see actions. Remember you owe us our rights so.
This is a Deconstruction Production, I’m Chelsea Moore.
Rachel Lloyd founded Girls Education and Mentoring Services (GEMS) in 1999. It started off as a one-woman kitchen table project that grew into a national organization, which now provides services to commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked youth in the U.S. A victim of trafficking herself, Lloyd was invited to the United Nations to share her story in hopes of helping to end commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking. Lloyd stressed the importance of addressing the demand for trafficked humans, especially in the case of sexual exploitation.
Lloyd: I think that there are multiple ways that you can address demand. I think one of the primary ways is that we need to start educating our boys, who then grow up into men, about what purchasing sex from another human being does to that human being, and we need to stop normalizing it and socializing our boys and men to think that this is normal and socially acceptable. And so there is a lot that we could do around that. And then we need to have real policies in place that, not saying that prosecution is always the answer, but I mean right now we know that the women and the girls are the ones who are predominantly prosecuted. That should not be the case. When the men who are buying and selling them tend to get off scot-free and then the victim in the triangle is the one who ends up going to jail consistently in this country and in many other countries that is really problematic and we need to make sure that men who choose to buy sex are aware that there are real penalties.
Moore: Why do you think that the approach so far has not been victim or survivor centered?
Lloyd: Honestly, within the UN?
Moore: Within the UN or the United States, wherever you have the most knowledgebase.
Lloyd: I think that within the UN that there have definitely been discussions about this, but I think some of the voices that tend to get invited to the table maybe have a different perspective, particularly if we are talking about sexual exploitation in the sex industry and so it tends to be folks who are pro-sex work and I think there is a real discomfort about talking about the damage and the harm. That this isn’t empowering and whilst everyone has a right to do what they want to do with their own body this isn’t about peoples rights being validated, it’s about people’s rights being violated. It’s about oppression and exploitation and so I think that there is discomfort around that and I think that it is critical to have voices be in the midst of those discussions. My office is, I don’t know 100 blocks from here, I have like I said 279 girls and young women who are American citizens who have all been trafficked. I haven’t been invited to the UN in 10 years, you know. So I think that is problematic. I think overall we need to begin to change our whole perspective about who victims and who survivors are. That you know we do have intelligence and credibility we have something to add to the discussion. And so I think beginning to A, recognize that people are victims first. If I see the woman on the street, or the child on the street corner or on Craigslist or whatever, as a prostitute as a fallen person, as bad as dirty etc. why would I want them at the table, but if I begin to recognize wow that is somebody who was victimized, that was done to them, they are a human being with lots of things to add to the conversation that begins to shift the dynamic a little bit.
Moore: And so there is this debate between what is the line between a trafficked victim and a prostitute, do you make a differentiation between the two?
Lloyd: I would never say that there is no one in the sex industry obviously who isn’t there by choice. I think, however, that the critical discussion needs to be that this issue is about lack of choices. Even if you are not under the control of a trafficker, generally people don’t grow up wanting to be in the sex industry. You may feel that this is your only option and that is the reality for many women and girls around the world. That poverty and economic security and all the things that women and girls are obviously lacking, there is real gender inequity around, forces them into the sex industry. Whether you you’ve got an adult or a person putting a gun to your head and forcing you, you may be forced by circumstances and so I think that that needs to be part of the larger discussion. My take on this is that if are an adult, number one, if you have economic security already, you have a really great education, you haven’t been sexually abused given that we know 80 to 90% of women and girls in the sex industry were sexually abused, and obviously the damage that that does. If you’re starting out on a level playing field and you choose to be in the sex industry than that’s one thing, but given that that is not generally how that works and those voices don’t tend to be representative of the millions of women and girls around the world for whom this really isn’t about choice.
Yoko Ono to donate all proceeds from iTunes downloads of Give Peace a Chance to the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission from now until the end of the year.
Yoko Ono and sons have decided to give the Peacebuilding Commission a chance from now until the end of the year. The family has partnered with EMI Music and Sony/ATV, donating the net proceeds from downloads of Give Peace a Chance’s re-release to the Peacebuilding Fund. The song is exclusively available for download on iTunes.
Written in 1969 during the late John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s honeymoon bed-in, when a reporter asked what the couple was trying to achieve from the stunt, Lennon replied, “All we are saying is give peace a chance.” The song, which became an anthem for the antiwar movement, was produced soon after.
The Peacebuilding Commission supports countries, who are emerging from conflict, establish lasting peace during the critical time. Heraldo Muñez, chairman of the commission, says the PBC also helps to draw attention to post-conflict countries.
Muñez: Generally, when the TV cameras leave a conflict. When the blue helmets also leave after a peace agreement is signed, that doesn’t mean that peace will be sustainable over time. And often the fractures, be it political, ethnic, economic, reemerge and many of these countries relapse into conflict.
Muñez says that one in three conflicts brought to the Security Council relapse after a peace is reached. It is the goal of the Commission to heal these fractures.
The proceeds of the download will go to the Peacebuilding Fund which allows for rapid and targeted programs in countries where other funding is not available.
To give sustainable peace a chance, go to iTunes and download Give Peace a Chance.
On United Nations International Peace Day, individuals, communities, and nations come together to highlight efforts to end conflict and promote peace. This year, children from around the world gathered at the UN to discuss the future of the would they will inherit. Here are some of their thoughts on peace.
Child 1: Peace means tranquility, balance, and minimal problems in the world that’s what it means to me.
Child 2: To me it means that the world, for the world to unite to make sure that there is no problems between us.
Child 3: Peace to me is the togetherness of all people. Peace is being able to recognize that we are all one race. We are all human. We all need to share this earth.
Child 4: We are 99.9 percent identical so you know why are we hating our neighbors and all that stuff? When we could all be cool with each other.
Child 5: Accept everyone no matter their race, size, and whatever they are as friends not enemies.
Child 6: Peace means to me being peaceful and calm, like not warring and agreeing.
Chelsea: What are you going to do in your life to make peace?
Child 6: Well I was actually just in the Disarm Now For a Better World, and I was going to start a chain email where people could sign and we could possibly send it to a leader of our country.
Child 7: I kind of made a commitment to myself that I will always give to charity, like part of my salary or profit or something that I have. I’ll give part of it to charity, maybe some of it to UNICEF to companies, to organizations that need it.
Child 8: I think peace is everyone coming together as one, just working together to solve all the problems of the world.
Chelsea: And what are you going to do in your life to make peace?
Child 8: Well I want to become a lawyer, and helping people with their problems.
Child 9: Well I plan to be a filmmaker. So I plan to make films that dictates the vision of peace, my vision of peace.
Child 10: I think peace means everybody working together in harmony. There is no discrimination, there is no anything, it’s just people treat each other equally so that everything would be the same. No war. No bombs, no nuclear anything.
Child 11: Well there is not really one meaning for peace, but peace in the world means equality for everybody in my eyes, and respect for people around you and your friends and your family.
Child 12: Peace means to me that everyone comes together and unites.
Child 13: It means to get along and make friends. No wars, nor fights, sticking together.
Chelsea: And what are you going to do in your life to make peace?
Child 14: Now I already started to rap about violence that I see in an everyday basis. So I’m just going to tell everyone how important it is to be peaceful with each other.
Chelsea: Do you want to do a little rap?
Child 14: Okay.
A lot of love I have for my family and peace,
I’m from my mom’s stomach I run down the streets,
From East to South,
South to West,
It’s just the side you live on where all the best,
You never hear quiet all you hear is bang bang,
And thugs running down the street doing their thing,
Saying help me help me my man got shot,
All the sirens around, but my block is still hot.
Chelsea: What does peace mean to you?
Child 15: Um, it means harmony with a lot of people, and people working together.