Europe for Peace - Connecting public awareness raising campaigning accross borders and approaches towards a coherent strategy
The weekend 23rd to 24th of July 2011, an international seminar was organized in Lulea, Sweden under the theme of "War starts here". The goal of this seminar was to connect different local public awareness raising campaigns across borders and to develop approaches towards a coherent strategy. For the organisation of this seminar the local organisation Ofog joined forces with War Resisters' International (WRI), who prior to this meeting also held their annual council meeting in Lulea. Furthermore the seminar focussed on how wars begin in different ways in our communities and how public awareness raising campaigns of peace organisations also link to for example women and environmental organisations. About 300 participants from a broad range of countries were present to share the experience on their peace work.
The day before the seminar, on July 22nd, about 30 participants of the partnership met to evaluate the organised activities and to further concretise future cooperation.
Images of the meetings can be seen here.
The seminar was held at the school Lärkan in central Luleå, in northern Sweden. The reason for the seminars to take place there is the fact that the largest military training area over land, NEAT (North European Aerospace Test Range), where the world's armed forces exercise bomb dropping, test drones and develop new weapons systems, is located in Norrbotten (northern Sweden).
The weekend began with an opening with welcoming from Ofog and speeches by Gun-Britt Mäkitalo (Women for Peace Kiruna, Sweden), Anna Sanne Goransson (Ofog, Sweden), Howard Clark (WRI) and Frida Berrigan (War Resisters Legaue, USA). Gun-Britt Mäkitalo started by telling how the Women for peace group had first learned about NEAT and how they for long had been struggling alone against militarism in northern Sweden, but then had received support by among others Ofog. Anna Sanne Göransson went on to tell us more about why we are gathered just in northern Sweden, about NEAT and the exercises that have been held there including exercises performed by NATO and USA, and about how we together have the strength it takes to end these wars. Howard Clark began his speech talking about how the lands that it now used for military exercises from the beginning was stolen from indigenous Sami people and a Sami song was performed. Howard then went on to talk about how war affects us in our everyday lives and how we contribute to war without even knowing it, by our consumption for example, and that we must think globally but act locally. Frida Berrigan finished the opening by telling about her work against the arms industry and her work against torture and how these two fit together and are two sides of the same war, torture at Guantanamo as a physically very close, and drones as physically very far away, forms of torture and war.
During the seminar weekend, more than 20 presentations were held with titles like "the military-industrial chain and the global arms industry," "the battle for gas and oil in the Arctic", "current and future wars: drones, satellites, and the militarization of outer space", "right to land and military bases," "climate wars", "women's campaigns against war and feminist responses to war and militarism," "street violence and militarism" and "professionalisation of the army and counter recruitment." The seminar weekend closed with all participants re-gathereing to discuss what they had learned and what they will take with them in the future, in order to link these experiences towards a more coherent strategy.
The seminar was part of the Grundtvig project Europe for Peace, in which Ofog co-operates with War Resisters' International, Vredesactie, Deutsche Friedensgesellschaft-Vereinigte KriegsdienstgegnerInnen (DFG-VK), the Transnational Institute, and Associació per la Defensa de l'Objecció de Consciència del Pais Valencià (ADOC-PV). Although funded by the European Union, the European Union or the European Commission are not responsible for the content of the seminar, or any publication related to War starts here.