Dublin: International conference on Kurdistan, Sri Lanka, Colombia, and Northern Ireland

DUBLIN, Ireland, – An international conference is held in Dublin, Trinity College on 24-25 May to highlight and examine the conflicts in Colombia, Kurdistan, Sri Lanka, and Northern Ireland. The conference would enable the participants and the communities from each country to exchange views and experiences, in order to gain a broader perspective and learn from one another.

Aim of conference:

The Irish Minister of State Joe Costello and Paul Murphy MEP will address a major international conference on promoting negotiated settlements to armed conflicts throughout the world as opposed to military solutions. The conference will also be addressed by a facilitator of the Colombian peace process, a member of the Kurdistan National Congress and a Sri Lankan journalist. The devastating effect of the military approach to conflict resolution has been shown dramatically by the unimaginable human consequences of the Sri Lankan military offensive against the Tamil population that ended the civil war in Sri Lanka in early 2009. However, this decade also saw a relatively successful peace process continuing in Northern Ireland, which though far from perfect, proved the potential for dialogue and negotiated settlement in the most adverse circumstances.

In the case of Northern Ireland all parties were treated with ‘parity of esteem’ whereas in the other cases this principle was abandoned. Governments and state security forces were supported by the major powers to adopt a military solution as opposed to negotiated settlements. In these cases we see how states have become highly militarised, threatening all forms of democratic dissent. Many communities have suffered and what is assured by the military option is a ‘victor’s peace’.

The conference aims to analyse the geopolitics of these four conflicts and how military means have increased human suffering and polarisation among communities and have threatened democracy, thereby exacerbating these conflicts. The Northern Ireland experience of ‘parity of esteem’ and dialogue could be taken as a guide to inform a global perspective for negotiated settlements to these conflicts. The conference will provide a valuable space for the experts to exchange views and experiences, in order for the participants from different countries to gain a broader perspective and learn from one another.

Form of conference: Public Meeting (All are welcome)

The first session will be a public meeting which will be addressed by experts from these four conflicts. This will be held from 7.00-10.00 pm on Thursday, 24 May, 2012 at the Edmund Burke Theatre, Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin.

Speakers:

Opening Address

Joe Costello TD (Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)

Keynote Address

Paul Murphy MEP.

On Colombia

Nelson Raúl Fajardo Marulanda (Lecturer/National University of Colombia). He is the editor of Contribuciones para la Crítica y la Transformación and a facilitator of the Colombian Peace Process.

On Kurdistan

Alan Shamosson, (Foreign Affairs Representative of Democratic Union Party). He is a member of Kurdistan National Congress (KNK).

On Sri Lanka

Rohitha Bashana Abyewardena (Convenor/Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka). He is the former editor of Hiru, the Sinhala Newspaper and an expert in Geopolitics of Peace and Conflict.

On Northern Ireland

Paul O’Connor (The Pat Finucane Centre, Derry and Armagh)

Respondent: On Palestinian Resistance

David Landy (Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign; Lecturer Department of Sociology, TCD). He is a former chair of the IPSC and author of Jewish Identity and Palestinian Rights: Diaspora Jewish Opposition to Israel.

2. One Day Seminar (Invitation Only)

The second session will be a seminar held in the Pearse Centre in Dublin on 25 May, 2012 from 9.30 am- 5.00. This session will be addressed and facilitated by a broad range of experts on the above conflicts. The panel and group discussions will include following topics: ‘Lessons from Northern Ireland and Palestine’, ‘The role of UN and EU’, ‘Media depictions of the conflicts and search for an alternative media’, ‘Demilitarisation and enhancement of democratic space’ and ‘Human rights and freedom of expression’.

Opening Address

Emer Costello (Member of European Parliament)

The panels:

1. Geopolitical dynamics of peace and conflict in Colombia, Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka

Carlos Arturo Garcia Marulanda (A member of Marcha Patriótica, the largest peace organisation in Colombia and a Human Rights Campaigner)

Jeyachandran Kopinath (Chief Editor/Tamilnet). He has been the chief editor of Tamilnet and was in direct contact with the Tamil journalists in the war zone especially after the assassination of senior editor Dharmeratnam Sivaram in April 2005 in Colombo.

Paul Murphy (Member of the European Parliament)

2. The situation of human rights and the role of the UN and the EU in Colombia, Kurdistan and Sri Lanka

Mirham Yigit (Head of Kurdish Institute in Germany)

Andy Higginbottom (Principal Lecturer in Politics/Human Rights, Kingston University London)

Rohitha Bashana Abyewardena (Convenor/Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka). He is the former editor of Hiru, the Sinhala Newspaper and an expert in Geopolitics of Peace and Conflict)

Group Discussions

1. Lessons from Northern Ireland and Palestine (led by Iain Atack, Paul Murphy and David Landy)

2. Mainstream media coverage of Colombia, Kurdistan and Sri Lanka: Exploring alternatives (led by Nelson Raúl Fajardo Marulanda, Mirham Yigit and Rohitha Bashana Abeywardena)

3. Demilitarisation and Enhancement of Democratic Space: Colombia, Kurdistan and Sri Lanka (Carlos Arturo Garcia Marulanda, Jude Lal Fernando and Andy Higginbottom)

4. Human Rights and Freedom of Expression: Colombia, Kurdistan and Sri Lanka (Alan Shamosson, Jose Antonio Gutierrez, Jeyachandran Kopinath)

For further information contact 085 156 2980 (Jude Lal Fernando) – Email: geopolitics2012@gmail.com

Organised by: Irish School of Ecumenics, Trinity College, Dublin – Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka

Grupo Raíces (Grúpa Fréamhacha) Colombia Solidarity in Ireland – Kurdish Association of Ireland – Latin American Solidarity Centre in Ireland

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