OPERATION DOVE REPORT
Nonviolent peace corps (Association Community Pope John XXIII)
Updates from Projects
On June 20th, Colombian citizens were asked to elect their new president, successor of Alvaro Uribe. Manuel Santos was elected as expected.
Despite unceasing difficulties and threats, the Peace Community is succeeding in its plan of strengthening.
In the area of Urabà bay there are many families who live in some veredas, Alto Joaquin, Nain, Las Claras, and Puerto Nuevo some of whom are members of the peace Community. The area is known for the economical development which have followed the construction of the dam Urà1. It is actually a transit area for arms and drugs. Such families are having hard times because of lack of electricity, of schools facilities and because of frequent threatens by illegal armed groups of the area. Trades within close cities are hard because people have to move by boat which is really expensive for peasants. Despite that Community families have close relationships and are trying to stay united in order to make their life better. Recently they succeeded in buying a rice cleaning machine which will save them many hours of hand work.
Unfortunately, their will of doing better is disturbed by an unpleasant situation. It looks like that in the military harbour of Frasquillo, a forced crossing for trades with the city of Tierra Alta, soldiers are forcing peasants to pay a tax on pesticides, about 5-10 thousands pesos each litre.
There are many reports of paramilitary groups presence which do not care to enter houses exposing people to the risk of being involved into shootouts.
Veredas of Antioquia Department are getting larger too. In Mulatos new houses have been built for new families which moved there. In La Resbalosa some families which once lived distant from each other have decided to gather together in the same area because of the frequent harassment they are subjected to. Operation Dove volunteers collected a testimony from one peasant whose had been threatened by soldiers of sexual abuse on his 12 years old daughter if he will not cooperate with them, because his other son is a member of the Peace Community counsel. These parents are frightened since they live in quite an isolated area where no International volunteer is present. They do not have an alternative except to leave their land and survive in some city.
Updates about Apartadò bomb
On June 23rd a peasant was arrested by the police. It seems there is a video showing him while getting out of the shop where the bomb went off. He is charged of being a member of the FARC 5th front. Some witnesses stated he was working his land on that day. It is hard to tell the truth, but the risk is that the man arrested is a blameless scapegoat used to cover any one of the armed group involved for a number of different political and strategic reasons.
Sharing and volunteers
Volunteers were particularly busy in accompanying to Mulatos some Peace Community leaders and some Native Communities members from Chocò, La Guajira and Cauca on the occasion of the Community Assembly and “Campesina University”. This last one is an exchange of agricultural knowhow and civil resistance strategies. It consists of group workshops where different situation lived by members are told and analyzed. Almost a hundred participants were present in Mulatos, together with many international volunteers. Fortunately no armed group showed up although such a presence was noticed for sure.
European Mission Eulex has been extended for 2 years more, ending in 2012.
During the month a shootout took place in South Kosovo with two Macedonians and two Kosovans who were killed. Lately there is a growing tension between the Albanian minority of the area and the Macedonian administration. A Macedonian soldier was killed as well during a shootout between armed rebels and police.
During a Serbian demonstration held in Mitrovicë/Kos.Mitrovica against the opening of a representative office of the Prishtinë/Priština government a bomb went off killing a Serbian participant and wounding 11 people.
Volunteers keep visiting in Zallq/Zać a group of Serbian who came back to Kosovo three months ago, they are still waiting the building of their new houses to begin. Harassment toward them is still present even though the situation looks under control by Kosovan police and KFOR.
The aim of this last period is to make the group able to work on its own. Official meetings with OD volunteers have stopped, even though a supervision is going on by means of unofficial talks.
Soccer matches between Serbian Goraždevac and Albanian Poqestë youths get on pretty well, mixing alternatively the teams. Youth point broadcasted World Cup soccer matches, which saw a high participation unlike cinema meetings, which did not took place in the last weeks ‘cause no audience were present.
The team was directly involved during both visits and analyses of the situation in Zallq/Zać.
A seminary about memory and conflict (reprocessing and transformation) took place during the month. It was addressed to cooperation staff of Tavolo Trentino con Kraljevo, Progetto Prjedor and Tavolo Trentino con il Kossovo. The aim was to exchange experiences and strengthen cooperation between the three different projects since they operate in different areas in the country .
An important meeting took place during the month with youth from Prishtinë/Priština and Gračanica/Graçanicë aimed to inform and make the group responsible about production of the touring exhibition. Technical aspects were dealt and some picture showed in order to understand what basic themes should be underlined while choosing pictures.
Many informal activities took place: after last month participation of two Albanian youths a concert in Gračanica/Graçanicë, some Serbian youths went a big musical event close to Prishtinë/Priština. And again youths from Prishtinë/Priština were back for a concert in Gračanica/Graçanic cultural centre.
PALESTINE – ISRAEL
On June 10th school was up in At-Tuwani, OD volunteers monitored for the last time in the current school year the military escort which accompanied to school Tuba and Maghayr Al Abeed kids who were going to pick up their school reports. The military escort report shows many bad marks: many times were late or did not fulfil the whole path, exposing kids to settlers violence.
These same kids often help their parents to graze the flocks: at the beginning of the month some settlers get off their car frightening the kids and attempting to steal their sheep. Parents reported the fact to Kyriat Arba Police station.
During the month of June new buildings arouse in Havat Ma’on outpost, pictures were taken.
Soldiers put up check-points at the entrance of the village about ten times during the month.
The month was rich of visits by International groups.
A particularly worrying event troubled the village on June12th. Thirty masked settlers armed with slings and iron bars attacked a house in the village which is the closest to the outpost of Havat Ma’on. In that moment only women were present. One of them, pregnant fell while attempting to run. Villagers rushed there to make the settlers escape, soon after OD volunteers and Israeli Ta’yush activists arrived, one of them was arrested by police. During the following week, groups of settlers organized nightly rounds around the outpost, and Israeli police patrolled the area. Worried about the possibility of new attacks OD volunteers spent the nights monitoring the house. On one occasion settlers got close to the house screaming threatens of a new imminent attack.
A military operation interested Humra valley, close to At-Tuwani. A check-point was set up at the entrance of the village, seven jeeps and about ten soldiers on foot combed the fields around the village messing up all the villagers.
Despite the pressure by the Army nonviolent resistance keeps going on. In Jimba, a village located close to areas usually used for military trainings, people decided to fence in the almond plants they recently planted in order to trace their property borders.
Ministry of Interior recently announced the building of ten new CIE (Centre for Identification and Expulsion) on the national territory by the end of 2010. Unofficial sources locate one of them in an area 10 Km far for Castel Volturno.
The checking activity of Police is continuous. Immigrants which documents are not regular are arrested and released soon after with an expulsion sheet ordering them to leave the country in 5 days.
After-school activities stopped together with the end of the school year. Volunteers will soon move in a new house in Pescopagano area, where volunteers were already working with the Italian lectures for Immigrant activity. Lately, such lessons usually end up with a soccer match.
OD volunteers have been asked for new Italian courses by a group of people attending an Adventist Church and another group attending a Mosque.
In cooperation with a priest from Caserta, volunteers began to visit immigrants in their houses, organizing small meetings to discuss various issues and to try to give them a tiny legal support.
Eventually volunteers attempt to build relationships with the Italian population as well is getting real. They are now committed with children animation in the local parish in Pescopagano.
Together with other associations operating in the area an open-air day of games was organized, named “the journey”. The aim was to make people meeting, promoting trust and prejudices erasing between Italians and immigrants. It took place in the central square of Castel Volturno.
Twice a week volunteers reach Kalifoo Ground early in the morning, where Carabinieri often check immigrants who are there to find a job for the day. Immigrants claim that such checks are only directs toward “blacks” and that it is unfair since they go there to find job meaning they are not those who live committing crimes. Volunteers had occasions to exchange words with many Carabinieri, finding out that some of them do not agree with the present laws about immigration. They reported that they are asked to achieve a determined number of arrest of immigrants with no regular documents.
New meetings with the Caserta Network Against Racism are taking place. The idea is to study new activities aimed at asking the government new possibilities for immigrants to gain regular documents.
On a national level, after the announcement of the building of new CIE an activity of info collection has begun, with meetings and interview to people with dealt in the past with such places with different roles. Volunteers went in Crotone, where a multifunction place is present (S.Anna CDA, CARA e CIE).
Volunteers had an interesting meeting with S. Marcellino Imam. They wanted to know about its activities since he is particularly committed with immigrant situation.
Thanks to the medical doctor who provides health assistance to the families under blood revenge, volunteers can meet often such families. She provides as well a health education to family members.
The computer course is going one and volunteers are trying to make him creative making small videos. It is a good tool to know the families and to gain their trust.
On June 24th a round table took place trying to gather all the associations in Scutari area that are already working on the issue in order to promote a network. The principal aim was to introduce a common reflection about reconciliation. Participation was not complete, but the debate was really constructive. You can find some of the most importand issues dealt and the whole speech of Simone Mori on the Italian website of Operation Dove (www.operazionecolomba.it). (Simone Mori is Pope John XXIII Community missionary who lives in Albania and is the promoter of the project for family under blood revenge).