Operazione Colomba is a project opened to people, believers and nonbelievers, who believe that the nonviolence is the only way to get Peace, based on truth, justice, forgiveness and reconciliation.
The members are volunteers essentially divided in two groups: long term volunteers, i.e. people who dedicate one or two years as full-timer, and short volunteers, i.e. people who give one or more months of availability. The few requirements to be a volunteer are: the will to live in a nonviolent way, the ability to live in a group, to be of age and finally to take part in our training course.
The three common characteristics of every Operazione Colomba action are:
1. sharing the same living standards and facing the same risks of local people;
2. being neutral towards the fighting parties, thus denouncing any injustice and human rights violation committed by them;
3. promoting an active nonviolent approach in conflict management.
Our volunteers intervene in conflict areas, sharing life with the victims of war. In the middle of a conflict, the presence of an international, neutral and unarmed team acts as an excellent deterrent against violence targeting civil populations. Thus is the most effective way to: protect civilian’s basic human rights, to allow people satisfy their basic needs and to save lives. Moreover, by sharing the same living standards and risks, Operazione Colomba teams build an invaluable relationship of confidence with local people, which is the essential pre-requisite when working on peace-building.
The community was created in 1968 by father Oreste Benzi. Its members operate in the wide field of social marginalization, by choosing to live together with people in need. In this way, they have committed themselves in the hard challenge of setting free oppressed people and removing the causes of poverty and injustice.
The association, whose members work on a voluntary basis, operates in Italy as well as in several countries all over the world. From 1968, the association members have developed family hospitality for marginalized people, social co-operatives, day-care centres, therapeutic communities for drug addicts and alcoholics. In addition they have built centres, schools and activities for children, disabled people, prisoners, gypsies communities, homeless, migrants, elders, etc… The association also supports and promotes peace, trying to spread a nonviolent culture.
Together with other national realities (partly they are reunited in Tavolo Interventi Civili di Pace and IPRI – Rete CCP) and internationals (PBI, NPF, FOR, CPT…) we believe it’s time to introduce and realize some effective and credible alternatives to the military means to intervene in international, inter-states and intra-states conflicts.
During the last twenty years the global civil society has proposed new form of intervention in various sectors of the international life.
As Boutrous Ghali, the former UN Secretary-General, has recognized, in his Peace Program, ONGs and the Civil Society can hold an important task preventing conflicts, keeping peace and building peace after conflicts. Many resolutions of UN General Assembly affirm the right/duty to intervene in favor of Human Rights.
In our opinion, Operazione Colomba is an important and efficient model of Nonviolent Peace Corps who intervene in acute armed and social conflicts.
It was 1992…
Some volunteers and conscientious objectors of the Community Pope John XXIII, provoked by the Yugoslavia conflict that raged a few hundred kilometers on the other side of the Adriatic sea (the headquarters of the Association is in Rimini) and with the wish to effectively experience nonviolence approach in conflict areas, tried to reach refugee camps in Croatia.
They succeeded and the first major discovery was that foreign unarmed civilians could enter the wars.
Then they began to spend periods in refugee camps and discovered a second very important thing: the victims of contemporary wars are mostly civilians, people who cannot run away, the most defenseless: children, women, disabled, the elderly…
Soon they realized…
…that a permanent international presence was needed on both sides. The war, lived from inside, no longer appeared in black and white but it revealed shades of gray that the mass medias usually hide.
They discovered how the power of love, truth, and nonviolence could demolished the mechanism of hatred and destruction.
In this way…
…the Nonviolent Peace Corps of the Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII, called Operazione Colomba born. Sharing life with the victims of the conflicts (women, children, abandoned elderly, the disabled, refugees …), with a simple and neutral behavior, operating simultaneously on different sides of the conflict and on several levels, supporting the daily needs of people, but also promoting meetings with local institutions (religious and civil) and internationals. In those years Operazione Colomba has managed to bring together many families divided by the Yugoslavia war, to protect ethnic minorities and recreate spaces of peaceful coexistence.
Since 1995, Operazione Colomba has experienced nonviolent, disarmed interventions in many other conflicts in the world: Croatia – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Yugoslavia (1992 – 1997), Albania (1997), Sierra Leone (1997), Kosovo – Albania – Macedonia (1998 – 2000), East Timor – Indonesia (1999), Chiapas – Mexico (1998 – 2002), Chechnya – Russia (2000 – 2001), Democratic Republic of the Congo (2001), Gaza Strip – Palestine (2002 – 2003), Darfur – Sudan (2008).
Update from Tuwani, 27th september-7th october 2004
27th September 2004
At 12.20 p.m., two volunteers (one from CPT and one from Operation Dove) started walking with 5 children from Tuwane?s school to the children?s home in Tuba. They walked on the street between Maon settlement and Maon Hill outpost. They arrived at 12.50 in Tuba, where the volunteers spoke with the family about the difficulties to live in the place without using the road to Tuwani because of the settlers harassment to everyone passing by this road. The 4-5 families in Tuba are very poor and they live in caves. They are farmers and shepherds and they don?t have houses in other places. Only one of them has a tractor. One of the children looks like undernourished.
The children are forced to take a 6 kilometres way to reach the school, instead of the 2km one that is forbidden because of the settler?s violences.
28th September 2004
At 6.15 a.m., three volunteers from Cpt and one from Operation Dove started walking to Tuba on the ?short way?. They arrived in Tuba at 6.45 and walked back to Tuwani together with the children. They arrived in the school in Tuwani at 7.20 a.m.
At 11.30a.m., two volunteers tried to go to Yatta together with people from Tuwani with a car. In the junction between the main street to Hebron and the way entering in Tuwani, they found a military craft. The soldiers stopped and prevented them to continue. The officer said the area of Yatta was closed for three days for security reason, because the army was looking for terrorists. In the evening Kim and George discovered that what the soldiers said wasn?t true and that D.C.O. never ordered to close the area.
At 12.20p.m., one volunteer from Cpt and one from Operation Dove walked from Tuwani to Tuba together with the children in the ?short way?. They arrived in Tuba around 12.50p.m. They started to come back around 12.55 and when they were walking in the middle of the road, in front of the gate to Maon settlement and the junction with the street to the outpost, they met a man from the Settlement Security with a car. The man stopped the volunteers and ask them where were they going and where they were from. They said they are friend of the families in Tuba and Tuwani and were coming back from Tuba because of their accompaniment for the children from Tuwani to Tuba. The man asked one of them to show him the passport, the volunteer asked if he was a public official, and at negative answer the volunteer refused to show the passport and went away.
At 6.00a.m. two volunteers from Cpt started to walk to Tuba.
At 7.05 a.m. one volunteer in Tuwani, seeing they were not came back, called one of them. He spoke with very difficult breathing, saying they were attacked from settlers just some minutes before. At 7.15 two volunteers called the police station in Kyriat Arba and said what happened, then they started walking to the place of the attack. They found the two volunteers attacked in a small field close to the fence of the stockfarm near Maon?s gate settlement, in the junction with the street to Tuba, in the same place where they met the man of the Settlement Security the day before. Kim Lamberty was sitting on earth with the back let to a big stone, Chris Brown was standing on but with the face completely stained with blood, with a big contusion on the left side of the head and on the back and with a very difficult breathing. The clothes of Chris and Kim were stained with blood?s spots and there were also a spot of blood on a stone on the earth. Kim had the right leg completely immobilized so as the left harm. One of the volunteers started shooting a video as soon as he arrived in the place. They called the OCHA office in Hebron to inform what happened. The OCHA office called the police and said that the four internationals were standing in the place under threat of the same people that attacked Chris and Kim and asked to police to go immediately in the place to avoid other attacks. The police said they had sent immediately a car. Between 7.24 and 8.00 the four people stayed in the place waiting the police in a dangerous situation.
To have a right knowledge on the fact is possible to see the video.
At 7.45 arrived a settlers from Maon Gate, member of the Security. He asked what happened, made some calls, and after said that he were sorry but also is not so good that international come there because they make problem like that fact. He said that international presence there broked a balance and that someone read this presence like a provocation. He asked also ?Why do you come here??
Around 8.00 the police came(car n.22-478) and a military jeep (611283) too, and after some minutes the ambulance arrived. The number of the police car, the military jeep and ambulance could be visible in the video.
After the ambulance left with Cris, Kim and another volunteer accompanying them, the soldier prevent the other volunteer to walk back to Tuwane because the street was inside the military closed area. They didn?t show him any paper. The police said the soldier are the autorithy and what they said they have to accept. Finally the police took the v olunteer in the car towards the main street, trough Maon?s road. From the main street he went to Tuwane walking. In the afternoon came three police cars with the inspector. They took George to the place of the attack and asked him to say what he saw and what Cris and Kim said to him. After that the inspector named Cobi said they will put a police car in the place of the attack the day after to protect the children and the internationals.
At 6.05a.m four volunteers went to Tuba taking the children. On the road to Tuba they didn?t find the car. They called the police and they said they will come in 30 minutes. The internationals walked to Tuba and wait there the arrival of the police on the road to Tuwane. After 20 minutes they walked to Tuwane and they find a police car in the place of the attack. Probably they misunderstood cause the different time between Israel and Palestinian Autority who changed the time few days after. The children and the internationals walked without problems to Tuwane.
At 11.40a.m, come in the village a military jeep (611283) with the officer called Ofer. The soldier said to the chief of the village and some volunteers that it could be very dangerous for the children and them come back to Tuba, because that was an holiday for the Jews and could be more problem than the day before and more blood could be spread off. The chief of the village, the teachers of the school and the internationals decided to come to Tuba with the long way on foot because the short one could be more dangerous than the day before.
The school was closed because was friday.
At 6.00 two volunteers from Cpt and two from Operation Dove and three Israelis pacifists walked to Tuba for the short way. When they were coming back to Tuwani together with the children they received a call from the chief of the village in Tuwani that the school was closed because of the strike against the high number of killed the day before in Gaza. The children come back home and the volunteers went back to Tuwani.
At 6.00 a.m. the four volunteers and two Israelis pacifists walked on the short way to Tuba. On the way they found a police car, the policemen said they were waiting to escort them and the children. On the way back to Tuwane, with the police car there were also two military crafts (one with number 611283) with the officer called Ofer. The army brought the military order to close the street for 72 hours. The soldiers said them to take the long way. The volunteers showed the officer a paper from the military office of the middle side of Israel saying that the street between Tuwani and Tuba was open to the children. The officer read the paper and made a call with the radio. After the call he said the street between Tuwani and Tuba wasn?t this one but the long one and that people colud bring the children to school with the tractor if they want. After speaking the officer allowed the children to go at school on the short way escorted from the police but he didn?t allowed the international and the Israelis. After 2 hours under the sun without water, the volunteers decided to go out of the area walking in the direction of the settlement. They walked near the fence of the settlement and enter inside it from a gap of the fence, and immediately come the security to prevent them, but after they explained the situation he allowed them to pass through and go to the main street.
At 12.50 two of the volunteers walked to Tuba with the children on the long way. In some sides of this path the children run because the path is exposed to the sight of the settlers from the hill, and the children are very scared. After arriving in Tuba, the volunteers walked back to Tuwani on the long way.
Children went to school for the long way without accompaniment.
Children went to school for the long way.
At 10.30a.m arrived in Tuwane Annaliese Reynemeyer representative of the American Consulate. She met the head of the village and the volunteers and heard about what happened to Chris and Kim.
At 12.40a.m three volunteers and four Israelis pacifists walked with the children from Tuwani to Tuba on the short way. When they were walking near the place of the attack, one settler from the outpost under the trees shout them something. They arrived with the children on Tuba without any problem. On the way back, they met a car from Settlement Security in the place of the attack, in the car there were the same settler that came after the attack of Cris and Kim, and a woman officer of the Army. They spoke with the Israelis pacifists and also tried to stop one of them with the car just for 5 seconds. The volunteers and the Israelis walked in Tuwane?s direction. When they were around 50 meters far from the place of the attack, in the middle of the street, they saw some stones falling down near them. They saw one masked young man, with a green t-shirt throwing them some stones from the outpost?s trees. They start walking faster, scared from this attack, but they saw the security man and the girl soldier seeing everything but smoking one sigarette without doing anything. One of the volunteers called the Inspector named Daniel, colleague of Inspector Cobi and said what was happening. It was 14.15p.m.
At 14.30 the volunteers were in Tuwane when they met a military car (611283). The officer said the day after they will come to protect them on the street.
At 6.00 four international volunteers and four Israelis pacifists walked to Tuba from Tuwani and they didn?t find the soldiers. They called the DCO that said the soldiers were coming. They met the soldiers in the place of the attack on Chris and Kim. The officer, the same of the day before, showed them a military order closing the area from the day before (from 19p.m) to 13th of October. They walked to Tuba and after went to Tuwani together with the children on the long way. The military order was signed from a person named MOTI.
The children went to school on the long way. Around 14.00p.m. come in the Tuwani a military car (611283) with the same officer of the day before. He said to the chief of the village that the day after he could go to Tuba and Tuwani with the children, with a military car on the road protecting them on the short way, but for everyone else (volunteers and Israelis) the street was closed again.
At 6.00a.m. five volunteers together with a Palestinian men from the village, walked to Tuba on a different way, from the opposite site of the outpost hill and out of the area closed by the army. They arrived to Tuba and came back to Tuwane together with the children on the same way.
When they arrived, with the children, closed to the outpost under the trees two military cars came, one hammer and one jeep number 611283 with the officer called Ofer, Came also a man of the Settlement?s Security, the same of the morning of the attack to Chris and Kim.
The officer said that area was closed military area too, and for that the volunteer had to walk 100meters far from there. The officer allowed the children to walk on the street that surrounds the hill and the soldier escorted them together with the chief of the village. The volunteers were forced to walk for another street longer and distant. During the speech with the officer, the settler took pictures of the volunteers and also of the children. The volunteers tried to deny him to take pictures of the children but he continued and the soldiers didn?t stop him.
One volunteer asked him if he has seen two days before the masked man throwing them stones. He said yes and that he can?t do anything.
At 12.40 two volunteers from Cpt and one from Operation Dove, and two ladies from Amnesty International Office in London, together with the children and a Palestinian man from the village, walked from Tuwani to Tuba on the same street of the morning (medium way).they arrived in Tuba about 3.00 p.m. During the walk to and from Tuba they saw Israeli?s security forces patrol jeeps in the area near the Havat Ma?on outpost.
Around half of the way, they saw a group of five and a group of three settlers. In the group of five two had black head and covered faces, and other three had light coloured covers. At least two of them had stick and two had slings. We didn?t notice if the group of three was carrying something.
The group of five walked in the direction of the volunteers and throw stones towards them both with slings and hands. The group of three seemed to have gone down to the side of the hill on the right side of the volunteers group, and we didn?t see them any more. One of the volunteers immediately called the police station in Kiryat Arba. The Palestinian run to Tuwani and the volunteers continued to walk faster away from the men who continued to chase them and threw stones. The group start to walk faster towards the volunteers that tried to run faster away from them. They start to attack an Italian volunteer, Adriano, and severely beat him with the stick and stones and took his camera. One of Amnesty?s representative was beat in the arm.
The aggression lasted 5 minutes and after that Adriano collapsed. Eventually an army patrol arrived on the scene, then a second army patrol come and one soldier took Adriano?s pulse and administered him an IV physiological solution. Later the police patrol and an ambulance came. A security guard from the Ma?on settlement had also come, before the others. He arrived in a white car carrying a weapon. He remained there and spoke to the army and police patrols. Adriano could recognize just one of the attackers because his mask went down until the mouth. They were all young (seemingly early 20s), medium height and slim built. (They spoke Hebrew; one women spoke to them in Hebrew: Lama atem hosing kaze, ma atem rotzim,hitkasharnu a mistara, ha mistara bederek ?Why are you doing that, what do you want, we have called the police, the police is on the way? One of them said; atem im haaravim ?You are with the arabs?; they said other things in Hebrew which we didn?t understand.
The volunteers of Operation Dove