Creative Space Beirut

Karina shared with us tonight her work at the Creative Space Beirut. CSB is a is “a free educational program in fashion design which inspires and empowers youth from various socio-economic backgrounds who lack opportunities to pursue their creative aspirations.” You can find out more about their work on their website: http://creativespacebeirut.com/

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White Armband Day

“Hvala.”

As we finished our small cups of coffee, strips of white cloth were passed around the table. Each of us tied the band around our arm in solidarity with the non-Serbs who received the mandate to do so fourteen years prior in Prijedor.

Because I Care

On Saturday, 31 May diverse crowds gathered in rows to march toward the city center. Bosnian refugees, local citizens, international activists, and the like walked side by side in casual conversation with one another. The demonstration was held in the main square, Trg Zorana Karlice. Organizers passed around pamphlets which politely request the support of participants by signing a petition to construct a memorial honoring children from Prijedor who died between 1992-1995.

Petition

White roses were then placed in a circle along the square, representing the proposed location for the memorial. Participants were able to read the names and ages of the children who would be remembered attached to the stems of the flowers. A Monument for the Innocent Victims

This temporary act to commemorate innocent victims of war took action providing Bosnian citizens the opportunity to sign a document to illustrate their support. Two lines were organized, one for those from Prijedor and one for Bosnians living outside of the town. Once 1000 signatures were acquired, the petition would then be submitted to the local authorities for further consideration.

Signing the Petition

The day was most successful by the way in which it brought individuals together in shared support for the victims of ethnic discrimination fourteen years ago. Skeptical onlookers made clear that the tensions between ethnic groups continue to persist in Prijedor. Still, this event has grown in size and momentum each year and allows for fruitful conversations between those afflicted and those in pursuit of a peaceful future.

For more information about the White Armband Day, the website ‘Stop Genocide Denial.’

Flood Damage in Prijedor

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We are still in pre-project mode here in Prijedor. A few other participants have arrived but most come today or tomorrow.

Yesterday we met with the Mile and Thea from Cisto Srce, a youth humanitarian organization in Prijedor. They do awesome work with young people and have been contributing a lot to the relief efforts since the floods.

Prijedor was had a lot of damage from the floods two weeks ago. The river burst through the barriers on the southern bank saving the city center from the rising waters. Many many homes were damaged and you can see photos from the high point two weeks ago. Much of the water has receded but it has left mud, mold, and dangerous buildings for residents. Later this week we will work together with Cisto Srce and Centar Za Mlade Kvart to help distribute aid that has been collected to families around the city.

In the meantime, we are preparing for the May 31st White Armband Day demonstration later today. The demonstration seeks to draw attention to the city government’s continued refusal to publicly acknowledge the killings of more than 3100 civilians in Prijedor, of whom 102 were children. There are more than ten monuments to Serb soldiers who died in the war but the city government has not granted permission for a memorial for these children. We will update later this week on the demonstration.

Application for HIA Project on Peacebuilding 2014

WHEN: 1-5 June 2014

WHERE: Prijedor, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)

WHO’S ELIGIBLE: Bosnian and international Humanity in Action Senior Fellows and activists and artists from the Prijedor region. Participants must be fluent in English.

About the Program

The project seeks applicants for a 5-day program to engage in workshops, discussions, site visits and trainings that explore how arts, activism, and youth can contribute to local and national reconciliation in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Applicants with artistic skills, advocacy experience, and/or a background working with youth are encouraged to apply.

Overview

Participants will engage in discussions about the legacy of conflict and current human rights issues in the region, lead arts workshops with youth, and develop advocacy skills through community organizing skills trainings. The group will include 15 people representing the Bosnian and international Humanity in Action Senior Fellow networks, in addition to artists and activists from the Prijedor area. This program will take place following the activities surrounding the White Armband Day, commemorating the violence in Prijedor during the war. Participants will also engage with an annual youth festival with a local peacebuilding NGO, Most Mira (Bridge of Peace). Building on previous collaboration with Most Mira, this year’s project will connect a wider range of Humanity in Action Senior Fellows and activists in Bosnia.

The Context

Since the war ended almost two decades ago, tensions in Bosnia and Herzegovina between members of different ethnic groups pose significant social, political and economic challenges. The conflict has marked the Prijedor region, which saw several tragedies, including displacement, detention camps, and recently discovered mass graves. Young people in the region grow up in segregated communities, attend ethnically divided schools, and learn divergent histories. Despite these issues, the international community has largely ignored the region and institutionalized the divides in the local communities. Our project will provide a rare space for young activists to share ideas about current challenges, contribute to an ongoing peacebuilding project, and learn advocacy tools that they can employ to help improve their home communities. This project also builds on a partnership between Humanity in Action and Most Mira begun last year; you can find their final report here.

The Program

The 5-day program in Prijedor, sponsored by Humanity in Action, will include three components:

  • Discussions on current local human rights issues
  • Arts workshops with young people
  • Community organizing skills trainings

In addition to participating in advocacy trainings, participants will engage in discussions about recent examples of civic activism in BiH. Participants are invited to attend the White Armband Day on the 31st of May taking place prior to the beginning of the program on June 1. Participants will also lead arts workshops, including drama, photography, media, and creative movement, with young people participating in Most Mira’s Youth Festival.

Costs

Bosnian participants’ travel and accommodation costs will be covered. Please bring additional spending money to cover some food for the week.

Application process

The deadline for submission is 30 April 2014. Please submit a CV and 500-word statement of interest, including any experience working in the field of human rights, with youth, and/or the arts and ideas for concrete ways in which you can contribute to this project through workshops, etc., to peacebuilding@humanityinaction.org. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and all applicants will be notified by late-April.

2013 Report: ‘Creative Commons: Engaging Youth in Peacebuilding through Art in Bosnia and Herzegovina’

Launch of our report from the Most Mira – Humanity in Action International Exchange

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Most Mira and Humanity in Action (HIA) joined forces in May 2013 for a special project during our annual youth arts festival. This year’s program involved a multi-ethnic cast of 40 youth from the Prijedor area, who performed an adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights’ Dream. This year”s international exchange included HIA Senior Fellows, along with Most Mira Trustees and volunteers, engaging in research and dialogue about youth in peacebuilding.

This report presents our findings, as well as the broader context of peacebuilding and youth organizations in Bosnia and Herzegovina today.

Download

Abstract: Myriad challenges currently face the largely stagnated peacebuilding process in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this divided environment, working with youth and using art both have the power to contribute to conflict resolution. This report looks at youth and art organizations that address the legacy of the conflict in various ways. It highlights the work of Most Mira in the context of other grassroots organizations in BiH. Looking at these various NGO activities, this report argues that engaging youth through art opens up an essential creative space. This approach often avoids the topic of politics but directly addresses the conflict’s divisive legacy by bringing youth together across ethnic lines in the effort to help them build a common future. Engaging youth through art can therefore make a unique contribution to peacebuilding in BiH.

Why Engage Youth?

  • Although many young people have no personal memory of the conflict, the war’s legacy currently shapes the country’s political, social and economic future.
  • Almost two decades after the war ended in BiH, communities remain ethnically segregated, a system that a divided education system reinforces.
  • Working with youth also provides an opportunity to engage adults who are both survivors and perpetrators, as these adults become involved in activities by supporting their children’s participation.

Why Use

Art?

This project was supported by the Humanity in Action’s

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Senior Fellow Grant Program, made possible by the generous support from the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Department of War Victims and Remembrance.