By Wolfgang Lieberknecht, Initiative Black and White, February 15, 2021
In Wanfried in Germany last year we laid a foundation stone for the International PeaceFactory Wanfried and formed a support association for this purpose. The PeaceFactory has registered as a chapter (local subdivision) with the non-governmental organisation “World BEYOND War (WBW)”. The PeaceFactory has prepared the following report on the activities of the chapter.
But first about WBW:
In the United States, peace activists have been working for several years to build a global security system that will end all wars and ensure that all future conflicts are fought only by peaceful means. The initiative is called and can be reached via this link World BEYOND War.
This is the organisation’s basic peace declaration, which has now been signed by people in over 180 countries:
“I understand that wars and militarism make us less safe instead of protecting us, that they kill, injure and traumatise adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, undermine civil liberties and drain our economies, siphon resources from life-affirming activities. I pledge to undertake and support non-violent efforts to end all wars and preparations for war and to build a sustainable and just peace.”
And now for the annual report of the International PeaceFactory Wanfried:
Peace activists launched the PeaceFactory Wanfried as a chapter of World BEYOND War after attending the 2019 WBW General Assembly in Ireland. NoWar2019 – World Beyond War . . .
In 2020, they founded the Förderverein für die Friedensfabrik Wanfried as a registered association. The association chose this name because it wants to build a regional, supraregional and international meeting centre in a former factory building in the small town of Wanfried. It is to offer space for building personal relationships of peace activists and space for the education of multipliers. Wanfried is located in the middle of Germany, directly on the former German-German border. Until 1989, the East and West blocs were hostile to each other here.
Representatives of the two peace initiatives from the region, the Peace Forum Werra-Meißner and the Peace Initiative Hersfeld-Rotenburg, and Reiner Braun from the International Peace Bureau joined the new association as assessors.
The PeaceFactory organised a peace march with the regional initiatives on Anti-War Day in September in the district town of Eschwege.
It continued to organise public protest rallies with the regional peace initiatives before the adoption of the federal budget; this provided for a renewed increase in arms spending; Germany is thus the country with the highest percentage increase in arms spending. Peace activists organised manifestations in five towns in the district; there had not been anything like this for many years.
The Social Democratic member of the Bundestag for the district, Minister of State Michael Roth, was urged in letters to reject the budget, to no avail. But at least the local press reported on it.
The PeaceFactory organised with the initiative Black and White (an association for African-European
Verständigung – Afrikanisch-europäische Verständigung | Initiative Black and White | Wanfried (initiative-blackandwhite.org) organised an action Black lives matter also in Africa. Members of the initiative Black and White Ghana About IBWG – IBWG (initiativeblackandwhiteghana.org) and the youth centre Syda Sunyani Youth Development Association – SYDA were online.
The music group Black&White played at the Black Lives Matter meeting and presentations criticised the military interventions of the NATO countries in Libya and West Africa and the trade policies of European countries that block the economy in Africa. In another webinar on the destabilising effects of European trade policy in West Africa, a PhD student from Germany presented the results of her on-site research: According to her, subsidies for farmers in Europe lead to cheaper exports and to the displacement of African farmers from African markets. Black lives matter event in Witzenhausen.
In Ghana, there were fears of violence in connection with the December elections. SYDA and the Black&White initiative tried to counter this by organising a peace march. Members of the Peace Factory contributed to the financing of the action.
In several joint webinars, the initiatives mobilised together for the peace march, among other things through a lecture by the Liberian, Matthew Davis, who had fled from the civil war in his country to Ghana, reported on the horrors of war he had experienced and warned: “We have experienced in Liberia how quickly you can get into a war, but how difficult it is to get out of it again. He has been organising an NGO in the Ghanaian capital Accra for many years to enable refugee children to attend school. Matthew Cares Foundation International (MACFI) – Families Mentoring Families
In several joint webinars, the initiatives mobilised together for the peace march, among other things through a lecture by a Liberian who had fled from the civil war in his country to Ghana, reported on the horrors of the war he had experienced and warned: “We have experienced in Liberia how quickly you can get into a war, but how difficult it is to get out of it again. He has been organising an NGO in the Ghanaian capital Accra for many years to enable refugee children to attend school.
In connection with the peace march, the need to build sustainable peace work in Ghana was discussed and the establishment of a chapter of World beyond was discussed. To this end, the PeaceFactory Wanfried organised several webinars with the Black&White, SYDA and Greta initiatives of WBW. In one, Vijay Metha Home – Uniting for Peace presented the proposals from his book “How not to go to war”.
Meanwhile, connections to peace activists in Liberia have also developed through the webinars. In another webinar on the war situation in West Africa, Fokus Sahel Fokus Sahel presented its work, a network supporting peace activities in the Sahel region. The peace factory wants to strengthen its regional anchorage but also use its contacts in Africa to strengthen peace efforts there. It sees an ever-widening war-terrorism-more-war trap: the destruction of the Libyan state by NATO countries has destabilised more and more states in West Africa in a domino effect: The violence has spread from Libya to Mali and from there to Burkina Faso and Niger.
It could now also threaten the coastal states, where most young people also have no prospects for work and social security and experience a lot of state arbitrariness. The response of Western countries, the use of military instead of addressing the causes, has so far contributed to the aggravation of the situation and the spread of violence. This is kept quiet in world public opinion, as the report of the Norwegian Refugee Council proves: