UNITED RELIGIONS INITIATIVE Southeast Asia & the Pacific Regional E-Newsletter

Pakigdait CC celebrates Mindanao Week of Peace 2007 (CC Update)

In response to the need for enhancing peace in Mindanao, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed on November 26, 2001 Presidential Proclamation No. 127 declaring the last Thursday of November up to the first Wednesday of December of every year as the Mindanao Week of Peace. The Mindanao Week of Peace points to the future of peaceful coexistence between peoples divided by culture and religion, and leads the way to the synergy of activities among members of the civil society organizations

Peace Caravan and Youth Forum

About 70 young people from Iligan City, Marawi City, Lanao del Norte Province and Lanao del Sur converged at the Mindanao State University main campus in Marawi City on November 30, 2007 for a special forum on the role of the youth in peacebuilding and volunteerism. Kapamagogopa, Inc as the lead organization, in cooperation with Pakigdait CC, has started a productive synergistic relationship with university officials last year. At present, the self-help organization has about 12 new all-Muslim volunteers from different fields. Youth student leaders from different cultures and religions, youth community leaders, artists, NGO workers and youth entrepreneurs composed the group in the forum. A special meeting with MSU President Ricardo de Leon was one of the highlights of the activity.

Culture of Peace Workshop
For the PNP of Lanao del Norte

Sponsored by Pakigdait CC, VSO and CAFOD, the COP workshop was conducted from November 29 to December 1, 2007 at Villa Lacida, Linamon, Lanao del Norte. This was the first of its kind to be held in Mindanao. Workshop Programme Officer Xarifa Sanguila welcomed the first batch of PNP officers at the opening and after dinner the participants in civilian clothing went to Iligan City to join the Civil Society Organizations for Peace (CSOFP), and the Civil Society Organization Lanao del Norte Partnership for Peace and Development (CSOLNPPD) for the opening salvo of the MWOP. Resource persons included Pakigdait Director Musa Sanguila (“Ako at ang Aking Tribu,” and “Towards a Culture of Peace” ); Pakigdait Board Chairman Rev Fr Reggie Quijano (“Culture: Source of Conflict and Wellspring of Unity”); and CAFOD Country Accompanier Carino V. Antequisa (“Understanding Conflict: An Introduction to Conflict Transformation,” and “Peaceful Approaches to Resolving Conflict” ). Closing was given by Pakigdait Board Member Ptr Reu Montecillo. Guests during the graduation and awarding ceremonies included: Brig Gen Edgardo M. Gurrea (Ret.) who was awarded a Plaque of Recognition for his role as Chairman of the GRP CCCH; Lanao del Norte Board Member Robert Matalines (Representing Gov Mohammad Khalid Q. Dimaporo); and PNP Provincial Director P/SSupt Linog M. Bagul.

URI Statement on the Crisis in the Middle East

(Approved by the Standing Committee on behalf of the Global Council of
the United Religions Initiative)

As trustees of the Global Council of the United Religions Initiative, we write to urge an immediate and complete ceasefire of violence that is currently happening in the Middle East, and a commitment by all parties, including the international community and the world's religions, to find the will to complete, implement and invest in a comprehensive peace agreement that will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

We write as leaders of the URI, a global interfaith organization active in 70 countries, through the work of 400 member Cooperation Circles. URI's purpose is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. We have many members in the Middle East, including Palestinians, Israelis, Jordanians and Egyptians. The URI has consultative status at the UN through ECOSOC.

As leaders of an interfaith organization dedicated to resolving conflict without resorting to violence, we recognize and laud the heroic work of Palestinians, Israelis and peace advocates all over the world who are dedicated to rising above the violence and working for peace, justice and healing.

We believe that a new day is possible when a comprehensive, just peace will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

We call on all involved - Israelis and Palestinians, people of other nations, international bodies, religions, and grassroots groups working heroically for peace - to take the following steps to speed the dawning of that day:

* To stop the violence immediately.

* To supply immediate humanitarian aid to address urgent suffering and long-term aid to rebuild.

* To commit to negotiate, invest in and implement a comprehensive peace agreement that will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.

* To invest in every means possible to weave a fabric of genuine, mutually honoring community among Palestinians and Israelis at the grassroots level.

* To invest less in armaments and more in social and economic infrastructure.

We commit to do all we are able, beginning with support for URI member Cooperation Circles in Israel and Palestine, and engaging our members around the world to help these steps be fulfilled.

And we commit to pray and meditate that violence will cease, peace prevail and a life of hope be restored to the long-suffering people of this region.

URI Global Youth CC Statement on the current situation in Gaza.

We, the members of the Global Youth Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative, wish to express our concern at the current situation in Gaza. Conflict creates hardship and fear for people on both sides and takes its toll on civilians, both young and old, and the livelihood of communities and economies.

As a youth network we sympathise with our fellows, the young people who are caught up in the crisis, in both Gaza and in the Israeli communities that live in fear of rocket attacks. Young people are the future of any community and we feel that they should not have to live amidst a cycle of violence and hardship. In order for young people to make meaningful and healthy contributions to society, it is imperative that they grow and develop within a space of security and integrity.

We are also concerned about those who are vulnerable in these times, such as the elderly and the sick. They need access to medical resources and clean, safe environments. In times of crisis these people suffer the most because basic facilities are less accessible.

They also need to live without the fear created by constant attacks. This situation is robbing people on both sides of basic human rights that are theirs by international law.

We implore both sides to pursue the path of peace and reconciliation and reduce hostilities so that aid and supplies can reach the people of Gaza to alleviate their suffering and so the Israeli people can live without fear. It is our hope that both sides can cooperate in order to achieve a lasting peace and quality of life for all people. Our goal, as members of a global interfaith community, is to achieve this all over the world.