A report by Atungo Shitri, Secretary, Justice and Peace, CBCNEI

Mission Compound, Panbazar, Guwahati – 781001, Assam, India

With the aegis of the APBF and CBCNEI Mr. Atungo Shitri, the Secretary for Justice and Peace of the CBCNEI participated in the Trainers’ Training in Conflict Transformation and Peacemaking hosted by the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Baptist Aid/Peace Network and Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America on 24 – 29 September 2012 at Punta Villa Resort, Sto. Nino Sur, Arevalo, Iloilo City, Philippines.

The program was enlightening one with innovative experiential learning on the subject of conflict transformation and peacemaking. Altogether around 30 participants from Philippine, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and India attended the week long program. Ms. Lee A. Mckenna from Partera was the key resource person. She emphasized extensively on experiential learning skills and knowledge of conflict transformation and peacemaking.

The sessions comprised of group activities, group discussion, interviews, subject matter discussion on social change and transformation, mock presentation on conflict transformation initiatives (Jesus’ model) and presentations by country representatives from Myanmar, Philippines, Sri Lanka and India. The representative from Myanmar presented the socio-political and economic impact of the country’s war involving the military government and the ethnic groups and the social transformation on it road map to democratic governance. The representative from Sri Lanka presented the impact of the war involving the government and the ethnic Tamil minority and the social transformation aftermath the war. He also shared the vulnerability of the country’s economic condition due to unprecedented lending of money from China without properly assessing the future repercussion on the country’s economy. The representative from India presented the cases of ethnic violence in the North East India and their impact on the social and political situations. He also shared with the participants about the challenge of social and political change from these conflicts and religious hegemony of the Hindu fundamentalism.

Other sessions on Human Trafficking, impact of mining of minerals and hydro projects on environment and human rights were also discussed. The experts were invited to speak on these issues. The ecological impact due to mining of raw minerals in Philippine is a matter of huge concern to the indigenous people. These people are not only living with exposed toxic chemicals but also their livelihood is at stake. The government planned hydro projects without informed consent of the local indigenous people and their farming land occupied without appropriate compensation. Human trafficking of young girls also is of huge concern in Philippines. Often young vulnerable girls from the rural areas are lured with job offers and smuggled out of Philippines to work as prostitutes in other countries. With no legal documents to stay in the destination countries, these young girls become virtual slaves of the perpetrators and in some instances these young girls are murdered by their perpetrators when they become a threat to them.

Overall, the program was well-planned and well-executed. The participants expressed with positive response about their learning from this program and wish to having more of such programs in the near future. The follow-up to this workshop is planned in February 2013 in Colombo, Sri Lanka and in October 2013 in Assam, India.

As a final note, I would like to thank APBF and CBCNEI for sponsoring my expenses towards this program. I assure you that with this program, the ministry of Justice and Peace of the CBCNEI will be taken to next level of dedicated involvement both within and outside of the region and country.

God Bless!