The imperialist colonizers have a common set of infamy — ethnic cleansing and genocide. The mindset of Spain and the United States of America considered our lands as resources to be exploited and our peoples as obstacles to be removed. This mindset laid the foundation for the systematic marginalization, oppression, and violence against the Indigenous Peoples of our archipelago. Driven by the pursuit of power, wealth, and territorial dominance, these empires embarked on expansive conquests that often involved the subjugation of indigenous populations in our country. Through our similar experiences of historical injustice, we see through the American and British instigated and perpetuated Israeli occupation of Palestine. Our on-going response to these historical injustices is justice-based peacebuilding.
Justice-based peacebuilding in Mindanao
Justice-based peacebuilding, as advocated and practiced by PeaceBuilders Community, is a comprehensive strategy that goes beyond merely addressing the surface manifestations of conflict. It involves a profound commitment to addressing the underlying causes of armed conflicts, recognizing the importance of accountability, reparations, and reconciliation in fostering lasting peace.
In Mindanao, Philippines, the action plan for justice-based peacebuilding involves creating mechanisms for accountability on both local and international levels. International partners, such as the Peace Commission of the Mennonite World Conference, the Mennonite Church Canada, the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflicts, and the Principles for Peace Foundation, play a crucial role in establishing local justice advocacies that incorporate traditional and community-based mechanisms that ensure a more holistic approach, considering the unique context of each situation.
However, executing justice-based peacebuilding faces numerous hindrances. Political complexities, power struggles, and the reluctance of some parties to cooperate with justice mechanisms can impede progress. Overcoming these challenges requires persistent local cooperative efforts, international collaboration, and a commitment to justice as an indispensable element of peacebuilding.
Our perspective of Israel’s ethnic cleansing and acts of genocide against the Palestinians
At the time of this writing, Al Jazeera reports that:
- The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees warned that hospitals in Gaza may shut down by Wednesday night if no fuel is delivered. The Palestinian Health Ministry urged “immediate flow” of medical supplies and fuel into Gaza Strip hospitals.
- Israeli air attacks in Gaza on Tuesday killed at least 704 people, which the Palestinian Ministry of Health said was the highest 24-hour death toll there since fighting began.
- Early on Wednesday, Israel’s military announced that its fighter jets struck Syrian army infrastructure and launched mortars in response to firing from Syria. Syrian state media reported that the attack killed eight of its soldiers and wounded seven.
- Hezbollah’s chief met Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders to assess their resistance efforts in Gaza.
All these indicate ethnic cleansing, which is characterized by forced migration and displacement based on ethnic identity. PeaceBuilders Community shares the views of our peace network in Mindanao that “justice-based peacebuilding requires understanding the historical and socio-political factors that contribute to these tensions.” It involves engaging with affected communities to address grievances, promote dialogue, and create conditions for the return and coexistence of displaced populations.
As a part of peacebuilding network in Mindanao, we also see so much similarities in our understanding of genocide. As the most egregious violation of human rights, genocide necessitates a robust response. Justice in this context extends beyond punishment to encompass acknowledgment of historical injustices and efforts to heal the collective trauma of affected communities. Truth and reconciliation commissions play a vital role in facilitating open dialogue, fostering understanding, and paving the way for a more inclusive and harmonious society.
In essence, justice-based peacebuilding is a holistic approach that recognizes the interconnectedness of justice, peace, and reconciliation. It acknowledges the long-term nature of the process, emphasizing the importance of sustained efforts at both the grassroots and international levels. By addressing the root causes and ensuring accountability, justice-based peacebuilding lays the groundwork for a future where societies can emerge from the shadows of ethnic cleansing and genocide toward a more equitable and harmonious coexistence.
Faith-based peacebuilding emerges as a potent force when confronting the horrors of ethnic cleansing and genocide, offering a unique perspective that draws on religious principles to foster reconciliation, healing, and sustainable peace. Faith-based peacebuilding is anchored in the moral and ethical teachings of various religious traditions. Religions often emphasize compassion, forgiveness, and the inherent dignity of every individual. In the face of ethnic cleansing, these principles become guiding lights for faith-based actors who seek to address the root causes of conflict, promote understanding, and rebuild shattered communities.
One crucial aspect of faith-based peacebuilding is its ability to provide solace and support to affected populations. Religious leaders and institutions can offer spiritual guidance, counseling, and a sense of community to those who have experienced trauma. This support not only aids in individual healing but also contributes to the broader process of rebuilding social fabric torn apart by violence.
Religious teachings also emphasize the importance of justice. Faith-based peacebuilding advocates for accountability for perpetrators of violence, recognizing that genuine reconciliation requires addressing the injustices committed. Whether through truth and reconciliation commissions or other justice mechanisms, faith-based actors work towards creating a foundation for lasting peace by ensuring that those responsible for atrocities are held accountable.
Faith-based peacebuilding extends beyond the local context, influencing global discourse and shaping diplomatic efforts. Religious leaders often act as moral voices, advocating for policies that prioritize peace, justice, and human rights on the international stage. Their involvement can contribute to a more nuanced and comprehensive approach to conflict resolution, emphasizing the interconnectedness of faith, justice, and peace.
Faith-based peacebuilding serves as a powerful force in addressing ethnic cleansing and genocide, offering moral guidance, support, and a commitment to justice. By harnessing the shared values embedded in religious traditions, these initiatives contribute to healing fractured communities and fostering a vision of peace grounded in compassion and understanding. As the world grapples with the complexities of conflict, faith-based peacebuilding emerges as a crucial ally in the pursuit of a more harmonious and just global society.