Sunday, 15 December 2013

A Window On Our Doukhobor Soul — Part 2

Artist İsmet Koyuncu has drawn another version of A Window On Our Doukhobor Soul. The first version, a pastel color, was presented here 3 weeks ago asking for comments. This next version (below) sent today is in pencil, not color.

Vedat is using these images in his Doukhobor documentary film which he would like to present at the USCC May Festival in 2014 if possible. Airfare on Air Canada Vancouver-Ankara is less than $1000 in April.

Again Vedat asks for comments from readers. Write your comment below.

Koozma and I prefer the first version panorama which provides the correct emotion of the day, and the spilled salt and cut bread were interesting artistic statements.
More news from Turkey about Doukhobors.

Friday, 13 December 2013

4 For Coffee: a meeting of 4 gods-within us

I could have titled this log an informal gathering, or a meeting of souls, or kindred souls, or walking for peace, or revealing our inner and outer journey to build a war-less world. But this title best summarizes what I learned.

On Tuseday morning, December 10, I met with three friends at a downtown Ottawa cafe for coffee, to trade books and talk. It was International Human Rights Day and the memorial for Nelson Mandela — a fitting time to meet with three people whom I consider to be co-seekers of inner and outer peace.

We are pilgrims with our own histories, dealing with the stark reality of the day, not of this world. We are working towards a common ground approach to a new vision of human development. We each shared the god-within us, which is a concept common to each of our different ancestral cultures from around the world, and even goes way back to ancient Greek times. This day we became much more aware that the god-within each of us was the same.

They are Bill Bhaneja, a retired political scientist, Ottawa, playwright and author of Quest for Gandhi — A Nonkilling Journey (2010), and Troubled Pilgrimage: Passage to Pakistan (2013); and Mony Dojeiji and Alberto Agraso, co-authors of Walking for Peace — an inner journey (2013), and I Am Happy (2013).

Quest for Gandhi: A Nonkilling Journey      

Bill and I have known each other since 2006 while planning the Annual Ottawa Peace Festival, which Bill has since dubbed as ‘the longest peace festival in the world’. Also that year, we both attended the First Global Leadership Forum in Nonkilling in Hawaii where I presented a paper on Lev N. Tolstoy and the Doukhobors and their place in the nonkilling leadership paradigm.

Bill's Hindu background gave him a chance to reflect on the impact of Mahatma Gandhi who had chosen to follow the nonviolent path for social justice and nonkilling peace. From his Vedantic spiritual tradition, Bill was able to grasp the notion that 'we are all Gods' and that through sharing our common humanity, there is another path that will bring about a more peaceful and wholesome society on planet earth. His visit to the subcontinent described in his recent book became a pilgrimage to some of the places where Gandhi stayed during the struggle for India's Independence from the British Rule. Bill's wife comes from the Republic of Ireland, which also struggled in turbulence and change.

I met Mony and Alberto at their table display in Ottawa City Hall during Friends for Peace Day. We exchanged books, and met today to trade a few more books. Mony is a young Lebanese lady from Canada with an MBA, and Alberto is a talented artist from Spain.

Their book Walking for Peace documented their 13-month, 5,000-kilometer odyssey across 13 countries to Jerusalem. Most important, they experienced a spiritual journey, finding their true selves. In December 2003, exactly two years after they began walking, a daughter was born. Their journey of peace now continues with her. Their book received a Global eBook Award in 2012 and was a finalist in the 2012 National Indie Excellence Book Awards; and is being considered for a documentary film. This year the Spanish version of I am Happy got 2nd place in the International Latino Book Awards.

During their journey they read Conversations With God, in which the depressed author wrote an angry letter to God asking questions which led him to reconnect  immediately with the divine presence. From the book, Alberto learned to listen carefully, reach out to touch others with his new insights, and began an inner journey of wisdom into himself and the world.

Mony also read Peace Pilgrim, by Mildred Norman who did a 28-year-walk for a meaningful way of life. I told them that in 1957 the Peace Pilgrim stayed at our house in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and I heard her message about working to make North America a more peaceful continent. She walked like a pilgrim with only a tooth brush, comb and a map, wearing the same clothes every day (blue pants and blue tunic that held everything she owned). She never used money. I published two articles about her: Peace Pilgrim Gives a Challenge to Doukhobors, in our Doukhobor magazine The Inquirer, July 1957.

Alberto spoke about his experience with shamans who provided him with magical insights into his search for solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems. I shared the same about two elderly Fringe Saulteau Indian medicine men in the Broadview area of Saskatchewan that I met during my research in the 1960s. These men at the age of 90 were real practitioners of healing, finding lost objects, and being trusted as wisdom people for a territory of thousands of kilometers around them. They died sometime after I left the community without sharing their magic with their brothers and sisters. Why? They could not trust most of their tribal members because their 'medicines' were so powerful that they could harm life if not used with care.

I explained that my father's parents came to Canada from Russia in 1899 during the large Russian Doukhobor migration here, while my mother Anastasia arrived 27 years later at the age of 15. She was about to be deported in Quebec City (because she came alone on account of the German couple she travelled with got sick and stayed in Liverpool, England) when a French-Canadian couple travelling beside her said 'she came with us.' The Canadian couple saved the day and Mom continued alone by train to Saskatoon where she met her cousin. She met and married my Dad. My brother John was born in 1928, four years before me.

My Doukhobor (Spirit-Wrestlers) philosophy of love originated on the high steppes of Trans-Caucasia, southern Russia, where on midnight of June 28-29, 1895, 7000 Doukhobors burnt their guns in three locations. My inspiration comes from this first mass world protest against militarism and wars. Lev N. Tolstoy called war 'the slavery of our times' and was in contact with Mennonites, Quakers, Gandhians and the Transcendentalists in the USA, and the arms burning was a sign that the seeds of Jesus Christ were alive and well.

My pacifistic ethic comes from family stories about respecting others as worthy human beings. Though Mom only had three months of schooling, she was learned in the hospitality ethic and knew how to weave rugs, socks, slippers and doilies, make a wonderful garden, as well as to cook delicious meals. From this Slavic heritage I learned about hard work, beauty, nonkilling, creativity and bridge-building across boundaries.

We spoke about the spirit of love that permeates our lives and gives us meaning as individuals and as a human species. The Spirit Within or the Love Within (as used by Doukhobors), or the Light Within (as used by Quakers) all give us optimism to act as Gods within the confines of a friendly planet. Our intention is to act with passion, but equally to be socially responsible for our actions.

We all seemed to be on the same page when we saw the need to focus on the meaning of life. As photos tell a thousand words, actions are central to our adventure in what we mean by love and understanding. The 'win-win scenario' is required in our search for truth and goodness. We are in this together in the long run.

No one has a monopoly on truth. Keeping ourselves segregated into a sect, a tribe, or a race is too narrow. It took 27 years for Nelson Mandela in prison to eventually transform the narrow thinking of the apartheid regime, resulting in the release of this brave patient man from prison and his eventual win as the first Black president of South Africa in 1994.

It is a tribute to Nelson Mandela that he sought to reconcile the differences between races in his country and to eventually come to the conclusion that there are better alternatives to fear and violence. Love and reconciliation is the dual highway for today and the future. That seems to be the visionary path that the four of us have come to in our respective journeys.

The Power of One is a reminder that we can make a difference in our lives and that of our society. At the same time, 'our relationship to others' gives reality to us as equal social beings. We are part of a larger whole. Because of this connection, we need to learn to live with one another as friends. Here the nonkilling philosophy comes fully into play with the measurable goal of a killing-free world by means open to human creativity in reverence for life. A Department of Peace at the cabinet level would be one of the practical ways to move countries in the direction of a world culture of peace.

We need to allow the freedom of each to 'walk our talk' in our own style, and continue to support the cooperative path in which 'we all win'. The survival of our civilization depends on creating a balance between the 'I' and the 'We'.

Bravo to the Hundred Monkey effect in which a new behaviour or idea is claimed to spread rapidly by unexplained, even supernatural, means from one group to all related groups once a critical number of members of one group exhibit the new behaviour or acknowledge the new idea.

December 10th, 2013 was indeed a remarkable day for me! I was glad to celebrate it with dear friends and I am sharing it with each of you. Peace to the God-within you!

See all my meeting reports.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

A Window On Our Doukhobor Soul

This pastel painting of the 1895 Doukhobor Burning of Arms by İsmet Koyuncu, a retired art teacher in Kars, Turkey, was sent by Vedat Akcayoz, President of the Kars Culture and Art Association.

İsmet Koyuncu's painting is titled in English and Turkish:
— 1895 A Window On[to] Our Doukhobor Soul
— Doukhobor Ruhumuz Üzerine Bir Pencere

Vedat asks for comments (positive or negative) about this painting which will be used to introduce his documentary film about Doukhobors to be finalized at the end of this year. Post comments at end of this blog.

Vedat reports that İsmet's painting was inspired by the cover (below) on the 1995 USCC Union of Youth Festival programme booklet by Lisa Poznikoff, who drew a more abstract collage of Doukhobor history, centered around a flame that transforms into a flock of doves. In the painting above, the flame transforms into flowers, and the dark tone and images show the harsh reality of bloody whippings. In the foreground of both images are bread-salt-water with Doukhobors on both sides. İsmet's is sad with spilled salt and brutal soldiers, while Lisa's is happy with bright colors and kids.

Both images depict the spirit of the day showing the forces of violence versus the forces of goodness. With the universal hospitality items of bread, salt and water (the basic staff of life), the message is one of Peace, Love and Understanding.

İsmet's title is copied from the 30-page theme article by Jim E. Popoff, Grand Forks, BC: “1895- A Window On Our Doukhobor Soul,” in A Celebration of Peace, Centennial 1895-1995, 76-page programme booklet for the 48th Annual USCC Union of Youth Festival, May 19-21, 1995, held at the Brilliant Culture Centre, Brilliant BC.

The painting is part of Vedat's Kars Doukhobor History Project first reported here in September. It will appear at the beginning of his documentary film, which will be produced in 3 languages — English, Turkish, and Russian.

This month Vedat returned from Azerbaijan where he tried to find the Slavyanka burning of arms site. He reported that he took toy guns to stage photos. News will be posted here when it arrives.

This is the 9th artist rendering I have posted of the 1895 burning of arms. If you know of others please send them in.

Approximately 7,000 Russian Doukhobor activists (including my grandfather) participated in the historic June 29, 1895 burning of arms event in three locations in eastern Europe, resulting in persecution, arrest, exile and the death of hundreds. This event (the first of its kind in world history) led to the migration of 7,500 (one-third of all) Russian Doukhobors to Canada in 1899.
More news from Turkey about Doukhobors.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Kars Doukhobor History Project Granted

A small grant to document Doukhobors in Kars, Turkey, was awarded to resident historian Vedat Akçayöz (Alchayoz), who for 15 years has advocated to protect, restore and display the heritage of Spiritual Christian sites and artifacts.

As Director of the Kars Culture and Arts Association, he is working on a Doukhobor video documentary, photo exhibit, book, and cultural centre-museum.

The government may provide space for a long-planned Russian culture center-museum in Kars to educate the public and welcome heritage explorers. Vedat hopes to preserve classic houses in the former Doukhobortsy Pokrova village (now Porsuklu) and the former Molokan and Prygun Blagodarnoye village (now Chakmak, joined with Chalkuvar). His grandmother was Prygun.

Vedat Akçayöz in the temporary museum, in his office in Kars, Turkey. The larger photos
were taken in Stavropol, Russia, of families and descendants who left Kars in 1962.

Vedat plans to present his first Doukhobor exhibit by the end of 2013 with photos and video showing the history from origins in Old Russia, relocation to the Caucasus and Kars, burning of guns in 1895, arrests and exiling to Siberia, why and how Tolstoy aided them, migration to Canada, and those remaining in Georgia.

His major problem is language. Nearly all the information is in languages foreign to him, and he has limited access to translators. Very little Russian sectarian history was published in the Turkish language.

In September Vedat was hosted in Gorelovka, Georgia, by Nikolay Sukarukov for 3 days, from 30 August to Sept 3, 2013. Though he previously visited Georgia Doukhobors 6 times, he did not understand much of their history until this year. So he returned (~200 km, 125 miles each way) to gather missing details, photos and video.

In October he is going to Azerbaijan to try to locate the 3rd burning of arms site. This is the first effort we know of to explore this historic Doukhobor site since Tarasoff failed to find the exact site in 1977.

An international joint effort was accomplished this Spring to orientate Vedat. In April, 2013 his son Alper Akçayöz, who speaks English, stopped in Los Angeles for one day, during his first 1-week vacation in the USA. He was met by historian Andrei Conovaloff from Arizona, whose grandparents on both sides were from Kars. They toured and photographed Los Angeles Spiritual Christian historic sites. Alper collected photos and video at a wedding of a congregation from Melikoy village, the large cemetery, and met descendants of Kars Armenian Pryguny from Karakala village who sang a psalom in Armenian.

Conovaloff presented 4-hours of condensed history about Kars Spiritual Christians, which was simultaneously translated to Turkish by Alper and recorded on video for his father. He included several suggestions from Koozma Tarasoff (Canada), and Joyce Keosababian-Bivin (Israel).

First, locate the 3 historic 1895 Doukhobor burning of arms sites, and showcase the Kars site as a historic landmark. Tarasoff says this is the single most important historic location in Kars province from which Vedat can begin to introduce Doukhobor history. The burning of arms impacted all Spiritual Christians in the Caucasus.

Second, identify the village of Karakala where persecuted Protestant Armenians joined Pryguny who resettled in Kars oblast from Russia in the 1880s. Keosababian-Bivin, born in Los Angeles, is a historian of Armenian Prygun descent who has been trying for decades to find her ancestral village. This month Vedat confirmed that an old photo matches the village nicknamed Merkezkarakale (central Karakale).

In Los Angeles, Pryguny helped launch the international Pentecostal and Evangelic Christian movements, which are similar to their faiths. Prygun immigrants attended the nearby Azusa Street Revival in 1906. In the 1920s, the Armenian Apostolic congregation fellowshipped with Subbotniki and hosted Aimee McPherson, while Russian Pryguny participated in her Foursquare ministry and radio show. In the 1950s, Karakala descendant Demos Shakarian hosted the first Oral Roberts crusades in California, and launched the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International. Several of celebrity Kim Kasrdashian's relatives, born in Karalaka, are buried in the old Prygun cemetery in East Los Angeles.

Vedat showed his first photo exhibit in 2008, then produced a video and appeared on local TV many times to promote his projects about Spiritual Christians. Last year he learned that the Turkish term malakanlar generally referred to all Spiritual Christian faith groups (molokan, prygun, dukh-i-zhiznik, dukhobortsy, subbotnik, etc.) not just Molokane.

This year Vedat realized he is a descendant of Spiritual Christian Pryguny, not Molokane, and has Dukh-i-zhiznik relatives in Russia and in Los Angeles, County, United States of America.

People in Turkey have mostly forgotten how many different faiths from Russia were in their territory during the Russian occupation (1877 - 1922), and that many descendants are Turkish citizens. Among the non-Orthodox Christian faiths resettled from Russia were:
  • Dukhobortsy (spirit-wrestlers), various divisions
  • Dukh-i-zhiznik faiths, founded in 1928 in Los Angeles and exported to Kars
  • Luidi Bozhe (God's People), various divisions
  • Molokane (milk-drinkers during fasts, Lent), one faith
  • Protestant Armenians who joined Pryguny
  • Protestant Germans from Russia, many faiths, Anabaptists
  • Pryguny (jumpers), various divisions
  • Subbotniki (Saturday people), various divisions
Though most foreigners from Russia were repatriated to the USSR by the 1960s, more than 1000 descendants of these forgotten faiths remain scattered throughout Turkey.

Doukhobor group in Vedat's office museum, Kars, Turkey, 2011. L to R: Ken Harshenin,
Eileen Kooznetsoff, Rose Ann Bartley (Hadikin), Natalie Stewart (Hadikin), Diane White
(Stoochnoff), Walter Stoochnoff, (hand, leg shown), and Fred Kooznetsoff.

In 2009 Vedat invited heritage explorers, and in 2011 he invited more university students to get involved in research.

So far 5 groups of Canadian Doukhobors have explored their Karakhanskiye settlements in Kars province and 4 reported in Iskra.
When Vedat first made contact with Spiritual Christian historians in the West (Tarasoff, Kalmakoff, Conovaloff), he hoped sponsors would bring him to North America to collect data. Instead, heritage explorers came to him.

Now he says: ‘Who knows, maybe I can show my Doukhobor exhibit in Canada. Of course, this is a dream. Why not? Martin Luther King says to us: “I have a dream.”’
More news from Turkey about Doukhobors.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Q59: Doukhobor College Courses?

What is the history of Doukhobor topics taught at the college level?

This question arose from posting news about the course in-progress by Dr. Veronika Makarova: New Doukhobor Course at the University of Saskatchewan.

I am asking myself the question and answering. If I missed anything, please contact me, or post a comment below.


Several scholars have done the most college lecturing, and two taught credited courses.

Dr. F. Mark Mealing

In 1972, F. Mark Mealing from Robson, BC, received his doctorate in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania, Faculty of Arts and Science in Folklore and Folklife. His 734-page thesis: 'Our People's Way: A Study in Doukhobor Hymnody and Folklife.'

In 1974, Dr. Mealing helped form the short-lived Institute for Doukhobor Studies as a cooperative venture by Selkirk College and the Kootenay Doukhobor Historical Society which built the Doukhobor village Museum in Ooteshenie, in 2007 renamed as the Doukhobor Discovery Centre.

In September 1980, Dr. Mealing taught Anthropology 202, Doukhobor Folklore (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) at Selkirk College. The course was 'a broad introduction to the history, beliefs and views, and traditional crafts and expression of Doukhobor people' (Castlegar News, Sept. 10, 1080: A8). Course credits were transferable to the University of BC, University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University. During the next two years, Mealing taught the same course Wednesday nights at David Thomson University in Nelson, BC.

Doukhobor Studies was taught at Selkirk College every other year from about 1984 to his retirement in 1999.

Eli A Popoff

Historian Eli A. Popoff of Grand Forks, BC, taught Doukhobor courses several times at the USCC community centres and Selkirk College. His lectures were based on his evolving Stories From Doukhobor History, 1992, 159 pages. His series is now being republished in Iskra.

Koozma J. Tarasoff

Since the 1970s, I guest-lectured at the University of Waterloo, U. of Ottawa, U. of Calgary, Asbury College (Ottawa), Moscow State University, and organized sessions for Learned Societies of Canada.
In October 20-22, 1997, I was a Lansdowne Lecturer (2 lectures, 1 seminar) at the University of Victoria, BC. My topics were:
  • Spirit Wrestlers: Early Canadian Pioneers
  • Doukhobors at the Threshold of the Millennium
  • Doukhobors, Citizenship and Multiculturalism
An updated version of the third lecture was published in 1998 in Spirit-Wrestlers' Voices, as Multiculturalism and the rise of a new spirit, (pages 329-345, revised online in 2006).

In 2013, I edited and posted Wisdom of the Ages: Unified Doukhobor Beliefs as an online self-study course. In 2001, the first version was published in serial form in Iskra, and revised for Spirit Wrestlers: Doukhobor Pioneers....(2002).

Dr. Veronika A. Makarova

Born in Russia and educated at the University of St. Petersburg, Dr. Makarova has been at the University of Saskatchewan since 2003. She is Head of the Department of Religion and Culture and Chair of the Linguistics Program, and focused most of her recent work on Doukhobors. She is teaching RLST 398-01, Special Topics: Doukhobor Religion and Culture beginning September 5, 2013, for 11 weeks.

More: Questions and Answers, Comments

New Doukhobor Course
at the University of Saskatchewan

Doukhobor Religion and Culture is a one semester, undergraduate course now being taught in the Department of Religion and Culture, University of Saskatchewan, by professor Dr. Veronika A. Makarova from Russia.

Dr. Makarova is the Head of the Department of Religion and Culture and Linguistics Program Chair. She has been at the University of Saskatchewan since 2003, and has focused most of her recent work on Doukhobors. Her research will be presented in lectures, and her publications are among the required readings.

Special Topics - 89847 - RLST 398 - 01
Mondays, 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
September 5, 2013 - December 4, 2013 (11 weeks))
Arts Building, room 108

This course provides an overview of the history, beliefs, music, language and the way of life of Canadian Doukhobors (Spirit Wrestlers). The course introduces the early history of the Doukhobor spiritual views, the settlement of Doukhobors in Saskatchewan and BC, and the subsequent development of Doukhobor communities in the 20th-21st century Canada. The dynamics of conflict between Doukhobors and Canadian state are explained via the challenges of multiculturalism. The course examines Doukhobor beliefs, spiritual practice and the way of life; surveys Doukhobor crafts and arts and explores the unique genres of Doukhobor choral music. The course provides a sociolinguistic analysis of ancestral language maintenance in the Doukhobor communities in Canada. Attention is given to the role of women in the Doukhobor communities and the descriptions of women in Doukhobor spiritual texts.

The textbook is Koozma J. Tarasoff's Plakun Trava: The Doukhobors, 1982 (CD-ROM) available for purchase at the University Bookstore. All required readings are online:
Of the 13 non-required information sources, 7 are online.
  1. Doukhobor archives in the Canadian Museum of Civilization 
  2. Union of Spiritual Communities of Christ
  3. Kalmakoff, J. Doukhobor Genealogy Website
  4. Androsoff, R. Thoughts on the future of the Doukhobors in Canada 
  5. Betke, C. (1974). The Mounted police and the Doukhobors in Saskatchewan, 1899-1909. Saskatchewan History, 27, 1-14. 
  6. Mealing, F. Mark. 1989. On Doukhobor Psalms. Canadian Literature 120: 117-32. 
  7. Tarasoff, Koozma J. Spirit Wrestlers Website and Blog
It took nearly two years for Dr. Makarova to arrange for this special course. 20 students enrolled for credit. Doukhobors are invited to audit the course without credit, and they may post comments here.

Besides studying Doukhobors, Dr. Makarova really enjoyed meeting and socializing with the locals. She joined the local Saskatoon Doukhobor Society (SDS), regularly attended meetings (sobranie), sang in the choir, toured Saskatchewan Doukhobor historic sites, and attended a USCC Union of Youth Festival in Castlegar, British Columbia.

In addition, Dr. Makarova utilized a variety of Doukhobor materials for her course. For example, with Jon Kalmakoff’s generous permission, she has used historical maps from his website, and includes resources from other Doukhobor researchers and writers.

Dr. Markova adds: 'I did not join the SDS in order to prepare for the course, I just joined them because … I liked them. However, as the result of my growing fascination with Doukhobor culture, I decided to develop a course on Doukhoborism.'

Also see: Q59: Doukhobor College Courses? What is the history of Doukhobor topics taught at the college level?

Sunday, 8 September 2013

The USA, Syria and the World

A guest article by Mary-Sue Haliburton

Introduction by Koozma

Many Western governments, including Canada, are calling for military action in the Syrian civil war. However, this action is fraught with enormous danger because there is no right answer, except a negotiated peace. Military intervention against another country would be morally wrong, a violation of international law, as well as a disaster to the civilian population with huge costs in human lives and basic infrastructure.

Photo by Peter Biesterfeld at the Syrian Demonstration
in Ottawa, Canada, August 31, 2013

The guest article below is by Mary-Sue Haliburton, a peace activist in Ottawa, Canada with the Canadian Dept. of Peace Initiative. Mary-Sue reveals how the USA fails to honestly look at itself in the mirror and refuses to admit the legitimacy of any form of international court over its citizens. 'We can do no wrong' is the sentiment. This stance provides an excuse not to sign the International Criminal Court which is a recognized global body setting a standard of acceptable human behaviour. This position shows the current USA leadership's addiction to violence and its propensity to be a military power (with over 1000 military bases around the world) bullying its neighbours at will, without regards to the due process of law.

But the challenge of the 21st century is to go in a different direction — it is to see ourselves as citizens of one world community and to persistently seek every effort to prevent wars and ultimately create a sustainable nonkilling society.

Leaders of the world, let's do our part to give hope to our children and grandchildren. Remember: the 'enemy' is a friend in the making. With friendship, we can create great harmony in the world.

The American dilemma: Is military reaction to war crimes
based on refusal of ICC jurisdiction over Americans?

by Mary-Sue Haliburton, 4 September 2013

Instead of whether or not the allegations against Bashar Assad can be confirmed, the real challenge in the Syrian crisis is the Americans' fixed belief that evidence of a war crime justifies a military response as a reaction. Although Syria has not attacked the United States, American hawks are describing this military attack as a 'retaliation'.

Photo by Peter Biesterfeld at the Ottawa Syrian Demonstration
August 31, 2013

Does the American Constitution negate respect for International Criminal Court Proceedings?

Since American political culture refuses to admit the validity and legitimate jurisdiction of any form of international court over their own citizens, the U.S. has never signed on to the International Criminal Court (ICC). So even dealing war crimes even in other countries, it appears that American foreign policy (war policy in particular) simply cannot admit legal action as an alternative to police action. And yet in most democratic nations the police are partnered with but subject to the judiciary.

The idea of police action with no associated legality is at the core of this crisis

Americans have long held that their Constitution is uniquely admirable and effective in promoting freedom and justice. This is part of their unshakeable 'American exceptionalism' — a belief that their nation's governmental system is perfect due to the famous 'checks and balances' and is 'therefore' incorruptible. People holding that belief assume that their country can do no wrong. But it's due to American behaviour in policing the world without any application of due process that many in the world don't share that belief in American incorruptibility and justice.

Military policing actions without internationally-recognized due process

Due to this blind spot of not being able to recognize the validity of an international legal proceeding lest it would override their national courts, Americans insist on application of their political decisions outside their own borders by means of military action alone. Even the requirement for a UN vote to establish at least a semblance of legality has been set aside. We can't help recalling recent cases in which a 'coalition of the willing' helped to carry out an American military agenda that had no UN agreement nor ICC judgment behind it.

The perception of other nations is that the U.S. acts unjustly against them. This perception is unfortunately being reinforced once again by the Obama administration's response to the allegation of Syrian government crossing the 'red line' of using chemical weapons.

Within their own nation would ordinary Americans accept being punished based on opinions circulated in the press, without any trial by a jury of their peers, and without due process being conducted before qualified judges? I doubt it. But that is what they expect other nations to accept.

Canadian policy embraces ICC

Canada not only acknowledges the validity of the International Criminal Court, our country has actively supported its development. Prominent Canadian judges have been appointed to the ICC. Therefore, as Canadians it is logical and consistent with our policy to think of calling for a criminal trial of suspects in the nerve-gas attacks. This should begin with an open-ended enquiry considering all possible perpetrators. And to keep this gas attack in perspective, we should keep in mind the extent of criminal activity by the foreign jihadists within Syria's borders, and make sure those crimes are being investigated as well.

Competence of National Courts subject to ICC determination

However, Americans appear to approach the subject of war crimes in other nations from the angle that they have jurisdiction over the world, but that the world has no input to the quality of judgment being exercised by the United States. The World Court and its supporters are well aware that internationalist-minded Americans struggle deeply with this issue. (The International Criminal Court in a New Era with ICC President Philippe Kirsch and Judge Patricia Wald, Inside Justice, 13 Feb 2009.)


'One of the big hurdles for the United States to become a state party to the ICC is the issue of complementarity. When ICC Prosecutor Moreno-Campo spoke last spring in Washington, DC, he was unable to answer a question from a professor of international criminal law about complementarity with respect to U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. When pressed on whether he would consider the domestic U.S. system to be adequate in its prosecutions for crimes committed in Iraq, the ICC Prosecutor raised his eyebrows in such a way that the room fell silent and then into laughter.

'The overall message was clear, if the United States would become a state party, the ICC could determine whether the U.S. judicial system is adequate with respect to prosecuting its elected leaders, government officials, uniformed service members, civilian contractors with private military and security companies, and other civilians.'

That is the problem in a nutshell. This gives some background context to Obama's recent pardon issued to the previous president. If its own courts were subject to the world court, would the US be able to issue such pardons to its leaders who have launched wars without UN or ICC sanction?

Philippe Kirsch, President ICC
On the one hand the ICC is a fully-functional judiciary, but on the other hand, this world body has no army of its own. And the nation with the world's best-equipped army is still not supporting the international court's role in the world, but rather tends to mount military campaigns to serve its own national or, more precisely, its corporate interests.

In the Q&A section, Mr. Kirsch and the American Judge Patricia Wald try (and sometimes fail) to address serious challenges to a possible American role and to the ICC's function and usefulness in a Q&A segment. The questions they did not answer reveal the depth of the disagreement between the narrow view of American exceptionalism, and the world's view that one nation should not be able to override international laws and treaties at will.

EXCERPT: Question: Would the court cooperate in dual investigations?

Mr. Kirsch: It would be difficult for the ICC to engage in a joint project because of complementarity. The ICC must decide whether the domestic system is adequate and working properly. A joint project could compromise that impartiality and independence of the court in making that decision.

Question: For the United States to become a state party, would the Article 98 agreements need to be revoked?

Judge Wald: It is possible that the agreements were too broad in scope. See the American Society of International Law (ASIL) task force on U.S. Policy Toward the International Criminal Court (ICC). On February 2, 2009, the task force recommended an 'examination of U.S. policy concerning the scope, applicability, and implementation of Article 98 Agreements concerning the protections afforded to U.S. personnel and others in the territory of States that have joined the Court.' The Article 98 agreements are not the predominate obstacle.

It appears that much negotiation must take place before America could sign, never mind get its political sector to ratify, participation in and respect for the international court. But does this make continuing to exercise unilateral police actions inevitable? Could there be a middle ground in which targeting of only one side in a conflict as being in violation of international law can be widened to admit also addressing war crimes being committed by the opponents in that conflict as well?

The United States is conspicuously absent from a list of signatory states to the ICC : States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC according to the UN General Assembly Regional Groups 121 Ratification as of 2 April 2012.

In the meantime, the UN's investigation team has gathered evidence and will come out with a report concerning the August chemical attacks in Syria. On that basis, and only on that basis, should the world community of nations proceed to take appropriate corrective actions against the perpetrators, whoever they turn out to be. And if we take into account the stories of Syrian refugees about the murders and atrocities committed by the foreign jihadists operating within Syria as well as their supply chain, it's evident that the world must take action to stop the violence on both sides.

Appropriate actions don't involve killing more civilians with missiles and bombs as a way to stop mass killings in Syria (or anywhere else).

'Responsibility to Protect' implodes

What seems to be happening is that the famous principle 'Responsibility to Protect' is being perverted into 'licence to launch military attack' — regardless of how many of the civilian population in the subject nation would end up dying in the inevitable escalation of hostilities to an international scale.

More bombings, combat actions, retaliatory attacks by Syria and its allies against the U.S. (and against any NATO partners involving themselves in this police action in the absence of recognized judgment), riots and other chaos are likely to result from this incursion. Supposedly launched to keep the people safe, as we have seen in Iraq, long-range missile strikes into Syria is likely kill hundreds of thousands more Syrian civilians. That's not counting the toll there and in surrounding nations that's likely to result from a further retaliatory exchange between Assad's forces and his allies against Turkey, NATO troops in Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia that could well ensue.

If the recent letter from Pope Francis carries any weight, 'Responsibility to Protect' should indeed be exercised primarily as a negotiation process in support of the conflicted nation's civil society as their people work to correct their own situation. The world's leaders should focus their efforts on reducing the level of fighting, and on stopping the flow of weapons to all sides in the conflict, rather than escalating it with military intervention. (Pope urges G20 leaders to seek Syria peace talks, The Guardian, 5 September 2013.)

Pope Francis wrote:

'To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution.

'Rather, let there be a renewed commitment to seek, with courage and determination, a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties, unanimously supported by the international community.'

On Saturday September 7th, a vigil will take place in St. Peter's Square for to all people of 'good will', the pope said, whether they are Catholics or of different religions, or even no religious affiliation. Anyone can also participate in a day of fasting for peace around the world. We don't have to be world leaders to join in prayer for peace. (Embrace peace, Pope tells massive prayer vigil, EWTN News, 7 Sept 2013.)

It takes two to tango

Unilateral cessation of military action by the Assad government — which is what the mass media describes as the main demand of the 'West' — is impossible as long as foreign jihadists such as the al-Nusra militants are committing suicide bombings and terrorizing Syrian citizens.

As an alternative approach to stopping the mass murders, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson recommended in a CBC Radio interview that the world should collaborate to stop the smuggling of weapons and foreign extremist fighters into Syria. (Finding parallels between Syria and Iraq, The Current, CBC Radio, 3 Sept 2013.)

The problem is that a military strike — based on 'intelligence' and promoted by mass media and secret discussions among leaders — bypasses any form of justice system in which rules of evidence apply.
Americans blandly expect all other nations to get on board with this attack. But others are questioning whether 'intelligence' can really be sufficient to convict one in an international court of law. Whether or not the other nations do respect those international courts, in rejecting such courts as having jurisdiction over themselves Americans deny their applicability internationally — and thus may end up being instrumental in denying real justice to the rest of the world.

In watching these arguments and assertions over the past decade, there appears to be a gap in the American national psyche. The refusal and inability to cooperate with the world criminal court is what underlies their insistence that a military response is the only reaction that fits the crime.

Koozma recommends

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Q58: Doukhobors and Hippies?

From: Dr. Irina Gordeeva, Moscow, Russia

I am a Russian historian and my theme is a history of the radical pacifist movement in Russia in the twentieth century. I start with the tolstoyans of the beginning of the twentieth century and finish with independent peace movement of the late Soviet period.

Thank you for your site and texts very much. Could you, please, answer a question for me: Is there any information about the attitude of the pacifist doukhobors to the hippie movement?

My question refers to the problem of the different types of pacifism and their interrelations. In the archive of Olga Birukova, I found a letter by a Doukhobor who was very negative towards hippies. In the Soviet Union there were several hippie-tolstoyans. Maybe there were hippie-Doukhobors as well?

Note: Dr. Gordeeva is an expert in the field of the history of religious and social movements in Russia (history of Utopian movements, the communitarian movement, radical pacifists, "Tolstoyan" and Russian sectarianism).


I do not know precisely what attitudes Doukhobors had in the 1960s to the immigrants and do not know of any hippie-Doukhobors, so I am asking readers to submit their stories as comments below.

In 2006, the USCC and Doukhobor Discovery Centre fully supported former "hippie / draft-dodgers" who were being attacked while trying to create a memorial and hold a conference in Nelson. See: Our Way Home Peace Event & Reunion: A review of the event and news about it.

Instead of answering Dr. Gordeeva's question, I will provide some context to this history and encourage readers to contribute.

The hippie phenomenon in the 1960s had its roots in a protest against authority, against war in Vietnam, against social injustices in society. The general response was for freedom from oppression, freedom from wars, and freedom from a variety of restrictions related to the middle class norms of sex, work, fashion, and education. The era was manifested with singing of protest songs, rallies against war, sexual freedoms, use of drugs, and by experiments in cooperative arrangements and home education.

The hippie era was democratic, but also dispersed in many directions that were responding to many needs. That dispersal made the social movement ineffective.

Joan Baez with John Kootnekoff, 1973, Mir (Issue 1:1, page 5).
The photo shows Doukhobor youth meeting a lead peace protester whose husband was 'imprisoned for 20 months, for refusing induction and organizing draft resistance against the Vietnam war' (Joan Baez, Biography). Their dress is typical for the hippie-styles of the late-1960s and early 1970s. It appeared in the magazine Mir, published by Doukhobor youth.

For Doukhobors, their historic tradition of plakun trava (going against the current) matched the hippie phenomenon of questioning the life style of the day, always looking for ways to free human beings from the restrictions of the church and state. In their dominant mir community system in Tsarist Russia, authority was shared with little or no differentiation. However, villagers feared the authority held by persons outside the local village.

The Doukhobors who moved to Canada in 1899 (about 1/3, 7500, mostly followers of Peter V. Verigin) faced a new threat to their previous comfortable community structure arrangement. The prevailing trend of the North American society was private enterprise, the free market, and capitalism. The new migrants wanted their freedoms to continue, as they negotiated before immigration. But, the agreements were soon breached. In 1905 newly elected Canadian politicians required private ownership instead of communal land ownership granted to Doukhobors. This caused Verigin in 1908 to abandoned 79% (1209 mi.2) of all land homesteaded by all Doukhobors, and order his followers (two-thirds, 5000) to move to private land he purchased in the interior of British Columbia to continue their communes for almost three decades as Community Doukhobors. The one-third who stayed behind, worked their land as individual owners, became farmers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, mechanics, nurses, and other professions, as Independent Doukhobors.

Within the Doukhobor communities, there were individuals known variously as svobodniki (free people), Sons of freedom or zealots, who resisted the state in terms of land ownership, public education, and the filling out of census data. They appear to have gotten their inspiration from Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his back-to-nature movement, from anarchists in opposing the state, and even from Lev N. Tolstoy who sought truth and the simple life to ensure an egalitarian society.

These zealots refused to adjust to the prevailing style of life in North America. Some of them became so vocal and extremist that they contradicted their historic roots of nonviolence and respect for ones neighbours. By going naked, releasing their 'brothers and sisters' horses and cattle in 1902, burning and bombing property (their own and others), experimenting with free marriage and sex, they essentially excluded themselves from the Doukhobor Movement. Their extremist antics were so sensational for the media and the public, that the group was condemned as a whole. A small group of warring zealots had in effect hijacked the larger peaceful group of Doukhobors.

The hippies were against war and social injustice, as have been the Doukhobors over the centuries.

The parallel to the hippie movement is closest to the extremist zealots, but there is a caveat which historians must take note. Burnings, bombings and nudity are not main-stream behaviours of Doukhobors. In fact, they are not Doukhobor in their true peaceful essence. To equate the Doukhobors as hippies is inaccurate.

What I see as the real lesson to Irena Gordeeva's question is that Doukhobors and hippies both questioned the right of the state to wage wars and instead sought an alternative society based on equality, nonkilling peace, justice and love. What attitudes the Doukhobors had in the 1960s and still have today require further study.


Extending the Dream

The 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech in Washington, DC August 28, 1963, deserves to be extended to all corners of the earth.

As one of the best speeches of the 20th century, King's dream was for freedom, equality, jobs, and a release from the bondage of slavery and injustice. He hoped that people would one day judge Negroes / Blacks not by the colour of their skins, but by the content of their character.

Martin Luther King Statue in Washington DC.
Photo by Peter Stockdale. Oct. 20, 2011

Today in the USA there is a long way to go to achieve King's dream. Domestically, universal health care and free education should be available to all. The gap between the rich and the poor needs to be narrowed drastically if there is to be any sense of equality and justice in the country. Internationally, the bullying of outsiders by the American government needs to be recognized and sharply curtailed. For example, the more than 1,000 military bases around the world ought to be closed. And states such as Hawaii need to be returned to their native owners.

But a critique of America is not sufficient. In 2013, we need to extend that dream for a new sense of world possibilities; that we are our brothers and sisters keepers residing in one world.

My No. 1 dream is a world without wars, a world structured on nonviolent basis with love being the central power that unites us all. In this regards, Martin Luther King was inspired in the nonviolence path by earlier stalwarts Mahatma Gandhi and Lev N. Tolstoy.

In the words of King, 'I hold these truths as self-evident'. I have a dream! In the style of his words, I would like to extend King's intent into my dreams, as follows:
  • I have a dream that the military industrial complex will become a relic of the past just as slavery has become outlawed in world history.
  • I have a dream that soon governments around the world will ban nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.
  • Yes, I have a dream that a growing number of governments all over will build the architecture for a peaceful nonkilling world with the establishment of Departments of Peace in their parliaments.
If we are to survive and thrive as a worthy human race, we — men and women — must think globally so that one day our children will live in a world where love is the measure of human beings, where military might is a relic of history, and where Martin Luther King's dream has taken on practical human purposes. Let love, freedom and nonviolence rein!

Also see: Martin Luther King's Dream yet to become reality in US, by Mark Mandell, North America editor, BBC News US & Canada, 27 August 2013.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Georgia Funds Doukhobor Project

The Deportation of the Tavrian Doukhobors to Georgia and Their Identity is the title of a one-year research project begun in July 2013 in the Republic of Georgia, funded by the President.

The project is being researched and produced by 3 advocates in the southern Samtskhe-Javakheti region: Gulo Koxodze, a human rights journalist; Nino Narimanishvili, editor of the Samkhretis Karibche newspaper; and, Nino Zumbadze, a member of the regional Tolerance Association.

Kuxodze (Kukhodze), who works with the Human Rights Center, proposed the multimedia project. They will produce a website, short video documentaries, and print publications dedicated to the life histories, traditions, and culture of the Doukhobors. The project began 1 July 2013, is funded for one year, and will be in Georgian and Russian languages.

Kuxodze has been in contact with 20 local Doukhobor families. She reported about them in the past, and feels an in-depth study of traditions and culture is needed now because many are very old. Though a lot of information is on the Internet, little is in the Georgian language and few have Internet access. Some reports will also be published in Armenian because their newspaper readership is primarily refugees from Armenia, many who invaded Dukhoborya — land of the Doukhobors.

This project will bring more facts to the attention of the National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia regarding Doukhobor historical sites. In 2012 the proposed granting of cultural heritage status to the Sirotski Dom (Orphan's Home), Gorelovka village, was unresolved. The Tolerance Center, Public Defender of Georgia, reported: "The process should be speeded up and the object granted a status of a museum and allocated two personnel to protect it."

A local Doukhobor said the Sirotski Dom should serve its original purpose, as a home for elderly orphans (widows, widowers). The elders could look after one another with professional help, and preserve their roots.

The historical and cultural value of the 1895 Burning of Arms site, peschery (grotto) and old cemetery are little known among Georgians. All sites should be submitted for the UNESCO World Heritage List for Georgia.

More about Doukhobors in Georgia.

Funded by Presidential Decree

On 17 December 2012, American educated President Mikheil Saakashvili issued a decree to allocate GEL 1 million (Georgian lari / CAN$ 631,165) from the President’s Fund for the development of the Civil Sector and enhancement of the role of free media. Funds were awarded to non-profit/ non-government (NGO) entities.

The Journalistic Development Fund, named "Zaza Daraselia," received GEL 200,000 (CAN $126,450). Zaza Daraselia is Executive Director of the Fair Elections Foundation and was an administrator of Didube-Chughureti region, Tblisi.

The Daraseli Fund fortunately got their grant due to other organizations not submitting and/or not understanding the goals of the President. The Fund awarded cultural projects — performances, attractions, exhibition space, or multimedia projects. The Doukhobor project, submitted in April 2013, satisfied conditions of the Fund as a multimedia cultural project.

The Doukhobor project will bring much needed funds to the young SK newspaper with a staff of eight. The newspaper was launched in 2003 to serve the poor south Georgian Armenian villages with many articles in the Armenian language. It nearly closed in 2012 due to no grant in 2011.

Sources by date
  1. Gulo Koxodze, Facebook.
  2. Everyday Life and Problems of Dukhabors (Part 1), by Gulo Kokhodze, Human Rights in Georgia, 25 May 2007
  3. Everyday Life and Problems of Dukhabors (The End) : Village of Old People, by Gulo Kokhodze, Human Rights in Georgia, 25 May 2007
  4. Here Women Have No Rights and They Are Blind…,” by Gulo Kokhodze, Human Rights in Georgia, 30 May 2007.
  5. Deteriorated House Will Be Restored,, 20 May 2008.
  6. Nostalgia or Unbearable Living Conditions - Dukhobors Abandon Villages in Ninotsminda District, by Gulo Kokhodze, Human Rights in Georgia, 23 January 2008.
  7. შაშკინის გადაწყვეტილე (Probate decision), video, 27 January 2010.
  8. Monitoring results of implementation of the National Concept and Action Plan on Tolerance and Civil Integration, Council of National Minorities, Tolerance Center, Public Defender, Republic of Georgia, 2010-2011. In English, Russian, and Georgian languages. (ISBN 978-9941-0-5067-1), pages 132-133, 137-138, 145.
  9. President of Georgia to Fund NGO Sector and Media,, Trend News Agency, 18 December 2012.
  10. President to Fund Two Organizations for Development of Civil Sector and Free Media,, 8 January 2013.
  11. Former education minister’s organisation receives presidential grant in Georgia, 9 January 2013.
  12. "Zaza Daraseli Fund" to Start Issuing Grants in the Near Future, Civil Society Institute - CSO Georgia, 16 January 2013.
  13. Civil Sector and Free Media Development Organizations Funded by President’s Fund,, 7 June 2013.
  14. ვის და რატომ გაახსენდნენ დუხობორები? (Who are and why should Doukhobors be remembered?), Samkhretis Karibche (Southern Gate) news, 26 June 2013.
  15. ვის და რატომ გაახსენდნენ დუხობორები? (Who are and why should Doukhobors be remembered?),, 26 June 2013.
  16. Projects Funded by Zaza Daraselia’s Foundation,, 17 July 2013.
  17. Involuntary Vacation of the Samkhretis Karibche,, 3 February 2012.
  18. Ethnic Map of Georgia, August 2012, European Centre for Minority Issues — based on ECMI assessments from 2006 to 2008.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Nonkilling Vision

Book Review

Nonkilling Security and The State (May 2013; 426 pp), edited by Joam Evans Pim, The Center for Global Nonkilling. Download this free e-book.

This is a collection of 19 essays by 22 scholars of anthropology, sociology, political science, philosophy, and history who explain how we need not stand as spectators as in a killing world. From the folly of destruction over the centuries, we must now turn our attention to the means of preventing that destruction. Dr. Younger emphasizes that today: 'There is no more important problem. None' (1).

The collective wisdom of these scholars should be used by governments in building nonkilling institutions such as the cabinet level Department of Peace; building security without deadly violence; developing nonlethal technology in international security; tackling the sensitive issue of nuclear weapons and a nonkilling world; discovering nonmilitarization and countries without armies; diplomacy in the service of nonkilling objectives; Islam and the West; looking at nonkilling approaches to the politics of self-determination; exploring reverence for life and reverence for death; and creating political conscience for future generations.

Below are some of the learning points that I discovered in my reading:
  • We have a responsibility to act and preserve our civilization from the threat of omnicide, as posed by the policy of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD). (2). 'Never Again' ought to be our mantra. We need to awaken humanity to our ever present threat if we continue with the old ways of relying on the power of lethal force.
  • 'Nuclear weapons are the ultimate weapons of terrorism.' They are weapons of mass annihilation! (3).
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is 'the price of war' (4). By getting rid of wars, we get rid of much of our PTSD.
  • Albert Schweitzer spoke of the decay of civilization due to the lack of ethical ideals and ethical energy. He proposed the ethics of reverence for human life (5) and urged us to revere 'Thou shalt not kill' and recognize that love is 'the most important force in the universe'.
  • Cooperation and 'win-win' scenarios are urgent models needed in the current crisis in the Middle East (6). The intent is to mobilize appropriate collective action in which we all win.
  • There are upsides and downsides of globalization (7). The Western principle of materialism tends of devalue human worth. Homogenization of cultures tends to exploit the vulnerable. Increasing inequalities both within and between nations (in regards to standards of living, rights and security) may not be conducive to the maintenance of human rights. We need to revise our attitude to materialism and make it accountable to human needs.
  • Implementing major change in society requires 'conscience, compassion, courage, cooperation, creativity and commitment' (8). That's quite an awesome package of value-laden energy which deserves our effort to ensure that we all walk our talk!
  • Robert Muller (1923-2010), former UN Assistant-Secretary-General, Chancellor Emeritus, University of Peace in demilitarized Costa Rica, had the last words in the Epilogue:  'The time has come to start anew history....We must establish reverence for life as the cornerstone of civilization: reverence for life not only by individuals, but also by institutions, foremost among them nations. Institutions were created originally for the good and survival of the people. This is their main justification and merit. They have no right to kill or to develop and stockpile incredible arsenals of weapons meant to kill millions of people, possibly all humanity. And the same nations come to the UN and dare to speak about human rights!  Do these include the right to life and the right not to kill? Perhaps if we approach the question of disarmament from the fundamental principle of reverence for life, we might achieve better progress....As we approach the new global age of humanity, we must unequivocally proclaim and enforce this fundamental, sacred and inalienable right and obligation of all human beings on our planet: THOU SHALT NOT KILL, NOT EVEN IN THE NAME OF A NATION' (9).
Peace movements can benefit from this book in finding a practical, unique and visionary path in their role as bridge-builders and peace-makers. Instructors at all levels can benefit in finding important teaching points in cooperation, conflict resolution, and the role of love in building a peaceful world. The community and the family can benefit in helping to build a nonkilling society. Nonkilling is a measure of progress of our civilization. To achieve our common goals, we need to exercise our imagination in the spirit of humanity (10).

  1. Foreward, by Stephen M. Younger, Former Head of Nuclear Weapons Research and Development, Los Alamos National Laboratory, page 14.
  2. Nuclear Weapons and A Nonkilling World: The Goal is Zero, by David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, page 246.
  3. ibid, page 249.
  4. Reverence for Life and Reverence for Death, Predrag Cicovacki, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester; YaHui Luo, Shaanxi Normal University, page 261.
  5. ibid, page 268.
  6. Diplomacy in the Service of Nonkilling Objectives: The Imperative for a US-Iran Rapprochement. by Ali R. Abootalebi and Stephen Hill, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, page 316.
  7. Islam and the West: The Possibility of a Nonkilling Future, by Deanna Iribarnegaray and Bert Jenkins, University of New England, pages 326-328.
  8. Nuclear Weapons and A Nonkilling World: The Goal is Zero, by David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, page 254.
  9. The Right Not to Kill, by Robert Muller (1923-2010), Former UN Assistant-Secretary-General Chancellor Emeritus, University for Peace (Republished from New Genesis: Shaping a Global Spirituality. Ardsley-on-Hudson: World Happiness and Cooperation, 1989 [1982], pp. 72-73), page 419-420.
  10. Nuclear Weapons and A Nonkilling World: The Goal is Zero, by David Krieger, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, page 255.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Center for Global Nonkilling: An Update

A vision of a nonkilling society was proposed 1998 and, then formalized in 2002 by Dr. Glenn D. Paige, University of Hawaii, in his book, Nonkilling Political Science. Though a Korean war veteran, he simply says that killing is a curable social disease. His plan was promoted in 9 books and 10 articles from 1991 to 2004.
My colleague Balwant "Bill" Bhaneja, Senior Research Fellow, Program for Research in Innovation Management and Economy (PRIME), School of Management, University of Ottawa, and co-founder of CPDI summarized Dr. Paige's 2002 book in a review for Peace Magazine, Jan-Mar 2005, page 27:

The term "nonkilling" is not as comforting as "nonviolence." Mighty nations still assert pre-emptive wars without qualms. Paige shows that both the violence-accepting politics and political science of the last century have failed to suppress violence by violent means. The study of government and international politics has not addressed the root cause of global violence.

Paige's vision is for political science to diagnose the pathology of lethality, and seek to remove killing from global life. He shows that at most only about five percent of human beings have ever killed another person. Paige suggests we should train people to strengthen their resistance to killing.

He uses medical science as a metaphor. Medicine, through focusing on prevention, intervention, and post-traumatic transformation strategies, has produced both knowledge and practitioners for the preservation of life. Paige considers the same commitment to non-lethality applicable to the social sciences.
In November 2007, the First Global Leadership Forum on Nonkilling was held in Hawaii, attended by about 50 wisdom people from the around the world who suggested ways to build a warless world.

I was honored to be invited to present a paper, and attended with my wife Kristina Kristova. We listened to the wisdom of the ages about such stalwarts as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. I took photos and presented my talk: Tolstoy and the Doukhobors, about how we contribute to the quest for a killing-free world order. My paper is on pages 207-214 of Global Nonkilling Leadership Forum Book of Proceedings, 2008.

Since 2007, the Center for Global Nonkilling has blossomed to become one of the world's foremost imaginative nongovernmental institutions working to create a just culture of peace and save our Planet Earth from the epidemic of violence and wars.
For Dr. Paige's 80th Birthday, I had the honour of writing a tribute to him, published in 2012 in Towards a Nonkilling World: Festschrift in Honor of Pro. Glenn D. Paige (edited by N. Radhakrishnan, Glenda Paige, Balwant Bhaneja, Chaiwat Satha-Anard, and Joam Evans Pim). My closing paragraph (p. 52) was:

My deep thanks to Teachers of Life such as Lev Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Dr. Glenn Paige. As wrestlers for Truth, our main challenge today is to grow a good harvest (without killing and exploiting our fellow beings) and not allow it to be trampled down. Let's do our part to ensure that the spirit of wisdom will be distributed far and wide throughout the world. Let's give wings to the good ship of Love called Global Nonkilling!

The Center has excelled by coaxing scholars in all disciplines around the world to produce well-researched books using the nonkilling architecture for human relations. Besides the numerous publications, Dr. Paige's landmark book has been translated into 28 languages, with more in progress. In its 19 Research Committees, over 600 scholars from 300 universities are involved working on relevant research.

All publications are free to download and printed copies can be purchased at cost.

Here are links to articles I posted which directly promote the Centre, among many which promote peace:

Monday, 8 July 2013

Human Library on Peace

I had the honour of being a 'Book' in the Human Library Project in Ottawa, Canada. I was one of 25 'Books' who talked to people one-on-one about our diverse experiences in peace at the Canadian War Museum's: Peace —The Exhibition, on Sunday June 9, 2013.

This was the second Human Library project held at the Canadian War Museum.

The Human Library was launched in Denmark in 2000 to focus attention on anti-violence, encourage dialogue and build relations. It has grown in popularity with over 30 countries taking part including Brazil, China, Colombia, Cyprus, Malaysia, South Africa and Australia.

In Canada, 'in January 2012 CBC Radio Ottawa and the Ottawa Public Library held six simultaneous Human Library events at six different branches of the library and there was a special event at the Canadian War Museum. The extensive project inspired other regional radio stations of the CBC to become actively involved in the promotion and implementation of the Human Library in civil society in Canada.

My title was 'Peace Activist'. Other 'Books' were titled:
  1. Cold War Researcher/Developer (John Anderson).
  2. Ambassador of reconciliation (Cindy Ayala).
  3. War Artist (Karen Bailey).
  4. National Reporter in CBC's Parliamentary bureau (James Cudmore).
  5. Around the World in 42 Years (Richard Evraire, Lieutenant-General Retired).
  6. Diplomat, Intelligence Officer, Mediator (John Graham).
  7. Mennonite Peace-builder (Paul Heidebrecht).
  8. Diplomacy in War and Peace (Glen R. Hodgins).
  9. Policing Internationally (Detective Mark Horton).
  10. Making a Difference (Ted Itani, retired soldier and Humanitarian Advisor for the Pearson Centre).
  11. My family, my people (Viviane Jean-Baptiste).
  12. Serviceman on a United Nations mission 1974 (Marcel Lavigne).
  13. Mentor to Afghan Police (Reservist Adam Lecierc).
  14. In Search of a Home (Francis Kiromera).
  15. Social Justice Educator (Lorna McLean, University of Ottawa).
  16. Radio Transmitter in the Second World War (Antoni Miszkiel).
  17. Ally to War Resisters (Marna Nightingale).
  18. Conflict Resolution (Professor Vern Redekop).
  19. Medic in Afghanistan (Martin Rouleau).
  20. Former MP and International Election Monitor (Doug Rowland).
  21. Peace Educator (Jill Strauss).
  22. The Polish Underground, 1944 (Irena Szpak).
  23. Former War Correspondent (Stephen Thorne).
  24. Vietnamese Canadian Leader (Dr. Can D. Le).
With 24 other 'Books' in the Danson Theatre, I had 11 visitors / readers at my table, in sets of one or two, for a maximum of 20 minutes each. My readers were from Canada, USA, Mexico and India. Six were women, five were men. The youngest was 12, the oldest was in the 70s. Readers asked questions about my peace activism, my Doukhobor background and the novelty of this Human Library project. Here are some highlights of their views:
  • 'How is peace possible in view of the huge military industrial complex with loads of money'? That is the David and Goliath challenge!
  • 'As a child growing up in the USA, I recall hiding under tables during the Cold War. How unreal that was.'
  • A former teacher and RCMP recruit: 'I'm impressed by the Human Book project. The people give me insights into my future career.'
  • 'We are interested in the early influences of peace activism amongst Quakers, Mennonites and Doukhobors.' In response, I spoke about my living room experiment with Soviet speakers and the public in 1984-1985, as well as bridge-building tours during the Cold War period. See Resources below for more details on my activism for over 55 years.
A mother and daughter from Quebec suggested a series of candid ideas for beginning a public conversation on war and peace. Here are some of their ideas:
  • Prepare a graph showing the cost of war vs. the cost of peace. e.g. battleships and fighter planes vs education, health care, public infrastructure, and culture.
  • 'The monies saved from severance pay as compared to the cost of billion dollar F-35 stealth fighters is a drop in the bucket. Let's be transparent.' The context of this question comes from the fact that the present Harper government in Canada has begun cuts to civil servants, including their severance pay.
  • 'The costs of the military college in Kingston, Ontario is horrendous, especially when we add the fat pensions for the instructors.' Presently military spending trumps all other spending in our society — a situation that needs to change.
  • 'Make peace mandatory! Once this is done, then the designation of military becomes connected to war as being a crime against humanity. By asking for peace, we do not dishonour our war vets. Rather we respect all those people for their sacrifices, but we go on record in saying that "War ought to be no more" and that "Peace is the Way of the Future".'
  • 'What is the cost of Cadets to Canada? Why not use these tax dollars for peace making, violence prevention, and peace education in public schools? Today we urgently need a Kids Program for Peace.'
As Peace Activist, my main expectation from the Human Library project was to discover ways of beginning a public conversation on killing and nonkilling with the intent of creating a world without wars. Granted, this is a Big Task. But it is an idea whose time has long come. The Canadian War Museum, with its Peace Exhibition followed by its Human Library Project is a good beginning. See the nice YouTube video clip advertising the event.

In looking around the room of the Theatre, it was very clear that the Human Library Project could accommodate many more people. Several of the 'Books' were laying idle, awaiting the curious reader. Why not bring in a bus load of Grade X students and let them loose to explore the books before them? This could be a mutual learning experience for all and the beginning of new discoveries about creating a better world. It would be a good way to involve young people in the discussion.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation ought to be involved in the next Human Library project, as it had done successfully in 2012. Publicity is a vital ingredient in ensuring that the public knows the schedule of an important event.

As we mark the fifth anniversary of the Canadian War Museum in its new location, let us reflect how it defines Canada's role in world affairs. Not only is it about military heritage, preserving artifacts of national significance and a look at the service of our veterans, but it is also about the importance of peace (in reality, the word 'peace' ought to have a legitimate place in the Museum's title).

In the eye of the storm (the Canadian War Museum), so to speak, this is a good place to start in seeing things clearly. Visit the Peace Exhibit before it closes on January 5, 2014. Most important, dream a little and imagine a better world without wars. Make your voice known on the most important question — the survival of our civilization including our own lives. Let's begin the discussion....