Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Tales from Iraq and Palestine

Further to my post below about the SSU Congress in Sweden I felt the need to dedicate a separate posting for my meeting with delegates from the Kurdistan Youth Freedom Organisation from Iraq and the Palestinian-based Fatah Youth movement.

It was a tremendous personal honour to meet with social democratic colleagues from Iraq and Palestine and to have the opportunity to discuss with them areas of mutual learning and cooperation in conflict resolution and peace-building. It was interested but extremely harrowing to hear their stories of daily personal struggle and strife against oppressive political and socio-economic conditions. Their stories are of bombs, shootings and death.

They were such nice, genuine people who simply want a better life for themselves and their families and friends. They are fighting over an offence that they did not necessarily give, against those who were not necessarily alive to be offended. Meeting people from these types of scenarios really makes you put many things into clear perspective. Hearing about their struggle makes you more resolute and determined to stand up for what is right- here and abroad.

While each of our respective situations may be very different there are definately many similarities that can be drawn from our individual experiences. Although the conflicts in Iraq and Palestine may be on a much wider and serious scale than the conflict here ever was I still firmly believe that they, and other conflict regions, can learn from our experiences here.

The peace-process here has had its difficulties but we have learned that the only through partnership and working together can we ever resolve our issues - now we resolve our disputes at the political table and not down the barrel of a gun. I reiterated to them that peace processes are never perfect- there are many challenging times and “peace” is not a destination that is easily arrived at.

Achieving peace involves constant hard work and effort not only in terms of developing political relationships but also in building consensus on the ground and in communities. Peace does not just happen overnight – it is a perpetual process – and can only be achieved through compromise and adhering to the fundamental principles of dialogue, respect for diversity, commitment to democracy and non-violence.

We socialists and social democrats want to help build a better world- a world that is free from conflict and the root causes of conflict but for that to happen we must work together, and stand together in solidarity, and stay true to our ideals of social justice, peace and democracy.

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