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Archive for November, 2009

Immigrant’s Contribution to the UK: November 24th, 2009

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 25, 2009

Immigrant’s Contribution to the UK

House of Commons, Committee Room 12

November 24th, 2009

Photo Link here

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

‘I am described as the most hated man in England’ said Keith Best, the Chair of Immigration Advisory Service UK (IASUK), referring to a BNP website as an illustration of the controversy and confusion that surrounds the immigration debate. He compared the UK where 10% of the population were born overseas to 12% in the US, 14% in France, 20% in Canada and 25% in Australia adding that none of those nations are in danger of ‘immediate social disintegration’. Yet the UK has a higher level of negativity to immigration than those other nations. (IASUK Press Release link here.) Yasmin Alibhai – Brown commented that the media had surrendered the debate to the anti – immigration lobby and that the situation was as bad as the 1960’s with both the centre left and the centre right uniting against immigration. She pushed for serious research into the effects of immigration highlighting changes in the UK since the 1960’s.

During a wide-ranging discussion on immigration chaired by Tom Brake MP and organised by the Universal Peace Federation (UPF), there were also presentations from Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh, Mark Brann Secretary General of UPF Europe, Baroness Uddin and Seja Majeed. There were views also expressed from Pakistani, Afro-Caribbean and Philippine communities.

Lord Parekh explored how to frame an effective discussion (full speech link) of the immigration issue targeting neither those vehemently for or against immigration but those who remained to be influenced by accurate and logical debate. He emphasised that the immigrants who came to the UK were mostly resourceful and industrious and added £3-4 bn to the UK economy and the vitality of its culture.

Seja Majeed

Baroness Uddin

Mark Brann described the UPF ethos of ‘One Family Under God’ through True Love. He could see the growing international familial bonds through globalisation, migration and inter-marriage. He emphasised the need for the Christian indigenous community to see the Muslim and other faith communities as a challenge rather than a threat that could re-invigorate Christian values in the UK economic, social and political life.

Seja Majeed illustrated the experience of immigrants coming to the UK at one year old from Iraq via Algeria, becoming an active volunteer for many years and now a face of the Vinspired campaign. She suggested that if families involved their children in volunteer activities in their pre-teen years they would be most likely to continue.

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Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh: Effective Arguments for Immigration Debate

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 24, 2009

‘Effective Arguments for an Immigration Debate’ *

Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh

House of Commons, ‘Immigrants Contribution to the UK’

24th November 2009

Professor Lord Bhikhu Parekh

Lord Bikhu Parekh, Chair of ‘Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain’ Report in 2000, started with the classification of the audience. He mainly classified the audience into two groups: converted (ie generally supportive of immigration) and racists or nationalists. “What I would like to do is to ask a different kind of question: We can easily talk to the converted and convince them that immigration is a wonderful thing; because we are all immigrants; this is the kind of things they want to hear. So it is easy to convince the converted.  It is impossible to convince the racists. Those who are racists, those who don’t like black and browns at all and those who are nationalists in the mould of Enoch Powell, either  don’t want black people or want to keep a certain way of life.”

Referring to the points of remittances mentioned by Best, Lord Parekh said, “Keith made a very beautiful argument that when you go to Bangladesh or to Mirpur or to India there are villages where remittances from immigrants here have made a profound difference. Now if I go to the audiences here and say look with the same kind of argument; they will say I don’t know what you are trying to tell me. This argument has a meaning only if I have a moral obligation to help people in that part of the world. I don’t recognize any such obligation. So while that argument is very attractive to us but it will not cut any ice with this audience I am thinking about.”

Britain had no tradition of immigration
Lord Parekh mentioned that Britain had no tradition of immigration. “It is worth bearing in mind that until now certainly in Britain we have had people coming from outside but they are not immigrants. They are asylum seekers; refugees; we never positively went out to recruit immigrants, in a way that Canada and Australia and the United States did. Therefore, we have no tradition of immigration and therefore we have no vocabulary in terms of which we can talk about immigration. That is the first point to bear in mind,” said Lord Parekh and added, “When people came in the 1880s; 1920s, they were not immigrants; they were asylum seekers, they were refugees. So what kind of immigration that we are talking about.”

Immigration is a post-war phenomenon
Lord Parekh said, “It is a post-war phenomenon. Therefore, it’s a new to British life. We must bear that in mind. Because there are no old arguments, the traditional arguments upon which we can rely; we have to create our own tradition of arguments.”

Lord Parekh in the aftermath of that report on immigration went round the country and began to ask himself: “Can I speak only to satisfy my conscience or do I want to achieve something? And if I wanted to achieve something; how do I relate to the audience; what is my audience? Racists I cannot touch, converted I don’t want to touch. In the middle there are 75% to 80% of the people. What language they do understand?  At the same time  it’s not enough to know what language they do understand is also important that I should share the value of that language.”

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Migration should be based on the facts and not mythology

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 24, 2009

We can absorb the current level of migration taking account of emigration

Migration should be based on the facts and not mythology

Keith Best, Chief Executive, Immigration Advisory Service UK

Keith Best speaking with Tom Brake MP and Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh

Keith Best speaking Tom Brake MP (left) Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh (Right)

Speaking in the House of Commons Committee Room 12 to an audience of Members of the Lords and Commons and others from The Universal Peace Federation (a global alliance of individuals and organizations dedicated to building a world of peace) with Lord Bikhu Parekh and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown on the subject ‘Contribution of Immigrants to British Society’ Keith Best, Chief Executive of IAS, said that for too long the debate about migration has been based on poor statistics and prejudice rather than facts and this was the reason that the UK in the Transatlantic Trends survey of the USA and six EU countries comes out as the most anti-immigrant in its public sentiment.

“There is now general acceptance that migrants bring not just economic but cultural benefit to the UK, are hard workers and often do jobs that the British workforce is unable or unwilling to do. Migrants have given us our cuisine, art, literature and music” he said. “Against all the evidence of economic and social benefit come the ridiculous and wild assertions of some self-appointed so-called experts opposed to migration that migrants cost us £1 million each – an assertion on wholly flawed logic.

“Students bring more than £8 billion a year to the UK in their overseas student fees and spending power: they do not have the right to settle in the UK. Yet without those overseas students the academic institutions, many of the larger ones relying for more than half their total income on overseas student fees, would not be able to educate British domestic students as Prof David Metcalf, Chair of the Migration Advisory Committee, has pointed out.

“More people are coming for temporary purposes in a globalised world increasingly of circulatory migration which benefits both donor and recipient countries. Remittances are often a more effective way of helping an economy develop than official development aid.

“We are all migrants in the UK – it is just a question of when our ancestors arrived here. We have a rich diversity which is the legacy of Empire and Commonwealth that we should treasure. 8,000 people a week are leaving the UK to settle elsewhere – half of them are British citizens going to Australia, France, Spain and half are migrants who are returning home. This is the example of circulatory migration which will be a hallmark of the future.

“Even though parts of the UK may feel under threat by a massive influx of migrants and a majority of schoolchildren who do not have English as their first language these are issues that need to be addressed locally and do not reflect the situation throughout the UK. We can absorb and continue to benefit from the current levels of migration. About 10% of the UK population was not born here – compared with 25% in Australia, 20% in Canada, 14% in France and 12% in the USA – these are not countries on the brink of social disintegration as a result.

“We need to curb our xenophobia and accept the reality that increasingly people will make their own choices where they take their portable skills and choose to live – there are more UK citizens working and living abroad than there are EU migrants in the UK. These are the facts of modern day life.”


Keith Best,

Chief Executive

Immigration Advisory Service UK


Press Release (Click link for original)

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Celebrating Spirituality: South London UPF

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 21, 2009

Celebrating Spirituality

November 21st, 2009

An inspirational idea put forward by one of our Ambassadors for Peace, Mayura Patel, brought together representatives from Islam (Ms Saleha Jaffer), Sikh (Mrs Rawinder Kalsi) and Hindu (Mr Ganesh Lall) faiths, Buddhism (Mr Les Kemp), Christianity (Rev. Elizabeth Jatto) and Unificationism (Mr Nigel Barrett) to expound on their respective major ‘Holy Days’ or celebrations through brief presentations which also introduced the basic religious tenets of each of the faiths. Whilst each of the very simple but profound explanations portrayed the unique historic and cultural underpinnings of their celebrations, it was striking how a deep truth became very apparent, namely the underlying human striving for goodness and higher ideals, culminating in the discovery of God, and his Holy Men/Prophets on earth, leading to the ultimate experience of inner and worldly peace. This ‘sameness’ was further highlighted through the stimulating panel discussion after the presentations.

The conference was very ably chaired by Dr. Lance Gardiner. Mr Franklin Fortune showed a brief video about the recent 10.14 Marriage Rededication Blessing in Korea depicting the experiences of people from all over the world who were present at the event. This resonated beautifully with the existing mood among the participants. The conference was relatively small in scale but had a very intimate atmosphere. It was brought to a close by the traditional round of songs presented by Russell Gough as well as the usual buffet refreshments and networking among all.


Time for Vision – The Path Ahead

May 30th 2009, South London – UPF

Nigel Barrett, Susan Beresford and Cllr Faizullah Khan

Nigel Barrett, Susan Beresford and Cllr Faizullah Khan

Councillor Faizullah Khan urged peace activists to arm themselves intellectually with a higher level of understanding and tolerance with which to analyse conflicts and contribute effectively to the peace building process. Speaking on 30th May 2009 at the Peace Embassy in Thornton Heath, South London, on the occasion of the third in a series of conferences held under the title “Time for Vision – The Path Ahead”, he opined: “Desiring peace will never deliver peace, it is activism in peace which will deliver peace.”

The conference was attended by about 40 Ambassadors for Peace, UPF supporters and their guests. The series has focussed on the need for a positive vision to address the challenges we face in this era of economic, political, environmental and moral crisis. The proceedings opened with a thought-provoking presentation by Mr Nigel Barrett on the role of conscience in personal development. Drawing on the philosopher Plato’s discussion of the mythical “Ring of Gyges”, he asked if we would still live a moral life if we could be freed from being held accountable for our actions by others – a pertinent question in light of the recent scandalous revelations of political and financial improprieties. He introduced the challenging concept of a cosmic level of conscience inspired by Divine spiritual laws and principles.

Susan Beresford then presented the ongoing work of Undercroydon, a non-profit organisation, which has successfully brought communities together through innovative artistic, fashion and food-based projects. She described how projects such as the art mural in the Whitgift Centre in Croydon, in which several schools participated, have released individuals’ creative and cooperative talents.

CIMG3008 SL UPF event croppedA lively panel Q&A session followed the speaker presentations, and the proceedings concluded with the generous donation of a large cheque by the Sabrang Ladies Group to UPF for improvement of the furnishings in the Peace Embassy.

Lance Gardiner

CIMG3024 SL UPF event cropped panel

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Commemoration of Dr. L. M. Singhvi: Joint Celebration of Holy Events

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 19, 2009

Annual Commemoration of Dr. L. M. Singhvi’s Interfaith Contribution

Joint Celebration of Holy Events During National Interfaith Week

18th November, 2009  Committee Room 4, House of Lords

Dr LM Singhvi Inter-religious Initiatives powerpoint

Prof. Lord Parekh, Lord King of West Bromwich and Rajan Sehgal

Part One:

This was an opportunity to remember a great figure’s  interfaith activities as well as participate in the National Interfaith Week activities through the Joint Celebration of Holy Events in the religious calendar.

Prof. Lord Parekh, the host for the evening, quoted Nehru when saying, ‘We are all little people who only deserve to be remembered because of the great causes we support.’ He added, ‘The best tribute to one who is departed is that we continue their work.’  Lord Parekh remembered Dr Singhvi’s leadership of the significant World Parliament of Religions delegation from India.  He supported Hans Kung’s position of discovering the principles that are common to all religions and challenging the religions that did not share the six or seven principles that were deemed important by the other faiths.

Dr LM Singhvi was an Indian High Commissioner to the UK from 1991 – 1997. He was a President of the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) in India and on International UPF’s Global Peace Council. He came to the UK six months before he passed away in order to connect his UK friends to UPF. He held a conference in the House of Lords on May 21st 2007 entitled, ‘Inter-Religious Initiatives For Universal Peace: An Enduring Foundation for Understanding the Culture and Climate of Peace.’ A report of that event is available through the following link. (May 21st 2007 Dr Singhvi  Inter-religious Initiatives.)

Lord Parekh hosted that event in the Moses Committee room of the House of Lords. Dr Singhvi used the opportunity to express support for the proposal of the Inter-Religious Council at the UN that is one of the  purposes of the UPF expressed by Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon in its founding speech. Dr Singhvi had held meetings in Goa, India and in the UK’s House of Lords in order to promote this council as a way to improve political discourse and decision making. Anand Kumar, the Hindi and Culture Attache of the Indian High Commission, Lord Tarsem King, Rajan Sehgal of the Pakistan India Friendship Foundation all spoke glowingly of the influence he had had on them as well as the accomplishments of his career. It was concluded that he had raised the profile of India and particularly enhanced the relationship of India and the UK.

Photo link for more photos of the event.

Part Two

In the second part of the evening there was a explanation of the significance of the Holy Days of several religions.

Harrison Cohen explained the significance of Hannukah to him and to his faith.

‘I have chosen to speak about the Jewish festival of Chanukah because it is one that ultimately teaches us the importance of religious freedom and human dignity. Chanukah demonstrates the importance and indeed necessity that even just a few good people can triumph over a tyranny of evil. On each of Chanukah’s eight nights we light candles that in many ways represent the triumph of good over evil, of light over darkness. It is also notable to say that the act of lighting the Menorah during the winter period is significant in that we light an extra candle as we approach the Winter Solstice. If we look to history we see so many occurrences within which just a few good men managed to triumph over evil, I am reminded by some inspirational words said by the American president John F. Kennedy, who said: “We are not here to curse the darkness; but we are here to light a candle.” ‘ For the full speech click here

Imam Dr. Mahmadou Bocoum spoke about the significance of Eid al-Adha which is the enactment of Abraham’s offering of Ishmael. He mentioned that this was interesting in that the celebration originated in Abrahamic times. He asked if we could offer what is most precious to us as Abraham did. He mentioned that the Eid holidays have become commercialised but he  reminded the audience of the Prophetic Tradtion, which is  the second most authoritative source after the holy Qur’an,

” None of you is a true beliver who goes to bed with full stomach while his nieghbour remains hungry”.

Vijay Metha spoke of the significance of Diwali or the “Festival of lights”. Diwali or “Festival of lights” is an occasion of joy, prosperity and brightness. It is a significant festival for Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains. While in Hinduism, Diwali signifies victory over Darkness, it marks the attainment of nirvana by Mahavira, in Jainism. Sikhs often represent Diwali as a ‘Day of Freedom.’ The festival has emerged as a prime tourist attraction of Varanasi and present a breathtaking spectacle as millions of diyas are lit on the ghats and sent floating the river waters. A large number of people, including Indian and foreign tourist, congregate on the ghats and take boat rides to witness the spectacle. Since the day also marks ‘Kartik Purnima’, millions of Hindu devotees take a dip in the river Ganga. For the full speech click here.

Sister Elizabeth O’Donohoe, Secretary of Westminster Interfaith, spoke about All Saints’ Day. She said that it was a time of change of season and in the darkness we are preoccupied. Those whose names are written on the Book of Life, or Saints, are prayed for on that day. It is an encouragement to follow the path of holiness. St Ignatius Loyola began a series of spiritual exercises to follow the path of holiness. He taught followers to imagine they were standing in front of God on the Judgement Day. The society of the Saints that are prayed for on All Saints Day are the ones who will put in a good word for us at that time.

That almost everyone stayed until the end illustrated both the popularity of interfaith and the popularity of  the great causes Dr Singhvi promoted so passionately during his life.

Sr Elizabeth O'Donohoe

Mr. Anand Kumar

Dr LM Singhvi House of Lords May 21 2007

Harrison Cohen - Significance of Hannukah

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Harrison Cohen – Festival of Chanukah

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 18, 2009

Harrison Cohen – Festival of Chanukah

Speech at House of Lords

November 18th 2009

Your Lordships, esteemed colleagues and friends: Let me start by saying it is truly a great honour and a privilege to have been given the chance to speak before you this evening. Before I start I am actually reminded of something that Lord Parekh mentioned earlier, and that of a concept in Jewish teachings that learning in honour of someone departed, it is as if they themselves have committed a good deed. So I’m honoured to be honouring the memory of Dr Singhvi with this presentation tonight.

Next month, Jews all over the world will be celebrating the festival of Chanukah. I hope now over the next few minutes to provide you with an insight into the meaning of Chanukah, both for myself as a Jew, as well as its particular relevance to all of us as members of different faiths living in Britain today. As we look at the world around us it’s hard not to notice the pain and the suffering brought on by poverty, disease, extremism, war and terror. We are only now beginning to emerge from the greatest economic crisis of our time and a swine flu epidemic, two global threats that if anything demonstrate the interconnectivity and interconnectedness of all of mankind. As we look around Britain today on the one hand it is easy to see a society fractured by baseless hatreds, prejudices and intolerance. Yet, as I look around this room tonight I’m pleased to say that I know these challenges can be faced and G-d-willing overcome – knowing that when a small group of men and women, and religious leaders come together in a display of unity, that we are no longer divided by difference, but we are united by our faith.

I have chosen to speak about the Jewish festival of Chanukah because it is one that ultimately teaches us the importance of religious freedom and human dignity. Chanukah demonstrates the importance and indeed necessity that even just a few good people can triumph over a tyranny of evil. On each of Chanukah’s eight nights we light candles that in many ways represent the triumph of good over evil, of light over darkness. It is also notable to say that the act of lighting the Menorah during the winter period is significant in that we light an extra candle as we approach the Winter Solstice. If we look to history we see so many occurrences within which just a few good men managed to triumph over evil, I am reminded by some inspirational words said by the American president John F. Kennedy, who said:

“We are not here to curse the darkness; but we are here to light a candle.”

We may not be able to make right all the wrongful ills in the world today, but at least we can try to change one person in the same way as [Iman Dr] Mahmadou [Boucoum] said, for each person is a world unto themselves. By lighting a candle we can at least bring a tiny spark of illumination to a world beset by darkness and confusion. Today, our world may be filled with compulsions to violence, intolerance and hatred, but it is also countered with the unending struggle in the fruition of goodness. The Jewish people know all too well the consequences of such evil compulsions, the challenges brought on by darkness and suffering: For throughout our history we have fought for survival time and time again, we have fought for the right to practice, to pray and to worship: To live our lives as the Torah commands us to. Throughout history when faced with inquisition and pogrom the Jews fought back with an unrelenting spiritual faithfulness. Throughout our exile and wanderings in the wilderness of the Diaspora we cling to the belief of the arrival of Messianic Era and the return to the Promised Land.

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Vijay Mehta Celebrating Diwali – Festival of Lights

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 18, 2009

Universal Peace Federation

43 Lancaster Gate, London W2 3NA

Email: Web:

Invites you to

National Interfaith Week

Hosted by Prof. Lord Bhikhu Parekh

Celebrating and learning from Diwali – Festival of Lights

Speaker: Vijay Mehta

Committee Room 4A House of Lords

Wednesday 18th of November, 2009, 5.00pm


Diwali or “Festival of lights” is an occasion of joy, prosperity and brightness. It is a significant festival for Hindus,

Shanti Mehta and Vijay Mehta

Sikhs, and Jains. While in Hinduism, Diwali signifies victory over Darkness, it marks the attainment of nirvana by Mahavira, in Jainism. Sikhs often represent Diwali as a ‘Day of Freedom.’

The festival has emerged as a prime tourist attraction of Varanasi and present a breathtaking spectacle as millions of diyas are lit on the ghats and sent floating the river waters. A large number of people, including Indian and foreign tourist, congregate on the ghats and take boat rides to witness the spectacle. Since the day also marks ‘Kartik Purnima’, millions of Hindu devotees take a dip in the river Ganga. The event is also beamed live on TV and singing and dancing events also take place on various ghats.

For Hindus, Diwali is a five day extravagant affair. Dhanteras, the first day, is considered auspicious to buy Gold, household articles and specially utensils for kitchen. On this day, People gift “golden leaf” as it signifies prosperity and luck. Choti Diwali is the day when Lord Krishna killed Narakashura and freed the world from fear, according to the Legend. Laxmi Pooja or the actual Diwali is celebrated with a Pooja dedicated to Goddess Laxmi. Padwa is dedicated to the household cattle, where a pooja is done for them and are fed with goodies. Bhai Duj is a special day for siblings where the Brother visits the Sister’s house to celebrate the day with them.

Diwali day starts with an oil bath, after which everyone wears new clothes and sits down for a pooja of Goddess Laxmi. The whole house hold is lit with diyas in the evening and everyone, adults and kids alike play with crackers. Diwali day also sees lots of cashew studded milk sweets and other sweets. Friends and relatives visit each other to share wishes and Diwali Gifts. It emphasises on the joy of giving and sharing like all other festivals. This festival is celebrated not just in India, now but is a global festival.

There are some negative aspects to Diwali like incorrigible shopping, needless purchases and vulgar display of wealth which marks every Diwali. All these trends are propagated by market-driven forces. Most Indians put up a spectacular display of blinking lights, fire-crackers and blaring loud music.  This is a form of indulgence and is a waste of money while billions of people around us live in abject poverty.

It is time we started pondering whether Diwali is just revelry or a very deep-seated faith in addictive consumerism, an urge to possess and an equally inescapable desire to flaunt and display ones belongings.


How can we make multifaith festivals meaningful in the 21st century, especially to the younger generation and teach them the rights/wrongs of this world.

Our role as human beings is to be a trustee of this planet. While celebrating Diwali, we should ensure that we do not destroy our precious planet but use this festival to improve and enrich our life, heritage and culture. I wonder if some of you have read the article in the Economist of November 7th 2009 issue. In it, the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, said to an audience of spiritual leaders of all faith, I quote, ‘you are the leaders who have the widest, largest and deepest reach. You can make a huge difference in tackling the climate change crisis by linking up faith and green issues and save the planet for future generations.

In conclusion, let me say that celebrating festivals including Diwali is one of the greatest uplifting experiences one can have. If you go back in time in your childhood, one of the high points of a child’s life is to attend festivals along with the family, relatives and friends of different faith and religions. It was a constant source of joy, happiness and creativity. It can be a great learning curve for multiculturalism – a recipe for peace, prosperity and a safer future for all of us.

Biography: Vijay Mehta Vijay Mehta is president of VM Centre for Peace , Founding Trustee of Fortune Forum Charity ,  Chair of Action for UN Renewal and co-Chair of World Disarmament Campaign. He is an author, a champion for truth and global activist for peace, development, human rights and environment. Some of his notable books are The Fortune Forum Summit: For a Sustainable Future, Arms No More, and The United Nations and Its Future in the 21st Century.His latest book is on Global Warming and is called ‘Climate Change IQ,’ which is available to download free of charge in electronic form from the website along with his daughter Renu Mehta founder of Fortune Forum charity held three summits in London in 2006, 2007 and 2008. The summits raised over a million pounds for charity and attracted a worldwide audience of 1.3 billion people (one fifth of humanity) including print and media coverage. The keynote speakers for the first and second summit were Bill Clinton, former US President and Al Gore, former US vice-President, and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize 2007. The guest speakers in 2008 were Ted Turner, Founder of CNN, Amritya Sen and Sir James Mirrlees both Nobel Prize winning Economists.Vijay Mehta has appeared in various TV programmes including BBC World, Press TV, Ajtak-24 hour Indian news channel, and Think Peace documentary, Canada, among others. The Sunday Times, Independent, Observer, Irish Times and Guardian newspapers, among other journals have written about him. His life is devoted to the service of peace, humanity and our planet.

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Interreligious Cooperation Promoted in Mindanao

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 14, 2009

Interreligious Cooperation Promoted in Mindanao

Mindanao Peace Symposium, Cagayan de Oro, Philippines November 11 and 12

Dr. Robert Kittel, Director of Peace Education, UPF-Asia
Thursday, November 12, 2009

(This is an abbreviated report – full report link here)

A coalition of eight sponsors, including government, NGOs, and religious organizations, brought together over 160 participants under the banner, “Peace Development through Inter-Religious Cooperation in Mindanao.”

For two days delegates deliberated and discussed various components of peace—but their approach was very different. Rather than focus on military strategies, arms control, and mechanisms for surrender or ceasefire, they took a journey back into history and looked at their common ancestry.

Gold Star - Mindanao Peace Article

For the full report on the symposium published in the Gold Star Daily News of Mindanao, click here.

Photo Link

On the first day, Dr. Ronald Adamat, member of the Government of the Philippines Peace Panel for Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and an advisor to the Office of the President on the Peace Process, gave an update on the current negotiations stressing that the values and sentiments of Mindanaoans must be reflected in any peace agreement.

Life-long advocate for bringing together peace and education, Dr. Estrella Babano, gave four guideposts to achieve peace and development: 1) harmony with God, 2) harmony within yourself, 3) harmony with others, and 4) harmony with the environment. As the director of Department of Education, Region X, Dr. Babano explained why peace must be linked with development. There can be no peace in the midst of economic disparity, she pointed out.

“Peace is something dynamic,” she said, “It deals with human relationship, and these are greatly affected by a number of factors, the biggest of which is our pride or ego.” The key to peace is to become “selfless,” to forget ourselves and seek peace for others first.

“It was the first time Pentecostal pastors dealt directly with Muslim leaders on issues of peace, cooperation, and mutual understanding,” said Massimo Trombin, International Field Director of the Global Peace Festival, one of the sponsoring organizations.

Concluding the symposium, all participants—Christian, Muslim, and Lumad—signed the Mindanao Peace Covenant 2009. It called for the creation of a culture of service and peace to:

  • Encourage religious leaders to begin a ministry of reconciliation among all groups
  • Establish an Inter-religious Peace Council based on repentance and forgiveness as the first steps
  • Support elected officials, educators, and leaders of religious and ethnic groups to find common ground as “One Family Under God”

Programme of the November 11-12th Seminar click 2009 Nov 11-12th symposium programme

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Praise works!

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 10, 2009

I attended a Star Foundation Awards ceremony for young people today organised by a good friend Dr Joy Philippou. She is doing such great work despite her age. There were a number of very worthy recipients, music and celebrities. Dr David Hanna opened the programme with prayer and the words that ‘Joy has found that the simple things are the most successful. Praise and encouragement have great effect.’

Star Foundation Awards Group Photo - Youth Awards -

Star Foundation Awards Group Photo

For more photos please use this link.

The Star Foundation Awards were presented to young people nominated for doing good work in their community or for keeping the slate clean for several years if they were in trouble in the past. I nominated a young lady, Narraser Gordon, from Bristol who has led a campaign in Bristol to STOP (Solve This Ongoing Problem) gun and knife violence. She gave a talk at a recent Bristol Universal Peace Federation event I attended about the work of STOP. Narraser, blessed with a strong Christian faith, has a sincere passion to prevent the violence among her peers that has killed too many already. She takes each death, each injury, personally.

IMG_0042 Patti Boulaye with Narraser Gordon

Patti Boulaye with Narraser Gordon

Patti Boulaye, who has several charitable projects of her own, was very encouraging to all those receiving awards. She emphasised the need for good family traditions and boundaries that form the bedrock of a good society.

IMG_0022 cropped Joy and the Crown Prince rev

Dr Joy Philippou and the Crown Prince of Burma

Well done Joy!!

Robin Marsh

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Mindanao Peace Initiative – UK: Conference at Philippine Embassy

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 6, 2009

Mindanao Peace Initiative – UK

Briefing at the Philippine Embassy

November 3rd, 2009

Please Download  –   Mindanao Peace Initiative – UK Powerpoint

Group Photo Philippine Embassy

For more photos please click here

Mindanao Peace Initiative Briefing - Gene Alcantara, Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo, Massimo Trombin, Charles Hardie, Robin Marsh

(Left to Right) Gene Alcantara, H.E. Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo, Massimo Trombin, Charles Hardie, Robin Marsh

Massimo Trombin, the International Director of Field Operations of the Global Peace Festival, briefed the local Philippine community on the developments of the Mindanao Peace Initiative at the UK Philippine Embassy on November 3rd, 2009. The peace initiative is a Track II approach to support the official peace process by grassroots, youth, education and community service projects. Massimo Trombin, who has been active in the area since 2006, used a powerpoint presentation that can be down loaded from this link (Mindanao Peace Initiative – UK Powerpoint.)

There was a broad representation of the Philippine community including representatives of the embassy staff, media, the Mindanao UK group and the Philippine Muslim Association – UK group.

The evening began with Gene Alcantara, whose passion for the issue has been instrumental in developing a local support group, welcoming the audience. He emphasised that Philippinos in the UK were not able to forget the conflict in Mindanao even though the world’s attention was focused elsewhere. He was happy that Muslims from Mindanao were present to participate in this event and to express their views. “The diaspora can contribute to peace and development in Mindanao if only by making people aware of the issues ….. or raising funds for the peace efforts in Mindanao.”

The Ambassador HE Antonio Lagdameo made an excellent speech outlining the official peace process that we will upload shortly. Ambassador Lagdameo emphasised the Philippine Government’s determination to find a peace agreement for Mindanao before the end of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term of office in May 2010.

Mrs Loline Reed moderated the question and answer session. Dr Raheem Khan, a founding member of the Muslim Council of Britain and a Trustee of the Universal Peace Federation – UK, emphasised that Islam is a religion of peace during his comments.

Mindanao Peace Initiative Briefing - Philippine Embassy London

Dr Raheem Khan shaking hands with Sheikh Abdul Mannan Wahid of the Philippine Muslim Association UK

From this gathering and other meetings during Massimo’s visit it is planned to establish a Working Group in the UK that can support the efforts of the Mindanao Peace Initiative.

DSC05185 Mrs Loline Reed

Mrs Loline Reed

Andy Villalba

Andy Villalba: Mindanao - UK

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Dr. L.M. Singhvi ‘Interfaith Imperatives’ May 2007

Posted by peacedevelopmentnetwork on November 1, 2009

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