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Statement of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc. on the Situation in Myanmar

March 22, 2021

We, the undersigned Board of Trustees, staff, alumni, facilitators, and volunteers of the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute Foundation, Inc. (MPI) from Asia-Pacific and other parts of the world, express our full support to our fellow alumni from Myanmar and their people in their pursuit of democracy, peace, human rights, the rule of law, and fundamental freedoms. We strongly condemn the escalation of violent repression of peaceful protesters across the country.

Saw Phoe Kwar singing

Statement on the Arrest of Saw Phoe Kwar, MPI Alumnus

The Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) calls for the immediate release of Saw Phoe Kwar, an MPI alumnus, who was arrested in Myanmar after the military coup d’état that took place on 1 February 2021, and for all who have been detained due to their involvement in national protests and civil disobedience, seeking a return to the rule of law and democratic governance.

Saw Phoe Kwar in classSaw Phoe Kwar participated in MPI’s 2016 Annual Peacebuilding Training where he joined other peace advocates and practitioners in a training to hone their skills in conflict transformation and peacebuilding. When applying for the Annual Peacebuilding Training, Saw wrote, “My work and my wish is to serve the community, nation and all people from the whole world through peace messages from my reggae music. I have two simple messages: ‘Stop the hate’ and ‘Love one another,’ inspiration for which I distilled down from my reading of the Bible.” Saw joined the Annual Peacebuilding training so that he could develop strategic approaches to peacebuilding through music and football in conflict-prone regions in Myanmar. His goal has been to create an “artists’ community for peace” and unite artists and celebrities to work for peace.

MPI urges peacebuilders from around the world and in particular its alumni, network partners, colleagues, and friends to sign the petition demanding the release of Saw Phoe Kwar, and to support other campaigns and efforts calling for the release of all of those detained since 1 February 2021 and a return to the rule of law and democratic governance that can be found at these links:

http://chng.it/5QSWwSScVC

https://iidnet.org/myanmar-military-should-end-its-use-of-violence-and-respect-democracy/

Let us show our solidarity and concern for the people of Myanmar at this critical time in its history!

MPI provides a space for community development workers, academics, humanitarian relief workers, social workers, teachers, indigenous peoples, police and military officers, and others from diverse backgrounds and faith traditions to learn together in an open and safe environment to respect differences, embrace diversity and seek justice and peace for their communities through nonviolent means.

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Participant images from Zoom call

First Virtual MPI-Africa Alumni Roundtable Meeting

Summary of Highlights
September 2020

Introduction

Since 2005, MPI has trained Africa-based peacebuilders from across the continent. As MPI alumni, these peacebuilders have been sharing their individual personal stories after their training in bits and pieces. For some time now, MPI has been strategizing on how to energize its Africa footprint by invigorating an ongoing interaction for mutual sharing and exchange with its alumni peacebuilders there.

It is with this aspiration that on September 23, 2020, MPI Director, Christine Vertucci, and the Research, Documentation, and Learning Coordinator, Marlies Roth of MPI organized the First Virtual Alumni Roundtable "MPI-Africa Connection." 

Christine Vertucci welcomed the six alumni delegates from Sierra Leone, DR Congo, and Kenya to the MPI-Africa online meeting. She pointed to the fact that MPI has held deep-felt aspirations for increased connectedness to Africa. MPI envisions creating a critical mass of intertwined and connected peacebuilders not only in Asia-Pacific but also throughout the world. “As we gather together today, we are sowing the seed for realizing this vision, as we reconnect, renew our friendships, and plan together initiatives that will re-create and transform our world into a place where justice and peace prevail." 

This is a synopsis of the discussion in that meeting and forms a beginning of a journey of the connectedness of MPI and its alumni peacebuilders in Africa.

Peacebuilding and the Arts Now banner with various artists, conductors in a collage

Arts Building Peace: An Online Class's Conversation on Measuring Arts-Based Peacebuilding

This article originally appeared in the Peacebuilding and the Arts Now January 2021 newsletter.Peacebuilding and the Arts Zoom class with participants on the screen

“Art practices have their own uniqueness that evaluating themt becomes a dilemma.”

“A lot of convincing needs to happen when we are thinking of doing evaluation and assessment in engaging arts and peacebuilding...convincing a different range of stakeholders who may have different ways and language of getting convinced, which makes it [evaluation and assessment] difficult.”

“It [evaluation and assessment] is important for planning purposes and learning the needs of the community."

These were just some of the responses from the participants of the Arts Building Peace online class in what was an engaging, thought-provoking conversation on the value of evaluation and assessment in arts-based peacebuilding. It was the sixth week of a 10-week online course on Arts Building Peace: Creative Approaches in Conflict Transformation facilitated by Babu Ayindo from Kenya and Kyoko Okumoto from Japan. This course was one of the four virtual peacebuilding courses that the Mindanao Peacebuilding Institute (MPI) organized and implemented in the last quarter of 2020, and one of the first online classes offered by MPI in its 20-year existence as a peacebuilding institute.

: Bowing and placing of flowers during the commemoration of the anniversary of the day that Japan surrendered to end the Asia-Pacific War in 1945.

Be A Piece of Peace: 2019 NARPI Summer Peacebuilding Training Reflection

One step, two steps, then, I stopped and looked around inside the airport, feeling nervous. Can I do this? Can I manage to travel alone and navigate a foreign country? Can I communicate clearly so that they can understand me? Will I be able to make friends? Will I be able to participate in the training as I had hoped? These were just a few of the questions that ran through my mind during my trip to Nanjing, China, to participate in the 2019 Summer Peacebuilding Training of the Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute (NARPI)

All these questions faded away as soon as I was able to see a secretariat volunteer and some of the participants waiting for the arrival of other participants before departing together to the venue. It was such a relief to see the NARPI signage, the waving hands, and the greeting smiles of the group. Then I realized this must be how most of our participants feel when they arrive at the Davao airport for the annual training. 

The summer peacebuilding training was both a privilege and a blessing for me as an individual who is given an opportunity to study the fundamentals of peacebuilding and is given the chance to learn about the culture of the host country (China) as well as the other participants’ countries. The training gathered 95 students and professionals, primarily from Northeast Asia. 

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