Christian-Muslim Youth Camp: Towards Interfaith Solidarity Against Militarized Globalization (A Philippine Experience)

I.Introduction to the Project, its historical background and context:

 

“Christian-Muslim Youth Camp: Towards Interfaith Solidarity Against Militarized Globalization” is a project of Peace for Life, a faith-based movement and forum for peace and justice, engaged in building interfaith solidarity and mobilizing the power of spirituality against the life-threatening forces of global hegemony. It aims to provide an interfaith and inter-regional space for the youth to do contextual reflection/analysis and to formulate concrete program strategies for both short-term and long-term engagement against militarized globalization. As conceptualized, militarization and globalization are intimately related in that globalization relies on the use of military power and war to protect the ruling system. The project takes off from the meaning of “camp” as an alternative space for learning and sharing ideas for action, engages faith-based organizations and grassroots movements of the youth to help build a counter-narrative to the dominant globalization discourse and deconstruct its “development” claims through their lived experience and struggles.

 

As initial phase of the project, Peace for Life held an International Conference of Women and Youth against Militarized Globalization in Dhaka, Bangladesh last 28-29 November, 2016 in partnership with the World Student Christian Federation, the Waldensian Church in Italy, the United Church of Canada and the United Methodist Women.  It successfully gathered 15 young Christian and Muslim men and women from Bangladesh, the Philippines, Benin, Palestine, South Korea, the United States, and India. The Conference provided an opportunity for the participants and leadership of PfL to have a unified understanding of the global, regional, and national dimensions of militarized globalization and in identifying key issues affecting women and youth related to it. It was strongly recommended in the Dhaka Conference to enhance solidarity between faith-based and social movements through alliance-building on short and long-term campaigns.

 

In the meantime, the Philippines, identified in 2002 by Bush as the U.S.’ second front in the “War on Terror” not long after its incursion in Afghanistan, is once again at the center of international attention. Five months ago, the extremist Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute Group (joined by Abu Sayaf, a breakaway faction of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front), infiltrated  Marawi City, the only Muslim city in the preponderantly Muslim southern Philippines. As a consequence, martial law (with its concomitant human rights abuses) was declared in Mindanao. This declaration is now feared as but a prelude to declaring martial law in the entire country.

 

Government forces have since engaged in aerial bombings and artillery shellings to dislodge the so-called terrorist group and retake key villages supposedly under the control of the Maute group, resulting in massive deaths, destruction of homes and property, and displacement of nearly all 200,000 residents of Marawi. A huge humanitarian crisis has resulted in the process.

 

In the meantime, foreign media has spread propaganda that the Maute attack in Marawi is part of the strategy of the extremist Islamic State (IS) of establishing a foothold in Southeast Asia  through the Philippines as part of its projected global caliphate based in Syria and Iraq. Hence particularly threatening is the US military’s use of the Marawi crisis to strengthen its presence in the country. In fact, the US is now engaged in a more direct and enhanced US intervention and military support with the pretext of countering IS.

 

To make matters worse, military rule under the U.S.-designed Oplan Kapayapaan (counter-insurgency program) is now being combined with the mass murder methods of Duterte’s “war on drugs”. Accordingly some 12,000 have already become victims under both his anti-illegal drugs and politically motivated killings, including minors. Authoritarianism and fascisization are rising under Duterte’s rule, targetting all perceived “enemies of the state” including the drug pushers and drug lords, revolutionary forces, Muslim groups, and the opposition. Extra-judicial killings and other rights abuses, aerial bombardments, including attacks against Lumad schools and human rights defenders continue without abatement. It is thus more urgent to amplify calls for justice, accountability, and just peace.

 

There is also an urgent need to understand the resurgence of Islamophobia and the alarming rise of religious fundamentalism in the country. Rising Islamic extremism has also become of deep concern in Malaysia and Indonesia and the whole region of Southeast Asia. Genocide of Muslim Rohingya in Myanmar and the underlying economic motivations need to be brought to the fore. While religious fundamentalism is used as pretext to drum up war hysteria and carry out wars against nations asserting sovereignty and independence, understanding the issue and issues behind them becomes an imperative especially in the call against militarism and the challenge towards interfaith solidarity for just peace. Wars, occupations, and militarization are driven by capitalism’s perennial need to control territories, capture resources, expand markets, and increase profits. By exacerbating local conflicts and internal contradictions, including religious animosity, imperialist powers have enabled fundamentalist movements to be used as pawns for their objectives.

 

  1. Objectives:

 

In light of what is happening in the Philippines, and as a follow-up activity to the strong recommendation of the Dhaka Conference to enhance solidarity between faith-based and social movements experiencing militarized globalization, an Interfaith Youth Camp is hereby being proposed this November. This will be an occasion to participate in an international solidarity mission in Mindanao and communities affected by unjust situation. The Youth Camp will also be a back-to-back activity for the Global Protest Caravan which will be held in the Philippines on Nov. 12-13 in connection with the meetings of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN ) to be followed by a summit of leaders of East Asian countries with the United States, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, China, India and Russia in furtherance of the dominant militarized globalization discourse.

 

The Youth Camp will be an interfaith and inter-regional space in coordination with the youth in the Philippines for the following objectives:

 

  1. To have a deeper understanding of militarized globalization and the rise of religious fundamentalism as they impact in the lives of youth and communities;
  2. To have an opportunity to participate in the International Solidarity Mission in Mindanao,the Global Protest Caravan Against Militarization and War, including immersion/exposure programs to foster solidarity with the Filipino people and other targets of militarized globalization;
  3. To come up with plans for an educational campaign including mobilizations, forums and campaign materials, in order to project in local or international media the issues against militarized globalization, and;
  4. To form networks and alliances at regional and/or global levels for more coordinated actions and for sharing strategies and campaigns against militarized globalization.

III. Venue and participants:

The Interfaith Youth Camp is proposed to be held in Quezon City, Philippines, at the University of the Philippines Balay Kalinaw on November 10-13, 2017, with the participation of the following from global South: Malaysia, Pakistan, Palestine, Kurdistan, Indonesia, Myanmar, India, Korea, Bangladesh, and from the Philippine youth delegation. Participants from the global North and other partners will be encouraged to come at their own expense.

 

 

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