Friends, I have just agreed to accept an assignment with Nonviolent Peaceforce as peace keeper in Guatemala. Our mission is non partisan and we are unarmed. We (our team of four peace keepers) will protect Guatemalan activists to reduce violence and support human rights. This is election season in Guatemala and there is expected to be heightened violence. We will not be involved in protecting candidates, but rather in protecting the human rights workers who are investigating the deaths of Indians, women, gays and lesbians, and human rights workers who have been targeted by armed forces.
Nonviolent Peaceforce is a "nonpartisan unarmed peacekeeping force composed of well trained civilians from around the world. In partnership with local groups, professional Nonviolent Peaceforce members apply proven nonviolent strategies to protect human rights, deter violence, and help create space for local peacemakers to carry out their work. Building upon the work of Mahatma Gandhi and other unarmed peaceworkers, our vision is to create a large-scale nonviolent peacekeeping force."
Nonviolent Peaceforce builds on the work not only of Gandhi, but Abdul Gaffar Khan, a Muslim, who had a 100,000 person peace keeping force in the 1920s and 30s in what is now Northwest Frontier of Pakistan. He was a valued colleague of Gandhi, and struggled with him for independence from the British. (See Eknath Easwaran, Nonviolent Soldier of Islam Badshah Kahn A Man To Match His Mountains). You can read about other peace keeping forces in Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan and Thomas Weber, Nonviolent Intervention Across Borders: A Recurrent Vision. The direction of Nonviolent Peaceforce includes some of these pioneers.
What Nonviolent Peaceforce adds to these pioneer visionaries is paid peace keepers and the potential to expand throughout the global scene. NP has had teams in Sri Lanka with success since 2003 and will be adding an Early Warning Project for Mindanao, Philippines, in May. As soon as funds are secure, we will be sending peace keeping teams into Colombia to protect the peace communities and to Uganda. An international reserve force is being created to provide teams on short term notice in conflict situations around the world.
I plan to keep a journal which will be posted on my blog. My security and that of others lies in part in people around the world knowing about our mission. So please consider forwarding my journals to relevant individuals and nets. There is a small envelope at the top of my blog page that makes it easy for you to forward my journal.
If you'd like to be part of this effort, you can buy peace bonds or otherwise contribute at our website http://www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org