Pilgrims on the Path to Peace: the Pax Christi 70th anniversary celebrations continue in Bethlehem
Bethlehem, 15 May 2015 – The second day of the Pax Christi 70th anniversary programme continued on 14 May with a series of pilgrimages – or walking paths – that enabled participants to reflect on the challenges to peace going from the local to the global, from the Palestinian reality to the plurality of the situations in which Pax Christi Member Organisations work for peace.
In the “Human Rights: Promoting the Dignity of Each Person” pilgrimage, participants visited the Aida Camp as well as the Dheisheh camp and interacted with refugee families. The deepening discussions today enabled participants to look at how Member Organisations around the globe are forging peace through the promotion of the rule of law and the respect for human rights, especially for those groups most affected by violence in its different forms.
The “Ecological Justice: Promoting Sustainable peace” walking path took pilgrims to the Jordan Valley where they could interact with communities affected by land eviction, water scarcity, agricultural resource degradation, and other land rights issues. In the deepening discussion sessions later today, participants looked at how Pax Christi Member Organisations around the globe are supporting communities as they face conflicts around natural resources and at how they are promoting sustainable peace.
During the “Justice and Reconciliation: Restoring Dignity after Violence and Injustice” pilgrimage to Ramallah – Palestinian city in the central West Bank located 10 km north of Jerusalem – participants were hosted by two local organisations, Defence for Children International – Palestine and Addameer who presented their missions and projects with particular attention on the situation of prisoners. Participants had the opportunity to interact with former political prisoners and victims of torture. Afterwards, in the deepening discussion sessions, they reflected on how Pax Christi Member Organisations around the world are promoting processes of reconciliation and building and sustaining integrative, direct, inspirational and empowering processes of dealing with the past in view of reaching transformative justice.
Participants in the “Demilitarisation: Turning Swords into Ploughshares” visited Hebron where they interacted with communities affected by continuous Israeli army and settler violence. Afterwards, in the deepening discussion sessions, they shared how Pax Christi Member Organisations around the globe are addressing demilitarisation and disarmament issues. Together they shared lessons learned and strategised on how to strengthen their advocacy at the national and international level.
The “Peace Education: Walking with Young Peacemakers” walking path participants visited the Talitha Kumi School located in Beit Jala close to Bethlehem. They met representatives from Combatants for peace (Tel Aviv – Tul Karem group) and from Wi’am Palestinian Conflict Resolution & Transformation Center. In the deepening discussion sessions that followed, they reflected on contexts around the globe where young people are growing up in violent situations and looked at ways to promote alternatives to violent radicalisation and how to better accompany new generations motivated to advance the struggle for peace and justice in their countries.
Participants in the “Women Peacemakers: Listening to Essential Voices” were welcomed by the Arab Educational Institute, Pax Christi member organisation in Bethlehem, who presented their Sumud House programme and the Wall Museum. They listened to the stories of resiliency of women peacemakers and learned from their creative initiatives. In the subsequent deepening discussion sessions, they strategised on how to find ways of encouraging women in conflict areas so that they can transcend this victimhood and take their rightful place as agents of positive social change.
Photos from the different walking paths are available on our Facebook page.