bm287 4 Decades of Conflict in Mindanao

by bicyclemark 0 Comments

40 years of war in Mindanao rarely makes it to the front pages of the international press. Yet according to Edwin Espejo, more attention in the international would do alot towards ending this long and destructive conflict. As my guest in this edition of citizenreporter, Edwin explains a bit about the orgin of the conflict, the goals of the groups involved, and how things have evolved even prior to 9/11 and the connection between Mindanao and other conflicts in other parts of Asia.

I highly recommend his blog, which focuses on Mindanao and issues effecting the island, especially this conflict.


Latin American Soldiers, Unite

by bicyclemark 0 Comments

Most of you know that I’m a big fan of the Euronews Nocomment video podcast. The combination of pure video with the original sounds without commentary changes the experience of watching things happen in the world.

Soldiers on PatrolThis morning I watched and rewatched as Ecuadorian soldiers walked through the tropical forrest in formation. Heavily armed and pointing guns everywhere, in preparation for whatever enemy they are told they may have to face some day soon. Obviously the present enemy they perceive is Colombia, just across the border.

As I watch these soldiers do this, and cut to some other video of both presidents of Ecuador and Venezuela exchanging hostile words with the president of Colombia, I have a vision. That these soldiers in Ecuador would suddenly stop marching, put down their machine guns, turn to the camera and say.. “You know, Colombians are our family, our friends, and our neighbors… we’re not going to shoot at them just because the president says we should.”

It will likely be written off as a naive vision by all those who believe whole heartedly in obeying orders and never asking questions. By now more then ever, why not ask just what the hell these governments are trying to do? Why is one army invading parts of one country and then the other countries threatening to bomb in retaliation? Why do people who know each other, who share so much of the past and present in common, choose to support this kind of logic?

One thing that we’re missing in the world today, from Afghanistan to the Congo to Colombia and on and on… is for people to stop following without questioning. To stop obeying when the orders are to destroy fellow humans, to commit mass murder in response to mass murder.

Selling Death

by bicyclemark 13 Comments

It is a pretty well known fact that the US is the global leader in arms sales. Some will also have heard that Russia is second. But in fact, if you put together all the European Union numbers, in terms of total arms sales in the last 10 years, they come very close to tying the US. Somehow its not a very publicized fact, Europe sells almost as many weapons as the US.

And who gets those weapons? Which countries in the world? Better yet, which groups in the world? Places where there is civil war? Dictatorships? Or civil wars yet to come? I think of all those child soldiers in the world and wonder where their gun came from? USA? France? Probably both.

Global warming gets a fair amount of play in the media these days. There is even some, though surely not enough, mobilization to do something about it. Yet all over the developed world in all these lovely places with people that are so highly educated and experienced, people are engaging in the arms trade. Making money selling weapons for people to kill each other with. Trading stocks and benefiting while people arm themselves and carry out mass murders in the name of the latest cause or call-to-arms. Even in the US now, the favored presidential candidate Hillary CLinton has become the number one choice of weapons manufacturers… and yet people believe she will bring change and restore some sort of self respect for the nation.

With each passing year that arms dealers post record profits, more people die needlessly in the name of business and strategic defense. If that isn’t a threat to our world, I don’t know what is.

Teaching and Talking About Srebrenica

by bicyclemark

When the Srebrenica massacre took place, in 1995, I had a limited understanding of what was happening in the world. But 2 years later I reached an age where I became conscious of the world beyond my school and the unnecessary suffering and destruction in different parts of the world.

12 years since Sebrenica, this month being the anniversary, I wonder what today’s teenagers are learning about what took place and why. To this day I still find I lack all the facts and a full understanding of how such a thing could be allowed to happen.

For this reason I’m working on a podcast that will take some time to put together, focusing on remembering Srebrenica and passing on the terrible story and the lessons, if any, that the world learned.

While the research is still ongoing, and the interviews will take some time to gather, I’m starting with some general resources that have gathered vital information. I hope teachers in different corners of the world are doing similar this month.