Con­fer­ence: The Hizmet move­ment and peace­build­ing: global cases, Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

JAMES C. HARRINGTON Di­rec­tor, Texas Civil Rights Project

Turkish Review - - CONTENTS - For more in­for­ma­tion: www.peace­build­ Con­tact the re­viewer: Turk­ish Re­view was me­dia spon­sor of this event.

The in­ter­na­tional sym­po­sium, “The Hizmet move­ment and peace­build­ing: global cases,” was in­spir­ing, in­for­ma­tive and strik­ingly di­verse. It took place Oct. 25-26, 2013, in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., at the Na­tional Press Club. It was co-spon­sored by the Rumi Fo­rum, the Cen­ter for Peace­build­ing and De­vel­op­ment at Amer­i­can Univer­sity, Mount St. Mary’s Univer­sity, and the Wood­stock The­o­log­i­cal Cen­ter at Ge­orge­town Univer­sity.

The con­fer­ence be­gan well the night be­fore with the 2013 Rumi Peace and Di­a­logue din­ner and open­ing cer­e­mony, hon­or­ing renowned chef José An­drés of Think Food Group, which pro­vides food for the hun­gry with the Ex­tra­or­di­nary Com­mit­ment to Com­mu­nity Ser­vice Award; An­nette Lantos of the Lantos Foun­da­tion for Hu­man Rights and Jus­tice with the Ex­tra­or­di­nary Com­mit­ment to Peace Award; and Prof. Ali Mazrui of Bing­ham­ton Univer­sity with the Ex­tra­or­di­nary Com­mit­ment to Ed­u­ca­tion Award. South Africa Am­bas­sador Ebrahim Rasool gave the open­ing ad­dress.

As a hu­man rights lawyer, this re­viewer found the di­ver­sity of the pre­sen­ters par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive and hope-in­spir­ing. There were men and women from around the globe, aca­demics and ac­tivists, with ex­traor­di­nar­ily dif­fer­ent back­grounds, rep­re­sent­ing a spec­trum of eth­nic­i­ties and races. Ger­many, Poland, Aus­tralia, the US, Turkey, the UK, Ja­pan, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Nige­ria,

Azer­bai­jan, the Philip­pines, Canada, Aus­tralia and the Nether­lands were all rep­re­sented. No less di­verse was the au­di­ence, which in­cluded rep­re­sen­ta­tives from even more coun­tries.

Three peace build­ing themes seemed to pre­dom­i­nate: ac­tion, spir­i­tu­al­ity and ed­u­ca­tion. The con­fer­ence had both a re­gional fo­cus and a the­matic fo­cus. Four parts of the pro­gram showed flex­i­bil­ity and greater open­ness and trans­parency by the Hizmet move­ment (a group af­fil­i­ated with Turk­ish re­li­gious leader Fethul­lah Gülen, and the largest civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tion in Turkey) -- lack of which has in the past been a fre­quent crit­i­cism of the move­ment.

One in­stance in­volved Metin Çetiner of the Kimse Yok Mu (“Is any­body there”) sol­i­dar­ity and aid as­so­ci­a­tion, which has as­sisted vic­tims of nat­u­ral calami­ties around the world and helped set up hos­pi­tals and clin­ics in un­der­served coun­tries -- it is now also work­ing ex­ten­sively with Syr­ian refugees in Turkey. He de­scribed at length not only the foun­da­tion’s im­pres­sive re­lief ef­forts, but also its fi­nan­cial ex­pen­di­tures and back­ing. It was an in­for­ma­tive, and some­times mov­ing, pre­sen­ta­tion.

The se­cond pre­sen­ta­tion of this kind was that of Dr. Pim Valken­berg and Alper Alasağ (Plat­form INS, the Nether­lands) on the peace­build­ing in re­gional per­spec­tive panel, “Weath­er­ing the Storm: Peace­mak­ing Ini­tia­tives dur­ing and af­ter Po­lit­i­cal Tur­moil by the Hizmet Move­ment in the Nether­lands,” in which they can­didly dis­cussed how Hizmet ac­cepted and re­sponded to crit­i­cism and set­backs in that coun­try.

Third was hav­ing Dr. Joshua Hen­drik on the authors’ panel. His eval­u­a­tion of Hizmet was crit­i­cal in var­i­ous re­spects, but, to the move­ment’s credit, he is a fre­quent in­vi­tee to con­fer­ences and his ob­ser­va­tions are wor­thy of con­sid­er­a­tion.

Fi­nally, the two-hour con­clud­ing de­lib­er­a­tive ses­sion, “The Hizmet Move­ment’s Con­tri­bu­tion to Peace­build­ing,” which cen­tered on ar­eas where Hizmet could im­prove and sug­ges­tions as to where it should go in the fu­ture. The dis­cus­sion was frank and car­ried sig­nif­i­cant sug­ges­tions for the move­ment’s roadmap.

All in all, it was an en­light­en­ing and oft-times quite in­spir­ing con­fer­ence, both be­cause of its par­tic­i­pants and themes, as well as for the au­di­ence mem­bers. A true mea­sure of its ef­fec­tive­ness was that many of us left with a height­ened spirit to work dili­gently in our own daily peace­build­ing ef­forts.

WHAT: The Hizmet move­ment and peace­build­ing: global cases

WHO: Rumi Fo­rum, Cen­ter for Peace­build­ing and De­vel­op­ment at

Amer­i­can Univer­sity, Mount

St. Mary’s Univer­sity, and

Wood­stock The­o­log­i­cal Cen­ter at Ge­orge­town Univer­sity

WHERE: Na­tional Press Club, Wash­ing­ton, D.C.

WHEN: Oct. 25-26, 2013

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