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Global Nonviolent Peaceforce leader to visit NZ

Global Nonviolent Peaceforce leader to visit New Zealand Feb 8 - 22


David Hartsough, co-founder of a recently established global nonviolent peaceforce, will be visiting New Zealand from February 8-22, 2004 to rally support for the initiative. The Nonviolent Peaceforce, launched last year in India, aims to intervene in conflict areas of the world armed with a commitment to peace and proven techniques for nonviolent conflict prevention and resolution.

"Too often people are presented only with violent options to respond to aggression, human rights violations and war," said Mr Hartsough. "These rarely solve the underlying problems and so lead to continuing cycles of violence. What we are creating is a nonviolent option which can work at the grass roots level to transform conflict situations and build lasting peace."

Already the Peaceforce has a contingent of 14 people from nine nations working in its first project in Sri Lanka, supporting efforts to end that nation's decades-long civil war. By the year 2010, the Nonviolent Peaceforce plans to employ 2,000 active peacemakers, to be deployed in conflict areas around the world and others ready to be dispatched on an emergency basis. Possible deployment regions include Burma, Korea, the Philippines, Israel/Palestine, Tibet, Uganda, and Colombia.

"The Nonviolent Peaceforce will use a range of tactics to quell violence and assist peacemaking in conflicts, including accompanying human rights activists and nonviolent civil society leaders, providing an international monitoring presence, supporting domestic peace initiatives, interpositioning themselves between opposing forces, and bringing international pressure for peace to bear on key players in the conflict."

These techniques have been used effectively in small scale peacemaking efforts around the world," said Mr Hartsough. 'However, this is the first time they are being brought together in a global peaceforce and on a significant scale."

Hartsough's understanding of the effectiveness of nonviolence is the product of a life spent in the field of conflict. He was part of the sit-ins orchestrated by Martin Luther King to desegregate lunch counters, later worked on an international campaign against the Vietnam War, was jailed in Kosovo by Milosevic for his peace work and remains inspired by the work of Mahatma Gandhi in recognising nonviolence as the greatest force at the disposal of mankind.

Hartsough will speak at public meetings in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland.

More information on the Nonviolent Peaceforce is accessible on www.nonviolentpeaceforce.org

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