ISSN 1522-211X O J P C R

The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution








OJPCR: The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution is a resource for students, teachers and practitioners in fields relating to the reduction and elimination of destructive conflict. It is a free, yet valuable, source of information to aid anyone trying to work toward a less violent and more cooperative world.

Issue 5.1


From Peacekeeping to Peacebuilding

From Violence to Peace: Terrorism and Human Rights in Sri Lanka

Personal Empowerment as the Missing Ingredient for a Resolution of the Israel/Palestine Conflict

Creating a More Peaceful Classroom Community by Assessing Student Participation and Process


To Protect Democracy (Not Practice It): Explanations of Dyadic Democratic Intervention (DDI)

Why did the Colombia Peace Process Fail?

Truth and Reconciliation: The Road Not Taken in Namibia

Africa Crisis Response Initiative: Its Workability as a Framework for Conflict Prevention and Resolution

Culture, Gender, Power and Conflict in Melanie Thernstrom's Halfway Heaven: Diary of a Harvard Murder

Kant's Perpetual Peace: A New Look at this Centuries-Old Quest

An Analysis of Bloody Sunday

The Jewish Group: Highlighting the Culture Problem in Nation-States

How Can I Teach Peace When the Book Only Covers War?

Cooperation in Pluralistic Societies: An Analytic Mathematical Approach


Publications of Interest


Facing the DemonsFacing the Demons

Directed by Aviva Ziegler
58 minutes, color. 1999
First Run / Icarus Films
$390 purchase, $75 rental. VHS.

In 1994, four men tried to rob a suburban Pizza Hut in New Zealand. The robbery did not go according to plan and one of the men shot and killed Michael Marslew, one of the employees. Although these events are briefly recounted, along with the criminal proceedings after the men were arrested, Facing the Demons focuses on the efforts of Senior Sergeant Terry O'Conner of the New South Wales Police Service Restorative Justice Group 4 ½ years later to arrange and facilitate a "restorative justice conference" between those effected by the crime.

Before the conference can be arranged, O'Conner must deal with the emotions of the parties. He is unable to convince two of the four individuals involved in the robbery to participate, but is able to overcome reluctance on the part of Marslew's family and friends. This reluctance is addressed well in the film. Marslew's mother is originally opposed to any form of restorative justice, stating "In the old days, they used to let the family stone them to death. I think that was a very just punishment for people." Likewise, one of Marslew's co-workers who was present at the robbery says, "If it is going to make it easier on them, I'm not sure I would want that."

Along with these emotional concerns, O'Conner must deal with other practical objections familiar to many of out readers. On one hand, the families of the perpetrators are worried about the publicity that will be associated with the process, since Marslew's father has since started an anti-crime nonprofit and is reasonably well know. Also, in a very human moment, one of the co-workers asks if the conference date is flexible, since it falls on the day of her office Christmas party. It is a tribute to this film that these concerns are not trivialized and instead are presented as legitimate experiences in the process.

The conference itself, a single meeting taking place in a circle of chairs in a room apparently at a NSW police facility, involves two of the perpetrators, two of their parents, the parents of Marslew, with their spouses looking on (they had divorced before the murder), two of Marslew's friends and three of his co-workers.

Of course, the film cannot show all of the conference, but it makes clear the basic format O'Connor uses, by moving around the circle and asking each participant questions to encourage communication. This process is emotional, but also subdued, at least until Marslew's mother pulls his ashes out of her purse and tosses them into the middle of the circle.

It was surprising to learn that after such a session the participants - including the perpetrators who had been brought from prison - are apparently moved to a room for some food and the opportunity to talk in smaller groups. It is unfortunate that more of these conversations do not appear in the film.

After the conference, the film shows short interviews with the participants indicating they were generally pleased with the process, although Marlsew's mother was less so. As she states, the conference did not bring her the resolution she had sought, since it did not bring back her son.

As an introduction and illustration of restorative justice, Facing the Demons is a compelling and useful tool. The film could have been strengthened by showing the participants farther past the conference, but it is impossible to pick an end point for a presentation such as this and not have viewers asking, "but what happened next?"

Best Film: Western Psychological Association, 2000
Logie Award, Best Television Documentary, 2000

Close, Closed, ClosureClose, Closed, Closure
A film by Ram Loevy
53 minutes, color. 2002
First Run / Icarus Films
$390 purchase, $75 rental. VHS.

When Ram Loevy began gathering the material that became Close, Closed, Closure, I believe he was trying to tell a story of hope. He focused on a Palestinian family living in Gaza whose son had lost his legs after not being allowed to cross into Israel in an ambulance. One of the first sequences shows the boy handily sliding into his prostheses and leaving to play with friends. At the same time, he hoped to show the difficulty of living in Gaza even after the signing of the Oslo accords.

However, the events leading up to the second Intifada caught Loevy only half completed with the project. As a result, it appears he seriously questioned his hope about the possibility of peace and justice in Israel and Palestine.

Most clearly this come out in an ongoing discussion of the possibility of film making a difference in conflict. Early on, Loevy notes that objects recorded on film become symbols, faces lose their idiosyncrasies, and in general life is simplified. He is concerned that this serves to reinforce the perspectives of opposing sides and wonders explicitly if film could ever be a way to step into the shoes of another. After the second Intifada starts, he visits the family again, but this visit is marred by the discomfort both sides are feeling. The mother goes so far as to say, "Can this film help me and my family?" when she clearly feels the answer is no.

Likewise, Loery seems to hold out little hope for the peace movement in Israel. Discussions by the left and right in Israel are depicted in a series of exchanges between peace activists who set up roadside protests and the hardline Israelis who stop to argue. At one point, he even notes that the same hardliners show up every day to have the same debates.

Close, Closed, Closure is not the definitive film on the Israel-Palestine conflict, but it is an excellent window into the mind of someone who hopes to create peace and justice and is unsure of how exactly to do that. I expect the uncertainty Loevy feels will resonate with many viewers. Loevy closes the film with a shot of the Palestinian boy flying a kite and a statement about the universality of this experience, but even then it seems he is asking a question than answering one. It is this tone that separates Close, Closed, Closure from many other films about conflicts. This film, primarily through circumstance and Loery's honesty, captures the uncertainty and disillusionment that can happen to the most well-intentioned people who try to get involved. In the end, I don't think the message of the film is universally negative, but it does put forth questions that may be uncomfortable for those of us working for peace.

International Independence Award, 2002 North-South Media Festival (Geneva)
2002 Cinema du Reel (Paris)
2002 FIPA

War and PeaceWar and Peace

A film by Anand Patwardhan
136 minutes, color. 2002.
First Run / Icarus Films
$490 purchase, $150 rental. VHS

War and Peace is a ranging documentary loosely based on the effects of the 1998 nuclear tests of India and Pakistan. While Anand Patwardhan is concerned with the jingoistic response to these events, especially when placed in the context of the country of Gandhi, this file go farther to examine the responsibility of the United States in the current nuclear culture. This film was recently cleared to screen in India, the result of an extensive challenge by censors.

Patwardhan is concerned with both why India and Pakistan are viewed as being the most likely nuclear battlefield and how our world got to a place where this is even considered. By hearing the constant anti-Pakistan rhetoric in India, Patwardhan became convinced that Pakistanis in general were supportive of conflict, but when he traveled to Pakistan he found many like-minded activists. This film carefully illustrates the extent to which antagonism in India and Pakistan is the result of a constant stream of nationalistic propaganda.

The subcontinent is not Patwardhan's only focus. He also discusses the role of the US in instigating nuclear warfare by examining the destruction in Hiroshima, the Enola Gay controversy at the Smithsonian Institution, and the debate over the Truman administration's decision to drop the bombs.

This film truly covers so much ground that it must been seen to be appreciated. War and Peace should be of interest to anyone working for peace.

2003 Association for Asian Studies Conference Film Festival
International Film Critics Award (FIPRESCI)
2002 Syndey International Film Festival
Grand Prize, 2002 Earth Vision Film Festival (Tokyo)
Best Film, 2002 Mumbai International Film Festival
International Jury Prize, Mumbai International Film Festival
2002 Berlin International Film Festival

Power and TerrorPower and Terror: Noam Chomsky in Our Times

A Film by John Junkerman
Produced by Tetsujiro Yamagami
First Run / Icarus Films
72 minutes, color. 2002
$248 purchase, $100 rental. VHS.

Power and Terror is primarily made up of footage from Speeches Noam Chomsky gave in the Spring of 2002 and an extended interview produced for Japanese TV. The inclusion of a Japanese-language pop song at the beginning notwithstanding, the fragmented nature of the source material does not impair the viewer's ability to follow Chomsky's presentation and arguments.

Chomsky's views illustrated in Power and Terror are not a departure from his previous work, especially his book 9-11. Primarily, this focuses on developing a moral standard against violence and applying it across the board to various actors. While many commentators key on the implications of this for American foreign policy, Chomsky clearly is concerned with violence against civilians in general, not just when committed by those countries in power.

As an introduction to the current state of Chomsky's political views, Power and Terror functions well. However, it does not present the breadth and depth necessary to be a balanced look at the man and his work.

2002 Middle East Studies Film Festival
GacacaGacaca: Living Together in Rwanda?
Directed by Anne Aghion
Produced by Philip Brooks, Laurent Bocahut, and Anne Aghion
55 minutes, Color. 2002
First Run / Icarus Films
Purchase $390, Rental $75 VHS

The Gacaca process was instituted by the government of Rwanda as a way of addressing the immense number of incarcerated individuals accused of crimes during the genocide of 1994. As this film explains, Gacaca allows certain individuals to be tried by the village where the crimes occurred instead of by a formal court of law or UN tribunal.

As a representative of the state explains to the people in the village, Rwanda sees the accused as falling into four categories. Leaders of the violence and those who encouraged it in the press and radio will be tried by the UN tribunal, where capital punishment is the sentence. Ordinary citizens found guilty of murder by the Gacaca process will be sentenced to 25 years to life. If they are found to be blameless, which seems to apply to cases where the individual was forced to kill, will have their sentences cut in half, with only half of that spent in prison and the other half at home, completing 2-3 days of community service per week. A third group will be those guilty of wounding another and the fourth those guilty of stealing. In the case of stealing, a simple restitution will be made.

At this point the film loses its focus. While it clearly shows a governmental representative stating that the village will be setting sentences, when the actual process begins it seems he is. Similarly, while the hillside pre-Gacaca meeting is presented as it happens, Aghion includes footage from the detainment camp from a year before, apparently showing slightly coerced confessions. The implication of these confessions is never explained.

Similarly, the footage of the process itself is intercut with interviews with people from the village, who universally dislike the process. They state that they feel they cannot accuse anyone at the meeting for fear of reprisal and that they want retributive justice. As one man who is shown repeatedly states, no one will know killing is wrong unless they are killed for killing. Since there are no casual interviews with supporters of the process, the viewer is left wondering if there is truly universal disapproval of this process or if the film is intended to discredit Gacaca. I would assume the question mark in the title lends more credence to the latter.

For someone studying the Rwandan genocide and reconciliation efforts, Gacaca: Living Together in Rwanda? will provide a view seldom seen. For a class or individual without a good understanding of the context of the reconciliation project and its workings, supplemental material will be necessary. For the first part of the film, this context is provided by voiceover, but this disappears partway through and is not present when it could be used to explain exactly what is happening and how it fits together.

2003 Human Rights Watch Film Festival
2003 Amnesty International Film Festival

Sociology is a Martial ArtPierre Bourdieu: Sociology is a Martial Art
Directed by Pierre Carles
Produced by Annie Gonzalez and Véronique Frégosi
First Run / Icarus Films
Sale $490, rental $125. VHS

Pierre Bourdieu was concerned with the violence and domination inherent in contemporary social life. Bourdieu was not content to allow academic life to be simply reactive and felt that sociology could be used - and should be used -- to improve the conditions of individuals' lives.

Pierre Bourdieu: Sociology is a Martial Art is a film by Pierre Carles, documents Bourdieu the man more than Bourdieu the theorist, but this is a good thing. The film was shot over three years and shows Bourdieu in a number of settings. Carles is especially good at humanizing his subject since the film otherwise could have come across as a two-hour lecture.

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The Online Journal of Peace and Conflict Resolution is published by the Tabula Rasa Institute.

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