was born in the summer of 1993, from the international convoy Mir Sada
(Peace Now), with a double aim : to bring relief
to the suffering, to stop the war. Sarajevo, a city of 300,000, had been
besieged for 15 months then, totally cut off from the world. People were
starving, could neither leave nor enter, except through a narrow tunnel under
the airport, and a winding dirt mountain track known as “the Diamond
Road”, monitored by the U.N. Protection Force.
gathered in Split, on the Dalmatian Coast, from various horizons (Italians,
French, Poles, Greeks, Americans, Spaniards, Dutch, Swedes,
Buddhist monks...). Twelve hundred took to the roads inland in 120 buses,
trucks and cars, loaded with food, blankets, medical supplies, water,
about sixty persons, in ten vehicles, were to actually make it through
the front-lines into starving Sarajevo. The others retreated back to the
due to the intensity of the fighting. This was the beginning of some twenty
humanitarian convoys for us between France and Bosnia, half of those through
war zones, until the shelling and firing finally stopped in the end of
1995. Our first Nobel Campaign “for a final cease-fire”, supported
by 33 Nobel laureates, contributed to this end.
Our next campaign
was for Algeria, during the dark days of its civil war, when a thick wall
of silence was surrounding it, despite
massacres committed in 1997. Nobody outside Algeria knew, or even cared
happening there, although more than 100,000 people had been killed in
the course of seven years. The “We are human beings” Call
was published in all of the leading Algerian media in April 1998. The
68 Nobels worldwide was the first breech into censorship and indifference,
and helped pave the way to better days and deliverance from terrorism.
we found debilitating famine and despair again on our way, on the West
Coast of Africa, in the desert of Sénégal. Due
to the drought and extreme poverty, misery and distress were growing
all over, and,
again, nobody knew.
Was this the world we had inherited ? How could we go back to our homes
and just keep on with our lives as if nothing had happened, as if we
Then and there,
on the ocre sand of the Sahel desert, by the wells we had dug, we had to
review the principles which could guide our
steps, for the
to come in the new Millenium – in the years that would hold the biggest
challenge yet, peace in the “Holy Land” :
1. The principle of freedom.
The need for
freedom is our first priority, in terms of conditions that enable us to
think and act. “Peace Lines is a non-confessional, non-partisan
organization, without borders, open to all free beings of good-will.” (2nd
Article of the Statutes)
2. The refusal of hatred and resentment.
We are well aware that, often enough, there is no running away
from a conflict, when our freedom, our dignity, our peace are
we refuse to
accept is the hateful aspect of vengeance. Disagreement does
not have to lead to discord.
3. The principle of equality.
Because all people are equal, absolutely, we cannot accept
any discriminatory speech. Thus, to let human beings
suffer in their
the pretext of fate or helplessness, is the very beginning
of the process
and collective extermination. We accept no kind of separatism,
or apartheid, whatever their logics may be.
4. The principle of unity, and equivalence of sufferings.
is happening far from us does not necessarily prevail
over what is happening within our walls. Here too,
like there, we
daily horror, and
rampant fires of hate and exclusion. We cannot forget
the warning : “It is the
infinite sum of our breaches, however little they may be, that makes great
catastrophes possible.” The envenomed conflicts
around us poison our lives too much to be tolerated,
even for one
single day. How can we make
peace in the distance, if we are not at peace amongst
our closest circles ?
5. The principle of defence of minorities, of the oppressed.
Oppression exists, under multiple masks, and we fight
it wherever it triggers its too familiar sequence
Inasmuch, our fight remains non-violent : we do not
resort to the oppressors' means, be they civilians in the private
in the public domain.
6. The principle of non-judgement.
To be finished with judgement : such is one of our
daily absolute priorities, in all our relations,
they are by centuries
fear and phobias, and multiple forms of violence.
Do not close the door to dialogue...
7. The emancipation from, and eradication of, stereotyped
Because we live in a world saturated with partial
news, and disinformation, and because we have
no wish whatsoever
or being deceived.
In this light, we consider it our innermost
priority to methodically emancipate
from ready-made opinions, and root out any
system of creeds that lead to tensions, exclusive
8. The refusal to carry and use arms; our opposition
to the death penalty.
We accept neither retaliation nor revenge.
Because we consider everything that lives
to be holy,
we refuse to fight with
weapons and death
what we can fight
through the spirit and the vigilant determination
to live peacefully and safely.
9. The awareness of our limits.
we cannot get involved with every earthly challenge,
we have to stay
lucid about what
we define our concerns
to be, what
and what is not. On the other hand,
we will pursue with dedication our defined
objectives – what we decide to do, where we decide to go – and
will not give up until we have reached
our goals : the silence of arms, the
meeting of fundamental needs, and the
of constructive relations
10. The principle of gratuity.
Because a life has no commercial value,
and nothing is worth a life, because
any form of
slavery, we place as
of our practice
the donation of time and energy,
acts of free will, voluntary
deeds. What we do
to live in peace has no price,
and can never be priced. The freedom
which we put
an end to
of prevailing general suspicion.
The principle of gratuity, little by little,
the highest degree of equality
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