Young women’s peace activism: tearing apart stereotypes in Armenia and Azerbaijan

This month, May 2014, marks exactly twenty years since the formal ceasefire declaration in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. Yet for Armenians and Azerbaijanis who were divided by the conflict, the past twenty years have been marked by political animosity, one-sided media coverage, regular ceasefire violations and needless soldier deaths. For most people, twenty years have passed without a single opportunity to meet someone from the other side, let alone make friends with them. The effects of this are particularly pronounced on the generation born during and after the war, who have no memories of peaceful coexistence and no idea what life is like on the other side of the border. Civil society organisations, including several women’s NGOs, have done their best to bridge this gap, offering young people a stake in a shared future, in spite of their divided present.

In recent weeks, the situation for these organisations has been marked by growing political tensions in the region. Events in Ukraine, particularly the fate of the Crimean peninsula, have highlighted the disparities between the official Armenian and Azerbaijani perspectives on the conflict, while awakening common fears of yet another Russian military intervention in the Caucasus. With Armenia set to join the Eurasian Customs Union, and Azerbaijan facing increasing isolation within Europe owing to its mounting human rights violations, it seems that the lines are becoming more firmly entrenched. Last month, when an Azerbaijani journalist was arrested accused of spying for Armenia, many feared that this marked the beginning of the end for organisations involved in cross-border activities.

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Why Women Must Continue Solidarity with Egyptian Women

Photo: Mosa’ab Elshamy

It has been a tragic day, the Black Wednesday for Egypt yesterday. It’s heartbreaking to watch the mass killing of the hundreds of casualties from wherever political side they come from. Human beings’ lives come first before all the world’s politics. Considering all the conspiracy theories have been said, it’s also important to condemn the burning of churches that happened across the country. The world was in disbelief to see such a rise in violence and hatred in Om Aldonia, Egypt. “Will Egypt turn into another Syria? Unlikely. Egypt is neither a sectarian state – it never has been, even with 10 per cent of its people Christian – nor an inherently violent one,” writes acclaimed journalist, Robert Fisk.

Undoubtedly, yesterday’s tragic events, along with the current unresolved conflict between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Army, affect all Egyptians, women, men and children. It’s hard to comprehend that armoured cars and bulldozers rolled into two camps on opposite sides of Cairo, with tear gas deployed and used live bullets, while there were among the demonstrators women and children. Whoever committed those atrocities must be hold accountable.

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