From the frontlines

 FOUR LESSONS FROM THE CONFLICT AND TSUNAMI DISASTER AID RESPONSE IN ACEH

Authored with guest blogger Agus Wandi

INDONESIA QUAKE TIDAL WAVE
Ten years ago, as if to complete the destruction of 30 years of war that took the lives of 30,000 people  and displaced many thousands more in the Indonesian Province of Aceh, nature added to the devastation by making 120,000 people victims of a Tsunami that decimated the province. The other side of the story is that, on that day, a person would wake up on the east coast of the province as the survivor of a 3- decades long war, while someone living on the east coast or in Banda Aceh found themselves a survivor of the Tsunami. Stories of hope and resilience abound. Ten years on, Aceh has come a very long way. Here are four lessons from the conflict and tsunami disaster aid response that we learned from working on peacebuilding in Aceh following the 2004 tsunami.

1. Disaster Response Impacts Politics, and it can be Positive.
Whether we like it or not, any post disaster intervention will have a political impact.

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THE TORTURE REPORT: CAN WE COME OUT OF THE DARK?

The investigative report of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Central Intelligence Agency’s rendition, interrogation and detention practices, also known as the ‘Torture Report’ has been released today. The controversial and much awaited report will likely fuel a heated public debate globally and will undoubtedly have policy implications both domestically and internationally.

We interviewed Major Jason Wright*, who served for 3 years as military defense counsel for Guantanamo Bay detainee and alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

In this exclusive interview, we look at the U.S. interrogation program post 9/11, the methods used, and whether the CIA’s use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ elicited “life- saving intelligence” for the United States. We explore the implications for military commissions and upholding the rule of law, the U.S.’ image overseas and our continued efforts in fighting terror.

Click here to watch a video of the  interview or read a summary  below.

Screenshot 2014-12-09 14.49.21

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WHAT DO HANDBAGS HAVE TO DO WITH COUNTER-INSURGENCY?

Bilquis Rafiq’s family is unusual for the village and the part of Pakistan where they live:  each of her three children – two boys and a girl- are in school. The family can afford to pay the school fees for all their children because Bilquis has been earning a living from Popinjay[1], a for-profit social impact oriented enterprise that makes high-end handbags for sale in Pakistan and the USA.

In a country where the education system provides few affordable options for families living on little, many Pakistanis choose to send their children to foreign-funded madrassas – or religious schools- which offer to feed and house as well as educate their students, at little or no cost. The madrassas however are notorious for the highly conservative, often extreme religious doctrines they transmit to their students, and the link between the madrassa system and recruitment of insurgent fighters in both Pakistan and Afghanistan is well-known.  Without the madrassas, many households in rural areas don’t even have a realistic option for sending their children to school.

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