Former combatants promoting a culture of peace
2017 | Lebanon
The Taif Peace Agreement sealed the end of the 15-years long civil war in Lebanon in 1989. It guaranteed a general amnesty for all those involved in the civil war – including the combatants of the numerous militias. They were dismissed immediately into civil life. Many reintegrated successfully into normal life, but some did not. Only a few dealt constructively with their wartime past and are actively involved in civil society. The organisation Fighters for Peace (FFP) consists of former combatants who are ready to face the past and take responsibility for the present and the future. Former combatants of various political, religious, and social backgrounds come together in the organisation in order to publicly advocate a culture of peace and reconciliation in Lebanon.
In the project supported by zivik, former combatants go to schools, universities, cities and municipalities as contemporary witnesses of war. In the past, they used to be enemies. Today, they talk together about their experiences and about the mistake of taking a violent path. They talk about the changes in their life and the possibility of reconciliation. The main focus is on young people, since the former combatants have been young people themselves when they went to war. The young people of today should not repeat what the former combatants did. FFP is launching exhibitions and theatre productions in order to achieve exactly this: The abandonment of violence. At the same time, they want to encourage other ex-combatants to reveal themselves and to deal with the past.
The former combatants approach others and reach out their hands to them – be they the relatives of those who were abducted during the war, or the activists and former combatants from Syria and the Arab region. The ex-combatants of FFP chose to deal with their own past in a group. In biography-working groups they come together to reflect on the past, and to develop new perspectives. While, in daily life, there is often no space and no time for reflection, in the group they have a secured space, in which reflection on the past and on the present is successful. In the group, they find out that they have all experienced the same – beyond any political and religious boundaries. This connects.
FFP has uploaded interviews on its website, which is accessible for everyone. In the long term, an online platform is planned, including interviews of ex-combatants, victims, civilians and other persons concerned with the topics war, change and peace-building.
ifa | "In Lebanon, repression has become a permanent state of mind," says the journalist and Orientalist Monika Borgmann. With the archive "UMAM Documentation & Research", founded in 2004, she attempts to fill the gaps in the country's collective memory. In her latest documentary "Tadmor", former Lebanese detainees break their silence. Interview by Juliane Pfordte