The IPB Recognizes Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) with the Seán MacBride Peace Prize 2021

Since its founding in 2000, the Assistant Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) has been a major advocate for the proper treatment and release of all political prisoners in Burma including researching and monitoring all ongoing trials, advocacy to international human rights mechanisms, and transitional justice research and training. Since 2013, it has also been providing reintegration and support programmes including counselling services to released prisoners and their families.

On February 1, 2021, the Myanmar people once again found themselves in the throes of another military coup, ending the country’s 10 year experiment with democracy. Beginning with arresting key figures of the democratically elected civilian government and stationing soldiers at major government buildings in Yangon and the capital, Nay Pyi Daw, the military leaders settled themselves in for what they hoped would be a smooth takeover. The Myanmar people on the other hand had no intention of quietly accepting this change and voiced their opposition to the dismantlement of their elected government with peaceful protests around the country. The military’s response to the protesters was not peaceful in kind with violent crackdowns erupting shortly after the protests began and which have continued at an alarming rate ever since.

With this massive turn in events, the AAPP immediately established a monitoring mechanism whereby it collects and documents information for each and every citizen killed as a result of coup related violence at the hands of the junta or has been arrested for exercising their right to protest against dictatorship. Indeed, Daw Thin Thin Aung, a Burmese activist and founder of Mizzima News Agency and Women League of Burma who appeared as a guest speaker at the IPB event “Military Coup in Myanmar/Burma and Ways Forward for Finding Peace and Democracy” held shortly after the coup, is among those arrested and imprisoned for peacefully speaking out against the junta. The courage with which AAPP has conducted itself in the face of threats and imminent danger as well as its diligence in ensuring that every life taken by military during the country’s struggle to return the power to the right hands is properly documented, is truly remarkable and showcases an unwavering dedication to peace and the Myanmar people. The International Peace Bureau is honoring AAPP’s work and commitment to human dignity by presenting them with the Seán MacBride Peace Prize for 2021.

Chair: Lisa Clark, IPB co-President

Welcome and history of MacBride Prize by Philip Jennings, IPB co-President

Honorary speech by H. E Aung Myo Min, Myanmar Minister for Human Rights

Presentation of medal by Reiner, IPB Executive Director, accepted on behalf of AAPP by Nyien Chan May of the German Solidarity with Myanmar Democracy.

Acceptance speech by Mr. Bo Kyi, Joint Secretary of AAPP.

Virtual musical performance by Ko Mun Aung

Closing remarks by Binalakshmi Nepram, IPB board member and recipient of the MacBride medal in 2010.

The MacBride medal are bespoke creations donated by the local Berlin jewelry maker, Quiet Quiet. The IPB is grateful for their support and contribution in helping to honor MacBride awardees.

You can watch the whole ceremony in our Youtube Channel:

Joint appeal for ceasefire and negotiations – 8/9 May 2022

The biggest global peace network, the IPB, and the 200-million strong ITUC have written personally to Presidents Putin and Zelensky urging them to mark Europe’s “day of liberation” – 8-9 May – by declaring a cease fire as a precursor to negotiations.

The ITUC and IPB urge Presidents Putin and Zelensky to meet immediately for peace negotiations in a neutral venue, such as Vienna or Geneva, with the involvement of the UN and its Secretary General to serve as the foundation for a new peace architecture in Europe in which Russia’s and Ukraine’s security interests are safeguarded and secured.

Reiner Braun, IPB Executive Director, said: “The only way out of the crises and to avoid a nuclear catastrophe is negotiations and to start a dialogue – even when it is very difficult.

The Day of Liberation marks the end of World War II in Europe, and the liberation of Europe from fascism. The end of the war was on 8 May in western Europe, but 9 May in the then Soviet Union because of time zones.

The joint appeal to the Presidents of Ukraine and the Russian Federation is available here: /wp-content/uploads/2022/05/ipb_ituc_appeal.pdf

Common Security Report 2022 – For Our Shared Future (EN/DE/FR)

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Olof Palme’s Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues. The Commission presented its report in 1982, at the height of the Cold War, and the Commission developed the concept of Common Security – the idea that nations and populations can only feel safe when their counterparts feel safe.

The new Common Security 2022 report comes at a time when the international order faces severe challenges. The world stands at a crossroads. It is faced with a choice between an existence based on confrontation and aggression or one to be rooted in a transformative peace agenda an common security. In 2022, humanity faces the existential threats of nuclear war, climate change and pandemics. This is compounded by a toxic mix of inequality, extremism, nationalism, gender violence, and shrinking democratic space. How humanity responds to these threats will decide our very survival.

The Common Security Report 2022 is published by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the International Peace Bureau (IPB) and the Olof Palme International Center. More information on https://commonsecurity.org/.

Find the full report in here:

English: /wp-content/uploads/2022/04/CommonSecurity_Report_2022_EN.pdf

Deutsch: /wp-content/uploads/2022/04/CommonSecurity_Report_2022_DE.pdf

Français: /wp-content/uploads/2022/05/Common-Security-Report-2022-FR-Rapport-Securite-Commune-2022_.pdf

Russia invades Ukraine. War in Europe and what this could mean for Africa

On March 14, the IPB African working group hosted its first event of 2022, ‘Russia invades Ukraine. War in Europe and what this could mean for Africa’. Featuring three panel members of Joseph Gerson, Reiner Braun and Baroness Dayon Ako-Adounvo, the discussion took a deep dive into where the situation stands and what this will mean for African nations economies, trade relations, and food security situations in the coming weeks and months. Baroness Dayon Ako-Adounvo was able to expertly speak to these scenarios. Her full speech can be viewed below and the full event recording can also be viewed at the bottom of this page.

Contribution of Baroness Dayon Ako-Adounvo.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine’s Donbass region, which transformed into a war on February 24 2022. This has resulted in global economic and security concerns with severe consequences on the African continent. In this regard, there are economic opportunities for some oil-exporting countries in the region, especially in terms of natural gas and raw material exports with the sanctions implemented by the United States and European countries against Russia. On the other hand, countries whose industries and agriculture are heavily dependent on oil exports have the potential to enter an economic bottleneck because of the increase in oil and natural gas prices. The same is true for grain trade. The fact that Russia and Ukraine provide 25% of the world’s grain supply may indirectly lead the African continent, as one of its largest customers, into food insecurity.

Russia and Ukraine have major ties with Africa in:

▪ Energy

▪ Agriculture

▪ Defence & Security

▪ Education

Energy

Experts warned sternly as Russian missiles hit Ukraine that the impact of the war will reverberate across the continent of Africa. Over the past weeks, fuel prices in Ghana and other African countries have drastically increased. As of March 7th 2022, the price of gasoline in Ghana was 8.62 Ghanaian cedis (GHS) per liter, a 25 percent increase since January 3rd. Economists have cautioned that the war in Ukraine could further push oil prices up and increase inflation in Africa. Professor Abdul-Ganiyu Garba of the department of Economics – Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria said “the last time we had a windfall from oil prices related to war was in 1991, during the Gulf War. There is no doubt that this crisis will directly impact the price of crude oil. Africa, like most continents, will need to prepare for higher inflation as the increase in crude oil prices will increase inflation globally and lead to expensive imports. Most African countries have not recovered from the economic impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the rise of commodity prices due to the disrupted global supply chain. It has been extremely difficult and unbearable for most people living in Africa and in the world at large.

With the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war, the U.S. and European countries imposed various sanctions against Russia, a country that supplies 40% of the European Union’s natural gas. Countries in the Middle East and Africa are emerging as strong alternatives for Europe as it attempts to diversify its natural gas supply and cut its dependency on Russia. At this point, among African countries, Algeria is a suitable alternative in terms of both its geopolitical position and its large reserves. Additionally, countries like Senegal (where 40 trillion cubic feet of Natural Gas was discovered between 2014 – 2017 with production expected to start later this year), Nigeria (an existing supplier Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) to several European countries) and Tanzania seem to be at an advantage with their natural gas capacity. In this sense, Nigeria, Niger and Algeria, which are on the Trans-Saharan Gas Pipeline route, cooperated in order to increase their natural gas exports to European markets and signed an agreement on Feb. 16. The deal includes a cost of $13 billion to renew the pipelines. Apart from this line, a total of 50 billion cubic meters (bcm) of Algerian natural gas is transported to Europe via the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline and Trans-Mediterranean Natural Gas Pipeline.

However, the increase in natural gas and oil prices may result in additional cost for oil-importing African countries that depend on oil and natural gas in agricultural and industrial production.

Agriculture

The Russia-Ukraine War may negatively affect Africa in terms of agricultural production and food security, as both countries are important grain exporters to Africa. African countries imported about $4billion agricultural products from Russia, of which wheat accounted for 90% of these imports. Ukraine exported $2.9 billion worth of agricultural products to Africa in 2020, with wheat representing 48% of the products, and corn at 31%. Furthermore, these two countries have a total share of 26% (Russia 18%, Ukraine 8%) in world wheat exports. While Egypt ranks first in wheat imports, countries such as Libya, Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Algeria, Kenya and South Africa also import wheat from Russia and Ukraine to a large extent. Currently, with the Russian intervention in Ukraine, corn prices have increased by 21%, wheat by 35% and soybeans by 20%, respectively. Nonetheless, in the Sahel region and West Africa alone, 26 million people do not have access to enough food. Therefore, the prolongation of the war and the disruption of agricultural trade can cause prices to rise significantly. The increase in bread prices, especially in Kenya and Sudan, has led to anti-government protests. Undoubtedly, this situation brings food security concerns to the forefront for Africa, which has experienced many food crises in the past.

Defense & Security

The Russian mercenary Wagner Group operates in the Central African Republic, Libya, Mozambique and Mali. Apart from this, Russia has strong trade relations with African economies such as South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria and Sudan. In this context, Russia’s military and economic connections have limited member countries of the African Union from acting in unison against the Russia-Ukraine war. The union’s own legislation emphasizes the inviolability of borders and territorial integrity.

Education

Over 16000 African students studying in Ukraine and Russia were stranded as a result of the war. African countries have evacuated some of these students, many of them remain trapped with limited food, water, and no safe shelter. This has been heartbreaking for families.

Conclusion

The Russia-Ukraine war, which broke out after Russia’s one-sided intervention, is geographically far from the region but still closely concerns the African continent. Many different issues such as food security, agricultural production and the inclusion of countries with natural gas reserves into the geopolitical equation due to the sanctions on Russia, are directly related to Africa. In this context, prolonging the war and continuing to sanction Russia will increase the prices of agricultural products and raw materials, which could expose the African continent into a food security crisis.

IPB Statement of Solidarity with Demonstrators in Russia and the People of Ukraine & Russian Petition

The International Peace Bureau stands in solidarity with those who are actively speaking out against the actions of the Russian government in Ukraine and the victims of the aggression. We welcome the peace protests in Moscow and many other cities of Russia.

Continue reading “IPB Statement of Solidarity with Demonstrators in Russia and the People of Ukraine & Russian Petition”