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  • Mariana Goetz

Leaders Unite to Counter Identity-Based Violence in North Darfur

Updated: Jan 29


Countering Identity-Based Violence Manual being used at training workshop

This December we brought influential leaders from North Darfur together for a  5-day workshop in Kampala on countering identity-based violence. The leaders were all selected on the basis of their influence in North Darfur and their representation of different groups and communities including members of the Elders Committee, armed groups, community leaders representing different ethnicities, journalists, youth and women leaders, resistance committee members, human rights activists.


Watch the video that our partner Al Mustagbal Organisation produced about the workshop!



The workshop outcomes have been exceptional - starting with a room filled with animosity, where there were 5 criminal cases that had been brought between different participants, they crossed divides are now working together in two core groups to counter hate narratives on social media and are organising community awareness raising led by local counterparts still on the ground in Darfur.

"This is the first time ever to hear about these things. This is a new topic for us.”
Yesterday was tense, people protesting about what other people said. Now we are talking differently.”

At the heart of the success were two factors. The first was the selection of the participants, that aimed to bring representatives from opposing communities together, which was achieved with the help of a small team of activists on both sides. The second was the methodology of our new training manual to counter identity-based violence that we piloted at this workshop.


The methodology is participatory and brings out deeper understanding of identity, prejudice and the steps that lead to genocide through exercises that enable participants to experience and discuss the concepts, ultimately identifying the steps that are needed to reverse the process.

“This was a transformative day: from theory to action”

 

On the final day, we had a session on the practicalities of addressing hate speech, namely how to counter a speech versus creating an alternative narrative. In this context we needed to use an example. The example agreed on was “They are not original people”, however, a heated discussion then ensued because one of the participants, who himself was from an Arab community, gave an example of Arabs publishing a video insulting black people calling them “Abeed” or “Jogdai” (slave). And that hate speech goes a lot further.

 

He said that participants are not saying things as they are, and why were we not really speaking freely about the hate speech? He also blamed international NGOs, that normally do not bring people from Arab tribes to activities to listen to them. He exclaimed that violations and incitement to violence are being committed by some Arab tribes as well as black people. However, we needed to say things as they are. It was agreed to use “All black people should be killed” as the example for the hate speech exercise, as this reflects where things at right now in the conflict.

 

The participants who had the heated discussion during the hate speech session took photos together afterwards. One lady invited all the participants to visit her and have traditional food at her newly open restaurant, and they were all happy about the invitation.

“This workshop taught us how to talk about taboos and unspeakable issues in our communities.”

The exercises over the 5 days led to concrete actions in two core groups that mixed participants with different affiliations, one working on countering hate narratives on social media, and the other is engaging local leaders still on the ground to run awareness raising sessions for different communities. A short video is also being produced with interviews of the participants discussing the workshop.

“The analysis of hate speech is very good, very helpful. We understood it and now we are planning for action”


The Countering Identity-Violence Manual was developed with funding from Matrix Causes Fund.



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