A Regional Training Meet on Peace Building for Young Adults in Mekong Region was conducted in Surin Province, Cambodia from 14 – 27 July 2011.
A total of 44 people attended the Working Group for Peace in Mekong Region. 12 participants from Cambodia 12, 2 were from China, Lao 6, Myanmar 7, Thailand 10, and from Vietnam, 7 people.
The Mekong Peace Journey Training was held in Surin province, Thailand and UddorMeanChey province, Cambodia to share commonality in culture, religious, food and tradition; painful of unforgettable history and conflict which lead to “historical bias”, “political distrust”, “cultural prejudice” and “absence of mutual understanding” among the Mekong countries and their peoples.
The Regional training on Peace Building is part of learning process focusing on nationalism, Identities, and pluralism which has purposes:
- to build trust and inner peace among young generation in the Mekong Region;
- to define the concept of peace building, conflict and its root causes;
- to address other social factors contribute to building peace in the region;
- to identify appropriate and effective strategies for intervention to build peace in the country and the region; and
- to start strengthening cooperation and network in the Mekong Region.
Many problems, such as labor migration, drug and human trafficking, cross border conflict and related issues arise from a dissimilar pace of development in term of social and economic factors, an unstable political situation and a lack of relationship-friendship among governments in Mekong region. The conflict along the border of Thai and Cambodia, Thai and Myanmar, Vietnam-Cambodia, and Vietnam-China which has continued from years has created many issues for Thailand. Nationalism is used to provoke hatred against neighbor countries. Some conflicts were created due to distorted history. The conflicts become a burning issue. So far, the conflict on water management of countries which are in upstream and downstream has not been seriously discussed at the government level.
Without serious reflection and understanding on the root cause of conflict as well as respecting ethnic and culture diversity people will be easily influenced by one sided inputs from controlled media sources. A new generation continues to learn history which promotes distrust and misunderstanding on neighbouring countries. Cambodian, Myanmar, Lao, Thai, Vietnam, and China peace practitioners and young adults have developed a learning process on peace building which consist of regional training on peacebuilding, internship programs, etc.
The training was comprised of in-house training and mobile classrooms which are called peace journey and was designed to help the participants to understand a concept as well as practical skills on non-violence that can be applied in conflict or violence situation. The contents of in-house training covers trust building, concept of peace and conflict transformation by peaceful means, nationalism, identity, pluralism issues and non-violence skills. The recent Peace Journey in Thailand and Cambodia provided the opportunity for participants to experience the real conflict situation and practice non-violence skills.
Along the way of the Peace Journey, participants visited authorities and communities on both sides of Thailand and Cambodia. Questions by the participants revealed their concern as the governments from both side did not gave clear statements on the border issues and the participants found the advices given by authorities challenging. The difference in standards of living conditions between Thailand and Cambodia were very apparent.
Some of the questions raised, included, among others,
- Why Thai government provide a lot of thing support the victims from the conflict and encouraged them to display the bomb and the damage things, by open space for tourist visit, cause this will encourage/burn up feeling to the next generation to feel angry with Cambodia?
- Prasat Tamoin and Ta Krabey temple are belong to Cambodia but why can’t visit from Cambodia side and possible to enter from Thai side? Why are a lot of Thai soldiers based on the temple?
- Prasat Tamoin and Ta Krabey temple are in Cambodian land; why Thai said DorngRek Mountain belong to Thai?
- Why is Cambodia’s government concerned with the Thai-Cambodia border issue? How about the Cambodia-Vietnam border?
Source: ACT Cambodia
Photo Credits: Alliance for Conflict Transformation, Cambodia