Zagreb, 21. 2. 1997.
As you would notice soon, following posting is eleven days old and also
'not very official one'.
Or at least it wasn't written aficial one, ten days ago.
Now, after we had some time to sleep over our decision - this message can be posted on public conferences.
As co-founder of Volunteer Project Pakrac and its coordinator for first two years, I have split feelings: being sad about closing not just biggest project of AntiWar Campaign Croatia but also saying "Good Bye" to the something unique created in destroyed , wounded and divided town in 1993 what existed for almost four years.
But there is also feeling of proudness on Volunteer Project Pakrac as well on decision to cease it , today, when in different social and historic setting - it has to step out and pass on its peace mission to other groups, hopefully - localy rooted.
Thanks to everyone who supported us in last difficult years. I don't think it's just a coincidence that today evening is party in Antiwar Campaign Croatia to celebrate Vesna Terselic's nomination for Nobel Peace Prize. The prize may come or not, but in last 7 days in Croatian media words as nonviolence, human rights, direct protection, women groups, grassroot work, Antiwar Campaign, peace education, tolerance, social reconstruction, communication and cooperation across (despite) borders, etc etc are more often mention than in the whole last six years !!!!!
So, if I may paraphrase:
The Volunteer Project Pakrac is dead. Long live the Volunteer Project Pakrac !
Antiwar Campaign Croatia
Volunteer Project Pakrac will be ended by the end of this month - february 1997. After 1333 days of presence in Pakrac , this pilot & veteran project will go where it belongs - to legend.
That was decided yesterday, 8.2.1997. on project team meeting at Miramida house. Dubravka (project coordinator since autumn 96), Bocian, Piekna, Ivka, Jacek & Danijela - all from VPP , asked for meeting with me, Goran. Alex Melbourne & Nick Wilson were present too.
Project planned to move from Pakrac to Japaga last week, but suddenly they learnt about Japaga house was given to someone else. That actually helped Dubravka to raise issue of 'doing something what had to happen long time ago'.
I am very much in favour of that and am involved in process as member of
ARK, and co-founder, too.
It's important to say that on tuesday 4.2.1997. Centre for Peace Studies, known by MIRamiDA trainings, decided to move out of Pakrac by the end of this month (that was BEFORE Volunteer Project decision).
Our reason is that there is no much point of being based in Pakrac beside the fact it's attractive to funders. Our trainings are planned in 1997 in Pakrac as well as in Tuzla, Gornji Vakuf, Baranja, Zagorje, Zagreb etc. Our house would be of better use when managed by locals completely + equipment too.
CPS moves to Zagreb using e-mail/cyberspace as working place a lot.
Both, VPP & CPS, as part of ARK - more or less share the same reasons of
these strategic moves: Pakrac changed a lot last years, economic
reconstruction is not happening - and it's crucial issue, not social
reconstruction any more.
Reconciliation & Peace-building have to be done/initiated/raised by local people and foreigners, either from Zagreb or from Europe/USA/... are not needed in those processes any more, sometimes even not welcomed.
Anyway presence of VPP and CPS was more symbolic and virtual last year or so and unable to resolve any of big issues currently dominating in Pakrac: economic despair, unemployment, post war trauma, hopelessnes, expected return of Serbs, xenophobia ,...
By ending projects in Pakrac , we hope to open more space for brave groups and individuals in town , to come out with their initiatives and actions. Money, support, contacts and attention must shift immediately toward them and not any more to not-locally based projects as VPP and CPS are/were.
First shift is happening on monday when 12 members delegation from Olof Palme Center, Life & Peace Institute, European House, Peace Bridge , Pax Christi, IWPR etc will meet representatives (Pakrac citizens) of Women Club, Pakrac & Human rights Office (didn't get sallary for 4 months), Youth Center, Community visits program, some individuals etc .
ZaMir-Pk, Community visits and Puppet theatre - all of them subprojects of VPP will continue to exist either as part of local NGO's, managed by locals completely or part of other structures (ZaMir-Zg e.g.).
Miramida house, well furnished & equipped will continue its function,too.
Volunteer Project Pakrac is project of Antiwar Campaign Croatia.
First group of international volunteers arrived in Pakrac on tuesday July, 6th 1993. Since then, about 500 international volunteers from about 30 countries was engaged in this unique peace project. VPP started as part of one of the first UN's peace-building programmes ever - " Social Reconstruction Programme in UNPA West" initiated by UNDP/UNOV and UNPROFOR Civil Affairs UNPA West.
VPP invested over hundred thousand hours in physical reconstruction of 70% devastated Pakrac. Not even to mention all kind of social programmes. In 1994 cooperation between Antiwar Campaign Croatia and Center for Antiwar Action , Belgrade (Group "Most") in Volunteer Project Pakrac was only (please, correct me if I am wrong) joint public project between two 'enemy' countries.
Written by Goran Bozicevic
[Note from the editor: This web site will become an archive]