21.05.2018

Nicaragua-Diary 16.-23. April 2018

Dr. Hartmut Quehl, Directer of the Felsberg Institute for Education and Academic Research e.V. (FI)

 

Tagebuch Nicaragua April2018

The head of the FI, Dr. Hartmut Quehl, was on a visit to Nicaragua at the invitation of our partner institution, the Martin Luther King Institute (MLK) at the Universidad Politecnica (UPOLI) in Managua from the 16th to the 23rd of April 2018. During these 8 days, Nicaragua was shaken by heavy violent protests.

The trigger for the initially peaceful demonstrations was the Social Security Reform (INSS) announced by President Daniel Ortega on 16 April 2018, which foresaw major cuts in the state social security system. However, these protests against the reform of the INSS are to be understood against the background of growing dissatisfaction with the politics of the government and in particular with the dynasty of the presidential couple, Daniel Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo as vice-president. In recent years, resistance to the Nicaraguan Canal Project - which was planning a second Pacific-Nicaraguan shipping lane parallel to the Panama Canal - has strengthened civil society opposition in Nicaragua.

In the previous week, several fires had arisen in the huge nature reserve of Indio Maíz on the border with Costa Rica, which destroyed large parts of the protected area. A protest movement started here already, which assumed arson on government order as the cause of the ecological catastrophe with the aim of opening up the protected area for construction and infrastructure projects.

The protest is an expression of a self-organised social movement, the "autoconvocados", which has no political affiliation. Not only is it against the promulgated reforms of the social security system, it has also been linked to resistance to corruption and the state destruction of ecosystems. In addition, the protest is aimed at political change: the goal is the abdication of the presidential couple. The protests are also directed against the ruling party FSLN (Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional).

As of 20 April 2018, UPOLI, where the Martin Luther King Institute is located, became the centre of student and civil resistance. Students, lecturers and civilian demonstrators held UPOLI against the government forces, which consist of the Policia Nacional, the "Antimotines" and the "Turbas Ortuegistas" and the "Juventud Sandinista". The peaceful protest was violently quashed at the UPOLI, as at the other major universities in Managua. There was comprehensive censorship and there were massive restrictions on press freedom, which could be circumvented by the protest movement through communication via social media.

From 23 April 2018, the wave of violence slowly ebbed away. By that time, there were probably 60 deaths (several at UPOLI). Altogether, about 90 injured persons were registered on 21/04/2018 and about 90-100 "Desaparecidos", i.e. disappeared persons, whose whereabouts are unknown. They are either imprisoned or have been killed. The actual number of casualties cannot be determined, as the number 90 refers only to the cases registered with the Red Cross. The current number of "desaparecidos", detainees and injured people is still undetermined.

Here follows an eyewitness account by Dr. Hartmut Quehl, covering the days 18 - 22 April 2018. All photos without references are by Dr. Hartmut Quehl, photos by David Arias are provided with signature on the image, photos of other participants of the protests were marked as anonymous sources. Caricatures and photos from the two Nicaraguan newspapers "El Nuevo Diario" and "La Prensa" were also used.

Download PDF Diary

Diario visita a Nicaragua 16 al 23 de abril de 2018 

Dr. Hartmut Quehl, Director del “Felsberger Institut für Bildung ud Wissenschaft e.V. (FI)”

Del 16 al 23 de abril de 2018 el director del FI, Dr. Hartmut Quehl, realizó una visita a Nicaragua por invitación de nuestra institución cooperante allá, el Instituto Martin Luther King (MLK) en la Universidad Politécnica (UPOLI) de Managua. Durante esos 8 días Nicaragua se vio estremecida por protestas fuertes y violentas.

La causa desencadenante de las manifestaciones inicialmente pacíficas fue la reforma al seguro social (INSS) que el 16 de abril anunció el presidente de Estado, Daniel Ortega, y que representaba recortes masivos al sistema público de seguridad social. No obstante, las protestas iniciadas ese día en contra de la reforma de la INSS deben entenderse dentro un contexto de creciente insatisfacción con la política de estado y, especialmente, con la dinastía de la pareja presidencial de Daniel Ortega y su esposa Rosario Murillo como vicepresidente. En los últimos años, la resistencia contra el proyecto del canal de Nicaragua –el cual estaba contemplado como segunda vía marítima paralela al Canal de Panamá que conectaría el Atlántico con el Pacífico a través del Lago de Nicaragua- había fortalecido la oposición de la sociedad civil en este país.

En la semana anterior a la visita hubo varios incendios en la enorme reserva natural Indio Maíz en la frontera con Costa Rica que destruyeron una gran parte de esta zona protegida. Ya en este punto empezó a formarse un movimiento de protesta que sugería como causa de la catástrofe ecológica incendios provocados por el mismo gobierno para abrir la zona protegida a proyectos de construcción e infraestructura.

La protesta es una expresión de un movimiento social organizado autónomamente, de “autoconvocados” - como así se autodenominan – sin una afiliación política. Esta se dirige no solamente contra reformas al sistema de seguridad social ya anunciadas sino que se suma a la resistencia contra la corrupción y la destrucción de los ecosistemas por parte del estado. Adicionalmente, la protesta busca cambios políticos: su objetivo es la dimisión de la pareja presidencial. Las protestas también se dirigen contra el partido del gobierno FSLM (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional).

Desde el 20 de abril de 2018 la UPOLI, donde está establecido el Instituto Martin-Luther-King, se convirtió en el centro de la resistencia civil y estudiantil. Estudiantes, docentes y manifestantes civiles mantuvieron a la UPOLI contra las tropas del gobierno que estaban compuestas por la Policía Nacional, la fuerza “antimotines” y “turbas Orteguistas” así como por la “juventud Sandinista”. La protesta pacífica en la UPOLI fue reprimida de forma violenta – como anteriormente en otras grandes universidades de Managua. Primaban una censura general y restricciones masivas a la libertad de prensa que sin embargo pudieron ser evitadas por la comunicación del movimiento de protesta a través de redes sociales.

Desde el 23 de abril de 2018 empezó a disminuir la violencia lentamente. Hasta ese momento había probablemente unos 60 muertos (varios de estos en la UPOLI). En total hasta el 21 de abril había reportados alrededor de 90 heridos y entre 90 y 100 desaparecidos, es decir, personas cuyo paradero es desconocido. Han sido detenidas o asesinadas. El número real de heridos no se conoce ya que los 90 mencionados son únicamente los que la Cruz Roja logró registrar. El número actual de desaparecidos, detenidos y heridos sigue siendo desconocido.

A continuación se presenta un reporte del Dr. Hartmut Quehl, quien vivió los hechos como testigo presencial entre el 18 y el 22 de abril de 2018. Todas las fotos sin referencia a la fuente han sido tomadas por el Dr. Hartmut Quehl, las fotos de David Arias están marcadas con su firma y las de otros participantes de la protesta se han dejado como fuentes anónimas. Adicionalmente han sido utilizadas caricaturas y fotos de los dos diarios nicaragüenses El Nuevo Diario y La Prensa.

Descarga PDF Diario


25.04.2018

Documents of the Nicaraguan protest movement "Movimiento de los autoconvocados" since 16 April 2018

Since 16 April 2018, violent clashes have shaken up life and society in Nicaragua.  As censorship is being exercised at the instigation of the government and independent information is only accessible via the social networks and a few print media, the FI is offering a forum for access to information outside the state censorship:

  1. Media information:

For ongoing information about what is happening, the following links can be used (only in Spanish):

  1. MLK Communiqué:

On the third day of the protests, our partner institute, the Martin Luther King Institute at UPOLI, issued an official communiqué in Spanish with a German and an English translation:

  1. Photo gallery:

The photographer, David Arias, has documented scenes from the days of protest. He has given his permission for the FI to set up a photo gallery on its website. The photos may be shared using a source reference (= Source: davidarias2018autoconvocado together with a reference to the URL of the FI).

  1. Audio interview with participants of the "Movimiento de los autoconvocados":

On Sunday 23 April 2018, Denis Torres (head of MLK) and Dr. Harmut Quehl (director of FI) conducted an interview in Managua with a group of students who reported on their experiences with the protests and violence since the first day of the protest. The interviewees have agreed to the interview being published on the FI website. The audio file in Spanish is available here, a transcription and a translation will be made and published in the next few days. Forwarding and use of the audio file is permitted using the source reference (= Source: Interview_AutoCon_20180423_Managua_FI with reference to the URL of the FI and date of access).

More documents will follow in the next few days. There will be an eyewitness report by Dr. Hartmut Quehl with photographs and a second photo series by Hartmut Quehl.


14.03.2018

2nd International Conference on "Rebuilding War Societies: Challenges and Perspectives"

Basrah, Iraq, November 20-23, 2017

The 2nd International Conference on “Rebuilding War Societies: Challenges and Perspectives” took place this year in Basrah, in the south of Iraq between the 20th and the 23rd of November 2017. The conference was organized by the Felsberger Institute in collaboration with the Center for Iraq Studies of the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (CIS) and the University of Basra and presented in conjunction with the Annual Symposium of the Iraqi-German Academic Cooperation Network (IG-CON). Both events were hosted by the University of Basra. The conference offered a platform for the academic exchange of over 60 presenters from Iraq and abroad.

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Image 1: The international participants of the conference discovering Basrah and visiting the Basrah Museum ||  © Katharina Drost, Centre for Iraq Studies, University of Erlangen/Nürnberg

The FI has been organizing events on violence research in Iraq since 2010, with international participation since 2012. Following Kirkuk (2012), Erbil (2013) and Sulaimaniya (2015 and 2016), the conference in Basra was the first to be held in southern Iraq.

The conference was financially supported this time by the German Academic Exchange Programme (DAAD), the Konrad Adenauer Association (KAS), and the Goethe Institute. This exchange between researchers from other areas of the world, which have also been challenged by violent conflicts, such as Colombia or Guatemala, was especially regarded as very fruitful by the Iraqi colleagues.

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Image 2: Welcoming address by Dr. Hartmut Quehl, the director of the Felsberg Institute || © Katharina Drost, Centre for  Iraq Studies, Universität Erlangen/Nürnberg

The 60 papers were organized thematically into eight different panels, the majority of which addressed the necessity of collective action within Iraq after the so-called Islamic State was driven back. Iraqi researchers presented their work regarding the “The role of higher education in peace building and reconciliation processes”, “Economy”, “Iraq after ISIS - Challenges and Perspectives”, “Iraq after ISIS - Community Perspectives”, “Iraq after ISIS - Mental Health and Trauma”. These five panels were backed up by an internationalized dialogue on the topics of “Transitional Justice”, “Rebuilding war societies - regional challenges and perspectives”, and “Rebuilding war societies - international experiences and perspectives”. Scholars from Germany, France, England, the Netherlands, Iran, Colombia and Lebanon shared which challenges and lessons learned from other conflict settings they could derive for Iraq.

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Image 3: Nadine Abu Julud presenting her paper on the “Ethnic Conflicts in the Sudan or the Politicization of Ethnicity” as part of the Panel “Rebuilding war societies – international experiences and perspectives” || © Katharina Drost, Centre for Iraq Studies, Universität Erlangen/Nürnberg

The first two days of intense academic debates were followed by a third day of workshops offered to the students of the Basrah University. This is part of the sustainability concept behind the conferences organized by the Felsberg Institute and the Center for Iraq Studies, to strengthen the education of young researchers and enable transnational and transgenerational dialogue. The workshops offered addressed the topics “German experiences of reconstruction and reunification”,  “Intercultural exchange and reconciliation”, “Migration to Europe”, “Non-Violent Political Action”, “The Quest for and the Perspectives of an Iraqi-German Students Network”, and “Entrepreneurship Skills”. The organizers were humbled by the unexpectedly high turn-out and interest among Iraqi students, as the workshops were attended by approximately 400 young Iraqi undergraduates.

The importance of this kind of approach is explained by Manuela Barrero, a young researcher from Colombia:

The International Conference “Rebuilding War Societies: Iraq after ISIS” held from the 20th to the 23rd of November (2017) was the first international conference that I have ever attended. Also, the first event in which I presented a paper of my authorship related to my Thesis Project about the PKK’s insurgency. Therefore, the opportunity to attend the conference and travel to Iraq meant to me the feeling of a dream fulfilled in the academic aspect and also in my personal experience. Besides, the conference was enriching because of the diversity of topics presented, as well as the diversity of participants. However, the opinions that I considered most valuable were those that came from the people of Iraq because they know the place better than anyone. Hence, it was disappointing that there were not a larger number of people attending the conference, especially the absence of students. One thing I consider that could be improved is the measurement of the time of the presentations because some participants took more than 30 minutes to explain their papers. Finally, conducting a workshop allowed me to approach students of my own age despite having different cultures and helped me to encourage dialogue and debate between people living in such a different environments about our personal impressions of our countries’ lifestyles and traditions.”

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Image 4: Workshop with Hartmut Quehl on the topic of migration || © Katharina Drost, Centre for Iraq Studies, Universität Erlangen/Nürnberg

Nevertheless, there is still a lot of work ahead of us, as Rebean Al-Silefanee from the Netherlands notes:

Overall, the conference was very well organized. The content of the conference was very important and valuable to decision makers. The keynote and invited speakers delivered interesting and insightful presentations on rebuilding war societies. However, in my point of view, exclusion of youth participation in this conference was not a good idea. Since we were talking about rebuilding war societies, and usually youth are the main victims of conflict and violent extremism. Thus, we need to get them engaged more in these conferences and activities, so they are not excluded from the peacebuilding and the decision-making process in future. I also would like to mention that I liked the workshops that were organized for students, and I would recommend more workshops of this kind for the next time.

A short report of the Center for Iraq Studies and further pictures can be found here: cis.uni-erlangen.org

A further report written by the Director of the Iraq-Desk of the Felsberg Institute, Ms. Birgit Svensson, is available in German under: goethe.de

The complete program of the conference can be consulted further below.

PROGRAMME INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE “REBUILDING WAR SOCIETIES: IRAQ AFTER ISIS”

 


23.04.2018

Statement on the events that have taken place in Nicaragua since 16 April 2018 by Dr. Hartmut Quehl, Director of Fl and spokesman of ICRoV

Nicaragua2204

Our partners in Nicaragua, the Universidad Politecnica de Nicaragua (UPOLI) and the Martin Luther King Institute (MLK) at UPOLI have been involved in the unrest and social protests in Nicaragua for the past five days.

UPOLI, where the Martin Luther King Institute is located, has become the centre of student and civil resistance. Students and civilian demonstrators are still holding UPOLI against the government troops consisting of the Policia Nacional, the "Antimotines" and the "Turbas Ortuegistas" and the "Juventud Sandinista". The peaceful protest is being violently suppressed at UPOLI, as before at the other large universities of Managua.

To date, 30 people are presumed to have died (two of them at UPOLI). On 21/04/2018, about 90 people were registered as injured and about 90-100 as "desaparecidos", i.e. disappeared persons whose whereabouts are unknown. They have either been imprisoned or killed. The actual number of injured persons cannot be determined, as the number 90 only refers to those cases registered at the Red Cross. The current number of "desaparecidos", detainees and injured persons cannot be determined at present.

The protest is an expression of a self-organised social movement, the "autoconvocados", which has no political connection. It is not only directed against the reforms of the social security system implemented by President Daniel Ortega and his wife and Vice-President, Rosario Murillo. The protest is now also directed at corruption and is aiming for political changes. The goal is the abdication of the presidential couple, but the protests are also directed against the ruling party FSLN (Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional).

I have followed the protests on location at our partner university UPOLI since the day they began and am trying to support the work of MLK and the students.

Denis Torres, Head of MLK, released the attached MLK resolution on the situation in Nicaragua today. We ask that this resolution be disseminated in your affiliated networks.

In the next few days I will post an eyewitness report with photos of the events in Nicaragua between 16 and 23 April 2018 on the Fl website.

Managua, 22/04/2018 at 20:30 local time.

Dr. Hartmut Quehl


17.07.2017

Call for Abstracts

2nd International Conference on

"Rebuilding War Societies: Challenges and Perspectives"

 

Venue

University of Basrah, Basrah, Iraq

Organisers

University of Basrah, Center for Iraq Studies (CIS) at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, and Felsberg Institute (FI)

Date

20-23 November 2017

Application Deadline

15 August 2017

 

More Info: call for abstracts.pdf