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“Not in my name” – European Mennonites reject violence

Dutch churches put peace into action. Participants in a weekend conference packed a shipping container full of Mennonite Central Committee relief kits for Syria at the Dutch fellowship centre Dopersduin in Schoorl in October 2015. Photo by Johan Tempelaar.
Release date: 
Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Bogotá, Colombia – Mennonite churches in Europe are responding the violence and displacement in the Middle East that is affecting their society.

Arbeitsgemeinschaft Mennonitischer Gemeiden (AMG – Mennonite church in Germany) and Algemene Doopsgezind Societeit (ADS – Dutch Mennonite society) each wrote a letter to their governments urging peace.

The AMG recognizes its country’s compulsion to respond to terrorism with action, the obligation to show solidarity to France following November’s attacks and the desire to use the state’s power to protect its citizens and others who are vulnerable.

“From our perspective, however, it does not follow from all of these motivations that military action in Syria is the appropriate response,” writes Doris Hege, AMG board chair.

“We are in no way convinced that military action will achieve greater security,” Hege writes. The development of a political future for people in the affected areas “would involve working toward a future for the region that is economically just, providing adequate support, initially through relief organizations, and also long-term in the development of democratic civic and social structures.”

Similarly, ADS urged that “assistance for the victims of this drama, support for organizations which pursue this effort and the stimulation of dialogue between the parties should be the cores of policy.”

“The Mennonite community…does not see violence as the means by which to approach conflicts, let alone the means by which to end them,” write Frans Dukers and Henk Stenvers, ADS moderator and secretary.

To their respective government’s military actions, the ADS and AMG declare: “Not in my name.”

—MWC release

Addendum: In February 2016, the government of Canada ended its direct participation in the bombing mission over Iraq and Syria. Mennonite Central Committee Canada executive director Don Peters wrote to the prime minister to “affirm the significant steps Canada is taking.” However, he expresses concern about Canada’s continued on-the-ground support for airstrikes and expanded role in military training in the region. “It is imperative that the international community continue to expand its diplomatic efforts to support a negotiated political solution to the Syrian civil war and greater inter-party political cooperation in Iraq,” writes Peters.

Click here to see the letter from AMG to the German government (in English and German).

Click here to see the letter from ADS to the Dutch government (in English and Dutch).

Click here to the letter from MCC Canada to the Canadian government (in English).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don Peters, MCC Canada executive director, shares stories from displaced Syrian women in Lebanon. Photo: LIFE TV (Indonesia)

 Click on the photo to see the high resolution version.

 

 

Geographic representation: 
Europe

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