Reports

Second Forum, Caucasus and Central Asia Report

Caucasus and Central Asia Report

Friends on the Silk Road

SECOND FORUM OF THE GLOBAL NETWORK OF RELIGIONS FOR CHILDREN
Geneva, 19 May 2004

“I AM THE CHILD OF EARTH. LET GOD BLESS ME AND MAKE OF ME A SHINING LAMP AND A BRILLIANT STAR IN THE SKY. MIGHTY AND POWERFUL, MAY THE LORD MAKE ALL MY DREAMS COME TRUE, AND GUIDE ME.”

Kyrgyz child’s prayer.

The Regional Group met at the Second Forum of Global Network of Religions for Children “Our Promise to Children” in Geneva on 17 and 18 May 2004.

The participants

Azerbaijan:           Parvin Mammadova

                             Gulnar Rustamova

                             Sevinj Masiyeva    
       
Kyrgyzstan:           Chinara Muralieva
                              Cholpon Omuralieva    
                              Ak Bermet Ondokeeva    
                              Kairat Birimkulov    

Armenia:              Meri Yeranosyan    
     
Observer:            Jeremy Jones    (Australia)

Moderator:           Razia Ismail Abbasi    

This was the first regional meeting of GNRC networkers from the Central Asian and Caucasus countries; it marked the formation of the regional team. The Group identified key concerns of child rights in the region and particularly in Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.

Kyrgyzstan:

  •     Children out of school
  •     Child labour
  •     Breakdown of traditional family, social values and ethics
  •     Consumerism, materialism, preoccupation with making money
  •     Children “labeled” as criminals
  •     Distortion and ignorance of spiritual values


Azerbaijan:

  •     Children of refugees and IDPs are still living in bad conditions, their basic human rights are violated
  •     Lack of information on HIV/AIDS and reproductive health
  •     Abandoned and Street children
  •     Poor conditions in orphanages
  •     Lack of coordination on implementation of CRC
  •     Lack of information on child rights and laws
  •     Maltreatment inside the family
  •     Bad school conditions


Armenia:

  •     Children losing the motivation to study, signs of lack of hope
  •     Impact of poverty, reflected in migration, with loss of security for children
  •     Decline of quality of education


We identified “equal worth” as our guiding principle.

We felt that child rights for survival, protection, development, participation are all at risk in countries of our region. But we also felt that if we work together, we can help to improve this situation. We see it as our responsibility to promote the full implementation of the CRC and the achievement of the World fit for Children goals in all our countries. The Group will work especially to develop good networking to monitor what action our countries take for children. As messengers of the GNRC mandate, we will work to establish spiritual and moral standards for all policy and action.

We looked at four critical areas for our study and advocacy:

Policy and law    Programme and performance
Investment and performance   Knowledge base, for monitoring

   

The Group felt that improved standards and greater dedication are required in all of these areas.

The Group was conscious that it was not able to bring child participants from the region. The Group participants went through an exercise to identify what the invited children might have said.

Some important concerns were identified. 

From Orkhan Efendiyev from Baku: there was the concern of children struggling to survive without care or parents’ help, without security, and living on their own. The Group was told of Orkhan’s own qualities of tolerance and openness.

From Olesya from Bishkek: her sadness at losing the right to home, shelter and security. And her concern that children do not have skills and knowledge to look after themselves.

From Daulet from Bishkek the Group has the message: “Discover our potential through love,” and the appeal that adults should not betray children’s trust.

The Group discussed the urgent need for standards in orphanages, camps, custodial “homes” for children, and services for street children.

The Group recognized the critical importance of education for both adults and children, and fully supported the Ethics Education Initiative.

The Group also identified the difficulty of learning or teaching tolerance and building dialogue. Expressing their belief in respect for diversity the participants identified fear, denial, acceptance and celebration as four possible reactions to diversity.

The Group accepted as its aim the building of a positive culture of peace and respect, and committed itself to NEW SOLIDARITY FOR AND WITH CHILDREN.

The participants recognized the potential for pilot activity on ethics education to promote mutual unifying spiritual values.

A particular challenge was identified in the mutual implications of peace education and conflict resolution. When children are taught lessons on peace, they ask how to solve the underlying conflict. In fighting injustice, the question arises that differing groups have different perceptions of what would be just.

The Group studied the proposals for GNRC study project on how religions view the child. There was general agreement that such a study would be useful for GNRC development work in the region. The participants identified the institutions and organizations with potential to carry out such a study.

Azerbaijan:
State Committee on Religious Affairs, Religious Resource Centre, IRSHAD Research Centre, Islamic University, institutions of minority religious communities

Armenia: 
Committee on National Minorities, University department of religious studies, religious research bodies

Kyrgyzstan:
The State Committee on Religions and UNESCO were identified. There was concern that minorities are not recognized. The different traditions of ethnic minorities also deserved study, for the rights of their children.

There have been, and still are, many challenges in the transition from the Soviet period, but the Group is confident that the rediscovery of identity and culture in each country is exciting and full of promise.


Activities: The Group drew up an action plan for GNRC development and promotion in the three member-countries, and for building contacts for GNRC across the region. The plan sets out short -term and long-term activities.

Now     This year     Long term
Create an email link, and set up regular communication and news exchange Develop information materials Training for trainers (Peace building, building inter-faith and inter-community dialogue, Child rights, and inclusive networking)
Distribute more information on GNRC  Organize interactive discussions (different groups)    Involve more young (esp. from country provinces)

Organize feedback meeting   
 
    
Message from children (translate, disseminate) Providing of exhibition “Religion through the eyes of children”  Organize exchange programs
    
Involve more young people, esp. from countryside provinces 
Training for NGOs, children, orientation for religious persons, legislators (Dialogue, Peace building, Child rights)       
  Regular dissemination of more information on GNRC, ethics education, child rights concerns     
  Develop young people’s interest and leadership for children. (esp. from countryside and provinces)     
  Strengthen contacts and interaction of govt. / NGO / international organisations/ religious organizations      
  Inform all NGOs working with children about GNRC     
  Capacity development training with  interested NGOs for cooperation       
  Monitor CRC action and reporting.       
  GNRC Child Rights TV sports (2005)      
Begin annual promotion activity to highlight child’s right to peace and dignity, for the period 21 Sept - 16 November from Peace Day to Tolerance Day.    Social Mobilization event dedicated 21st September International Peace Day to International Tolerance Day.     


Prepared by Gulnar Rustamova and Sevinj Masiyeva for the Central Asia and Caucasus Region of GNRC.
18th May 2004.