Imperial War Museum Build The Truce
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Help us mark the International Day of Peace 2012 – join us at IWM London or IWM North for a programme of film screenings, talks and performances linked to conflict, truce and conflict resolution.

We’ll welcome organisations who work during or after war and conflict, including MSF, International Alert, the British Red Cross, the International Committee of the Red Cross and Conciliation Resources over 21, 22 and 22 September. Find out more about what they do, where, and why in this free event programme. Pick up your Peace Day schedule on the day, but keep an eye out for these highlights of the IWML HIGHLIGHTS and IWMNorth HIGHLIGHTS.

We’ll post more info about the organisations taking part over the next week too. Looking forward to seeing you there!

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Build The Truce displays at IWM North and IWM London are based on interviews with real people. They have lived and worked in the aftermath of violent conflict from Kosovo and Northern Ireland to Iraq, El Salvador,  and Sierra Leone. Civilians, ex-paramilitaries, peace builders, medics and researchers share their stories and their views on  truce, and  its potential to unite – or divide.

In these original interview clips, they introduce themselves and their experiences of life as war comes to an end – and new struggles for peace begin.

You can watch more material from these interviews at the Build The Truce displays in IWM London and in IWM North, and we will keep adding  more links to Truce interviewees between now and the end of the month.

 

 

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Image of Build a Truce exhibition at IWM London

Richard and IWM London staff with characters from the family storytelling sessions

I have had the most amazing weekends at the Imperial War Museum North and IWM London this month, working with families delivering our new story as part of ‘Build the Truce’. My brief as a writer and storyteller was to create a piece which could explain about conflict and truce for a family audience. Given the freedom to choose how I approached the challenge by Catherine Roberts who commissioned the piece I chose slugs and snails. A simple story of how conflict can escalate and become war, told from the perspective of the two main characters: Sadie and Silas, a slug and a snail who point out to the adults how ridiculous it is that they are in conflict when they are so similar – separated mainly by only a shell. They encourage their elders to declare a truce. Told by myself and the IWM learning teams in both Manchester and London, this has been a fabulously creative and rewarding experience. Feedback from parents and grandparents has been excellent, it was really gratifying to see them all having fun as well as understanding the concept of truce.

Richard O’Neill, writer and storyteller

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Iamge of Freedom From Torture Logo

Freedom from Torture is the only organisation in the UK dedicated solely to the treatment of torture survivors. It provides medical consultation, forensic documentation of torture, psychological therapies and practical help for people who have survived the most horrific abuses of human rights. In its 25 years, Freedom from Torture has received referrals for over 50,000 people and has opened treatment centres in five major cities to meet the needs of torture survivors dispersed around the UK. Last year, almost 150 people from nearly 40 different countries were referred to Freedom from Torture’s North West centre in Manchester for help. For more information visit www.freedomfromtorture.org

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Following the Working For Peace Expo (September 18 & 19 ), two of the Expo’s participating organisations returned to IWMN last Sunday (September 25) as part of the Stone Flowers performance and album launch.  Stone Flowers are a creative music group supported by  Musicians without Borders and Freedom from Torture NW. They have a been described as “A moving and truthful journey with expressions of protest, peace, love and hope. An original song-cycle in English, Lingala, Farsi, Kurdish, French and Kikongo, influenced by folk, jazz, classical, spoken word and hip-hop music”.

Their music filled the Main Exhibition Space of the museum during two packed performances on Sunday and the audience erupted with applause after each song. Visitors of all ages were gathered to watch the Stone Flowers and comments were left by visitors who said the event was ”really important for thinking about war and peace and supporting survivors”.  The Stone Flowers CD album is available to buy here.

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Image of Lloyd George's Versailles Doodle

These doodles were done by Lloyd George at a meeting of the Inter-Allied Council to discuss the terms of the Armistice to be imposed on Germany in November 1918. Difficult and complicated business, reflected in this sketch from blotting paper on the negotiation table. A small figure is trapped in an endless red cage of intersecting lines – does this  suggest the complicated carve-up of postwar Europe, and the helpless individuals within it? The lines are repeated over and over again, like an unresolved conflict that continues to replay itself  – as it would in 1939, in a chain of events  rooted in the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

IWM explores the cycle of conflict and war, and how it shapes our lives. This includes our efforts to address and respond to the causes and consequences of war, and to break conflict cycles. This is why the Museum’s collections contain evidence of peacekeepers, peace makers and peace builders from 1918 to the present day.

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