Action for Civil Alternative (APAC), Lebanon
Tarek El Husseini of Action for Civil Alternative, Lebanon, was pleased to meet the WRI Executive during a brief visit to London. APAC has about 60 active members and has already met nonviolence trainers from francophone groups (Jean-Marie Muller and Hervé Ott from France; Michel Megard, Switzerland, and Françoise Bazier, Belgium). An APAC leaflet declares "Our style of work is based on cooperation, auto-direction, and nonviolence, to attain full participation in civil society. All our activities are aimed at contributing to creating a civil trend among youth which would be the nucleus for development and change." APAC now has three main projects:
- an awareness and social training scheme. Many leaders try to manipulate people and turn them against each other, using them as fuel for war. The aim of this project is to build new relationships based on trust and free of stereotyping. To achieve this, APAC seeks to help young people develop a positive frame of mind enabling them to replace war experiences, build up their self-esteem and capacity to live together through cooperation and nonviolent conflict resolution, and participate in the rebuilding of society.
- an educational scheme. The government education programme is discriminatory and not based on respect for human rights. This project includes workshops for children in public and private schools and active learning workshops outside school, training teachers to help them be less directive. APAC is compiling up a dossier to submit to the parliamentary group on education.
- a civilian service scheme. The country needs rural development and social centres for the handicapped but instead the government wastes resources on military service, even after 17 years of war. So APAC is now developing a civilian service programme, involving women and men, which it would like to be an option available to youth. It hopes later to end compulsory military service altogether. At the moment, APAC is compiling a dossier in order to submit proposals for a law, and is hoping to organise an international forum on civilian service. They would invite some parliamentarians to speak as an encouragement for them to publicly state where they stand on this issue. APAC hopes that this might lead to the formation of a CO Association.
Conscription was abandoned during the Civil War. As the army was divided into various factions, conscription and rnllitary training would simply have increased the number of militiamen. It was reintroduced three years ago. Many avoid rnilitary service by registering with a university or leaving the country until they are forty. Tarek did not know anyone who had been imprisoned for conscientious objection, and APAC does not advocate this or disobedience as they want to create an alternative rather than send youth to jail to be beaten up, or expose APAC to problems with the authorities and accusations that it is pro-lsrael. APAC trainers would be interested in working in other countries, too.
Action for Civil Alternative (APAC), do Hassan Meneimneh, P0 Box 13-5353, Beirut, Lebanon, (+961 3 607889 / 814332 or fax via +1 212 478 2777 attn: Tarek El Husseini.). Copies of the APAC leaflet are available on request from the WRI office.