Thoughts of a sleep-deprived pacifist

Here’s another posting by one of our participant bloggers.

“I have been in Oxford for a week now, learning about the situation in Western Sahara and more about conflict resolution. The last week has been a rollercoaster of problems, issues and attention from both the international and local circles.

“I, myself, am a pacifist – I’ll declare that stance right now – so the idea of learning about conflict resolution appealed a great deal to me. Never did I imagine the problems such a programme would cause. From issues with visas and border controls within Morocco, one would have thought we were asking for much more than a peace conference aimed at students. But maybe these problems highlight the true nature of the conflict. What is Morocco afraid of? Or maybe they’re not, but without them here all that is left to do is to speculate.

“Hunger Striking in Agadir airport attracted a great deal of media attention and we have been fielding interviews and questions over the past few days. Perhaps people can learn more about the conflict and actually learn about it – rather than taking the attitude of “Africa can only be helped by Africans”. I certainly hope so. The past week has given me a far greater insight into diplomacy but also into the international issues surrounding this conflict than I ever could have considered. I am hopeful that with an increased understanding, the conflict can finally be resolved peacefully through negotiation – perhaps supported by the international community.

“The students who cannot attend are missing out on an incredible opportunity. Not only the “Oxford Six” but also the 7 Moroccan students. Both groups were prevented from travelling for various reasons. Are we lacking something in the course because of this? Perhaps. We are missing a vital side and a key argument within the conflict; without a full understanding of the Moroccan view, it is becoming increasingly difficult to remain neutral. I want to learn the Moroccan insight and understand their views on the area. The leaders here have been incredible, but it is a very different feeling to meet a person face-to-face to hear their thoughts and feelings.

“Instead we are left with speculation and guessing – we will have to learn this point of view in other ways. We shall have to read about it – with no opportunity to ask questions or get a fuller understanding. So while face-to-face would be a benefit, we still continue on, learning and considering all the sides.

“But I’ll carry on – with learning and debating – but also laughing, smiling and enjoying time with new found friends. All I hope is that one day this conflict can be resolved and then, finally, the ideas of violence and fear can also be forgotten, as this conflict has been for so long…”

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