TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 7 Jul 2014
Bishnu Pathak’s introduction to Alberto Portugheis’ book, $$$$$s in Their Hearts, which will be launched soon.
Alberto Portugheis, international pianist, teacher and Peace campaigner, was born in Argentina in a family of Russian and Romanian descent. He now lives in London, UK.
As concert pianist, Portugheis has visited more than 50 countries across the world, including several troubled countries, where armed conflicts raged or still rage. Many of his ideas on Justice, Freedom, Democracy, Human Rights and Peace developed side by side with his music career.
In 2008, Alberto Portugheis was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 2006, the newly established Conflict Study Center (now the Peace and Conflict Studies Center or PCS Center) sent Portugheis a brief political analysis under the name of a ‘Situation Update’ about the beginning of Nepal’s peace process on May 11th of that year. He quickly sent his response to us, stating that weapons never solve any problem. “Weapons are for killing and for nothing else”, he continually stressed. His argument is that weapon manufacturing and trading make happy only a few people, those it makes rich. I agree with his comment that “weapons could never recognize who is friend or who is enemy and also that weapons do not have political or racial colours either. Their use is only a step in politicians’ careers in their quest for power, fame and wealth.
As Mao Zed’ng said, ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of guns”, their real and sole purpose being to kill people, named “the enemy”.
In the last eight years the PCS Center has published one hundred and ten papers or ‘Situation Updates’, on human security, civil-military relations, conflict trans-formation, peacebuilding initiatives, DDR-SSR, community policing, Human Rights, federalism etc, often receiving comments from Alberto Portugheis. The following analyses of freedom are mostly taken from our direct communications with him, from his book The Game of War and a Path of Peace and from his web-page.
Freedom from Intolerance and from Violence
The vision of Portugheis is “tolerance”. “Tolerance, brought about by education and global disarmament – he stresses -, will bring world peace and freedom to all conflicting countries, ranging from the Gaza strip and the whole Middle East to warring African countries and anywhere else where conflict is rife. He insists on the equality of all human beings. No matter where people live, no matter of what caste, ethnicity, race, religion or nationality, every man, woman and child have a right to a world free from intolerance, free from violence. As a Buddhist at heart, Portugheis believes tolerance and compassion are the fundamentals of freedom. However, – he insists – a militarized world precludes peaceful conflict resolution and transformation techniques. “Weapons are not instruments to create a world of tolerance”.
Officials in power have a vested interest in continuing conflict, be it in their own country or around the world. Portugheis also explores how intolerance divides societies while tolerance integrates them. Education in tolerance and compassion would lead to the abolition of all weapons, of militarism. Portugheis’ achievements include his own initiative to enter into dialogue with all the conflicting actors, thus enhancing his respect for humanity.
Freedom from Want
Portugheis puts emphasis on the fact that weapons do not exist “for Peace”. They will never bring about Peace. Some of his aims are: to ensure basic support for the needy, (to stop them being “needy”) restrict weapon manufacturing to cover Police needs, abolish the Arms Trade and the disbanding of all armed forces. His sole thrust is to maximize financial assistance to humanitarian intervention by eliminating the cost of a militarized world. For every gun made, every warship launched and every rocket fired, he wishes the same money, time, intelligence and energy was used for the provision of basic needs and basic rights for the hungry, the sick, the homeless and the illiterate. Spending cash on arms and ammunition, warships, air-fighters, etc., is not an issue of money alone; there is also the sweat and blood, and taxes ordinary men and women pay, the hope of children, their future and the future of nations.
Portugheis relates there is no connection with war amongst ordinary people, rich or poor, although often, wars are connected with the rich and powerful. Freedom from want, not war, is what connects with basic needs of needy people.
Freedom from War
Portugheis exposes the real motivations behind many wars which constantly deceive human belief. He explains how individuals, organizations and Governments profit from the Arms Trade. War does not happen for the reasons we are told. Rather, they are cautiously and secretly planned and are fomented by countries whose main wealth comes from military manufacturing and trading. The greed for ‘money’ and ‘muscle’ can be found amongst individuals and groups ranging from royal families and politicians to diplomats, from universities to educators, from banks to Human Rights organizations, from journalists to big-media houses, from religious leaders to militaries, and from businessmen to public service providers, shadowing the ‘mind’, the ‘justice’, and ‘truth’ we all seek.
This greedy trend victimizes the common people, providing weapons for conflicting parties in the name of people’s power, people’s liberation, people’s sovereignty, and people’s progression, peace, development and democracy. Weapons leave devastating impacts not only on the generation that experience war, but on future generations. Portugheis demonstrates how only a world free from war can achieve the betterment of human lives and a free universal societyor the betterment of human lives e ion Update (110 already published) . As it is, the voice of huge numbers of common people demanding jobs and food is never heard by politicians and all those in power, for whom profit, power and privileges come first.
War makes money and peace does not. War ruins the economy of a country, but makes the authorities concerned richer. Recalling a past conversation, Portugheis wrote, “My military friends laugh at people like me who work for a Peace Culture. Alberto, they say, Peace is not where the money is. Peace is not business.” He reveals how experts in ‘mind control’ help politicians organize chaos, violence and war through “epidemics of fear” among populations.
Portugheis explains how war and its instruments, ‘weapons’, separate the people of a country from power holders, all in the name of religion, nationalism, patriotism, ethnicity etc. The “controllers” of the world do everything possible to separate humanity. He says, “This is the only way to control people. They keep people fighting, needing to buy weapons, in the knowledge that violence generates more violence.”
On September 26th, 2007, Portugheis sent an email commenting on Madhes Violence: About the Identity Clash in Nepal, he said, “What you need is not what Richard Bennett of UNMIN says: better public security. What you need is not to humiliate people and you need better education. More public security will increase the existing conflict”. Portugheis connects the activities of CIA in Nepal for the purpose to secede Tibet from China. Indeed, USA and its allies have vested interested in Nepal, “encircle to China” for its secession and “watch to India” not encounter to West. According to him, Europe and America don’t want Nepal to live in peace, in a society where peace, justice, and human rights prevail. Respect for humans, priority for education, prosperity of a nation, progress in all aspects of lives protects Nepal from humiliation, but it is against USA’s interest. Portugheis desires to see my country free from foreign humiliation as well as the enhancing of our lives, both as individuals and as a country.
Campaigns against nuclear arms are useless, Portugheis stresses, as the sophisticated conventional weaponry of today, is as lethal. The Nobel 2008 message from Portugheis reads, “I write to explain why we have wars, why, despite the fact that nobody likes armed conflict, people of all nations tend to think war is inevitable. I would like that people understand, with the brainwashing we receive, there will never be peace.”
Portugheis argues for a total change of organizational and individual perception, stressing that even most of the human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights groups, anti-war campaigners, including political leaders, do not speak of a weapon free world. His motto of Enlightenment is to launch a campaign to educate and to promote a world free of militarism, thus free of war.
Freedom to Live in Dignity
Portugheis articulates that every human being has a right to a dignified life, which is ensured (but not upheld) by Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and several other human rights instruments. Commenting on my paper on Human Rights and the Nepal Police in June 2008, he pronounced that state authorities violate each and every of the 30 articles of the UDHR, which were created, invented, and conceived with one idea in mind: to free human dignity from abuse. He passionately urges the following the UDHR’s principles of freedom and rights, saying the core of UDHR is freedom from discrimination, slavery, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, and the right to life, liberty, security, public hearing, asylum, peaceful assembly, and association. He is against the suppression of rights and freedoms in the name of morality, public order and the general welfare of a democratic society.
“The intention of the UDHR”, he says, “is good, but in practice, it is used for the creation of wars, mainly in the developing countries.” Portugheis wrote to me: “Bishnu, the same applies to the Charter of the United Nations, signed in San Francisco on June 26th 1945 and its Statute of the International Court of Justice.” He further mentions, in chapter 9 of his earlier book Chapter 9, The Game of War and a Path to Peace, that “… all these ‘laws, rules and recommendations’ are meant to maintain an un-even, un-fair world, where poverty, hunger will never be eradicated, so that the rich and powerful can remain in control.”
Portugheis shows that when the UN first established a goal of ‘putting the peoples first’ it could not be implemented, for it aligns itself behind the politics of the West, the powerful West, namely Europe and the USA. Beside these actors, Nepal cannot solve her problems internally as there is the deep interest of the IMF, the WB, and many other financial institutions making sure conflicts in Nepal continue, neglecting people’s desire for dignified citizenship, for a dignified life.
When Portugheis was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008, his message was, and still is, to eliminate the production of weapons and and everything military, to help the peace cause by uniting humanity and optimally utilizing the earth’s resources. He says, “I am aware of the world that we have created for our children and cry at the horror, despair at the way our world is constantly at war, abusing the children we should nurture.” We need a different way of thinking, a radical change of education, where the accepted ‘given’ is Peace.
When I first became aware of Portugheis, it seemed to me that here was a pessimist guided by a revolutionary mind-set. When I tried to understand him more closely, however, I found him to be quite different. Portugheis is a man seeking Justice where there is Injustice; he is a man advocating peace and harmony to replace conflict; he is a man campaigning against the weapons market amidst warmongers; he is a man campaigning for equity/equality inside an unequal distribution of resources and opportunities; and he is a man looking for freedom as a freedom fighter inside the military-mindset ‘quest for power’. The search for freedom involves challenging current structural, institutional and individual procedures and policies.
I give thanks to Portugheis for his tireless and dedicated efforts towards peace and freedom, and his campaign to promote the notion that all human beings are equal, despite divisions of rich and poor, powerful and general populace, men and women, educated and illiterate. I firmly believe in what Alberto Portugheis says.
Bishnu Pathak, a Ph.D. holder in conflict management and human rights, is president and director of the Conflict Study Center. He is a Board Member of TRANSCEND International for Nepal and also a BM of the TRANSCEND Peace University. Besides writing the book Politics of People’s War and Human Rights in Nepal, he has published a number of research articles on issues related to Human Rights, UN, Security, Peace, Civil-Military Relations, Community Policing, and Federalism.
Alberto Portugheis is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. By profession a concert pianist and pedagogue www.apion.org.uk/tapsim, he is an active peace campaigner, whose anti-military stance earned him a nomination for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize. As a result, Portugheis wrote, “Dear Ahed…..The Game of War and a Path to Peace” – a book that has received critical acclaim http://www.dearahed.co.uk. He contributes regularly to Twitter and has many followers. Some of his thoughts, ideas and reflections, which express only the desire “to make people think” and not take for granted what they read, “no matter where”, can be found in his blog http://portugheis.livejournal.com.
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 7 Jul 2014.
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