ASSOCIATION FOR PEACE AND HUMAN RIGHTS "BARANJA"
tel/fax:+385 31 821-212
The Association for Peace and Human Rights "Baranja" from Darda is a non-profit, multi-ethnic association of citizens and the first non-governmental organization in this area. From early 1994 when it was founded, the Association has been engaged in peace and women's activities.
The main goal of the Association is a reduction of existing tensions, overcoming the prejudices about "the other side" and nurturing tolerance and non-violence. The goals also included raising women's consciousness about their values, developing human freedoms and promoting human rights. The Association also advocates openness toward all constructive forms of cooperation and education.
Recently the most important goal of the Association's activists has been to find out how to keep people to stay in this area, that is how to show to the future returnees that a dignified co-existence is possible. It is also our wish to involve as many citizens in the work of the Association and to inform them about our work.
Past activities of the Association:
a) Encounters of families and friends
The goal of the project was to bring together members of families who were set apart by war in "neutral" terrain (in Hungarian town Mohač). The encounters lasted one or two days. All expenses including travel, accommodation and lunch were covered thanks to the support of "Die Schwelle", a humanitarian organization from FR Germany,
b) Encounters of teachers
The goal was to re-establish contacts among people who once used to work together in the same school. The project was conducted through workshops.
c) International summer camps for young people
The goal was to reduce prejudices about "the other side" to provide possibility for re-establishing the contacts among young people who have the same needs and interests all over the world and who deeply experienced the separation during the years of war.
d) Encounters of women from the same place - The bridge of women
The goal was to re-establish the communication between former and/or future residents from the same town. Women were encouraged to work on tolerance and reconciliation process because they were not directly involved in war operations. Approximately 230 women met in this way.
Current activities of the Association:
a) The 80 Greenhouses Project
The project is designed for women to make them independent so they could contribute to household budget, develop sense of their values and relax and distance themselves from everyday problems through work.
b) The Offered Hands Project
The goal of the project is to encourage women to provide support to each other during their first contacts upon arrival to a place they had to flee from. The work with women is conducted in the area of Baranja and Osijek as a support to a two-way return.
c) Project of Legal Advice and Legal Help
The goal is to help people and instruct them how to communicate with authorities in the process of realization of their rights. A legal adviser from Osijek comes twice a week to our Association's office where people can directly ask for help.
d) Training of trainers in non-violent communication
The training includes a dozen of teachers from Baranja who can use and develop non-violent communication methods in everyday life and who can convey their knowledge to other people in their surrounding. These skills and knowledge will be of crucial importance especially after the UNTAES leaves the area.
e) The sewing courses
The courses are taking place in Bilje and Beli Manastir. They are attended by approximately 60 women, divided in three groups. The goal is to provide women with opportunity to work and be together and to provide psycho-social help.
Association for Peace and Human Rights "Baranja" from Darda is a member of the Coordination of Peace Groups for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium. It is also a member of the Coordination of Organizations for Protection and Promotion of Human Rights in the Republic of Croatia. It works with a whole range of NGOs from the countries that were created on the territory of former Yugoslavia as well as with NGOs from all over the world. It is a winner of international peace award PAX CHRISTI for 1996.
The members of the Association participated in workshops organized by the Council of Europe in Strasbourg and seminars on reconciliation organized by the Government of the Republic of Austria. They visited similar non-governmental organizations in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany...
Future activities of the Association
The Association plans to publish a bulletin under the title "Let's try next to each other" to inform citizens about positive events that could reduce the existing tensions. The goal of the bulletin would be to inform general public on current and future activities of the Association.
The bulletin would be dedicated to all the persons who took part in the activities of the Association and to all the citizen regardless of their ethnic and religious background.
The title "Let's try next to each other" has a symbolic meaning - in a way it is an appeal to citizens to try to work, create and live next to each other. The bulletin would serve to the activist of the Association to raise public awareness and to send a message that tolerance and co-existence are in our mutual interest and not in interest of some third party. We think that members of the Association must set a positive example through their activities that this is possible. In the same way, the information on successful activities of the Association and its cooperation with similar associations in Croatia and abroad is also a kind of appeal - let's try to work and live together in an environment based on truthfulness.
Center for Direct Protection of Human Rights