Multi award-winning Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk, will be the star attraction at a major international conference in Derry this week, marking the third anniversary of the publication of the Saville Report.
Fisk – who writes for the ‘Independent’ – is part of an international cast of academics, journalists and activists who will exchange ideas and share experiences at the ‘Poisonous Legacies’ conference in the Guildhall, this Friday and Saturday.
The conference will explore how conflict zones can be transformed into peaceful new societies. Speakers and workshops will examine the impact of conflict and colonialism in various parts of the world, including the Middle East, Colombia, Argentina, Chechnya, Spain, Italy and Ireland. The issues which will be explored include prosecution and amnesty; truth recovery and memorials and commemoration.
Among those who will address the conference will be a former member of the Colombian National Assembly, Aida Avella, who has survived a number of assassination attempts and now lives in exile; she will be joined by the Guardian’s investigative journalist Ian Cobain, whose book ‘Cruel Britannia: A Secret History of Torture’, was named Debut Political Book of the Year in this year’s Political Book Awards.
Other speakers include Oksana Chelysheva, who won Amnesty’s ‘Special Award for Human Rights Journalism Under Threat’ in 2006; Liat Rosenberg, from the Israeli human rights group, Zochrot; Elena Monicelli from the Peace School Foundation of Monte Sole and the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience; one of Britain’s leading human rights lawyers, Phil Shiner, from Public Interest Lawyers; and Ewa Slutzky, a representative of the Argentinian organisation, HIJOS, which represents the families of “the Disappeared”.
Local participants will include Kieran McEvoy, Professor of Law and Transitional Justice at Queen’s University, and Alan McBride from Healing Through Remembering.
Speaking on behalf of the organisers, Paul O’Connor said: “We hope that this conference will contribute to the process of peace-building in Ireland and elsewhere.
“It is our ambition that this sharing and exchange of ideas – by activists, academics, and journalists – about some of the world’s most intractable conflicts, will help people from Ireland and beyond to shape a better future.”
All are welcome to attend the conference. Admission is free.