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Haiti, before falling into the clutches of Papa Doc Duvalier, had its days of glory. It was Haiti to propose, in 1933 at The League of Nations, a Declaration of Human Rights. Nazi Germany blocked everything, but the glory of Haiti remains. Its idea was continued by HG Wells (A Declaration of Rights of Man, 1940) and won in 1948 with the Universal Declaration.


Jan Herman Burgers

“The Road to San Francisco” Human Rights Quarterly, N 14 1992

Geoffrey Robertson

“Britain’s champions of liberty” The Guardian, Monday October 2, 2000
“Crimes Against Humanity. The Struggle for Global Justice” London. Penguin. 2000

From Claudio Giusti – Italy

Lizzie Collman describes a life changing move:
It’s still hard to believe that we have moved to a mountain village in Portugal to create a centre for Ecological living. But that is exactly what we have done. We discovered Sobral Pichorro in a remote region of the Beira Alta in February 2009 and on the 7th October my partner and I left our home in Somerset, England to embark on a new life in Portugal.
Our 400 year old Quinta and Solar was once a centre for production for olive oil and wine. The terraces of olive trees and vineyards have been neglected in recent years as most of the young people have left the countryside for life in the cities or abroad. Yet the plants are still full of vitality and intact, just waiting for new guardians to clear away the brambles, open up the springs and restore the land back to it’s former glory. The Solar (manor house) is home to a 16th century chapel, with renaissance paintings in the ceiling panels, all in need of restoration. Once restored, the Solar will be a centre for natural medicine, and the focal point for visitors to Vale das Lobas.
The project will combine organic agriculture with natural healthcare and ecological architecture. We consider one of the most important local resources to be the elders, who have a deep knowledge of the land and how to work with it. Our new neighbours in Sobral Pichorro have been very welcoming and supportive of our plans, and the project will grow organically incorporating their wisdom. Vale das Lobas will be a centre for organic production, and it will provide education and inspiration for people who wish to live sustainably. It will be a centre for peace, in all aspects. We will demonstrate here that living sustainably, with low impact dwellings, in harmony with our environment is possible, practical and viable.
There will be a Meeting House for worship, and for hosting conferences, courses and workshops on spiritual ecology and all aspects of living in harmony.
I joined the Quakers in 1998 after attending Bedford Meeting (England) for a while; I was quickly at home with the deep, prayerful silence. What really struck me was that although here was a diverse group of people, there was also such unity and openness in the Quaker testimonies. I became involved particularly in the peace and outreach work over the years and both of
my children grew up in Meeting.
We plan to build 20 eco-dwellings, for people who come to live in the valley. There will be a further six eco-dwellings for shared ownership by regular visitors.
Nine retreat houses will be designed through a global competition. The aim will be to demonstrate a variety of organic creative solutions.
There are only three Quakers in Portugal, and I am already feeling the pioneering spirit. I have found many places on this land where a deep silence and reverence for nature and spirituality naturally occurs; nature’s Meeting for Worship.
To become fully realised, Vale das Lobas requires financial support, in the form of public grants, private loans, donations and investment.
Please get in touch if you would like to know more:
The Terraces

With its ruling on the 3rd of November the European Court on Human Rights of Strasburg affirmed that “the obligatory exposition of a symbol of a given confession in places that are used by public authorities, and especially in schools, limits the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their own believes”. The ruling – welcomed favorably by Italian Protestants, as Domenico Maselli, President of the Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy (FCEI) assures – originates from a claim of an Italian citizen of Finnish origin, Soile Lautsi, that in the school year of 2001/2002 protested against the presence of the crucifix in the classroom of her children. In particular, the Court unanimously established that “the exposition of the crucifix in classrooms of public schools is contrary to the rights of parents to educate their children according to their own religious conceptions and the right of the students to freedom of religion”. “The presence of the crucifix, that cannot go unnoticed in the school rooms – states the ruling of the judges of Strasburg – could easily be interpreted by the students of all ages as a religious symbol, that would make them aware therefore of being educated in an environment that has the brand of a given religion”. All this, they continue, “could be encouraging for the religious students, but annoying to the children that practice other religions, in particular if they belong to religious minorities, or if they are atheists”. Anticipating the typical argument with which the crucifix in the classrooms is defended in Italy – for that matter not always present – the European Court affirmed that it does not understand how “the exposition in the classrooms of the state schools of a symbol that could be reasonably associated with Catholicism could serve educational pluralism that is essential for the conservation of a ‘democratic society’ just as has been conceived by the Convention (European Convention of Human Rights), a pluralism that is acknowledged by the Italian Constitutional Court”. “After the polemical debate on credits for those who choose the teaching of the Catholic religion in the public schools, and after that on ‘the teaching of Islam’, now explodes the clamorous case of the crucifix – stressed the President of the FCEI Maselli -. A ruling that we view favorably because it repeats the idea that the freedom of religion and respect for all faiths are at the basis of a peaceful and civil Europe”. The first reaction of the Minister of Public Education Mariastella Gelmini was very clear. According to her “no one, not even some ideological European court, will be able to cancel our identity”. “Those who see in the ruling the negation of Christian roots in Europe – commented President Maselli – show that they do not appreciate the great merit that Christianity has in opening the doors to liberty for every man and every woman”.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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