Archive for the ‘Immigration & integration’ Category

TFF PressInfo # 360: Sweden, Denmark and refugees – still hope? Part 4/4

By Jan Oberg

Article 3/4 – TFF PressInfo # 359


Permit a digression to neighbouring Sweden.

Sweden has – shamefully – not only closed its borders for people without valid documents, scrapped the right to asylum embedded in the Human Rights Declaration. It has declared (January 28, 2016) that it intends to deport 60.000-80.000 refugees already inside Sweden.

It was Sweden’s ambassador, the courageous Harald Edelstam, who in 1973 stood at the stadium in Santiago after the Pinochet coup and murder of president Allende and told thousands that they would always be welcome in Sweden. Thousands came and made a good life in Sweden. (There were 90 Chileans living in Sweden before the coup, today over 40,000). A small internationalist country took humanitarian leadership and we could all be proud.

But we can’t take that many people now, I hear many say.

The head of the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Region (SKL) has stated that 40-50 municipalities are facing crisis in Sweden but that, significantly, 200-220 municipalities “say they can do more.”

But then what about the country’s security and stability? The risk of social disorder, criminality, hatred?

Of course that is a risk. But that is an old one – xenophobia and racism has been around for long in Sweden, however less visible at the surface. An enlightened government’s response should be to serve as a role model and combat racism, Islamophobia in particular – not to combat and deport refugees.

Sweden’s new overall refugee-repelling strategy is a deplorable bending down for the worst forces in society instead of mobilising a demonstratively humanitarian and visionary policy for the common good – good for Sweden and good for Europe. If you behave like Denmark and Sweden you lose your goodwill and certainly every chance to influence or take leadership among other EU countries.

Where there is a will there is a way. But it also requires a little creativity.

The Swedish government lacks the will. Like Denmark – albeit in different ways.

Are we moving from democracy towards some kind of kakistocracy – i.e.“government by the worst, least qualified or most unprincipled citizens”?

New Danish fighter planes and reduced development assistance

Back to Denmark and one more piquant aspect. Read the rest of this entry »

Our 30 years with peace – And what happened to world peace? Part II

By Christina Spannar and Jan Oberg, TFF founders

Part 1 here

TFF was established on September 12, 1985. We think that it’s 30th Anniversary is a fitting occasion to reflect on what has happened in the big world and in our lives with the foundation.

It is also a piece of Lund’s research history in general and of peace research and education in particular.

Part 2

Weak aspects of TFF

• Being outside many networks and institutions – it has become more and more difficult to influence the world if you are small, independent and don’t accept governmental and corporate funds.

• A perception that the interest/commitment of TFF is out of sync with the sentiments of times, of the Zeitgeist. In spite of that we maintain the fundamental belief that peace is essential and that we can forget about the rest if major wars or nuclear exchanges take place.

• Too ‘academic’/theoretical to forge deeper, permanent links with public opinion and movements.

• Too ‘radical’ or ‘idealistic’ to be interesting to governments and most mainstream media.

• A constant very hard work load – resting on a small international group and on the founders in Sweden – vulnerability also in the perspective of us having gotten 30 years older.

• The struggle for funds getting more and more tough and we are much more vulnerable than, say, ten years ago. Being all-volunteer, we still have to pay the bills for what enables us to do things: the Internet, computers, travels to conflict areas, insurance, bank fees, fund-raising, phones, sending out mails, using social media, etc. 
The generosity of yesterday has been replaced by a ”stingy” attitude of being entitled to get things free in the affluent Internet-based society. This attitude implies that it is not my responsibility to finance peace, somebody else does (and the somebody else is never me). Few citizens seem to recognise that they are the taxpayers who de facto finance all the weapons and wars. 
The far majority of those who support us are idealists without particular means – while wealthy people for peace a far and few between.

TFF’s stronger sides

• We are still here, operating with amazing TFF Associates around the world who share the commitment to ‘peace by peaceful means’.

• We have remained faithful over all these years to the original ideals, not succumbing to go mainstream/politically correct to achieve more funds or appearing acceptable to the masters of war, i.e. government – neither by the way in Sweden nor Denmark. Read the rest of this entry »

Our 30 years with peace – And what happened to world peace? Part I

By Christina Spannar & Jan Oberg, TFF founders

Part I

TFF was established on September 12, 1985. We think that it’s 30th Anniversary is a fitting occasion to reflect on what has happened in the big world and in our lives with the foundation.

It is also a piece of Lund’s research history in general and of peace research and education in particular.


The 1980s was a decade of gross changes in Europe, the struggle against nuclear weapons in particular.

Lund University was predominantly about education and single research projects – while TFF could be more of an experimental playground. We wanted to do truly free research and not negotiate with higher levels at, say, the university what to do where, in which countries to work and what to say to the media.

Peace has always been controversial and there were – and remain – enough examples of places that become ‘mainstream’ and routine – rather than experimental and radically ’alternative.’

What we did not know back in 1985 was that Lund University wanted to get rid of all inter-disciplinary academic endeavours – women, environmental, human rights and peace studies – and closed down the Lund University Peace Research Institute of which Jan had been the director since 1983, in November 1989.

Being a private undertaking

The HQ is the first floor of a two-family house in a villa area of Lund. Visitors, board members etc. have held seminars there, eaten and often stayed with us. Board members were colleagues and personal friends and new board members were recruited from Associates who were also personal friends, like-minded colleagues or mentors one way or the other.
Our children and other friends were often involved in the things TFF did – including printing newsletters in the basement, gathering them, putting them in envelopes and fix address labels.


The permanent top priority has been to promote the UN Charter norm that ‘peace shall be created by peaceful means’ (Article 1).
This was promoted through traditional book-based research and later field work – i.e. conflict analyses and mediation and peace plans – in conflict zones, but also through intense public outreach/education such as newsletters, media participation, press releases – and, from 1997, the Internet and then social media.

Secondly, we wanted to integrate theory and practice. While it is good to do basic research in the laboratory, what is peace research really worth if it is never applied to real life’s tough situations?

The first five years we did book projects like everybody else in the trade. But in September 1991 TFF went on its first peace mission to former Yugoslavia. It is safe to say that we were among the first to embark on that in-the-field philosophy and practice it – with all the problems and risks that it entailed.

Foundation and management

The word ‘foundation’ does not mean that we had an endowment to start out with – and funding has been a constant problem every day and year ever since. And getting worse over time.
But it meant flexibility and – being and remaining small – quickly adapting to a changing world.

Being our own and not part of Lund University was another advantage – and a drawback in terms of finding funds. TFF had to build its own reputation from scratch rather than piggyback on that of the university’s. It was quite tough but also more rewarding in the long run. Read the rest of this entry »

On the links between refugees and warfare

By Jan Oberg

It’s our wars, stupid!
A short interview on Russia Today about Europe’s woefully inadequate understanding of why refugees come here.
Towards a solution: Deal with conflicts early and by peaceful means, criminalise arms trade and abolish war and you’ve solved most of the world’s refugee problems!

Interview on YouTube with RT International (700 million viewers worldwide and broadcast repeatedly on April 20, 2015).

Political instability in Sweden

By Jonathan Power

December 9th 2014

“If all the world were like Sweden there would be no news to report. The last time that Sweden hit the front page was when its foreign minister, Anna Lindh, was knifed to death by a madman nine years ago on the eve of a referendum on Swedish entry into the Euro zone. The time before that was in the distant past.” – from a column I wrote just a couple of years ago.

But now, to everyone’s surprise – both inside and outside Sweden – this quietness of the news has been unexpectedly overturned. A newly elected Socialist government, thanks to the vote of the Swedish Democrats, an anti-immigrant and anti-European party, couldn’t pass its budget and so the prime minister has called for new elections in March. Voters are wondering aloud what has happened to the famed Swedish stability and consensus-making.

Sweden is probably the most successful country in the world – that is if you factor in Read the rest of this entry »

Aage Bertelsen (1901 – 1980) – Danish educator for peace

By Jan Oberg & Johan Galtung*

Lund and Kuala Lumpur, July 2014


He was a tall man and a great man, a visionary, pacifist, civil resister, educator and philosopher. He took life more seriously than most and he could be playful and fun like a child. His life’s guiding principle was ”Engage in your time!” and while he wrote and talked a lot he also did it. His name was Aage Bertelsen, he was born in Denmark in 1901 and died on August 15, 1980.

Bertelsen’s imprint on history is two-fold. First, with his wife Gerda he was a prime mover of one of the groups, the Lyngby Group, which organised the rescue of altogether 7.220 Danish Jews into safety in Sweden in October 1943 during the German occupation of Denmark – more here. The Lyngby Group – Lyngby is north of Copenhagen – got about 1.000 of these in safety by organising their nightly transport onboard small fisher boats over the Sound between Denmark and Sweden.

In this he deserves a place in international contemporary history for its humanity, civil courage and as an example of non-violent struggle against occupation.

Secondly, Bertelsen was an educator of and for peace. His life work educational efforts included his family and friends, his pupils over 22 years at the Aarhus Cathedral School in Aarhus, Denmark, the general public as well as national and international leaders.

He lived in pre-Internet times and very little is publicly available today about this renaissance man. From two rather different, but compatible, perspectives we’ve taken it upon us to remind the world about him – friends and colleagues of his as we happen to be.

Headmaster Aage Bertelsen in 1961 Photo: Elfeldt, Copenhagen


Why now, over 30 years after his death? Read the rest of this entry »

The Nordic countries in a world in crisis

By Johan Galtung

Talk at the Nordic Peoples’ Parliament in Jondal, Norway

Let us start with the crisis.

It is not a world crisis but a Western crisis. The root is simple: the Rest is catching up, and partly overtaking the West; China is catching up, and partly overtaking the USA–recovering from the blow received around 1500 from the Portuguese and the English destroying 1,000 years of buddhist-muslim trade from East China to Somalia via the rest of Asia; ending in Macao-Hong Kong (there are no Chinese enclaves in Portugal-England).

The West is outcompeted. The crisis is partly economic and partly a desperate Western effort, indeed Obama’s effort, to cling to hegemony. Read the rest of this entry »

An innocent victim of our sanctions against Iran

Or how “high” politics are connected to the lives of Iranians even abroad

By Jan Oberg

I’ve come to know a young Iranian student here in Sweden. Fortunately he came before the discriminatory law that forces students from outside EU to pay for their studies while those from inside the EU can study freely.

Kourosh – a name I use for the purpose of this article – is a very modest, diligent and polite young man. He has quickly learned to talk everyday Swedish. He sees his life in Sweden as a great privilege and an opportunity to go back to his native Iran and make it a better place. Since I have applied for a visa to go to Iran, I’ve been eager to meet with him and listen to what he can tell me about Iranian culture and about how life has been for his family. The father is a truck driver turned farmer; the family is not among the poorest but also not in the upper class. Read the rest of this entry »


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