Monday, June 09, 2008

The Hague

On Thursday five of us went to Den Haag (The Hague) to sit in on the Trial of Charles Taylor, at one time Taylor was the President of Liberia. The trial is taking place at the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Taylor is accused of aiding the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) of Sierra Leone. These guys are purported to have killed and raped civilians, cutting off arms, legs, ears or noses, and burned their homes. Albert Hindowa Saidu, an RUF rebel fighter, was being questioned about a brutal attack on a town; we sat just 10' away from him.

Saidu was a college student at Bunumbu in his finalyear, pursuing a teacher's certificate when he was abducted in 1991. He stay with the RUF right until the final disarmament in 2001. Child abductions are a common form of recruitment for rebel forces, something our organization hopes to have an impact on.

After witnessing the ICC testimony we left to visit an organization we had worked with last year, The United Network of Young Peacebuilders (UNOY Peacebuilders). They had lunch prepared for us and we met their new student interns, two of which are from Italy. Silvia Silvozzi says she grew up in San Benedetto del Tronto, a small and quaint 'Californian-style-village' by the Adriatic Sea.

Then on to the Vredespaleis (The Peace Palace), often called the seat of international law because it houses the International Court of Justice (different from the one above), the Permanent Court of Arbitration, the Hague Academy of International Law, and the extensive Peace Palace Library. We went on a guided tour (high security, so no wandering around on your own), and it was truly incredible. The Peace Palace is one of the most photographed landmarks of The Hague.

Towards evening, Christina, WPP's Educational Director (who had arranged the entire day) went home and the four of us ended up at Scheveningen / Kijkduin beach for some sight-seeing and coffee before going back to Alkmaar on the train... it was a long day!

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