From the Fragments of Violence a Park Begins to Surface
Phase one of building the ‘Al-Jamhorya Park in Bab Lagah area, Mosul Old City’ has begun. The contractor is on-site removing the rubble and making safe the existing buildings. There is a long way to go but even at these basic stages, there is an optimistic air as this broken space seems able to take a long-awaited breath.
Could a local park and its neighbours be just as important to a peacebuilding effort as a larger internationally recognised site? I would argue (based on work in N. Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Africa and South East Asia), they are of a higher peacebuilding importance…
For the post-conflict communities I have spoken with in cities like Mosul, their sense of place has fundamentally changed. Many of these once familiar places which subtly reinforced a sense of identity and belonging are now imbued with traumatic meaning and memory. Public spaces like the park often represent a complicated and contrasting set of post-conflict conditions that reaches deep in society.
To leave these places unrecognised in precarious communities riddled with post-conflict emotional entanglements renders any reconciliation effort more fragile, and therefore more susceptible to failure and manipulation, sparking more violence in the future.
I hope that this park goes some way in giving rest to a region and a people tormented by past conflict and upheavals.
This park is the compelling result of the hard work done by The HALO Trust and their local partner Al-Ghad, an excellent example of collaboration, locally-based sensitive research, and communication, a modern peacebuilding combination of insight and expertise.