The Parents Circle-Families Forum was invited to participate in this conference for the first time. Emmaus International is a network of communities spread world wide. These communities have been created in the spirit of Emmaus founder the late Abbé Pierre, a French Catholic priest, with a profound social sensibility and a sense of commitment to serve. Emmaus communities are formed by people in profound need who have been rejected from society (homeless, drug and alcohol addicted, etc) and who have lost the sense of personal value. The communities of Emmaus do not ask questions, they accept everybody (with the condition that no alcohol or drugs will enter the community) they supply food and shelter, but more important than that they supply self-employment and a sense to everybody that he is welcome and needed by the others, in other words, he restores the human dimension and self appreciation to its "companions".
The fact that Emmaus decided to hold its four years conference in Bosnia, had a special meaning. Bosnia is still recovering from the bloody civil war that harassed the country between 1992 and 1995. Bosnian organizations were present and brought their message to the conference at the first day that was devoted to the international perspective. Among the other organizations and personalities that were invited and participated, together with the PCFF in the debate there was the Bangla Desh organization Nijera Kori, represented by its chair Ms. Khushi Kabir, the Rwandan exceptional woman – Ms. Yolande Mukagasana, who lost her three children, husband, brother and sisters in the bloody civil war, one of the worst cases of genocide that was perpetrated after World War Two on earth and Mr. Joseph Sinzi, a representative from GRACE, a human rights ngo from Congo Kinshasa. The Uruguayan outstanding writer and freedom fighter Mauricio Rosencof, was not able to come due to his very precarious health condition and was represented by Milton Reyes, his friend. In the very opening of the conference we had the opportunity to listen to the profoundly emotional testimony and call of the representative of the Mothers of Srebrenica.
Emmaus also organized four different visits to significant places in Bosnia. We both joined the group that traveled to Srebrenica, where the horrific massacre of Bosnian men by Serpsk armed forces took place on July 1995, and where nearby a Bosniac memorial was erected to remember the tragic event.
Both Omar and I had various opportunities to present the approaches of the PCFF to our conflict. This was particularly important in the context of the various testimonies and approaches that were shared by the other participants from tumultuous and conflictive areas. We insisted on our thesis that no peace is possible without a reconciliation process, and that dialog is the only way. We underlined our understanding that seeking for absolute justice as a precondition to solving the conflict will be totally sterile. We brought the South African experience of seeking transitional justice as a more promising approach.
Our approach was broadly greeted as a key to the crisis in our region and a model to be followed by many others in national conflicting situations. We must say that we received an overwhelming reception and the feeling that the PCFF has certainly something important to tell the world in the first half of the 21 century.