Talks tackle terrorism – and look to peace

6e371b2cbbacfb31c9a3dcbb10984926_nPreventing terrorism by deradicalising and disengaging militants will be discussed during a symposium currently being held at Monash University.

The 5th Asia Pacific Security Dialogue has brought together international specialists with an in-depth knowledge and understanding of political violence in Asia, Australia and Europe to discuss successful strategies to divert militants into more peaceful actions.

Monash University Dialogue committee member Professor Emerita Marika Vicziany, from the National Centre for South Asian Studies in the Faculty of Arts, said two major issues would be addressed.

“Firstly, policy makers have to understand how to prevent terrorism by deradicalisation strategies aimed at existing militants and their grooming of future recruits. Secondly, they must learn how to convince committed militants and their sympathisers to become less radical and give up violence,” Professor Vicziany said.

“Preventing terrorism requires the identification of future militants and turning them in the direction of peaceful political activism.”

Professor Vicziany said counter-terrorism policy required an understanding of the reasons for both engagement and disengagement in the radicalisation process.

Questions to be considered during the dialogue include: What are the early warning signs that someone is entering into a radicalisation process? What are the target groups of radical organisations? How can deradicalisation programs be designed for specific cultures, histories and peoples? How can non-violent philosophies, values, practices, histories and socio-economic strategies be used to displace militant ideologies?

“We will be examining cases of radicalisation in Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Australia and Europe and focusing on the ‘import’ and ‘export’ of radical ideology between Asia and the West and comparing this with local factors such as socio-economic marginalisation,” Professor Vicziany said.

“Analysing cases such as these will help us understand the kind of policy changes that are needed to deradicalise militants and potential militants in order to turn them towards peaceful means for achieving political change.

“We need to better understand how to detect situations in which militants are grooming new recruits for violently radical agendas so appropriate policies can be developed. Such grooming is known to focus on the more vulnerable sections of society with many at-risk young people being recruited via social media and internet networks. Hence our collaboration with the University’s European and EU Centre and the Faculty of Information Technologyis very important.”

Among the international experts presenting at the dialogue are Imtiaz Gul, the Executive Director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad, and Farooq Sobhan, the president of the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute.

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