Linked with East Timor and Indonesia Action Network ETAN, with the International Fellowship of Reconciliation IFOR, and with IFOR’s Women Peacemaker’s Program WPP.
She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
Saskia Kouwenberg has spent 25 years – half her life – as an activist. Everything from indigenous people’s land rights, to national independence, to anti-nuclear and anti-war work has been the focus of her campaigning. Although not affiliated to one group, she has worked alongside Amnesty International, the United Nations, and Moluccan and East Timorese organizations, in all kinds of ways. From mediating in conflict resolution classes to trespassing on military bases, Saskia will try any method to achieve her goal of a better, safer, fairer world. It is not very often that you meet someone who, over their 52 years, has been a barefoot hippy, spent six months as a novice nun (“I would have stayed longer, if they had not thrown me out!”), made movies, smuggled (more of that later), been a monkey-keeper, marcher, conflict resolver, anti-nuclear and anti-imperialist people’s rights campaigner. Yet today I find myself in the lucky position of talking to one of Amsterdam’s unsung heroines. Saskia Kouwenberg has been an “independent human rights activist,” as she calls herself, for nearly 25 years now. “I was not somebody who said on their twelfth birthday ‘I want to be a peace activist when I grow up.’ In my village politics were non-existent,” she says, as she makes tea in the kitchen of her canal-side, Oud-West flat. It is a nice pot of Tension Tamer, appropriate for a woman who has seen more than her fair share of conflict hot spots. This is the place where she has lived on and off, between stints of campaigning, for the last 25 years … (1000peacewomen 1/2).
Saskia Kouwenberg – Netherlands
She says: “Responsibility does not end at borders. I cannot see boundaries. The only boundaries are that you have 24 hours in the day and you cannot do everything you want to do in your life”. (1000peacewomen).
Tijdens manifestatie op de Dam, 15 feb. (20039, Toespraak Saskia Kouwenberg.
Hulp door militairen is vaak funest voor hulpverleners, by Saskia Kouwenberg: Militairen in conflictgebieden krijgen steeds vaker civiele taken. Dat kan leiden tot een gevaarlijke verwarring van rollen, vindt Saskia Kouwenberg, mede doordat de situatie in oorlogen steeds onoverzichterlijker wordt omdat er zoveel partijen bij betrokken zijn … (full long text).
She writes: Militairen in conflictgebieden krijgen steeds vaker civiele taken. Dat kan leiden tot een gevaarlijke verwarring van rollen, vindt Saskia Kouwenberg, mede doordat de situatie in oorlogen steeds onoverzichterlijker wordt omdat er zoveel partijen bij betrokken zijn … (full text, 18-08-2004).
Find her and her publications on Film Database; on PSYCHOLOOG direct.be; on pipl; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Group-search; on Google Blog-search.
Rapport Blix/El Baradei geen enkele invloed op oorlogsvoornemen Bush, 07-03-2003.
(East Timor-) POSTERS FROM SOUTHERN CROSS UNIVERSITY (AUSTRALIA).
(on 1000peacewomen 2/2): … The village she is talking about is Zundert, a farming place down in Noord-Brabant, where she was born into a vegetable trading family. It is famous for one thing only, being the birthplace of Vincent van Gogh – not necessarily the kind of place you would expect a political activist to come out of, among all that slow-moving agriculture, but Saskia is convinced that her life’s mission found its roots back there.
She had a comfortable, middle-class upbringing when, at the age of 19, she went off on a round-the-world trip, along the hippy trail. “I did not go as a hippy but I came back as one.
In India and Afghanistan especially, virtually everything that I saw there questioned what I was brought up with. I met people with totally different views on life, and they thought they were right too. That was a very big surprise to me. Plus, I saw incredible poverty. I did not know about these things.”
After that, she felt she could not be contained by her nationality, a fact which goes a long way to explain her peripatetic lifestyle since: “From then on I felt like a world citizen. I felt that responsibility does not end at borders: where I am born, the village, or the family. I cannot see boundaries.”