Since 1997, ISFiT has arranged Dialogue Groups in connection to the festival. Students from different sides of a conflict meet on neutral ground in Norway. Here they will, through conversations and other methods, try to create a higher understanding for the counterpartys point of view. The Dialogue Groups is meant to create understanding and a wish for reconciliation through dialogue.
Azerbaijan and Armenia
The conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia revolves around the region Nagorno-Karabakh, which is geographically located in Azerbaijan, but where 99% of the population is Armenian. The region is internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan, but is governed by the independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. The region has been occupied by Armenia since 1993. The conflict involving the region started in 1988 and worsened in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union. In 1994, a ceasefire agreement between the two countries was established, but a final peace agreement has not yet been reached. The border between Armenia and Azerbaijan is completely closed, and the ceasefire is being breached on a regular basis. The conflict has resulted in hundreds of thousands of refugees on both sides, and none of them have been able to return yet.
The population of Burundi mainly consist of the two ethnical groups Hutus and Tutsis. The political power in Burundi has traditionally been with the Tutsis, and the Hutus did not achieve a democratic election until 1993. A Hutu president was elected, but was then killed shortly after the election. This triggered an enormous aggression where hundreds of thousands of both Hutus and Tutsis were killed. Then followed a civil war between the two ethnical groups, lasting from 1994 until 2000 when a peace agreement was established. In 2005, a new democratic election was held, and together with a new constitution, a formula for inter-ethnic power-sharing was established in 2005. In 2010, the president from 2005 was re-elected as the only candidate. The opposition boycotted the election, and now many people fear that a new civil war is about to break out.
From 1983 to 2009, a civil war between the two ethnical groups on the island caused significant hardships for the population, economy and environment of Sri Lanka. The war started with the Tamils, feeling supressed by the Sinhalese. For 25 years the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, also known as the Tamil Tigers, fought against the Sri Lankan Army, and in 2009 the government troops won a military victory. A satisfying political solution to the conflict has not yet been negotiated. According to the UN, 40 000 civilians were killed during the last months of the conflict. The UN also wants to facilitate an investigation of the ending phase of the war, with suspicions of war crimes committed by the government troops. The Sri Lankan authorities refuses to undertake such an investigation, and has therefore received criticism for not focusing more on reconciliation measures after the end of the war.
You can read more about the Dialogue Groups here!