“Victims’ Voices pioneers a victim-centric approach to P/CVE by empowering victims of terrorism to become effective messengers for peace”
The Victims’ Voices initiative was started in 2012 to allow victims of terrorism to share their unique experiences first-hand to help promote peace and delegitimize justifications for terrorist violence—pioneering a victim-centric approach to P/CVE.
The initiative—spearheaded by a victim of a suicide bomb attack in Jakarta, and implemented in Indonesia—aims to guide victims of terrorism through the process of becoming effective messengers for peace and against violent extremism through civil society organization partnerships that work together with vulnerable groups in society.
Through this initiative, a neutral platform has been created from which victims of terrorism can connect with and directly engage different target audiences across the country within a structured framework. This neutral platform is used to further facilitate direct interactions aimed at reconciliation between victims and former perpetrators of terrorist violence. In any and all of its activities, and at each process level, the primary considerations are the well-being and personal agency of the victims who choose to utilize the platform.
In the Victims’ Voices experience—through careful planning, incremental trust-building measures, and sensitivity to local dynamics—stories of the survival, perseverance and forgiveness of victims, in concert with other credible voices, have combined to form unique and impactful narratives that emphasize common human values, acceptance of differences and harmonious co-existence. These are the foundational elements making up a victim-centric approach to developing alternative narratives and counternarratives against violent extremism.
Creation of blueprint
A blueprint was created on how to set up structures to recruit, prepare and support victims who are willing and able to get involved in different forms of outreach against violent extremism. This could serve as a source of inspiration for other countries.
The project has now moved into a second phase: The institutionalisation of the Aliansi Indonesia Damai or Alliance for a Peaceful Indonesia (AIDA), and the expansion of its activities including outreach, support and empowerment for Indonesia’s victims community.
Publication: From Victims of Terrorism to Messengers for Peace
Drawing on the results of victims’ direct engagements with over 8,000 youths across Indonesia, the Victims’ Voices initiative shows that victims’ stories are most impactful when shared directly by victims, of their own agency and in their own words. The initiative also underscores the need for victims’ rights to be respected and the necessity of a neutral platform through which victims of terrorism can connect with and engage different target audiences to bring about demonstrable positive impacts.
This publication is aimed at enhancing the capacity of governments and other stakeholders seeking to increase support for victims of terrorism in general, and for those who are wiling and ready to become messengers for peace in particular.
Interviews with civil society actors
During the first few months of the implementation of the project, connections were made to foster cooperation with relevant civil society actors in Indonesia. A wide range of stakeholders (governmental, civil society, academic and religious actors) were interviewed to identify structures and tools for recruiting, preparing and supporting victims who are willing and able to get involved in different levels and forms of outreach against violent extremism in Indonesia.
The Alliance for a Peaceful Indonesia: free from extremist violence was established. Likewise, a comprehensive, up to date database was developed and is continuously updated to support the initiative. Work continued on the development of selection and training protocols as well as a media and communication strategy and the first pilot outreach activity was undertaken at the end of October 2013.
Presence UN Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review 2012
During the 3rd Annual UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy Review that took place in New York in 2012, Max shared his story and the purpose of the project with the gathered Member States.
The General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution renewing its unwavering committment to strengthening international cooperation to prevent and combat all forms of the scourge, and emphasizing the need to promote worldwide solidarity in support of the victims of terrorist attacks.
Victims’ Voices Today
The comprehensive report on this project, From Victims Of Terrorism To Messengers For Peace: A Strategic Approach, was jointly published by the ICCT and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2020, authored by ICCT Fellows and Victims’ Voices creators Max Boon and Sulastri Osman.
Drawing on the results of victims’ direct engagements with over 8,000 youths across Indonesia, the publication will provide a strategic framework for policy- and decision makers to explore and potentially help to put in place similar victim-centric support systems and initiatives in different jurisdictions and contexts.
This report provided valuable lessons for involving victims of terrorism in P/CVE-related activities in a systematic and sustainable manner; it details the lessons learned and the challenges that may be encountered in both developing and putting into practice such an initiative.
If you would like to contribute to Max’ work, you can make a donation to: Institute Clingendael IBAN NL77 RABO 0357 2179 50, BIC RABONL2U, mentioning “3163 Victims’ Voices” when making the transfer. Thank you in advance for your kind contribution.
On 2 December 2013, Max Boon appeared on the Dutch television programme “Een Vandaag”. The segment focused on Max’ story, his project and particularly the impact his work has had in some communities in Indonesia.
This project addresses the following topics:
Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism