Intervju med Yi-Wen Chen

"Violence and crimes should not be excused"

Mot väpnat våld i Sverige är en unikt event med ett fantastiskt program — och nu tar vi en titt på personen bakom konferensen. Hur kommer det sig att Yi-Wen Chen, en före detta student från Taiwan, anordnar en konferens om skjutningar i Sverige? Läs vidare för att lära känna henne och få svar!

Notera att frågorna och svaren är på engelska, då Yi-Wen är i processen att lära sig svenska.

Yi-Wen Chen

So, Yi-Wen, please tell us more about Bravetalk. What is the backstory of the concept and this conference?
– Firearm-related violence has been an increasingly important topic in Swedish politics during the past years. Unfortunately, this topic is often deeply connected to immigration, integration, and other societal issues. I see so much concern and sadly, hatred in the society due to violence and instability. Sweden has a great reputation on its exemplary social welfare which attracts many to come here and seek protection as well as better life chances. I came here as an international student to pursue my dream studies because I believe in the opportunities and possibilities that I have here, and I am certain that many newcomers believe in the same thing before they come here.

– However, reality sometimes turns out to be quite disappointing. It is evident that the root to many of the societal issues all comes down to poor immigration and integration policies. Sweden often praises its efforts to achieve a multicultural and anti-racist society, yet in reality many still struggle in a lot of ways due to their ethnicity which, can unfortunately, lead to societal issues like segregation and marginalization. Sadly, violence usually occurs in those marginalized areas that we nowadays call ‘ghettos’ and ‘no-go zones’ because of poverty and many other complex reasons.

Yi-Wen Chen

"We feel really sad seeing young people making wrong decisions because they feel like they don’t have the chance to succeed in life due to their ethnicity or where they live."

– Violence and crimes should not be excused and it is definitely wrong to engage in any form of criminality, such as gangs. We feel really sad seeing young people making wrong decisions because they feel like they don’t have the chance to succeed in life due to their ethnicity or where they live. Additionally, we don’t want to see more innocent people getting affected by violence since shootings are not only taking place in ‘ghettos’ anymore. All of these impressions and thoughts led me to want to lead a project like Bravetalk. A forum where “sensitive” issues such as for example how to decrease the gun violence situation in Sweden can be discussed amongst experts, practitioners, scholars and civil-society civil society actors. Soon after arriving in Sweden the first time I got to know Ingrid, the CEO of the company Piku. Our acquaintance eventually provided me with the possibility to make a reality of these project ideas that were in the back of my head.

But what do you see as the root of gang violence in Sweden? Where do these problems stem from?
– The roots of these issues are extremely complex, and I am not sure if I can give you the perfect answer. Our speakers will provide a wide variety of perspectives and explanations to help you gain a much more clear and broad understanding of the situation.

As an immigrant who’s lived here for a bit more than four years, it was definitely unexpected to associate Sweden with such severe problems like shootings and other kinds of crimes. Many people in these marginalized areas have been in Sweden much longer than I have and a lot of them were born here too, however, a huge number of them are not integrated in Swedish society which might lead to a lack of trust in the government and willingness to integrate in the society. It is undeniable that one must take the responsibility to integrate and respect the rule of law, however, the lack of support as well as poor immigration and integration policies can make this process much harder. Oftentimes, a young person is engaged in criminality either because of poverty, or because this person lacks the sense of belonging in the ‘mainstream’ society which can be a reason for the increase of violence.

 

Yi-Wen Chen

"As an immigrant who’s lived here for a bit more than four years, it was definitely unexpected to associate Sweden with such severe problems like shootings and other kinds of crimes."

– Researchers have shown us the importance of investing more resources in preventative measures. This will not only help create a safer society in the long term, it will also be more cost-efficient for the government. In conclusion, despite the fact that the reason for the increasing presence of violence in our society is a very complex topic, poor integration and poverty can be very important indicators.

It is obvious that you care deeply about these issues. Would you like to tell us a little more about yourself and your background?
– While growing up in Taiwan I was taught a lot about compassion for other people. I have always liked to help others and I hate seeing other people suffer. When I was 19 years old, I joined a few friends, including some local Tibetans to organize a summer camp for children suffering due to the Chinese government’s on-goin cultural genocied in Shangri-La, a Tibet region. A few months later I met Ingrid, she took note of my passion for politics and humanitarianism, and she encouraged me to apply for university in Sweden. I chose to study Peace & Conflict studies at Malmö University where I learnt all about the inherent complexity of a conflict, usually a result of the many actors and perspectives involved. I wanted to understand all aspects of a conflict. Later, I did an internship focusing on gun violence in El-Salvador where this is a huge problem, especially affecting the already disprivileged.

Yi-Wen Chen

"While working with this conference, I have met all these actors who have been given way too little credit for doing a very important job helping young people in marginalised areas stay on track. I would love to be able to help these people get more attention and more resources for their projects."

– So one of the aims of this conference is also to acknowledge those who work very hard to reduce violence at the grassroot level. One example is Sigrun Sigurdsson from Malmö Tigers Wrestling Team in Malmö who helps organise summer camps for disprivileged youth, both for training, but also to help the kids get a chance to get out of Malmö and just get to see places outside of their neighborhood and broaden their perspective.

So, about the conference. When will it take place, and what will happen there?
– The conference will take place both online and on-site in Malmö on the 3rd-4th of November. We have a lot of really interesting speakers both from Sweden and from abroad. Day one will have a strong focus on research by different scholars on gangs and crime. We will also have open space activities where people can get involved in deeper conversations with the speakers.

In the evening we are hosting a dinner, where people will get the opportunity to mingle, create discussions and perhaps, find other participants to collaborate with. Day two has a more practical focus, with breakout sessions. We have invited three locally based organisations from Malmö that will talk about how they have worked with young people in underprivileged neighborhoods in different ways to decrease the violence. Some of them through training courses and helping them into employment and other activities.

So, I am really looking forward to seeing all these people coming to Malmö to share and participate in the conference’s on-site activities!

 

Nu släpper vi Yi-Wen så att hon kan lägga sista handen vid konferensen, som närmar sig med stormsteg. Du har väl inte missat programmet, som också kommer att livesändas? Anmäl dig här för att delta på plats eller digitalt. 

Mot väpnat våld i Sverige närmar sig! Har du anmält dig ännu? Klicka nedan för att delta digitalt eller på plats.

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