Bearing Witness ​Retreat schedule July 2nd – 5th 2019

You are invited to participate in a retreat to Bear Witness to Finnish Civil War Prison Camps. The retreat will take place from June 26th to 29th 2018, one hundred years after the Civil War. The whole week we will be lodged in Helsinki, the capital of Finland, which was taken over by the Red rebellion in January 1918. Our group will make visits to former prison camps in the Suomenlinna fortress island, the Dragsvik garrison in Tammisaari, Fellman Park and Hennala in Lahti, and Santahamina garrison in Helsinki.

The retreat will be interfaith and multinational in character, with a strong focus on the Zen Peacemakers’ Three Tenets: Not-Knowing, Bearing Witness, and Taking Action. During the retreat we will also reflect on the years of silence surrounding this tragedy. We will meet every morning in small council groups designed to create a safe place for people to share their inner experiences. The language of the retreat will be English, and translation will be offered whenever possible.

We will have two additional workshops with Roshi Frank De Waele before the retreat. The workshops will be held in Helsinki in June 30th and July 1st. The actual retreat program begins on July 2nd and ends in July 5th.

The schedule will be modified a bit for 2019, but this schedule for 2018 will give you some idea for what to expect. We will make a visit to the Santahamina garrison on the last day of the retreat in 2019, followed by picnic lunch and meditation outdoors in east Helsinki.


Tuesday June 26th 2018
7:45 Meeting at Kallio Church, Roshi Frank will give a talk on Zen Peacemakers, The Three Tenets, and Bearing Witness Retreats.
9:15 Walk in silence to the Main Market Square passing some of the civil war sites.
10:19 Ferry to Suomenlinna Island
11:00 Visit to Suomenlinna prison camp memorial.
12:00 – 13:00 Lunch at Suomenlinna (included in the fee)
13:15 Presentation by Sari Näre, author of “Helsinki Veressä / Helsinki in Blood”
14:30 Meditation and services
16:00 Walk back to the ferry in silence
16:31 Ferry back to the city
17:00 Walk to the Old Church Park (Vanha kirkkopuisto)
17:30 Service by the memorial dedicated to the German and White victims of the Finnish Civil War
18:00 Unstructured time for snacks or informal dinner (not included in the retreat fee)
19:00 – 21:00 Evening program at Annankulma (Annankatu 14D) with speaker Esad Landzo from Bosnia

Wednesday June 27th 2018
7:30 – 9:00 Morning Council circle, Ryhmäteatteri (Helsinginkatu 25)
9:00 – 9:30 Breakfast at Ryhmäteatteri (included in the fee)
9:30 Bus to Tammisaari
11:00 Arrival to Dragsvik Garrison at Tammisaari, which used to be a prison camp in 1918–1919.
11:00 Bearing Witness to the Dragsvik garrison.
12:30 Lunch at the garrison (included in the fee)
13:30 Meditation and services at the camp.
15:30 Service at the Memorial to the victims who perished at the camp.
16:30 Bus to Västenkvarn memorial.
17:00 Meditation and service at the Västenkvarn memorial for executed prisoners.
18:30 Bus back to Helsinki.
We will drop everyone off at Helsinginkatu 25.

Thursday June 28th 2018
7:30 – 9:00 Morning Council circle, Ryhmäteatteri, Helsinginkatu 25.
9:00 – 9:30 Breakfast (included in the fee)
9:30 Bus to Lahti
11:00 Visit to Fellman Park memorial. This site had an improvised concentration camp in 1918.
12:00 – 13:00 Lunch at Ravintola Lokki (included in the fee)
13:00 Walk in silence to Hennala, a former garrison and prison camp.
13:45 Introduction to Hennala Prison Camp by Seppo Toivonen.
14:45 Bearing Witness to Hennala
15:30 Walk to the small prayer room outside the main area, used as an execution site.
16:00 Meditation and service at the prayer room.
17:00 Bus back to Helsinki, drop off at Kamppi area, near Temppeliaukio Church.
18:30 Unstructured time for snacks or informal dinner (not included in the retreat fee)
19:30 – 21:00 Evening program (Fishbowl Council circle) at Temppeliaukio Church (Lutherinkatu 3)

Friday June 29th 2018
7:30 – 9:00 Morning Council circle, Ryhmäteatteri (Helsinginkatu 25)
9:00 Breakfast (included in the fee)
10:00 Walk in silence to the monument of Red victims in Helsinki.
11:00 Meditation and service at the monument.
13:15 Walk in silence to Deaconess Institute.
14:15 Tea and snacks (included in the fee) at Deaconess Institute (Alppikatu 2 F)
14:30 – 16:00 Day of Reflection meeting at Citizen’s Arena at Deaconess Institute.
16:15 – Ending Dinner (not included in the retreat fee)

Organizers: Mikko Ijäs and Maija Ijäs / Peacemakers Finland
Leader: Frank De Waele Roshi, Belgium
Local Spirit Holder: Lutheran priest Maika Vuori

Links for further interest
Suomenlinna prison camp in Helsinki
Hennala prison camp in Lahti
More about Esad Landzo
More about the Three Tenets of the Zen Peacemakers
More about the Way of the Council