Building partnerships to transform violence and oppression.

GREECE: The priest and the fisherman—a report from the CPT-Europe's Borderlands delegation

On Thursday morning our boat arrived on the island of Lesbos, where one can see can Turkey on the other side of the straits.

Papa Stratis

We drove up to the village of Kalloni (central Lesbos) to meet with Father Stratis, a Greek Orthodox priest who has been helping refugees for ten years and his assistant, George.  They arrive in the village soaking wet and exhausted, often having walked many hours.  Greek citizens face jail time if they pick up the migrants (similar to U.S. citizens at the border with Mexico).  If they know their way, it a ten-hour walk from the beach to Kalloni.  If they do not know the way, it may take days.  George told us the water and the walking usually destroys their shoes.  The balcony of Father Stratis’s church is filled with donations of clothes that he and three volunteers sort and process for handing out.

While they have sufficient resources right now for their ministry, their biggest struggle is with morale.  The townspeople often complain that people involved with their ministry are helping refugees when they should be focused on helping Greeks who have been hurt by the economic crisis.  The fascist Golden Dawn movement, while not strong on Lesbos generally, is toxically eating away at the minds of young people, making racism appear acceptable.  George told us some of the young people see the Golden Dawn violence against refugees as cool, like the violence of Hollywood movies.

We were deeply touched by the witness of Father Stratis and George.

Friday afternoon, we visited the memorial place in Thermi with some members of the “Welcome to Europe” Network.  Several migrants lost their lives on the sea just trying to reach the nearest European border they could see from Turkey.  Twenty-one Afghan migrants sank close by just a few days before Christmas of 2013.

Upcoming CPT Events

Title Start: End:
Colombia National Delegation Sat, 04/12/2014 Sat, 04/19/2014
Aboriginal Justice Delegation Fri, 05/02/2014 Mon, 05/12/2014
Colombia Delegation Sat, 05/17/2014 Sat, 05/31/2014
Palestine/Israel Delegation Wed, 05/21/2014 Wed, 06/04/2014
Iraqi Kurdistan Delegation Fri, 06/06/2014 Fri, 06/20/2014

Video Introduction to Christian Peacemaker Teams


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About CPT

Partnering with nonviolent movements around the world, CPT seeks to embody an inclusive, ecumenical and diverse community of God's love.  We believe we can transform war and occupation, our own lives, and the wider Christian world through:

  • the nonviolent power of God's truth
  • partnership with local peacemakers
  • bold action

CPT places teams at the invitation of local peacemaking communities that are confronting situations of lethal conflict.  These teams seek to follow God's Spirit as it works through local peacemakers who risk injury and death by waging nonviolent direct action to confront systems of violence and oppression. 

CPT understands violence to be rooted in systemic structures of oppression. We are committed to undoing oppressions, starting within our own lives and in the practices of our organization.

Featured CPT Partner

Ms. Taban is part of a 120-family community displaced from their village, less than an hour away, because of Iranian and Turkish bombing.

In 1991, Ms. Taban, a nurse, returned to her remote village after graduation. "I came home by foot, joining many people in a march. We walked half a day and reached our home, which was destroyed by Saddam in 1980s. There was no water, no electricity, and no roof. We rebuilt it with hands, tears and joy."

But in 2008, Ms. Taban was displaced again when the United States, the Iraqi government, and the Kurdistan Regional Government renewed efforts to help Turkey and Iran use bombs and rockets to evacuate Kurdish villages from the border areas.

Ms. Taban is strong in her steadfastness, but fatigue is wearing her beautiful face and her dreams of going home to the mountains are fading.

CPT's Work: CPT accompanies villages like Ms. Taban's, documenting their experience, and advocating with decision-makers for a cease to state-sponsored violence and bombing.