Our Work

CPT places violence-reduction teams in crisis situations and militarized areas around the world at the invitation of local peace and human rights workers. CPT embraces the vision of unarmed intervention waged by committed peacemakers ready to risk injury and death in bold attempts to transform lethal conflict through the nonviolent power of God’s truth and love.

 

Violence Reduction Projects

Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

a period presence since February 1999.  Team members help reduce violence directed at First Nations communities resisting industrial activity (i.e. logging, mining, fishing) in their territories without their consent.

Colombia

a continuing presence since February 2001. Through fasting, public prayer, and nonviolent action, team members support threatened communities, primarily in the Magdalena Medio region, working for a peaceful end to Colombia’s 50-year-old civil war.

Iraq

a continuing presence since October 2002. Team members accompanied the Iraqi people in the period leading up to the U.S.-led invasion, during the “shock and awe” bombing of Baghdad, and throughout the occupation.  Following the 2005 Baghdad kidnapping of four CPTers, in which full-time worker Tom Fox was killed, the team's focus shifted to the northern Kurdish region where members continue to expose abuses and support Iraqis committed to nonviolent resistance.

Palestine

a continuing presence in the Hebron District (West Bank) since June 1995. Team members stand with Palestinians and Israeli peace groups engaged in nonviolent opposition to Israeli military occupation, collective punishment, settler harassment, home demolitions and land confiscation.

Periodic Projects

CPT has sent peacemaker delegations and small teams on a seasonal or periodic basis to: Democratic Republic of Congo - supporting human rights workers and victims of violence in the world's deadliest conflict since WWII; US/Mexico Borderlands - addressing the violence of immigration policies which result in hundreds of migrant deaths in the desert each summer; Kenora, Ontario, Canada - supporting local groups confronting racist violence against Aboriginal people

Previous Work

CPT has maintained violence-reduction teams in:
• Gaza (1993) • Haiti (1993-1997) • Washington, DC (1994-1996) • Bosnia (1996) • Chechnya (1996) • Richmond, VA (1997-1999) • Chiapas, Mexico (1998-2001) • Pierre, South Dakota (1999-2000) • Esgenoôpetitj First Nation [Burnt Church, NB] (2000-2002) • Vieques, Puerto Rico (2000-2003) • Indian Brook, NS (2001) • Oneida, NY (2002-2003) • Asubpeeschoseewagong First Nation [Grassy Narrows, ON] (2002-2005)  • Bear Butte, SD (2006)

Colombia Project

About CPT Colombia

We accompany community processes and grassroots organizations who embody nonviolent resistance as a tool of defense against the violent framework that dominates politics, economics, and culture.

The Colombian people continue to suffer a widespread threat of violence from legal and illegal armed actors after more than 60 years of internal conflict and civil war. Since the mid-50s, social movements that challenge the power structures have been specifically targeted and suppressed by the government.

Our team travels regularly to be present with small farming and mining communities in the rural areas of the Magdalena Medio region, caught in the crossfires of decades of war and more recently, hyper-development. In the city of Barrancabermeja, we also partner with local human rights organizations in their efforts to highlight the effects of a conflict that has permeated the urban social structures through organized crime, micro-trafficking and displacement from rural areas.

Our call to peacemaking means living, working, and worshiping in community, drawing from a variety of spiritual traditions that ground us in a common goal for peace.

Latest Update: 
Most recent CPTnet story: 

COLOMBIA: Five-thousand small-scale farmers arrive in Aguachica




On Tuesday, 6 May 2014, a thousand riot police and military personnel arrived in the small town of Norian, just north of Aguachica, and surrounded five thousand small-scale farmers who had begun to gather there since 1 May.  This display of force and the restriction of movement has been a part of the government’s strategy to clamp down on the growing Agrarian Strike.

Earlier on Wednesday, police detained 300 farmers traveling to Medellin on the pretext that they would be a threat to the residents of Medellin, since the public forces did not have enough personnel.

We are curating stories of the Agrarian Strike here

COLOMBIA URGENT ACTION: Send e-mail to U.S. State Dept this week urging suspension of aid to Colombian military


Take Action: Send a message to the State Department



In the coming week, the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) will be issuing a report about the “False Positive” murders committed by the Colombian military entitled “The Rise and Fall of ‘False Positive’ Killings in Colombia.” (“False positives” were executions of civilians by troops who then claimed the victims were guerrillas killed in combat.)  The research in the report shows that of the Colombian School of the Americas/WHINSEC instructors and graduates from 2001 to 2003 for which information was available, twelve of them 48% had either been charged with a serious crime or commanded units whose members had reportedly committed multiple extrajudicial killings.  John Lindsay Poland, author of the report, will be meeting with State Department Representatives this week.

Accordingly, FOR, SOAWatch, and other NGOs think it is important at this time for immediate e-mail pressure on the State Department to end assistance to the Colombian military.  In February, General Jaime Lasprilla Villamizar was appointed commander of the Colombian Army.  A former instructor at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly known as the School of the Americas) General Lasprilla previously commanded Task Force Omega, which received tens of millions of dollars in U.S. training, supplies and equipment, under Washington’s ill-conceived drug war and “war on terror.”  In 2006-2007, Lasprilla directed the Ninth Brigade in Colombia’s Huila Department, which was responsible for at least seventy-five killings of civilians under his command.  Lasprilla’s appointment shows that Colombia is continuing its culture of impunity regarding military human rights abuses.

COLOMBIA: Holy Week delegation transforms gate of oppression at Las Pavas

On 16 April 2014 our twelve-person delegation traveled by van, motorized canoe, and foot to the community of Las Pavas.

We arrived at a community in mourning for the death of Rogelio Campos Gonzales.  Also known as “Pipio,” he died on 13 April, after suffering a heart attack.  Those living on the farm struggle with the question, “if the gate [that the palm oil company Aportes San Isidro had installed across the one road leading into Las Pavas to access difficult] did not exist, would it have been possible to avoid this tragedy?”

Even during this difficult time for the community, they received us with love and told and sang their stories.  While we listened, it was difficult to contain our emotions.

The gate for the people of Las Pavas represents oppression, death, isolation, discrimination, humiliation, and prison.  One of the purposes of our trip was to participate in a public action to redefine the gate that the security guards use to control movement from a symbol of oppression into a symbol of hope, peace, and freedom.

 

 

COLOMBIA: The People’s Land Summit, March’s March, and an Ultimatum

 

CAHUCOPANA, a grass-roots campesino organization that formed to defend the land and human rights of the campesinos in north-east Antioquia, has learnt that sometimes you have to leave your home to defend it. CAHUCOPANA asked CPT’s Colombia team to accompany dozens of buses from the department of Antioquia to join about thirty thousand demonstrators in a march in Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, on 17 March 2014.

The march was planned to conclude and compliment the People’s Land Summit, also held in Bogotá.  The Summit itself, in which CAHUCOPANA also participated, was in response to the national government’s failure to live up to the commitments it had made as part of negotiations to end a nation-wide general strike in August of 2013. After having first met with and consulting their constituencies, leaders of various social movements and organizations got together for a Summit in Bogotá to decide how they could collectively best organize an appropriate response.

Participants included indigenous, Afro-descendant, campesino, artisanal miner federations, students, and others.  Although the government did consult with agro-industry and other huge stakeholders, it failed to honour its commitment to consult with or address the concerns of those who organized and took part in last year’s general strike. The Summit, therefore, came up with its own criteria and blueprint for an inclusive Colombian agrarian policy.  After the Summit, they presented the government with that blueprint and an ultimatum: comply with our demands by the first week of May, or face the consequences of another paralysing nation-wide civil strike.

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 10, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 10, 2014

Pray for the safety of Sor María Sampayo, a leader of the Organización Femenina Popular (OFP) in Colombia, who received a threatening phone call this week from someone who identified himself as Alirio Torresa, commander of the neo-paramilitary group Los Urabeños.  The members of the OFP are long-time partners of CPT’s Colombia team.


Epixel* for 10 April 2014



Save us, we beseech you, O LORD! O LORD, we
beseech you, give us success! Psalm 118:25

*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing
with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary
readings.
event_view: 

There aren't any events planned in this region at this time.

Photo Albums

Iraqi Kurdistan Project

About CPT Iraqi Kurdistan

CPT Iraqi Kurdistan partners with and accompanies mountain village and shepherd communities as they struggle for a peaceful existence, resisting displacement and destruction caused by Turkish and Iranian cross-border military operations. CPT documents and reports on the effects of the attacks on the civilian population, calls Kurdish and international attention to them, and advocates for an end of the attacks.

CPT amplifies voices of communities and individuals in their struggle for a violence- and oppression-free society and political sphere. We partner with Kurdish and international organizations, journalists and civil society activists. We work to raise awareness within local and international communities about the human rights issues the inhabitants of Iraqi Kurdistan face, and to tell stories of the non-violence movement in Iraq’s Kurdish north.

CPT has had a presence in Iraqi Kurdistan since 2006 following a four year presence in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq. Past work focused on the security of the Iraqi people and their struggle for peace in the midst of war and ongoing occupation.

[READ MORE]

 

Through the Looking Glass

More videos from Iraq Kurdistan

Latest Update: 

Nonviolence workshop participants: "We want to learn more"

In the spring and summer months of 2013, CPT’s Iraqi Kurdistan (IK) team conducted twelve workshops on nonviolence.  In cooperation with the Suleimani Directorate of Education, the team presented this interactive workshop in five high schools to over 180 female and male students and teachers. It then led the workshop in places including the Culture Café and Café 11 in Suleimani, Amez Center for Women in Halabja, the town of Qaladze and village of Daraban.  

The IK Team wrote a ten-page report summarizing participant evaluations of the workshop, including graphs and photos. 

Report on Women's Rights in Iraqi Kurdistan

This report of CPT Iraqi Kurdistan summarizes views of fellow activists in the field of women’s rights in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Kurdish Activists’ Observations of Women’s Rights in Iraqi Kurdistan between March 2012 and March 2013 and their hopes for the future traces positive developments and areas where change is needed to secure the safety and equality of women in Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Report: "Disrupted Lives: the effects of cross-border attacks"

Disrupted Lives: the effects of cross-border attacks by Turkey and Iran on Kurdish villages, documents the impact of cross-border attacks in northeastern Iraqi Kurdistan’s Pshdar district. The attacks have caused civilian injuries and deaths, destruction of homes, livestock and crops, and contamination of land, water, and air. The report also shows how ongoing military operations threaten the very existence of the villages and jeopardize an important part of Kurdish national identity. Data for the report comes from interviews and observations conducted by Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), from local Kurdish media sources, and from three reports released in 2011.  

Read the Full Report: English | Kurdish

CPT Iraqi Kurdistan Blog

Reports on events and profiles of local peacemakers....   [MORE]

Profiles of Courage

 

Mahmud, Kani Spi
Most recent CPTnet story: 

IRAQI KURDISTAN ACTION: Support WADI’S relief efforts among the displaced refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan

CPT’s Iraqi Kurdistan team has partnered with WADI on several occasions in its work to end violence against women, including honor killings and female genital mutilation.  More information about its programs is available here.  WADI, because of the overwhelming humanitarian catastrophe currently unfolding in Iraqi-Kurdistan is currently focusing on helping refugees, and we encourage our constituents to support its efforts.  Below is its appeal:


Please donate to the refugees in Kurdish Northern Iraq!

This time it is mainly Yazidis and Christians.  Hundreds of thousands of them are currently seeking refuge in the Iraqi Kurdish Region.  They narrowly escaped the butchers from the Islamic State, and the horror they must have gone through can still be read in their faces.

After all the Syrian refugees (approximately 225,000) and then the wave of IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons), this new wave of refugees is an immense challenge for the region which has a population of about five million and is now accommodating over a million refugees.

Local people are willing to help and share, but the supply situation is very tense.  With temperatures rising to almost 50 degrees Celsius/ 122 degrees Fahrenheit, there is a lack of the most basic supplies, especially food, medicine, clothes, tents, and lodging.  The municipal infrastructure is overloaded, and the regional government and UN Refugee Agency are simply overwhelmed by the sheer number of refugees.

WADI, in cooperation with several local partners and activists, is providing relief on the ground.  Each donation will directly benefit the people in distress.


 

IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWS ACTION: "The last thing Mirdo Ali told me before his phone battery died"--Conversations with Yazidis in the Shangal/Sinjar Mountains

[Note: Please share widely with friends on e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks.  Organizations accepting donations for the humanitarian crisis in Iraqi Kurdistan include Mennonite Central CommitteeSave the Children, and Unicef.]

A friend of the CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team, Rezhiar Fakhir, had a chance to speak on the phone directly with several people who escaped from the city of Shangal to the mountain area out of IS's control.  We believe his conversation with the on the mountain is very important and would like to share a transcript of the phone interview with our friend's comments which he  originally published on his blog. 

Risho Khwdeda and his son Alias Risho told me some really tragic stories about what ISIS is doing to the Ezidian people. 

 “At first, they bombed our temples, “said Alias.  They exploded two temples called Mahawia and Saida Zainab.  ISIS also tried to reach Sharfadin temple in order to destroy that too.

Alaias said, “People have left Shangal.  They are heading towards the Shangal Mountains.  They cannot come back because ISIS controls the area in and around the mountain.  Children are dying and they cannot take them to the cemetery.  They have to bury their children under stones.”

I was later able to talk to another member of the Ezidean community that has fled Shangal.  Bdal Mirdo Ali has also taken refuge in the mountains.

I called Badal Mirdo Ali and I asked him to tell me about their situation in the mountains.  Mirdo Ali said:  “The situation is really bad.  Lots of children have died.  We are in the desert; it is hot and we don’t have any place here to stay in or to seek shelter away from the sun.”

Badal Mirdo said, “There are nearly 20, 000 refugees in the Shangal Mountains.  Some have tried to go down the mountain to bring back food and clothing but ISIS arrested them.  They killed the men and took their women.  They have also tried to capture the young men.”

“I was there when ISIS arrested some people.  They killed the husbands and took the wives along with the young guys.  Three of my brothers and their wives were arrested by ISIS.  I do not have any news about them.  We do not have enough food and water and the situation is rapidly deteriorating.  If we stay here we will all die.”

“We can’t go down because ISIS controls all the areas around the mountain.  We are very scared of ISIS.  If someone does not come to help us, we will die here.  Already lots of children and women have died here and we hope more people do not die.  If we stay here under these conditions any longer, it won’t be good for us.  ISIS is near us.  We can feel and hear them.  We can see them.”

The last thing Mirdo Ali told me before his phone battery died: “I hope people hear my voice.  Thank you.”

  
  

IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWS ACTION: Churches in Iraqi Kurdistan filled to overflowing with refugees

CPTnet
9 August 2014
IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWS ACTION: Churches in Iraqi Kurdistan filled to overflowing with refugees

 
 Monastery in Suleimani

CPT’s Iraqi Kurdistan team spent all day yesterday at a monastery in Suleimani that has taken in sixty-five Christians from Qaraqosh who fled Islamic State militants with nothing but the clothes on their backs.  CPTers heard today that the monastery is expecting sixty more refugees to arrive tomorrow.  Below is a link to a CNN story about Christians filling St. Joseph’s Cathedral, the largest church in Suleimani. 

ACTION: Those of you with Facebook accounts, please post this on your pages, but don’t stop there.  PLEASE ASK 10-20 OF YOUR FRIENDS TO POST this news item on their pages and to ask 10-20 of their friends to post this story, in order to alert people to the humanitarian disaster looming in Iraqi Kurdistan.  Please share via e-mail, Twitter, or other social media accounts as well.

CNN Video: Iraqi Christians at St. Joseph's Church in Suleimani 

IRAQI KURDISTAN URGENT ACTION: Alert your networks to the humanitarian catastrophe facing Iraqi minorities

[Note: The Iraq team has spent all of today in a church with sixty-five Christian refugees from Qaraqosh, who fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs.  One man walked thirteen miles in his pajamas and slippers.  All churches in Suleimani are packed with refugees.  The UK government has ordered its citizens to leave Erbil.  The situation on the ground is changing by the hour, and the Iraqi Kurdistan team will attempt to provide a nonviolent perspective on what they see.  Check its Facebook page for updates.]

 
Refugees at the Erbil checkpoint

The humanitarian crisis unfolding in Iraqi Kurdistan and has reached catastrophic proportions.  Tens of thousands of Yazidi people (a religious minority in Iraq) are trapped by ISIS, which refers to itself as the, “the Islamic State” (IS) forces in the Sinjar Mountains without food or water.  According to reports, seventy children have died so far of heat and dehydration.  Hundreds more are likely to die in the coming days.  An estimated 100,000 Iraqis—Christians, Shabak, Yazidi, and other minorities—have fled their homes.  They are attempting to enter the area of northern Iraq controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), a region already stretched beyond capacity with more than one million internally displaced persons from the conflict with IS and refugees from Syria.  Those who cannot leave their homes risk forced conversion, kidnapping, rape, torture, and gruesome death. 

IRAQI KURDISTAN ANALYSIS: Questions about the Islamic State in Iraq, aka ISIS, IS, DAASH

[Note: This release has been adapted for CPTnet.  The original, more comprehensive piece is available on Gish’s blog.]




CPT has been monitoring the checkpoint into the KRG
where tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians, Yazidi,
Turkmen, Shabak and Shia have been fleeing ISIS advances.

Many analysts of the current situation in Iraq had predicted that the Islamic State of Iraq and SHAM (ISIS), renamed the “Islamic State” (IS) a month ago by the group (and also called “DAASH” by the Kurds in the KRG) would make a major offensive on Baghdad before the end of Ramadan.

Jessica Lewis, a former American military intelligence officer with several years of service in Iraq, describes IS as capable of both guerilla style warfare and conventional warfare, and predicts it will attack soon, first the bases around the city and important government buildings.

The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S.-based think tank, which has been analyzing IS activity in Iraq, reports that the coordinated suicide attacks conducted around Baghdad in predominantly Shia areas on 19 July, demonstrate that ISIS has infiltrated highly coordinated sleeper cells into the city. Their analysts predict that the coming attack will likely be in the form of guerrilla and terrorist offensive, rather than a huge conventional military assault. It would be intent on instilling chaos and fear and keeping the Iraqi government focused on defending the capital rather than mounting an offensive to retake Mosul and other captured territory.

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Title Start: End:
Iraqi Kurdistan Delegation Fri, 08/28/2015 Thu, 09/10/2015

About CPT Iraqi Kurdistan

Jauary 2009 - Present

Human Rights reporting and relationship building - The team:

  • works toward accompanying displaced persons home by living in conflicted border regions
  • documents human rights violations against civilian populations
  • shares reports with the United Nations, human rights organizations, media, and governments
  • Amplifies voices of Kurds calling for a peaceful solution to the Turkish-PKK conflict

[READ MORE]

 

October 2008 - January 2009

Exploration and Advocacy - The team:

  • travels to villages being bombed by Turkey, US and Iran along northern border
  • explores possibilities for accompaniment work
  • advocates for the rights of those displaced
  • meets government officials and organizations and builds relationships
  • explores "disputed areas", Kirkuk and Makhmour
  • serves as election observers in Khanikeen during the provincial elections

 

November 2006 - Summer 2008: Kurdistan

Peacebuilding - CPT continues to work for the building of a nonviolent society in Iraq. In Kurdistan CPT focuses on:

  • detainees, meeting with Kurdish parliamentarians, lawyers, human rights groups
  • internally displaced persons, meeting with IDPs, local service providers and government officials
  • nonviolence training, talking with interested Kurdish groups and following-up with those already trained
  • work in Iraq continues to be risky, as it is for all Iraqi citizens and soldiers in the region

 

April - October 2006

Consultation, Evaluation, Exploration - after an evaluation of the past program work in the wake of the hostage crisis, Iraqi human rights groups strongly support CPT staying in the country to continue its violence reduction work. CPT explores work in other regions of Iraq and in November the team formally moves from Baghdad to Kurdistan at the request of Iraqi partner organizations. Iraqi partners in central and southern Iraq are no longer safe if seen with foreigners.

 

November 2005 - March 2006

Hostage Situation - four CPTers are abducted in late November. The crisis ends in March with the murder of CPTer Tom Fox followed by the freeing of the remaining three CPTers in a military operation.

 

January - November 2005

Persisting Occupation - though travel remains treacherous and insurgent attacks continued on a daily basis, team members venture forth in response to urging from Iraqi human rights workers in Karbala. CPT’s persevering presence and establishment of trusting relationships help establish a partnership with Iraqis committed to forming a local Peacemaker Team.

 

October - December 2004

Continuing Occupation - a rash of kidnapping foreign aid workers compel the team to severely curtail its size and visibility. Iraqi partners, while acknowledging the potential danger CPT’s presence posed to them, encourage the team to remain in Baghdad.

 

June 2003 - September 2004

Ongoing Occupation - responding to persistent reports from families of Iraqi detainees, CPTers initiate efforts to:

  • document abuse of detainees by Coalition forces
  • assist Iraqis in gaining access to loved ones in detention
  • launch the Adopt-a-Detainee Campaign asking churches to advocate on behalf of Iraqi detainees
  • support a variety of new and old Iraqi human rights groups which suddenly found themselves with space and freedom to operate

 

April/May 2003

Aftermath of the Bombing - team members travel and work to:

  • draw attention to the huge and under-reported problem of unexploded ordnance;
  • raise an alternative perspective on the invasion based on interviews with Iraqi friends.

 

March/April 2003

Shock & Awe - CPTers stay in Baghdad in order to:

  • stand alongside Iraqi families
  • provide an alternative voice to the reporters “embedded” with Coalition forces
  • use their bodies to protect critical civilian infra-structure such as water treatment facilities, electrical plants, and hospitals.

 

October 2002

Stop the War - the team and successive delegations seek to:

  • support the UN Weapons Inspection Program as an alternative to war
  • expose the injustice and deaths from the US-led economic sanctions
  • put a human face on Iraq, helping people in the U.S. understand that Saddam Hussein was not the only person living in Iraq

Current Work - Kurdish North

CPT in the Kurdish North

After living for 4 years in Baghdad among people who bore the impact of the US invasion and the chaos that ensued, the Iraq team has now become neighbors with the Kurds, the very people who, indeed, greeted the occupation forces with flowers in 2003. Now, some years later, the brutal cyclone of violence in Iraq is leaving the Kurds in yet another turbulent situation, at the hands of those who they called "liberators".

 

Brief historical context

The Kurds have a long history of oppression and uprising. They've historically been one of the most marginalized ethnic groups in the region. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, lines were drawn through the Kurdish area dividing its population of 40 million between Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey. Kurdish identity is suppressed in these countries to this day. However, for the moment in Iraq, the Kurds have significant representation in parliament, one of four seats in the presidency, and the right to their language.

In Iraq, the Baath regime in the 1980's responded to Kurdish uprisings with the genocidal Anfal campaign in which nearly 200,000 Kurds were slaughtered and 5,000 of their villages wiped out. Saddam Hussein also forcibly changed the demographic of Iraqi Kurdish cities like Kirkuk, Makhmour, and Khanikeen, displacing many. There was a Kurdish uprising during the 1991 Gulf War and this was brutally suppressed by Saddam. Then the US and UK forces imposed a "no-fly" zone on the Kurdish north in order to protect the Kurds. The north still lived under economic sanctions imposed by Saddam while the rest of Iraq was suffering under the UN-imposed sanctions on the rest of Iraq. In the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when Turkey would not allow the US to launch its invasion from its territory, the Iraqi Kurds offered the way in, actually forming the front line.

 

Current political dynamics

Today, due to the fear of losing control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk (now that the majority population is again Kurdish), it seems to Kurds that the central Iraqi government wishes to tighten its grip on the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government area (KRG). The policy of the US is to support a strong central government. Turkey, Iran and Syria all fear that a growing Kurdish autonomy in Iraq will inspire their own countries' Kurdish populations (20-25 million in Turkey alone). Article 140 of the new Iraqi constitution states that people displaced under the Baath regime should be helped to return to their places of origin and a census should be taken, followed by a referendum to determine to which governorate a given city should belong. Such a referendum, which was supposed to take place by December 31st, 2007, would clearly induct Kirkuk and other "disputed areas" into the KRG, thereby strengthening this semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Yet the Iraqi parliament approved legislation that, following the January 2009 provincial elections, divided power in the provincial council and leadership posts as follows: 32% to Kurds, 32% to Arabs, 32% to Turkmen and 4% to Christians, even though 70% of the city is now Kurdish.[1] In addition, approximately 100,000 Kurds were disenfranchised during the provincial election on other "disputed areas" (80,000 in Makhmour, 16,000 in Khanikeen, and 5,000 in Tuz. CPTers served as election observers.) Tension is building around this issue and Kirkuk has become one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq due to ethnically/religiously-motivated violence.

Kurds are also fearful because of developments in the northern city of Mosul. Mosul is now considered THE most dangerous city in Iraq with an average of one car bomb per day and 10 incidents of violence per day, mostly against the US and Iraqi armies. Al Qaeda is reorganizing in Mosul and Fallujah under the name "Islamic State of Iraq". There are former Baath Party members operating in Mosul who support Islamic State of Iraq. The Baathist al-Hadba list won 19 out of 37 seats in the provincial election and proceeded to distribute all governmental posts to its own members. 12 seats went to the Kurdish list. Al-Hadba has also requested that Baghdad send the Iraqi army into Mosul to replace the Kurdish military (peshmerga) which claims responsibility for security in the KRG and the Kurdish part of Mosul and other cities in the "disputed areas."

 

A hidden war

Iraqi Kurdistan is surrounded on all sides by hostility. It is divided in four by crosshairs, at the center of which is the Northern Iraqi border where a hidden war continues in the mountains. Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK) from Turkey and their Iranian associate, Party for Free Life (PJAK), both on the US and EU terrorist list and in armed conflict with their respective governments, use Iraq's border as a haven for their operations. This war has raged for over two decades, killing nearly 40,000, displacing over a million Kurdish civilians in Southeast Turkey[2] and thousands more inside Iraq.[3] In late 2007 Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan met in Washington with President Bush and an agreement was made to collaborate in renewed attempts to eliminate the PKK presence in Iraq.[4] The military incursions would be based on US military intelligence. Iran's cross-border shelling, which has been intermittent since 1996, picked up intensity in early 2008 in alleged coordination with Turkey's attacks. Shelling typically follows sightings of Turkish surveillance planes over Iraq. 

Although political agreements have been made between Turkey and Iraq to limit media attention, the impact these incursions are having on civilian populations can be seen.  CPTers have traveled along the entire northern border interviewing internally displaced persons (IDPs) and exploring possibilities for a project to accompany people who are returning to villages from which they fled. The team has kept regular contact with the United Nations and local Kurdish NGOs that have assisted these IDPs. In some areas they've been able to visit the remains of Muslim and Christian villages destroyed by the Turkish bombing and talk to villagers who still live there or come and go to care for crops or animals under the threat of further random attacks. They interviewed a 27-year old woman who lost her leg, families of persons who were killed in these bombings by Turkish military, and people whose family were taken from their villages and allegedly tortured by Turkish soldiers. Testimonies of villagers and government officials have confirmed the destruction of civilian infrastructure such as homes, schools, mosques, churches, and hospitals. Turkish and (and also Iranian) bombing has killed an extensive amount of sheep and cows and scorched villagers' agriculture. The Turkish military has bombed bridges and planted land mines, cutting people off from harvesting their crops. Bombing continues in areas still inhabited and is audible from some areas where IDPs now live. CPTers have also seen 12 of the numerous Turkish military bases positioned well within Iraqi territory. According to villagers and Iraqi Kurdish security officials, Turkish military at these bases watch their movements, set up checkpoints, strike during the time of planting and harvesting or anytime they observe displaced villagers returning to their homes, and burn agricultural fields for the purpose of "visibility." Locals experience the Turkish presence as an oppressive occupation.

Based on what CPT and other human rights organizations such as Kurdish Human Rights Project and Human Rights Watch have witnessed and documented, the Turkish and Iranian militaries could be held responsible for violating rules of armed conflict laid out in Protocol 1 Additional to the Geneva Conventions of August 1949, relating to the Protection of Victims of International armed conflicts.[5] (articles 35, 48, 51, 52, 54, 57)

Turkey also fails to comply with its obligations as a member of the Council of Europe and a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights. It would then follow that the United States is complicit in violations of international law by a foreign military in a country it occupies. Of course, Turkey's incursions are not taking place without  the consent of the Iraqi central government. The US, Turkey and Iraq have formed a joint commission to solve "the PKK problem." The commission meets in Erbil, the capital city of the KRG, which apparently advocates little on behalf of its displaced citizenry.  Iraq has, however, as of May 2009, officially condemned Iran's incursions and attacks on the KRG.

The PKK are also responsible for crimes against humanity. They have carried out acts of terrorism against civilians. Refugees CPT has interviewed at Makhmour camp, who fled Turkey because of their relation to alleged PKK members, own that they once purported faith in armed revolution, but that now they, and the PKK leadership, are calling for a peaceful solution to the conflict. It is worth mentioning that, as of June 2009, the PKK continues attempts to maintain a unilateral ceasefire and is calling on the Turkish government to engage in dialogue. That is something that all peace-advocating organizations should encourage and uphold because there is no military solution to this conflict.    

 

The CPT Iraq Team's current work

The CPT team is currently focusing on the IDPs of the Pshdar district in the Sulamaniya governorate. The first steps in the process of helping these people return to their villages will not be physical. They will be in form of recording their stories, the condition of their lives as IDPs and documenting violations of their human rights. As CPT provides independent verification for the international community, UN, and governments as to the impact of these incursions on civilians, something which at this point is almost completely lacking, we are building relationships and working to spread awareness. Although local villagers still do return to their homes even now despite bombs and mortar shells, they do not wish to return with their families to stay unless they have some guarantee they are not walking into a bloodbath. At the same time they express clearly that their lives as IDPs are not sustainable and they await any opportunity to return home.

On a larger scale, CPT has observed a dramatic change in the Kurdish population from unapologetic support for the U.S. military presence in Iraq to anger at the way in which the United States has treated one of its most loyal allies in the Middle East. Kurdish people, who have experienced the Anfal campaign under the Saddam Hussein regime, who were bombed in their villages, are now being bombed in their villages by Turkey and Iran with U.S. support in the form of permission and military intelligence.  CPT, therefore, joins its voice with its Kurdish partners to call for dialogue between all parties involved. We call for a peaceful solution. There is no military solution.  


[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/23/world/middleeast/23iraq.html

[2]  U.S. Committee for Refugees (USCR), 2001, World Refugee Survey 2001: Turkey

[3] Yildiz, Kerim, The Kurds in Iraq, Revised Edition, Pluto, London, 2007, p81.

 

[4] Kurdish Human rights Project, A Fact-finding Mission in Kuristan, Iraq: Gaps in the Human Rights Infrastructure, July 2008, p.78

NPR.org, November 5, 2007

[5] http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/93.htm

Human Rights Reports

CPT Report: Kurdish Activists’ Observations of Women’s Rights
"Kurdish Activists’ Observations of Women’s Rights in Iraqi Kurdistan between March 2012 and March 2013 and their hopes for the future" traces positive developments and areas where change is needed to secure the safety and equality of women in Iraqi Kurdistan. While women's rights activism is growing and gaining public recognition in Iraqi Kurdistan, problems such as discrimination in the medical and legal systems, honor killings and female genital mutilation remain. Some issues, including domestic violence and court bias, have been addressed by legislation, but not acted on. Women’s oppression results in, among other things, suicides or attempted suicide by about 300 women each year.
English | Kurdish

CPT Report: "Disrupted Lives: the effects of cross-border attacks"
Disrupted Lives: the effects of cross-border attacks by Turkey and Iran on Kurdish villages, documents the impact of cross-border attacks in northeastern Iraqi Kurdistan’s Pshdar district. The attacks have caused civilian injuries and deaths, destruction of homes, livestock and crops, and contamination of land, water, and air. The report also shows how ongoing military operations threaten the very existence of the villages and jeopardize an important part of Kurdish national identity. Data for the report comes from interviews and observations conducted by Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), from local Kurdish media sources, and from three reports released in 2011.
Read the Full Report: English | Kurdish

CPT Report: Cross Border Bombings (March 2010)
"Where there is a promise, there is tragedy: cross-border bombings and shellings of villages in the Kurdish region of Iraq by the nations of Turkey and Iran." This report details the destruction of northern Iraqi village life by Turkish and Iranian attacks over the past two years. Written because regional and world powers, rebel groups and Kurdish Regional Government have dismissed the villagers—mostly shepherds and farmers—their lives, their futures, their lands, their children, as irrelevant to the 'larger' agendas of the parties involved.

CPT Report: Iraq after the Occupation (August 2010)
"Iraq after the Occupation: Iraqis speak about the state of their country as the US military withdraws." This report was written after a number of interviews with Iraqis about how they see the future for their country as the US withdraws. Their diverse expressed opinions show that the truth is much more complex than the US narrative seeks to present. The contribution of the “surge” to a reduction in violence in Iraq is questionable. Opinions on the reliability of the Iraqi security forces, although not entirely negative, vary widely. Iraq faces a highly uncertain future, perhaps becoming a success story, but perhaps experiencing more bloodshed. The US should think creatively about ways to support the people of Iraq as they rebuild their country.

CPT Report: Khanaqin Election Observation 2009
Four members of CPT observed the election process in Khanaqin, an area in the northeast of Diyala Province. While the procedures in place at the polling locations appeared to be sound, the overall process was nevertheless significantly flawed due to the manner in which the IHEC promulgated and implemented its own internal rules for the registration of voters; thousands were denied their voting rights on this basis in Tuz, 16,000 in Khanaqin, and upwards of 80,000 in Makhmour.

Turkish Attacks on Kurdistan, Iraq 2007/8: Background, Motives and Human Rights Impact
The paper refers to recent KHRP research in the region showing that Turkey’s operations have been in gross violation of the Geneva conventions, causing extensive harm to civilian life and property in parts of northern Iraq with little actual impact on the capabilities of the PKK. 

A Fact-Finding Mission in Kurdistan, Iraq: Gaps in the Human Rights Infrastructure
The report explains the historical and political context of the current human rights situation in Kurdistan, Iraq, and goes on to explore this situation with special reference to women’s rights, minority rights, freedom of expression, and the rights of prisoners and other detainees. Further sections are dedicated to the human rights situation in Kirkuk and other ‘disputed areas’, and the impact of the military incursions into Kurdistan, Iraq, by neighbouring countries (see p.75).

Central Iraqi Government's report on the impact of the Turkish/Iranian incursions
In March of 2008 The Iraqi council of representatives sent a fact-finding committee to study the Impact of Turkish and Iranian military incursion into Northern Iraq and publish this report.

Photo Albums

Sattar Hatem Hassan (1960-2011)

 

It was May of 2003. Iraq was in chaos. The CPT Iraq Team was surveying people on the streets, the public squares and the university in an effort to understand the national mood in the weeks following the U.S.-led invasion.

Sattar Hatem Hassan (1960-2011)

Lisa Martens and Rick Polhamus were attempting to explain the survey to a large group of Iraqis when someone asked a question they couldn’t answer with their limited Arabic.

That’s when Sattar appeared. Tall and lanky, bearing himself like a diplomat and distinguished by an unusual presence of humility, Sattar offered his help as an impromptu translator.

“He was very interested in what we were doing and why we were there,” recalled Polhamus. “There was something about Sattar that made us feel like he could be trusted.” 

Sattar Hatem Hassan, CPT Iraq’s beloved translator, died in Amman, Jordan on October 2, 20011 of heart failure. He had just turned 51.

“Sattar was so much more than a translator,” team member Stewart Vriesinga remembered. “He shared our vision and helped us become what we wanted to be. He was reflective and quiet, a very deep listener. When he did speak it was always heart-felt and well-considered. He opened our eyes to our cultural blind spots, and would gently and lovingly explain to us when our proposed actions might be misconstrued in the local context and counter what we were actually trying to accomplish. He was a Muslim who understood and supported what it was we were trying to accomplish."

Throughout Iraq and in Jordan, Sattar helped the team understand and negotiate the religious and political complexities of Iraq, arranged sensitive meetings and assisted with travel logistics. More importantly, he was a cherished friend who was universally regarded for his kindness. Another translator who worked for the team said, “He was peaceful, polite, respectful, dedicated and full of love to everyone.”

Sattar had earned degrees in French, English and Design from the University of Baghdad. He loved French literature, poetry, music and history. Before the fall of the Saddam regime, Sattar worked for the Ministry of Tourism. He delighted in bringing CPT delegations to the book market and the various archeological sites around Baghdad. 

The risks for Sattar were significant. “Whenever we asked him about the risks in working for us, he would say that our work was important and that this was his way of helping his country,” team member Peggy Gish said.

Perhaps inevitably, the risk became too much. Sattar was detained by the Iraqi police as a routine part of its investigation into the November 2005 kidnapping of a CPT delegation. The team advocated for him vigorously and he was released after two weeks. He stopped working as a CPT translator after that and began to search out asylum in another country.

When he died, Sattar was awaiting the final security clearance that would allow him to begin a new life in the United States. He had been living in Jordan for over two years under the protection of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees—one of the 4.7 million Iraqis who have been displaced by the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq.

During his time in Jordan, Sattar offered crucial assistance to Cathy Breen and Kathy Kelly of Voices for Creative Nonviolence in their efforts to document the plight of Iraqi refugees. He also taught French and English to other Iraqi refugees in an informal education project run by the Jesuit Refugee Service. “He was much loved by all his students and colleagues,” Project Coordinator Colin Gilbert said.

Jesuit Refugee Service assisted with the return of Sattar’s body to his family in Baghdad for burial.

CPT is immensely grateful for Sattar’s friendship, humanity and courageous witness to peace.

Videos

Voices of Kurdish Farmers in Choman (2010)

Farmers in Choman, Northern Iraq, are facing military threats.

 

Concert for bombing victims in Raniy

May 16th, 2010; a concert in Raniya Youth Activity Center. This concert is a memorial for the civilian victims of Turkey and Iran's military actions. Basos, a 14-year-old girl from Raniya was killed by Iranian shelling on 29th of May 2010. Suzan was injured and lost her leg because of Turkish bombing in December 2007. Couple days after the concert, another 11-year-old girl was killed by Turkish warplane.

 

 

Zharawa Tent Children : Joy

These beautiful, wonderful, creative, joyful, talented and bright Iraqi-Kurdish children have been forced from their homes due to repeated bombing by Turkey and Iran. They now live in a tent camp that offers no protection from the summer heat, the winter cold (yes, it does get cold), dust storms, or illness. We asked them to tell us their stories and they did so by drawing pictures of their happy lives in their villages, attacks on their homes, and fleeing to the tent camp they live in now.

 

 

 

Muhammed Ali, 1.5 years old -- Killed in Iranian Bombing

These are images of what was left of the home of one and a half year old Muhammed Ali after Iranian shells were fired through its roof. Little Muhammed was killed in the attack. This happened during a period of time in which Iran had made an agreement with the Kurdish Regional Government to stop all attacks on the villages of this area. However, on March 10, 2009 Iran broke that agreement without prior notice and fired shells into the village of Muhammed's family, Razga. Muhammed's family fled from their village to a tent camp for Internally Displaced People (IDPs). But, due to the unacceptable conditions of the camp they have been left no choice but to return to their village despite the danger, for the time being. There is no reason to believe that Iran will not attack again. The civilian villages in this area are frequent targets.

 

 

 

 

Kurdish Baby Boy Killed by an Iranian Attack

It was 9pm and the family was sleeping together, with their one and a half year old son Muhammed in the middle. Without warning, an Iranian rocket blasted through the roof, and baby Muhammad was killed. The parents, Ali and Khoshia, were both injured. This is a video of Ali telling the story. Kak Ali is a Kurd from the Iraqi region of Kurdistan. His home is in a village called Razga near the Iraqi-Iranian border. Like countless other Kurds, his family was displaced from their village by Turkish and Iranian bombing. In February of 2008 good news came when Iran agreed to stop bombing the area. The local Kurdish government announced that it was safe for people to return home, so Ali's family went back to their village. However, Iran broke the agreement on March 10, 2008 and resumed bombing in several villages, including Razga.

 

 

 

Kurdistan is Beautiful

These pictures tell the story of recent history in Iraqi Kurdistan. Kurds in this land have experienced genocide, been forced from their homes, wrongly imprisoned, tortured, gassed, and killed. Their families have been torn apart. Their lands have been taken and destroyed. Currently, many are forced to flee their homes and endure the terrible conditions of tent camps for IDPs (internally displaced persons) due to continual bombing of their villages by Turkey and Iran. And yet, Iraqi Kurdistan is without a doubt one of the world's most beautiful lands. And, the Kurds who live here hold that beauty within. Hope and strength abound.

 

 

 

Turkey Attacks Kurdish Village in Northern Iraq

This Kurdish village in Northern Iraq used to be a beautiful home for over two hundred people. Now, only 13 men remain. Their families and the others who used to live here have been forced to flee due to the threat of bombing. Over the past two decades, Turkey has attacked Kurdish villages in this area of Iraq continually. Previously, Turkey raided the villages from the ground. Now, the villages are targets for repeated Turkish bombing, and bombs fell around this particular village shortly before this interview was conducted. Those who used to live here have lost everything and now live the hard and discouraging lives of IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons). The 13 men who remain despite the obvious risk do so in order to try to harvest produce from the land in attempts to support their families who often cannot find an income elsewhere. Harvesting, however, is difficult, because this is the time of year at which Turkey often increases its attacks. One of the men who remains in the village tells their story...

 

 

 

 

Mothers for Peace

Since 1998 the Makhmoor Refugee Camp has housed 2,600 Kurdish families from Turkey. The total population is over 11,000 and an average of thirty babies are born in the camp each month. All are relatives of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) members killed by the Turkish military

 

 

 

Tent camp for Displaced people in Kurdistan Iraq

Footage of a tent camp in Northern Iraq, near the Iranian border where 132 families share 90 small tents. The families were displaced when Turkey and Iran bombed their home villages in 2008. Bombing continues in the area as Turkey and Iran claim to battle Kurdish guerrillas (PKK and PJAK) so the villagers can't go home. The United states supplies military intelligence to Turkey for the attacks and Turkey in turn coordinates with Iran. The conditions at this tent camp are terrible and there is no other sustainable solution for the displaced. They hope the bombing will stop and they'll return home.

 

 

 

Displaced People in Kurdistan Iraq

This interview was done in May 2009 at a Kurdish IDP camp ( Internal displaced people) in Northern Iraq. Families in this camp were farmers at Nothern border of Iraq. Since spring of 2007, Turkey and Iran have attacked those civilians. They were forced to leave their agriculture, animals, and houses.

Palestine Projects

About CPT Palestine

CPT Palestine is a faith-based organization that supports Palestinian-led, nonviolent, grassroots resistance to the Israeli occupation and the unjust structures that uphold it.  By collaborating with local Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers and educating people in our home communities, we help create a space for justice and peace.

We maintain a project in the southern West Bank city of Hebron (Al-Khalil in Arabic).

Latest Update: 

Visit the CPT Palestine Website

 

 

 

Most recent CPTnet story: 

Palestine: Occupation Captured

CPT Palestine has published a photo essay with ten images juxtaposing absurdity, sanity, obscenity, and serenity in Occupation.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Israeli military’s use of teargas, rubber-coated bullets forces schools to close

Over the course of two days last week, the Israeli military’s response to a few boys throwing stones toward the Qitoun/209 and Salimeh/29 checkpoints was so excessive the principals of the seven schools near those checkpoints canceled school for the hundreds of children that attend those institutions. On 10 December at checkpoint 209, through which 183 children and fifty-two adults passed from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., the teargas was so potent from two teargas canisters fired by Israeli border police that a twelve-year-old boy who opened a window at the school andinhaled the teargas—fired approximately 250m away—suffered extremely adverse effects.  Teachers called an ambulance and decided to close the school to avoid more harm to children from the gas.  An ambulance came after approximately twenty-five minutes, delayed by the physical obstacles of occupation such as checkpoints and the apartheid laws governing Palestinian vehicular access in H2 Hebron.  A CPTer who was there said, “sitting with and attempting to soothe the boy, who was scared, unable to breathe properly, and unable to open his eyes, broke my heart.”

AL KHALIL (HEBRON): Israeli settlers stab Palestinian boy on his family’s land

Moad Al Rajabi after
receiving treatment at
hospital

On 8 December 2014, Israeli settlers attacked seventeen-year-old Palestinian boy, Moad Al Rajabi on his family land in Bani Naim, on the outskirts of Al-Khalil/Hebron.  He was sitting with his father, Noah Al Rajabi, and two of his cousins when settler cars stopped nearby.  As seven settlers exited the cars and came towards them, Noah ran away with his two nephews, believing that his son was also with him.  He soon realised his son was not there, and turned to see seventeen-year-old Moad encircled by the settlers. 

The seven were stabbing Moad, but fled as Noah ran back in a bid to rescue his son from the assault.  Moad required hospitalization to treat the stab wounds, one of which penetrated to the bones in the hand; the other was on his thigh.  He is now stable, and the hospital hopes to discharge him later today. 

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Israeli military attacks nonviolent demonstration protesting closure of Checkpoint 56

At a demonstration to protest the closure of Checkpoint 56 in Hebron on Saturday 29 November 2014, a torrent of teargas and sound grenades rained down from Israeli forces, who were occupying rooftops above Bab iZaweyya.  Leading onto the small section of Shuhada street on which Palestinians are allowed to walk, Checkpoint 56 connects Bab iZaweyya (the commercial district which marks the boundary between Israeli-controlled H2 and Palestinian Authority governed H1 areas) to the neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida.  Last week the checkpoint was set on fire during clashes, and the checkpoint has been closed by Israeli forces ever since.  This act of collective punishment forces the families living in Tel Rumeida walk an extra hour—or that they walk through the residences and gardens of other Palestinians—to reach their own homes.  These families therefore organised a nonviolent demonstration to protest this closure because it is another example of the daily harassment and routine restriction of the rights and movement of Palestinians living under occupation.

Video footage of the demonstration taken by CPT is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hhfv9sz8xh0&feature=youtu.be

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: Practicing gratitude in the middle of it all

Around the world today, non-profits, NGOs, families, businesses, community centers, and individuals around the world come together for one common purpose. Christian Peacemaker Teams is here in Hebron in solidarity with local partners whose safety, homes and livelihoods are threatened by the Israeli military occupation. Will you contribute $55 today for #GivingTuesday? With just 365 people giving $55 each, we can cover the cost of one peacemaker in the field for a year. #BeTheChange

Just $55 supports a peacemaker in the field for a day. 

Thousand-year-old olive tree overlooking the
city of Hebron.

In the U.S., the end of November means the celebration of Thanksgiving.  Here in Hebron, we may sometimes ask:  For what can we possibly be thankful? We see teargas lobbed at children regularly, men and boys detained daily, frequent harassment of Palestinians.  Violence.  Hopelessness.

It is in places like Hebron where we must practice gratitude, where we must not let the bad that we see eclipse the good—that, against all odds—abounds.  For how can we possibly harness and share goodness if we are unable even to recognize it around us?

And so we, the current CPT Palestine team, offer the following—the places and times where light breaks through darkness, where hope conquers hopelessness, where love wins over hatred, fear, and apathy: 

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Title Start: End:
Palestine/Israel Delegation Sat, 10/17/2015 Sat, 10/31/2015

Photo Albums

US Borderlands Project

About CPT Borderlands

Between 2004 and 2007, CPT's Borderlands project periodically partnered with local groups along the US/Mexico border in order to reduce the number of migrant deaths in the border region, advocate for just and comprehensive US immigration reform, and call for compassionate treatment of the immigrant "stranger."  Since the US Government began a policy of border militarization as the answer to immigration flows, over 3,500 men, women and children have died in the borderlands attempting to find work, reunite with family, and pursue the “American Dream...."

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Latest Update: 

Borderlands Witness Drive

During July 2007 a four-person team enacted a Borderlands Witness Drive, from Tucson, AZ, to Brownsville, TX, and then to Washington DC, in an effort to:

  • collect stories
  • put a human face on immigration
  • connect with immigrant-rights groups
  • and advocate for immigration reform

Visit the blog for full information.

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About CPT Borderlands

“when a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do (the stranger) wrong. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love (the stranger) as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

Leviticus 19:33-34

CPT's Borderlands project is suspended while we work toward sufficient staffing needed to continue.

We continue to organize periodic Borderlands delegations - join one!  Contact delegations@cpt.org for more information.

 

CPT Borderlands (2004-2007):

  • Partnered with local groups along the US/Mexico border, including the No More Deaths Coalition, Frontera de Cristo, Healing our Borders, and many other groups that reject a militarized border that divides communities and brings death to the desserts in unprecedented numbers.
  • Demonstrated that is it never illegal to provide medical assistance and give food and water to those who are hungry and thirsty, regardless of nationality or legal status.
  • Monitored the activities and vigilante groups and Border Patrol treatment of migrants
  • Documented the role of private contractors along the border
  • Was involved in national advocacy efforts that promoted a humane, sustainable immigration policy that reunites families, offers a path to citizenship and is not punitive in nature.

Every summer in southern Arizona, 200-350 migrants lose their lives as they attempt to cross the Arizona/Sonora border region. Many thousands of men, women, and children have lost their lives attempting to cross the US/Mexico border.

In 2004, No More Deaths invited CPT to place a team near Douglas, Arizona to lead one of several No More Deaths desert emergency assistance camps and to establish contacts with area activists, churches, Border Patrol, ranchers and vigilante groups.

Douglas, AZ, has a long history of vigilante violence, and has been the home of many vigilante groups including Arizona Guard, Ranch Rescue, American Border Patrol, and the Minutemen Project. Some of these groups have been investigated and found guilty of civil rights violations when acting violently towards people of Hispanic/Indigenous origin.

Douglas residents refer to the area as "a militarized zone" where constitutional rights may not apply to residents. While most Border Patrol agents act professionally, residents have reported instances of Border Patrol agents marching people down the road at gunpoint. Statements by Border Patrol and US Attorney officials threatening prosecution for any assistance to migrants has created a climate of fear and corruption which causes people to fear lodging complaints. In addition, vigilante groups lease land adjoining the border west of Douglas and have beaten migrants and held people at gunpoint.

CPT worked to demonstrate that is it never illegal to provide medical assistance and give food and water to those who are hungry and thirsty, regardless of nationality or legal status.

In addition to monitoring the activities of the US Border Patrol and vigilante groups, CPT explored the the role of private contractors along the border including Wackenhut's role in the transportation of processed undocumented migrants back to Mexico. 

 

Additional Context

The Sonora Borderland is one ecological region, now divided by an arbitrary line in the desert. It is united by geography and climate, and a human culture adapted to the climate; it is divided by an international boundary 160 years old, which is today experienced most dramatically as an economic fault line, and a militarized "Iron Curtain" US border policy that maintains that economic dislocation.

Migration and Hospitality
The human culture of the desert is characterized by traditions of migration and hospitality. With the historical unity of the region and migration patterns, families typically live on both sides of today's border. Up until two decades ago, crossing was easy and frequent for both US and Mexican Sonorans. In the desert, hospitality for the traveler is a matter of life or death and therefore, a moral obligation. The pilgrim who is out of water is only hours from dying.

Economic Pressure
The huge inequality of job/earning opportunities on the two sides of the border results in tremendous pressure for labor to come north. This is in addition to traditional seasonal labor migration patterns, and to the normal migration patterns of the Sonoran borderland region. Recent US economic policies that are based on maintaining a pool of cheap labor in Mexico do so by blocking these traditional migration patterns. Current US border policy shows a stark contrast between the application of "free-market" principles to goods and investment but not to labor. The US is "lowering the barriers" for money and goods to cross while "sealing the border" to people.

Militarized Border
The US border has been dramatically militarized, and all of the most convenient crossing points are now closed and guarded. Fences, sensors, cameras and a ten-fold Border Patrol troop increase have effectively sealed the border near major border towns, leaving only the open desert, where hundreds of thousands make the several-day trek each year to cross from Mexico to the US. In 2006, over two hundred people died in Arizona making the journey -- that number has increased year after year, in spite of the best efforts of a number of migrant advocacy groups (and the claim of the Border Patrol that they are working for the safety of the migrants). There are no provisions for seeking legal entrance into the United States for the majority of Mexicans. Only those with access to significant financial resources or professional skills are given the right to work and live in the US. After making this undocumented journey there is currently no way for a migrant to make their presence legal after entering the US.

Humanitarian Obligation
U.S. statutes penalize "furthering the illegal entry or presence" of migrants. Persons suspected of doing so can have their vehicle seized or house confiscated. Penalties may involve years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. The Samaritans, part of the NO MORE DEATHS coalition, explain: "We never further the entry of anyone, they are already here. Giving water, food, or medical assistance is a humanitarian obligation. Transport from open desert to a safe place for recovery is the only responsible thing to do." Churches have been traditionally recognized as a place of sanctuary for the oppressed and marginalized. For this reason, it is important to locate migrant centers, and churches that can provide sanctuary for undocumented migrants in the United States, both along the border and in the interior.

Faith Based Principles for Immigration Reform

Preamble

We come together as communities of faith and people of conscience to express our indignation and sadness over the continued death of hundreds of migrants attempting to cross the US - Mexico border each year. We believe that such death and suffering diminish us all.

We share a faith and a moral imperative that transcends borders, celebrates the contributions immigrant peoples bring, and compels us to build relationships that are grounded in justice and love. As religious leaders from numerous and diverse faith traditions, we set forth the following principles by which immigration policy is to be comprehensively reformed. We believe that using these principles – listed from the most imminent threat to life to the deepest systemic policy problems - will significantly reduce, if not eliminate, deaths in the desert borderlands.

Recognize that the current Militarized Border Enforcement Strategy is a failed policy.

Since 1998 more than 2000 migrants - men, women, and children - have lost their lives in the deserts of the US-Mexico borderlands trying to make their way into the United States. These tragic and unnecessary deaths must stop. The border blockade strategy has militarized the US-Mexico border, which drives migrants into remote desert regions yet has failed to stem the flow of immigrants into the United States. Further, the fragile desert environment has sustained severe damage as a result of migrants moving through remote desert regions and responding enforcement patrols. Indeed, a militarized border control strategy has never in United States history successfully stemmed the flow of immigrants. We recognize the right of a nation to control its borders, but enforcement measures must be applied proportionately, humanely, and with a conscious effort to protect the people and the land.

Address the status of undocumented persons currently living in the US.

Workers and their families currently living in the US must have access to a program of legalization that offers equity-building paths to permanent residency and eventual citizenship for workers and their families. Legalizing the undocumented workforce helps stabilize that workforce as well as their families. A stable workforce strengthens the country.

Make family unity and reunification the cornerstone of the US immigration system.

Migrants enter the United States either to find work or to reunite with family members, yet the arduous and lengthy process forces families to make potentially deadly choices. Families must be allowed to legally and timely re-unify as well as to immigrate together as a unit.

Allow workers and their families to enter the US to live and work in a safe, legal, orderly, and humane manner through an Employment-Focused immigration program.

International workers' rights must be recognized and honored in ways that protect: the basic right to organize and collectively bargain, individual workers’ religious freedoms, job portability, easy and safe travel between the US and homelands, achievable and verifiable paths to residency, and a basic human right of mobility.

Recognize that root causes of migration lie in environmental, economic, and trade inequities.

Experiences of Mexico and countries further south demonstrate that current trade and aid strategies that are based on greed and lack of basic respect deeply and negatively impact workers, their families, and the environments in migrants' homelands. This is forcing a quest-for-survival based migration of unparalleled proportions. International agreements must be negotiated in ways that build mutual and just relationships. Such agreements must be designed to meet the needs of the present without compromising future generations' abilities to meet their needs. New strategies must include incentives for the public and private sectors to invest in economic and environmental repair and sustainable development in the sending communities

Africa Great Lakes

About CPT's Africa Great Lakes Project

Through a series of exploration delegations between 2005-2008, CPT connected with human rights organizations, peace groups, civil society leaders and church leaders to gain a better understanding of the conflict in the Great Lakes region -- specifically in the Congo and Uganda.

The Africa Great Lakes CPT project is based in the city of Goma, province of North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ongoing violence has displaced two million people and killed over five million in the past ten years. The goals of this project are to support local nonviolent peace initiatives, to bring international attention to the conflict in the region, and to research economic factors which continue this violence. The team has researched the connections between mineral extraction and the ongoing conflict and has begun exploring the possibility of accompanying villagers to their fields.

 

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Exploration Report

Report from the CPT Exploration in Uganda and the Congo.

READ THE FULL REPORT [pdf file]
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In November and December 2007, CPTers returned to Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to learn more about the various conflicts in the region, to explore on-going grassroots initiatives for justice and peace, and to look at the potential for supporting such initiatives.

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About Africa Great Lakes Project

2005

In the Fall of 2005, CPT sent an exploratory delegation of four CPTers to Burundi and the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The group met with human rights organizations, peace groups, civil society leaders and church leaders to gain a better understanding of the conflict in the Congo and whether or not such groups would find a violence-reduction project helpful in their struggle for peace. The delegation was struck by the suffering of Congolese women, who repeatedly asked them to help spread the word about their situation.

2006

The initial exploratory delegation recommended that CPT send a delegation of women to the DR Congo with the expressed purpose of learning about how Congolese women have been affected by the conflict and supporting their efforts towards peace and change by amplifying their voices in the international community. In late October of 2006 a CPT delegation of eleven women traveled to the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to meet with women who have experienced rape and sexual assault, as well as women's organizations, human rights groups, and churches working with these women. The diverse delegation included women from the U.S., the DRC, Colombia, and Kenya.

Read the 2006 trip report.

Following the women's delegation, two CPTers remained in the region for an additional three weeks to further explore the possibility of a CPT violence-reduction project in the DRC or Uganda.

2007

In 2007, another group spent 2 months in Uganda and the Congo reconnecting with local peacemakers.

Read the 2007 trip report.

2008

A CPT project was based in the city of Goma, province of North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ongoing violence had displaced two million people and killed over five million in the past ten years. The goals of this project were to support local nonviolent peace initiatives, to bring international attention to the conflict in the region, and to research economic factors which continue this violence. The team researched the connections between mineral extraction and the ongoing conflict and explored the possibility of accompanying villagers to their fields.

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Corporate Complicity in Congo's War

By Kathleen Kern
[This article first appeared in Tikkun magazine, March/April 2006 and is reprinted by permission.]


Goma's hospital compound has a tent for rape victims awaiting surgery and one for women recovering from surgery. In the pre-op area, I held a month-old girl who was fascinated by the dim electric light hanging from the ridgepole. She arched her back and waved her arms, straining to encounter her exciting new world and oblivious of the atrocity that had created her life.

The mother told me her baby's name was Esther. Clasping her breasts, she said she had no milk. She did not tell me what operation she was waiting for. Perhaps her rapist(s) had caused a fistula, penetrating the wall between her rectum and vagina with penises, guns, or machetes. Hundreds of other injuries are possible. We had seen pictures of women shot in the vagina, who had had salt rubbed in their eyes until they were blind (and thus could not identify their assailants), who had been burned, or had limbs amputated after their rapes.

Since 1996, nearly four million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from a conflict that has involved several rebel armies, the militaries of Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Namibia, Angola, and their proxy militias. These armed groups and the official Congolese army have shifted alliances, split apart and regrouped under other names, but they all have important aspects in common: they target civilians and they all use rape as a weapon of war. Rape as a Weapon of War

For many Congolese women, rape is only the beginning of their trauma. A quarter to a third of the women contract HIV from their assailants, and they are often raped in front of their husbands and children. The husbands or husbands' families then view the women as "contaminated,"even when they do not contract a disease, and drive them and their children out of the village. Sometimes they tell the women that they may stay if they kill children born as a result of the rape. Those not killed often become street children (a phenomenon unknown before 1996, several Congolese told us).

Deprived of their social supports, women become prostitutes or burden-bearers to feed themselves and their children. In every community we visited, we saw women bent double, carrying loads of produce or building materials supported by straps that cut deep grooves into their foreheads.

Congolese churches and civic groups have attempted to provide medical care, counseling, and job training for the rape survivors, but they are overwhelmed by the staggering numbers of raped and displaced women. The UN Fund for Women and human rights groups estimate that hundreds of thousands of women and girls have been raped since 1998, although because of the social stigma, the vast majority of rapes go unreported. The head of a women's organization in Bukavu told us that in 2004 a small grant from the Danish Lutheran church had enabled her to help 1,200 women who had been raped in the area. She had to stop the program when funds ran out, and now lacks the means even to document the rapes.

The use of rape as a weapon of war has had broader ramifications for the people of eastern Congo. Since armed groups often attack women when they are working in the fields, many women are afraid to leave their homes. Thus, in fertile lands with a year-round growing season, people in the country are beginning to go hungry. Growing Civilian Violence

Violence perpetrated by armed groups has also led to an increase in violence among the civilian population. "Something in our society is unhinging," Jeanne, the head of the Protestant Women's Society of North Kivu told us. Her organization documents stories of rape and sexual assault of a ferocity and frequency unheard of before the war(s). She told us of girls‹some as young as eighteen months‹raped by neighbors, brothers, taxi drivers, and teachers. Her organization has responded by training 36,000 children to resist rapes and teaching parents never to let their daughters go anywhere alone or be alone with a man, even a teacher.

Some stories haunt her. One young woman delivered a stillborn baby the day after her three-year-old child had died. She was too weak to move when five armed men entered the house and her husband fled. They gang-raped her with the cadaver of the stillborn in the room. She needed five operations and will never have children. The husband married someone else.

Then there was the girl raped by two brothers and their father. When her mother saw she was pregnant, she sent her daughter to the men who had raped her, saying it was their job to take care of her. "She is mentally ill now and cannot stand to be touched," Jeanne told us. "We can't bring a case against the rapists because she has stopped speaking. She is in a deplorable state."

After relating these stories, Jeanne paused and said, "You can get sick yourself." The West's Role

Telling stories like these can do damage. For too long, people in the One-Third world have known about Africa chiefly through "famine pornography" and atrocities such as the Rwandan genocide. As a result, Westerners have stereotyped Africa as a continent of savages. The story that Westerners need to hear, however, is that the atrocities committed in Congo are being funded, at least indirectly, by large Western corporations. There is a direct relationship between the suffering of women in Congo and the prices we pay for cell phones and laptops here in the United States.

The director of a woman's organization in Goma told us that if we wanted Westerners to understand the roots of violence in Congo, we ought to publicize how Western countries are facilitating and profiting from Congo's misery by dumping weapons into the country. "We are treated like the wastebasket of the world," she said. A representative of the human rights organization COHDO spoke to our delegation of an "Anglophone conspiracy" by the United States, United Kingdom, and South Africa to keep distributing arms to militias and armies. By doing so, he said, they keep the region destabilized, and thus open to the exploitation of its resources.

According to most of the people we spoke to, these resources are perhaps the key ingredient to understanding Congo's misery. The country has rich deposits of diamonds, gold, cobalt, timber, and other natural resources. It also contains 85 percent of the world's coltan ore. Tantalum, an element derived from this ore, is essential to the manufacture of laptop computers and cell phones.

If the Congo were at peace and able to hold democratic elections, its citizens might gain control over its resources, either by claiming national ownership (as Iran and Venezuela do with their oil) or by regulating the multinational companies that seek to profit from those resources. The violent atmosphere, however, makes it impossible for the Congolese government to challenge corruption within or to exert any authority over multinationals seeking profits. It is thus in the interest of the multinational companies to keep the Congo at war. Intentional Destabilization

And this intentional destabilization is precisely what has been happening. A panel of experts set up by the UN Security Council in 2000 issued a series of reports over the next few years describing how networks of high-level politicians from Congo and neighboring countries, military officers, and business people collaborated with various rebel groups to fuel violence in order to gain control over Congo's resources. For example, in 2002 the UN panel noted that as much as 60 to 70 percent of coltan in eastern Congo was mined under the surveillance of the Rwandan military, using the forced labor of Rwandan prisoners.

A 2003 follow-up report by the panel listed eighty-five multinational companies that had profited from the war in Congo, including six U.S.-owned companies: Cabot Corporation, Eagle Wings Resources International (a subsidiary of Trinitech International), Kemet Electronics Corporation, OM Group, and Vishay Sprague. With the exception of Belgium, few governments in countries where these corporations are based have made an attempt to hold these corporations accountable for the contributions they made to the violence in Congo.

For example, after the UN panel of ex perts reported on corporations pillaging Congo's resources in October 2002, Ambassador Richard S. Wil liam son (U.S. Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs to the UN) told the UN Security Council that the "United States Government will look into the allegations against these [American] companies and take appropriate measures." However, Friends of the Earth (FOE), which had been following up on the panel's allegations against the American companies, noted in October 2003 that "to date, the Bush administration has placed a greater emphasis on exonerating U.S. companies than on undertaking a meaningful examination into how U.S. companies might have contributed to the conflict in [Democratic Republic of Congo] via supply chains."

The panel of experts' final report in October 2003 said that no further investigation was required into the activities of Cabot, Eagle Wings, and the OM Group, who had protested their appearance on the list of eighty-five corporations. However, the report clearly stated that the resolution of this issue should not be interpreted as absolution. The panel's earlier findings about the contribution that these corporations had made to violence in Congo stood.

Because of the inaction of the American government regarding the behavior of the corporations involved, FOE and the U.K.-based group Rights and Accountability in Development (RAID) filed a complaint with the U.S. State Department on August 4, 2004 against Cabot, Eagle Wings Resources, International, and OM Group, Inc. According to Colleen Freeman, who works with RAID, Wesley S. Scholz, from the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs in the U.S. State Department, declined to investigate the companies further, citing the Panel's conclusion that the issues involving the U.S. companies were resolved. However, in January 2005 he notified the three companies that FOE and RAID still had issues they wished to discuss and offered to facilitate an informal dialogue between the two organizations and the corporations. When RAID contacted Scholz in September 2005 to follow up, he said that the companies had confirmed receiving his letter, but did not respond.

By failing to act, the U.S. and other Western governments have sent a troubling message: Corporations are not responsible for ensuring that their purchase of natural resources does not finance weapons and human rights abuses in the Two-Thirds world. There is a thin but clear link between money that flows to the militias from corporations interested in protecting their claim to the Congo's resources, and the militias' ability to recruit new soldiers and to continue attacking villagers. Unless the corporate plunder of the Congo is stopped, the terror‹and the rapes‹will continue. What We Can Do

The organization I work for, Christian Peacemaker Teams, places teams in areas where an international presence might deter violence. After we described how our presence has been valuable in Colombia, the West Bank, Iraq, and North America, most of the Congolese we talked to said that a team of volunteers in the countryside‹where most of the violence happens‹would probably be raped and killed along with the villagers we would intend to protect. Indeed, the only action that most Congolese requested of us was to pray, tell their stories, and to send to Congo more Westerners, especially women, who could publicize what was happening in their country.

To those in Congo trying to create change, one of the most discouraging aspects of their work is the feeling that their efforts happen in a vacuum, that no one outside Africa cares about what happens in eastern Congo. The challenge for North Americans, then, is to look beyond the mainstream media and make a commitment to educating themselves about the war and plunder in Congo, to bring what they learn before their friends, congregations and legislators, and to proclaim that the lives of baby Esther and her mother matter.

Kathleen Kern has worked with Christian Peacemaker Teams since 1993, serving on assignments in Haiti, the West Bank, Chiapas, and Colombia. Her novel, Where Such Unmaking Reigns, based on her experiences in the West Bank, was selected as a finalist for Barbara Kingsolver's 2002 Bellwether Prize.

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Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

About Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

CPT works in the US and Canada as an ally to indigenous / aboriginal rights groups.
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Accompaniment of Elsipogtog Blockade

On Sunday, 29 September 2013, Elsipogtog women protectors blocked the entrance to a recently constructed compound housing Southwestern Energy Resources Canada (SWN) equipment on local Highway 134, near present-day Rexton, New Brunswick. The compound is located on Elsipogtog traditional territory, which is unceded land.

Within minutes they were joined by other indigenous protectors, as well as Acadian and Anglophone community members. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) attempted to re-secure the entrance to the compound, but the unarmed protectors successfully stood their ground. An encampment was erected.

CPT has been accompaning the blockade.  Follow developments on CPTnet, Facebook and Twitter.

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Most recent CPTnet story: 
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Treaty #3 Delegation Fri, 09/25/2015 Mon, 10/05/2015

Elsipogtog

Elsipogtog Resistance to Fracking

Before Confederation, the indigenous communities in what would become the province of New Brunswick signed Peace and Friendship treaties with the Crown. These laid a framework for cooperation without the indigenous peoples surrendering their land or rights.

In May of 2012, the Elsipogtog band council passed a resolution opposing all “shale gas exploration and development within Elsipogtog First Nation and within the Province of New Brunswick.”

Through the spring, summer and autumn of 2013, a coalition of Mi'kmaq, Acadian, Anglophone and allied protectors of the land worked to protest, document, oppose and block the development of shale gas fracking in Mi'kmaq territory.

In June, Christian Peacemaker Teams sent an emergency delegation to investigate the situation: report

This delegation led to an on-site presence of fulltime and reservist CPTers.

The resistance community faced obstacles from policing, including the prosecution of individuals identified as leaders.

July 7 Release: Fasting for forgiveness and protection

July 15 Release: A week with the Elsipogtog anti-fracking resistance

July 25 Release: Protectors undo police oppression (video)

August 8 Release: Temporary halt to seismic testing

CPT's accompaniment took a variety of forms, including an international delegation from September 27 - October 7.

On Sunday, 29 September 2013, Elsipogtog women protectors blocked the entrance to a recently constructed compound housing Southwestern Energy Resources Canada (SWN) equipment on local Highway 134, near present-day Rexton, New Brunswick. This compound was located on Elsipogtog traditional territory, which is unceded land.

Within minutes they were joined by other indigenous protectors, as well as Acadian and Anglophone community members. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) attempted to re-secure the entrance to the compound, but the unarmed protectors successfully stood their ground. An encampment was erected.

The blockade became a lasting presence and spurred a degree of cooperation from provincial leadership - October 13 Release: Patience is a virtue

However, ultimately it was forcibly dismantled with a police raid - October 18 Release: An Ugly Day in New Brunswick.

Following the dismantling of the blockage, CPT was advised by local partners to withdraw its team, and the accompaniment came to an end. However local protectors continue to face legal repercussion as the resistence takes a new form.

Chronology

In late 2014, New Brunswick joined the list of regions and countries that have banned fracking: News Release

 

Mandate

CPT’s Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Project is mandated with undoing colonialism and supporting Indigenous communities seeking justice and defending their lands against corporate and government exploitation without community consent. Our work includes human rights monitoring and reporting, non-violence training, presence and accompaniment, court witnessing, education and advocacy through presentations to schools and churches, articles and media releases, organizing fact-finding and learning delegations to areas of conflict or oppression, participating in and/or offering logistical support for public actions and speaking tours. CPT seeks to enlist the whole church in the work of undoing colonialism.

Resources

Useful information and resources about the work of the Aboriginal Justice Team

 

Advent 2010 Liturgical Resources

Introduction to Aboriginal Justice Team

Advent Candle Readings & Bulletin Notes

November 28, 2010 First Sunday in Advent: Candle of Hope

God of light, who came into a world of darkness and who has never left it, we invite you to be present in the lighting of this candle.

This candle, known as the Candle of Prophesy or Hope, remembers especially the hope that was brought into the world by the prophetic words that told of the Christ.

There is so much hope in the promise of a child that is not yet born. This hope is the beating heart of the Christmas story, a hope for salvation, justice and right relationship with God.

This world needs hope. In the absence of justice:

Indigenous children are taken from their families and communities. The cases of murdered and missing Indigenous women are not adequately investigated. Mercury poisoning is passed from mother to child.

But these women and children also nurture the spirit and will to pursue justice. Some have rekindled hope by leading their communities in protecting their land. Others have walked thousands of kilometres to bring their messages to the government. How can we honour the hope that they bring? What prophetic hope can we offer, in our words and deeds, of a better future for all?

The candle flame that burns here represents the presence of Christ in a dark world. Let us honour that fire that burns within us, the longing for justice and healing.

 

First Sunday in Advent: Bulletin Insert

On September 13, 2007 the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This followed more than twenty years of discussions within the UN system. Indigenous representatives played key roles in the development of this Declaration.

There are over 370 million Indigenous peoples in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Pacific. They are among the most impoverished, marginalised and frequently victimised people in the world

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is celebrated globally as a symbol of triumph and hope. Effective implementation of the Declaration would result in significant improvements in the global situation of Indigenous peoples.

-Ad Hoc Coalition on the UN Declaration

The 46 Articles address specific violations committed against Indigenous communities and individuals. Each article reflects a painful reality for Indigenous people. Each article is a redress of an established wrong.

 

According to Article 22.2 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: “States shall take measures, in conjunction with indigenous peoples, to ensure that indigenous women and children enjoy the full protection and guarantees against all forms of violence and discrimination.”

Recognising that there exists specific and targeted violence towards indigenous women and children in the US and Canada today, a vital, faithful and prophetic response is to call on the government to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

CANADA - Take action: http://www.kairoscanada.org/en/take-action/the-land-our-life/kairos-day-of-action-december-5/december-5th-beat-the-drum-action-update/

US - Take action: http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/index.aspx?c=jhKPIXPCIoE&b=2590179&template=x.ascx&action=14586

 

 

December 5, 2010 - Second Sunday of Advent: Candle of Preparation

God of light, who came into a world of darkness and who has never left it, we invite you to be present in the lighting of this candle.

This candle, known as the Candle of Preparation or The Way remembers the necessity of repentance for a right relationship with God and our neighbour.

Repentance is turning back to God when we have gone astray.

The churches went astray when they tried to make indigenous children more like non-Native children in residential and day schools. Children were punished for speaking their languages and were told their culture and spirituality were evil.

What does it mean to repent? What can we do as individuals and as a church to “bear fruit that befits repentance” in respect to our indigenous neighbours?

The candle flame that burns here represents the presence of Christ in a dark world. Let us honour that fire that burns within us, the longing for justice and healing.

 

Second Sunday in Advent: Bulletin Insert

On September 13, 2007 the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This followed more than twenty years of discussions within the UN system. Indigenous representatives played key roles in the development of this Declaration.

There are over 370 million Indigenous peoples in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Pacific. They are among the most impoverished, marginalised and frequently victimised people in the world

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is celebrated globally as a symbol of triumph and hope. Effective implementation of the Declaration would result in significant improvements in the global situation of Indigenous peoples.

-Ad Hoc Coalition on the UN Declaration

The 46 Articles address specific violations committed against Indigenous communities and individuals. Each article reflects a painful reality for Indigenous people. Each article is a redress of an established wrong.

 

According to Article 7.2 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Indigenous peoples have the collective right to live in freedom, peace and security as distinct peoples and shall not be subjected to any act of genocide or any other act of violence, including forcibly removing children of the group to another group.

Recognising that cultural genocide through the practice of assimilation is an historical and current reality in the US and Canada, a vital, faithful and prophetic response is to call on the government to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

CANADA - Take action: http://www.kairoscanada.org/en/take-action/the-land-our-life/kairos-day-of-action-december-5/december-5th-beat-the-drum-action-update/

US - Take action: http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/index.aspx?c=jhKPIXPCIoE&b=2590179&template=x.ascx&action=14586

 

December 12, 2010 - Third Sunday of Advent: Candle of Joy

God of light, who came into a world of darkness and who has never left it, we invite you to be present in the lighting of this candle

This candle, known as the Candle of Joy, remembers the promise of balance restored and all things made new.

John the Baptist jumped for joy in his mother's womb. Later when he was in prison he needed Jesus to remind him that prophecies of justice and healing were being fulfilled all around him.

Healing and renewal often come through the distinctive spiritual relationship Indigenous women and men have with the land, and their responsibility to future generations.

How might we, by upholding the rights of indigenous peoples, participate in the fulfilment of prophecy?

The candle flame that burns here represents the presence of Christ in a dark world. Let us honour that fire that burns within us, the longing for justice and healing.

 

Third Sunday in Advent: Bulletin Insert

On September 13, 2007 the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This followed more than twenty years of discussions within the UN system. Indigenous representatives played key roles in the development of this Declaration.

There are over 370 million Indigenous peoples in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Pacific. They are among the most impoverished, marginalised and frequently victimised people in the world

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is celebrated globally as a symbol of triumph and hope. Effective implementation of the Declaration would result in significant improvements in the global situation of Indigenous peoples.

 -Ad Hoc Coalition on the UN Declaration

The 46 Articles address specific violations committed against Indigenous communities and individuals. Each article reflects a painful reality for Indigenous people. Each article is a redress of an established wrong.

 

According to Article 25 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: “Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinctive spiritual relationship with their traditionally owned or otherwise occupied and used lands, territories, waters and coastal seas and other resources and to uphold their responsibilities to future generations in this regard.”

Recognising that it is in everyone's best interest that Indigenous peoples are legally entitled to protect their traditional lands, a vital, faithful and prophetic response is to call on the government to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

CANADA - Take action: http://www.kairoscanada.org/en/take-action/the-land-our-life/kairos-day-of-action-december-5/december-5th-beat-the-drum-action-update/

US - Take action: http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/index.aspx?c=jhKPIXPCIoE&b=2590179&template=x.ascx&action=14586

 

December 19, 2010 - Fourth Sunday of Advent: Candle of Peace

God of light, who came into a world of darkness and who has never left it, we invite you to be present in the lighting of this candle.

This candle is called the Candle of Peace or Love. At Christmas time we celebrate the God of Love who came to Earth as the Prince of Peace. If we are inspired by love, let us be the peacemakers that Jesus calls the children of God.

The absence of direct violence is not the same as the presence of peace. Peace is denied when resources are unequally distributed and access to power is a privilege given to only a few. Violence can be committed against communities, cultures and the earth itself, and all of these acts impact  people whom God has created and loves.

In this season, while we celebrate the loving Emmanuel, the God Who Is With Us, let us manifest God's peace-making love as we recognize God's spirit in our Indigenous neighbours. Indigenous communities have lost and continue to lose land and resources. Non-Natives continue to prosper from stolen lands and resources. The path of peace is the path of mutuality and recompense. To live justly is to insist that the people in power who represent us stop taking or selling what does not belong to them. To make peace is to insist that those who have lost their lands and livelihoods be adequately compensated.

The candle flame that burns here represents the presence of Christ in a dark world. Let us honour that fire that burns within us, the longing for justice and healing.

 

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Bulletin Insert

On September 13, 2007 the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This followed more than twenty years of discussions within the UN system. Indigenous representatives played key roles in the development of this Declaration.

There are over 370 million Indigenous peoples in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Pacific. They are among the most impoverished, marginalised and frequently victimised people in the world

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is celebrated globally as a symbol of triumph and hope. Effective implementation of the Declaration would result in significant improvements in the global situation of Indigenous peoples.

-Ad Hoc Coalition on the UN Declaration

The 46 Articles address specific violations committed against Indigenous communities and individuals. Each article reflects a painful reality for Indigenous people. Each article is a redress of an established wrong.

 

According to Article 28.1 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: “Indigenous peoples have the right to redress, by means that can include restitution or, when this is not possible, just, fair and equitable compensation, for the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used, and which have been confiscated, taken, occupied, used or damaged without their free, prior and informed consent.”

Recognising that Indigenous communities are disadvantaged by government and corporate refusal to consult them on issues that directly impact their land and also by their refusal to compensate for damage done to traditional economies through resource extraction like logging and mining, a vital, faithful and prophetic response is to call on the government to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

CANADA - Take action: http://www.kairoscanada.org/en/take-action/the-land-our-life/kairos-day-of-action-december-5/december-5th-beat-the-drum-action-update/

US - Take action:  http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/index.aspx?c=jhKPIXPCIoE&b=2590179&template=x.ascx&action=14586

 

December 25, 2010 – Christmas Day: Christ Candle

God of light, who came into a world of darkness and who has never left it, we invite you to be present in the lighting of this candle.

This candle, the Christ Candle, represents Jesus, the Light of the World. The coming of  the Messiah was heralded by prophets and angels. It was read in the stars by the Magi and longed for by the priests of the temple.

The nativity story is just as remarkable after two millennia, yet it is easier today to see the miracles and  wonder without seeing the poverty, pain and oppression that Jesus was born into. The context is just as much a part of the nativity as the content.

If Jesus were born today into an Indigenous community how would we relate to him or recognize him? How would we celebrate his birth and what gifts might we bring him? How far do we have to go, how much do we need to learn and unlearn before we are ready to meet God in our Indigenous neighbours?

The candle flame that burns here represents the presence of Christ in a dark world. Let us honour that fire that burns within us, the longing for justice and healing.

 

Christmas Day: Bulletin Insert

On September 13, 2007 the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This followed more than twenty years of discussions within the UN system. Indigenous representatives played key roles in the development of this Declaration.

There are over 370 million Indigenous peoples in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Pacific. They are among the most impoverished, marginalised and frequently victimised people in the world

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is celebrated globally as a symbol of triumph and hope. Effective implementation of the Declaration would result in significant improvements in the global situation of Indigenous peoples.

-Ad Hoc Coalition on the UN Declaration

The 46 Articles address specific violations committed against Indigenous communities and individuals. Each article reflects a painful reality for Indigenous people. Each article is a redress of an established wrong.

 

“The tragic and brutal story of what happened to us, especially at the hands of governments, is well known. ... But today, with the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the United Nations General Assembly, we see the opportunity for a new beginning, for another kind of relationship with States in North America and indeed throughout the world.”

-Statement of Indigenous Representatives from the North America Region, 13th September 2007.

Recognising that a historic opportunity exists for Christians in Canada and the US to support indigenous peacemakers, a vital, faithful and prophetic response is to call on the government to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

CANADA - Take action: http://www.kairoscanada.org/en/take-action/the-land-our-life/kairos-day-of-action-december-5/december-5th-beat-the-drum-action-update/

US - Take action:  http://takeaction.amnestyusa.org/siteapps/advocacy/index.aspx?c=jhKPIXPCIoE&b=2590179&template=x.ascx&action=14586

 

Introductory Video

Introduction to the Aboriginal Justice project of Christian Peacemaker Teams (8.58)

 

 

Roll with the Declaration Campaign

The Aboriginal Justice Team is supporting KAIROS Canada in their 2011 Campaign 'Roll With the Declaration'

Following the 2010 signing of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), it is now time for Canada to impliment it. The Declaration sets out minimum standards that must be respected as an inherent right for Indigenous Peoples.

The KAIROS campaign calls on schools, churches, community groups and other networks to produce banners which will be gathered up in a great train journey to Ottawa, where they will be joined into one banner calling on the government to impliment the Declaration.

Information on how to run a banner-making event, where to deliver your banner, and more about UNDRIP are available on the KAIROS website. Get involved, be a part of this event.

http://www.kairoscanada.org/en/take-action/the-land-our-life/roll-with-the-declaration/

 

May 6, 2011

Short Hills

2014 Support for Short Hills Treaty Deer Harvest

Algonquin: Robertsville, Ontario

On February 3, 2008 and at the request of the Algonquin leadership, CPT reestablished a small violence-reduction team in the vicinity of the proposed uranium mine in Shabot Obaadjiwan and Ardoch Algonquin territory.

In September 2007, the two First Nations originally invited CPT to accompany them in their nonviolent efforts to protect their territory from uranium exploration. At that time, CPT established a small team which was recalled in October 2007 when a mediation process was agreed to between the Algonquins, the Ontario government and the mining company.

The mediation process ended in late January 2008 without resolving the conflict. Ontario's Ministry of Northern Development and Mines' continues to insist that exploratory drilling go on despite the Ministry having earlier given assurances that the question of drilling was subject to negotiation. A court order, suspended during negotiations, called on the First Nations and others not to impede the entrance of any Frontenac Ventures employees to the area under exploration.

In February 2008, Judge Cunningham of the Ontario Superior Court sentenced retired Ardoch Algonquin Chief Bob Lovelace to six months in jail and to heavy fines. Several other Algonquin leaders were either heavily fined or are awaiting sentencing. Three non-Aboriginal persons(including 2 CPTers) are also due to appear in court in March, 2008.

Conflict Background

This conflict has occurred because the Ontario government - without consent from the First Nations communities - granted Frontenac Ventures a license under the Ontario Mining Act to carry out exploratory drilling on sixty square kilometers of unceded Algonquin land. The Algonquins have never surrendered title to lands they have inhabited from time immemorial. The Royal Proclamation Act of 1763 and the Canadian Constitution Act of 1982 enshrine Aboriginal title in Canadian law.

Neither FV nor the Ontario government consulted with the Algonquin people before FV began its uranium exploration program. Canadian court decisions dating back seventeen years have ruled governments must consult Indigenous peoples and accommodate their concerns before undertaking resource exploitation projects on their territories. This duty to consult exists even when title to the land is in dispute.

Canadian courts have also ruled that where the potential harm to Indigenous rights is serious, governments should proceed only with the consent of the affected peoples. An open-pit uranium mine would release toxic radon gas and polonium and leave behind millions of tonnes of radioactive tailings that will permanently pollute groundwater. Even exploratory drilling alone could bring radioactive materials into contact with the water table, leading to its contamination.

CPT maintains that this land-use dispute is rooted in the Canadian government's historic neglect of legitimate Algonquin land and national sovereignty claims, and the unconstitutionality of the Ontario Mining Act. (The 100 year-old Mining Act makes no provision for consulting First Nations communities.)

In addition to maintaining a violence-reduction team in the area, CPT has organized three short-term delegations to the area, attended negotiations and court proceedings, organized a letter-writing campaign to Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Julian Fantino and organized or participated in public witnesses to call for a nonviolent resolution. CPT believes that a nonviolent resolution to this conflict is possible.

Photo Albums

Algonquins of Barriere Lake, Rapid Lake, Quebec

Members of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake (ABL) community invited CPT to be present as human rights observers for two nonviolent blockades of Highway 117 (October and November 2008). They were calling on the federal and provincial governments to honour the trilateral agreement—a resource-sharing agreement signed in 1991—and to respect their customary governance structures. On both occasions the demonstrators were met with excessive use of force by the Quebec provincial police (SQ).

The Trilateral Agreement—considered a model for future treaties by the United Nations—specifies the conditions under which logging and other resource use can occur on traditional Algonquin territory. It has never been fully implemented.

Now the Minister of Indian Affairs has imposed an unwanted electoral system of government on the community. The Algonquins of Barriere Lake are one of very few First Nations in Canada who have never been under the Indian Act's electoral system but have instead maintained their own customary governance code.

“The Canadian government claims they are imposing Indian Act elections because our traditional system doesn’t work, but it's in fact the government's interference in our internal affairs that has destabilized our governance,” says Marylynn Poucachiche, “The real reason they are imposing band elections is to sever our connection to the land, which is maintained by our traditional political system. They don’t want to deal with a strong leadership and a community that demands the governments honour signed agreements regarding the exploitation of our lands and resources.”
Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples both affirm the right to customary self-government.
CPT is calling on the federal and provincial governments to honour the trilateral agreement and the Minister of Indian Affairs, John Duncan, to reverse the imposition of band council elections.

 

Related Sites:

 

Press Release: Council Imposed on Barriere Lake Algonquins

Press Release from attempt at termination of trilateral agreement 1993

Report of the Royal Commission of Aboriginal Peoples on trilateral agreement

Algonquins of Barriere Lake vs Section 74 of the Indian Act

Barriere Lake Solidarity has produced this video to help bring attention to the current struggle by the Algonquins of Barriere Lake (ABL) against the Canadian Government's imposition of Section 74 of the Indian Act. By enacting this obscure piece of the Act, the Canadian Government is attempting to take control of the community by imposing band council elections on the community. The ABL have always had their own customary government.

 

Algonquins of Barriere Lake vs Section 74 of the Indian Act from Barriere Lake Solidarity on Vimeo.

For more information, visit:
barrierelakesolidarity.org

2011 05 20

Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishnabek

In the past century, the people of Asubpeechoseewagong Netum Anishinabek, Treaty Three territory (Grassy Narrows in Northwestern Ontario), have suffered from the genocidal effects of colonization through the residential school system, flooding and displacement by Ontario Hydro dams, forced relocation, mercury poisoning from an up-river pulp and paper mill, and the loss of animal habitat, berries and medicines from clear-cut logging.

Asubpeeschoseewagong asserted sovereignty over its traditional lands with a blockade (December 2, 2002) of the main logging road near the community and occasional blockades of another logging road. CPT was asked by the community to accompany the blockade because of fears of violence from loggers, police or others and maintained a presence there until the summer of 2004. Since then the Aboriginal Justice Team has organized regular delegations to the traditional territory and has provided logistical support for public actions and speaking tours in Toronto. (Queen's Park, Toronto is the location of the provincial government—the current seat of power for resource control or “management” in Ontario.)

In addition, January 17, 2007, Grassy Narrows Chief and Council, Environmental Committee, Blockaders, Trappers, Clan Mothers, Elders and Youth all issued an open letter to the wood product corporations, governments, builders, retailers and customers:

“We now declare a moratorium on further industrial activity in our Traditional Territory until such a time as the Governments of Canada and Ontario restore their honour and obtain the consent of our community in these decisions that will forever alter the future of our people.” (www.turtleisland,org/news/grassyjan07.pdf)

Now in its eighth year, the blockade and campaign to stop the clearcutting has pressured three forest product companies—Boise (February 2008), Abitibi Bowater (June 2, 2008), and Domtar Corp (May 2010) to not use any more wood harvested from Whiskey  Jack Forest, (coextensive with Asubpeeschoseewagong traditional land use area), at least for the time being or as Keith Ley of Domtar said “until the outstanding issues are resolved” (Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal 05/09/2010).

“Weyerhaeuser now stands alone as the only major logger who refuses to respect our right to say no to logging on our territory,” Grassy Narrows resident Joseph Fobister said in a May 7, 2010 news release.

Weyerhaeuser depends on wood from the Kenora and Whiskey Jack forests for 70% of its supply to its engineered wood mill in Kenora.  While the band council and provincial government negotiate a long-term forest management plan for Whiskey Jack Forest, Weyerhaeuser is pressing for access to the wood. The Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has also put forward a contingency plan that would allow for 27 clearcuts in 2010, 17 would each be over 260 hectares in size (Kenora Miner and News, March 25, 2009).

Meanwhile a new study has shown that, because of prolonged exposure, the effects of mercury poisoning are worse now than they were in the 1970s, calling into question Canada Safety Guidelines. (They were told the fish was safe to eat when in fact it wasn't.) In addition, of those who have been diagnosed by expert Dr. Harada as having symptoms of mercury poisoning (Minamata Disease), only 38% have been acknowledged by the Mercury Disability Board and have received any compensation. (http://freegrassy.org/media-centre/)

Asubpeeschoseewagong's struggle to defend its land is far from over.

 

Related sites

Bear Butte, South Dakota

From 3 July - 15 August 2006 CPT maintained a small team at Bear Butte, South Dakota at the invitation of an Intertribal Coalition involving thirty local tribes-- including all of the Lakota tribes with whom CPT worked in 1999 near Pierre, SD. The Coalition organized a six-week encampment to resist nonviolently the continued development and encroachment on territory they consider sacred. Every year, thousands of Native people travel to pray at Bear Butte, located near Sturgis, SD in the Black Hills.

The final week of the encampment, 7-13 August, coincided with the annual Sturgis motorcycle rally which brought an estimated 500,000 bikers to the area, creating an enormous impact on the surrounding economy and ecosystem. Most recently developer Jay Allen built a massive new biker bar and concert venue called the "Sturgis County Line" on 600 acres at the base of Bear Butte.

Tribal groups strongly opposed to this development organized a campaign of nonviolent direct action to raise their voices in opposition, and asked CPT to assist with planning actions and to be on hand to help reduce tensions and document abuses if violence was threatened.

Links 

Defend Bear Butte! | Bear Butte is Sacred to Us

Defenders of the Black Hills

Lakota Action Network

Owe Aku - Bring Back the Way


 

 

Caldwell First Nation

In December 1998, the Canadian government and the Caldwell First Nation  ( Here is another page ) announced an Agreement-in-Principle to settle outstanding land claims and thereby allow the Caldwell to purchase land for a reserve. Hostile neighbours posted 1,000 "Not for Sale" signs on surrounding lands and Caldwell property was vandalized in February 1999. Fearing further vandalism or attacks, the chief of the Caldwell asked CPT for a protective presence. CPT maintained a 3-person team on the band office property from Feb. 12-26, 1999. CPT subsequently visited Caldwell neighbours to discuss their "Not for Sale" signs as the band prepared for a ratification vote. The chief's house was vandalized again in October 2000. CPTers participated in a "Walk Against Racism" organized by the Caldwell in the spring of 2000 and 2001. When the ratification vote was held the agreement-in-principle was rejected. Legal proceeding and negotiations are continuing.

CPTers have also particpated in the Caldwells' "Walk Against Racism" in the spring of 2000 and 2001.

Dumpsite 41: Tiny Township, Ontario, Canada

In May, 2009, the Anishinaabe Kweag (Anishinaabe women) of Beausoleil First Nation (BFN), as traditional keepers of the water, intiated and maintained a camp and vigil in Simcoe County, north of Barrie, across from access gates to a proposed landfill site over a water aquifer tested as the most pristine in the world. This water flows into Georgian Bay, water source for Beausoleil First Nation and thousands more residents.

CPT had a presence in the Anishinaabe Kweag camp and at the gates from July 19th through August 30th, 2009. We were invited because the folks at the blockade were being threatened with arrest by the Ontario Provincial Police prior to the county's injunction. CPT's activities included providing a blockading presence at the dump access gates, a supportive presence at the vigil camp, participation in rallies, and development of a printed "arrest briefing" for circulation.

18 people, including CPTer David Milne, faced criminal charges for stopping dump construction. While the non-natives were charged only with mischief, many of the First Nations who were part of the peaceful vigil were also charged with intimidation. December 3, 2009, two people had their charges dropped and the rest of the charges were to be held for a year and then dropped provided the arrestees kept certain conditions (eg. not participating in another blockade).

The campaign to stop Dumpsite 41 was successful. On September 22, 2009, Simcoe County Council voted to stop construction and development at Dumpsite 41. On May 25, 2010, at the Council's request, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment revoked the certificate of approval and rezoned the land agricultural, never again to be used for waste management purposes.

 

Related Site:

Stop Dumpsite 41

Esgenoôpetitj

For three seasons, 1999-2001, the Mi'kmaq people of Esgenoôpetitj First Nation (Burnt Church) in New Brunswick, Canada, sought to assert their inherent and treaty rights to manage their own lobster fishery. Each season they were met with violence and destruction of their fishing equipment by their neighbours and by Canadian authorities. The Mi'kmaq asked CPT to be present through the 2000 and 2001 fishing seasons to reduce the extent of this violence. When CPT returned to Esgenoôpetitj in 2002, we found the community had little fishing equipment left, and in August they signed an agreement submitting their fishery to Canadian government control in return for fishing licences and money for training and equipment. There was a sense of resignation in the community–part disappointment and part relief. However the agreement was probably better than it would have been without the community's determined assertion of its rights, and everyone in Canada knows that "Burnt Church" was another example of the unresolved issues between Aboriginal peoples and European settlers.

Court cases against the Mi'kmaq continued from charges laid in earlier seasons, and CPTers testified in these proceedings in support of community members. People expressed gratitude for CPT's presence during this conflict. We were told repeatedly, "If you had not been here, there would have been blood in the water."

Haudenosaunee Territory: Brantford, Ontario, Canada

Since the original Haldimand Tract—ten kilometers on either side of the Grand River source to mouth—was deeded in 1784 for the benefit of "the said Mohawk Nation and such others of the Six Nation Indians" for their allegiance to Britain during the American Revolution, agents of the British and successor Canadian governments have seized land and misappropriated funds from leases held in trust for the Haudenosaunee.  Less than 5% of the Tract now remains under the control of the Haudenosaunee.  Of the twenty-nine well-documented land claims registered with the Federal government on portions of the other 95% of the land, only one has been settled.  Claims have languished in the Canadian federal government's hands for as long as thirty years with no meaningful attempt at resolution on the part of the government.   
 
It seems to be to the government's advantage to prolong the land claim negotiations because the “lack of a resolution maintains the status quo and does not lead to additional costs.” “Aboriginal groups are often forced to spend millions of dollars and decades of time to negotiate their agreements...When negotiations break down, the only recourse for Aboriginal groups has been expensive court proceedings.” Furthermore there is a conflict of interest in that the “federal government is both a party to and the ultimate judge in the dispute.” Also, as is seen in the case of the Haldimand Tract, often the government actually leases or sells the lands to corporations for development while the negotiations drag on.  (“Land Claims: Stuck in Never-never Land” by Lorraine Land and Roger Townshend Nation to Nation p.56-57)
 
In February, 2006, in response to a housing subdivision development in Caledonia on disputed lands known as the "Douglas Creek Estates", some Haudenosaunee demonstrators claimed this land, renaming it Kanohstaton (the Protected Place). Provincially recognized owners of the land, Henco Industries, sought and obtained a court injunction prohibiting the encampment. Early in the morning of April 20, 2006, Ontario Provincial Police raided the camp leading to several violent arrests. In the events that followed, the Haudenosaunee remained on the land. The June, 2006 provincial government payment to developers Henco Industries for the property, enabled a cessation of the court injunction, and; while ownership of the land remains in dispute, development has stopped.
Since 2006, some members of the Haudenosaunee, under the auspices of the Haudenosaunee Hoskanigetah (Men's Fire), have blockaded entrances to five development sites on disputed land in the city of Brantford. The city of Brantford responded to the non-violent work stoppages and occupations of lands earmarked for development, with an injunction (June 2, 2008) prohibiting the Haudenosaunee to demonstrate in specific locations or in any way disrupt construction. Over 150 people have been arrested with intimidation and mischief charges for trying to block development on lands legally registered as land claims. Haudenosaunee land protectors have also established periodic blockades in other threatened locations within the Haldimand Tract such as Hagersville and close to Cayuga (Edwards Street Landfill). These work stoppages  have been similarly met with arrests.


CPT first visited Kanohstaton in April, 2006. Clan Mothers encouraged support for the reclamation, without requesting a specifically mandated CPT presence, and members of CPT responded by periodic visits to the site over the blockade's duration.


In the autumn of 2009, several organizations and unions (including CPT) formally entered into a coalition called the Six Nations Solidarity Network (SNSN). Throughout CPT's engagement with Six Nations, it has participated in anti-racism, education and advocacy work (paying particular attention to the role of the church), including letter and article writing, public speaking, participation in support rallies, and attending court proceedings.

 

Related Sites:

 

Solidarity with Six Nations

Six Nations Solidarity

Solidarity and Resistance

Indian Brook First Nation

Like Esgenoopetitj, Indian Brook First Nation (IBFN) has also sought to exercise its right to fish for lobster at its traditional fishing grounds in St. Mary's Bay, southwest Nova Scotia.

As a result, IBFN fishers were attacked by police and Canadian fisheries officials in the summer of 2000. Several fishers were beaten, many charges were laid and most of their equipment was seized. After sending fact-finding teams to Indian Brook in October 2000, and March and May 2001, IBFN fishers invited CPT to accompany their 2001 fishing season in the hopes of curtailing further violence. CPT responded by placing a team there in June and July of 2001. In the end, the community decided not to fish that season because of a shortage of equipment and the continuing threats and harassment from the DFO.

Kenora, Ontario

Organizing Against Racism

Kenora is a town of 16,000 people located in Treaty Three Territory* (northwestern Ontario). Fifteen percent of Kenora's population is indigenous and it serves as the regional center for thirteen Anishinaabe(Ojibway)  communities. Anishinaabe people must travel there to shop, attend medical appointments and conduct personal business. However, it is not a place where they feel safe or welcome. A common refrain amongst Indigenous and non-indigenous residents: “Kenora is a racist town but it's something nobody wants to talk about, It only comes up when something really bad happens [someone is killed] and it can't be ignored anymore.”

On October 4, 2000, someone was killed: a North Spirit Lake man named Max Kakegamic was found beaten to death on the streets of Kenora.  July 2005, two Kenora police officers were charged under the Police Services Act for suppressing evidence and other misconduct related to the case. February 2007 the Ontario Chief Coroner's office denied the family's request to open an inquest. His murder remains unsolved.

For many of Kenora's Anishinaabe residents, the Kakegamic case is not an isolated incident but rather a stark illustration of the consequences of racism. Aboriginal people in Kenora say that they are routinely harassed, intimidated or neglected by the police. On any given day, 90% of the people in the municipal jail are Aboriginal.

Since 2000, efforts had been made by the Kenora Police Services (KPS) at the initiative of now-retired police chief Dan Jorgenson, to address the problem of harassment and discrimination. Then in 2009 a decision was made by the town council to replace the KPS with Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). The initial responses we've heard from several Natives and non-natives is that this may be a step back and that they fear harassment will increase under the new police. Furthermore, there may not be the same level of accountability to local civilians.

In an episode that seems to confirm some of these fears, June 7, 2010, an OPP officer shot Helen Proulx, a resident of Kenora from Grassy Narrows First Nation, leaving her with a shattered pelvis. The Special Investigations Unit found the shooting “justified” while Proulx was charged with three offences including “assault with a weapon” and “possessing a weapon dangerous to the public.” But Proulx was very distraught and disoriented at the time and her “weapon” was described by witnesses as a “small paring knife” or a “butter knife.” There is no report of the police officer being injured in this alleged assault.

During a visit to Kenora in the fall of 2009, CPT Aboriginal Justice Team (AJT) members were introduced to the Kenora Resource Team, a group composed of individuals representing ten organizations in Kenora (including the OPP) that meets once a month. Kenora Resource Team states that its goals are to “promote cultural understanding, awareness and education about racism and discrimination and to bring an end to race-related victimization.” The Aboriginal Justice Team aims to support positive initiatives by this and other groups in Kenora that are committed to undoing racism.

CPT maintained a full-time team in Kenora from September 2004 to May 2005. CPT returned to Kenora in October 2005 for two months and again for another two months in the Spring of 2006. By continuing to organize regular international delegations to Kenora, CPT-AJT supports a movement of non-Indigenous alliance with the Anishinaabe and other Indigenous Peoples.

Racism, as it targets and affects Aboriginal people in Canada, is inextricably linked to land, control of land and access to the land's Resources.

 

link:

*For more information on treaties

Oneida - Central New York

 CPT was invited to send an observer team to Oneida Territory near Syracuse, New York, for two weeks in February 2002, in response to fears surrounding forced evictions. The team met with various Oneida individuals and officials, area pastors, police, city and state officials, local residents and businesspeople.

In August of 2002 a request for peacemakers came from Danielle Shenandoah of the Onedia community (as her house was to be demolished) and CPT responded to this call by sending an emergency team to join dozens of other supporters on the land. The emergency team was present in the community from August to December.

Danielle Shenandoah's house was demolished on November 1, 2002.

 

Oneida Report

February 21, 2002

Background

  1. The Oneida, Mohawk, Onondaga, Cayuga, Tuscarora, and Seneca nations are autonomous members of the Six Nation Confederacy (the Haudenosaunee). The Oneida are about 1000 people (450 adults) in central New York.

    With the influx of white settlers, the Oneidas lost the 6 million acres that they once occupied in what is now central New York. Two groups of Oneidas were displaced to Ontario and Wisconsin. Others went to live with the nearby Onondaga Nation or were acculturated into the surrounding white population. Nevertheless, the Oneidas ceaselessly pursued the return of their land.

    In 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that the Oneidas were the rightful owners of 872 acres that they had claimed in a test case. The ruling gave legitimacy to the Oneida claim to another 250,000 acres in central New York. But these claims have yet to be resolved.

  2. According to Haudenosaunee tradition, the Oneida clan mothers of the wolf, bear, and turtle clans select the chiefs who represent the Oneida nation on the Grand Council of Chiefs, which oversees the Six Nation Confederacy.

    But during much of the 1970s and 1980s, the New York Oneidas were beset by leadership conflicts. In the mid-1980s, in an effort to reestablish a traditional form of government, wolf clan mother Maisie Shenandoah selected three Oneida men as temporary representatives to the Grand Council of Chiefs. By the mid-1990s, two had died, leaving only Ray Halbritter, a talented Oneida businessman trained at Harvard.

    In 1993, Mr. Halbritter negotiated a gaming compact for the Oneidas with New York governor Mario Cuomo and consequently built the highly profitable Turning Stone Casino in central New York. This casino became the cornerstone of an expansive Oneida business enterprise that now includes a chain of gas stations, a textile factory, and a luxury hotel. The business is incorporated as the Oneida Indian Nation of New York, Inc. with Ray Halbritter as its CEO. The corporation has become one of the largest employers in the area and holds the upper hand in the local economy, a fact which rankles many of its white neighbors.

    This business enterprise has brought a long-elusive prosperity to many Oneida people. Casino profits have also built a health center, a recreational gymnasium and swimming pool, and a cultural center and museum. In addition, the profits have provided scholarship programs, job training, day care, legal assistance, and Oneida language classes. Local residents who have objected to the business enterprise controled by Halbritter believe that since Federal financing helped put these facilities in place they deserve fair access.

    But Mr. Halbritter's initiatives have been criticized by some Oneidas, who say he has violated the Great Law of the Haudenosaunee by embracing gambling. They also fault him for selecting his own clan mothers and for creating a "men's council," both unheard of practices in Haudenosaunee tradition.

    In 1993, the Grand Council of Chiefs removed Mr. Halbritter as the Oneida wolf clan representative and notified the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) that he no longer represented the Oneida people. The decision was accepted by the BIA, only to be reversed 24 hours later, reportedly under pressure from Sherwood Boehlert, the U.S. congressional representative for the area and a casino supporter.

    Today the U.S. governmentóbut not the Grand Council of Chiefsógives official recognition to the Oneida Indian Nation with Ray Halbritter as its representative.

  3. Ray Halbritter has characterized this conflict as an internal family dispute between himself and his aunt Maisie Schenandoah, the clan mother who originally appointed him to represent Oneidas to the Grand Council. But Maisie Schenandoah sees it as a struggle between two competing ways of governance: the traditional structure advocated by the Grand Council of Chiefs and the corporate structure advocated by Ray Halbritter. She accuses her nephew of operating under self-assumed authority.

    Today this struggle is being played out on a 32-acre plot of land, the only undisputed territory held by Oneidas in central New York. Maisie Schenandoah lives on this territory, alongside eight like-minded families. But their continued residence here is in jeopardy. In the past year, building inspectors from the Oneida Indian Nation have declared eleven of their dwellings to be in violation of building code and have evicted the residents and demolished their homes. All but one of the homes that were inspected have been destroyed.

    Some people speculate that the corporation wants the 32-acre territory for an "offshore" bank or as a new location for the casino, if environmental and accounting irregularities force it off its present site. They point to recently installed industrial sewer and water lines, which seem to indicate plans for nonresidential development. Or, perhaps the removals are simply further attempts to silence Ray Halbritter's critics. They say he already withholds from them their share of nation monies that are supposed to be distributed to all Oneidas.

    In November 2001, Oneida Indian Nation officials arrived at the 32-acre territory to inspect the home of Danielle Patterson, Maisie Shenandoah's daughter. The officials were accompanied by 22 officers from the corporation's police force. Ms. Patterson protested but was roughly forced aside. (Police later attempted to remove her injury records from the hospital where she was treated.)

    In the hopes of preventing further violence, native and nonnative observers have been coming to the 32-acre territory since this incident occurred.

CPT Invitation

CPT was asked to send people because of a chain of connections. Hawk, a Shawnee observer at the 32-acre territory, contacted John Paul Lederach who encouraged Rob and Patty Burdette, peace workers participants in CPT events and delegations to visit. Their visit and CPT involvement with native struggles in South Dakota and New Brunswick led to a request from the traditional Oneidas on the 32 acres that CPT place a two week team in the area.

Anne Herman, Rod Orr, and Cliff Kindy arrived at the 32-acre territory on February 7, 2002. They chose to accept the invitation to live with three separate families on the territory after judging that staying in Syracuse, 30 miles away, would complicate documentation work if a demolition occurred.

CPT Work

  1. The CPT presence for two weeks has been one of observing and listening. A prayer circle each morning and frequent potlucks on the 32-acre territory have provided contacts with 40 to 50 Oneidas and friends connected intimately with this situation.

    We visited area pastors and attended three Sunday worship services in different churches. We learned that prayer meetings, dialogue circles, and peacemaking meetings have been part of the recent history.

    We contacted city, state, and Oneida Indian Nation police, as well as county and federal district attorneys. These contacts clarified the facts of the initial deputation of Oneida Indian Nation police and then the removal of that deputation by area security jurisdictions. We are troubled by the lack of accountability of these police to anyone other than the Oneida Indian Nation corporate leadership.

    We visited with employees of the corporation, and we had a two-hour meeting with Ray Halbritter, four members of the menís council, and one clan mother. These meetings were key opportunities to become human with each other.

    CPT has had visits and advice from others who have been on territory and those whose work centers on the larger picture of native issues in the region. The Inter-Religious Council of Central New York and Quakers from the Syracuse Friends Meeting and from the American Friends Service Committee office in Syracuse have provided a framework of understanding for CPT analysis and work.

  2. The concerns and fears of local non-natives are both real and greatly exaggerated by the unknown. They were made worse when what was to be a bingo hall turned into a casino complex and when 20,000 local landholders were made codefendants in the Oneida land claim lawsuits. Traditional Oneidas on the 32 acres have tried to distance themselves from these actions because of their work over the years to be good neighbors.

    Oneida City mayor Jim Chappel spoke to us of the 36 percent drop in tax revenues from 2000 to 2001 because most of the gas stations in town are now native-owned and do not charge sales and excise taxes on motor fuels. (The corporation has a monopoly on diesel fuel sales in the stretch from Utica to Syracuse.) He raised concerns about possible increases in the crime rate and about the damages caused to families by compulsive gambling.

    Business owners in the area cited the unfair competition of native stores, which do not have to charge tax on gasoline, diesel, and cigarettes. The current proposal for a settlement of the land claims would require the Oneida Indian Nation to charge non-natives the equivalent of sales and excise taxes. But the corporation would keep these revenues and would have to use them for tribal services, not for business purposes. Sovereignty and tax exemption would still be issues even if the traditionals were the bia-recognized government. Traditional people feel as strongly about these matters as does Ray Halbritter’s organization.

    Landholders fear they will be forced to sell their homes in the land claim area. But Cynthia Bannis, whose family has had five generations on the land, told the team that such fears are unfounded. No homeowners across the United States have been forced to sell their homes against their will in any native land claim settlements. But some have felt compelled to become "willing sellers" after casino traffic so disrupted their neighborhoods that they didn't want to live there anymore.

    Those with the greatest fears seem to be members of the Upstate Citizens for Equality (UCE). Their concern about a disappearing tax base is valid. Again, though, the current settlement proposal includes payments to those affected communities to balance the losses. UCE positions against native sovereignty and a sense that Indians have special privileges under the law seem to point toward an underlying racism, as Ray Halbritter has charged. But UCE expressions of support for Danielle Patterson indicate some of the complexity of their position as they face what they see as a common opponent in Mr. Halbritter.

    Pastors told us of the delicate role they play in raising justice issues in congregations that have employees working for the Oneida Indian nation businesses. They also face opposition from conservative Christians who protest ecumenical services in which ìpagansî are allowed to pray and in which other religious traditions participate.

    As we talked with people in the Oneida area, we could clearly sense the fear that this powerful business enterprise instills in some of those who are native and/or work for the corporation. All these fears will need resolution before there can be a healthy base for community wholeness.

    CPT provided a series of nonviolent trainings for the families on the 32-acre territory. We believe this helped to strengthen and clarify their nonviolent resistance to a forced eviction from their homes and takeover of the land.

Proposal

As CPT left, the community of families on the 32-acre territory was preparing to meet with their lawyers. They plan to make the following offer to Ray Halbritter:

  • If he is really concerned about housing on the territory, they are willing to accept a [HIS?] 1991 offer to build new homes for the families behind their existing homes, which could then be removed.
  •  

  • If that is not satisfactory, he could pay the withheld nation distributions to these families and they could build their own homes according to code.

The CPT Oneida team recommends that CPT remain connected with the situation through the advisors/contacts. Should the need arise, the team urges that an emergency delegation be sent in a fashion similar to our responses to crises in Vieques, Puerto Rico. (See the list of Potential Emergency Delegation members.)

Even in these short two weeks, CPT has been able to build credibility with various players in the drama. This work has parallels to CPT work with indigenous people in Chiapas, the Lakota in South Dakota, and esgenoopetitj First Nation in New Brunswick. Security forces, with their tendencies toward violence, complement the violence of laws, structures, and economics. Together they destroy or remove people who are in the way in order to access resources and land. There are still questions that remain for the work in Oneida. (See list of questions.)

Definitions

Oneida Nation of the Six Nation Iroquois Confederacy 1000 year old self-designation of the Oneida people; still existing today

Oneida Indian Nation of New York, Inc. “a business called a nation”

32 acre territory only uncontested Oneida land; home of 8 families facing home demolitions; site of the longhouse ceremonial meeting center that has been locked to the 8 families

Wolf, Bear and Turtle clans primary Oneida social organization that crosses family and nation boundaries

land claim areas that Indian nations claim as rightfully theirs because of treaties signed with the US government

tax base properties and businesses that pay the taxes to support area infrastructure; native sovereignty excludes this foreign taxation

traditional following the old historical practices and customs

BIA Bureau of Indian Affairs; US government program to oversee contacts with American Indian nations; often accused of destroying native culture, language and political autonomy Great Law ­ moral teaching of the Iroquois

Players

traditional Oneida those trying to maintain the historical customs and strengths of the nation

Shenandoah family core family keeping the traditional Oneida nation base viable on the 32 acres

Maisie Shenandoah wolf clan mother and family matriarch

Ray Halbritter CEO of the Oneida Indian Nation of New York, Inc.

Upstate Citizens for Equality landowners concerned about native claims to their homes and loss of tax base

Oneida Indian Nation Police all non-native enforcement officers of the corporation

George Pataki New York governor willing to deal secretly with nations for casinos

Sherwood Boehlert US Representative who prides himself with trading the deciding vote for NAFTA in exchange for BIA recognition of Halbritter

Questions

  • How does the 32 acre plot fit into others plans?
  •  

  • Will there be recognized Oneida Nation land when this is over?
  •  

  • Will there be a sustainable tax base for local communities?
  •  

  • What are the costs of a casino for Indian nations and government entities?
  •  

  • Will the Oneidas of New York, Wisconsin and Ontario come together?
  •  

  • Can traditional Iroquois Confederacy ways be maintained?
  •  

  • Can Oneidas have voice in the corporation that uses them to justify BIA recognition?
  •  

  • What is needed for reconciliation among the various parties?

 

Pierre, South Dakota

Seven Council Fires Camp

On March 22, 1999 in Pierre, SD, seven Lakota men established the "First Fire of the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) camp on La Framboise Island after more than 200 people demonstrated against the U.S. Congress turning Treaty land over to the state of South Dakota. Spiritual leaders conducted ceremonies and lit a sacred fire at the camp-in site as a reminder that the aboriginal and Treaty rights of the Oceti Sakowin nation are not extinguished. The camp-in participants were committed to a nonviolent presence across from the SD capitol on La Framboise Island, part of the 200,000 acres in question. The intent was to remain there until the congressional decision, called Title VI: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe and State of South Dakota Terrestrial Wildlife Habitat Restoration Act of 1999, or the "Mitigation Act", was repealed.


CPT was invited to be observers of this nonviolent camp-in calling for the reversal of the Mitigation Act. Various church groups endorsed CPT's presence and local congregations were invited to join and support Lakota people and CPTers on La Framboise Island. 

The CPT presence on LaFramboise Island in the Missouri River was designed to help prevent the outbreak of violence of the sort widely associated with the deaths at Wounded Knee in 1973. The presence by committed nonviolent Christians sent a message to local troublemakers and law enforcement bodies that the world is watching.

This was an important opportunity for Christians who want to witness to our nonviolent faith to make a very concrete statement with their lives. Although the presence on LaFramboise Island was peaceful, there had been racist incidents and occasional harassment, and gunshots were fired into the camp. As the deadline to remove the camp approached, the possibility existed that Federal or State Forces might use violent force to remove the Lakota people from the island. CPT was present to document these events and to help prevent an escalation of the violence.

Books

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee -- Dee Brown
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse -- Peter Matthiessen
Lakota Woman -- Mary Crow Dog
Dammed Indians
God is Red -- Vine Deloria
Walking in the Sacred Manner -- Mark St. Pierre & Tilda Long Soldier