Signs of the Times: July - September 2011; Vol. XXI, No. 3
Walls of Shame
CPTer Joins "Flytilla"
Bedouin Homes Demolished
Bicycling as Nonviolent Resistance
Iranian Attacks Intensify
Not Like Syria
Stop the Shelling!
Under the Grip of Violence
"Dialogue is the Answer"
Partner Profile: Cahucopana
Peacemaker Congress, 13 -16 October
Lessons from South Asia
Palestine/Borderlands: Walls of Shame
CPTer Elizabeth García from Texas led the August 2011 delegation to Israel/Palestine.
I am in Hebron, located in the Judean Hills, south of Jerusalem in the Holy Land. Although this place is on the other side of the world from my home in Brownsville, Texas, many things here are similar to what we experience in the Rio Grande Valley.
As people of color, Palestinians have to put up with daily harassment from the IDF (Israel Defense Force), just as our brothers and sisters of color coming from México and other parts of the world are harassed by the CBP (Customs and Border Patrol).
In Israel, if you are a Muslim, Arab, or Palestinian whether you are four years old or twenty, you are probably considered a “terrorist.” Chances are, the thinking goes, you are preparing to hurt the Jewish community. North American Anglos think that if you are not white, you become automatically a threat to the nation, and thus you must be removed.
Operation End Game, a plan implemented in 2003 by U.S. Homeland Security to remove all illegal aliens and possible terrorists, is the same game the Israeli government plays to get all Palestinians out of the territories it occupies. According to the state of Israel, Palestine in not a state, and therefore as a Palestinian you have no citizenship, and therefore no right to remain in your homeland.
And so they build a wall; they separate families; they harass people in the worst possible ways in a systematic effort to remove these “illegal aliens.”
People on the Palestine side of the wall suffer because they cannot see their close relatives, they cannot travel to their holy sites, and they cannot bury their dead – an experience that many of my friends and relatives in Brownsville and other parts of the Valley share.
We are miles and miles apart, but what happens here and there, there and here, is the same – yes, I will say it – the same racism perpetrated by those who look at us as “terrorists,” as “illegal aliens,” as objects that need to be removed.
The leaders of our nations build walls of violence against our peoples – walls of political corruption, of ignorance, of mistrust; walls intended to create fear of the “other.”
The walls that separate Israel from Palestine and the U.S. from Mexico break our communities into pieces. These barriers make it impossible to have normal lives, to maintain normal family and human relations. These walls are a symbol of shame for our nations.
My only hope is that, I, rooted in my Christian faith, continue to believe that the Gospel will break down the dividing walls of hostility among us all.
“For Christ is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of hostility that kept us apart.”
- Ephesians 2:14 (the Inclusive Language New Testament)
Palestine: CPTer Joins "Flytilla"
In July as the second international flotilla of ships tried to break Israel’s siege on Gaza, hundreds of internationals organized a “flytilla” to Israel’s Ben Gurion airport. Participants challenging Israel’s denial-of-entry policy, which prevents Palestinians living abroad and internationals from entering the Occupied Territories, carried invitations to visit a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank city of Bethlehem.
CPTer John Lynes was among 12 people who flew from the United Kingdom. In explaining his decision to join the “flytilla” Lynes wrote:
“For years I’ve felt ashamed at the way my Palestinian friends and their Western well wishers have been humiliated, intimidated and dehumanised when trying to enter the West Bank through Ben Gurion airport… The Israelis have destroyed Palestinian airports near Ramallah and Gaza City, so it is now impossible to reach the West Bank except through Israeli Security.
…Normally we go through the tiresome ritual of persuading Israeli authorities that we are innocent pilgrims or tourists. This time we are going to tell the truth. And we will refuse to be deported. The Israelis must either imprison us, or let us proceed.
…I’m not expecting a smooth passage... I have chosen this step without bitterness or antagonism. I wish for the Israelis what I wish for my own children – a life free from fear and hatred.”
Israeli authorities did indeed imprison Lynes and those traveling with him for several days. Upon arriving safely back home, Lynes wrote to supporters:
“…I was whisked off to a side room with about thirty people. Later…the men, some handcuffed and shackled, were herded into police wagons in stifling heat and kept for a long time without water. Eventually [they] deposited us at Ramle Prison in the heart of Israel.
…We were not told why we had been arrested, so on Monday morning we started a hunger strike, asking to be told the nature of our offence. This seems to have accelerated our release.
…I had hoped to reach Hebron to meet old friends. In that respect I was disappointed. But our purpose was to focus on the plight of West Bank Palestinians, and in this we seem to have been more effective.”
Palestine: Bedouin Homes Demolished
The Israeli army demolished three dwellings and a bathroom in the Palestinian village of Umm al Kheer in the South Hebron Hills early on the morning of 8 September 2011. According to UN field workers at the sight, the demolitions left eight adults and sixteen children homeless.
“This [has been] done many times here, and it’s catastrophic,” said a resident of the village who, due to fear of retribution from the Israeli government, wished to be referred to only as Suleiman. “The toilet doesn’t make problems for Israeli security; the tent does not make problems for Israeli security; neither does this house in which live twelve kids. How will these kids live? How will these kids sleep tonight? How can we explain the truth to these kids? Maybe these kids will grow up with fear. They must think about that.”
Umm Al Kheer is a Bedouin village in Area C (under Israeli control) built in the 1950s. It borders the Israeli settlement of Karmel (considered illegal under international law) established in the 1980s. The village routinely experiences harassment from Israeli soldiers and settlers.
The demolition is part of a clear strategy to push the Bedouins away from the area around the settlement. In October 2008, the Israeli army demolished ten house-tents in order to clear the area for expansion of the Karmel settlement. The demolitions left sixty people homeless.
CPT and Operation Dove have maintained an international presence in at-Tuwani and the South Hebron Hills since 2004.
Palestine: Bicycling as Nonviolent Resistance
by Jessie Smith, intern
On 28 June 2011, 60 bicyclists attempted to ride from Hebron to al-Bweireh to demonstrate that Palestinians must have freedom of movement on roads connecting them to their neighbors. Palestinian participants in the demonstration live primarily in the Hebron area and 20 internationals accompanied them. Many people lined the streets, cheering the bicyclists along.
Near the first checkpoint, at least 15 Israeli soldiers and two police officers stopped the cyclists and refused to let them proceed. Authorities also installed razor wire to prevent anyone from crossing the blockade. Soldiers claimed the area was a closed military zone, but could not prove that the paper they showed from a distance was current for that action.
After a long standoff and much conversation, the bicyclists eventually left, energized by their innovative resistance in the struggle to reestablish Palestinian rights.
On 27 July 2011, four masked settlers from the Havat Ma’on settlement outpost attacked shepherds grazing their flocks on Palestinian land and their international accompaniers near Meshaha Hill.
The shepherds were able to get away, but settlers hit a CPTer in the head with an iron bar and destroyed his camera. The head injury required eight stitches.
CPT and Operation Dove documented six occasions in five weeks in which settlers from Havat Ma’on attacked Palestinians or internationals near Meshaha Hill.
Iraq: Iranian Attacks Intensify
by David Hovde
“The tomatoes will be ready in a few days,” Mahmud told CPT-Iraq team members. “Yesterday there was bombing on this mountain.”
Mahmud is the leader of Kani Spi, a village in the mountains of the Kurdish region of Iraq a few kilometers from the Iranian border. He described intensifying battles between the PJAK (a resistance group fighting for the rights of Kurds in Iran) and Iranian military forces.
“The PJAK burned two Iranian tanks...and took over an Iranian base killing all the soldiers,” he said. “This made Iran very angry…so, they attack harder with shelling now. One night several bombs came close to Kani Spi. We heard the noise in neighboring villages. As it came closer, our whole village fled.”
Mahmud showed CPTers a piece of shrapnel as he continued. “Since 1991, Iran has shelled every year. CPT has been visiting us for five years. You have never seen the PJAK here. They operate inside Iran and Qandil, not here.”
His story went on. “Of Kani Spi’s twenty-three families, three did not return to the village after the end of the heavy bombing. But the farm needs everyone. We are busy planting and watering the fields every two days. The people have invested money in fertilizer for the fields. If the fields do not produce, it is a financial loss of between $2500 and $3000 per family. People are tired of this. Sometimes we can’t sleep at night for fear of the shelling.”
Iraqi officials report that so far this year Iranian cross-border attacks have killed four civilians, including a ten-year-old boy, and injured twelve. The Iranian assaults also displaced 800 residents from their homes in border villages, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.
During a recent visit, villagers showed Iraqi Parliament members the Iranian bases which are inside Iraqi territory in violation of international law. The villagers also showed them the Iranian tanks facing their direction and craters where rockets had hit. The Parliamentarians said they would try to pressure the Iranian government to stop the attacks. They said the Iraqi government is trying to get foreign Consulates to speak out against the attacks. The villagers asked them for compensation for their losses. The Parliamentarians did not promise anything but said they would talk to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
“We have to continue our life,” insisted Mahmud. “We cannot go to the city. This is where we want to be. The problem is not religious or political – it is because we are Kurds. Turkey and Iran have problems with the Kurds in their countries. They want to move the problem to the border and inside Iraq. They don’t want the Kurds to have autonomy.”
Iranian attacks into Iraqi territory not only violate international law but also destroy Kurdish communal life and harvests from recently-planted fields and gardens.
Reports indicate that more than 15,000 additional Iranian soldiers have amassed along the border together with about 200 officers from the Turkish army to further escalate this campaign. The Iranian military has erected outposts inside Iraqi territory and Iranian tanks have moved to within striking range of Iraqi villages.
This conflicted mountainous region has been home to the Kurdish people for more than 5000 years. The villagers inherited a way of life from their ancestors that should be protected and passed along to the children who will follow them.
CPT urges supporters to join the growing opposition to Iran’s assaults by contacting the Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations and sending an annotated copy of your letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council:
• Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations; 2 United Nations Plaza; New York, NY 10017 USA; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
• UN Human Rights Council; same mailing address; e-mail: email@example.com
The assaults by Iran in the mountainous regions of their border with Iraq are destroying lives, property, and community. I condemn these brutal actions against the Kurdish people and the human family. Please use the influence of your office to end this senseless disruption.
Iraq: Not Like Syria
by David Hovde
Ismail Abdulla worked as a driver in Suleimaniyah for a retired leader in the government. On 17 February 2011, people began to demonstrate in the city’s Azadi Square against corruption in the Kurdistan Regional Government’s ruling parties.
Along with thousands of others, Ismail went daily to the square, becoming one of the regular speakers on the stage. He continued working, but started to receive many threats and a salary cut. A high government official called him and asked him to stop speaking from the stage, offering him a new apartment if he obliged. Ismail said he would not sell himself or his beliefs. He recorded the conversation, played it from the stage, and gave it to a local TV station.
By 19 April, the security forces ended the demonstrations. They used tear gas on the crowds and burned down the stage. Ismail went into hiding. When the ruling parties began talking to the opposition groups, he thought it was safe to come out.
Late in the evening on 26 May 2011, Ismail went to the supermarket with some friends. As he returned to his car, eight men in ski masks grabbed him, covered his head, and beat him with their guns. They forced him into a car and drove for about 30 minutes, then stopped and beat him some more.
One of the men got a phone call, then said, “Don’t kill him. ” At that point, one of the men broke Ismail’s nose. They cut him with knives on his arms and back and warned, “If you ever get involved in demonstrations again, we’ll kill you.”
Ismail responded, “If there was a demonstration right now, I’d do it again.” Then one of the men broke Ismail’s finger. He lost consciousness. His attackers then drove him about twenty-five kilometers outside the city, and dumped him.
A month later, Ismail’s health is improving. He had surgery to fix the bones in his nose. Government authorities and security officials talked with him, assuring him the investigation of his abductors will continue. Ismail says they either do not know who did it, or they are lying.
“The people come out into the streets peacefully,” Ismail says. “The government forces come out with violence. We don’t want to become like Syria. We don’t want violence and civil war.”
Iraq: Stop the Shelling!
For the last five years, CPT has accompanied Iraqi Kurdish families displaced on an annual basis from their villages along the Iraq/Iran border. What was once a rich agricultural region within Iraqi territory has become a battleground between Iranian military and resistance fighters.
In August, CPTers took the villagers’ concerns to the doors of the Iranian Consulate in Erbil, the capitol city of the KRG (Kurdish Regional Government). They carried a banner printed in Persian, Kurdish, Arabic, and English saying unambiguously, “Iranian shelling destroys village life.” They prepared a “Statement to the Iranian Consulate and to the World” and translated it into Persian for the Consulate and into Kurdish for members of the press. They displayed symbols of the devastation caused by the attacks: pictures of tent camps; a child-size manikin covered in a white sheet; dried, undeveloped vegetable plants; rocket and shell fragments from the area.
After reading their statement aloud they asked to speak with the Iranian Consul General. A Consular representative came out and accepted the statement on behalf of the Consulate. Eight media outlets covered the event.
“We do not know what will happen because of our witness at the Iranian Consulate,” reflected CPTers after concluding their action. “All we know is that we tried to communicate the distress of the displaced farmers and their families to persons in a position to influence the activities along the mountainous border of Iraq and Iran.”
Back at their home base in Suleimaniya a few days later, a CPTer walking in the historic market district was stopped by a stranger who said, “Thank you for what you did for us. We are really grateful.”
Aboriginal Justice: Celebrating Victories: Take One, Take Two, Take Three
by Peter Haresnape
The Algonquin First Nation of Barriere Lake is celebrating because mining company Cartier Resources, Inc. has suspended work on their traditional territory.
In March 2011, the Algonquins discovered ongoing copper mining exploration on their traditional lands. When they explained their opposition, the workers on site, mostly from Mistassini and Oujebougaou First Nations, stopped work and left.
In May, Barriere Lake’s Elder’s Council pledged to block peacefully any resource extraction without their “free, prior and informed consent” – a recently-affirmed right in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Community members made clear at Cartier’s Annual Meeting that such consent had neither been sought, nor granted.
By June, the community invited observers including CPTer Colin Stuart to accompany their presence at the mining site. They discussed a long-term presence should a blockade become necessary to address Cartier’s ongoing exploration.
In July, Cartier announced they would suspend operations until 2013.
Barriere Lake spokesperson Norman Matchewan said, “The community applauds Cartier for respecting our wishes that no mining exploration or drilling proceed. The company is setting an important precedent by not moving ahead without the free, prior and informed consent of the community.”
by Peter Haresnape
The Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) community is celebrating the overwhelming endorsement by community referendum of both a Watershed Declaration protecting Big Trout Lake, and a Consultation Protocol detailing the methodology the community will use in assessing development proposals on the rest of KI territory.
KI has had to defend its watershed against unwanted mining in the past. In 2008, its chief and five councilors were imprisoned for their role in peacefully blocking Platinex, Inc. from accessing mining claims there. After two months and a public outcry that eventually prompted revision of the Ontario Mining Act, the Court of Appeals overturned the six-month sentence and unconditionally released the six.
“First Nation leaders should not have to lose their freedom because of the Ontario government’s failure to properly consult and accommodate First Nations,” said Grand Chief Stan Beardy (Nishnawbe Aski Nation) on the release of the ‘KI-6.’
KI’s Consultation Protocol models how free, prior and informed consent assigns decision making power to those most affected. The test of government and corporate respect the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) will be whether they honour the Consultation Protocol.
by Rebecca Johnson
Members of Grassy Narrows First Nation (GNFN) have more than one reason to celebrate.
An independent forestry audit released in spring 2011 supports their longstanding concerns over the government’s management of the Whiskey Jack Forest, which includes their traditional territory.
The audit tracks how logging companies are abiding by regulations and produces action plans to rectify bad practices and poor results. Its primary message is that Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) has not done enough to repair the damage caused by industrial logging or to help the forest heal.
CPT accompanied the GNFN’s blockade of a road used by logging trucks that began in 2002. In response to the audit, GNFN Deputy Chief Randy Fobister commented, “If you look towards our peaceful blockade, I think this justifies it, [...] all we’re doing is protecting the land.”
In August, GNFN won a major legal victory in their more than decade-long battle to stop clear-cut logging in their traditional territory. The 300-page Ontario Superior Court decision finds that the Government of Ontario does not have the power to take away the rights in Treaty 3, including hunting, trapping and fishing, by authorizing development such as logging and mining.
GNFN leader Joseph Fobister, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said, “This is a victory for our people. We have struggled for many years to save our way of life in the face of uncontrolled clear-cutting which has contaminated our waters and destroyed our lands.”
This decision sets the stage for proper recognition and protection of the rights and way of life of the Anishinaabe people in Northwestern Ontario.
Peacemaker Congress: Re-imagining Partnerships for Peace
Re-imagining Partnerships for Peace: a 25th anniversary celebration
13 - 16 October 2011
What do CPT’s partners have to say about our relationships and working together for peace in the coming years? Hear grassroots peacemakers from Palestine, Iraq, and Colombia.
Don’t miss this rich line-up of plenary speakers, workshop presenters, worship and Bible study leaders.
SATURDAY NIGHT CONCERT: featuring internationally acclaimed baritoneTONY BROWN
Presenting Songs and Stories of Peace, Hope and Justice
Colombia: Under the Grip of Violence
In mid-August, Colombia hosted the FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) U-20 World Cup. International mass media portrayed Colombia as a nation at peace during the games.
However, facts on the ground in the Magdalena Medio region tell another story. A wave of human rights violations, assassinations, and massacres shook the region the same week, belying the mass media image and pointing to a country under the grip of organized armed violence.
In Barrancabermeja, where CPT is based, human rights groups documented two assassinations (Fernando Peña Betancourt and a 15-year-old boy), two forced disappearances (including 23-year-old motorcycle-taxi driver, Jarlinson Andrés Guzmán), five attempted assassinations (including a 56-year-old man and a teenage boy), and the kidnapping of three contract workers from 13-18 August.
In rural Santander, members allegedly belonging to the ELN guerilla group massacred four men on 14 August. The victims were found shot to death on a road 40 minutes outside the town of San Pablo.
In the mining zone of Sur de Bolivar, a group of 20 armed men who identified themselves as belonging to the paramilitary group Aguilas Negras (Black Eagles) entered the village of Casa Zinc on 17 August. They gathered the community together and assassinated subsistence farmer Pedro Sierra. They then tortured and cut out the tongues of Ivan Serrano, a local shop owner, and Luis Albeiro Ropero, a young miner, before killing them. The Colombian Army stood idly by just twenty minutes away.
The U.S. government, eager to pass a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), helps to promote the false media image of a peaceful Colombia, glossing over the human rights concerns that have followed in the wake of such agreements since 2006.
Contact U.S. Legislators (see www.usa.gov) and say “No” to the proposedU.S.-Colombia FTA!
Colombia: "Dialogue is the Answer"
by Stewart Vriesinga
Those most affected by the war in Colombia – indigenous communities, Afro-Colombians, and subsistence farmers from rural areas all over the country – are seldom heard from and almost never consulted about solutions to the violence.
Over 15,000 of them travelled great distances to meet in Barrancabermeja from 12-15 August. They gathered for a People’s Forum to work out and propose their own solutions to a conflict that continues to threaten their lives and livelihoods, their traditional lands, and their cultural identities.
Creating tent cities with open-air kitchens, participants shared experiences, attended workshops, and offered theatrical and musical presentations. By the end of the weekend, they had developed their own manifesto for peace in Colombia which they sent to all branches of government, guerrilla groups, and the media.
“It is urgent that we all work together to consolidate a culture of peace,” their statement read. “We believe that all parties involved directly in the confrontation should adopt a bilateral cessation of hostilities, opening the possibility of dialogue...”
Both guerilla groups – the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Popular Army (FARC-EP) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) – sent messages indicating their desire to enter into negotiations; however, participants of the People’s Forum expressed doubt about the govern-ment’s position, saying, “We are concerned that...the pursuit of a military solution is at the top of the government agenda…”
As communities experiencing massacres, targeted killings and forced displacement by all armed actors including state security forces, People’s Forum participants were clear about the roots of the problem.
“We are aware that the prospect of a political solution has many enemies, especially those that benefit from the status-quo,” they said. “...Ending the war is not in the interests of those who have made it into a lucrative business.”
They continued, “We reject the government’s…economic model that… gives preferential treatment to transnational corporations…which exploit our lands and natural resources… This model destroys the peasant economy, ravages the territories of indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities…undermines our sovereignty, and threatens food security.”
“Democracy in our country,” they asserted, “…requires a new model that allows us to administer our own local resources and wealth for the benefit of the local population.”
CPT will continue supporting efforts like the People’s Forum which someday may transform the balance of power to such an extent that civil society can actually make the government come to the bargaining table.
Colombia: Partner Profile: CAHUCOPANA
by Gladys Gómez and Kryss Chupp
CAHUCOPANA member Angela Castellanos will speak at CPT’s 25th anniversary Peacemaker Congress October 13-16 in Chicago. See www.cpt.org/congress/registration
CAHUCOPANA (cow-coh-PAH-nah) is one of those delightful acronyms, a mouthful in any language. In Spanish it stands for Corporación Acción Humanitaria por la Convivencia y la Paz del Nordeste Antioqueño. In English it means Humanitarian Action Corporation for the Coexistence and Peace of Northeast Antioquia, but the translation doesn’t really do justice to the spirit and work of the organization.
Founded in 2004, CAHUCOPANA is an initiative of campesinos (subsistence farmers) united to defend nonviolently their human rights. Their primary objective is to “build solutions to the social and human rights crises plaguing rural communities in the municipalities of Segovia and Remedios in Northeast Antioquia.”
This region, rich in natural resources including water, valuable minerals, wildlife and gold, is zoned as a forest preserve and should be protected as such. However, government concessions to foreign investors – such as Canadian multinational Gran Colombia Gold Corp. and its subsidiaries Zandor Capital and Anglogold Ashanti – have resulted in significant damage to the environment and triggered countless conflicts, claiming the lives of many campesinos and displacing thousands more.
CAHUCOPANA released a book on 20 July called “Northeast Antioquia: Territory under Dispute – Between the Accumulation of Capital and the Campesino Alternative” which points to the lack of government services in the region and the absence of regulation and planning for equitable development that would benefit the population.
“The only government presence is the military which is just here to repress us and damage the social fabric of our communities,” said one CAHUCOPANA leader.
Some residents report that the army is preventing goods from entering rural areas which means campesinos must make costly trips to distant urban centers on nearly impassable roads to buy food and supplies.
Paramilitary violence also threatens community life, forcing displacement and creating fear in Northeast Antioquia. A paramilitary group called the Black Eagles raided the community of Santa Marta in June, and on 26 July union leader Rafael Tobón was assassinated.
After nearly seven years of hard work and peaceful resistance, CAHUCOPANA has helped reduce the rate of human rights abuses and violations of International Humanitarian Law in the region. Their strategy includes forming human rights teams in each community and organizing “humanitarian actions” in response to crisis situations. These “humanitarian actions” involve not only collecting and delivering food, clothing and medicines to affected communities, but also providing human rights workshops and public denunciations of violence and abuse.
CPT continues to partner with CAHUCOPANA as it expands its efforts to promote respect for human rights and dignity, encourage direct participation in making peace, and demand a voice in deciding how the resources of their territory will be cared for and who will benefit.
No Violent Toys!
The Christian Community “Manantial de Vida” (Spring of Life) in Margarita Island, Venezuela is working hard to rid the island of violent toys as part of their efforts to reduce violence among children and youth on the streets. Members of the church, several of whom are recovering addicts and have been imprisoned, are now serving youth and children currently involved in drugs, assaults, etc. So far the campaign has reached 36 schools with workshops and public service announcements aired on public television and nine radio stations in four counties on the island.
Coltan “Cell Out”Campaign
Trinity United Church of Christ (Chicago) urges support for sisters, brothers, and children in the Democratic Republic of Congo who are forced to mine columbite-tantalite or “Blood Coltan,” an ore used in the production of cell phones and other electronic devices. The campaign takes place every Wednesday, from 12:00-1:00pm and from 7:00-8:00pm. To participate, change your cell phone greeting to tell callers you are not using your cell phone during these times in protest of coltan mining. To watch a free online documentary about coltan, see http://goo.gl/x8kLT.
The Boycott Dance
Peacemakers in Portland, Oregon USA took the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli Occupation to their local grocery store. Watch their 4-minute YouTube video of the boycott dance at http://goo.gl/tpVEL.
Moving On...Moving In
On 1 September 2011 Doug Pritchard retired from serving as one of two CPT Co-Directors. He was appointed, together with Carol Rose, in 2004 when CPT’s founding director Gene Stoltzfus retired.
Pritchard first became involved with CPT when he attended a 1990 CPT consultation with the Innu people regarding low level NATO flights over their traditional lands and joined the CPT Southern Ontario support group for the Innu. In 1995, he joined the CPT Steering Committee as a representative of the Mennonite Church and became CPT Canada Coordinator in 1997.
“In CPT I have had the opportunity to try to show a different face of Christ than that claimed by Emperor Constantine and the Crusaders, both ancient and modern,” said Pritchard in a parting letter to CPTers.
He added, “I feel that I was called by God into my work with CPT, and God has often spoken to me through the voice of Hedy Sawadsky. So I want to thank her as a holy provocateur and as a mentor. I was also freed and encouraged by my wife Jane to pursue this call, despite the risks and my many absences, and I thank her too.”
“[We] will miss Doug’s open heart and his nimble mind, his generous team work and his earnest endeavoring toward faithfulness,” said Rose in bidding farewell to Pritchard.
While Pritchard will continue as a Reservist in CPT, he plans to turn his primary energies towards “addressing the imminent crisis of global climate change and its threat to God’s good creation.”
We thank you, Doug, for your many years of service and leadership in CPT and wish you all good blessings on the journey ahead.
CPT is pleased to announce the appointment of Merwyn De Mello to serve as the organization’s new Co-Director along with Carol Rose.
De Mello brings a wide range of international and administrative experience to the position.
Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya and Mumbai, India, he served with Maryknoll, in Japan, as an immigrant rights advocate and community organizer to change policy for asylum seekers.
In Tanzania, he co-coordinated projects in thirteen refugee camps on Tanzania-Rwanda-Burundi borders and developed community education programs on advocacy and peacebuilding.
At the Institute of Peace, Leadership, and Governance in Mutare, Zimbabwe, he designed and taught courses in Transitional Justice and Trauma Healing, Peacebuilding, and provided coordination for peacebuilding strategy development in Harare, Zimbabwe.
More recently, in Mumbai, he coordinated programs for promoting honesty, transparency, and accountability in governance.
He currently works as the Recruitment Manager for Maryknoll Lay Missioners in New York, a job he will complete in December before assuming responsibilities with CPT in January 2012. He and his wife Kirstin plan to move to Chicago at that time.
De Mello writes, “I have a deep regard for the essence of CPT’s mission and vision – the nonviolent and compassionate witness to God’s love in solidarity with communities that bear the painful impact of physical and structural violence. My life and ministry continue to call me to be a humble testimony to nonviolent compassionate solidarity and it is no coincidence that the CPT Co-Director position came to my attention at this juncture.”
In reflecting on the 10th anniversary of 11 September 2011, CPTers looked back to recall our responses a decade ago. The following includes excerpts come from “In Harm’s Way,” by Kathleen Kern (available at www.cpt.org/resources/books).
The Al Qaeda hijackings and subsequent carnage at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 happened at a particularly busy period in CPT history [with teams in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombia, Palestine and New Brunswick all facing significant local developments].
Claire Evans, working in the Chicago office, voiced the feelings of many CPTers when she wrote, “My first thought was how everything we do is so, so small compared to that big event. How can what we do in CPT have any significance in the wake of that large catastrophe?
Doug Pritchard, who had been posting a weekly “Prayers for Peacemakers” on CPTnet since 1996, wrote: “In light of the events of September 11, pray that we may walk in Jesus’ way of nonviolence, both locally and globally, and that we may ‘get in the way’ of comfortable analysis and unjust structures that lead to violence.
After four days of U.S. and British bombing of Taliban-related targets October 7-11, 2001, CPT issued an organization-wide Statement of Conviction:
“…The act of terror that killed thousands of people in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 will not be set right by bombing Kabul or any other city. Bombings with the official authorization of western governments are also acts of terror.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we believe that we must choose the nonviolent way of the cross in these dangerous times. If we or our loved ones are attacked, injured or killed by acts of terror, we forbid our governments to retaliate in our names. We believe that our lives are no more important or valuable in God’s eyes than the lives of Afghans, Arabs, Colombians, Sudanese, Mexicans, Angolans, East Timorese, Aboriginal peoples and others.
We maintain that those responsible for the September 11 attacks must be held accountable for their crimes through internationally recognized nonviolent means.
We also maintain that other leaders who have used their positions of power to design, order or commit acts of terror that have killed millions of civilians throughout the world must be held accountable for their crimes, including Henry Kissinger (Cambodia, Vietnam), Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon), former Indonesian President Suharto (East Timor), former U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan (contra war against Nicaragua) and Bill Clinton (Iraq). The list goes on…
We intend to continue resisting any foreign policy that results in the death or exploitation of human beings, whatever their nationality. Again, we are putting our country on notice today that it does not have our permission to go to war in our names.” (www.cpt.org/archive/all/2001/10/12)
But the enormity of the 9-11 attacks and the imminent plans to attack Afghanistan – combined with CPT’s working relationships with Arabs and Muslims likely to bear the brunt of a grief-stricken nation howling for revenge – compelled the organization to do more than make statements.
Steering Committee members meeting October 18-20, 2001 approved sending a two-person delegation to Afghanistan. CPT Director Gene Stoltzfus, and CPT Canada coordinator Doug Pritchard arrived in New York City on December 16, 2001 with the intention of traveling from Ground Zero, [the site of the demolished World Trade Center where they offered prayers for the victims, perpetrators, and avengers of the Al Qaeda attacks] to the “new Ground Zero” in Afghanistan.
Pritchard and Stoltzfus returned from their trip proposing that CPT “move as quickly as possible to develop a five-person peacemaker team to begin work in Afghanistan by June 1, 2012…”
Given the complexities of the situation, the lack of available personnel at the time, and the crises happening on other teams, CPT ultimately concluded that a project in Afghanistan was not viable.
Ten years later, we continue to work and pray “that we may walk in Jesus’ way of nonviolence, both locally and globally, and that we may ‘get in the way’ of comfortable analysis and unjust structures that lead to violence.”
Lessons From South Asia
by Ali Gohar and Lisa Schirch
CPT Associate Ali Gohar is a rahbar (guide) and founder of Just Peace International in Peshawar, Pakistan. Lisa Schirch is professor of Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University. Excerpts reprinted with permission from Common Ground News Service (CGNews).
People power and the use of mass nonviolent action are not new to Muslims. Even before Gandhi, political and spiritual leader Abdul Ghaffar Khan – now more widely referred to as “Bacha Khan” – was drawing on Islamic and tribal teachings to train “nonviolent soldiers” in 1920s India (now Pakistan) to rely on their honour, courage and the truthfulness of their cause to confront the powerfully armed British Empire.
...Khan grew up circa 1900 watching the exploitive relationship between landowners and poor tenant farmers in Peshawar Valley... After completing his secondary education, Khan refused to be part of a prestigious corps of Pukhtoon (also known as Pashtun) soldiers in the British Army.
Searching for more authentic religious leaders, he discovered Islamic values of peace and charity toward others by studying the teachings of the Qur’an and the life of the Prophet Muhammad.
Khan promoted education and social reform, teaching about core values of Islam and Pukhtoonwali, the cultural values and way of life of the Pukhtoon tribe. He started 70 schools that taught both boys and girls, including his own daughter, even though this went against the norms of the Pukhtoon culture of the day.
In 1928 he started the newspaper PUKHTOON, teaching sacrifice, courage, nonviolence and charity towards others. Building upon this media outreach, he organised tribal leaders to start a nonviolent movement called the “Servants of God.” Wearing red shirts and walking in straight rows, these unarmed youth were deeply spiritual, studied Islam and practiced nonviolent drills daily to test their ability to endure repression without retaliation.
The British tried to silence the Red Shirts by firing on them, imprisoning and torturing them. They suffered like today’s brave citizens across the Middle East. But unlike some of today’s rapidly developing social movements from Bahrain to Syria, the Red Shirts spent years training and connecting their religious values in nonviolence with a clearly articulated set of political, social and economic alternatives. This holistic approach fostered incredible group discipline to prevent instigators from provoking them to violence.
At its height, the red-shirted Servants of God numbered 100,000, more than any other “nonviolent army” in the history of humanity.
Thank you so much for being a beacon of light and a message of hope. There is something about your courage and kindness that overcomes evil with good. May God bless you and keep you (and bring more folks to be on the team!)
Marcus Hyde - Colorado, USA
I commend your mission and keep it in prayer. The world will be different because of your efforts.
Sister Monica Zore, OSF - Internet
I appreciate the e-mails carrying news from team members around the world. I thank CPT members for their service to God in furthering Shalom in the world, and I hope they let the people they work with know that in addition to my prayers, I do my best to tell others about what is going on. People’s stories are more convincing than sophisticated political argument.
Sandra Streifel - Internet
The color images in the April-June newsletter were especially striking and I copied pages 6-9 to send to my representatives in Congress and to Secretary Clinton at the U.S. State Department along with any accompanying letter. Thank you for your important work toward peace. I am also enclosing a small check. Hopefully the loaves and fishes effect will be at work here.
Amrita Burdick - Missouri, USA
I wish I could attend [CPT’s 25th anniversary Peacemaker Congress]. I wish you the best from al-Khalil (Hebron).
Hisham Sharabati - Palestine
• Depleted Uranium Weapons: Jonesborough, Tennessee USA - 21-30 October 2011
• Aboriginal Justice: 13-23 April; 10-20 August; 28 September - 3 October 2012
• Colombia: International: November 2011 (tentative, special for Latin American church leaders); 24 May - 6 June; 12-25 July; 20 September - 3 October 2012; National: 31 March - 7 April 2012.• Iraq (Kurdish North): 13-26 October 2011; 12-25 April; 4-17 October 2012
• Palestine/Israel: 15-28 November 2011; 10-23 January; 13-26 March; 22 May - 4 June; 4-16 July; 2-15 October; 6-19 November 2012
Peacemaker Corps Trainings
• Winter: 4 January - 4 February 2012; Chicago, Illinois, USA (apply by 15 October 2011)
• Summer: 13 July - 13 August 2012; Chicago, Illinois, USA (apply by 1 May, 2012
Steering Committee Meetings
• Fall 2011: 10-12 October; Chicago, Illinois, USA
• Spring 2012: 24-26 March; Cali, Colombia
Christian Peacemaker Congress XI
• 13-16 October; Evanston, Illinois, USA
Race Relations Council
• 17-20 March 2012; Cali, Colombia
Listing of CPTers and where they served...
Ten people participated in CPT’s summer 2011 training in Chicago. *Eight completed the training with 3-year commitments to serve as members of CPT’s Peacemaker Corps. Left to right, back row: *Peggy Holm & *John Holm (Illinois, USA), Rod Hopp (Iowa, USA), *Daniel Fritzon (Malmö, Sweden), *Pat Thompson (Cardiff, Wales); middle row: Caitie Roberston (Oregon, USA), *Merwyn De Mello (New York, USA); front row: *Chris Sabas (New York, USA), *Adriana Cabrera (Bogotá, Colombia), *Evarossa Horz (Frankfurt, Germany).
CPTers serving the Colombia team July-September 2011 were: Stephanie Auxier (Colorado, USA), Gladys Gómez (Colom-bia), Esther Kern (Ontario, Canada), Chris Knestrick (Ohio, USA), Caldwell Manners (Meghalaya, India), Julie Myers (Ohio, USA), Jenny Rodríguez Díaz (Colombia), Pierre Shantz (Colombia), Stewart Vriesinga (Ontario, Canada); Delegation members were: 14-27 July – Tigist Gelagle (Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), Craig Hunter (Texas, USA), Samantha Lioi (Pennsylvania, USA), John Volkening (Illinois, USA) and Seth Wispelwey (Massachusetts, USA); 22 September – 5 October – Kevin Baker (Illinois, USA), Tom Benevento (Virginia, USA), Brittany Hanson (Nebraska, USA), Lauren La Rose (Illinois, USA), Nicky Melling (Cumbria, England).
CPTers serving the Aboriginal Justice team July-September 2011 were: Julián Gutiérrez (Colombia), Peter Haresnape (Cambridgeshire, England), Rebecca Johnson (Ontario, Canada), Chris Sabas (New York, USA), Margaret Sumadh (Ontario, Canada); Delegation members were: 12-22 August – Merwyn De Mello (New York, USA), Kaitlyn Duthie-Kannikkatt (Ontario, Canada), Anneli Hemminger (Baden-Württemberg, Germany), Dieter Hemminger (Baden- Württemberg, Germany), Carrie Peters (Pennsylvania, USA), Muriel Schmid (Utah, USA), Tamara Shantz (Ontario, Canada), Meredith Lane Thomas (Ohio, USA), Rebecca Weaver Yoder (Pennsylvania, USA); 24 September – 5 October – Tessa Blaikie (Manitoba, Canada), Hannah Breckbill (Iowa, USA), Chiara Casotti (Regggio Emilia, Italy), Stephanie Epp (Saskatchewan, Canada), Stan Harder (Nebraska, USA), Ruth Harris (Lincolnshire, England), Hannah Kempf (New York, USA), Julie Martin (Ontario, Canada), Chuck Wright (Manitoba, Canada).
CPTers serving the Iraq team July-September 2011 were: CPTers serving the Iraq team July-September 2011 were: Sophia Calcagno (Illinois, USA), Lukasz Firla (Cesky Tesin, Czech Republic), Peggy Gish (Ohio, USA), David Hovde (Illinois, USA), Rosemarie Milazzo (New York, USA), Sylvia Morrison (Ontario, Canada), Doug Pritchard (Ontario, Canada), Garland Robertson (Texas, USA), Zach Selekman (Pennsylvania, USA), Stefan Warner (Oklahoma, USA), Chihchun Yuan (Taipei, Taiwan).
Serving the Palestine team in al-Khalil and at-Tuwani July-September 2011 were: 19 CPTers and interns from Ontario and Alberta, Canada; Germany; Italy; Palestine; Sweden; United Kingdom; and California, Maryland, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, USA; 12 delegation members July 19 – August 1 were from Ontario & Quebec, Canada; and California, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas & Washington, USA; 12 delegation members 6-19 September were from Germany and Switzerland; names withheld due to Israel’s denial-of-entry policy.