Afghanistan

GREECE: Arc of voices. The work of resistance of CPT partners on Lesvos.

CPTnet

23 May 2017

GREECE: Arc of voices. The work of resistance of CPT partners on Lesvos.

by Rûnbîr Serkepkanî

Images of boats, of people with arms stretched out for water, of children getting barbecued by the midday sun at the port, hunger strikes and many other unpleasant things—these are the images which I associate with Mytilene, and for a very good reason. Nearly 1,000,000 people have passed through this island in the last three years. As a part of Christian Peacemaker Teams on the island, I have witnessed all of that and more. For me, these tragedies are not merely some news story happening in a far away country, but something deeply personal. When someone gets deported from this island to a future of insecurity, potentially facing incarceration and death, it is personal for me. If I have not actually met that person, I certainly know someone who is a friend of theirs.

We who are bearing witness to what is happening now know who is responsible. It is the vampiric tendencies of capitalism, the weapons industry and the profit-worshiping corporations. It is the sultans, emirs, presidents and lords of war with their armies. Our main partner Lesvos Solidarity was founded by local mothers from Mytilene as Village of all Together several years ago. Lesvos Solidarity has been the main obstacle standing in the way of the total exploitation of refugees and the oppression against them. 

The powers-that-be have built an infrastructure of separation and subjugation. At the same time Lesvos Solidarity has been working in the opposite direction. They occupy an abandoned summer camp and have renovated it step by step, transforming it into a shelter for refugees. Here the local people of Mitylene host the refugees and help them recover from the bombs that fell on them, the boats that capsized under them, the memories of their comrades who became martyrs for the freedom of movement.

 World without Borders

Prayers for Peacemakers. 10 May 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers. 10 May 2017

On the first day of May most countries commemorate the International Worker's Day or the Labor Day. Millions of people take to the streets and march for their rights. They demand better and just conditions to carry out their jobs. 

When we sit at the table, when we get dressed, when we go to bed, when we go to our places of study, work or worship, when we buy food, when we feel sick and need a doctor, even when we make banners for a protest... Many people have worked hard to make these activities possible. And how many of them have been exploited, abused or forced by people or circumstances to do it?

Let us pray for each and every worker on this planet. Let us pray for respectful and just conditions for all to carry out their work activities. Let us pray, and work for change, for a fair wage and for the end of all forms of slavery. Let us pray for all mothers to be able to receive adequate maternity leave. Let us pray for all children so that they can enjoy their childhood instead of exploitative work. Let us pray for both women and men so they can receive equal salary for same work and thus overcome the economic gap.

Psalm 128:2 You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.

Misael Payares, a leader of the farming community of Las Pavas' nonviolent resistance

Misael Payares, a leader of the farming community of Las Pavas' nonviolent resistance. Photo credit: CPT Colombia.

Prayers for Peacemakers. 19 April 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers. 19 April 2017

In the last three months the government of the United States of America bombed Yemen, Syria and Afghanistan. Tensions in the Middle East, Russia, North Korea and around the world escalate rapidly. The numbers of killed civilians grow everyday. We need to do something! 

Last weekend, the Christian community celebrated Easter: Jesus has risen defeating death. Following the example of Jesus, let us arise and take action for peace and to stop death. Let us support or take part in peacemaking initiatives and organizations. Let us advocate for all who seek refuge from bombs. Let us pray for all who suffer in the wars in Syria and other countries. Let us pray for each one of us and that our creativity and strength would persist.

bombing hurts please stop

Galatians 6: 7-9

A person harvests whatever he plants: The person who sows through human means will harvest decay from human means, but the person who sows in the Spirit will harvest eternal life from the Spirit. Let’s not get tired of doing what is good, for at the right time we will reap a harvest—if we do not give up.

Prayers for Peacemakers 15 March 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers 15 March 2017

Last week the world commemorated the International Women's Day. Also we would like to acknowledge the power and leading role of women in struggle for justice and peace all around the world.

Let us pray for all women members of the CPT projects, for all the women in the Administrative team and all our women partners around the world. Each and every one of them does amazing things in order to build a better world. Let us pray for all girls around the world. Let us pray for a better future for them.

Girls plain in the river. Colombia

Let us pray for men as well, because they need to overcome sexism and work as allies of women in their struggles. Let us pray and work together for a better world where all women, men and every individual have the same opportunities, same access to justice, education and social securities, and freedom to live in peace and for peace. 

Prayers for Peacemakers 1 March 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers 1 March 2017

Created, Guided, and Delivered for Liberation: A Prayer for Times Like These. 

by Chris Knestrick 

Creator God, 

 You created us for right and just relationships.

 You have called your people back to your embrace

                  To that garden of equality and mutuality

                   To healthy relationships based on respect and love

                   To be laborers that harvest life. 

Creator God, You created us.  

Children painting 

Prayers for Peacemakers. 11 January 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers. 11 January 2017

Snow. For a lot of people snow is a synonym of a warm home. For others snow is a beautiful landscape in which they can get lost. Other people, those who have not seen or felt the snow, dream about snowflakes on their hands. However, not everyone shares the same perception of snow.

Let us pray for all refugees and people without home in Europe, Middle East, North America and the rest of the world who are suffering because of harsh winter conditions. Let us seek ways in which we can help them. Let us pray for political leaders to accept and understand that it is necessary to implement changes in order to stop the global warming. Let us pray for all those who have a cold heart so that the warmth of friends, family and community allows their hope to return.

Syrian woman walks wit her sons under the snow

Photo credit: Aljazeera.

Mediterranean: On Borders, Cooks, and Farmers

 

Massom* is young–I’d guess about 30, likely a bit younger. He’s one of the refugees who like to interact with the Greek organizers and the ever-changing group of international volunteers, practicing his English and helping out around the camp. This is a self-organized camp for some of the most vulnerable refugees who have arrived at the island of Lesvos, and Massom interacts with others here in ways that, for a variety of valid reasons, not many others are as apt to do. He’s there with a dustpan if he sees you sweeping. He helps to unload the deliveries of produce from area farmers into the room where we organize daily distributions. He’s all about making tea for anyone who wants it, anytime—his excuse to come and go often from the kitchen. He frequently succumbs, with great compassion, to the demands of little Myriam, a curly-headed toddler essentially on her own and dependent on the kindness of fellow residents and volunteers for the attention her mother—who suffers from severe depression—is unable to provide with much regularity. Massom enjoys staying close to the food scene, many times a week serving our communal lunch.

MEDITERRANEAN REFLECTION: The children along the city walls of Chios

 

Syrian refugee children waiting to get the boat to Athens

We are a CPT team of three persons. We are walking along the city walls of the Greek island of Chios, with the border-polluted sea stretching before us. The refugees reside in tents, organised in two lines. Kids are playing. Nothing can make children stop playing. Even under the midday sun; even though the great powers of the world, through their agreements, prevent these families from moving on.  But they play. They run up to the top of garbage hills and then run down, laughing and shouting. “Kids!” my friend says, to show that he is delighted but not surprised.

The twelve-year-old Me walks on small paths up the hill, passing alongside landmines, walking over the skeletons of the Iraqi and Iranian soldiers who died here in 1980s. He jumps out of me. He does not even look back at me. He goes to the kids of Chios and starts playing with them. I look back and wait for him to come back, to jump back into this grown-up self.  He does not seem to care. My teammates tell me that we should move on. So I move on with them and leave the little Me behind.

CPT MEDITERRANEAN BLOG: Deep and violent connections


It’s a profound day today.

The celebration of Juneteenth (when Africans enslaved in the United States learned of their freedom, declared by the Emancipation Proclamation almost two years earlier). 

The one-year anniversary of the massacre of the church at Mother Emanuel AME folks in Charleston, SC.

The one-week anniversary of the Pulse Orlando club shooting. 

It’s also Father’s Day, so blessings to the Dads out there…especially those redefining traditional masculinity and providing open-minded and gentle ways of nurturing children (or ideas!) into wholeness. 

Tomorrow continues the meaningful days (of course every day we’re alive it’s meaningful!) It’s solstice, and the middle of Ramadan. It only comes around in the summer every 33 years.  Given global weirding, this is a hot one! 

It’s also World Refugee Day. Being here, working with refugees…this day now means more to me than ever before.  I knew theoretically the difficulty of being a refugee: the bureaucracy of paperwork and sometimes arbitrariness of official decisions, long lines, inadequate resources, the fast friendships, the cramped camps, the waiting, oh the waiting. 

Our Christian Peacemaker Team is accompanying refugees in Mytilene, Lesbos, Greece. As Executive Director I have a chance to do a two-week team visit. I sat across the table from a man from Afghanistan yesterday. Neither he nor I are from Greece or speak Greek. I don’t speak Dari yet, and he just began the English classes offered to refugees. We don’t know each other’s names and yet we are deeply and violently connected. My village paid for his village to be bombed (through the US-led war in Afghanistan).

We kind of smile at each other to acknowledge a greeting, but neither of us are happy about the situation so we exchange a glance of agreement that there is no use pretending we are. I can hope that through our work he and I can feel that there is another way to connect as well, through nonviolent interaction. But if it ends there it is not enough, in a way. I want to exchange the real smile that comes after a day of joint action to bring change to global functioning. Tomorrow is World Refugee Day and we will do a public witness action that reminds the public that refugees are not invisible, and mourns the loss of over 1,600 people that have died in crossing by boat from Turkey to Greece. We will thank the Lesbians for being so welcoming to those who made it, and together with them brainstorm ways to insure safe passage for all and challenge EU and US and local policies that lead to so many people being frighteningly expelled from their homes. 

UNITED STATES: Former CPT Iraq, Palestine, Vieques team member goes to jail for drone resistance

 On 12 January, the National Day of Action to Stop Killer Drones, grandmother and drone resister Mary Anne Grady Flores learned that she will go back to jail for six months starting Tuesday, 19 January. Grady Flores served as an intern on the Palestine and Iraq teams and was part of Christian Peacemaker Team’s delegation campaign to stop the U.S. Navy bombing of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.

Grady Flores had been out on appeal of a lower court convicting her of violating an order of protection. Col. Evans of the Hancock Air National Guard Base 174th Attack Wing (in Syracuse, NY), sought the order to “protect” him from nonviolent anti-drone activists.  The court charged her with violating the order because she took pictures of eight Catholics protesting the US drone assassination program at Hancock on Ash Wednesday, 13 February 2013.  Onondaga County Court Judge Miller upheld the lower court conviction. Of note is that a court acquitted all eight Catholic drone resisters because they went to uphold law, not break it.

The court and the Base have used orders of protection, typically given in domestic violence situations, in an attempt to deter protest and suppress free speech. Judge Miller also upheld a lower court ruling on the Hancock 17, seventeen nonviolent drone resisters who received orders of protection, jail time, and fines.