Borderlands

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 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. 1 February 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers. 1 February 2017

In these dark times when hatred and racism are on the rise around the world, we invite you to build bridges to bring us closer to each other and to overthrow the walls that divide us by our faith, our race, our gender, and our migration status.

Let us pray that each of us can overcome the walls that separate us. Let us embrace our sisters and brothers of Muslim, Yezidi and other diverse identities, faiths and origin. Let us welcome all those who have had to leave their homes due to war. Let us pray for the hearts and minds of those who insist on dividing us to open wide.

Muslim and jew families

Photo Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo/ Chicago Tribune

IRAQI KURDISTAN: The far rights got it all wrong.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: The far rights got it all wrong.

by Rezhiar Fakhir

No doubt reading the news nowadays makes you angry with the claims that far right leaders are making specifically Donald Trump. I have been confused, troubled and shocked hearing that the President of the United States has banned people from the Muslim world entering to the US. His allegation that it is to make the US safer by banning innocent people from the Middle East has puzzled me, it is as though he lives in a different world. What is even more appalling is that many people applaud him for what he is doing. He did not just ban people but he also stated that he is only going to accept Christians as they have been most prosecuted by Daesh (ISIS) in the Middle East. Well Mr. President, you are wrong. Everyone has suffered equally from ISIS regardless whether they were Christian, Muslim, Yazidi, non-believers or any other beliefs that did not match with Daesh’s ideology. I have reflected on the statements that he has made and I think it is important that people have a real picture of what is happening here, not what Trump is trying to feed to people.

However, this is not by any means to dismiss anyone or depict who has suffered most or who has suffered least from the wars that exists in the Middle East and specifically war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. I have had the benefit of meeting people from different corners of this region and worldwide due to the work that I am doing. Last summer we had a very diverse delegation coming to my region to learn about what was happening here. We visited one of the monasteries in the city of Sulaimani where the people working there have lived in Syria and fled to this city after the war started. 

Muslims praying at Dallas Airport

Photo credit: REUTERS/Laura Buckman.

Prayers for Peacemakers. 29 December 2016


Prayers for Peacemakers. 29 December 2016

2016 has been a difficult year. Stories about the plight of refugees in the Mediterranean sea, the peace process in Colombia, killings of social leaders and farmers, protests to defend water resources, political surprises that seek to eliminate rights of millions of people, intensifying abuses in Hebron, new disappearances in the borderlands between Mexico and the USA, ongoing wars around the world, increasing islamophobia, escalating abuse of migrants, violence against women and natural disasters that have left thousands of people homeless… The list seems endless.

However, even in all this darkness, we can always find a ray of light. It reminds us that we must not lose faith. The light, which the oppression tries hard to extinguish, lives and grows with the commitment and dedication of us all.

In this last week of 2016, let us pray for an amplification of the light in the coming year. The light that lives and shines both inside each one of us and in the world around us. Let's pray for this light to grow stronger and multiply.

Let us pray for CPT members in Colombia, Palestine, Iraqi Kurdistan, Turtle Island, Greece, our partners and all the people struggling for peace around the world. Let's pray together for those who work to transform all forms of violence and oppression.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Baby watching TV

Photo credit: Caldwell Manners (El Garzal, Sur de Bolivar)

ADVENT REFLECTION: A Voice Cries Out In The Desert (Isaiah 40:3) -- Abuses and disappearance on the U.S.-Mexico border.

By John Heid

The Biblical terrain of Advent is the desert. It's pristine austerity beckons reflection. The prophetic cries, spoken of by Isaiah, were ones of hope against all odds. These cries echo today in the voices of our sisters and brothers in the Sonoran desert in their anguish and radical hope.

On December 7th, in the somber shadow of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Nogales, AZ, members of La Coalición de Derechos Humanos and No More Deaths presented their latest abuse document. “Deadly Apprehension Methods, The Consequences Of Chase And Scatter In The Wilderness.”

A US Border Patrol agent stands atop a dune along the US-Mexico border last month near Felicity, California. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

A US Border Patrol agent stands atop a dune along the US-Mexico border last month near Felicity, California. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images. Published by The Guardian.

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.

BORDERLANDS DELEGATION: “Doing the Right Thing for the Right Reason”

CPTnet
March 19, 2016
BORDERLANDS DELEGATION: â€śDoing the Right Thing for the Right Reason”

The USA-Mexican Border wall cuts a brown line through the vast desert terrain. It is visible for miles as it snakes to the horizon. This is the wall that Mexican and Central American migrants climb and jump over, sometimes four or five times, to return to an established life in the US or to start a new one they hope will be better than the life they left behind. In the eyes of the Border Patrol and US immigration policy, they are doing the wrong thing. Without the proper "documentos," they are breaking the law. Period.

But in their own eyes and those of their families, migrants from the south are doing the right thing for the right reason. Victor, a 30-year-old man we met in the Comedor, a migrant resource center operated by Kino Border in Nogales, Sonora, had just been deported from the US—dropped off by a bus at the border after serving 90 days in a private detention center for illegally crossing the border. Victor had lived in New York since he was 9 years old, worked in a restaurant, and had a wife and three children. He had returned to Mexico only briefly—for three hour—to see his mother before she died. After leaving his mother, he returned to the border to cross back into the country that he called home. He was caught by Border Patrol and convicted through Operation Streamline, a fast track means of processing illegal entry cases in groups of up to 70 migrants. He was sent to detention. He had tried to cross the border two previous times and had received shorter sentences—15 days and 30 days. He would try again, he said, though he would likely get a two year sentence next time. In his heart, he was doing the right thing for the right reason. It was really the only thing he could imagine doing.