Recent CPTnet stories

IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: Playing football with Yazidi kids


[Note: The following has been adapted for CPTnet.  The original, with additional photos, is available on Bergen’s blog.] 

 
 Bergen and friends he met at the Arbat school.

Since I’ve been in Suleimani, Iraqi Kurdistan, working with Christian Peacemaker Teams, we have accompanied workers delivering aid to some of the nearly a million internally-displaced people fleeing the violence of ISIS (or the Islamic State, or Daash, whatever the largest and most highly-funded jihadist organization in the world wants to call itself).

Last week, we visited the small town of Arbat, where the Unite Nations has built two refugee camps, one for Syrian refugees and one for internally-displaced people, mostly Yazidis. However, when we visited, most of the Yazidis and other minorities fleeing ISIS’s ethnic cleansing were living in a crowded school while the camp was cleaned.

When we entered the school, dozens of people crowded around us. They needed medical care, they needed help finding relatives kidnapped by ISIS, they needed new IDs (some had torn up their IDs in the fear that if ISIS soldiers caught them and found out they were Yazidi, they would kill them). Long-time CPTer Peggy Gish and our translator talked with many people, trying not to promise to do things we couldn’t do.

I didn’t feel very useful listening, but I didn’t get much of a chance because several younger guys took me by the arm and asked me, in their limited English, to take their picture.We chatted, and additional young people lined up to have their picture taken. One asked for my email so he could ask for pictures to be sent.  As older people continued to crowd around the others, I played football  (the universal language) with a bunch of the younger guys.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: Peacemaking--a journey taken step by step

 Corey in Old CIty
  CPTer aspiring to be peacemaker while monitoring
 soldiers in Hebron's Old City.

I am an aspiring peacemaker.

I use the word “aspiring” because I have not yet fully embraced in thought and action the ideals of peacemaking that I find so compelling. Practicing it is a constant daily effort, a series of taking steps (sometimes forward, sometimes backward), falling, getting up, and trying again. Overall, I think I’ve taken more steps forward than backward, but my peacemaking journey is far from complete. It is a lifelong quest. 

Stepping into Conflict

I have been in many places where oppression is evident. It is in Palestine, however, where I have seen most clearly the systematic dehumanization of people by other people, in both subtle and obvious ways, every day, day after day.Watching interactions between Palestinians and Israelis has challenged me and my peacemaking ideals to the core. How do I express my anger in a way that doesn’t dehumanize those I accuse of dehumanizing others? How do I acknowledge the destructive forces of a system while acknowledging that the people who by choice or by birth are part of that system are children of God? How do I live in community with others during difficult circumstances?  

MEDITERRANEAN REFLECTION: Treating migrants like dogs

in:

 

Pipka self-organised reception camp

On a sunny afternoon while tourists were enjoying a swim in the sea, the migrants—most from Afghanistan—were sitting in groups waiting for the police car. Women were sitting together and men chatting with each other.  Almost all of the conversations came back to the registration and asylum procedure, the other European countries who might take them in, and similar issues. Some of the kids were running around and some had no energy because they got sick either on the way to Greece or after their arrival. 

Usually the police car comes in the late afternoon to Pikpa—the open camp organized by local volunteers for migrants in Mytilene, Lesbos—to transfer some migrants to Moria First Reception Center. Most of the time, people are waiting in Pikpa for several days to be transferred. 

Prayers for Peacemakers, September 3, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, September 3, 2014

Pray for the people of Gaza, tens of thousands of whom remain homeless.  Aid organizations estimate that if Israel and Egypt continue to restrict the importation of construction materials into Gaza, the rebuilding of homes and infrastructure destroyed in the war this summer could take twenty years.

photo: Maan News

COLOMBIA: El Guayabo calls for justice and transparency in Puerto Wilches

In his 1984 address at Mennonite World Conference that served as the catalyst for the formation of Christian Peacemaker Teams, Ron Sider described shalom as “being in right relationship with God, neighbor and the earth.”  Shalom, he says, “means not only the absence of war, but also…the fair division of land so that all families can earn their own way.  It…means the Jubilee and sabbatical release of debts so that great extremes of wealth and poverty do not develop among God’s people.”

 When I walk through the community of El Guayabo on a peaceful day, shalom is what I see.  People live together, worship together, farm together, and welcome strangers into their homes.  There is food for everyone, even a surplus to feed the neighboring towns.  The recent illegal eviction attempt that violently disrupted peace in this community was not only unethical, but also tainted a lifestyle that is holy, a lifestyle that I believe is pleasing to God.

 On 11 August 2014, the communities of El Guayabo and Bella Union gathered to pray publicly and call for political transparency in the town of Puerto Wilches.  They used songs, Bible verses, speeches, and a dramatic action to bring attention to the recent illegal eviction attempt made by riot police.  During the planning stage, El Guayabo leader Eric told the Christian Peacemaker Team delegation that the goal of the action was to spread awareness about the eviction attempt (the origins of which developed under suspicious circumstances) in Puerto Wilches, the largest town in their municipality. 

 

Edinson Garcia speaks during the laying down of the recent harvest

 

When they arrived at the Mayor’s office, the farmers knelt, each placing a different crop from the most recent harvest on the pavement outside the entrance.  CPTers moved forward with palm branches and symbolically covered the crops, as a delegate listed aloud the harmful consequences that a lack of transparency about the eviction process would have for the community.  The delegation then publicly stated their support for the community as the Mayor looked on.  At the conclusion of the action, a delegation leader gave a petition to the Mayor signed by 180 international partners.