Recent CPTnet stories

MEDITERRANEAN: Refugees Incarcerated without trial – a report on CPT's visit to the Greek island of Chios

 

Photo: Amnesty International

We were welcomed into the warden’s office, the walls decorated with orthodox icons, mostly consisting of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and one image of The Last Supper hanging above the warden’s desk. We noticed that the clock on the wall was dead. Hours have no meaning in this prison, perhaps years do. The contraband detector is in the room keeping anyone from smoking here, unlike in many other public offices in Greece. Clearly, the economic crisis hit this office as the old lockers, the warden’s dusty desk and the grimy fringes on the aging curtains prove.

While we scanned the room, waiting to meet with the prisoners, Sabri arrived.  He was only 24, but looked much older—perhaps as a result of the unbearable sorrows he had experienced since the beginning of the Syrian civil war or simply because his dream of a safer life has disappeared in this prison. In either case the uncertainty and his approaching court date had made him anxious. He was told that his passport and other belongings were not in the police station even though they were confiscated when he was arrested. According to Sabri, his trial would be held on 17 October 2016 on the Greek island of Chios. With weary eyes he pled for our help getting his six stranded family members out of Greece.

Mohammad Said, 24, had been imprisoned for three months, waiting for his court date. He arrived in Greece as the only Syrian on the boat with sixteen Iranians. “Our boat was rescued by a NATO vessel and I was accused of being the smuggler by the Iranians on the boat,” he said. “Thinking I was Turkish, the Greek Coast Guard beat me, and later used violence during my interrogation.” The actual Turkish smuggler threatened Mohammad and the others at gunpoint when they asked the smuggler why he was not keeping his promise to pilot the boat to Greece. Instead, the refugees onboard had to drive the boat themselves.  Smugglers force the refugees to steer the boat. In most cases the only way to save the passengers is for someone—anyone—to grab the helm and steer.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: “We feel we are living in a jungle”--bombardments and land seizures in Dinarte

Our team recently visited the villages of Kashkawa, Muruke and Chame Rabate in Dinarte subdistrict of Akre. Most of those who are living there struggle with Turkish bombardments and/or the seizure of their land by politically-connected authorities.

We visited them in order to know more about their life under the Turkish bombardment. When we arrived Yousif, a villager living in Kashkawa, along with other villagers and the village leader, warmly received us.  Yousif told us it has been awhile since the last bombardment from Turkey.   However, they are still affected by it. “Our houses are damaged and our children and families are traumatized by the former bombings.” We witnessed holes in the walls of houses and pieces of bombs on the ground.

Yousif showing the team his damaged house. Photo by Kasia Protz

Prayers for Peacemakers, 9 November 2016

Prayers for Peacemakers, 9 November 2016

Give thanks for the witness of West Papuans who have resisted the genocidal policies of the Indonesian government and the witness of Christian Peacemaker Teams – Oceania.  Even though Indonesian President Joko Widodo canceled his visit to Australia, after massive outrage in the country against Indonesia’s human rights violations in West Papua, CPT-Oceania still felt moved to vigil on the lawn in the front of Parliament House.  They read the names of West Papuans who had been arrested, jailed, killed and disappeared.  They named West Papuans who inspire the CPTers to stand with them. They acknowledged their encircling presence, like a cloud of witnesses. “Berapa lama mereka hadir? Untuk selamanya. Untuk selamanya. Untuk selamanya. For how long are they with us? For always. For always. For always…”

 

*Epixel for Peacemakers  November 13, 2016

See, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble;
the day that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, 
so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.
But for you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings. Malachi 4:1-2a

 
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings. Psalm 17:1-2, 8-9

CPT INTERNATIONAL: Introducing Steering Committee Members Waltrina Middleton and Flavio Conrado

Christian Peacemaker Teams has two new at-large Steering Committee members with exciting gifts and experiences to contribute to the organization!

Rev. Waltrina Middleton is actively engaged in social justice issues in the United States and throughout the African diaspora. Her advocacywork addresses systemic cultures of violence and racism against marginalized communities from Charleston, SC and Cleveland, OH to Hebron, Palestine and Sao Paulo, Brazil. She is founder and organizer of Cleveland Action, a bridge organization and resource in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

She is a preacher, poet, social critic and community organizer committed to actualizing the vision of a Beloved community. Rev. Middleton, a passionate preacher and keynote, has been invited to share this vision and message of faith, love and justice in diverse settings across the world including the World Council of Churches Forum on Peace and Justice in Trondheim, Norway; National Council of Churches; The Carter Center; Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference; Ecumenical Advocacy Days; Churches Uniting in Christ; Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; and as a part of a United Nations delegation addressing U.S. drug policies and mass incarceration. She is currently the Associate Dean of the Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel at Howard University, Washington, DC and is a D.Min. Candidate, Class of 2017  

Flavio Conrado is anthropologist, translator, organizer, scholar-activist, and a huge fan of Christian Peacemaker Teams. He holds a B.A. in Social Sciences from the University of State of Rio de Janeiro (1997), a M.A. and PhD in Sociology and Anthropology from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (2006). Since the 1990s he's been engaged with Peace and Disarmament, Human Rights, Child Rights and Interreligious Dialogue/Cooperation issues in Brazil and Latin America. Recently he created a festival, called Festival Reimaginar dubbed the “Wild Goose Festival” of Brazil.  It was the first-ever space of its kind for people of faith (broadly-defined) to have courageous conversations on undoing racism, sexism, capitalism, and heterosexism. Bringing together speakers from across Brazil and internationally (including CPT Executive Director Sarah Thompson), Festival Reimaginar spawned a nationwide network of radical and inclusive faith-filled activists.

He has edited In Harms Way: The History of Christian Peacemaker Teams (forthcoming) into Portuguese and other several works related to Faith and Justice, Spirituality, Incarnational Mission, and History and Religious Studies through his publishing house Novos Diálogos [New Dialogues]. He was raised in Baptist tradition and now works with a missional nondenominational initiative on the outskirts of Brasilia, Brazilian's capital. Through his work as a consultant he is accustomed to thinking organizationally, and building infrastructure for social movements. He is fluent in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

COLOMBIA: Women on the Frontlines of the Colombian Peace Movement

Last September, two graying fighters in the hemisphere’s longest-running armed conflict consented to an awkward handshake. Ernesto Londoño wrote in the New York Times that he watched Juan Manuel Santos and Timoleón Jiménez, alias “Timochenko,” head negotiator for the FARC, shake hands “in stunned silence,” astonished at the diplomatic successes of Colombia’s four years of peace talks. On the evening of October 2nd, international observers reacted once again in stunned silence—this time, however, because the prospects for peace were thwarted by an entirely unexpected outcome. The “Yes” vote lost by less than 1% in a surprise to most observers, who predicted that the referendum would pass. Subsequent analyses have cast the vote as Colombia’s Brexit, an electoral coup carried out by a disaffected anti-establishment voting bloc. 

The “No” campaign, however, was anything but anti-establishment. Though Colombians whose territories have suffered the most direct violence overwhelmingly voted to support the accords, the country’s white and mestizo Andean centers of power, where urban violence has been on the wane, carried the “No.” This seeming paradox, in addition to being a tragedy, illuminates the fact that Colombia’s conflict is no longer—  if it ever was— a conflict between the state and the guerrilla as much as it is a conflict between elites and the popular sector. Chief among those who stand to lose if the hard-won peace accords are discarded—and chief among those who fought hardest for them to happen in the first place—are women.

Women peace activists played key roles in the Havana negotiations, both in the talks’ preparatory years and in their execution. Networks of women’s and feminist organizations like Ruta Pacífica (Peaceful Path), the Organización Femenina Popular (Popular Women’s Organization), and other members of the Movimiento Social de Mujeres Contra la Guerra (Social Movement of Women Against War) had been demanding a negotiated solution for two decades, softening the ground for the Havana talks. Once they were announced, women lost no time in advocating for civil society to have a place at the table, and organized several parallel events to amplify women’s voices. When civil society was initially excluded, women organized parallel summits and roundtables, gathering proposals to be delivered to Havana. They held “cortes de mujeres,” public hearings designed as spaces for crimes committed against women in wartime to be made visible. And they traveled the country and collected women’s testimonies of violence to be published in Colombia’s Truth and Memory Commission report, a key tool in any campaign for a peace with justice.