Archive

August 29th, 2014

IRAQI KURDISTAN/ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: “Now is the time we say ‘No More Stolen Sisters’”

Today as I sit in Quito, Ecuador, a participant in the Christian Peacemaker Teams biennial gathering, messages are coming from both of my communities on two sides of the world. The calls have similar themes: sisters are being stolen; governments must investigate their disappearances and their murders; violence against women must stop.

From Suleimani, Iraqi Kurdistan, where my Christian Peacemaker team has been working with partners who have sought to help thousands of displaced minority groups, came a call from the Kurdish women’s group, Jian (Life).  They proclaimed Sunday, 24 August a day for a civil demonstration on behalf of the Yazidi women whom members of the militant group known as IS (Islamic State) have captured and enslaved in the city of Mosul.  Clandestine phone calls from a few of these women described desperate conditions and horrific abusive treatment.  They told of women and girls forced to become wives of fighters and others sold into slavery.

Sixty activists from several women’s organisations and other civil society groups gathered in front of the United Nations office in the capital city of Hawler/Erbil. They demanded that the U.N. do more to help the Yazidi women and girls enslaved by the militant group. At the end of the march, several activists were able to take their message into the U.N. building to ask the representatives and the Kurdish Regional Government to act on this emergency and to take urgent measures to help the vulnerable women.

August 27th

Prayers for Peacemakers, August 27 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, August 27 2014

Pray for the stipended CPTers attending their biennial retreat this week in Quito, Ecuador, where they are learning about trauma and self care.  Pray also for the small teams of reservists and other CPTers who are staffing projects in Iraqi Kurdistan and Colombia so that stipended CPTers can attend retreat and for the work of CPT partners in Aboriginal communities, Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Palestine who continue the nonviolent struggles for justice and peace in their homelands.

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CPTers straddling the yellow line that marks (more or less) the division of the Northern and Southern Hemisphere.
Quito, Ecuador

August 26th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Kurdish activists call on U.N. and KRG to take action for kidnapped Yazidi women.

On Sunday, 24 August 2014, over sixty activists from a Kurdish woman’s organization marched to the U.N. Consulate in Erbil (Hawler in Kurdish) to demand that the U.N. do more to help Yazidi women and girls kidnapped by the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS). They carried banners reading, “U.N., Take Action, Our Women and Girls are Enslaved,” and “Committing Genocide Against the Minorities is a Stark Violation of International Humanitarian Law.” Protesters, who chanted slogans as they walked, then read a statement in front of the consulate before several organizers went inside to speak with representatives from the U.N. Two members of Christian Peacemaker Teams, Peggy Gish and John Bergen, accompanied the protest.

One protester, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “I'm Kurdish. It's my duty to come out here and support my country and encourage other teenagers to demonstrate and support Yazidi girls and their human rights.”

Those organizing the campaign want to pressure the U.N. and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to treat the kidnappings of Yazidi women as more of an emergency, and take more urgent measures to help them.  The IS forces (also called ISIS, ISIL and DAASH) have forced some of these women to become wives of fighters and sold others into slavery. Militants also threaten Yazidi women with death, and have killed Yazidi men who refused to convert to the group’s version of Islam.

August 24th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Gish’s *Walking Through Fire* describes history of CPT’s work in Kurdistan

As the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State terrorizes, kills and forces minority ethnic groups out of their villages in northern Iraq, countries of the world have begun deploying a new round of military strikes and supplying weapons to the Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi government forces. In the midst of this violence, Peggy Gish has been working with the Christian Peacemaker Teams on the ground in the Kurdish region of Iraq. With local individuals and groups, the Iraqi Kurdistan team has been able to listen to, share the stories of, and advocate for the needs of the people whose lives have been under threat.

In her book, Walking Through Fire: Iraqis’ Struggle for Justice and Reconciliation (Cascade Books, 2013) Gish calls on us not only to open our hearts to victims the violence, but also to understand these events in light of the past decades of war, occupation, and internal strife.  

 We are invited to step into the streets of war-torn Iraq with her and meet those who live every day with the consequences of military “solutions.” Through Iraqis’ eyes—through their stories—Walking Through Fire “tells the truth” about what war and the U.S. government’s antiterrorism policies have really meant. Iraqis recount the abuses they experienced in detention systems, the excessive violence of the U.S.-led occupying forces as well as tensions between Kurds and Arab Iraqis—tensions rooted in Saddam Hussein’s genocide against the Kurds.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Gish’s *Walking Through Fire* describes history of CPT’s work in Kurdistan

As the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State terrorizes, kills and forces minority ethnic groups out of their villages in northern Iraq, countries of the world have begun deploying a new round of military strikes and supplying weapons to the Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi government forces. In the midst of this violence, Peggy Gish has been working with the Christian Peacemaker Teams on the ground in the Kurdish region of Iraq. With local individuals and groups, the Iraqi Kurdistan team has been able to listen to, share the stories of, and advocate for the needs of the people whose lives have been under threat.

In her book, Walking Through Fire: Iraqis’ Struggle for Justice and Reconciliation (Cascade Books, 2013) Gish calls on us not only to open our hearts to victims the violence, but also to understand these events in light of the past decades of war, occupation, and internal strife.  

 We are invited to step into the streets of war-torn Iraq with her and meet those who live every day with the consequences of military “solutions.” Through Iraqis’ eyes—through their stories—Walking Through Fire “tells the truth” about what war and the U.S. government’s antiterrorism policies have really meant. Iraqis recount the abuses they experienced in detention systems, the excessive violence of the U.S.-led occupying forces as well as tensions between Kurds and Arab Iraqis—tensions rooted in Saddam Hussein’s genocide against the Kurds.

August 23rd

GREECE: Letter of Protest against inhumane treatment of refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos

in:

Dear Madams and Sirs,

Moria Reception Centre

We witnessed recently how refugees were exposed after their arrival on the island of Lesbos by an inhumane treatment by the Greek coast guard.  With this letter, we are protesting against this approach.

On Wednesday, 06th of August 2014, we planned, as part of our summer camp on the island of Lesvos [supported by] Youth Without Borders and Welcome-to-Europe (two anti-racist solidarity networks) to celebrate a party with and for refugees and migrants.  We chose as the place the Pipka, an empty children’s camp, which had been converted by activists from Lesvos with the consent of the mayor to a welcome-center for providing the newly arrived refugees with a roof over their heads, their first legal information and food.  On the same day, refugees [traveling] from Turkey had arrived and spent the time waiting to be registered by the Greek authorities in Pipka.  Finally, a Coast Guard bus arrived and about 35 of the refugees were to be picked up.

These people, who had crossed the night before the sea between Turkey and the island of Lesvos—risking their lives in a small crowded boat—deserve humane treatment like anyone else.  They are not guilty of any crime.  The only "crime that they have committed” is to have fled from their countries by war, violence, and hunger.  The inhumane nature with which the Greek coast guard treated the refugees is the occasion of this letter.

August 22nd

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Revenge devoid of purpose—punitive demolitions of Palestinian homes


 If Israel’s assault on Gaza this summer has been blind, primal violence on a macro scale, the demolition of three Palestinian apartment blocks in Hebron during the early hours of 18 August 2014—punitive retaliation against the suspected culprits in the kidnapping of three Israeli youth in June—represented pointless violence and suffering on a micro scale.  Yet that micro event, multiplied thousands of times over the days, weeks and years of occupation, adds up to what has been called “incremental genocide” in the sense of destroying a culture and its ability to survive.

Between 2001-2005, according to B’tselem figures, Israel demolished 664 Palestinian homes as forms of punishment.*  These demolitions displaced 4,182 innocent people, many of them neighbors of the suspect’s family, and occurred often on the basis of suspicion alone.

Hussam al-Qawasmi house (Photo: Yousef Natsheh)

August 21st

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Anishinabe and allies send clear ‘No Pipeline’ message to TransCanada

n 12 August 2014, Anishinabek women, accompanied by local allies and a CPT delegation, led a community rejection of the planned Energy East pipeline, delivering a clear 'no' to the project, the company TransCanada, and the materialist, extractivist* culture that prioritises wealth generation over clean water, protecting the climate, and future generations. 

Led by children, mothers, and grandmothers holding signs and drumming, the group entered an open house, TransCanada was holding at the Lakeside Inn in Kenora, Ontario.  Speaking directly to the company representatives to make their refusal clear, several spoke of corporation’s failure to engage the women in their role as Anishinabe Waterkeepers.  As well as addressing the crowd, the group also prayed and sang songs to honour the water threatened by the pipeline. 

Anishinabek waterkeepers, prior to entering TransCanada's open house

August 20th

Prayers for Peacemakers, August 20, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, August 20, 2014

Pray for migrant and refugee children who come to Greece without their parents.  Even if they have a family member with them, the authorities separate them if that family member is not a parent.  Last week, volunteers working on the Mediterranean Project that CPT Europe supports spoke with a twelve to thirteen year old Afghan boy who was crying because the authorities were going to hold him for a longer period by himself in the Moria Detention Center, even though he had been traveling with an aunt. 

Epixel* for Sunday, August 24, 2014
Moria Detention Centre on Island of Lesvos, Greece

When she opened it, she saw the child.  He was crying, and she took pity on him, "This must be
 one of the Hebrews' children," she said. 
Exodus 2:6

*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.


August 19th

IRAQI KURDISTAN NEWS ACTION: Civil Society Organizations' Urgent Call to the Int'l Community--HELP THE DISPLACED YAZIDI PEOPLE FROM SHANGAL

HELP THE DISPLACED YAZIDI PEOPLE FROM SHANGAL: CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS’ URGENT CALL TO THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

Representatives of three human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs), a German-Kurdish organization Wadi, a North American-based international organization Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), and Duhok-based Alind Organization, conducted a two day visit on 15 and 16 August 2014 to areas in the Duhok Governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan where Yazidi Iraqis who fled the violence of the Islamic State (IS) forces from the Shangal (Sinjar) area are now staying.  The representatives spoke with an official at the Peshabur (Faysh Khabur) Iraqi-Syrian border crossing, who estimated that since 5 August more than 100,000 people have entered seeking refuge.out their future.  The majority of the interviewees said they feared to stay in Iraq and wanted to emigrate to Europe, the U.S.A., or Canada.

The representatives observed Yazidi families camping out under makeshift tents along the roads throughout the area, under highway overpass bridges, or in the open sided concrete buildings under construction.  They visited the displacement camp for an estimated 2,000 people (no official numbers given) in the Khanke municipality near the town of Semel, and the Bajet Kandala Refugee Camp, near the Peshabur crossing.  At these camps, they spoke with over fifty displaced persons.  Those interviewed shared many common experiences.  Families reported men in their family killed and women raped or kidnapped by IS forces, escaping to Mount Shangal, watching relatives die for lack of food and water and suffering extreme heat exposure.  They appeared deeply traumatized, and spoke of shame and despair about their future.  The majority of the interviewees said they feared to stay in Iraq and wanted to emigrate to Europe, the U.S.A., or Canada.