Archive

August 23rd, 2016

IRAQI KURDISTAN: What peace looks like here

 

Weza village located near the Iranian border in Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo by: Peggy Gish.

 “Is this the village of Weza?” I asked my teammate, not believing what I was seeing. This did not look like the same village our team visited in June 2010. Weza, nestled in the mountains of northeastern Iraqi Kurdistan and close to the Iranian border, looked bigger.  Fields were larger and greener and the houses in better repair.  Residents, we spoke to said that even though they know in the back of their mind that danger could return to their village, they feel more relaxed. Tourists are once again coming into the area for vacations, to enjoy the beautiful views and the milder summer temperatures.

Six years ago, in June 2010, we sat in this same village, with the uncle of fourteen-year-old Basoz, as he told us about his niece’s tragic death three weeks earlier.  A rocket had exploded near Basoz while she was preparing tea for the rest of the family who were working in their fields.  Her twenty-year-old cousin, with her at the time, was not physically injured, but was severely traumatized.  The uncle, describing the situation there, told us, “Over the last ten days, more than 200 rockets have exploded around our village.  People here are terrified, and many have left.”

August 22nd

MEDITERRANEAN REFLECTION: Refugee--the human face of God

When I arrived in Mytilene International Airport Lesvos Greece on 10 July, the city center and the entire island of Lesvos were not new for me. Similarities between what could be considered a Philippine tourist destination spot and the culture of Lesvos can be noticed through the architecture, scenery, weather, urban planning, stony seabed and beautiful mountains. In short, Lesvos is a holiday paradise. The street acts as such: crazy lorry drivers, ending lanes, racing cars and reasonably easy public transport—it felt like home to me. 

However, my main reason for visiting the island was to assist in the work of the Christian Peacemaker Teams Mediterranean project (CPT). Since the war in Syria and Iraq, Greece—and specifically Lesvos—has been the frontline of the refugee crises. Lesvos and the Aegean Sea coast near Turkey are the main focal points for the massive wave of refugees from different countries (Syrians, Iraqis, Pakistanis, etc.) entering the EU. After the EU-Turkey deal (March 20) everything has changed. Presently, many describe Lesvos as two worlds colliding: where holiday paradise and refugee crisis converge. 


August 20th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: July 2016 Newsletter--Border bombings, AVP training, what peace looks like and more!

Border Bombings

No Place to Hide

By Julie Brown
One of the CPT partner communities in the Allana Gully impacted by Iranian cross border bombings into Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo by: Julie Brown.
"When the bombing starts, where do you hide?" That is what I asked Sulltan.
"There is no place.  Behind rocks, wherever we can. We all just run in every direction. Everyone has to find their own place.  Even the children."

The last shelling started on June 23rd at 10am and did not stop until after noon.  The farmer said over 160 bombs fell on the small area in those two hours.  After it was over, many animals had been killed and three children were injured.  It was this story that we heard in detail as we documented the events of that day.

In the Choman District of Iraqi Kurdistan High in the mountains near the Iranian border lies the Allana Gully.  It was here that CPT visited after hearing reports of a recent cross border shelling from Iran. The drive through the mountains to this remote area was slow. The road is an unpaved rocky path that hangs on the sides of very steep mountain ledges. In many places it is so narrow that the wheels of our vehicle came dangerously close to sliding off the edge.

August 19th

COLOMBIA: Celebrating the voice of Colombia women in the struggle for peace!

 

CPT Colombia knows the best women

Since Christian Peacemaker Teams arrived in Barrancabermeja in 2001, we have had the honor to walk in solidarity with the brave women of the Women’s Popular Organization (OFP). OFP has been fighting for women’s voices to be heard since 1972. They have fought so that women would not be under submission or controlled by violent actors in the conflict. They have fought so that women would not be under submission or controlled by norms and sexist laws that have allowed men to hurt or even kill their partners without consequences. They have fought for women to be educated and trained and be independent, strengthened and be recognized as a political subjects with proposals for peace in Colombia. 

On July 21, 2016, to celebrate its forty-four years, the OFP invited its members of several municipalities of the Magdalena Medio region and sectors of Barrancabermeja, to build and paint murals depicting peace. The women of OFP have always worked with symbols to express themselves. The murals, ten in total, were profound symbols of how the women of OFP have built and continue to build peace through its space led by and for women (though with much love, they allowed us men to participate). The murals show the pain and suffering of women as a result of the war and the appalling sexism that has oppressed them. But the beauty of the effort is that they did not remain in the pain. In the murals they showed that with strength and determination they gained respect and were able to move forward with concrete proposals for a better society. A just and decent society to live in peace. 

August 17th

Prayers for Peacemakers, August 17, 2016

Prayers for Peacemakers, August 17, 2016

Pray for the villagers who are suffering from the impacts of Turkish and Iranian cross-border bombing in Iraqi-Kurdistan with almost no attention from the world community.

*Epixel for Peacemakers  August 21, 2016 
In you, O LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.

 In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me and save me.

Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.

For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Psalm 71:1-5
 
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.

August 16th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: To drink tea without fear--Iranian bombing in Sidakin

 

Photo by: Julie Brown.

In the middle of Ramadan this year, farmers in Iraqi Kurdistan experienced bombing by Iran. In the last three years there were not any bombingsalong the border with Iran. It was also the first time the area of Barbazin in Sidakan sub-district was bombed so heavily.

The team decided to visit the area and to learn what had happened.  After driving for several hours on the highway and unpaved roads we had the privilege to meet Rashad. While I parked the car near his house, I could see him outside making a fire for his tea. Rashad stood up to look at these strangers coming to his tents. As I greeted him, he very warmly greeted me in return and firmly shook my hand. Through his eyes and smile I could see that he was excited to know more about who we were.

I noticed he had difficulty walking and I was not sure if he was disabled or if he had lost his leg because of a landmine.  The reality of life in a border village is that there is always one or more disabled villager who has lost a part of  his or her body because of mines.  

August 15th

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): A week in Photos 1-7 August 2016

Childhood   

Pictured here: Palestinian children playing in the Old City of Hebron during an Israeli soldier’s patrol.
(03/08/2016)

August 9th

Prayers for Peacemakers August 10, 2016

Prayers for Peacemakers August 10, 2016

Give thanks for the life of Kryss Chupp who has dedicated almost three decades of her life to the work of CPT.   She celebrated her 57th birthday during CPT’s administrative team’s Strategic Directions retreat this week.  Please hold her and the rest of the Administrative Team in prayer as they plan for the future.

*Epixel for Peacemakers  August 14, 2016 
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us
also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run
with perseverance the race that is set before us Hebrews 12:1
 

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

August 5th

COLOMBIA: New death threats against CREDHOS president Ivan Madero Vergel

On 18 July 2016 the president of the human rights organization CREDHOS (Regional Corporation for the Defense of Human Rights), Iván Madero Vergel received a threatening call on his cellphone, at 3:03 p.m.:

“F***ing dog, f***ing scourge we are going to cut you up, we’re going to kill you son of a b***, snitch; keep sticking your nose into places it doesn’t belong, keep making public complaints; you have 48 hours to leave the country”.  The call lasted fifty-five seconds.  Iván Madero hung up and proceeded to inform his other colleagues who were present during the call, and immediately they took the appropriate actions and called the police to report what had happened.

August 4th

IRAQI Kurdistan: No place to hide

"When the bombing starts, where do you hide?" I asked Sultan.

 "There is no place.  Behind rocks, wherever we can. We all just run in every direction. Everyone has to find their own place.  Even the children."

 The last shelling started on 23 June at 10:00 a.m. and did not stop until after noon.  The farmer said over 160 bombs fell on the small area in those two hours.  After it was over, many animals had been killed and three children were injured.

In the Choman District of Iraqi Kurdistan high in the mountains near the Iranian border lies the Allana Gully CPT visited after hearing reports of a recent cross border shelling from Iran. The drive through the mountains to this remote area was slow. The road is an unpaved rocky path carved into the side of steep mountain ledges. In many places it is so narrow that the wheels of our vehicle came dangerously close to sliding off the edge.

 "When the bombings start, some families try to flee in their vehicles.  You have seen the road; it is very dangerous." Sultan pointed to the rugged path; it's the only road that leads down.

Sultan showing his daughter's injury. Photo by: Julie Brown

Sultan was one of the first people we met.  As soon as Sultan heard we had come to talk about the shelling from Iran, he summoned his daughter, a young girl with long blond hair.  He reached down and gingerly took her arm and lifted it up for us to see.  He explained that she had been hit by shrapnel.  Metal had entered her palm and lodged in her wrist.  She had to have surgery to remove the shrapnel, which a wound that went all the way through.  As I took pictures of her injuries I could see the trauma on her face.