November 9th, 2015

CPT INTERNATIONAL: Join the work of the CPT U.S./Mexico Borderlands Delegation 10-20 February 2016

In the last months the world’s attention has focused on refugees desperate to reach Europe, because the violence in their own countries has reached such cataclysmic proportions.  But people are fleeing almost horrific violence from Latin American countries, too, and risking their lives in the Sonoran Desert to escape it: 182 bodies were recovered in the Tucson Sector of the border alone this last fiscal year.

Witness the impact of immigration enforcement in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands where foreign policy masquerades as domestic, where the U.S. government foists life and death decisions upon our neighbors, relatives and friends, placing them in vulnerable and volatile situations. Journey with us through this zone of conflict, the gauntlet of the Sonoran desert, part of the lethal continuum that our neighbors from Latin America travel to reach the fields, factories and detention centers of the U.S. Come to observe, query, discern, contribute, learn and then take home the story of human struggle and hope.

Photo: Nadine Hiemstra

November 5th

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): “Come out Hebron!” A CPT delegate reflects on her experience in Hebron


Palestinians waiting to go through Ibrahimi Mosque 

As we are coming out of the Ibrahimi mosque where the tombs of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Leah are located, two young Palestinian women from Abu Dis were coming to pray. An Israeli soldier pointed a gun at one of the girl’s heads and she said “Don’t shoot me! Don’t shoot me!” Muslim guards intervened and the Border Police arrested them for interference. They also arrested the young women, tying their hands behind their back and blindfolding them. 

 Arrested for wanting to pray. Our Palestinian guide says, “It is bad when we are thankful for two girls being arrested, because at least they have not been killed.” We are told we cannot go back through the checkpoint where all this is going on. The IDF does not want us to see them arresting innocent young women. 

Just as Lazarus came out of the tomb with his grave clothes still on, the Palestinians of Hebron need the tight bands of military occupation and settler violence removed.  Israeli soldiers and settlers are murdering them and the victims are mostly young people.  One of CPT’s longest friends and partners died of tear gas inhalation two weeks ago.  The settlers rampage through Palestinian homes and shops.  They beat Palestinians and kill them with no consequences.   

November 4th

Prayers for Peacemakers, November 4, 2015

Prayers for Peacemakers, November 4, 2015 

Give thanks for the ten new Peacemakers who have successfully completed the 2015 Christian Peacemaker Teams training.  Pray that the Creator will work within them to give them the strength and courage they will need to do the difficult and rewarding work of peacebuilding with our partners in Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Palestine and Indigenous communities.

November 3rd

November 2nd

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Zergaly villagers who survived Turkish bombing speak out

In the early morning hours of 1 August 2015 Turkish warplanes fired rockets into Zergaly village, destroying houses, killing an elderly woman, and injuring her husband and three relatives. 

After people from the surrounding area and other villages came to help the wounded, the warplanes returned—dropping bombs and firing more rockets on to the rescuers—killing seven and injuring eight more. 

Throughout the 1990s, and between 2007 and 2012, Turkish warplanes and military forces regularly bombarded the mountain regions of Iraqi Kurdistan. Aided by the USA, the Turkish so-called “war on terror” against the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), gravely impacted the lives of thousands of subsistence farmers and shepherds, and their communities.

The airstrikes and artillery bombardments killed and wounded many Kurdish civilians, destroyed and emptied villages, and burned or poisoned much agricultural land and livestock. 

The peace process between the PKK and the Turkish government, which began on 21 March 2013, raised long awaited hopes among the Kurdish people, despite being overshadowed by doubts rooted in their historic experience. 

Recently, hopes for peace were shattered when the Turkish government—under the pretext of joining the war against Da’esh (ISIS)—restarted attacks on the border regions of Iraqi Kurdistan in July of 2015. Turkey again targeted the PKK—the main force fighting against Da’esh in the region, as well as the civilians.

Christian Peacemaker Teams Iraqi-Kurdistan filmed the testimony of the survivors and family members of the Zergaly bombing.  Turkey continues to bomb the villages of Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Christian Peacemaker Teams-Iraqi Kurdistan will continue to tell the story of the villagers facing these bombings that the world is largely ignoring.  Please share this video widely!

I lived through the death of my family (bombing of Zergaly)

October 31st

COLOMBIA: Shots fired in El Guayabo; community responds with nonviolent action


Eric Payeres (behind) presents Guayabo’s case to the
 Governor of Santander (middle).

Yesterday, Eric Payares—a leader of Guayabo’s legal struggle to claim its land—along with three other community members heard shots coming from the direction of the neighboring plot currently occupied by armed men working for Rodrigo Henao.

“They’re attacking us once again,” Payares said. “This time they’re firing shots at us.” Over the last year since the eviction on October 29, 2014, this five-hectare plot of land has been a location of continual attacks. Two days ago, similar to numerous previous occasions, Henao’s men cut fence wiring, which allowed cattle to enter and graze on Payares’s crops.

Henao claims that the community displaced his father with the help of guerillas in the 1980s, claiming victimhood through the current Victim’s Law demanding that the land be returned to him. On the other hand, the community has proven to have had no ties to armed groups and claims rightful ownership through occupation and use of the land for over twenty five years, after Henao’s father, Octavio Henao, abandoned the land due to an unpaid debt. This is Henao’s second attempt on claiming ownership. In the early 2000s he arrived accompanied by the notorious Bolivar Central Block, of the now demobilised paramilitary group, the Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC) demanding the community abandon its land. This abuse of the recent victim and land restitution laws, written to bring reparation to victims of conflict, in addition to assassinations and death threats has sent a chilly warning to land rights activists and persons who resist displacement and claim ownership of land.

October 29th

CHICAGO:CPT trainees join coordinated witnesses against state brutality in Chicago and Palestine


Black Youth Project 100 leader Charlene Carruthers
(center, seated) reminds her comrades that they are 
there because the Chicago mayor wants to allocate an
additional $200 million to the Chicago Police Dept. 

Where does the money go? This question was just one of the the common themes in the coordinated actions of the Chicago chapters of Black Lives Matter and Jewish Voice for Peace coordinated on the weekend of 24-25 October 2015.  CPTers in the middle of a month long training attended the events, employing their public witness, human rights documentation, and nonviolent direct action support skills. Other CPTers from the administrative team and field teams also participated. 

On 24 October marches to stop police brutality rocked the entire United States, making visible the lives stolen by state violence (one African-American dies every 28 hours at the hands of police or Correctional Officer in the US).  In Chicago, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) met at the convention center. Mayor Rahm Emanuel had invited them to learn from Chicago Police Department (CPD).  The CPD is notorious for corruption; recently victims of systemic Chicago police torture won a precedent-setting reparations payout. 

October 28th

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 28, 2015

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 28, 2015

Pray for the communities in Simiti municipality, Colombia, that are experiencing post-election violence.  Pray that the authorities and those who benefitted from the previous power structure will respect the will of the people.  Christian Peacemaker Teams-Colombia accompanies two communities, El Garzal and Nueva Esperanza, in Simiti.

*Epixel for Sunday, November 1, 2015 
 Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD.
Happy are those who keep his decrees, who seek him with their whole heart Psalm 119:1-2
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text  from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.

October 26th

CANADA/IRAQI KURDISTAN: Political leaders stepping down graciously—and not.


The government workers (teachers, medical workers etc) have been 
 demonstrating since 3 October. They have not received salaries in 3 months. 
They have received their salaries very sporadically for two years.

Last Monday my country, Canada, had an election. Most of the people I know, with some exceptions, welcomed this event. We were tired of a leader who had created a Canada that we did not recognize anymore, one that removed protection from our rivers and lakes, who ignored indigenous peoples, made the process of immigrating to this country more onerous and oppressive etc. etc. We were hopeful that a new prime minister and cabinet would be better, even if they were not perfect.

In Canada, a prime minister can run and be re-elected as many times as the people say yes. Steven Harper could have continued to be the leader until he died if the voters had chosen him to continue. However, the voters had had enough and turned out in numbers that had not been seen in twenty-two years. We heard of some polling stations that ran out of ballots because so many people came to express their dissatisfaction and desire for change.

Two days after the election.  I was reading articles coming from Iraqi Kurdistan where I spend the other half of my life working with Christian Peacemaker Teams. In this region, Massoud Barzani is the president.  Iraqi Kurdistan has the rule that a president can stay in power for only two terms or eight years.  He was first elected as president in 2005. He was re-elected in 2009 with nearly 70% of the vote. Then in August 2013 the Kurdish parliament extended the term for another two years, bringing the end date to August 2015.

October 22nd

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 23, 2015

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 23, 2015

Pray for the people of Palestine and Israel, especially for the truth-tellers, human rights defenders and peacemakers who are under assault by the forces of the Israeli military occupation.

*Epixel for Sunday, October 25, 2015 

Hebron settler posters calling for violence against human rights activists
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD rescues them from them all.
He keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken.
Evil brings death to the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Psalm 34:19-22
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text  from the upcoming Sunday's 
Revised Common Lectionary readings.