Archive

October 11th, 2014

IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: What we can do

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CPT Iraqi Kurdistan Delegation visits Ezidi
shrine at Lalish

Although it is very difficult to pin down the exact numbers of the humanitarian crisis in Iraqi Kurdistan, an estimated three million people there have been internally displaced by the Syrian conflict, ISIS (called DAESH/DAASH by the locals) and earlier by the US invasion of Iraq.  We began to get a grasp of its scale as we visited the UNHCR camps and encountered the refugees and IDPs spread around the edges of many cities, listening to their often horrific personal stories.  I remember a girl, Aasema, physically demonstrating what had happened to her family.  I will never forget how she held up her two tiny fingers, her "Aunts," her fearful whisper, "Daesh...” and her re-enacting how they got captured and carried away.  I also won't forget the hospitality offered by Edris, who survived the massacre of his village, and his expressing the most profound gratitude for everyone who had helped him.

October 9th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: CPTers demand action to protect Kurdish civilians

10620398_754049544678286_4490044669532635348_oOn Wednesday 8 October, representatives from eight countries gathered outside the Monument of Halabja Martyrs for a silent vigil demandingaction from the international community to protect innocent civilians threatened by ISIS.  Many of the representatives were members of a delegation with the international human rights organization Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), who are spending two weeks learning about the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan.  Holding signs reading, “We Saw Halabja and Shangal, Now It's Time for Peace,” and “Kobani,” the demonstrators called attention to history’s repeated international failures to protect the Kurdish people from genocide and displacement. 

October 8th

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 9, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 9, 2014

Pray for the children of Hebron’s Old City who are subject to arbitrary arrest and detention without due process and since the start of the school year, have had more than 100 tear gas grenades fired at them.

Epixel* for Sunday, October 12, 2014

For You have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the
rainstorm and a shade from the heat. When the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rainstorm… 
                                                                                                                                                             Isaiah 25:4

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

 

October 6th

COLOMBIA: In spite of trauma, a smile


[Note: The following has been adapted for CPTnet.  The original is available on CPT Colombia’s website.]

As we arrived at the meeting with the people of Bella Union, a village neighboring El Guayabo, I saw a woman sitting under a green tree with a big smile.  I immediately thought it would be interesting to know more about her.

Our task was very specific: to document cases of human rights violations from 1990 to 2014.  Soon it was time for the woman with the beautiful smile to share.  She was a bit tired because she had given her statement many times without seeing results, so I paid close attention to what she was saying.

As she told me step by step what she had suffered at the hands of violent actors, her smile grew more radiant.  She did not seem weighed down by sadness, despite the fact that over ten years ago, violence in the region put out a light in their lives.  She continued recounting the events that ended the lives of her family: first the story of her father’s death, then her brother’s, and then she took a break, saying that the story of her son was the most painful. 

October 4th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: An oil company’s callous disregard for villagers’ lives

On Wednesday, 24 September, members of our team traveled for the first time to Kormor village, where Dana Gas began drilling for oil and naturalDSCN4554 gas in 2008.  Our first stop was at the local school, where we met the principal, Abdul Munem Mohamed Mahmud.  Twenty-one girls and boys attend there.  Dana Gas built it three years ago, but Abdul showed us where vibrations from drilling tore a crack down the side of the building large enough to show daylight.  The company promised to build a clinic and provide other services, but now claims that the Kurdish government is responsible for providing compensation.  The area government representative denies the company’s claim.

October 3rd

COLOMBIA VIDEO: “The chocolate process”--a cup of hot chocolate truly made from scratch

CPT Colombia has a new video out showing how the community of Garzal makes a cup of hot chocolate—from the time the cacao fruit is picked, to the preparation and husking of cocoa beans, to the cup of sweet deliciousness. 

Watch here 

Cup of Chocolate // Una Taza de Chocolate from CPT/ECAP Colombia on Vimeo.

The communities of Garzal and Nueva Esperanza have engaged in what is called a “social process” to resist displacement and stand up for their rights and their dignity for more than a decade.  They are among the primary communities that CPT Colombia accompanies.

October 2nd

IRAQI KURDISTAN: ExxonMobil puts operations on hiatus because of ISIS, but Kurdish villagers cannot access land

On 8 and 12 September, the CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team visited its partners in villages affected by the ExxonMobil operations.  The huge Exxon base10562648_738933592856548_673082790745076661_o camp near Hajji Awa, from which the company conducted the oil explorations in Gullan village and Shawre valley sits almost completely empty.  The government sent many of the guards to fight the ISIS on the front line.  ExxonMobil has stalled its operations in Iraqi Kurdistan because of the advance of ISIS forces and the war.  The multinational corporation seems not to feel protected enough by the U.S. air strikes, even though the U.S. claims they are occurring for the “protection of U.S. interests and personnel.” 

October 1st

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 1, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 1, 2014

Pray for the members of the CPT Aboriginal Justice Delegation, currently in Grassy Narrows and Kenora.  Give them wide open eyes, minds and hearts as they witness how the criminal justice system plays out in the region, the different ways CPT’s partners in Grassy Narrows are standing up for their rights and dignity and how they are asserting sovereignty over their traditional lands.

Epixel* for Sunday, October 5, 2014
Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.
 There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard
Psalm 19:2-3
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's 
Revised Common 
Lectionary readings.

September 30th

MEDITERRANEAN ANALYSIS: A look at jurisdiction on "smuggling" and the broader context

On Monday, 22 September, CPT Mediterranean observed several trials against Turkish men accused of human smuggling and the case of a Syrian refugee we had visited in prison the week before.  

The Turkish men all got the maximum sentence of twenty-five years, and Mohammad got ten years in prison with a possible reduction of the sentence to two years if he works in prison.  The court authorized this reduction because of his refugee status.  It also  acknowledged he had acted in an emergency because he had been forced to drive the boat when the smugglers left it. 

As we sat in the court, with a Greek partner translating for us, it became clearer that neither the public attorney nor the judge have a comprehensive understanding of why the people in the boats are migrating.
  For example, they asked questions like, “But why did you not stay in Syria?”  
 

September 29th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Bridging interfaith animosity and the pain of war--International Day of Peace in Kurdistan, Iraq

Three of our team walked into the gathering of about a hundred Kurdish peace and justice activists at the Cultural CafĂ©, in Suleimani, Iraqi Kurdistan, to celebrate the International Day of Peace.  Immediately, Nyan Mohammad, a teacher at the Arbat School, waved for us to come to sit at her table.  There, four displaced Ezidis (often called Yazidis) we had met before stood up and warmly greeted us.  Nyan, who is Muslim, made a special trip to the tent camp for displaced persons this afternoon to pick up this group and bring them to this event, which focused on building peace among religious groups

Hosting this event was a Kurdish women’s organization, called the Ashti Group.  The speakers included persons from four religious groups among Iraqi Kurds— An Ezidi, a member of the Kaka’i, (a Kurdish minority religion), a Muslim, and a Christian.  They each urged us not to judge people from other religions, but to live together in tolerance and harmony.  Their message was not theoretical but spoke to a real need of a society racked with ethnic violence.

Far right: Kurdish team colleague Parween Aziz; next to her, Peggy Gish.  Second from left,
 Nyan Mohammad, plus four Ezidi friends