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November 12th, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers November 12, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers November 12, 2014

 Pray for the CPT’s Aboriginal Justice Team who are exploring decolonizing their work by learning Anishinabek and Haudenosaunee languages.

                                              Epixel* for Sunday November 16, 2014
Thanksgiving address in Cayuga language
Have mercy upon us, O LORD, have mercy upon us, for we have had more than enough of contempt. Psalm 123:3

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

November 8th

COLOMBIA: Las Pavas questions collective reparation program. Will Santos government stand up for Las Pavas?

On Wednesday, 17 September the Victims Unit (Unidad de Victimas) and the Colombian Institute for Rural Development (INCODER) visited the Las Pavas community to move the Collective Reparation process forward.  They also investigated violations that the Aportes San Isidro (ASI) palm oil company has committed against the community.  The first was the reinstallation of a gate that prevents Las Pavas community members from traveling on the main road to their farms, forcing them to take a difficult detour through the jungle.  The second was the construction of a house and resettlement of a family on Las Pavas’ land.  The latter is an illegal invasion of state land.

 The Collective Reparation process is a government program offered to communities or organizations as part of its efforts to compensate victims of the civil war.  The Las Pavas case is high profile because they one the 2013 National Peace Prize, so the government chose the community to be one of the first for collective reparation.  In theory, the process is a good one where reparation involves making services available to the community such as psychosocial care, housing, and development projects.  In October 2010, Presidente Santos announced his Shock Plan for land restitution.  He said that for peace to be achieved there needed to be serious measures taken about land redistribution and restitution.  The Las Pavas community was named as a priority case.  

In November of 2012, INCODER declared ‘eminent domain’ on the land of Las Pavas declaring it state land.  If Aportes San Isidro had respected this order, INCODER would then have divided the land and titled it to the families of Las Pavas.  However, powerful economic and political allies of ASI prevented the enforcement of this declaration.  Las Pavas community members have witnessed and documented ASI employees burning down families’ homes, destroying crops, severely beating and firing shots at people, stealing tools and killing livestock.  They have done all of this with full impunity.  The local authorities have arrested no one from the company even though they have received reports of these crimes.

 Two community members putting up a new fence to keep cattle from the new Aportes San Isidro
house from destroying their crops.

November 6th

Prayers for Peacemakers, November 6, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, November 6, 2014 

Give thanks for the work of CPT Mediterranean, which recently completed its summer presence on the Greek Island of Lesvos.  Participants in the Mediterranean project made migrants and refugees feel welcome and advocated for more humane European Union immigration policies.

               Epixel* for Sunday November 9, 2014
                                          Party to celebrate time in Lesvos
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness
like an everflowing stream.  Amos 5:24
 *epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from
the upcoming Sunday's 
 
Revised  Common Lectionary  readings.

November 5th

UNITED STATES REFLECTION: Voting for peace

Yesterday, I was calling old friends and letting them know I’d be in town to talk about my work with Christian Peacemaker Teams. One friend asked me how I like my new work in comparison with the political organizing I used to do. I didn’t need to stop and think; the answer was easy. Working to gather votes for this issue or that candidate, I had feelings of emptiness and inevitability. Now, I love being able to apply my expertise, energy, and passion to peacemaking, to resistance work that feeds my soul. 

 

 
 Palestine team member stands with children on
street and monitors soldiers' treatment of
13-year-old boy
 

Today, I woke up and reached for my phone. What I saw was a newsfeed flooded with rage, sadness, even despair. I remember those post-election nights and days from my previous career. When the first issue campaign I worked on lost, I cried more than a few bitter tears.  

When I woke up today, though, my emotional state was not connected to election results beyond passing feelings of hope and disappointment.  I woke up with energy and conviction to resist violence, oppression, and injustice for another day. It’s not that it doesn’t matter to me whether it’s politician A or B with their hands in the gears of the U.S. system.  Decisions made in the U.S. impact the bodies and lives of people and communities in the States and around the world.  It’s that now I’ve joined with so many in the active, concrete work of ongoing peacemaking.  And CPT, standing with our partners to transform violence and oppression, was resisting yesterday, is resisting today, and will be resisting tomorrow. 

Peacemakers, activists, resisters of injustice, whatever your feelings about today’s elections results: you can join today in our transformative peacemaking work. Vote for peace today by investing in the work of CPT. Thanks to you, members of CPT stand in solidarity with partners in peaceful transformative resistance every day in Palestine, Iraqi Kurdistan, Colombia, and Canada, no matter the U.S. election results any given November Tuesday.

Please make a donation today - over 80% of our income comes from donors like you.  

November 4th

EUROPE: Migrants on their journey--dilemmas and possible solutions

On a daily basis, hundreds of migrants try to get into Europe through different routes-- mainly via smugglers.  Most of the migrants are struggling to find either a safe life without persecution or have better standards of life to support their families at home.  The routes and the facilitators of the journey that they choose are the least safe options ever to exist.

Often the suggested solution focuses on ways to block the smugglers’ routes.  European authorities should identify and crack down on smugglers’ networks.  However, the story is not going to end as long as migrants face onerous restrictions for getting into Europe.

People are trying the illegal routes because they mostly have no legal way to get in.  As a result, the migrants become victims of crimes like torture and raping meted out by smugglers and tragedies like drowning in the sea on the way. 

The migrant population is divided into two different main groups: economic migrants and asylum seekers.  Economic migrants leave their home countries to work and support their families at home like many Greeks in the other European countries at the moment.  The asylum seekers are the ones who are running away from wars, conflict zones, persecution, torture, and other serious threats forcing them to seek a safer life, usually in the West.

Obviously, the asylum seekers are supposed to get benefits that economic migrants do not.  However, it is not easy to differentiate between asylum seekers and economic migrants because almost everybody who gets into Europe lodges an asylum application, because it is the only chance to get a legal status.  On the other hand, it has become much more difficult for the real asylum seekers to prove their stories.

All over the world, we find westerners working or living in another country merely because of their curiosity to explore the world.  The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights emphasizes that everyone has the right to move freely, leave any country and return.  So far, it has been enforced for the citizens of western countries and the eastern families with money, not equally for everyone. 

November 3rd

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Israeli military arrests two boys, eleven and thirteen, in Hebron

On Sunday, 26 October at approximately 7:45 a.m., Israeli border police detained and arrested an eleven-year-old Palestinian boy in the Qitoun area of H2 (under full Israeli military control) during the morning school patrol. 

The Israeli soldier grabbed the young boy by wrapping his hand in the collar of his shirt and twisting his clothing tightly around the neck, despite the fact that the young Palestinian showed no signs of resisting.

After several minutes of Palestinian adults pleading with the soldier to release his grip, the soldier finally responded and escorted him to the police station next to the Ibrahimi Mosque without notifying his parents.

The boy remained at the police station for over an hour and a half, after which the soldier informed one of the schoolteachers that police would hand him over to the Palestinian Authority at Check Point 56 at Bab iZaweyya, in the H1 section of Hebron.  Once the child was in the military jeep by himself, instead of taking him to Checkpoint 56, the Israeli soldiers transported him to the other side of Hebron to the police station at the Israeli settlement* of Kiryat Arba. 

November 1st

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Survivor of ISIS massacre tells story to Christian Peacemaker Teams

 

 
 Ezidi families fleeing massacres have taken refuge in unfinished buildings

ISIS invaded Aswad’s village Kocho on 10 August 2014.  They militants insisted that all the Ezidis (Yazidis) in the village convert to Islam or die.  When they refused, ISIS gathered around a thousand people in the school.  They took villagers’ phones, money, and jewelry.  Then, ISIS took the men and drove them in three trucks several hundred meters from the main road.  There, they knocked them to the ground and shot them with machine guns, and then shot them each in the head to make sure he was dead.  When it was Aswad’s turn, the executioner heard planes approaching and ran away, leaving Aswad in agony, with four bullets in his pelvis and legs.  The rest of the men died on the spot, except three men who ran away wounded, and who, as Aswad learned, ISIS later found and killed. 

Aswad, a man in his forties, believes that his inability to walk or run saved his life.  Crawling in pain, hunger, and thirst, after about five hours, he reached the nearest village (around 2km away).  Fearing ISIS’s revenge, the villagers threw Aswad out of the village on a blanket and abandoned him.  However, in the darkness of the night, a teenager from the village came to him, brought him water, and let Aswad borrow his phone.  Aswad called his friend who, with a much fear and hesitation, came to help him.  His friend kept hiding him, as he lay delirious with a high fever, in poultry farms and in an abandoned house. 

October 30th

SOUTH HEBRON HILLS: Six homes, community oven destroyed in Um Al Kheir

On the morning of 27 October 2014, the Israeli military came with bulldozers to the Palestinian village of Um Al-Kheir and demolished six houses and a traditional bread oven (tabun).  The demolitions left thirty-one people homeless, including twelve children.  According to the villagers, the tabun had no demolition order, but the settlers from nearby Karmel settlement were trying to sue the community over its use, saying that the smoke from the fire that baked the bread generated health problems for the settlers.

During the demolition, Israeli police took two Israeli peace activists to the Kiryat Arba police station and arrested an international volunteer.  They released him later that night on the condition that he could not be in the West Bank for a period of two weeks.

Um Al-Kheir is a small Palestinian village in the South Hebron Hills, whose inhabitants are Bedouin refugees from Tel Arad in Negev, inside the internationally recognized boundaries of Israel.  The residents bought the land for the village in the 1950s.  In the 1980s, settlers established Karmel right next to the village and continue to confiscate land from Palestinians for its expansion.  The Israeli occupation authorities deny access to even the most basic infrastructure for the residents of Um Al-Kheir, who may not connect to running water or electricity, and must rely on solar panels and generators.

A video about the demolition is available here.

October 29th

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 29, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 29, 2014

Pray for the families in Umm Al Kheir, Palestine and El Guayabo, Colombia who were made homeless this week.  The Israeli military demolished six homes in the village of Umm al-Kheir, leaving thirty-one people, including twelve children, homeless on 27 October.  On 29 October, riot police illegally evicted community members of El Guayabo, despite the fact that representatives of the Colombian government have said they have the right to remain on their land.

                                                                              Epixel* for Sunday November 2, 2014

Um Al Kheyr demolitions (1)10698481_748008208585648_3198763651215104780_n (1)
Umm al-KheirRiot police land in El Guayabo
 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth." 
                                                                           Matt. 5:4-5
  
 *epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing
with a text from the upcoming Sunday's  
Revised  Common Lectionary
 readings.
 

October 28th

COLOMBIA URGENT ACTION: El Guayabo facing eviction tomorrow. Ask Mayor of Puerto Wilches to revoke illegal eviction order.

 

 
 Rodrigo López is escorted by ESMAD during the last eviction.

The community of El Guayabo in the municipality of Puerto Wilches has received information from a reliable source that the police colonel signed an illegal eviction order to be executed tomorrow, Wednesday 29 October 2014.  The proper authorities have not notified or made the community aware of the details of the eviction order and have not guaranteed the community the presence of the public defender as is mandated in cases such as these.  On Sunday 26 October, Mr. Rodrigo López and Mr. Jose Adelmo Caldas (identified by community members as an a ex-paramilitary) arrived with sixteen police officers in the community of El Guayabo, threatening eviction, although they brought with them no court order.

On 15 August, lawyers for the Colombian National Institution for Rural Development (INCODER) made it clear to the Mayor of Puerto Wilches that any eviction against the community is completely illegal as the land is currently under dispute in the federal court system.

Community members are understandably scared and angry.  Tomorrow will be the fifth eviction attempt in a series of irregular, illegal, and sometimes violent efforts to displace Guayabo farmers on claims of ownership by Rodrigo Lopez Henao.  The last eviction occurred on 26 June 2014, and involved Colombian riot police using tear gas and pepper spray and causing multiple injuries to community members.  In addition to eviction attempts, intimidation tactics have included unofficial visits by armed off-duty police and threats to community leaders.

Mayor German Duran is the highest local authority and has the power to intervene in this case.

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