Archive

May 17th, 2014

COLOMBIA: The National Agrarian Strike strikes again

From 28 April to 9 May 2014, 3,000 farmers and miners from the Southern Bolivar, Catatumbo, and Cesar regions mobilized near the small town of Norean (three hours north of Barrancabermeja) along with thousands across the country as part of the National Strike, to pressure the national government to negotiate with their leaders in Bogota.  This gathering was the second such mobilization in less than a year, convened after the government failed to fulfill the agreements that ended the first one.


“Excuse us for the inconveniences, we are struggling to guarantee our food sovereignty. Strike for progress. CISCA [Catatumbo
Committee for Social Integration]

May 16th

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Settler archeological excavations continue to expand at Tel Rumeida

 
 The head of the Al Gobeh family looks at  the
title to his property while trying to convince
 the head of the excavation site to stop work
 on his land.

The Israel Antiquities Authority, with the cooperation of the settlement security apparatus, has expanded the excavations around the Abu Haikal, Al Natsheh, and Al Gobeh families lands in the H2 section of Hebron, near the Jewish settlement of Tel Rumeida.

On Sunday 11 May 2014, members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, the Ecumenical Accompaniers, and the International Solidarity Movement went to be with the Al Gobeh family as they protested the development of the excavations on their land.

Despite an agreement between the Israel Antiquities Authority and the family to halt work until a civil engineer from the Hebron district could come and accurately delineate the property lines, the workers on the dig waited until the family left and began to shift the dirt onto the Al Gobeh family land.

“This is our land,” said Al Gobeh. “We didn’t give permission for this.  We have witnessed what  happened in the past when we let Israelis work on our land.  It turns into a development.”  

“The excavations inside of Hebron are required to be coordinated with the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Agreement,” said Dr. Ahmed Rjoob of the State of Palestine’s Ministry and Tourism Department.  â€ś There are several issues with the archeological dig.”

Rjoob argued that the excavations, in addition to being illegal under joint agreements and protocols to which Israel and the PA are both signatories, have in the past been used as instruments for settlement expansion, as in the case of the Tel Rumeida settlement.  The expansion of the archeological digs has quarantined homes and restricted the movements of their inhabitants, in particular the Abu Haikal family.

May 15th

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE REFLECTION: Otters and Oppression

One morning during my recent Aboriginal Justice Delegation, a walk around Lake of the Woods led me to an otter.  I love the slinky agility of otters: their graceful dives, the cord of bubbles that marks their underwater path, and their effortless mounting of ice floes.  As a break from its fishy breakfast, the otter climbed onto a dock and shook itself dry.  It squinted up at me, decided that I wasn’t a threat, and pooped on the dock.  Its defecatory duty done, it glided back into the water and disappeared.

May 14th

Prayers for Peacemakers, May 14, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, May 14, 2014

Pray that the Colombian government will fulfill its agreements with small-scale farmers who went on strike in April and May and not pursue a divide and conquer strategy as happened during last year’s agrarian strike.

Epixel* for 18 May 2014

My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. Psalm 31:15
Farmers in Suaza-Florencia are attacked by Colombian National Police 2 May 2014 photo MarĂ­a Antonieta Cano @AntonietaCano
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's RevisedCommon Lectionary readings.

May 13th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Election day (Part 1)--Police ask international observers to protect them from Asaish Security Forces

On 30 April, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Iraqi Kurdistan coordinated a group of five volunteers —three Iraqi Kurds, a European and an American—to serve as observers for the first elections for the Iraqi Parliament since the U.S. Forces left the country.  Voters were also selecting representatives for the Administrative Councils of the three provinces under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).  Since September 2013, Iraqi Kurdistan politics have been in turmoil.  At that time, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) one of the two ruling parties that shared power in the KRG since 1991, lost its share in the Kurdistan Parliament to the Change (Gorran) movement, an opposition political group.  One of the last significant powers remaining in PUK hands was the control of the Provincial Council of Sulaimani.  In this election, the first in nine years, the PUK had much to lose.

In Sulaimani province, the Asaish (security forces/intelligence agency) fall under the control of the PUK.  The electoral law forbids the presence of the armed forces, except the police, inside the polling centers.  However, on this 30 April election day CPT observers visited five schools in and around Sulaimani city and found security forces armed with AK-47s positioned around or directly at the entrance of four schools as well as armed officers inside the three of them. 

CPT arrived at the fourth school in the late afternoon after having observed a group of about eight men armed with handguns and AK-47s walk out of a nearby PUK office and gather near the school's entrance.  The men appeared to be observing the CPTers as the CPTers observed them and after making a phone call, they dispersed and left.




Bullet shells IHEC voting center manager collected on poster of
political parties and their candidates.

Following the CPTers’ arrival, the voting center manager, who worked for the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC)—the formal body responsible for the transparency, fairness and independence of the elections—led the team into an empty staff room and presented a handful of bullet shells.  He said: “We collected them in the school yard this morning after the Asaish tried to come in armed with guns and take over the school after we prevented some people from voting more than once.  The police protected the school.  The Asaish were upset and fired in the air.  Luckily they left.”

May 12th

U.S./PALESTINE/ISRAEL URGENT ACTION: Urge U.S. Reps to attend briefing on Israel’s discrimination against U.S. citizens seeking to enter Palestine


 

 
 

"Entery Denied" stamp from second of
Brenneman's three failed attempts to
enter West Bank in September-October
2013.

Last September and October the Israeli border authorities refused to allow me to join CPT’s work in Palestine.  During my last attempt, the Israeli authorities held me at the border for more than eight hours, questioned me repeatedly, and strip-searched me before denying me entry.  Both my Palestinian heritage and my work with CPT were raised as reasons for my mistreatment and denial.  This underscores the plight of not only other CPTers and international observers doing peace and human rights work in Palestine, but more importantly for other Palestinians in the diaspora trying to visit their homeland.

CPT Palestine has made it a priority to find ways of combating this blatant discrimination.  Today you can help.  Soon after my return to the U.S.A., my home country, I heard the U.S. House and Senate were debating the U.S.- Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013.  Instead of condemning Israel’s actions and calling on embassies to protect U.S. citizens, this legislation would legalize Israel’s racist immigrations policies that discriminate against Palestinian-Americans and other U.S. citizens.  Section 9 would allow Israel to participate in the US visa waver program (permitting Israelis entry to the US for ninety days without obtaining a visa) without demanding reciprocation, as the US does with every other country.

Grassroots advocacy has stalled this bill, and it will probably be rewritten.  But the debate is not over.  On Wednesday 21 May 2014, a briefing will take place to inform U.S. policy makers of Israel’s discriminatory policies and to urge them not to sign onto the bill.  If you live in the United States, please write or call your members of congress (House and Senate) to attend the briefing.  (Below is a sample e-mail.)

Here is a link that will allow you to send an e-mail automatically:
http://org.salsalabs.com/o/641/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15657

May 9th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Federation of Civil Society Organizations commemorates assassination of Sardasht Osman, decries election violence





May 5, 2014 marked the fourth anniversary of the murder of the young journalist Sardasht Osman.  To address the inaction of the authorities in bringing his murderers to justice and the prevalence of violence, both physical and psychological, in Kurdish society that re-emerged during the recent elections, the Federation of the Civil Society Organizations of Suleimani, of which CPT Iraqi Kurdistan is a member, published a written statement.  Below are excerpts that highlight the yearning of people living in the area of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) for a democratic, transparent, and just society:

 In 1991 the Kurdish people hoped that they had reached an end of the oppressive dictatorship and that the windows and gates to people's dreams for political liberty and freedom of thinking opened.  Unfortunately, the removal of a regime that practiced all possible kinds of abuses did not automatically establish democracy.  The madness of the violation of the political and personal rights continues.  The political parties pursue power, control, and their own benefits instead of the principles of democracy.  They do not accept each other, do not want to allow for the exchange of power between parties.  Parties threaten and fire people from jobs, kill journalists and ignore criminal cases, such as the case of Sardasht Osman and so many others in the past years and present.

May 8th

COLOMBIA: Five-thousand small-scale farmers arrive in Aguachica




On Tuesday, 6 May 2014, a thousand riot police and military personnel arrived in the small town of Norian, just north of Aguachica, and surrounded five thousand small-scale farmers who had begun to gather there since 1 May.  This display of force and the restriction of movement has been a part of the government’s strategy to clamp down on the growing Agrarian Strike.

Earlier on Wednesday, police detained 300 farmers traveling to Medellin on the pretext that they would be a threat to the residents of Medellin, since the public forces did not have enough personnel.

We are curating stories of the Agrarian Strike here

May 7th

CPT INTERNATIONAL: Muriel Schmid appointed Program Director and Jennifer Yoder Communications & Engagement Director

Christian Peacemaker Teams is pleased to announce the appointments of Muriel Schmid as Program Director and Jennifer Yoder as Communications & Engagement Director.

Schmid and Yoder's appointments compliment the new executive directorship of Sarah Thompson.  Together these three new positions replace former roles of co-directors and Outreach Coordinator.

As Communications & Engagement Director Yoder will amplify the communications work of project teams, liaise with CPT groups, and build connections with CPT supporters and potential recruits. Schmid's focus as Program Director will be on CPT's work in Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Palestine, with First Nations in North America and the training and support of the peacemakers who do that work.

 

Muriel Schmid, MDiv, PhD, met CPT in Hebron/Al-Khalil while working with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel.  She went on a delegation with CPT’s Aboriginal Justice Team, joined the CPT Peacemaker Corps in 2013, and served in Iraqi Kurdistan.  A Swiss citizen, she comes to the Program Director post from the University of Utah, where she has been faculty in Religious and in Cultural Studies and director of the Religious Studies program.  Ordained in the Swiss Reformed Church she now identifies strongly with Quakerism.

…

Jennifer Yoder
Jennifer Yoder, a U.S. citizen, is new to CPT and brings a wealth of experience from her work as a grassroots justice activist in diverse U.S. ecclesial and political contexts.  As the Victim Services Coordinator at the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, she re-ignited statewide campaigns, and successfully rebuilt trust through clear communications and producing media for the Alliance.  In 2009 Yoder was co-creator of the Pink Menno movement for embrace of the LGBTQ community within the Mennonite Church.  Yoder’s ability to notice the interplay of privilege and oppression on personal, communal, and political levels has made her a valuable member of diverse leadership teams and an effective organizer.

Prayers for Peacemakers, May 7, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, May 7, 2014

Pray for all those who had their hopes for a free and fair election in Iraqi Kurdistan disappointed on April 30, 2014. 

The team in Iraqi Kurdistan wrote, "Our hopes for fair elections in Iraqi Kurdistan died today":
- as we witnessed the fear that the presence of armed and undercover PUK "security" forces at the gates and inside of the voting centers sowed among the voters and electoral staff;
- as we heard shooting and saw bullet shells gathered at the yard of a voting center;
- as we watched armed PUK men take away a staff member employed by the Independent High Electoral Commission allegedly because he filmed the illegal entry of armed "security" forces into his voting center;
- and as we read that TV station crews and journalists have been attacked, beaten and otherwise prevented from doing their work...

Give thanks for the courageous judge who issued warrants for the arrests of the Director-General of the Asaish (secret police), the head of the Anti-Terrorism unit and the head of the provincial Special Forces, because of the assaults on election observers.


Epixel for May 11, 2014



Gorran election observer in hospital after he was abducted and severely beaten

For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering
unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is
that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God's
approval.
1 Peter 2:19-20

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