Archive

November 7th, 2016

COLOMBIA: Women on the Frontlines of the Colombian Peace Movement

Last September, two graying fighters in the hemisphere‚Äôs longest-running armed conflict consented to an awkward handshake. Ernesto Londo√Īo wrote in the New York Times that he watched Juan Manuel Santos and Timole√≥n Jim√©nez, alias ‚ÄúTimochenko,‚ÄĚ head negotiator for the FARC, shake hands ‚Äúin stunned silence,‚ÄĚ astonished at the diplomatic successes of Colombia‚Äôs four years of peace talks. On the evening of October 2nd, international observers reacted once again in stunned silence‚ÄĒthis time, however, because the prospects for peace were thwarted by an entirely unexpected outcome. The ‚ÄúYes‚ÄĚ vote lost by less than 1% in a surprise to most observers, who predicted that the referendum would pass. Subsequent analyses have cast the vote as Colombia‚Äôs Brexit, an electoral coup carried out by a disaffected anti-establishment voting bloc. 

The ‚ÄúNo‚ÄĚ campaign, however, was anything but anti-establishment. Though Colombians whose territories have suffered the most direct violence overwhelmingly voted to support the accords, the country‚Äôs white and mestizo Andean centers of power, where urban violence has been on the wane, carried the ‚ÄúNo.‚ÄĚ This seeming paradox, in addition to being a tragedy, illuminates the fact that Colombia‚Äôs conflict is no longer‚ÄĒ  if it ever was‚ÄĒ a conflict between the state and the guerrilla as much as it is a conflict between elites and the popular sector. Chief among those who stand to lose if the hard-won peace accords are discarded‚ÄĒand chief among those who fought hardest for them to happen in the first place‚ÄĒare women.

Women peace activists played key roles in the Havana negotiations, both in the talks‚Äô preparatory years and in their execution. Networks of women‚Äôs and feminist organizations like Ruta Pac√≠fica (Peaceful Path), the Organizaci√≥n Femenina Popular (Popular Women‚Äôs Organization), and other members of the Movimiento Social de Mujeres Contra la Guerra (Social Movement of Women Against War) had been demanding a negotiated solution for two decades, softening the ground for the Havana talks. Once they were announced, women lost no time in advocating for civil society to have a place at the table, and organized several parallel events to amplify women‚Äôs voices. When civil society was initially excluded, women organized parallel summits and roundtables, gathering proposals to be delivered to Havana. They held ‚Äúcortes de mujeres,‚ÄĚ public hearings designed as spaces for crimes committed against women in wartime to be made visible. And they traveled the country and collected women‚Äôs testimonies of violence to be published in Colombia‚Äôs Truth and Memory Commission report, a key tool in any campaign for a peace with justice.

November 4th

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): A week in photos 25-31 October 2016

 

Avoiding The Line of Fire  

Pictured here: Everyday Palestinians are exposed to countless soldiers in full combat gear, which brings distress and fear especially for children. The mere exposure to weapons is an act of violence in itself. In their lifetime, the only Israelis most Palestinian children see have guns.
(October 29, 2016)

November 3rd

MEDITERRANEAN: Making Café Nan a reality

 

 Hello Supporters, Peacemakers, and Friends,

 This is not a typical blog post for the CPT blog site.  First off, this post is a fundraiser.  We chose to do it in a blog format as opposed to going through a third party site (such as Kickstarter, Gofundme, Crowdraise, etc.) because if we do it ourselves, no percentage of the donated money goes to a third party site!  That means that sharing this blog is even more important than the ones before.  This is a way that you can be directly involved in making a positive impact on Lesbos. So, without further ado‚Ķ

 Greetings from Mytilene, Lesbos where we need your help!

 First, our story:

 Everyone saw the headlines in 2015: Men, women and children landing in the thousands on the shores of Lesbos in flimsy dinghies. Since then, what began as the gateway to Europe, has turned into a Hot Spot where thousands are stranded in limbo, often in overcrowded and inhumane conditions.

A street view of Café Nan

Since Europe‚Äôs controversial deal with Turkey to stem the refugee flow, many asylum applicants have been detained behind razor wire fences. Others, while free to move around the island, have been stuck there for months, confused and traumatized, waiting for the authorities to process their asylum applications.

Like all of us, these stranded people need purpose and meaning in their lives.  This is where we come in! 

On a small cobbled street in Mytilene, we have exciting plans for a new social-caf√© initiative.  For this purpose we are renovating a building with ancient masonry. When fully restored, this caf√© will employ refugees and use their skills. Caf√© Nan will become a unique and welcoming space and give locals and tourists the chance to experience foods from the Middle East.

November 2nd

Prayers for Peacemakers, November 2, 2016

Prayers for Peacemakers, November 2, 2016 

Give thanks for the world-wide solidarity the thousands of Indigenous Water Protectors in the Standing Rock encampments have aroused.  Pray for the healing of those brutalized by law enforcement officers this past weekend.  Pray that volunteers for the CPT ‚Äď Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Team will become available to travel to Standing Rock, as the oppression of state actors and Dakota Access Pipeline security personnel becomes ever more violent.

*Epixel for Peacemakers  November 2, 2016 
Photo by Unicorn Riot
Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
From you let my vindication come; let your eyes see the right…
Guard me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings,
from the wicked who despoil me, my deadly enemies who surround me. Psalms 17:1-2, 8-9
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings. Psalm 17:1-2, 8-9

November 1st

COLOMBIA: El Guayabo and Bella Union leaders free after turning themselves in

CPTnet
1 November 2016
COLOMBIA El Guayabo and Bella Unión Leaders Free After Turning themselves in

BY CALDWELL MANNERS

Erik Payares, Santos Pe√Īa and Jhon Fredy Ortega embrace their family in celebration outside the court in Barrancabermeja. (CPT/Caldwell Manners)

After six months of avoiding arrest under false charges, three land struggle leaders from the communities of El Guayabo and Bella Unión have returned home.

On 25 October, Erik Payares, Jhon Fredy Ortega and Santos Pe√Īa turned themselves into the Barrancabermeja‚Äôs prosecutor's office to defend their innocence against charges of possession of weapons, personal injury and conspiracy to commit crime.  The judge dropped all but the last charge.  He also ruled against the need to imprison them since they were not a risk to the community and had demonstrated their intentions to fully cooperate with the remaining investigation.

Earlier this year, on 24 April, authorities raided the homes of the three leaders, and the home of currently imprisoned Bella Uni√≥n community leader, Alvaro Garcia. Charges against the four leaders relate to alleged shots fired in December 2014 during a confrontation with Rodrigo Lopez Henao‚Äôs armed security guards. Henao claims the communities, working with the guerillas, forcibly displaced his father in the early 1980s and demands that the courts recognize him as a victim. Under this presumption, local authorities have failed to respond to the security needs of the villagers despite Henao‚Äôs continual attacks against the villagers‚Äô property and persons. They have filed over twenty complaints against him.

October 31st

CPT INTERNATIONAL: CPT Seeks Psychosocial Care Coordinator


 Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is accepting expressions of interest for the full-time position of: Psychosocial Care Coordinator.  

Team: Independent Consultant accountable to CPT‚Äôs Administrative Team

Reports to Program Director

Terms: Independent Consultant, full-time, 40 hours/week, three-year appointment

Compensation: up to $24,000 USD annually

Location: flexible; international travel required

Start Date:  January 1, 2017

Application Deadline: November 30, 2016

Please send resum√© and statement of motivation to: program@cpt.org. Full job description available upon request.

 

October 28th

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): A week in photos, 18-24 October 2016

 

Soldier: "This is my land"

Pictured here: Israeli soldiers told a Palestinian family, who had just finished harvesting their olives and were enjoying a picnic after the work day, that they should have asked for permission to harvest on their own land. The soldier told a CPTer, when questioned about their uninvited and armed presence, that "this is my land and this is my gun."
(October 22, 2016)

October 27th

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: All the way to the top--CPT Steering Committee endorses UNDRIP (United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples)


We have described to you a mountain. We have shown you a path to the top. We call on you to do the climbing-Judge Murray Sinclair (Commissioner for Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission)

One spring day, CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team climbed a Kurdish mountain. Our partners planned the day and, at the beginning of the path, villagers came out to wave at us as we began the trek. Our vegetarian teammate graciously carried the pot of meat for the barbeque. We thought it made sense to hike partway and then lighten our load by burning the wood to cook the chicken, which we would eat with all the other food we hauled.  Although we thought we knew how to do this, it became apparent that despite our good intentions, we had no idea how the day would go. When we wanted to stop, our Kurdish partners told us to keep going‚ÄĒ all the way to the top! 

The trail was a goat track with stones and holes in the way. We had to clamber over large rocks in the pathway. It would have been easy to turn an ankle or to fall off the side. Yet our partners told us that our goal was the top ridge, when finally we could rest, put down the burdens of the meat pot, firewood and a huge stack of bread and have a feast together. 

Now CPT is again climbing a mountain‚ÄĒthe one described by Judge Murray Sinclair at the end of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in Canada through which the world was exposed to the reality and horrors of 150 years of residential schools in Canada. The commission spent six years traveling to different parts of Canada to hear the testimony of approximately six thousand Indigenous people. They heard of children as young as three years taken away from their families and placed in residential schools to assimilate them into European settler society‚ÄĒa policy Justice Sinclair would declare ‚Äúcultural genocide.‚ÄĚ As a response, the commissioners of the TRC laid out ninety-four calls to action that communities and institutions on Indigenous lands can take to work for reconciliation. 

October 26th

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 26, 2016

Prayers for Peacemakers, October 26, 2016

Pray for the teachers and other public servants in Iraqi Kurdistan who have not receive salaries for months and are on strike.  Pray also for the activists and organizers facing persecution and violence from the Kurdish Regional Government authorities. 

*Epixel for Peacemakers October 30, 2016 
O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not listen? Or cry to you "Violence!" and you will not save?
Why do you make me see wrong-doing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife
 and contention arise.

So the law becomes slack and justice never prevails. The wicked surround the righteous-- therefore judgment
 comes forth perverted. Habakkuk 1:2-4
 
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.

October 25th

MEDITERRANEAN: A garden in the heart of a child

 

Photo by Lesvos Solidarity

It’s morning in the camp. Humanity Crew, an organization of translators, comes by to pick up a vanload of Pikpa residents to take them to Moria detention center for the day. They are going for interviews and to fill out paperwork related to appeals for asylum or relocation. One woman approaches, asking if they can take her to the hospital. She has an appointment to have stitches removed from her bandaged hand. Other men and women have gathered under the pavilion to wait for the daily food distribution to begin. A tween-age girl from the Congo is slouching in a plastic chair with her hands over her eyes near to where I am watering one of the two communal gardens. I am trying to determine where to place the hose for the most effective irrigation.

This is Pikpa, an oasis in the desert of Fortress Europe. It is an open camp for refugees run by our partners, the nonprofit Lesvos Solidarity Network (formerly, Village of All Together). It is a safe and humane camp, standing in stark contrast to the detention centers operated by European security forces and the Greek military. On Lesvos, these are Moria, housing (imprisoning really) about 3,000 refugees, and Kara Tepe, with about 700 refugees. At Pikpa currently, eighty-nine residents (out of a capacity for 100) live in wooden cabins and canvas tents under the shade of tall pines. They have access to fresh produce and other wholesome food, clothing, medical aid, clean lavatories, language classes, and kindergarten for their children. Pikpa serves the most vulnerable: the disabled, sick, pregnant, and families of shipwreck victims.