Archive

May 9th, 2014

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.

May 6th

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Israeli soldiers arrest disabled man, twelve-year-old boy

In separate incidents around the same time (around 11:00 a.m.) on the morning of Tuesday 6 May 2014 the Israeli military made two arrests in Hebron. 

The first was of Eyad Jaabari, a twenty-year-old man with a learning disability from the Jaabari neighbourhood of the city.  Israeli soldiers took this young man first to the police base near the Gutnick centre and then walked with him to the military base by the Ibrahimi Mosque, holding him for thirty minutes from the time CPT heard of his arrest.  When Israeli soldiers brought the young man out of the base and released him, he was clearly bewildered and distraught, and collapsed on the ground and then into the arms of the older male relative who was waiting outside. The reason for the arrest is unknown. 

May 5th

COLOMBIA URGENT ACTION: Send e-mail to U.S. State Dept this week urging suspension of aid to Colombian military


Take Action: Send a message to the State Department



In the coming week, the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) will be issuing a report about the “False Positive” murders committed by the Colombian military entitled “The Rise and Fall of ‘False Positive’ Killings in Colombia.” (“False positives” were executions of civilians by troops who then claimed the victims were guerrillas killed in combat.)  The research in the report shows that of the Colombian School of the Americas/WHINSEC instructors and graduates from 2001 to 2003 for which information was available, twelve of them 48% had either been charged with a serious crime or commanded units whose members had reportedly committed multiple extrajudicial killings.  John Lindsay Poland, author of the report, will be meeting with State Department Representatives this week.

Accordingly, FOR, SOAWatch, and other NGOs think it is important at this time for immediate e-mail pressure on the State Department to end assistance to the Colombian military.  In February, General Jaime Lasprilla Villamizar was appointed commander of the Colombian Army.  A former instructor at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly known as the School of the Americas) General Lasprilla previously commanded Task Force Omega, which received tens of millions of dollars in U.S. training, supplies and equipment, under Washington’s ill-conceived drug war and “war on terror.”  In 2006-2007, Lasprilla directed the Ninth Brigade in Colombia’s Huila Department, which was responsible for at least seventy-five killings of civilians under his command.  Lasprilla’s appointment shows that Colombia is continuing its culture of impunity regarding military human rights abuses.

May 2nd

AT-TUWANI: Still in need of water

It’s four and a half years since I last worked in the South Hebron Hills village of at-Tuwani, so I was glad to go for an overnight stay.  There have been many changes since my last stint there with Christian Peacemaker Teams.  Of course, babies have been born, children have grown up, young people have married, and adults have aged.




At-Tuwani's school now has an
additional floor.

There have been some positive changes for the village.  It received a master plan some years ago from the Israeli authorities and so villagers are able to build and extend homes within the boundaries it specifies.  The school now has an additional floor and is safe from demolition (with which the Israeli authorities threatened it as soon as it was first built), so now the village school is able to take pupils from the beginning of primary school right through to the end of secondary school.  The village’s clinic is also safe from demolition.  There is mains electricity [an electrical grid] that the villagers attribute partly to Tony Blair’s visit to Tuwani in 2009, during which he described electricity as a human right, and the villagers have received permission to connect to the water main as well.

As one young man said to me, ‘Tuwani is a city now, Miriam: electricity, water . . .’

May 1st

Prayers for Peacemakers, May 1, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, May 1, 2014

 

Pray for the people of At-Tuwani, who remain steadfast in their resistance to occupation, although settlements continue to confiscate lands they have depended on for their livelihood.

See blog post: Tuwani: still in need of water

 

Children walking to school in Tuwani from Tuba and Mighayer Al Abeed.  Ma'on is on the hill on the right.  Note the extensive polytunnels and the new orchard behind the children.  There is an extensive area of fruit trees out of shot to the right.

Children walking to school in Tuwani from Tuba and Mughayer Al Abeed. The Israeli settlement of Ma’on is on the hill to the right. Note the extensive settlement polytunnels and the settlement's new orchard behind the children.

April 30th

TORONTO, ON: CPT supports ‘The Secret Trial Five’ at ecumenical Good Friday Walk for Justice

On 18 April 2014, some three hundred people participated in the annual Ecumenical Good Friday Walk for Justice by leaving the Church of the Holy photoTrinity in downtown Toronto under grey skies and light rain, and walking to several ‘stations’ in the city that represent environmental or social injustices.

At a plain grey multi-story building—the location of Federal Courtrooms—fourteen Toronto CPTers led the crowd in a responsive reading prepared by CPTer Peter Haresnape, praying for the opening of our eyes, hearts, hands, borders, and society with respect to the unholy security state’s hidden agenda of racism and Islamophobia.

April 29th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: CPT calls for elections free of manipulation by the political parties

On 29 April 2014, in the presence of four media channels, the CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team presented a statement regarding the upcoming elections in Iraqi Kurdistan.  The five-page document calls attention to several issues that CPT team members and delegates observed disrupting the electoral process in September 2013.  CPT Iraqi Kurdistan hopes it will encourage all the involved parties and bodies to work together towards more open and fair elections. CPT members have also shared the report with the Independent High Electoral Commission, the Iraqi national organization that bears the responsibility for organizing the electoral process and protecting its independence.  Because of concerns that the various political parties might use the CPT statement to their advantage, the team postponed the public appearance to the day following the end of the month-long pre-election campaign. CPT members along with several partners will observe the elections as a part of an international team. 

The document, “The electoral process in Iraqi Kurdistan through the eyes of the international observers: Recommendations based on the observations of the Christian Peacemaker Teams,” is available in English here and in Kurdish.