Archive

June 6th, 2016

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Finding community and empowerment after ISIS

The afternoon brought a visit to Baynjan Women's Center—a safe haven for women of many ages, and many different cultural backgrounds:refugees from Syria and elsewhere, women who have been internally displaced, Kurds, Arabs, and Yazidi/Ezidis, gather together each day in a place that has become "the gate to happiness"; a comfortable and safe space radically different from the chaos that drove them so far from their homes. Again and again, as the women talked, they expressed gratitude for a space where they could "be themselves," "be comfortable," "be safe," "experience family, after I was separated from my own." The women put together a drama that they have shared in refugee and IDP (internally displaced people) camps and that they shared on International Women's Day. The drama showed a young women's struggle to achieve her goals in the midst of an arranged marriage. The woman comes into her own power as the drama continues. The theater expresses the depth of issues that women face on a daily basis in a way that goes far beyond just words. The women find community together, challenge systems, work for human rights and demonstrate peacemaking every day.

Wouldn't you love to meet people like the ones working at STEP and Baynjan Women's Center?  Check out our delegation schedule!

June 3rd

Indigenous Peoples’ Solidarity Poem: Grassy Narrows-Asubpeeschoseewagong-one hour north of Kenora

Grassy Narrows-Asubpeeschoseewagong-one hour north of Kenora

Grassy Narrows, where the water narrows and the wild water grasses grow.

Where the fish emerge from their eggs and grow healthy and strong.

Their rich protein feeds the people—Anishinabek

Fishermen come from the world to find the fish and the men of Grassy Narrows guide them to the best spots on the lakes and rivers.

The money buys flour for bannock and fuel for the boats. 

Then one day the community realises something is wrong.

Judy da Silva says, “The fish were acting strange. They were jumping right out of the water-onto the land and then dying there.”

As if they could not bear to stay in their habitat anymore. 

The elders said that this was wrong. Something was wrong with the water.

Mercury-whatever would give a company the right to dump such toxic chemicals into the river?

As if it would dissolve and disappear.

June 2nd

IRAQI KURDISTAN: “The oil companies may be the end of us”


“We survived the Ottomans; then we survived the British; then we survived Saddam Hussein. After all that we’re still here, but the oil companies may be the end of us.”

This quote was from a villager that Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraqi Kurdistan has worked with for several years now, but anyone from several communities we have visited in the past week could have said it.  In a small community outside of Erbil/Hawler called Haji Ahmed, we met with a villager who showed us land that used to be full of vineyards and a running stream. Now, the streambed is dry, the land is mostly dust, and the people aren’t sure what will happen to them.

June 1st

Prayers for Peacemakers June 1, 2016 Iraqi Kurdistan

Prayers for Peacemakers June 1, 2016

Pray for the legislators in Iraqi Kurdistan who want to change their political culture into one that that values transparency and human rights, and who want the oil revenue from the region to benefit everyone in the country.

*Epixel for Peacemakers June 5, 2016  
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Delegation and CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team with Kurdish Regional Government Representative, Soran Omer (3rd from left)
Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God,
who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free;
 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.
The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 
Psalm 146: 3-9
 
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text  from the upcoming  Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.

May 30th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Hospitality, human rights, and corruption driven by the oil industry.


A common thread runs through our meetings in Iraqi Kurdistan: hospitality.  As we focus on our peacemaking mission, we are constantly reminded that we are one human family.  We have received such warm welcomes everywhere.   The people we've met have shared their homes, their hearts, and their tables.  We've drunk their tea, eaten their magnificent repasts, and most importantly, have listened to their stories.

Some of these stories are painful.  We can understand that it's not easy for people victimized by violence to share.  And yet, they do.  Syrian women in refugee camps join together for fellowship and friendship, despite differences of religion, ethnicity, and language.  Children meet at a drop-in center and learn that whether they are Sunni, Shi'a, Christian, Yazidi, Arab, Kurd or Turcoman, they are one human family.

On 26 May, we met with Soran Omer, a member of the Kurdistan Regional Government. He's in the opposition Islamic Party and chairs the Human Rights Committee. 

May 27th

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): CPT Palestine Newsletter April-May 2016

 
 Qitoun Checkpoint
 

A Turbulent School Year


The final week of May marks the last week of school for Palestinian children in occupied Hebron. CPT has made a short video, compiled from the many, many hours of military oppression we have witnessed at Qitoun checkpoint this academic year.

The video is all filmed in one location, and so, with the same group of children who are forced through this checkpoint daily. The video shows just a tiny fragment of the oppression Palestinians are subjected to here at this checkpoint, in Hebron, and all over occupied Palestine. 

Needless to say, such footage does not make it onto the news channels of those countries who economically, militarily and politically support this military occupation.

Please watch and share this video widely.

May 26th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Yazidi renewal in Iraqi Kurdistan

After our visit to Lalish, the Yazidis’ holiest place, we spent Monday learning about community efforts to support the Yazidis after their displacement and trauma at the hands of ISIS. 

“Goodness brings goodness.”  - Nayf Sabry, Sunrise

Our first stop was Sharya Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp outside Dohuk. Sharya hosts 17,000 internally displaced people, most of whom left their homes as ISIS advanced on their homes in Sinjar.  ISIS notoriously killed thousands of Yazidi men and boys and captured and enslaved thousands of women. Others fled to the mountains where they stayed for seven to ten days before coming to Dohuk. 

Nayf, 20, and his friends, were struck by the unfair burden placed on Yazidi children. Growing up in a camp with their parents preoccupied by their own trauma and securing basic needs, the children had opportunities for play. 

In response, Nayf and some of his friends temporarily dropped out of high school and started Sunrise, a non-politically affiliated NGO. Members from Sunrise visited every family in the camp and invited their children to attend extra-curricular events including movies, games and a field trip to the mall.

Sunrise functions as a community center in a tent in the middle of camp.  Nayf and his friends are eager to raise money to provide more infrastructure and entertainment opportunities for the children of the camp. 

They want to protect the right to childhood – a right he himself was denied. 

“If we don’t help each other, who would come?” he said.

May 25th

Prayers for Peacemakers May 25, 2016

Prayers for Peacemakers May 25, 2016 

Pray for the children of Hebron’s Old City as they finish their school year.  Pray that the academic year 2016-2017 will be free of tear gas, humiliation at checkpoints and filled with adults inspired to intervene on their behalf so they can receive an education. 

May 24th

COLOMBIA: A Week in Northeastern Antioquia, Colombia--Learning about the Armed Conflict

 

Delegates walk through the town of Mina Nueva, Antioquia. Photo: Caldwell Manners

Over Easter break, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and a grassroots organization CAHUCOPANA (Corporation for Humanitarian Action for Peace and Coexistence in Northeastern Antioquia) organized a national delegation for Colombians to travel to the northeastern region of the department of Antioquia. These two organizations seek to raise awareness about the realities of the armed conflict as well as to defend the human rights of communities who live in the armed conflict zone.

Those of us on the delegation represented the cities of Bogota, Ibague, and Cali. We had several purposes for participating: to learn about the armed conflict from the experience of those who live in the conflict zone; to learn about how each community undertakes peaceful resistance; to learn about the concerns of each community; and to learn about the solutions each community has developed to resist the challenges brought by the armed conflict.

May 23rd

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): A week in photos 12-18 May 2016

Smiling Against the Odds

Pictured here: Palestinian schoolboys smile as they head to school for their end of year exams. As they were doing so, Israeli Border Police checked Palestinian cars, without search warrants, and had been aiming their guns at children, as pictured above in this photo essay. If their exam was in resilience, these boys would pass with flying colours. 
 (18/05/2016)