Archive

August 30th, 2016

COLOMBIA: Christian Peacemaker Teams Celebrates, “Peace is Possible.”

 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them
be afraid. – John 14:27 

Today is the day.  The war with FARC-EP has ended.  Peace is possible.

On Thursday,  August 25th, The Colombian Government and FARC-EP announced that they reached a peace agreement. After over fifty years of armed conflict, they laid down their weapons in an indefinite cease-fire. Generations of Colombians that have known only war will now be given the opportunity to live in peace.    

Today, Christian Peacemaker Teams celebrates alongside our partners, who have worked so tirelessly for this day. These courageous women and men worked and dreamed of peace when there was no glimpse of it. This historic peace agreement was made possible by their tireless work.

We also recognize that in many ways the journey has just started. The peace agreement, momentous in its scale, will take years of work. It dares not only to end the war, but to change a culture of violence and dismantle structures of death. The task of agrarian reform and restorative justice are complicated tasks. Just these two points alone will take years of labor.

There are still challenges to overcome. We have seen a rise and re-organizing of paramilitaries in the region where we work. Furthermore, on 2 October, the country will vote in a “yes”/“no” referendum to ratify the peace agreements. At a national level, powerful people are already working to convince the people to vote against the popular referendum. It will be devastating for Colombia if the peace agreements do not pass.  These are forces rising to prevent a real peace from taking hold

However, we cannot be afraid.  So today, we celebrate. The war with FARC-EP has ended. Peace is possible.

 
 

August 29th

MEDITERRANEAN: The Space Within the Aegean Tectonic Plate

Our civilization is at war with spaces that are not definable or determinable between the poles of dichotomies. It is a war against what we cannot control, against that which flows and moves at its own speed and space. We take all the spaces of the margins and sacrifice them for the sake of our GLOBAL CITY. The civilized space is a fenced space 

The earth is one entire space and does not have any borders. There is nothing in the Aegean Sea that indicates where Europe begins and Asia ends. Both the Turkish city of Ayvalik and the Greek city of Mytilene are parts of the same Aegean tectonic plate. For most of history, Lesbos and Ayvalik have been parts of the same context and political unit. Now one of them is outside of the European fence and the other one is within. The Aegean Sea can be understood as the space between two separate worlds, two continents and two religions, as the space between peace and war, between good and evil and so on. In this artificial space, hundreds of people are being brutally murdered by the creators and defenders of this fence. 

August 26th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: You can say we lost our lives--Turkish bombing of Sergali village

Hasni Islam and his son show team members Peggy and Mohammed damage to buildings in Sergali. Photo by Julie Brown.

“Back in 1991, Turkey bombed our village of Sergali so heavily that we left the area,” Hasni Islam, the village leader, told our team.  He pointed north to the mountain behind which their old village had once stood.  “Because of the ongoing war between Turkey and the PKK (Kurdistan Worker’s Party) we couldn’t return to the village area, and so moved to this site and established it as our new village. But now, two months ago (June 2016), Turkey bombed around the village here, and half of the families fled again and scattered to other towns. The other half has no other place to go or the financial means to leave, so are still here, even though they are afraid.” At one time the village included 350 families, but now there are only forty.

August 25th

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): A week in photos 16-22 August 2016

 

We  Want Freedom

Pictured here: An old woman calling for freedom and justice for Palestinians in Israeli prisons, as part of a demonstration led by the Hebron Defense Committee. ​

August 24th

Prayers for Peacemakers, August 24, 2016 Indigenous Peoples' Solidarity

Prayers for Peacemakers,  August 24, 2016  Indigenous Peoples' Solidarity

Pray for the 3,000 indigenous protectors of the land and water at encampments in North Dakota who are preventing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  The North Dakota Homeland Security Director has cut off their access to drinking water today. Pray that the media will cover their courageous nonviolent witness and that people will respond to their call to stand in solidarity with them.

*Epixel for Peacemakers  August 28, 2016 
  Photo by Unicorn Riot
Be appalled, O heavens, at this, be shocked, be utterly desolate, says the LORD,

for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves,
cracked cisterns that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:12-13
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.

August 23rd

IRAQI KURDISTAN: What peace looks like here

 

Weza village located near the Iranian border in Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo by: Peggy Gish.

 “Is this the village of Weza?” I asked my teammate, not believing what I was seeing. This did not look like the same village our team visited in June 2010. Weza, nestled in the mountains of northeastern Iraqi Kurdistan and close to the Iranian border, looked bigger.  Fields were larger and greener and the houses in better repair.  Residents, we spoke to said that even though they know in the back of their mind that danger could return to their village, they feel more relaxed. Tourists are once again coming into the area for vacations, to enjoy the beautiful views and the milder summer temperatures.

Six years ago, in June 2010, we sat in this same village, with the uncle of fourteen-year-old Basoz, as he told us about his niece’s tragic death three weeks earlier.  A rocket had exploded near Basoz while she was preparing tea for the rest of the family who were working in their fields.  Her twenty-year-old cousin, with her at the time, was not physically injured, but was severely traumatized.  The uncle, describing the situation there, told us, “Over the last ten days, more than 200 rockets have exploded around our village.  People here are terrified, and many have left.”

August 22nd

MEDITERRANEAN REFLECTION: Refugee--the human face of God

When I arrived in Mytilene International Airport Lesvos Greece on 10 July, the city center and the entire island of Lesvos were not new for me. Similarities between what could be considered a Philippine tourist destination spot and the culture of Lesvos can be noticed through the architecture, scenery, weather, urban planning, stony seabed and beautiful mountains. In short, Lesvos is a holiday paradise. The street acts as such: crazy lorry drivers, ending lanes, racing cars and reasonably easy public transport—it felt like home to me. 

However, my main reason for visiting the island was to assist in the work of the Christian Peacemaker Teams Mediterranean project (CPT). Since the war in Syria and Iraq, Greece—and specifically Lesvos—has been the frontline of the refugee crises. Lesvos and the Aegean Sea coast near Turkey are the main focal points for the massive wave of refugees from different countries (Syrians, Iraqis, Pakistanis, etc.) entering the EU. After the EU-Turkey deal (March 20) everything has changed. Presently, many describe Lesvos as two worlds colliding: where holiday paradise and refugee crisis converge. 


August 20th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: July 2016 Newsletter--Border bombings, AVP training, what peace looks like and more!

Border Bombings

No Place to Hide

By Julie Brown
One of the CPT partner communities in the Allana Gully impacted by Iranian cross border bombings into Iraqi Kurdistan. Photo by: Julie Brown.
"When the bombing starts, where do you hide?" That is what I asked Sulltan.
"There is no place.  Behind rocks, wherever we can. We all just run in every direction. Everyone has to find their own place.  Even the children."

The last shelling started on June 23rd at 10am and did not stop until after noon.  The farmer said over 160 bombs fell on the small area in those two hours.  After it was over, many animals had been killed and three children were injured.  It was this story that we heard in detail as we documented the events of that day.

In the Choman District of Iraqi Kurdistan High in the mountains near the Iranian border lies the Allana Gully.  It was here that CPT visited after hearing reports of a recent cross border shelling from Iran. The drive through the mountains to this remote area was slow. The road is an unpaved rocky path that hangs on the sides of very steep mountain ledges. In many places it is so narrow that the wheels of our vehicle came dangerously close to sliding off the edge.

August 19th

COLOMBIA: Celebrating the voice of Colombia women in the struggle for peace!

 

CPT Colombia knows the best women

Since Christian Peacemaker Teams arrived in Barrancabermeja in 2001, we have had the honor to walk in solidarity with the brave women of the Women’s Popular Organization (OFP). OFP has been fighting for women’s voices to be heard since 1972. They have fought so that women would not be under submission or controlled by violent actors in the conflict. They have fought so that women would not be under submission or controlled by norms and sexist laws that have allowed men to hurt or even kill their partners without consequences. They have fought for women to be educated and trained and be independent, strengthened and be recognized as a political subjects with proposals for peace in Colombia. 

On July 21, 2016, to celebrate its forty-four years, the OFP invited its members of several municipalities of the Magdalena Medio region and sectors of Barrancabermeja, to build and paint murals depicting peace. The women of OFP have always worked with symbols to express themselves. The murals, ten in total, were profound symbols of how the women of OFP have built and continue to build peace through its space led by and for women (though with much love, they allowed us men to participate). The murals show the pain and suffering of women as a result of the war and the appalling sexism that has oppressed them. But the beauty of the effort is that they did not remain in the pain. In the murals they showed that with strength and determination they gained respect and were able to move forward with concrete proposals for a better society. A just and decent society to live in peace. 

August 17th

Prayers for Peacemakers, August 17, 2016

Prayers for Peacemakers, August 17, 2016

Pray for the villagers who are suffering from the impacts of Turkish and Iranian cross-border bombing in Iraqi-Kurdistan with almost no attention from the world community.

*Epixel for Peacemakers  August 21, 2016 
In you, O LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.

 In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me and save me.

Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.

Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel.

For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Psalm 71:1-5
 
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.