March 25th, 2015

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 25, 2015

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 25, 2015

Pray for the children of Al Saraya kindergarten in Hebron, who must walk past Israeli military personnel and settlers to get to school near the Il-Ibrahimi Mosque.   In 2000, ninety-five children attended the kindergarten.  Now, because of settler and soldier harassment, only fifteen children remain at the school.  The International Red Crescent recently asked CPT to start accompanying the children on their walk to school, and several weeks ago, two CPTers were arrested while doing so.


 *Epixel for Sunday, March 29, 2015

[H]e who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together.
Who are my adversaries? Let them confront me. It is the Lord GOD who helps me; who
 will declare me guilty? Isaiah 50:8-9a

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

March 23rd

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Exxon Mobil pollutes Kurdish villages, denies villagers access to land

On 9 March, a Kurdish farmer, Kak Mirro, committed an act of civil disobedience by burning grapevines in his own fields.

The day before, he had phoned the CPT Iraq team,  “Please come to Haji Ahmed. Tomorrow at 10:00 am the oil will begin to flow.” After some discussion, three of our team decided to drive the two hours to the tiny village, picking up our lawyer friend, Latif, along the way.

 The day was bright with a spring chill in the wind. We met Kak Mirro at his house and then drove over the tortuous farmers’ roads up to a spot overlooking the oilrig built throughout the last year.  Kak Mirro told us the oil company, with the backing of the government, has ordered them to stay away from these fields—at a time when they need extra attention—a rule reminiscent of the period two years ago when the exploration had begun and the company destroyed crops and vineyards.

Kak Mirro with excess gas fire burning in background. 

March 21st

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): A Week in Photos 8-14 March 2015

Below are some of the the CPT Palestine team's best photos for the week of 8-14 March.  A link to their page, with aids to signing up for their social media is available here.  Be a part of showing the the world the true face of Israel's military occupation of Palestine.

March 20th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: CPT explores peacebuilding initiatives between Yazidis and Arabs in Arbat Camp

(Photo by  UNICEF- Belgium)

On the 4 March 2015, we came to Arbat Refugee Camp to talk about setting up Alternative to Violence Projects (AVP) because of growing tensions between the Yazidi and Arab residents who have fled the areas held by ISIS. Upon entering the camp I was just struck by how many tents there were and how muddy the ground was.   Children were walking barefoot through the mud; people were collecting blankets and mattresses distributed by relief agencies.

During our conversation, one of the Yazidi men we were talking with showed us a picture of a female family member who had slit her own throat to escape capture by ISIS. Everyone has had family members taken, killed or has had family members commit suicide after being raped by ISIS. The fear of the Arab as the perpetrator of these crimes is so high. 

When the camp opened there were around 300 Yazidi families and 400 Arab families. Now there are over 1700 Arab families. A lot of the new waves of Arabs have come from areas held by ISIS. The Yazidis see the Arabs as the people who took their wives and children and murdered the men in their families. During our conversation, one of the Yazidi men we were talking with showed us a picture of a female family member who had slit her own throat to escape capture by ISIS. Everyone has had family members taken, killed or has had family members commit suicide after being raped by ISIS. The fear of the Arab as the perpetrator of these crimes is so high. 

March 18th

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 18, 2015

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 18, 2015

Give thanks for the Grassy Narrows First Nations Members who remain strong in their determination to resist logging on their traditional lands, despite recent court rulings allowing corporate exploitation of these lands.  On 16 March 2015, youth groups, Band Councilors, Drum Groups, Elders and others engaged in protests at the Weyerhaeuser Mill, Kenora Forest Products and the local Ministry of Natural Resources office. 

Photo: Alex Hundert

March 13th

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: They seek to live freely, not to die bravely

I heard the bullet slam into the metal door up the street, and turned to look at my teammate with confusion—was that really a bullet? —when several rubber bullets came skipping up the street and stopped near my feet. At that moment, I realized that I would hate telling this story to friends in the United States.

The responses would be predictable‑“You’re crazy!” “You’re so brave!”

We were accompanying the annual Open Shuhada Street demonstration Shuhada Street, once the main market street in the old city of Hebron, is a desolate ghost town since the Israeli military closed it to Palestinians in the late 1990s, as punishment for protesting the massacre of 29 Muslim Palestinians in the Ibrahimi Mosque. Every year, Palestinians and international supporters gather to demand that the Israeli military open the street and allow Palestinians to move freely in the city. Every year, they are met by brutal, violent repression.

As I walked over to pick up the rubber bullet, I looked across the street and saw several young Palestinian men my age, trying to decide if it was worth attempting to march down the street or not. And at that moment, I understood why I would hate telling this story. The truth is, I’m actually scared of a lot of things—bullets, heights, snakes, big spiders, etc. I am very sure that I would not be out protesting if I was a young Palestinian man, growing up with constant military harassment, family arrested and tortured, friends killed, economic strangulation. I felt safer on that street because of my CPT hat and my international passport.

We can always find someone braver than us, someone who is sacrificing more. And often people do not sacrifice by choice, and they are brave because their very existence is resistance and there is no third option between resistance and death. Those of us who do not face this choice can find ourselves seeking moments of bravery, opportunities to prove our toughness by facing down the forces of violence‑the white/male/middle-class/USAmerican Savior Complex.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is asked to come heal Lazarus. This would mean traveling to Judea, where the political leaders want Jesus dead. He holds off for a bit, but when he decides to go, Thomas says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Thomas wants to be brave. He identifies the movement Jesus is building as about bravely facing death (unlike Peter, who at other points thinks that Jesus is an idiot for saying he will die, cf. Matthew 16). Thomas sees Jesus’ death as the central focus. Thomas would do well in a conservative evangelical church.

But this is not the story in John 11. Jesus does head down to Judea, and Lazarus has been dead for four days. If the point is a brave death, Jesus could have just sat down and waited for the political leadership to show up and kill him. Instead, he weeps with his friends in the death of their friend, he goes with them to the tomb, he asks for the stone to be rolled away, he prays, and Lazarus is raised from death. And then Jesus says this: “Unbind him, and let him go.”  Jesus frees Lazarus from the power of death.

March 12th

WEST PAPUA: Indonesian police crash meeting of first AustralAsia CPTers’ delegation to West Papua

Rev. Benny Giay Moderator of the
Kingmi Church, Papua, Indonesia

 ‘Church leaders in West Papua feel as if they are surrounded by violence and cannot escape.’ Two years ago, West Papua Reverend Dr. Benn Giay wrote these words in a letter, asking if outside people of faith could accompany the church in some way.  In January 2015 three members of CPT participated in an eleven-person AustralAsia delegation to West Papua.

West Papua is located on the western rim of the Pacific; it is one half of the island of New Guinea and is close to the northern most land mass of Australia. Indonesia has occupied it since the Dutch left in 1962.

Rev Giay told us that the Indonesian transmigration program has meant that the Papuans are now only 48% of the population of their own land. Benny fears that in twenty-five years, the Papuan culture and people could be lost forever.  They have already lost much of their language and culture and have much lower standards of living.  Other people we talked to, including village elders and student nonviolent peace activists, supported these facts. They told us of the very high incidence of HIV and increasing alcohol use as well as poor access to health care especially in the remote highlands.

Violence against Papuans by Indonesian military, militia groups and police has been significant under Indonesian governance.  Indonesian authorities have killed an estimate 500,000 Papuans since 1969.

March 11th

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 11, 2015 Iraqi Kurdistan

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 11, 2015 Iraqi Kurdistan

Give thanks for the nonviolence pioneers in Iraqi Kurdistan—both natives of the region and people driven from their homes by the Syrian War and ISIS violence—who recently completed an Alternatives to Violence Training.  They will use their training to help reduce conflict within and between communities that are sharing the region and its resourcess

*Epixel for Sunday, March 15, 2015

O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever
Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, those he redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north
and from the south. Psalm 107:1-3

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

March 10th

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: Walking the broken path

The border police argued with my teammate about permission to walk the paved “settler path.”  Sound bombs and tear gas were exploding at Salaymeh, a checkpoint nearby. According to the soldiers, we could walk on the same path that the settlers could, but the boys and girls with us could only walk on the adjacent rocky path.

Palestinian children walking with CPTer
on unpaved side of road, while settler
walks on paved side

Border police uttered Hebrew words through his radio. My teammate engaged the soldier. The children looked afraid. I pulled out notebook and pen, got down on my knees, and started drawing.

“Pintemos un payaso,” I told them, knowing the children would not understand. First the head, then the nose, eyes, ears, hair. I drew a clown.

One of the girls smiled timidly and told me something in Arabic.

“No te entiendo, pero pintemos otro payaso,” “I don’t understand, but let’s draw another clown.”

I started again: head, nose, eyes, ears, hair. My drawings amused the girls. They giggled. The boys pretended not to be interested, but peeked discreetly so they could still see my art.

March 6th

COLOMBIA: After landmine kills boy, CPT Colombia receives new accompaniment request

Over a decade ago, the campesinos of Micoahumado made international headlines when they engaged in dialogue with three armed groups whose fight landed them in the crossfire: the ELN (National Liberation Army), the Colombian military, and the government-supported right-wing paramilitaries.   The dialogue–facilitated by the Catholic Church–was an almost unprecedented step towards reducing violence, promoting peace, and recovering civilian autonomy in the region. All three groups agreed to refrain from engaging each other in open combat in areas populated by civilians, and not involve civilians in their wars.  The ELN further agreed to remove existing landmines and refrain from planting new ones on Micoahumado’s lands and roads.

For the past decade, Micoahumado’s peaceful strategies had been working. Until recently.

Just the other week in a place not too far from Micoahumado, a fourteen-year-old boy, walking in the fields, stepped on a landmine.  The landmine’s explosive force tore his limbs from his body, killing him instantly.  Soon after, in Caoba (one of the ten communities that make up Micoahumado), a farmer’s cow grazing in the field wandered over a landmine. The loss of the cow was a severe blow to the farmer’s livelihood. In addition to the landmines there is now also increasing Colombian military presence in populated areas.

In the face of these re-emerging threats, the campesinos of Micoahumado are reaffirming dialogue as the most effective path to peace.  And they have requested that Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), an international organization that sends teams of peace workers into conflict areas around the world, increase their accompaniment of Micoahumado.