July 13th, 2016

Prayers for Peacemakers, July 13, 2016

Prayers for Peacemakers, July 13, 2016 

Give thanks that the Mennonite Church Canada has repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery, a philosophical and legal framework dating back to the fifteenth century that gives “Christian governments” the legal right to seize indigenous lands and dominate Indigenous people.  Pray that Mennonites view this as a first step in a restorative process with First Nations in Canada.

*Epixel for Peacemakers  July 17, 2016 
O LORD, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill?
Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart;
who do not slander with their tongue, and do no evil to their friends, nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;
in whose eyes the wicked are despised, but who honor those who fear the LORD; who stand by their oath even to their hurt Psalm 15:1-4
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text  from the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.

July 11th



Rezhiar Fakhir

It has not been very long since I visited the land of the Indigenous peoples. I acknowledge that it took me a very long time to write this. That was for two reasons. First, I come from a place where we have suffered from different conflicts, not just over decades but over centuries. I thought it would not be a good idea for me to write a judgment of Canadian society when we are deeply impacted by war in our own region. Second, North American history is very complicated for me even though some have told me it is very simple: the settlers came and destroyed the life of the Indigenous peoples – the story is as simple as that. Even after my first visit to Grassy Narrows, an indigenous reserve, I was not courageous enough to write this reflection. But I made a pledge to my indigenous friends that I would write about their struggle even though I am not Canadian.

My journey in Canada began when I arrived in Nelson in British Colombia to finish my course at Selkirk College in mid April. From the moment of my arrival I felt the generosity of the people of Nelson. They were very kind and welcoming. Nelson portrayed a perfect Canada in my mind. However, I began to hear from my very good friends, classmates and instructors about some problems and difficulties that Canadians faced. I met many people in Nelson who told me stories about the Indigenous peoples’ struggle. They gave me an overview of the history and the challenges of indigenous peoples in North America. One late afternoon, I even saw one of my classmates arguing with the police from Nelson about the history of colonization. Or my instructor who expressed concern about the extinction of some indigenous communities in Nelson.

July 8th

MEDITERRANEAN REFLECTION: The children along the city walls of Chios


Syrian refugee children waiting to get the boat to Athens

We are a CPT team of three persons. We are walking along the city walls of the Greek island of Chios, with the border-polluted sea stretching before us. The refugees reside in tents, organised in two lines. Kids are playing. Nothing can make children stop playing. Even under the midday sun; even though the great powers of the world, through their agreements, prevent these families from moving on.  But they play. They run up to the top of garbage hills and then run down, laughing and shouting. “Kids!” my friend says, to show that he is delighted but not surprised.

The twelve-year-old Me walks on small paths up the hill, passing alongside landmines, walking over the skeletons of the Iraqi and Iranian soldiers who died here in 1980s. He jumps out of me. He does not even look back at me. He goes to the kids of Chios and starts playing with them. I look back and wait for him to come back, to jump back into this grown-up self.  He does not seem to care. My teammates tell me that we should move on. So I move on with them and leave the little Me behind.

July 7th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: June 2016 Newsletter--Border Bombings



Iraqi Kurdistan

Border Bombings
The Kelasheen, the high mountain pastures used in the summer for grazing and farming by the villagers of Zhilya. Photo: Caldwell Manners

Sidakan, Caught on the Border

Latif Hars and Caldwell Manners

Sidakan, a sub-district along the borders of Turkey and Iran, has recently come under heavy Turkish bombing. Villagers now have to navigate precariously between invisible lines of armed Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK)- controlled areas, which tend to be at higher risk, and high pasture grazing land, the Kelasheen, where their families camp all summer with their animals.  On the eastern border, Iran has begun shelling the area, displacing and injuring people.

Sidakan is the largest sub-district in Iraq and the autonomous region of Kurdistan in Iraq (Kurdistan Regional Government - KRG). This rugged mountainous region shares a border with Turkey on the north and Iran on the east.

CPT began it’s work in the area a few years ago when Turkey and Iran were bombing and shelling the highlands, prior to the failed peace talks of 2015, between Turkey and the (PKK).

Turkey began bombing the area in the mid-nineties when the PKK moved their operations from the cities of southeast Turkey to the eastern mountains of the KRG, including Sidakan. The villagers who farm and graze their animals in these mountainous pastures continue to be victims of the cross border attacks as reported by the team in their 2012 report, “Disrupted lives” and most recently in neighbouring Zergaly.

Read the full article here
Long time CPT partner, Kak Bapir from the village of Baste, shows the team footage of grazing and agricultural land prone to aerial Turkish strikes. On June 27th warplanes stuck 200 meters from his home shattering the glass of village homes and burning surrounding grazing land. Photo: Caldwell Manners

July 6th

Prayers for Peacemakers July 6, 2016

Prayers for Peacemakers July 7, 2016

Pray for all of those who are grieving the loss loved ones who died in the attacks in Istanbul, Baghdad, Dhaka, Medina, and Qatif during the holy month of Ramadan.  Pray that international community will repent of its racism by treating the lives lost in Brussels and Paris as more valuable.

*Epixel for Peacemakers July 9, 2016
Photo by CPT-Iraqi Kurdistan team friend and photojournalist Hawre Khalid
God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
"How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked? Selah
Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." Psalm 82:1-4
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing  with a text  from the upcoming  Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.

July 3rd

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): A week in photos, 25 June-2 July 2016


Age limitations

Pictured here: On the last Friday of  Ramadan, Israeli Border Police prevented Palestinian worshipers between 15-25 years old from reaching the Ibrahimi Mosque.  This young boy, and later on the young woman in the picture were not allowed to pass. 


June 30th

Prayers for Peacemakers June 30, 2016

Prayers for Peacemakers June 30, 2016

This morning 17-year-old Muhammad Nasser Tarayra murdered 13-year-old Hallel Yafa Ariel in the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba.  Tarayra was then shot and killed.  His family’s home in the Hebron-area village of Bani Naim will be demolished. Ever since Israeli soldiers killed Tarayra’s cousin, he had expressed a wish for death on his Facebook page.  Please pray for all the families mourning the loss of loved ones.  Please pray for all the families facing “price tag” attacks by settlers, which could include Campaign for Secure Dwellings families in the Beqa’a Valley, near Bani Naim, as well as people in the Old City of Hebron. 

*Epixel for Peacemakers  July 3, 2016  

To you, O LORD, I cried, and to the LORD I made supplication: "What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? 
Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness?" 
Psalm 39:8-9

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

June 29th

COLOMBIA: The Popular Strike--A fight that never ends


Almost every year since August 2013 farmers in Colombia have taken to the main highways to demand guarantees from the government necessary to cultivate their land and thus maintain a livelihood to support their families; the campesinos, Indigenous people, and Afro-Colombians are not only demanding respect for their territories but also calling for a revision of national policies that currently threaten the development of the rural sector.
These mobilizations are supported by several sectors including students, healthcare professionals, teachers, religious groups and unions, which in turn represent an array of issues affecting the vast majority of the population.

June 28th


 â€śSo pretty, what a waste,” he said with a smile on his face.  

An older gentleman approached me at a gathering recently and started a conversation with those words. I think he thought he was giving me a compliment.



While I have control over the way I care for myself, I do not have control over the face I was born with, or my hair, or the bones and cartilage that give shape to my skin. These parts of my being are nothing to take pride in because I did nothing to “earn” them.  

The man who made the comment knows me.

He knows I've been a teacher of Spanish and theology. 

He knows I’ve traveled the world and taught English in India and Palestine.

He knows I’ve been a human rights defender in Palestine.

June 27th

COLOMBIA: Peace, reconciliation and coexistence—closer all the time

[Note: The following piece by CPT Colombia team partner and frequent delegation resource Francisco Jose Campo was written before the signing of the Havana Peace Accords last week.  It has been adapted for CPTnet and to reflect that reality.]

The national yearning for peace, reconciliation and coexistence between compatriots seems continuously more real than utopian. Undeniably, it’s darkest before the dawn. But the dawn of peace that is revealing itself to us is preceded by a dreadful darkness in this long night of a conflict that is not only military (as the military face of the conflict is becoming less vicious), but one that is ideological and political. Those on the far right are playing with the possibility of torpedoing the tangible advances of the negotiations, and the imminent signing of a political accord. Anti-restitution activity is the particular proof in this case.