Archive

May 24th, 2014

IRAQI KURDISTAN: “Fingers should be used for voting, not shooting”; CPT reports on Iraqi election




CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team members at 14 May press conference

On 14 May, CPT Iraqi Kurdistan released to the general public via the media its new report regarding the recent Iraqi Parliamentary and Kurdistan provincial councils election. The report summarizes concerns of the five-member international election observer team, which CPT coordinated, based on what they observed during the 30 April election and the subsequent vote recount process. The report title, “Fingers should be used for voting, not shooting” refers to the Iraqi electoral symbol: an index finger dipped in ink after a voter casts a ballot, and the intimidating presence and dangerous activities of the security forces that CPT observed.  The five page report can be read here in English  and here in Kurdish.

Two major Kurdish TV channels and one journalist attended the press conference. The KNN TV channel used the report as one of its main news headlines and broadcasted it repeatedly for two days.

May 23rd

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE REFLECTION: Through the window

[Note: The following reflection by a member of the May Aboriginal Justice delegation has been adapted for CPTnet.  The original is available here. ]

Two weeks ago on our Aboriginal Justice delegation, we attended bail court for people arrested and held over the weekend in Kenora, Ontario.  We hoped that our presence indicated to both the court employees and defendants that people were watching, that outsiders cared about what happened in that space.

The sharp gradient of power symbolized within the courtroom struck me.  The judge was literally front and center and at the highest point in the room.  His word was law and his orders carried out.  The defendant was cloistered behind glass panels at the side.  He could speak only when spoken to.  His fate was dependent upon the judgments of others.  Dynamics of structural oppression were also at work, from the racialized division of Anishinaabe defendants and white settler prosecutors, to the social, historical, and economic backdrop of the alleged crimes.

May 20th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Election Day (Part II)—an interrupted abduction




CPTers report abuses they witnessed on 30 April election at a 14 May
press conference in Suleimani

At the request of the police officer and the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) manager, two of our colleagues remained at the school mentioned in our previous release

My Kurdish female teammate and I went to observe a nearby voting station after having heard gunfire from that direction.  We arrived at the school ten minutes before the polls' closing time.  A group of men in military uniforms and armed with AK-47s blocked the entrance to the school.  An elegantly dressed man from the surrounding crowd approached us.  We could hear his anxiety as he said, “The situation here is very bad.  They should not be here.  We are not free.  This is not democracy.”  His words were supported by Iraqi electoral law, which grants authority for protecting the voting centers to civilian police, not military troops controlled by political parties.

May 19th

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) Excavations continue on Abu Haikel Land

 

The Israeli Antiquity Authority (IAA) continues to expropriate Palestinian land in Hebron, on the Tel Rumeida hillside.  On Sunday 18 May 2014, the IAA workforce, under the instruction of project coordinator Emmanuel Eisenberg, continued to cause structural damaged to the Abu Haikel land, deploying questionable and illegal archeological practices, while at the same time utilizing the Al Jobeh family’s land without the family's consent.

The excavations are illegal under Israeli law, according to the Oslo Agreement, which Israel signed in the mid-90s— a process jointly agreed upon by Israel and Palestine as a vehicle to peace and stability.  Article 2 of the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement describes in detail how Israeli and Palestinians would jointly administer archeological projects in Palestinian territory.  The IAA has not abided by this agreement in Tel Rumeida.


Feryel Abu Haikel sits in nonviolent resistance to further expansion of the Israeli archaeological dig onto her land

May 17th

COLOMBIA: The National Agrarian Strike strikes again

From 28 April to 9 May 2014, 3,000 farmers and miners from the Southern Bolivar, Catatumbo, and Cesar regions mobilized near the small town of Norean (three hours north of Barrancabermeja) along with thousands across the country as part of the National Strike, to pressure the national government to negotiate with their leaders in Bogota.  This gathering was the second such mobilization in less than a year, convened after the government failed to fulfill the agreements that ended the first one.


“Excuse us for the inconveniences, we are struggling to guarantee our food sovereignty. Strike for progress. CISCA [Catatumbo
Committee for Social Integration]

May 16th

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Settler archeological excavations continue to expand at Tel Rumeida

 
 The head of the Al Gobeh family looks at  the
title to his property while trying to convince
 the head of the excavation site to stop work
 on his land.

The Israel Antiquities Authority, with the cooperation of the settlement security apparatus, has expanded the excavations around the Abu Haikal, Al Natsheh, and Al Gobeh families lands in the H2 section of Hebron, near the Jewish settlement of Tel Rumeida.

On Sunday 11 May 2014, members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, the Ecumenical Accompaniers, and the International Solidarity Movement went to be with the Al Gobeh family as they protested the development of the excavations on their land.

Despite an agreement between the Israel Antiquities Authority and the family to halt work until a civil engineer from the Hebron district could come and accurately delineate the property lines, the workers on the dig waited until the family left and began to shift the dirt onto the Al Gobeh family land.

“This is our land,” said Al Gobeh. “We didn’t give permission for this.  We have witnessed what  happened in the past when we let Israelis work on our land.  It turns into a development.”  

“The excavations inside of Hebron are required to be coordinated with the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Agreement,” said Dr. Ahmed Rjoob of the State of Palestine’s Ministry and Tourism Department.  â€ś There are several issues with the archeological dig.”

Rjoob argued that the excavations, in addition to being illegal under joint agreements and protocols to which Israel and the PA are both signatories, have in the past been used as instruments for settlement expansion, as in the case of the Tel Rumeida settlement.  The expansion of the archeological digs has quarantined homes and restricted the movements of their inhabitants, in particular the Abu Haikal family.

May 15th

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE REFLECTION: Otters and Oppression

One morning during my recent Aboriginal Justice Delegation, a walk around Lake of the Woods led me to an otter.  I love the slinky agility of otters: their graceful dives, the cord of bubbles that marks their underwater path, and their effortless mounting of ice floes.  As a break from its fishy breakfast, the otter climbed onto a dock and shook itself dry.  It squinted up at me, decided that I wasn’t a threat, and pooped on the dock.  Its defecatory duty done, it glided back into the water and disappeared.

May 14th

Prayers for Peacemakers, May 14, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, May 14, 2014

Pray that the Colombian government will fulfill its agreements with small-scale farmers who went on strike in April and May and not pursue a divide and conquer strategy as happened during last year’s agrarian strike.

Epixel* for 18 May 2014

My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. Psalm 31:15
Farmers in Suaza-Florencia are attacked by Colombian National Police 2 May 2014 photo MarĂ­a Antonieta Cano @AntonietaCano
*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's RevisedCommon Lectionary readings.

May 13th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Election day (Part 1)--Police ask international observers to protect them from Asaish Security Forces

On 30 April, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Iraqi Kurdistan coordinated a group of five volunteers —three Iraqi Kurds, a European and an American—to serve as observers for the first elections for the Iraqi Parliament since the U.S. Forces left the country.  Voters were also selecting representatives for the Administrative Councils of the three provinces under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).  Since September 2013, Iraqi Kurdistan politics have been in turmoil.  At that time, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) one of the two ruling parties that shared power in the KRG since 1991, lost its share in the Kurdistan Parliament to the Change (Gorran) movement, an opposition political group.  One of the last significant powers remaining in PUK hands was the control of the Provincial Council of Sulaimani.  In this election, the first in nine years, the PUK had much to lose.

In Sulaimani province, the Asaish (security forces/intelligence agency) fall under the control of the PUK.  The electoral law forbids the presence of the armed forces, except the police, inside the polling centers.  However, on this 30 April election day CPT observers visited five schools in and around Sulaimani city and found security forces armed with AK-47s positioned around or directly at the entrance of four schools as well as armed officers inside the three of them. 

CPT arrived at the fourth school in the late afternoon after having observed a group of about eight men armed with handguns and AK-47s walk out of a nearby PUK office and gather near the school's entrance.  The men appeared to be observing the CPTers as the CPTers observed them and after making a phone call, they dispersed and left.




Bullet shells IHEC voting center manager collected on poster of
political parties and their candidates.

Following the CPTers’ arrival, the voting center manager, who worked for the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC)—the formal body responsible for the transparency, fairness and independence of the elections—led the team into an empty staff room and presented a handful of bullet shells.  He said: “We collected them in the school yard this morning after the Asaish tried to come in armed with guns and take over the school after we prevented some people from voting more than once.  The police protected the school.  The Asaish were upset and fired in the air.  Luckily they left.”

May 12th

U.S./PALESTINE/ISRAEL URGENT ACTION: Urge U.S. Reps to attend briefing on Israel’s discrimination against U.S. citizens seeking to enter Palestine


 

 
 

"Entery Denied" stamp from second of
Brenneman's three failed attempts to
enter West Bank in September-October
2013.

Last September and October the Israeli border authorities refused to allow me to join CPT’s work in Palestine.  During my last attempt, the Israeli authorities held me at the border for more than eight hours, questioned me repeatedly, and strip-searched me before denying me entry.  Both my Palestinian heritage and my work with CPT were raised as reasons for my mistreatment and denial.  This underscores the plight of not only other CPTers and international observers doing peace and human rights work in Palestine, but more importantly for other Palestinians in the diaspora trying to visit their homeland.

CPT Palestine has made it a priority to find ways of combating this blatant discrimination.  Today you can help.  Soon after my return to the U.S.A., my home country, I heard the U.S. House and Senate were debating the U.S.- Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013.  Instead of condemning Israel’s actions and calling on embassies to protect U.S. citizens, this legislation would legalize Israel’s racist immigrations policies that discriminate against Palestinian-Americans and other U.S. citizens.  Section 9 would allow Israel to participate in the US visa waver program (permitting Israelis entry to the US for ninety days without obtaining a visa) without demanding reciprocation, as the US does with every other country.

Grassroots advocacy has stalled this bill, and it will probably be rewritten.  But the debate is not over.  On Wednesday 21 May 2014, a briefing will take place to inform U.S. policy makers of Israel’s discriminatory policies and to urge them not to sign onto the bill.  If you live in the United States, please write or call your members of congress (House and Senate) to attend the briefing.  (Below is a sample e-mail.)

Here is a link that will allow you to send an e-mail automatically:
http://org.salsalabs.com/o/641/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=15657