CPTnet

CPTnet is the news service of CPT, providing daily news updates, reports, reflections, prayer requests and action alerts.

IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: 9/11 in Arbat refugee camp


This morning, outside a playground full of brightly colored swings and slides in a camp for internally-displaced people in Arbat, Iraqi Kurdistan, I saw a tree.  Actually, four trees.  Four tiny trees, not much taller than me, planted by local NGO workers who were concerned about the children not having any shade in the summer heat, which can top 44C.  I don’t know much about plants in Kurdistan, but I can guess that trees growing in rocky, parched clay in a high semi-desert do no grow very fast—it will be years before the trees can provide good shade. 

These children—Yazidi and Arab Muslim—have only been playing here for a month.  Their families live in different parts of the camp, sectioned off by ethnicity and religion.  The camp itself used to house Syrian refugees until a new camp was built for them.  Iraq is near the top of the list for most IDPs and refugees, with over a million people fleeing violence in Syria, Iran, Turkey, Palestine and over two million more fleeing ISIS or remaining displaced after the U.S. occupation—all fruits of the tree planted by the U.S. War on Terror. 

Today is September 11, a fact I did not remember until my teammate mentioned it this morning.  I doubt any of these children know the significance of this day to people (like myself) from the U.S.  But they know the terror of September 11, 2001, a terror re-enacted by a traumatized United States in Afghanistan and Iraq, in Yemen, in Pakistan, 

Prayers for Peacemakers, September 10, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, September 10, 2014

Pray for Colombian Conscientious Objector Jhonatan Vargas, a member of the Foursquare Church of Barrancabermeja.  This week he was transferred into military custody and will stand trial for going AWOL.  The Christian Peacemaker Team in Barrancabermeja has visited him in prison and reports he is scared but fine.  The Colombian peace and human rights organization Justapaz writes, “As details become clearer we will develop a judicial and advocacy strategy on behalf of Jhonatan and will ask you join us in taking action.  For now, we ask you to pray for Jhonatan.  May God grant him grace, and may the judges he will face grant him his freedom and release him from military service.”

Epixel* for September 14, 2014
Jhonatan Vargas
For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us
 who are being saved it is the power of God. I Corinthians 1:18 

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

IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: Playing football with Yazidi kids


[Note: The following has been adapted for CPTnet.  The original, with additional photos, is available on Bergen’s blog.] 

 
 Bergen and friends he met at the Arbat school.

Since I’ve been in Suleimani, Iraqi Kurdistan, working with Christian Peacemaker Teams, we have accompanied workers delivering aid to some of the nearly a million internally-displaced people fleeing the violence of ISIS (or the Islamic State, or Daash, whatever the largest and most highly-funded jihadist organization in the world wants to call itself).

Last week, we visited the small town of Arbat, where the Unite Nations has built two refugee camps, one for Syrian refugees and one for internally-displaced people, mostly Yazidis. However, when we visited, most of the Yazidis and other minorities fleeing ISIS’s ethnic cleansing were living in a crowded school while the camp was cleaned.

When we entered the school, dozens of people crowded around us. They needed medical care, they needed help finding relatives kidnapped by ISIS, they needed new IDs (some had torn up their IDs in the fear that if ISIS soldiers caught them and found out they were Yazidi, they would kill them). Long-time CPTer Peggy Gish and our translator talked with many people, trying not to promise to do things we couldn’t do.

I didn’t feel very useful listening, but I didn’t get much of a chance because several younger guys took me by the arm and asked me, in their limited English, to take their picture.We chatted, and additional young people lined up to have their picture taken. One asked for my email so he could ask for pictures to be sent.  As older people continued to crowd around the others, I played football  (the universal language) with a bunch of the younger guys.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: Peacemaking--a journey taken step by step

 Corey in Old CIty
  CPTer aspiring to be peacemaker while monitoring
 soldiers in Hebron's Old City.

I am an aspiring peacemaker.

I use the word “aspiring” because I have not yet fully embraced in thought and action the ideals of peacemaking that I find so compelling. Practicing it is a constant daily effort, a series of taking steps (sometimes forward, sometimes backward), falling, getting up, and trying again. Overall, I think I’ve taken more steps forward than backward, but my peacemaking journey is far from complete. It is a lifelong quest. 

Stepping into Conflict

I have been in many places where oppression is evident. It is in Palestine, however, where I have seen most clearly the systematic dehumanization of people by other people, in both subtle and obvious ways, every day, day after day.Watching interactions between Palestinians and Israelis has challenged me and my peacemaking ideals to the core. How do I express my anger in a way that doesn’t dehumanize those I accuse of dehumanizing others? How do I acknowledge the destructive forces of a system while acknowledging that the people who by choice or by birth are part of that system are children of God? How do I live in community with others during difficult circumstances?  

MEDITERRANEAN REFLECTION: Treating migrants like dogs

in:

 

Pipka self-organised reception camp

On a sunny afternoon while tourists were enjoying a swim in the sea, the migrants—most from Afghanistan—were sitting in groups waiting for the police car. Women were sitting together and men chatting with each other.  Almost all of the conversations came back to the registration and asylum procedure, the other European countries who might take them in, and similar issues. Some of the kids were running around and some had no energy because they got sick either on the way to Greece or after their arrival. 

Usually the police car comes in the late afternoon to Pikpa—the open camp organized by local volunteers for migrants in Mytilene, Lesbos—to transfer some migrants to Moria First Reception Center. Most of the time, people are waiting in Pikpa for several days to be transferred.