Reflections

IRAQ REFLECTION: Change happens to be good

A dogged determination to speak up for villagers in Iraq's border regions, and to call for an end to attacks that had killed, maimed and displaced them year after year, has borne fruit in 2012.
  
  

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE REFLECTION: Defender of our Land

Simple, urgent messages on children's birch-bark hats cut through confusions of all but the most monetised mindsets.

  

AL-KHALIL REFLECTION: A New Day in Palestine

An eight-year-old Palestinian child nears the Al Sahla checkpoint in Al Khalil. Twenty meters to go, she slows her pace, pulls her younger brother close to her side, placing her body between the soldiers and the boy. With one of her eyes on the soldiers and one on her brother they squeeze through the gate together and run home with their daily allotment from the soup kitchen in hand.

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: Against all odds

Colombian farmers have something to teach people socialized for mobility about the privilege of standing with sisters and brothers who are told to give up, shut down and disappear.

 

AL-KHALIL REFLECTION: Cat and mouse play

A young boy met the people leaving the Friday prayers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in al-Khalil, giving them a colourful paper with offers of flat screen TV's, vacuum cleaners and dishwashers. Young and old read the pamphlet with interest while two Israeli soldiers watched people passing and handed back to some of them the ID's they had taken on their way in.

Another boy about seven years old came, stood in front of the soldiers, ripped up the pamphlet with the vacuum cleaners and threw the pieces on the ground.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: Dignity in the face of humiliation

Boys push Hani to school. Israeli authorities built a barrier at the end of Hani's street, preventing him from traveling directly 100 meters to school. He has to travel an extra 500 metersAs the day dawns on our last school patrol, I reflect back on my last two and a half months of patrols here in Hebron.

Setting off at 6:50 a.m. we are greeted by the smiling faces of children who take the time to stop and give us a high five or shake hands with us. As we walk through the Souq (market), an array of colourful fabrics reflects the warmth of everyone as they invite us into their shops for tea. Then we turn the corner and everything changes.

IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: The price of empire

Despite the heavy heat outside, the basement was cool, almost damp, with the smell of old crumbling concrete and years of dust storms. It was dark but a light glowed, soaking everything in a sinister red film, showing the way through, showing their faces, twisted with fear, and pain, and loss.

Pictures hung on the walls, one per wall. Large, almost life sized images of fallen bodies, decaying children, bloated cows. I stood in silence. I know the history, the decades of brutality, of ethnic cleansing, the systematic murder of Kurdish men, women and children in the 1980s; Saddam’s al’Anfal campaign. I had even seen those pictures before. But this was different; the horror was close and chilling.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: Naqba Day

The approach of Naqba Day, the Day of the Catastrophe, brought a sense of trepidation to the Al-Khalil Christian Peacemaker Team. This day commemorating the displacement of Palestinians following the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948 is often marked by demonstrations and violence on both sides. While patrolling the evening before, we had observed Israeli soldiers conducting drills, moving portable barricades and simulating the rescue of fallen comrades. This stoked our anxious anticipation of the day to come.

As morning dawned on Naqba Day, additional military presence was evident throughout the Old City. Soldiers at their checkpoints checked every schoolchild’s bag. Having heard of a march planned in the city’s Palestinian-controlled sector, we proceeded as a group to the planned route. Various political parties, clearly separated and defined by their distinctive flags, participated in the march. When part of the Hamas Party group broke away and moved toward the Israeli-controlled zone in the Old City, we became concerned that heightened tensions could lead to violence.

TORONTO REFLECTION: Choosing hope

“The entire history of man is war,” the speaker told us, “conflict driven by racial, religious and territorial ambition.”

He sounded regretful, as if he wished it could be otherwise, but knew it was foolish and negligent to trust any force other than violence for the common good. As he went on, outlining the dangers of Islamic immigration to Western countries, he branded those who disagreed with his analysis as “naïve,” even “traitors.” I saw that most of the crowd agreed.

IRAQ REFLECTION: A moment for the martyrs

This is the story of Sardasht Osman. On 5 May 2010, his body was found, shot, outside the city of Mosul. He had been abducted from outside his university two days earlier, in front of a crowd of witnesses. 

The prospective journalist's final opinion piece, “I Am in Love with Massoud Barzani’s Daughter,” criticized the KRG president’s wealth in biting satire. “All my friends said, ‘Saro, let it go and give it up or you will get yourself killed. The family of Mulla Mustafa Barzani [Massoud Barzani’s father] can kill anyone they want, and they surely will.’ ”

It appears they did.