This summer, members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Arizona began spray-painting white crosses on a wall which runs along a barren road separating the United States from Mexico. Each cross commemorates a migrant who died crossing the border region into Cochise County where CPT is based. The team, along with local partners, placed three crosses on the wall on May 25, 2005.
CPTer Kim Lamberty writes the name of deceased migrant on the US-Mexico wall
The cross painting is part of a prayer service to remember the dead and to pray for all migrants attempting to cross the desert, for the Border Patrol agents who try to stop them, and for the openly hostile civilian vigilantes in the area. Participants also hammer on the border wall to express their desire to break down the barriers that divide nations and people.
The seventy-mile wall is constructed of steel panels about twelve feet high that were previously used as landing pad
material during the Vietnam War. The wall is designed to prevent migrants from crossing the US-Mexico border at points of higher population density, thus forcing them into more dangerous and remote desert areas. So far this fiscal year (which ends September 30), 135 known migrant deaths have occurred in Arizona. That number is higher than at the same point of any previous year.
On June 30, team members and delegation participants went to add two more crosses to the wall. When they arrived at the site, they discovered that the original three crosses had been covered over with black spray paint and an earthen bridge used to cross over a ditch between the road and the wall had been bulldozed.
“Taking time to memorialize those who die gives us space to recognize their humanity. When we realize that other people share our humanity, it becomes harder to hurt them, ignore them or forget them.”
– CPT Delegate Ross Rhizal
Under the watchful eye of Border Patrol
agents, CPTers repainted the three original crosses and added two more.
On July 7, CPTers and local partners returned to find the crosses painted over again. The group repainted the crosses and added two more for the deaths in Cochise County that week. The number of crosses then totaled seven.
Border Patrol agents greeted the group and monitored their activities but did not interfere.
On Saturday morning, July 30, CPTers and local partners returned again to the wall. As before, they found all seven crosses covered over with black paint. This time they repainted the seven old crosses and added four new ones to remember the migrants who died in Cochise County in July.
Unlike previous cross-painting liturgies, two local newspapers published articles about the event.
Over 3000 migrants have died in Arizona since NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) was signed into law and border policy became more militarized in the mid-1990s. Some estimate that the true number is at least three times higher. Bodies decompose rapidly in the dry desert heat and carrion feeders abound, so many of the fallen are never found.
by Dorothy Chao
“No More Deaths” (NMD) is the Tucson-based organization that invited CPT to place a violence-reduction team along the Arizona/Mexico border. NMD maintains a migrant camp in Arivaca, south of Tucson on the U.S. side of the border, and supports a similar camp on the Mexico side near Agua Prieta. The camps provide food, water, and medical attention to migrants in distress. CPTers support both camps.
On Saturday morning, July 9, the U.S. Border Patrol arrested two volunteers with CPT’s partner organization, “No More Deaths,” who were providing emergency humanitarian assistance to migrants in severe medical distress.
The volunteers, Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss, encountered a group of nine migrants who had been lost in the desert for several days. They provided food and water to the migrants, washed their feet, and cared for their blisters.
Three of the migrants reported vomiting and diarrhea and one had blood in the stool – all symptoms of life-threatening dehydration. After consulting with NMD medical personnel and legal counsel, the volunteers decided to evacuate those in greatest distress.
Border Patrol officers arrested Sellz, Strauss and the three migrants en route to medical treatment in Tucson. They held the two volunteers over the weekend, charging them with “furtherance and abetting” illegal entry – a felony. The officers then deported two of the migrants and held the third as a material witness against the volunteers. Sellz and Strauss were arraigned Monday morning, July 11, and released without bond.
At a pre-trial hearing on July 13, the prosecution offered to press less serious charges if the two would plead guilty. Sellz and Strauss rejected the plea agreement, saying, “In the last two weeks 77 people have died crossing the border. Only the efforts of hundreds of humanitarian workers have kept these numbers from soaring even higher. Humanitarian work needs to be applauded, not prosecuted. We are not accepting this plea because we have committed no crime. We find no guilt in saving another life.”
In response to the arrests, “No More Deaths” called on friends and concerned community members to “Flood the Desert” with volunteer patrols carrying food and water to migrants. More than 150 volunteers attended the next NMD training and CPTer Kim Lamberty agreed to be on call to evacuate migrants in medical distress when other volunteers do not wish to risk arrest.
ACTION: The trial
for Sellz and Strauss is set for early October. Visit nomoredeaths.org
for action steps to support the NMD volunteers.
Worship Resource: see “No More Deaths” Liturgy at www.cpt.org/arizona/NoMoreDeathsLiturgy.htm
Arizona team members June-August were: Kristin Anderson (Willmar, MN), Ron Friesen (Loveland, CO), Esther Kern (London, ON), Scott Kerr (Downers Grove, IL), Kim Lamberty (Washington, DC), Amy Peters (Hanley, SK), Rose and Haven Whiteside (Tampa, FL). Arizona delegates were: May 26-June 7 – Jason Bense (Chicago, IL), Dorothy Thomasson Chao (Berea, KY), Suzanna Collerd (River Forest, IL), Bill & Genie Durland (Colorado Springs, CO), John Heid (Luck, WI), Janine Martin Horst (Eugene, OR), Ross Kauffman Rhizal (Goshen, IN); June 25-July 2 – Ruth Fast (Chicago, IL), Cheryl Harris (Chicago, IL), Marie & Philip Heft (Kent, WA), Daniel Izuzquiza Regalado (Spain), Treye McKinney (College Place, WA), Jessica Phillips (Chicago, IL), Orlando Redekopp (Chicago, IL), Brian Young (Chicago, IL); July 30 - August 6 – Abura Cain-Hatley, William Gural, Sylvia Hayes, Sarah Jobe, Levern Robinson, and Jonathan & Leah Wilson-Hartgrove (all of Durham, NC), Heidi Holliday (Andover, KS), Wendy Lehman (Chicago, IL), Roberta Mothershead (Raleigh, NC), Pamela Piper-Ruth (Boise, ID), Dan Schwankl (Siler City, NC).
by Kim Lamberty
CPTer Kim Lamberty worked in Hebron
last fall and spring and has worked with the Arizona team since May.
Random ID checks. High intensity light surveillance. Low level helicopter flights. Infrared sensors. Vehicle checkpoints. Officers patrolling on foot, horseback, jeep. Lines of people detained by the roadside until they clear computer checks of citizenship and work permit status – some are arrested, some are prosecuted, some are deported.
These scenes describe life in Palestine. They also describe life on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Israel is building a wall around Palestine; the U.S. is building a wall on the border with Mexico. The Israel-Palestine “separation wall” and the U.S.-Mexico “border fence” divide wealth from poverty, opportunity from desperation.
The Wall separating the US and Mexico
The Wall separating Israel from the Palestinian Occupied Territories
The land on the wealthy side of both
walls was taken forcibly from darker-skinned people by primarily white colonizers.
Both walls separate people from decent jobs, from their families, and from their
ancestral lands and culture. Both walls, constructed in the name of national
security, require a high degree of military vigilance.
Israeli army (IDF) militarization of the West Bank prevents Palestinians from moving freely between the West Bank and Israel. On the Israeli side of the wall, people live in constant fear of violence and have become numb to the invasive presence of weapons and soldiers in their society. On the Palestinian side, militarization has increased the sense of desperation among people without access to resources, jobs, and opportunity on the other side of the wall. Desperation has led some to believe that their lives are expendable.
Since the passage of NAFTA in 1994 the average wage in Mexico has dropped 34% while the cost of food, housing, and other essentials has gone up 247%.1 Desperation pressures thousands of migrants seeking better lives to cross the border into the U.S. every year.
The U.S. Border Patrol is not the IDF, at least not yet. And so far, we have seen no Mexican suicide bombers. However, there are proposals in Congress to increase militarization of the border zone.
Where is this headed? Have we not learned from the experience of Israel? Militarization does not work.
“Establish Justice in the Gate”
by Eileen Hanson
The psalmist says, “Open to
me the gates of righteousness” (Ps. 118), and Amos proclaims, “Hate
evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate” (Amos 5:15).
Justice and peace cannot come about through separation and confinement. The biblical concept of justice is to live in right relationship with the other, not simply to cut off contact with those we find difficult. But still around the world, from the Separation Wall in the West Bank, to the wall along the U.S./Mexico border, we build higher and higher walls that serve only to imprison people on both sides.
On August 5, the same day our counterparts in Arizona prayed at the border wall, our CPT delegation stood vigil at each of five iron gates in Hebron’s Old City installed the previous day by the Israeli military. We prayed together that these gates and the gates of all hearts might open.
The only salient difference between the Old City and a prison is that, for now, these new gates are open. However, Israeli authorities can lock them any time, sealing off the Old City from the rest of Hebron.
We hoped by our small public witness to say to people here that their suffering is not invisible and their imprisonment is not forgotten. We pray that separation walls all over the world might be brought down.
Israeli settler attacks on Palestinian families living near the Tel Rumeida settlement in the Old City of Hebron escalated in recent months. Settlers attacked Mohammed Abu Aisha with a battery-operated drill; blockaded the front entrance to the Abu Haikel house with razor wire and a tree; blocked the entrance to the Palestinian Qurtuba girl’s school; slapped CPTer Dianne Roe as she attempted to protect Palestinian girls, shouting at her to, “Go to Auschwitz and take all the Arabs with you;” and stoned the home of Dr. Tayseer, cutting his phone line and water pipes among other incidents.
Palestinians expressed fears that the increased harassment was meant to drive them out, thus providing unoccupied homes and lands for takeover by Israeli settlers recently removed from Gaza.
As the dangers intensified, CPTers and Israeli peace activists stepped up their visits to Palestinian families who tenaciously refused to budge.
On May 21, Israeli soldiers chased and arrested 32 members of Israeli peace organizations from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem attempting to visit Palestinians. Only ten peace activists were able to make their way into Tel Rumeida with the assistance of Palestinians who hid them in homes and alleyways.
Eldad Kisch, one of the Israeli peace workers, said, “The IDF (Israeli Defense Force) is completely subservient to Hebron settlers. Why do they try to prevent peace? How can the army be so afraid of a few Israelis having tea and talking with a few Palestinians in their homes?”
On May 5, Israeli soldiers blocked a diplomatic corps from entering Tel Rumeida, declaring the area a “closed military zone.” The group of diplomats, organized by the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, included representatives from Palestinian consulates in South Africa, France, Switzerland, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. They planned to tour the site of a proposed new “settler only” road connecting Tel Rumeida with the settlements of Beit Romano and Avraham Avinu.
Construction of the road – which would involve demolishing parts of historic buildings, disturbing Muslims’ graves, uprooting treasured old olive trees, and destroying ancient monuments – would directly violate the 1997 Hebron Protocol, the “Road Map” for peace and the 4th Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory. The decision on the proposed road is currently making its way through Israeli courts.
One hundred years ago, the Abu Haikel family bought the crest of the hill in central Hebron known as Tel Rumeida, facing the Tomb of Abraham and Sarah. Jameel Abu Haikel started building his own house on this clan property in 1948.
Several decades later, archaeologists claimed that Tel Rumeida might be the site of King David’s first palace. In 1984, a group of Israeli settlers brought in seven mobile homes and mounted them directly over the diggings. Then the Israeli army moved into the neighborhood to protect the handful of settlers.
According to the Abu Haikel family, the settlers offered Jameel $20 million plus passports to the country of his choice for the land. Jameel turned them down. The family homestead was not for sale at any price.
And so the years of harassment began: settlers threw stones, broke windows, dumped garbage, blocked doorways, uprooted olive trees, severed grapevines, attacked children, and beat adults.
Despite the recent upsurge in settler attacks, Jameel Abu Haikel still refused to leave his home in Tel Rumeida. “I am at the end of my life,” he said. “I want to stay.”
In the last months of Jameel Abu Haikel’s life, team members made several visits to his home during which family members reminisced about their ten year relationship with CPT.
They recalled how Israeli police detained team members in July 1995 – one month after CPT first arrived in Hebron – because they accompanied a water truck to fill the cistern at the Abu Haikel house. Settlers had blocked the truck for days.
They remembered that, every day, CPTers walked home from school with six-year-old Wisam, Jameel’s granddaughter, trying to shield her from the stones thrown by Israeli settlers.
“We were amazed,” said
Jameel’s son Hani, “that people would leave their homes and come
here just to be with us and share our situation, risking their lives.”
Ten years later, settler militants still throw stones and garbage at the Abu Haikel home. A new settler complex towers over their house. Wisam is now a beautiful teenager. And the Abu Haikel family remains at the top of Tel Rumeida.
Long-time friend of CPT, Jameel Abu Haikel died at home on July 9, 2005. He was 75. His son Hani told CPTers that, shortly before his death, Jameel said, “I feel a deep peace from CPT. I trust them.” Portrait by CPTer Dianne Roe.
While world attention focused on the removal of Israeli settlers from Gaza, internationals from CPT and Operation Dove (an Italian peace group) living in the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani in the West Bank documented the expansion of the illegal Israeli settlement outpost, Havot Ma’on.
In February settlers began to occupy the caravan located on the eastern edge of the tree-covered hilltop outpost and made improvements to the structure. During July settlers built several more structures there.
According to the “Road Map”
for peace which Israel signed, all outposts established since March 2001 were
to be evacuated and dismantled, including Havot Ma’on.
Israeli Knesset member, Talia Sasson was commissioned by the Israeli Prime Minister to examine the phenomenon of outposts. Her report, released in February, concludes that Israeli civil and military authorities blatantly disregard the rule of law when it comes to outposts.
According to the report, the security concept – that wherever there are Israelis the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) will be there to protect them – means that settlers can place homes wherever they choose, even if unauthorized and against the law, and gain the protection of the army. The effect is that settlers determine the army’s deployment in the territories, not the military.
Palestinian villagers in At-Tuwani
continue to assert their rights in the face of ongoing harassment by Israeli
settlers and soldiers.
A Palestinian woman appeals to an Israeli soldier
At 7:30am on August 1, Israeli soldiers approached Palestinian shepherds in their fields in Khoruba, an abandoned village near At-Tuwani, next to the Havot Ma’on settlement outpost.
One of the shepherds showed the soldiers
an Israeli military map, which he obtained from his lawyer, depicting all of
the closed military zones in the region where Palestinians may not enter. The
map indicated that the valley around Khoruba in which the shepherds were grazing
their flocks was not a closed military zone.
The soldiers took the map and went to speak with Ma’on settler security personnel. When the soldiers returned, they ordered the shepherds to move their sheep, then they chased the sheep down the valley, cocking their guns to scare them.
At 9:00am the Israeli military commander
for the region appeared with the map and bellowed at the shepherds, “This
map is bull—! It’s not signed. It’s not from the army. This
area is still in dispute. Until the courts decide what to do it is closed for
everyone.” The commander then ripped up the map.
The shepherds began herding their flocks back to At-Tuwani, but the soldiers continued to chase and scare the sheep.
One Palestinian shouted and tore his
shirt in frustration. Three soldiers grabbed him, forced him to the ground,
and kicked him in the abdomen and legs.
CPTers Mary Yoder and Diane Janzen and members of Operation Dove documented the incident. When Janzen shouted, “Don’t use excessive force. I’m taping you; the media will see this,” the soldiers released the man.
An Operation Dove member accompanied the Palestinian shepherd to the Israeli police station in Kiryat Arba to file a complaint about the soldiers’ behavior. However, the police arrested the Palestinian assault victim and told him he must spend eight days in jail or pay 2000 shekels in bail. An Israeli friend paid the bail.
The soldiers claimed that the shepherd
struck a soldier and tried to take another soldier’s gun. The police refused
to view the video tape of the incident before arresting the shepherd.
Hebron and At-Tuwani team members June-August were: Kristin Anderson (Willmar, MN), Bill Baldwin (Ottawa, ON), Mabel Brunk (Goshen, IN), Joe Carr (Kansas City, MO), Matt Chandler (Springfield, OR), Rusty Dinkins-Curling (Roanoke, VA), Christina Gibb (Dunedin, New Zealand), Peggy Gish (Athens, OH), Michael Goode (Chicago, IL), Donna Hicks (Durham, NC), Diane Janzen (Calgary, AB), Jerry Levin (Birmingham, AL), JoAnne Lingle (Indianapolis, IN), John Lynes (E. Sussex, United Kingdom), Lorin Peters (San Leandro, CA), Rick Polhamus (Fletcher, OH), Steve Ramer (Washington, DC), Dianne Roe (Corning, NY), Scott Smith (Grants Pass, OR), Kathie Uhler (New York, NY), Annaliese Watson (Grants Pass, OR), Mary Yoder (London, OH), Diana Zimmerman (Baltimore, MD). Middle East delegates were – May 24-June 5: Paul Alexander (Waxahatchie, TX), Jennifer Elliiott (St. Louis, MO), Melissa Elliott (St. Louis, MO), Joy Ellison (Vancouver, WA), Laurie Empen (Chicago, IL), John Jones (Elmwood, NE), David Neufeld (Waterloo, ON), Charles O'Rourke (Gladwin, MI), Mary Scott Boria (Chicago, IL) and James Stewart (Brooklyn, NY); July 26-August 7: Jason Arndt (East Chicago, IN), Matthew Bucher (Lebanon, PA), Barbara Grisdale (Ottawa, ON), Eileen Hanson (Winona, MN), John Paarlberg (Loudonville, NY), Katherine Paarlberg (Washington, DC), Howard Taylor (Wentworth, NH).
CPTers and MPTers clean up Fallujah streets
On May 6, 2005 a group of 15 Shi’a Muslims from the Muslim Peacemaker Team (MPT) traveled to the Sunni-dominated city of Fallujah to clean up rubble from the U.S. assault on the city in November 2004.
The MPTers, joined by three CPTers and employees from Fallujah’s Department of Public Works removed trash and debris from a street outside one of the largest mosques in the city. Following the clean-up, the Shi’a MPTers joined local Sunnis in Friday prayers.
Members of MPT made the risky trip in order to counter growing reports of Sunni/Shi’a sectarian violence and to demonstrate unity in a tense time.
“They [the U.S.] want to make civil war between the Sunni and the Shiite,” said one MPTer, “but civil war is impossible because we are all so mixed together. For instance, my sister married a Sunni, and we go pray together in the mosque.”
Residents of Fallujah received the help with gratitude and MPTers considered the action a transformative experience. “We proved, in a simple way, that peaceful living can exist,” declared one member.
Throughout the day, participants listened to a litany of concerns. According to Fallujah’s residents, the Iraqi National Guard (ING) are poorly trained and show little respect for lives or property as they cruise the streets waving automatic weapons from the back of their pick-up trucks.
Fallujans pay 2-3 times more than surrounding communities for building supplies and foodstuffs because wholesalers have to increase prices in order to compensate for lost time and revenue caused by long delays at ING checkpoints. Drivers must wait as long as six hours to enter the city.
Shop owners complain that guardsmen overturn their products during checkpoint searches. “I put everything back in the crates, but then at the next stage of the checkpoint, the same thing happens again,” said one grocer.
The city also suffers from poor sanitation because military attacks damaged sewage lines and other utilities that promote public hygiene. “We only have 10 working garbage trucks the entire city of 300,000,” bemoaned the chief of the Public Works Department. “We have been promised funds from the Multi-National Forces for months but so far nothing has happened.”
One cleric lamented, “It will take fifty years at this rate to return Fallujah to the condition it was in before the U.S. attacked us.”
by Joe Carr
Muslim Peacemaker Teams (MPT), formed
by human rights workers in Karbala last January 2005, is a glimmer of hope in
the darkness of U.S. occupation.
Their commitment to peacemaking is rooted in their faith. One member said, “We started MPT because we believe that the real spirit of Islam is mercy and forgiveness.”
“I’m no specialist,” remarked another, “but I understand that Islam is about real peace. Every section of Islam is talking about peace. That’s why ‘Salaam Aleikum’ (may peace be upon you) is the most common greeting.”
MPTers also believe that nonviolence is effective. According to one member, “Occupations have all the weapons except peace. We can use this weapon. In war, only young men can resist. With nonviolence, everyone can participate.”
Another MPTer sees it this way: “The U.S. and the surrounding countries don’t want Iraq to be safe because our oil could make us too powerful. They push all Iraqis to make war with each other. They even try to divide the Shiite.”
MPT is determined to resist these divisions. With a membership of around twenty, they plan to retain a connection with the mostly Sunni citizens of Fallujah and are looking to expand into other areas. They hope to raise funds for two members to attend CPT training in Chicago.
“Violence happens when democracy disappears,” reflected one MPTer. “The U.S. is using this violence to justify staying. We need to rebuild ourselves by ourselves. We need assistance, but it should be like the assistance CPT gave to MPT – they didn’t control us; they only gave inspiration and an example.”
When asked what CPTers in the U.S. can do, MPTers responded, “Put pressure on your government to give the happiness back to Iraq. Let them begin reconstruction and be courageous.”
by Greg Rollins
June 19, 2005: The dust was thick and the air hot during the demonstration at the Ministry of Human Rights (MHR). An Iraqi women’s group organized the public presence to call attention to Iraqi detainees.
In the shade of the blast walls a mother and father held pictures of their missing son, apprehended by soldiers in March. The U.S. says he is not in any of their prisons. The Iraqi police and National Guard say the same. To the credit of the MHR, a manager came out and listened to the parents, then took them inside to record their son’s information.
Others were not so fortunate. Throughout the day, people and their problems appeared and appeared and appeared.
One Iraqi businesswoman spent a month in a U.S. detention facility before the U.S. found her innocent of any anti-Coalition activity.
Another woman said she lost four young children in U.S. raids on her apartment complex.
One ten-year-old boy bore a scar along the left side of his scalp where his mother said a bullet entered his head and stopped behind his left eye. She said U.S. soldiers shot him and that the surgery he needs to fix his sight cannot be done in Iraq.
A man said U.S. forces arrested his brother and cousin over a year ago. The two were scheduled for release in March but only the cousin came home. The brother is somewhere in the Bucca prison camps in the south, but no one can find him.
A woman lost thirteen family members in a car bomb explosion.
The man in the parking lot lost his daughter when U.S. soldiers shot her by mistake.
Our Iraqi interpreter for the day spent eleven months in a U.S.-run prison but he still has no idea why. No one ever charged him with anything.
A guard from the MHR must have been familiar with the problems of the assembled Iraqis. He took one sign from a demonstrator and taped it to the blast wall beside the ministry entrance, then helped demonstrators tape up more signs.
CPT remained at the MHR long after the demonstrators left. There were too many stories to hear. The wind grew hotter. The blast walls no longer provided shade as the sun moved higher. Like the dust clouds, the stories in Iraq never seem to stop. They hang over the land and the people. They settle on people’s shoulders and in their eyes. Every day there are too many stories.
Iraq team members June - August were: Jan Benvie (Fife, Scotland), Matt Chandler (Springfield, OR), Anita David (Chicago, IL), Tom Fox (Springfield, VA), Peggy Gish (Athens, OH), Maxine Nash (Waukon, IA), Sheila Provencher (South Bend, IN), Greg Rollins (Surrey, BC), Will Van Wagenen (Somerville, MA). Iraq delegates May 21-June 4 were: Angela Davis (Natchez, MS), Julie Hrdlicka (Calgary, AB), Ann Marie Johnson (Scottsdale AZ), Carol Rose (Chicago, IL), Roger Sanders (Sherman, TX), Trish Schuh (New York, NY).
In Dialogue, we highlight exchanges regarding CPT’s vision and peacemaking ministry. This past quarter, numerous CPTers wrote about weariness in the midst of war – their own and that of those around them. Yet each reflection pointed to elements of sustaining hope.
“When the Americans came, they said they would close Abu Ghraib prison. I never thought I would say this, but now it’s worse here for prisoners and their families and for life in general than under Saddam. Every family has at least one member who has been killed, injured, or imprisoned in this war. We are tired.”
– Samia (Iraqi woman)
For the past two years Samia has been working with a local women’s organization that brings women from all backgrounds together to oppose the occupation. They are determined to keep working together to maintain a space of hope, even if it simply keeps the tiredness that they and other Iraqis feel from breaking them.
– CPTer Peggy Gish
Lately I feel so tired. There’s always a part of me that wants just to sleep; sleep and make all of THIS – the war, my government’s policies and actions, the counter-violence of the insurgency, all the greed and sin in the world – just go away for awhile. I can identify with the apathy of citizens who give in to violence: yes, just make the evil go away, press the button, fire the missile, send the young ones off to war. Take any way out.
There is no way out. But there is a way through. I tasted it the other day, when I was tired and wanted to hide, but instead went down the street to visit an Iraqi family who are going through a troubled time. On the way, I met little Huda in the street. I gave her a kiss; she gave me a piece of candy. Simple relationships, simple human connections – that’s the way through.
– Sheila Provencher, CPT-Iraq
“Things probably won’t get better in my lifetime, but I will keep working to make things better for the sake of our children.”
– Iraqi shop worker
Day after day around supper time a
mother and her three children walk by our living room window to the park across
the street. The western sun illuminates her face. She looks tired, as do so
many, many people here in Iraq.
She looks a bit fearful too. Will today be the day the insurgents set off a car bomb near the park? Will today be the day the young men of the Iraqi National Guard, riding like cowboys in the back of their pickup trucks, get trigger happy and start shooting with her children in the line of fire.
Underneath the fatigue and fear I sense hope and courage in her heart. It reflects on her children as the setting sun reflects on the nearby Tigris River. She lives in the present moment – aware of the dangers and uncertainties, yet not giving in to despair. She gives me courage to face the overwhelming difficulties of life in this broken land.
– CPTer Tom Fox
We asked other CPTers
to share what sustains them as well.
Singing with teammates, hammocks, dancing, communication from family and friends, sleeping in every once and a while, games with children in the Opón.
– Suzanna Collerd, CPT-Colombia
The power of God’s love at work as I look into the eyes of someone I am told is an enemy, listen to their pain and grief, and find a friend.
– Peggy Gish, CPT-Iraq
The courage and determination of the Palestinian people to resist U.S.-funded Israeli colonialism. How can I be tired or afraid when their existence as a people is at stake and they continue to struggle every day?
– Joe Carr, CPT Hebron
Teams that do a lot of laughing together.
– Kathy Kern, CPT-almost everywhere
Things that don’t require money or complex arrangements like plopping down with a hot cup of herbal tea to chat, with a fire in the stove, enjoying the end of the day and the warmth of a sleeping bag.
– member of Operation Dove (Italian peace group) in At-Tuwani
Identifying a plant or animal I didn’t know before, eating healthy and lovingly-prepared food, belly-laughing, resolving interpersonal tensions, hard exercise, Quakerly silence, which I see as putting the lid on our noise so we can hear God, re-reading James Herriott or Gerald Durrell, who make me laugh and remind me that humanity is good, or at least hilarious.
– Kathy Kapenga, CPT-At-Tuwani
I need to work within boundaries – strong, flexible, sacred ones. Then my intuition can stay intact over the long-term. I also need to work out of disciplined Love instead of feelings of obligation and duty.
– Lisa Martens, CPT Asubpeeschoseewagong/Kenora
Anne Montgomery and I trained together in 1996. Anne taught us to shift our thinking from the world’s “standards of success” toward something more inner directed. If I had not done that I would have felt that our work in Hebron was a failure. When the violence increases around us, I recall Anne’s admonition, “Remember, you can’t do it all,” and I have learned to seek what Amos Gvirtz (Israeli friend and peace activist) calls the “escalation of nonviolence.” Through it all, a strong support community at home has been essential for me.
– Dianne Roe, CPT-Hebron
Police arrested three CPTers offering prayers for Colombia in the office of Senator Dick Durbin on May 6. The three were part of a delegation of CPT training participants who entered the Senator’s office bringing tear-moistened water from the Opón River and blood-soaked soil from Barrancabermeja along with stories of U.S.-funded violence in Colombia.
Their witness was part of a week of actions leading up to Mother’s Day in which people across the U.S. joined together to remember women who are victims of violence in Colombia and to seek a transparent investigation into the February massacre of 8 civilians in the peace community of San José de Apartadó.
After being denied phone access to the Senator and his Washington staff, the group consented to praying over the small vials of Colombian water and soil before entrusting them to the receptionist who promised to deliver them to the Senator.
The last prayer had just begun when Homeland Security officers interrupted. CPTers Kryss Chupp, Gerald Paoli, and John Volkening (all from Chicago) were arrested when they attempted to finish the prayer. The three were charged with “disturbance” and “criminal trespass” and spent 14 hours in jail.
Beginning October 17, CPT will return
to Kenora, Ontario for two months to continue efforts at reducing the racist
treatment of Anishinaabe people.
In partnership with the Anishinaabe Coalition for Peace and Justice, team members will document racism in Kenora, explore possibilities for organizing against racism with local churches, and support the ongoing work of the Coalition.
Aboriginal people routinely experience stereotyping and mistreatment in the course of shopping, attending school or obtaining health care in Kenora. Some report being harassed, abused, or targeted by Kenora Police Services (KPS). On any given day, 90% of the people in the municipal jail are aboriginal.
Kenora is a town of 16,000 founded in the late nineteenth century as a staging ground for the extraction of resources from Anishinaabe lands in northwestern Ontario, which the settlers considered “undeveloped” and “uninhabited” wilderness. Kenora is an important regional centre for 13 Anishinaabe communities.
CPT maintained a full-time presence in Kenora from August 2004 until June 2005 after completing two years of supporting the Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows) First Nation’s blockade of clear-cut loggers. Another two-month presence is contemplated for spring 2006.
Africa is home to 15 of the 36 armed conflicts in the world today. The world’s response has been mostly one of neglect.
This fall, CPT will send a two-month exploratory delegation to Burundi, Eastern Congo and Northern Uganda. These regions experience the worst violence with millions of people displaced or killed, yet very little has been reported in the Western press.
There are natural partners for CPT in areas where the churches are flourishing and at times have been at the forefront of peacemaking efforts. Numerous Christian peacemakers in the region have expressed interest in meeting with the delegation.
CPTers Kathleen Kern (Webster, NY), Eric Schiller (Ottawa, ON), and Cal and Maia Williams-Carpenter (Chicago, IL) will leave the first week of October 2005 and return at the end of November. We ask for your prayers for them as they complete their preparations, and for safety, wisdom, and sensitivity to the Spirit’s leading as they travel.
CPT Training Groups
CPT’s Summer training participants were (left to right): Top Row: Cassandra Dixon (Wisconsin Dells, WI), Beth Pyles (Fairmont, WV), Jenny Elliott (St. Louis, MO); 3rd Row: Denis Murphy (Chicago, IL), Michele Naar-Obed (Duluth, MN), Angela Davis (Natchez, MS); 2nd Row: Carol Tyx (Iowa City, IA), Paul Rehm (Greenville, NY), Mike Smith (Westerly, RI); Front Row: Sarah MacDonald (Iowa City, IA). Smith and Tyx continue in discernment regarding Reserve Corps participation.
by Joel Klassen & Sandra Rincón
In early 2003, CPT began making
periodic visits to Micoahumado, a township of about 7000 people located in the
northern part of the Magdalena Medio region, a seven-hour trip from Barrancabermeja.
Residents initially asked CPT to be present with them through a series of meetings
with armed groups – part of a grassroots peace initiative to keep the
war out of their community. CPT continues visiting Micoahumado to lend visible
support to the community’s ongoing peace process.
Skidding over the pock-marked road towards the town of Micoahumado, we viewed the majestic mountains, the small houses hand-built by each farming family, and their crops: cocoa, plantain, beans, yucca and occasionally coca (used to make cocaine).
Micoahumado is not very old. The first settlers in this isolated and poor region came to clear the land in the 1960s. The Colombian government was not terribly interested in Micoahumado, making it an easy entry point for left-wing guerrilla groups.
Then the paramilitaries arrived in 2002, part of a state strategy to weaken social movements on the one hand, and the guerrillas on the other. They invaded the central village plaza where they stayed for forty days.
The guerrillas told the people, “Leave the village! We are going to attack it.”
The people told the guerrillas, “No. Leave us in peace. We are not leaving here.”
The people told the paramilitaries, “Go Away. Leave us. You are putting us in danger.”
Perhaps by a miracle, through a community dialogue supported by the Catholic Church, the people succeeded in forcing both groups out. This delicate peace has lasted more or less until now, but it requires the community’s ongoing diligence and determination.
“The battles are terrifying
– it’s one thing to talk about it, and another to live it. We like
it that you visit us and see how we are working.”
– Community Leader
by Tracy Hughes
I remember as a kid playing outside with friends under the tree in our neighbor’s yard, racing excitedly to our mothers when we heard the bells of the ice cream truck coming down the street – good activities for the hot, humid dog days of summer.
On August 12, paramilitaries (paras) entered the community of La Florida while the children were in school. The school children heard the pa, pa, pa of gun fire and witnessed the paras kill the Diego* family dog.
No one knows why the paras killed the dog – perhaps for enjoyment, or because the dog was barking, or to intimidate the community members. Whatever the reason, the four young children of the Diego family lost a beloved pet.
I had shared breakfast with this family the day before and really enjoyed playing with the little boys, ages three and six. At first I was “the horse” and they were “the cowboys,” but after “the horse” needed one too many rests, the boys ran all over the yard lassoing each other – good activities for the dog days of summer.
However for this Colombian family and so many like them, the dog days of summer contain fear of guns, fear of paramilitary and guerrilla violence, fear of disappearances and assassinations, and fear of death.
Later our canoe floated past the dead dog’s body caught in a log jam on the Opón River. In that moment, the dog became reminder for me of the human bodies my teammates have found there in the past, and of the 135 people assassinated in Barrancabermeja so far this year.
Colombia team and delegation members June-August were: Scott Albrecht (Kitchener, ON), Chris Barona (Raleigh, NC), Adaía Bernal (Colombia), Robin Buyers (Toronto, ON), Suzanna Collerd (River Forest, IL), Noah Dillard (Tempe, AZ), Cassandra Dixon (Wisconsin Dells, WI), Duane Ediger (Chicago, IL), Anton Flores (LaGrange, GA), Johann Funk (Armstrong, BC), Julie Hart (Newton, KS), Tracy Hughes(Miamisburg, OH), Erin Kindy (Tiskilwa, IL), Joel Klassen (Toronto, ON), Michael Lachman (Athens, OH), Sarah MacDonald (Chicago, IL), Hazel Pratt (Elmwood, ON), Kimberly Prince (Carrollton, GA), Beth Pyles (Fairmont, WV), Sandra Rincón (Colombia), Michael Ross (Lunenburg, NS), Pierre Shantz (Colombia), Carol Tyx (Iowa City, IA) and Stewart Vriesinga (Lucknow, ON).
Refusing to Pay for War – The
National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee is holding a National (U.S.)
Strategy Conference for War Tax Resistance October 7-9 in Brooklyn, New York.
See www.nwtrcc.org/confweb.pdf for more information
New Way to Donate On-line – Alternative Gifts International (AGI) lists CPT in its new catalogue, project #15. To donate, go to www.altgifts.org
• Arizona: October 22-29, 2005.
• Colombia: International: September 13-26, 2005; January 17-30; May 30 - June 12; July 18-31; October 3-16, 2006; National: April 8-15; December 3-10, 2006.
• Iraq: September 16-30; November 19 - December 3, 2005; February 17 - March 3; May 19 - June 2; September 8-22; November 17 - December 1, 2006.
• Israel/Palestine: November 22 - December 4, 2005; January 12-24; March 30 - April 11 (United Church of Canada); May 24 - June 5; July 26 - August 7; October 7-19 (Franciscans); November 19 - December 1, 2006.
• Kenora, Ontario: Spring dates to be announced.
• Winter: December 27, 2005 - Janaury 26, 2006; Chicago
• Summer: July 15 - August 15; Chicago, IL.
STEERING COMMITTEE MEETINGS:
• Fall 2005: October 20-22; N. Manchester, IN
• Spring 2006: March 9-11; Chicago, IL
• Education Institute 2006: June 8-10, 2006; Chicago
• Fall 2006: October 12-14; Hesston, KS.
Signs of the Times is produced four times a year. Batches of 10 or more are available to institutions, congregations, and local groups for distribution. Any part of Signs of the Times may be used without permission. Please send CPT a copy of the reprint.
Your contributions finance CPT ministries including the distribution of 17,000 copies of Signs of the Times.
The work of CPT is guided by a 15-person STEERING COMMITTEE: Lois Baker, Tony Brown, Ruth Buhler, Walter Franz, Elizabeth García, David Jehnsen, Cliff Kindy, Susan Mark Landis, Lee McKenna duCharme, Maxine Nash, Orlando Redekopp, Jacqui Rozier, Hedy Sawadsky, John Stoner, Brian Young.
CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKER CORPS: Scott Albrecht, Kristin Anderson, Adaía Bernal, Joe Carr, Matt Chandler, Kryss Chupp, Suzanna Collerd, Anita David, Noah Dillard, Claire Evans, Tom Fox, Mark Frey, Peggy Gish, Tracy Hughes, Diane Janzen, Kathleen Kern, Scott Kerr, Cliff Kindy, Erin Kindy, Joel Klassen, Amy Knickrehm, Kim Lamberty, Jerry Levin, John Lynes, Rich Meyer, Maxine Nash, Jessica Phillips, Kimberly Prince, Doug Pritchard, Sheila Provencher, Sara Reschly, Sandra Rincón, Dianne Roe, Greg Rollins, Carol Rose, Pierre Shantz, Kathie Uhler, Stewart Vriesinga, Cal Williams-Carpenter, Maia Williams-Carpenter, Diana Zimmerman.
RESERVE CORPS: 140 women and men from the U.S., Canada, Bahrain, Israel/Palestine, Philippines, England, Scotland, and New Zealand.