Borderlands

Prayers for Peacemakers 1 March 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers 1 March 2017

Created, Guided, and Delivered for Liberation: A Prayer for Times Like These. 

by Chris Knestrick 

Creator God, 

 You created us for right and just relationships.

 You have called your people back to your embrace

                  To that garden of equality and mutuality

                   To healthy relationships based on respect and love

                   To be laborers that harvest life. 

Creator God, You created us.  

Children painting 

Prayers for Peacemakers. 1 February 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers. 1 February 2017

In these dark times when hatred and racism are on the rise around the world, we invite you to build bridges to bring us closer to each other and to overthrow the walls that divide us by our faith, our race, our gender, and our migration status.

Let us pray that each of us can overcome the walls that separate us. Let us embrace our sisters and brothers of Muslim, Yezidi and other diverse identities, faiths and origin. Let us welcome all those who have had to leave their homes due to war. Let us pray for the hearts and minds of those who insist on dividing us to open wide.

Muslim and jew families

Photo Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo/ Chicago Tribune

IRAQI KURDISTAN: The far rights got it all wrong.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: The far rights got it all wrong.

by Rezhiar Fakhir

No doubt reading the news nowadays makes you angry with the claims that far right leaders are making specifically Donald Trump. I have been confused, troubled and shocked hearing that the President of the United States has banned people from the Muslim world entering to the US. His allegation that it is to make the US safer by banning innocent people from the Middle East has puzzled me, it is as though he lives in a different world. What is even more appalling is that many people applaud him for what he is doing. He did not just ban people but he also stated that he is only going to accept Christians as they have been most prosecuted by Daesh (ISIS) in the Middle East. Well Mr. President, you are wrong. Everyone has suffered equally from ISIS regardless whether they were Christian, Muslim, Yazidi, non-believers or any other beliefs that did not match with Daesh’s ideology. I have reflected on the statements that he has made and I think it is important that people have a real picture of what is happening here, not what Trump is trying to feed to people.

However, this is not by any means to dismiss anyone or depict who has suffered most or who has suffered least from the wars that exists in the Middle East and specifically war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. I have had the benefit of meeting people from different corners of this region and worldwide due to the work that I am doing. Last summer we had a very diverse delegation coming to my region to learn about what was happening here. We visited one of the monasteries in the city of Sulaimani where the people working there have lived in Syria and fled to this city after the war started. 

Muslims praying at Dallas Airport

Photo credit: REUTERS/Laura Buckman.

Prayers for Peacemakers. 29 December 2016


Prayers for Peacemakers. 29 December 2016

2016 has been a difficult year. Stories about the plight of refugees in the Mediterranean sea, the peace process in Colombia, killings of social leaders and farmers, protests to defend water resources, political surprises that seek to eliminate rights of millions of people, intensifying abuses in Hebron, new disappearances in the borderlands between Mexico and the USA, ongoing wars around the world, increasing islamophobia, escalating abuse of migrants, violence against women and natural disasters that have left thousands of people homeless… The list seems endless.

However, even in all this darkness, we can always find a ray of light. It reminds us that we must not lose faith. The light, which the oppression tries hard to extinguish, lives and grows with the commitment and dedication of us all.

In this last week of 2016, let us pray for an amplification of the light in the coming year. The light that lives and shines both inside each one of us and in the world around us. Let's pray for this light to grow stronger and multiply.

Let us pray for CPT members in Colombia, Palestine, Iraqi Kurdistan, Turtle Island, Greece, our partners and all the people struggling for peace around the world. Let's pray together for those who work to transform all forms of violence and oppression.

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

Baby watching TV

Photo credit: Caldwell Manners (El Garzal, Sur de Bolivar)

ADVENT REFLECTION: A Voice Cries Out In The Desert (Isaiah 40:3) -- Abuses and disappearance on the U.S.-Mexico border.

By John Heid

The Biblical terrain of Advent is the desert. It's pristine austerity beckons reflection. The prophetic cries, spoken of by Isaiah, were ones of hope against all odds. These cries echo today in the voices of our sisters and brothers in the Sonoran desert in their anguish and radical hope.

On December 7th, in the somber shadow of the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Nogales, AZ, members of La Coalición de Derechos Humanos and No More Deaths presented their latest abuse document. “Deadly Apprehension Methods, The Consequences Of Chase And Scatter In The Wilderness.”

A US Border Patrol agent stands atop a dune along the US-Mexico border last month near Felicity, California. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

A US Border Patrol agent stands atop a dune along the US-Mexico border last month near Felicity, California. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images. Published by The Guardian.

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.

BORDERLANDS DELEGATION: “Doing the Right Thing for the Right Reason”

CPTnet
March 19, 2016
BORDERLANDS DELEGATION: â€śDoing the Right Thing for the Right Reason”

The USA-Mexican Border wall cuts a brown line through the vast desert terrain. It is visible for miles as it snakes to the horizon. This is the wall that Mexican and Central American migrants climb and jump over, sometimes four or five times, to return to an established life in the US or to start a new one they hope will be better than the life they left behind. In the eyes of the Border Patrol and US immigration policy, they are doing the wrong thing. Without the proper "documentos," they are breaking the law. Period.

But in their own eyes and those of their families, migrants from the south are doing the right thing for the right reason. Victor, a 30-year-old man we met in the Comedor, a migrant resource center operated by Kino Border in Nogales, Sonora, had just been deported from the US—dropped off by a bus at the border after serving 90 days in a private detention center for illegally crossing the border. Victor had lived in New York since he was 9 years old, worked in a restaurant, and had a wife and three children. He had returned to Mexico only briefly—for three hour—to see his mother before she died. After leaving his mother, he returned to the border to cross back into the country that he called home. He was caught by Border Patrol and convicted through Operation Streamline, a fast track means of processing illegal entry cases in groups of up to 70 migrants. He was sent to detention. He had tried to cross the border two previous times and had received shorter sentences—15 days and 30 days. He would try again, he said, though he would likely get a two year sentence next time. In his heart, he was doing the right thing for the right reason. It was really the only thing he could imagine doing.

CPT-EUROPE: "Sinking in the Sea and Walking for a Better World"

CPTnet
March 17, 2016
CPT-Europe: "Sinking in the Sea and Walking for a Better World"
By Ronbir Mohammad

(This article is the first in a new series of reflections: "The Border is Everywhere.")

 

In the summer of 2013, I walked with a group of refugees and allies from Malmö in the South of Sweden to Stockholm, the Swedish capital, as part of what we called “Aylstafetten.” We wished to transform Sweden to a country where refugees would be treated as human beings. Many of the refugees walking with us had no legal status and were “without papers.” For many of them, it was the first time experiencing solidarity from so many white Europeans.

As we moved in the capital amidst its power dynamics, some of those same dynamics were reproduced among the walkers, whether we wanted it or not. Some of us were white Swedes, others non-white Swedes born in Sweden, some non-white Swedes born outside Sweden who had acquired citizenship, others refugees with residence permits, and some refugees lacking residence permits but present in the country legally. The most vulnerable were refugees without papers who could be captured at any time and deported to “their countries”.

But during the walk we were equals. Whether we were swimming in the blue lakes of Sweden, walking past the small red houses in the countryside, or handing out leaflets and shouting slogans, we were equals. We were equals when we enjoyed the tasty Afghan food our fellow comrades made, or when we were singing, reciting poetry, and giving each other massages. We were comrades. During the month we walked, conflicts broke out and were solved. Stories of love, jealousy, tears, and laughter. The solidarity between the walkers was so strong that sometimes, as I was simply walking along and smoking, my heart was so filled with joy I wanted to shed tears.

CPT INTERNATIONAL: Join the work of the CPT U.S./Mexico Borderlands Delegation 10-20 February 2016

In the last months the world’s attention has focused on refugees desperate to reach Europe, because the violence in their own countries has reached such cataclysmic proportions.  But people are fleeing almost horrific violence from Latin American countries, too, and risking their lives in the Sonoran Desert to escape it: 182 bodies were recovered in the Tucson Sector of the border alone this last fiscal year.

Witness the impact of immigration enforcement in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands where foreign policy masquerades as domestic, where the U.S. government foists life and death decisions upon our neighbors, relatives and friends, placing them in vulnerable and volatile situations. Journey with us through this zone of conflict, the gauntlet of the Sonoran desert, part of the lethal continuum that our neighbors from Latin America travel to reach the fields, factories and detention centers of the U.S. Come to observe, query, discern, contribute, learn and then take home the story of human struggle and hope.

Photo: Nadine Hiemstra

BORDERLANDS: Unidentified, but known to God; reflections of a transgender CPT delegate

 

 
 

Memorial composed of items discarded by migrants
 in desert (from 2007 delegation)

Every year, the Pima County, Arizona Medical Examiner's office receives hundreds migrants’ bodies who lost their lives in the Sonoran Desert after crossing the border from Mexico to the United States. From physical features, clothing, and other personal effects, the Medical Examiner can identify some of the migrants and return their bodies to their families. In other cases, the migrants' names remain officially unknown. The bodies of those whose identities cannot be determined are labelled with dates and names: "John Doe" or "Jane Doe," depending on the gender they are assumed to have based on the evidence of their body—or even, in some cases, a single body part.

Early in our trip, I and other members of the Christian Peacemaker Team's Borderlands delegation—twelve people who traveled from around the United States and from Atikameksheng Territory to learn about the human rights situation at the U.S/Mexico border—visited a cemetery in Douglas, Arizona. We prayed together, and left candles, paper cranes, and other tokens at the graves of a handful of unidentified migrants. Their small markers read "Unknown Woman" or "Unknown Man," gave the date their bodies were found, and sometimes listed a Medical Examiner's office reference number.

As a transgender person whose gender is often perceived incorrectly, I live every day with the reality that we can't tell a person's identity by looking at them—and it often really hurts people when we assume we can. The deeply ingrained beliefs that the characteristics of our bodies mark each of us clearly as a man or a woman, and that those are the only options, underlie much of the discrimination that trans and other gender-nonconforming people face in our lives. So I have cringed, on this trip, every time I've heard a tally of the number of male versus female migrants who have received services from an organization, or watched the gender labeling of a body by a Medical Examiner who never met the person when they were alive, never had a chance to ask them about their identity and hear them describe it for themselves. I think about the people who might be hidden or misrepresented in these numbers and labels. I imagine my body laid to rest under a headstone that reads "Unknown Woman," at the end of a lifetime spent claiming the dignity and integrity of my male, genderqueer, and trans identities.