Europe

Christian Peacemaker Teams activities in Europe.

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

Prayers for Peacemakers. 18 January 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers. 18 January 2017

Many of us might be contemplating about the difficult days that are about to come. Wars keep on raging around the world and powerful discriminatory systems are on the rise. Presidents and political leaders speak of preparations for new wars on different religions, sects, ethnicities, races and nationalities. 

Spiritual teachings illustrate that our past actions affect us, either positively or negatively, and that our present actions will affect us in the future. It is easy to waste time on blaming one person or another for what happens around us, instead of focusing on our present actions that might shape our future differently. Let’s all work together as one global community to resist nonviolently against all oppressive systems around the world and pray for each other on our long journey towards peace and justice. 

The rich rules over the poor,
and the borrower is the slave of the lender.
Whoever sows injustice will reap calamity,
and the rod of his fury will fail.

(Proverbs 22: 7-8)

For where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical. And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in peace among those who make peace.

(James 3: 16-18)

Poster No more war

Artist: Beatriz Aurora. No to War. Another world is possible. A world where all worlds fit.

Prayers for Peacemakers. 11 January 2017

Prayers for Peacemakers. 11 January 2017

Snow. For a lot of people snow is a synonym of a warm home. For others snow is a beautiful landscape in which they can get lost. Other people, those who have not seen or felt the snow, dream about snowflakes on their hands. However, not everyone shares the same perception of snow.

Let us pray for all refugees and people without home in Europe, Middle East, North America and the rest of the world who are suffering because of harsh winter conditions. Let us seek ways in which we can help them. Let us pray for political leaders to accept and understand that it is necessary to implement changes in order to stop the global warming. Let us pray for all those who have a cold heart so that the warmth of friends, family and community allows their hope to return.

Syrian woman walks wit her sons under the snow

Photo credit: Aljazeera.

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)

MEDITERRANEAN: Saint Paul and Saint Luke on Lesvos--a new light on the refugee crisis from a Christian perspective.

 

In 56 A.D., Luke the Evangelist, the Apostle Paul and their companions stopped on Lesvos briefly on the return trip of Paul’s third missionary journey (Acts 20:14), having sailed from Assos (about 50 km away). From Mytilini they continued towards Chios (Acts 20:15).

In 2016, Luke and Paul would have been picked up by coastguard ships and denied entry. Paul was a Turk and Luke a Palestinian. European governments now associate both of these nationalities with terrorism.

MEDITERRANEAN: Refugees Incarcerated without trial – a report on CPT's visit to the Greek island of Chios

 

Photo: Amnesty International

We were welcomed into the warden’s office, the walls decorated with orthodox icons, mostly consisting of Jesus, the Virgin Mary and one image of The Last Supper hanging above the warden’s desk. We noticed that the clock on the wall was dead. Hours have no meaning in this prison, perhaps years do. The contraband detector is in the room keeping anyone from smoking here, unlike in many other public offices in Greece. Clearly, the economic crisis hit this office as the old lockers, the warden’s dusty desk and the grimy fringes on the aging curtains prove.

While we scanned the room, waiting to meet with the prisoners, Sabri arrived.  He was only 24, but looked much older—perhaps as a result of the unbearable sorrows he had experienced since the beginning of the Syrian civil war or simply because his dream of a safer life has disappeared in this prison. In either case the uncertainty and his approaching court date had made him anxious. He was told that his passport and other belongings were not in the police station even though they were confiscated when he was arrested. According to Sabri, his trial would be held on 17 October 2016 on the Greek island of Chios. With weary eyes he pled for our help getting his six stranded family members out of Greece.

Mohammad Said, 24, had been imprisoned for three months, waiting for his court date. He arrived in Greece as the only Syrian on the boat with sixteen Iranians. “Our boat was rescued by a NATO vessel and I was accused of being the smuggler by the Iranians on the boat,” he said. “Thinking I was Turkish, the Greek Coast Guard beat me, and later used violence during my interrogation.” The actual Turkish smuggler threatened Mohammad and the others at gunpoint when they asked the smuggler why he was not keeping his promise to pilot the boat to Greece. Instead, the refugees onboard had to drive the boat themselves.  Smugglers force the refugees to steer the boat. In most cases the only way to save the passengers is for someone—anyone—to grab the helm and steer.

MEDITERRANEAN: Making Café Nan a reality

 

 Hello Supporters, Peacemakers, and Friends,

 This is not a typical blog post for the CPT blog site.  First off, this post is a fundraiser.  We chose to do it in a blog format as opposed to going through a third party site (such as Kickstarter, Gofundme, Crowdraise, etc.) because if we do it ourselves, no percentage of the donated money goes to a third party site!  That means that sharing this blog is even more important than the ones before.  This is a way that you can be directly involved in making a positive impact on Lesbos. So, without further ado…

 Greetings from Mytilene, Lesbos where we need your help!

 First, our story:

 Everyone saw the headlines in 2015: Men, women and children landing in the thousands on the shores of Lesbos in flimsy dinghies. Since then, what began as the gateway to Europe, has turned into a Hot Spot where thousands are stranded in limbo, often in overcrowded and inhumane conditions.

A street view of Café Nan

Since Europe’s controversial deal with Turkey to stem the refugee flow, many asylum applicants have been detained behind razor wire fences. Others, while free to move around the island, have been stuck there for months, confused and traumatized, waiting for the authorities to process their asylum applications.

Like all of us, these stranded people need purpose and meaning in their lives.  This is where we come in! 

On a small cobbled street in Mytilene, we have exciting plans for a new social-café initiative.  For this purpose we are renovating a building with ancient masonry. When fully restored, this café will employ refugees and use their skills. Café Nan will become a unique and welcoming space and give locals and tourists the chance to experience foods from the Middle East.

MEDITERRANEAN: A garden in the heart of a child

 

Photo by Lesvos Solidarity

It’s morning in the camp. Humanity Crew, an organization of translators, comes by to pick up a vanload of Pikpa residents to take them to Moria detention center for the day. They are going for interviews and to fill out paperwork related to appeals for asylum or relocation. One woman approaches, asking if they can take her to the hospital. She has an appointment to have stitches removed from her bandaged hand. Other men and women have gathered under the pavilion to wait for the daily food distribution to begin. A tween-age girl from the Congo is slouching in a plastic chair with her hands over her eyes near to where I am watering one of the two communal gardens. I am trying to determine where to place the hose for the most effective irrigation.

This is Pikpa, an oasis in the desert of Fortress Europe. It is an open camp for refugees run by our partners, the nonprofit Lesvos Solidarity Network (formerly, Village of All Together). It is a safe and humane camp, standing in stark contrast to the detention centers operated by European security forces and the Greek military. On Lesvos, these are Moria, housing (imprisoning really) about 3,000 refugees, and Kara Tepe, with about 700 refugees. At Pikpa currently, eighty-nine residents (out of a capacity for 100) live in wooden cabins and canvas tents under the shade of tall pines. They have access to fresh produce and other wholesome food, clothing, medical aid, clean lavatories, language classes, and kindergarten for their children. Pikpa serves the most vulnerable: the disabled, sick, pregnant, and families of shipwreck victims.

MEDITERRANEAN REFLECTION: Give and take--distributing watermelon on Lesvos

 

Aside from the thick wall of heat glomming on to my body as I walk into the uncooled space of the camp kitchen where I am scheduled to spend the next four hours, the large mound of watermelon stacked in crumpled plastic crates on the floor grabs my attention first.

I thought I would try to stay within my comfort zone the first morning in the refugee camp. I volunteer for the job of food distribution, receive a knife and am told to start quartering the watermelons lengthwise. Who brings this watermelon here? Do they come every day? Are they from local farmers? How many should I cut? Nobody–of the handful of volunteers standing around finishing their coffees–knows. All I get, for sure, is that I need to split a few of the long quarters in half for the smaller families and individuals.

I take a hefty melon from the pile in the corner and set it on my cutting board. My hands sense a sort of magical energy tension at the point just before the knife-edge touches the watermelon, and it splits willingly. It cracks open with rough edges, creating an uneven topographical surface of ripe, red flesh on each half. Working with another volunteer, a young man from Berlin, we smile each time this happens, but otherwise, wordlessly fill a plastic crate, arranging the wedges so they will rise with reasonable stability just over the edges.

MEDITERRANEAN: My first working day in Pipka—the love letter

 

English lessons were slow getting started. Peggy walked around the camp by the cabins and tents to let interested refugees know the session would soon begin. Lunch finished late, but soon two young women showed up, Farsi-speakers, maybe sisters. 

Peggy had been teaching for a few days now. I was there to observe her technique. Soon a man joined us, possibly around thirty years old, Pakistani. He had a shy manner, and was hesitant to approach, but he emitted a kind of indefinable radiance. He asked me if I could help him with “deep” words. At first, I thought he wanted to talk philosophy, but, no, he wanted words that had to do with feelings, specifically words to do with love. 

“Love,” though was to simple a word for what he had in mind. And he wanted, as it turned out, full sentences:

“You are profoundly beautiful.”

“My heart is full of affection for you.”

“I adore you.” 

It became quickly clear to me that he wanted to compose a love letter. He had met a Pakistani-American woman here on Lesvos and been on a couple of dates.  Now he wanted to express how he felt about her: