Archive

September 4th, 2014

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. 

September 3rd

Prayers for Peacemakers, September 3, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, September 3, 2014

Pray for the people of Gaza, tens of thousands of whom remain homeless.  Aid organizations estimate that if Israel and Egypt continue to restrict the importation of construction materials into Gaza, the rebuilding of homes and infrastructure destroyed in the war this summer could take twenty years.

photo: Maan News

September 2nd

COLOMBIA: El Guayabo calls for justice and transparency in Puerto Wilches

In his 1984 address at Mennonite World Conference that served as the catalyst for the formation of Christian Peacemaker Teams, Ron Sider described shalom as “being in right relationship with God, neighbor and the earth.”  Shalom, he says, “means not only the absence of war, but also…the fair division of land so that all families can earn their own way.  It…means the Jubilee and sabbatical release of debts so that great extremes of wealth and poverty do not develop among God’s people.”

 When I walk through the community of El Guayabo on a peaceful day, shalom is what I see.  People live together, worship together, farm together, and welcome strangers into their homes.  There is food for everyone, even a surplus to feed the neighboring towns.  The recent illegal eviction attempt that violently disrupted peace in this community was not only unethical, but also tainted a lifestyle that is holy, a lifestyle that I believe is pleasing to God.

 On 11 August 2014, the communities of El Guayabo and Bella Union gathered to pray publicly and call for political transparency in the town of Puerto Wilches.  They used songs, Bible verses, speeches, and a dramatic action to bring attention to the recent illegal eviction attempt made by riot police.  During the planning stage, El Guayabo leader Eric told the Christian Peacemaker Team delegation that the goal of the action was to spread awareness about the eviction attempt (the origins of which developed under suspicious circumstances) in Puerto Wilches, the largest town in their municipality. 

 

Edinson Garcia speaks during the laying down of the recent harvest

 

When they arrived at the Mayor’s office, the farmers knelt, each placing a different crop from the most recent harvest on the pavement outside the entrance.  CPTers moved forward with palm branches and symbolically covered the crops, as a delegate listed aloud the harmful consequences that a lack of transparency about the eviction process would have for the community.  The delegation then publicly stated their support for the community as the Mayor looked on.  At the conclusion of the action, a delegation leader gave a petition to the Mayor signed by 180 international partners.

August 29th

IRAQI KURDISTAN/ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: “Now is the time we say ‘No More Stolen Sisters’”



 

 

"Stop ISIS Brutalizing Against Yazidi Girls"

Today as I sit in Quito, Ecuador, a participant in the Christian Peacemaker Teams biennial gathering, messages are coming from both of my communities on two sides of the world. The calls have similar themes: sisters are being stolen; governments must investigate their disappearances and their murders; violence against women must stop.

From Suleimani, Iraqi Kurdistan, where my Christian Peacemaker team has been working with partners who have sought to help thousands of displaced minority groups, came a call from the Kurdish women’s group, Jian (Life).  They proclaimed Sunday, 24 August a day for a civil demonstration on behalf of the Yazidi women whom members of the militant group known as IS (Islamic State) have captured and enslaved in the city of Mosul.  Clandestine phone calls from a few of these women described desperate conditions and horrific abusive treatment.  They told of women and girls forced to become wives of fighters and others sold into slavery.

Sixty activists from several women’s organisations and other civil society groups gathered in front of the United Nations office in the capital city of Hawler/Erbil. They demanded that the U.N. do more to help the Yazidi women and girls enslaved by the militant group. At the end of the march, several activists were able to take their message into the U.N. building to ask the representatives and the Kurdish Regional Government to act on this emergency and to take urgent measures to help the vulnerable women.

August 27th

Prayers for Peacemakers, August 27 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, August 27 2014

Pray for the stipended CPTers attending their biennial retreat this week in Quito, Ecuador, where they are learning about trauma and self care.  Pray also for the small teams of reservists and other CPTers who are staffing projects in Iraqi Kurdistan and Colombia so that stipended CPTers can attend retreat and for the work of CPT partners in Aboriginal communities, Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, and Palestine who continue the nonviolent struggles for justice and peace in their homelands.

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CPTers straddling the yellow line that marks (more or less) the division of the Northern and Southern Hemisphere.
Quito, Ecuador

August 26th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Kurdish activists call on U.N. and KRG to take action for kidnapped Yazidi women.

On Sunday, 24 August 2014, over sixty activists from a Kurdish woman’s organization marched to the U.N. Consulate in Erbil (Hawler in Kurdish) to demand that the U.N. do more to help Yazidi women and girls kidnapped by the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS). They carried banners reading, “U.N., Take Action, Our Women and Girls are Enslaved,” and “Committing Genocide Against the Minorities is a Stark Violation of International Humanitarian Law.” Protesters, who chanted slogans as they walked, then read a statement in front of the consulate before several organizers went inside to speak with representatives from the U.N. Two members of Christian Peacemaker Teams, Peggy Gish and John Bergen, accompanied the protest.

One protester, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “I'm Kurdish. It's my duty to come out here and support my country and encourage other teenagers to demonstrate and support Yazidi girls and their human rights.”

Those organizing the campaign want to pressure the U.N. and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to treat the kidnappings of Yazidi women as more of an emergency, and take more urgent measures to help them.  The IS forces (also called ISIS, ISIL and DAASH) have forced some of these women to become wives of fighters and sold others into slavery. Militants also threaten Yazidi women with death, and have killed Yazidi men who refused to convert to the group’s version of Islam.

August 24th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Gish’s *Walking Through Fire* describes history of CPT’s work in Kurdistan

As the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State terrorizes, kills and forces minority ethnic groups out of their villages in northern Iraq, countries of the world have begun deploying a new round of military strikes and supplying weapons to the Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi government forces. In the midst of this violence, Peggy Gish has been working with the Christian Peacemaker Teams on the ground in the Kurdish region of Iraq. With local individuals and groups, the Iraqi Kurdistan team has been able to listen to, share the stories of, and advocate for the needs of the people whose lives have been under threat.

In her book, Walking Through Fire: Iraqis’ Struggle for Justice and Reconciliation (Cascade Books, 2013) Gish calls on us not only to open our hearts to victims the violence, but also to understand these events in light of the past decades of war, occupation, and internal strife.  

 We are invited to step into the streets of war-torn Iraq with her and meet those who live every day with the consequences of military “solutions.” Through Iraqis’ eyes—through their stories—Walking Through Fire “tells the truth” about what war and the U.S. government’s antiterrorism policies have really meant. Iraqis recount the abuses they experienced in detention systems, the excessive violence of the U.S.-led occupying forces as well as tensions between Kurds and Arab Iraqis—tensions rooted in Saddam Hussein’s genocide against the Kurds.

August 23rd

GREECE: Letter of Protest against inhumane treatment of refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos

in:

Dear Madams and Sirs,

Moria Reception Centre

We witnessed recently how refugees were exposed after their arrival on the island of Lesbos by an inhumane treatment by the Greek coast guard.  With this letter, we are protesting against this approach.

On Wednesday, 06th of August 2014, we planned, as part of our summer camp on the island of Lesvos [supported by] Youth Without Borders and Welcome-to-Europe (two anti-racist solidarity networks) to celebrate a party with and for refugees and migrants.  We chose as the place the Pipka, an empty children’s camp, which had been converted by activists from Lesvos with the consent of the mayor to a welcome-center for providing the newly arrived refugees with a roof over their heads, their first legal information and food.  On the same day, refugees [traveling] from Turkey had arrived and spent the time waiting to be registered by the Greek authorities in Pipka.  Finally, a Coast Guard bus arrived and about 35 of the refugees were to be picked up.

These people, who had crossed the night before the sea between Turkey and the island of Lesvos—risking their lives in a small crowded boat—deserve humane treatment like anyone else.  They are not guilty of any crime.  The only "crime that they have committed” is to have fled from their countries by war, violence, and hunger.  The inhumane nature with which the Greek coast guard treated the refugees is the occasion of this letter.

August 22nd

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Revenge devoid of purpose—punitive demolitions of Palestinian homes


 If Israel’s assault on Gaza this summer has been blind, primal violence on a macro scale, the demolition of three Palestinian apartment blocks in Hebron during the early hours of 18 August 2014—punitive retaliation against the suspected culprits in the kidnapping of three Israeli youth in June—represented pointless violence and suffering on a micro scale.  Yet that micro event, multiplied thousands of times over the days, weeks and years of occupation, adds up to what has been called “incremental genocide” in the sense of destroying a culture and its ability to survive.

Between 2001-2005, according to B’tselem figures, Israel demolished 664 Palestinian homes as forms of punishment.*  These demolitions displaced 4,182 innocent people, many of them neighbors of the suspect’s family, and occurred often on the basis of suspicion alone.

Hussam al-Qawasmi house (Photo: Yousef Natsheh)

August 21st

ABORIGINAL JUSTICE: Anishinabe and allies send clear ‘No Pipeline’ message to TransCanada

n 12 August 2014, Anishinabek women, accompanied by local allies and a CPT delegation, led a community rejection of the planned Energy East pipeline, delivering a clear 'no' to the project, the company TransCanada, and the materialist, extractivist* culture that prioritises wealth generation over clean water, protecting the climate, and future generations. 

Led by children, mothers, and grandmothers holding signs and drumming, the group entered an open house, TransCanada was holding at the Lakeside Inn in Kenora, Ontario.  Speaking directly to the company representatives to make their refusal clear, several spoke of corporation’s failure to engage the women in their role as Anishinabe Waterkeepers.  As well as addressing the crowd, the group also prayed and sang songs to honour the water threatened by the pipeline. 

Anishinabek waterkeepers, prior to entering TransCanada's open house