Archive

May 5th, 2014

COLOMBIA URGENT ACTION: Send e-mail to U.S. State Dept this week urging suspension of aid to Colombian military


Take Action: Send a message to the State Department



In the coming week, the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) will be issuing a report about the “False Positive” murders committed by the Colombian military entitled “The Rise and Fall of ‘False Positive’ Killings in Colombia.” (“False positives” were executions of civilians by troops who then claimed the victims were guerrillas killed in combat.)  The research in the report shows that of the Colombian School of the Americas/WHINSEC instructors and graduates from 2001 to 2003 for which information was available, twelve of them 48% had either been charged with a serious crime or commanded units whose members had reportedly committed multiple extrajudicial killings.  John Lindsay Poland, author of the report, will be meeting with State Department Representatives this week.

Accordingly, FOR, SOAWatch, and other NGOs think it is important at this time for immediate e-mail pressure on the State Department to end assistance to the Colombian military.  In February, General Jaime Lasprilla Villamizar was appointed commander of the Colombian Army.  A former instructor at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly known as the School of the Americas) General Lasprilla previously commanded Task Force Omega, which received tens of millions of dollars in U.S. training, supplies and equipment, under Washington’s ill-conceived drug war and “war on terror.”  In 2006-2007, Lasprilla directed the Ninth Brigade in Colombia’s Huila Department, which was responsible for at least seventy-five killings of civilians under his command.  Lasprilla’s appointment shows that Colombia is continuing its culture of impunity regarding military human rights abuses.

May 2nd

AT-TUWANI: Still in need of water

It’s four and a half years since I last worked in the South Hebron Hills village of at-Tuwani, so I was glad to go for an overnight stay.  There have been many changes since my last stint there with Christian Peacemaker Teams.  Of course, babies have been born, children have grown up, young people have married, and adults have aged.




At-Tuwani's school now has an
additional floor.

There have been some positive changes for the village.  It received a master plan some years ago from the Israeli authorities and so villagers are able to build and extend homes within the boundaries it specifies.  The school now has an additional floor and is safe from demolition (with which the Israeli authorities threatened it as soon as it was first built), so now the village school is able to take pupils from the beginning of primary school right through to the end of secondary school.  The village’s clinic is also safe from demolition.  There is mains electricity [an electrical grid] that the villagers attribute partly to Tony Blair’s visit to Tuwani in 2009, during which he described electricity as a human right, and the villagers have received permission to connect to the water main as well.

As one young man said to me, ‘Tuwani is a city now, Miriam: electricity, water . . .’

May 1st

Prayers for Peacemakers, May 1, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, May 1, 2014

 

Pray for the people of At-Tuwani, who remain steadfast in their resistance to occupation, although settlements continue to confiscate lands they have depended on for their livelihood.

See blog post: Tuwani: still in need of water

 

Children walking to school in Tuwani from Tuba and Mighayer Al Abeed.  Ma'on is on the hill on the right.  Note the extensive polytunnels and the new orchard behind the children.  There is an extensive area of fruit trees out of shot to the right.

Children walking to school in Tuwani from Tuba and Mughayer Al Abeed. The Israeli settlement of Ma’on is on the hill to the right. Note the extensive settlement polytunnels and the settlement's new orchard behind the children.

April 30th

TORONTO, ON: CPT supports ‘The Secret Trial Five’ at ecumenical Good Friday Walk for Justice

On 18 April 2014, some three hundred people participated in the annual Ecumenical Good Friday Walk for Justice by leaving the Church of the Holy photoTrinity in downtown Toronto under grey skies and light rain, and walking to several ‘stations’ in the city that represent environmental or social injustices.

At a plain grey multi-story building—the location of Federal Courtrooms—fourteen Toronto CPTers led the crowd in a responsive reading prepared by CPTer Peter Haresnape, praying for the opening of our eyes, hearts, hands, borders, and society with respect to the unholy security state’s hidden agenda of racism and Islamophobia.

April 29th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: CPT calls for elections free of manipulation by the political parties

On 29 April 2014, in the presence of four media channels, the CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team presented a statement regarding the upcoming elections in Iraqi Kurdistan.  The five-page document calls attention to several issues that CPT team members and delegates observed disrupting the electoral process in September 2013.  CPT Iraqi Kurdistan hopes it will encourage all the involved parties and bodies to work together towards more open and fair elections. CPT members have also shared the report with the Independent High Electoral Commission, the Iraqi national organization that bears the responsibility for organizing the electoral process and protecting its independence.  Because of concerns that the various political parties might use the CPT statement to their advantage, the team postponed the public appearance to the day following the end of the month-long pre-election campaign. CPT members along with several partners will observe the elections as a part of an international team. 

The document, “The electoral process in Iraqi Kurdistan through the eyes of the international observers: Recommendations based on the observations of the Christian Peacemaker Teams,” is available in English here and in Kurdish.

April 25th

COLOMBIA: Holy Week delegation transforms gate of oppression at Las Pavas

On 16 April 2014 our twelve-person delegation traveled by van, motorized canoe, and foot to the community of Las Pavas.

We arrived at a community in mourning for the death of Rogelio Campos Gonzales.  Also known as “Pipio,” he died on 13 April, after suffering a heart attack.  Those living on the farm struggle with the question, “if the gate [that the palm oil company Aportes San Isidro had installed across the one road leading into Las Pavas to access difficult] did not exist, would it have been possible to avoid this tragedy?”

Even during this difficult time for the community, they received us with love and told and sang their stories.  While we listened, it was difficult to contain our emotions.

The gate for the people of Las Pavas represents oppression, death, isolation, discrimination, humiliation, and prison.  One of the purposes of our trip was to participate in a public action to redefine the gate that the security guards use to control movement from a symbol of oppression into a symbol of hope, peace, and freedom.

 

 

April 24th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Syrian and Iraqi Kurds protest separation ditch


Streamers of blue, green, yellow and brown election pennants crisscrossed over the street and almost blocked out the sun. The symbols of the major parties in Iraqi Kurdistan for the 30 April election dominated the landscape.  However, on Tuesday, 15 April, new flags waved from hand-held flagpoles. Many Syrian Kurds who have fled their country because of the turmoil marched through the streets of Sulaimani.  They were crying out because the government of the region in which they have taken refuge has decided to create a dividing ditch.  The KDP (Kurdish Democratic Party) that governs the area of Iraqi Kurdistan bordering Syria has sent workers, bulldozers, and security guards to facilitate the digging. It claims that the seventeen-kilometers-long, three-meters-deep, and two-meters-wide ditch will prevent terrorists and smugglers from entering the autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq.

However, the people of Rojava/Western/Syrian Kurdistan and their Iraqi Kurd supporters see the ditch differently.  One man CPT’s Iraqi Kurdistan team spoke to said, “After WWI Britain drew lines that artificially separated the Kurds into four countries.  Now Kurds are dividing Kurds from Kurds with ditches.”

April 23rd

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 23, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, April 23, 2014

Pray for those attending CPT’s European Convergence this weekend in Aalsmeer, Netherlands and those participating in the solidarity witness with refugees and asylum-seekers at the Border Prison in Schiphol, Netherlands.  Ask that creative new strategies arise out of the gathering that will help CPT-Europe address the life and death issues of immigration at Europe’s borders.


Epixel* for 27 April 2014



Photo taken by CPT-Europe delegation of memorial
to refugees who died trying to reach Greek island
of Lesbos.

 Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
Psalm 16:1


*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to
and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's
RevisedCommon Lectionary readings.

April 22nd

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Speaking truth to power, for the sake of clean water

Last week, the team met with a man who has done his best to address the threats to the water supply here in Iraqi Kurdistan, but now feels that he has reached the end of his rope.  Mohammed—he wishes to stay anonymous because of threats—has degrees in geology and hydrology and has worked with water issues both here and abroad.  Two years ago Mohammed came back after spending several years in a European country, eager to use his knowledge for the benefit of his people.  In different ways, he has tried to educate people and authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan about the importance of clean drinking water and how to ensure pure water for future generations.  




Exxon Mobil oil rig near Sartka, Iraqi Kurdistan.
Its partner, Maersk Oil, implies on its website
  that the company may use
high-volume horizontal fracturing (fracking)
in its Iraqi Kurdistan wells.

Since one major threat to the water is oil drilling and oil refineries, Mohammed has studied these operations in Kurdistan and their effects on the environment.  He is asking the Kurdish authorities to take the responsibility of choosing competent people to decide whether or not to grant concessions to oil companies—something he feels is not happening currently.  One example he mentions is the building of a big oil refinery outside of Sulaimani.  At the location of the refinery, only seven meters below the earth's surface, there is a big underground lake of fresh water.  Such a place should have a protected status, instead of facing contamination by the refinery’s pollution.
 
Last year people with connections to the parties in power warned Mohammed to stop his activities “for his own sake,” but he has continued writing articles and presenting seminars about the threat to the water supply.  Early this year he participated in a television show about pollution from oil operations.  Since then he has received several threats over the phone, men calling from unknown numbers, saying he must stop what he's doing or something might happen to him or to his children.  He is convinced that his phone is tapped, and feels constantly watched.  One evening a couple of months ago two men on a motorbike came up from behind as Mohammed was approaching his house.  One of them hit Mohammed over the nose with a gun, before they quickly disappeared, leaving him bleeding.
 

April 21st

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Clashes erupt on Palestinian Prisoner’s Day

On Thursday, 17 April 2014, approximately 300 people gathered at the Al Manara area in H1 (under nominal Palestinian control) to stand in solidarity with the 5224 Palestinian prisoners now held in Israeli prisons.  All political parties participated in the gathering, and each in turn raised their concerns.  

Speeches included the issue of the promise by Israel, as a part of the peace agreement, to release 104 Palestinian prisoners, and the real concern that Israel is now stalling on that promise, using the prisoners as blackmail.  This nonviolent action ended with a musical quartet, consisting of oud, violin, drum, and a singer offering tribute to the Palestinians still held in prison. 

Clashes erupted around 2:00 p.m. between the Israeli security forces and the Palestinians on the border of H1 and H2 and lasted until about 7:00 p.m.

The Israeli military dispersed the crowds with tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets, and in some places, live ammunition (which CPTers observed lying on the ground.)  Ambulances entered and exited frequently the H2 area of Hebron, which is out of the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.  

 According to Ha’aretz newspaper, ten Palestinians sustained injuries from the clashes.