Christian Peacemaker Teams - Turn your Faith into Action for Peace en COLOMBIA: The slow struggle for land and justice <span>COLOMBIA: The slow struggle for land and justice</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/26" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kathy Kern</span></span> <span>Mon, 05/20/2019 - 12:36</span> <div><p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="400" src="/sites/default/files/MG_5283.jpg" width="600" /></p> <h6 class="text-align-justify">Photo: Juliane Assman</h6> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>by Juliane Assmann</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Since 2005… no, since 2002 we are fighting on this land,” Eugenio tells me when I ask him about the history of the process and struggle that has led to this day. We are sitting in the shadow of the church building in El Garzal, watching the people come and go to register their land with the ANT (National Land Agency). Eugenio has fifteen hectares of land in Nueva Esperanza, the neighboring community to Garzal whom CPT also accompanies — “poquita,” (“little”) he says. He cultivates plantain, mango, coconut, yucca, rice and more, but mainly for self-subsistence. Because of threats, extortion, and having to pay protection money to paramilitary groups Eugenio had to flee to the nearby town of Puerto Wilches for three years. One of his compañeros even has been disappeared. After three years of displacement, Eugenio returned to Nueva Esperanza and today he has walked the three kilometers up the road to Garzal to register his plot of land to eventually obtain an official title for it.</p> <p>The details of the process are confusing for the campesinxs* and even the accompanying organizations themselves because, strictly speaking, there are three administrative processes and at least one judicial process going on at the same time, when people try to claim ownership of their land. The land title process alone already consists of several steps and is going to take more than a year. This week, the ANT has come to define borders between state land and private property, which mainly affects those who have land bordering on water, be it the river, lakes or territory that only floods during the rainy seasons. Naturally, some campesinxs have come misinformed, don’t possess land close to water and now feel frustrated. But the majority is carefully optimistic and appreciates the accompaniment of all the entities and organizations present. In addition to the ANT, CPT and Peace Watch, a Swiss international accompaniment organization, have come. The Defensoría del Pueblo, who is there as well, is a state institution established to protect human rights, especially those that have been violated the most as a consequence of the armed conflict: children’s and women’s rights as well as campesinx rights, i.e. land rights. The Defensoría del Pueblo has accompanied the Garzal case since 2004. And last but not least, CPT’s partner organization Justapaz who helped the whole process move forward again after a long time of standstill, stepping in last year by filing a claim against the ANT. Justapaz also helps Garzal and Nueva Esperanza in their community processes by discussing together what the community wants and making plans together on how to achieve that.</p> <p>When communities must fight so long for their land — in this case over seventeen years—in many cases people eventually start leaving, moving to the cities or giving in to the pressure and selling their land. This attrition has happened in Nueva Esperanza and Garzal as well. Often, that’s how large landowners gain even more. “It’s the grand dilemma of this country that the powerful have the possibility of everything,” explains Pastor Salvador, the main leader of the Garzal community. “In concept we are all equal but because of the situation of resources today there exists a stratification so that whoever doesn’t have money is here and whoever has money has all the access to the institutions and justice.”</p> <p>The concentration of land in the hands of a few big entrepreneurs is only one side of this problem. For the campesinxs this means living isolated and abandoned by the government. Because of the lack of infrastructure and state support it doesn’t pay to bring the products of one’s land to the next town because transportation costs more than the money the fruits would bring in. For that reason especially in the mountains many campesinxs turn to planting coca. “Coca damages the social fabric of the country immensely but it serves to survive. The state is responsible for this situation,” says Pastor Salvador matter-of-factly.</p> <p>Katherin, another campesina who comes from Garzal, is one of only two women in the joint committee of Garzal and Nueva Esperanza. She also addresses the issue of missing services from the government by complaining how hard communication is without cell phone signal. Talking about her feelings towards the meeting with the ANT she says, “The process is quite delayed, I’m a little worried.” For the future she wishes to have her titles and papers and to live without problems. She hopes for a liberated land.</p> <p>Land is the big political issue around which not only the armed conflict of the past decades revolved but also what most of the current conflicts are about. &nbsp; Currently these conflicts involve multinational companies, the discussion about fracking and cases of land grabbing. It is for this exact reason why a slow and bureaucratic process at first sight might seem utterly unspectacular — but when after seventeen years of resistance Pastor Salvador somberly sits down to sign his registration papers, victoriously raises his fist and starts laughing, it becomes clear that only step-by -step the land can be returned to the people.&nbsp; And that return IS spectacular.</p> <p>*Gender-inclusive form of the Spanish word for farmer</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> <div> <div>Categories</div> <div> <div><a href="/taxonomy/term/1399" hreflang="en">Colombia</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 20 May 2019 17:36:43 +0000 Kathy Kern 12215 at IRAQI KURDISTAN: “All we want is to know the fate of our beloved people” <span>IRAQI KURDISTAN: “All we want is to know the fate of our beloved people”</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/26" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kathy Kern</span></span> <span>Wed, 05/15/2019 - 12:14</span> <div><p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="350" src="/sites/default/files/women%2B3-2.jpg" width="700" /></p> <h6>The wives, mothers and daughter of those killed and missing in Deraluk</h6> <p>It was just twenty-three days after the New Year when the Turkish jet fighters bombed Matin Mountain in Deraluk and the villages around it in Iraqi Kurdistan. This airstrike marked the first incident of killing and targeting civilians in 2019.</p> <p>The jets struck the Mountain and Zele and Hetut villages for more than one hour. They killed six civilians; four of the bodies were recovered, but the fate of two others is still unknown.</p> <p>CPT visited Deraluk two days after the tragic event, and again on 24 April for further follow-up with the family of the six victims, who were still wearing the black clothes of mourning.&nbsp; They shared the story of losing their beloved sons.</p> <p>“My brother was working, fishing with the others, when the Turkish airplanes bombed them,” Haider’s brother, Habib told CPT. “My brother and four others were fishing in Zele village, where there were not any Turkish military bases around. My brother was working, fishing with others, but the Turkish airplanes bombed the area. Two of my brother’s friends were killed and their bodies were found in that spot; but the fate of my brother and one of his friends is still unknown and we do not know whether they were injured or killed, arrested or something else. Haider and his friends were innocent.”</p> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="267" src="/sites/default/files/IMG_1422%2Bsmall.JPG" width="400" /></p> <h6>CPT met with the families in Deraluk</h6> <p>Haider left behind four children. His wife spoke to us with deep sorrow, “My husband was a Peshmerga fighting in the frontlines of the battle fields against ISIS. Now he has left four children and there is nobody to take care of them and we are a poor family. Nobody takes our terrible situation into consideration and all I want is to know the fate of my husband, dead or alive.”</p> <h2 class="text-align-center"><b>“It has been four months I have lived with the hope of having my son returned. As a mother I will not give up until the fate of my son is uncovered”</b></h2> <p>Redar is another victim of the tragic event whose fate is also still unknown. His family is counting the days until they discover his fate.&nbsp; Redar and Haider and their two friends, both named Azad, were Peshmerga soldiers. Because of the financial crisis in Iraqi Kurdistan, they couldn’t depend solely on their salary. As a result they started fishing for food and a good livelihood for their families.</p> <p>“Our son has been missing for months. Sometimes they say he is dead, and sometimes they say he is alive, but still I live with the hope of having my son returned. There is no place left that we have not searched for him. I ask God to uncover the fate of my son. As a mother, I will not give up until the fate of my son is uncovered,” Redar’s mother told CPT.</p> <p>The relatives of Redar and Haider asked the PDK, which is the ruling party in the region, to find out what happened to their sons. But the PDK told them that their sons were arrested by the PKK (the Kurdish guerilla group fighting the Turkish government in the mountains). When they asked the PKK to tell them what really happened to the missing men, they said that the PDK is the ruling party in the area and is responsible for protecting the lives of people there, not the PKK. The younger brother of Redar explained to CPT, “Redar had a bag with him. The bag was left on the road undamaged, but there was no sign of him, either dead or alive.” Thus, he believes that his brother is still alive and has been arrested.</p> <p>In the same hour that the Turkish jets bombed Zele, they hit Hetut village, destroying the village’s horticulture and killing two civilians.</p> <p>Since 2014 the Kurdistan Region has faced a financial crisis due to the disputes between the regional Kurdish and the central Iraqi governments. This situation has forced people not to depend solely on their salaries but begin working in multiple areas to try and provide a decent life for their families.</p> <p>Bakhtyar and Zyad had started beekeeping due to the financial crisis. They were in Hetut on 23 January taking care of their bees. The Turkish jets bombed the village. It took two days for their bodies to be found.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <h2 class="text-align-center"><b>“We live in our villages, on our land, in our mountains. We want to live in peace but they come and kill us in our homes.”</b></h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Laijan, Bakhtyar’s wife, told CPT that she had asked her husband many times not to go to that area, as the Turkish airplanes may bomb it because Turkey does not distinguish between civilians and PKK guerrillas. “They do not care who we are, what matters for them is that we are Kurds and they kill us.”</p> <p>Bakhtyar and Zyad used to visit their hives twice a month to observe the bees. “We live on our land, we farm crops and animals and keep bees. But Turkey and the armed groups have turned our land into a battlefield, and we, the villagers and the innocent residents of the borders, become the victims. We want to live in peace, but they come and kill us in our homes,” Xam, Zyad’s wife, said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="408" src="/sites/default/files/IMG_1453%2B(2)-2.JPG" width="612" /></p> <h6>When the mountains behind Deraluk are bombed, the villagers homes shake.</h6> <p>Following the three days of Turkish airstrikes on the outskirts of Deraluk, there was a demonstration on 26 March in Shiladze organized by relatives of the martyrs and other citizens of Shiladze and the surrounding area. The protesters marched towards the Turkish military base in Sire. There, Turkish soldiers opened fire on the protesters, killing a 14-year-old boy and wounding ten others. The Turkish government also used jet fighters and sound bombs in an attempt to intimidate and disperse the protesters. The Asaish arrested some of the protestors and journalists and dispersed the crowd. Turkish soldiers are now once again stationed in Sire.</p> <h2 class="text-align-center"><b>“The International Community is silent. The Iraqi government condemns Turkey and the KRG calls us troublemakers”</b></h2> <p>Halkawt, a friend of one of the victims of the Turkish bombardment and a lawyer, is deeply concerned about the silence of the international community on the airstrikes carried out by Turkey and Iran in Iraq. He believes that the KRG holds a weak and shaky stance against Turkey in this regard. “Turkish forces kill us on our land, and the international community and world superpowers do not utter even a word. Following the protests in Shiladze, the Iraqi foreign ministry sent a firm message to the Turkish government through the Turkish embassy to Iraq. In the message the Iraqi government condemned the Turkish government over killing the villagers and the civilians on the borders. Surprisingly enough, instead of taking a firm stances against Turkey, the KRG calls us troublemakers!”</p> <p>Turkey has bombed the border for many years under the pretext of fighting PKK guerrillas, but many of the victims are civilians and unarmed people living near the borders. As the result of the bombardments many villages have been evacuated and many farms have been destroyed. The villagers seek a peaceful life and demand that Turkey immediately cease bombing their villages and fighting on their land.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> <div> <div>Categories</div> <div> <div><a href="/taxonomy/term/1406" hreflang="en">Iraq</a></div> <div><a href="/taxonomy/term/1408" hreflang="en">Kurdistan</a></div> </div> </div> Wed, 15 May 2019 17:14:37 +0000 Kathy Kern 12213 at Voices of Holy Week 2019:  Solidarity in campesinx communities <span>Voices of Holy Week 2019:  Solidarity in campesinx communities</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/26" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kathy Kern</span></span> <span>Tue, 05/14/2019 - 10:36</span> <div><p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="400" src="/sites/default/files/Jhony-Arango.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>The solidarity in the campesinx* communities working for the right to their territory is the fundamental base around which the unity of the community consolidates. Unity is a force that is born from the heart and at the same time lies in the ground until life puts down roots into the territory; outside of that community it does not exist. The campesinx communities in Colombia are one with the earth, they run with the river, vibrate with the wind, grow with the rain, their surroundings are their home and their neighbors are their family.</p> <p>Barefoot and with their head held high, they face the apathy and defamation of a state that has forgotten that justice is not for those who can buy it.&nbsp; And those to whom without a doubt justice is denied to – those devoid of legal “resources” – they look for a better living. But dignity does not have a price, you cannot buy nor negotiate for it, and it is solely in the hands of those who work the land and with these hands they can build a better land and their own social justice that those who corrupt their power will never have.</p> <p>Jhony Arango,&nbsp; member of the 2019 CPT-Colombia Holy Week delegation</p> <p>*campesinx is gender inclusive form of the Spanish word for farmer (campesino/campesina)</p> </div> <div> <div>Categories</div> <div> <div><a href="/taxonomy/term/1399" hreflang="en">Colombia</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 14 May 2019 15:36:01 +0000 Kathy Kern 12212 at Freedom of the press in Iraqi Kurdistan <span>Freedom of the press in Iraqi Kurdistan</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/26" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kathy Kern</span></span> <span>Fri, 05/10/2019 - 12:37</span> <div><p><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="213" src="/sites/default/files/journalists%2Bbanner_1.jpg" width="600" /></p> <h6>Left to right: Takur Zardashti, Guhdar Zebari, Niyaz Abudulla, Sherwan Sherwani</h6> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>by Rebekah Dowling</p> <p>When I was a child I dreamed of being a journalist. Of sharing stories with the world and uncovering the truth. It seemed so glamorous and important, changing the world with the mighty pen. I didn’t understand then what the glamour of bringing information to the public could really look like. I didn’t understand that many journalists are murdered, tortured, imprisoned, threatened and bullied because of their work.</p> <p>George Orwell is credited with having said, “In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes an act of revolution.” Journalists throughout the world feel the full brunt of this statement, where telling the truth is seen as a crime. According to UNESCO, a journalist is killed every five days.</p> <p>We can take the ability to access information from all over the world for granted. But, behind many of these stories is a person who is risking their life and freedom to keep us informed. A person who has made a commitment to building a fair, just and honest world.</p> <p>Particularly important in this struggle for truth are independent journalists, because the media isn’t always impartial or free. Journalist Sherwan Sherwani, called the media in Iraqi Kurdistan, “a weapon used by political parties and corporations to gain power and money.” Like many other countries in the world, it is a media that does not favour those who speak out. As one friend pointed out, “Here [in Iraqi Kurdistan] to be an independent journalist means to be an activist.” Telling the truth becomes an act of revolution.</p> <p>On the 5th of May CPT joined many such journalists and activists at the grave of Sardasht Osman. In 2010, Sardasht was murdered after writing about corruption in the government. Those who knew him claim he didn’t break any laws or make any threats; he simply tried to tell people the truth. His family told how people have attempted to brush his story under the carpet with a smokescreen of lies; but every year he is remembered, and other journalists carry on the struggle to share the truth.</p> <p>“We are not politicians; we are journalists and activists. We work within the framework of the law and from our values and beliefs. They would like us to compromise and show we have surrendered. They offer us jobs and money, but because of our values we do not accept, we cannot compromise,” Guhdar Zebari said. “There is no guarantee for our safety, we wait to be arrested, for violent attacks, or to be killed.”</p> <h2 class="text-align-center"><b>“They offer us jobs and money, but because of our values we do not accept, we cannot compromise.”</b></h2> <p>Guhdar Zebari was arrested alongside eighteen other journalists and activists in the Bahdinan region in January 2019, when they tried to attend a peaceful protest.</p> <h2 class="text-align-center"><b>“Our detainment was a political decision, not a legal one”</b></h2> <p>Sherwan Sherwani spoke of these arrests saying, “They made up a crime using article 156 of the Iraqi penal code. Our detainment was a political decision, not a legal one… They exploit all the laws, including the ones from the Saddam era, and use them against their own citizens… We journalists are the first victims of these laws.”</p> <p>Laws that are meant to protect citizens are instead used to threaten them. Independent journalists have told CPT how fake charges are made against them, and evidence is compiled to ruin their lives and the possibility of making a living. “They told us that they had many of our documents that they could release, that they could arrest us again at any moment,” Sherwan Sherwani stated, “They try to silence us and limit any further activities in this way.”</p> <p>It is not only legal charges independent journalists face. Niyaz Abdulla, a female journalist, explained how she has received many threats, including spreading rumours about her of a sexual nature. Here these threats may not only discredit her and ruin her job opportunities, but also pose a real danger to her life.</p> <h2 class="text-align-center"><b>“If my family were not here, if it was only me, then I would not worry.&nbsp;”</b></h2> <p>These threats also extend beyond those the journalists themselves face, but extend to the journalists’ family members and even employers. As Takur Zardashti told CPT, “If my family were not here, if it was only me, then I would not worry. I have accepted I may die for my work.” And Guhdar Zebari explained how two days after his arrest, his business partner and friend was detained and beaten and told that he must stop working with Guhdar. Sherwan Sherwani has already been forced to move his family once and Takur has recently fled with his family from Duhok.</p> <h2 class="text-align-center"><b>“They forced me to tell them my sources”</b></h2> <p>CPT has also learned that in some cases when they are imprisoned, journalistic rights, such as source confidentiality, are also summarily ignored. Guhdar and Sherwan both spoke about how their phones were taken from them and the authorities coerced them into to revealing their passwords. “They forced me to tell them my sources on some of my cases... Now one of my friends has been arrested for the information he passed on to me,” Sherwan said.</p> <p>Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights states that we all have the right to freedom of expression, the right to write and share information. In many countries this has been used to protect journalists. In the countries where these rights are denied we all rely on those brave individuals who are willing to make great sacrifices to work for truth.</p> <p>When I meet journalists like Niyaz Abdulla and Sherwan Sherwani, and writers like Takur Zardashti and Guhdar Zebari, who fight so hard for peace and freedom here, I have to believe things will get better. I am blown away by their passion for a better world, by their intelligence and dedication. They receive death threats, are arrested, have lies told about them, lose their jobs, and still they write exposés on hidden prisons, corrupt politicians, illegal border trades, stolen land and women's rights.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> <div> <div>Categories</div> <div> <div><a href="/taxonomy/term/1406" hreflang="en">Iraq</a></div> <div><a href="/taxonomy/term/1408" hreflang="en">Kurdistan</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 10 May 2019 17:37:58 +0000 Kathy Kern 12211 at A proud campesina has dreams for her people <span>A proud campesina has dreams for her people</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/26" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kathy Kern</span></span> <span>Fri, 04/26/2019 - 12:26</span> <div><h6><img alt="" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="400" src="/sites/default/files/1H1A3887_1.jpg" width="600" /><br /> “We don’t want to live with fear” / “We are campesinxs of Peace”. El Guayabo community has endured the scourge of<br /> paramilitarism and insurgency, resisting with creative nonviolent strategies. Now, a new generation of leaders arises.</h6> <p>There is a pace for justice. And <strong>Justice</strong>, which is something different from the justice of the courts, has it own pace. Both the big and the small have a complex, difficult, sometimes elusive and even utopian relationship in the context of an armed conflict. Colombia is deeply marked by more than 50 years of conflict, which have shaped the present through violence, fear and coercion. While justices travel at their own paces, life can slip through our fingers. &nbsp; It happened to Teacher Henry from El Guayabo, when a rabid cancer took his life before either justice, big or small, even showed its face.</p> <p>Young Colombians have a difficult task in this long and painful road of building peace with social justice, rebuilding collective memory and truth, and healing wounds. Some of them take an active role in their communities and are involved in organizational processes of resistance to violence. The campesino community of El Guayabo resisted the paramilitary scourge and the insurgency, and they deal with the institutionalized violence of the state that violates rights and ignores needs, stigmatizing campesinxs¹ and community leaders.</p> <p>“I am proud to be a campesina and to be called a campesina, I would never regret being so, nor do I feel ashamed to say that I am a campesina. We, the campesinxs, feed the cities.” María Fernanda – Mafer (19) – was born and raised in El Guayabo, into a family with strong leadership in the region, she now shines as one of the young leaders of El Guayabo with creativity and courage.</p> <p><i>“We are fighting peacefully and resisting, so that they do not take us off of the land. It is important to tell how we have remained all this time in our territory, where there has been so much violence. We use a machete, not to kill anyone but to cut a yucca bush, or a bunch of plantain. Never for violence. That’s why I would like to tell our story so that many people would realize that we are good people and that they should not call us guerrillerxs.”&nbsp;</i>²</p> <p>The Peace Agreements of 2016 brought a respite of hope, a renewal of the profound will for peace of the Colombian people who prefer not to hide the scars left by all these years of violence, nor the wounds that violence continues to open. During 2018, of the armed conflict’s 331 acts of violence, 65% directly or indirectly affected children and teens³. Statistics show an increase compared to the previous year. For Mafer, since the signing of the Agreements the situation worsened: “There is more war; there have been many evictions and abuses against us campesinxs.”</p> <p>The pressure of private interests and the disrespect for the lives of the forgotten are expressed in the form of corruption and institutionalized violence, widening the gap between the two justices. “We have realized that the authorities are not on our side, not even the Mayor’s Office,” she says. “If they do not want to be on our side, that’s fine, but they should be neutral. We can have a good lawyer but the only one who can change everything is God, because there is so much corruption here. ” Thus it is difficult to maintain hope. “I do not know what will become of us; I see that it is getting worse. I am very concerned as a young person in the community; I am worried about what is happening. But I’m going to keep fighting; this is not over. My challenge is to continue fighting and achieve what we all want, which is the land.” Where the State is absent or corrupt, grassroots organizing flourishes.</p> <p>In 2017 she finished high school and dreamt of going to university. But a violent eviction of their cultivated lands cut short that dream. The humanitarian crisis prevented her family from supporting her. She applied unsuccessfully to the national scholarship system, even though she belongs to the vulnerable populations, prioritized by the system. “They say there are many opportunities but in reality they are only for those who have leverage,” she says. The crisis is not over, but she hopes to start her studies this year. “I want to study Law, but my parents do not have resources, so I had to sign up for something else and I’m going to study Psychology. My community needs a good lawyer and nothing [would be] better than a lawyer from her own land, who has suffered and fought with the campesinxs. And not only for El Guayabo but for the country, for the people who need it.”</p> <p>Let us hope Mafer can study what she desires. The only certain thing at this moment is that she will work hard for the two justices to become one and, in the meantime, she will tighten her fist so that life does not slip through her fingers.</p> <p><b>¹&nbsp;Campesinx is a gender inclusive noun for subsistence farmers</b></p> <p><b>² Guerrillerx is a gender inclusive noun for guerrilla combatant, often times used in a derogatory way to stigmatize and criminalize social leaders</b></p> <p><b>³ Publication by COALICO:&nbsp;</b><a href=""><b></b></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> <div> <div>Categories</div> <div> <div><a href="/taxonomy/term/1399" hreflang="en">Colombia</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 26 Apr 2019 17:26:25 +0000 Kathy Kern 12208 at COLOMBIA: More than 500 responses to El Guayabo Campaign <span>COLOMBIA: More than 500 responses to El Guayabo Campaign</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/26" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kathy Kern</span></span> <span>Tue, 03/26/2019 - 09:09</span> <div><p><img alt="DSC4691_0.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="397" src="/sites/default/files/DSC4691_0.jpg" width="600" /></p> <p>The campaign that CPT Colombia launched during the month of January was a great success. More than 500 people contacted the Secretary of Government of Puerto Wilches, Edmundo Arias and the Vijagual Police Inspector, Diego Andres Torres. The campaign requested that they stop the scheduled public hearing and take no further action on the land of El Guayabo until there is an exhaustive review by the national authorities responsible for all the irregularities surrounding this case.</p> <p>The community’s defense lawyers have questioned the transparency of the Police Inspector and the Mayor’s actions, as well as the legality of the process. Together with the nonviolent resistance of the community, the defense lawyers and the support of all of you, we have managed to get the Police Inspector to reject the lawsuit imposed by Mr. Rodrigo López Henao.</p> <p>It is important to celebrate this small step, but also to note that the case does not end here. The sentence of the Judge of Puerto Wilches imposes a serious problem for the community because it has handed over the land to López Henao despite the investigations and findings by the National Land Agency that the land is actually national state land.</p> <p>Mr. Rodrigo López has filed a new complaint with the Vijagual Police Inspector and a hearing has been scheduled for 12 May. In the coming weeks, we will be strategizing our plan for political advocacy and will communicate with you about how you can support the community. We will continue to demand maximum transparency and guarantees of protection in the process for El Guayabo.</p> <p>The community of El Guayabo and CPT are grateful to everyone for the wonderful response to our request.&nbsp; Showing the authorities that a large international support network supports El Guayabo and demands the authorities listen to them is vital in this case.</p> <p>In Solidarity,</p> <p>Christian Peacemaker Teams – Colombia</p> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: medium; font-family: Cambria; caret-color: rgb(0, 0, 0); color: rgb(0, 0, 0); font-style: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; font-weight: normal; letter-spacing: normal; orphans: auto; text-align: start; text-indent: 0px; text-transform: none; white-space: normal; widows: auto; word-spacing: 0px; -webkit-text-size-adjust: auto; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; text-decoration: none;"><o:p></o:p></p> </div> <div> <div>Categories</div> <div> <div><a href="/taxonomy/term/1399" hreflang="en">Colombia</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 26 Mar 2019 14:09:03 +0000 Kathy Kern 12198 at PALESTINE: Remembering Rachel Corrie and facing the future <span>PALESTINE: Remembering Rachel Corrie and facing the future</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/26" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kathy Kern</span></span> <span>Mon, 03/25/2019 - 10:30</span> <div><p><img alt="Rachel Corrie bulldozer_1.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="338" src="/sites/default/files/Rachel%20Corrie%20bulldozer_1.jpg" width="600" /></p> <h6>Photo by Joe Carr. &nbsp;Carr worked with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in Gaza and later with CPT<br /> in Hebron and&nbsp;At-Tuwani. &nbsp;His sequence of photos showing the bulldozer running over Corrie was not enough<br /> to convict the driver of her death.</h6> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>by Kathleen Kern</p> <p>In 2003, when the Hebron team heard that the Israeli military had crushed Rachel Corrie to death with a Caterpillar&nbsp;bulldozer, the news hit all of us hard. Some of us had conducted nonviolence trainings for the first waves of International Solidarity Movement volunteers that had poured into Palestine to address violence of the Second Intifada.&nbsp; These volunteers had included Corrie, and Tom Hurndall who was shot and later disconnected from life support, as well as Brian Avery, also shot and permanently disfigured.&nbsp; Most of us had at one time or another stood in front of a bulldozer or had friends who had stood in front of bulldozers in an effort to prevent the demolition of a Palestinian home.&nbsp; Israeli soldiers and police had roughed us up, detained us or arrested us.&nbsp; Until Corrie died, I don’t think we believed that soldiers would run us, our friends or the Palestinian&nbsp;homeowners over.</p> <p>Sixteen years later, if I heard soldiers had deliberately run over anyone with a bulldozer in Hebron in this current political climate the news would not shock me.&nbsp; The number of&nbsp;<a href="">extrajudicial executions</a>&nbsp;that happen in this city simply because Palestinians make soldiers nervous is frightening.&nbsp; Yet right now, less lethal things chip away at my soul: for example, young Israeli soldiers addressing professional Palestinian men in their forties and fifties as "<i>walid</i>" or "boy" as they walk through the checkpoint. &nbsp;Also,&nbsp;can you think of anywhere else in the world where elementary schoolchildren are regularly, routinely blanketed with teargas as they walk to and from school? And little children scurrying from teargas aren’t even the images that haunt me.&nbsp; It’s the faces of soldiers laughing I can’t shake.&nbsp; They laugh as they load the teargas grenades into their launchers, preparing to shoot them at the children.</p> <p>Adam Serwer, a writer for the&nbsp;<i>Atlantic,&nbsp;</i>wrote an article last year about the Trump era, entitled “The cruelty is the point.”&nbsp; Nothing is quite so demoralizing as cruelty for the sake of cruelty, as watching grown men and women in uniform taking pleasure in&nbsp;mistreating children and our other neighbors in the Old City of Hebron.</p> <p>But while this cruelty can haunt and even paralyze those who care about Palestinians, that’s not the lesson to take away from Corrie’s life.&nbsp; I remember reading emails to her family after her death and being struck by her optimism and her plans for the future. &nbsp;Her&nbsp;final email to her father particularly moved me:</p> <blockquote> <p>Thanks also for stepping up your anti-war work. I know it is not easy to do, and probably much more difficult where you are than where I am. …</p> <p>Also got an invitation to visit Sweden on my way back – which I think I could do very cheaply. I would like to leave Rafah with a viable plan to return, too. One of the core members of our group has to leave tomorrow – and watching her say goodbye to people is making me realize how difficult it will be. People here can’t leave, so that complicates things. They also are pretty matter-of-fact about the fact that they don’t know if they will be alive when we come back here.</p> <p>I really don’t want to live with a lot of guilt about this place – being able to come and go so easily – and not going back. I think it is valuable to make commitments to places – so I would like to be able to plan on coming back here within a year or so. Of all of these possibilities I think it’s most likely that I will at least go to Sweden for a few weeks on my way back – I can change tickets and get a plane to from Paris to Sweden and back for a total of around 150 bucks or so. … Let me know if you have any ideas about what I should do with the rest of my life</p> </blockquote> <p>As the cruelty of the Israeli military occupation increases, and internationals find it increasingly difficult to travel to the Occupied Palestinian Territories because the Israeli government denies them entry, Corrie’s words remind us that Palestinian resistance ultimately does not rely on outsiders.&nbsp; And, that like Corrie’s father, internationals can undertake much of that resistance in their home countries and communities.&nbsp; Corrie’s words also remind us that while internationals can seriously commit themselves to the cause of Palestinian liberation, they do not have to take themselves so seriously.&nbsp; We do this work knowing the risks, but assuming there is a future. &nbsp;And that even if we cannot envision the change that is going to occur, we know that something&nbsp;will change.</p> </div> <div> <div>Categories</div> <div> <div><a href="/taxonomy/term/1415" hreflang="en">Palestine</a></div> <div><a href="/taxonomy/term/1416" hreflang="en">al-Khalil (Hebron)</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 25 Mar 2019 15:30:52 +0000 Kathy Kern 12197 at Announcement: Development Coordinator Position Opening <span>Announcement: Development Coordinator Position Opening</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/4" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Caitlin</span></span> <span>Wed, 03/13/2019 - 16:54</span> <div><p>Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks a full-time Development Coordinator to serve as a member of our Peacemaker Corps in expanding our financial capacity and building fiscal sustainability.</p> <p>Responsibilities include creating and implementing funding strategies, providing administrative oversight, cultivating major gifts, overseeing donor acquisition and renewal, writing and managing grants, organizing events, and participating in the overall work of the Administrative Team.&nbsp; The position involves close collaboration with a development working group and includes some international travel to meetings and/or project sites.</p> <p>Candidates should demonstrate passion for cultivating donors to support our work, commitment to grow in the journey of undoing oppressions, and ability to work independently and collaboratively as part of a dispersed team across continents.&nbsp; We prefer someone with development experience and a focus on grassroots social change organizations.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>REPORTS TO: </strong>Administrative Director</p> <p><strong>TERMS: </strong>Full time, 40 hours/week, three-year appointment</p> <p><strong>COMPENSATION:</strong> $24,000/year</p> <p><strong>BENEFITS:</strong> 100% employer-paid health, dental and vision coverage; four weeks annual vacation.</p> <p><strong>LOCATION:</strong> Chicago strongly preferred.</p> <p><strong>START DATE:</strong> negotiable; position available as of August 1, 2019</p> <p><strong>TO APPLY:</strong> please submit electronically, in English, the following to <a href=""></a></p> <ul> <li>Cover letter stating motivation/reasons for interest in this position</li> <li>Résumé/CV</li> <li>A list of three references with e-mail and daytime telephone numbers</li> </ul> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>APPLICATION REVIEW BEGINS APRIL 12, 2019. See full <a href="">position description</a>.</em></strong></p> <p><em>CPT is an international, faith-based, non-profit organization that builds partnerships to transform violence and oppression.&nbsp; We seek individuals who are capable, responsible and rooted in faith/spirituality to work for peace as members of teams trained in the disciplines of nonviolence.&nbsp; We are committed to building an organization that reflects the rich diversity of the human family in ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender identity, language, national origin, race and sexual orientation.</em></p> </div> Wed, 13 Mar 2019 21:54:48 +0000 Caitlin 12194 at Borderlands: Resisting walls <span>Borderlands: Resisting walls</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/26" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kathy Kern</span></span> <span>Tue, 03/05/2019 - 10:16</span> <div><p>&nbsp;</p> <p><img alt="Normandy fence.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="720" src="/sites/default/files/Normandy%20fence.jpg" width="960" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>by Peggy Gish</p> <p>Walls take many forms. They may be words, glances, or actions that distance us from others, or physical structures that protect us from the weather or the vulnerable from further harm.&nbsp; But the walls we saw at the Arizona/Mexico border, on the Christian Peacemaker Teams borderlands delegation, were made of concrete, metal, or stone, or even from threats, meant to deprive people of their rights or shut out the tired, the poor, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free”—as the message on the Statue of Liberty says at a port of entry in the Eastern United States.</p> <p>There were walls made of steel slats decked with concertina wire. In some places it ran parallel to a second wall of layered metal mesh.&nbsp; In areas where water floods through arroyos during monsoon rains, large iron gates let the water flow through. Farther from towns were the original barbed wire fences constructed in 1880, with added razor wire, that sometimes crossed over with old railroad rails, called the “Normandy fences.” All are fortified by heavy technological surveillance.</p> <p>Ostensibly a means of security, these barriers are actually monuments to fear and racism, and an extension of U.S. colonial history, a reminder that the U.S. claimed half of Mexico’s territory after the 1846-48 war.&nbsp; They have been tools of control, keeping people of color in an inferior place and maintaining white supremacy. They cut through the lands of indigenous nations—violating their sovereignty and disrupting communities and ecosystems. Billions of tax dollars go to wealthy, private companies that build walls and run detention centers. Maria Padilla, member of the Mayo indigenous nation, and emergency room worker, reminded us that the nation-state operates as a police force on behalf of the rich—who have no border—while patriotism is expected of poor and working class, who are led to believe it’s for their benefit.</p> <p>The border wall isn’t intended to keep migrants out, only slow them down, to catch and detain them. With the increased militarization of the border area, migrants who feel desperate, but can’t cross legally, need to travel farther, into more dangerous areas to bypass detention. So they die in larger numbers, suffer more trauma, and are locked up in larger numbers for the crime of escaping desperate circumstances. Lupe Castillo, retired history professor with indigenous Hispanic heritage, termed this criminalization system “the invisible wall.”</p> <p>These are walls to tear down.</p> <p>In contrast are the many creative organizations and dedicated people along both sides of the border protesting and resisting the affects of the wall that sometimes risk their own safety by caring for and assisting migrants on their journey.&nbsp; Several cooperative businesses are creating alternatives to the economic deprivation and oppression that cause many to flee their homes.</p> <p><img alt="Butterfly mural, Carol Leland, 5-1.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="948" src="/sites/default/files/Butterfly%20mural%2C%20Carol%20Leland%2C%205-1.jpg" width="1244" /></p> <p>Also resisting the wall are brightly painted murals on it near ports of entry. They tell the truth about the wall, or “erase” it, minimizing its power, refusing to let its ugliness define what role the border should take. So butterflies depict the freedom of flight migrants should have, wall slats evolve into piano keys, and a painted open door symbolizes the alterative we must work toward.</p> <p>Members of our delegation left the border feeling an urgency to tell the truth and find creative alternatives as we work toward a more just, welcoming, and less brutal society that builds—not more militarized walls—but more doors.</p> </div> <div> <div>Categories</div> <div> <div><a href="/taxonomy/term/1396" hreflang="en">Borderlands</a></div> <div><a href="/taxonomy/term/1409" hreflang="en">Mexico</a></div> <div><a href="/taxonomy/term/1430" hreflang="en">United States</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 05 Mar 2019 16:16:40 +0000 Kathy Kern 12190 at CPT-Colombia rejects ELN violence and Colombian government response <span>CPT-Colombia rejects ELN violence and Colombian government response</span> <span><span lang="" about="/user/26" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kathy Kern</span></span> <span>Sat, 03/02/2019 - 10:49</span> <div><p><img alt="elnbombing_0.jpg" data-entity-type="" data-entity-uuid="" height="530" src="/sites/default/files/elnbombing_0.jpg" width="800" /></p> <h6>Photo: Marcos Knoblauch, CPT</h6> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>by Pierre Shantz</p> <p>On the morning of Thursday, 17 January a car bomb exploded inside the grounds of the General Santander Police Cadet Academy in Bogota killing twenty-one (including the car driver) and injuring over seventy people. &nbsp;In a declaration sent on Monday, 21 January, the National Liberation Army (Spanish acronym, “ELN”), Colombia’s largest remaining guerrilla group, claimed responsibility. It declared the attack a legitimate act of war, because the attack was carried out against a police station. &nbsp;It also justified its actions by saying that the Colombian military carried out attacks against the ELN in December. The ELN had declared a unilateral ceasefire during December as a show of good faith in advancing a negotiation process that could lead to a permanent agreement.</p> <p>Former President Juan Manuel Santos began negotiations with the ELN in February 2017, but talks have been on hold since President Ivan Duque took office in August 2018. After the attack, he ordered an immediate reinstatement of arrest warrants against the ELN commanders negotiating in Cuba, demanding that they be immediately be extradited to Colombia. &nbsp;The U.N. publicly condemned the 17 January attack but encouraged the government to continue negotiating towards a political solution to end the war.</p> <p>Colombia has been living in a state of tense calm for the past two years as everyone has been waiting to see if peace would come through the agreements signed in December 2016 between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Spanish acronym, “FARC”). &nbsp;President Duque won the election last year partly based on his opposition to the agreement signed by former president Santos, because from his perspective the agreements were too soft on terrorists. This recent attack by the ELN has given him strong ammunition to do what he wanted to do since he took office: end the talks with the ELN that began with the former government.</p> <p>CPT Colombia rejects this act of violence just as we reject all acts of violence, whether it comes from the ELN who justifies its violence within the rules of war or from the government that&nbsp;justifies its violence in the name of fighting terrorism. The loss of life and the lasting emotional and physical trauma these violent actions have on society cripple the path for peace.</p> <p>Amongst those who believe that peace is achieved through dialogue and justice for everyone, many fear that the ELN’s attack on the police academy and Duque’s response of ending negotiations will send Colombia back to a time of intensified armed conflict.</p> <p>Colombia’s social, economic, cultural and armed conflict will not be solved with the laying down of the guerrilla groups’ weapons. There are other illegal armed actors including, right wing paramilitary structures that continue to intimidate society. Over 100 community and human rights leaders have been assassinated since President Duque took office in August last year. The agreements signed with the FARC in 2016 had succeeded in a small way to open the conversation around the root causes of the conflict such as land distribution, education, health, serious corruption etc. Unfortunately the bombing on 17 January gave President Duque and those who would like to shift the conversations back to war the fuel to do so.</p> <p>The political climate is tense, yet in spite of all the obstacles and varied opinions on how to achieve peace, on 21 January thousands of people marched across the country calling for an end to violence. Let us hope that those who wish to continue on the path of war hear this message.</p> </div> <div> <div>Categories</div> <div> <div><a href="/taxonomy/term/1399" hreflang="en">Colombia</a></div> </div> </div> Sat, 02 Mar 2019 16:49:31 +0000 Kathy Kern 12189 at