Reflections

COLOMBIA PUBLIC WITNESS REFLECTION: Killing social leaders is massacring hope

CPTnet
17 February 2017
COLOMBIA PUBLIC WITNESS REFLECTION: Killing social leaders is massacring hope

by Salvador Castro 

Colombia is a country of diverse realities and of melancholic complexities, a place where violence has become a daily bread and the claws of criminal death constantly obscure the way. But, as an oasis in the desert, there exist men and women who refresh hopes and revive dignity and ability to smile again. 

These women and men emerge from communities that are tired of suffering, and being strongly and deeply rooted in the territory, they nourish joys and breathe a desire for freedom. These men and women with their strength and solidarity make the empire tremble, an empire that sends its jackals to devour us.

Salvador reading names of Social Leaders who have been killed

We, members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), came together from different parts of the world as people of nonviolence to march and stand in act of solidarity and brotherhood with those 123 leaders who had been killed in the last year. With their lives and actions, these social leaders built paths of day-to-day peace. However, their steps were removed from the path, their voices silenced, their roots cut out and their lights extinguished.

But even when hope is weak it is difficult to kill it.

COLOMBIA PUBLIC WITNESS REFLECTION: Memory is resistance

CPTnet
10 February 2017
COLOMBIA PUBLIC WITNESS REFLECTION: Memory is resistance

 by Katherine Crosby

 

“In spite of all the persecution, today we are still here.”

                      ~ A Social Leader in Colombia

 

Our team arrived in Bogotá and has set up with cameras, hats, banners, drums, and megaphone. We begin our march toward the plaza at the center of the city. I am holding one side of a banner that reaches from above my head down to the ground; it stretches across about three feet to my companion holding the other side. I pause to examine the Colombia shaped black silhouette painted across the fabric. Inside of the map are several white dots of varying sizes, each placed in a different one of Colombia’s departments or provinces. The bold, black number on each dot represents how many social leaders and human rights defenders have been killed in each department since the beginning of 2016: 123 in total.

CPTers stand with a banner: Silencio es violencia

For the past three weeks, our group has been in Colombia as trainees with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT).

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: Call for solidarity from Standing Rock across different communities

CPTnet

19 December 2016

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY: Call for solidarity from Standing Rock across different communities

by John Bergen

I first learned about CPT as a young child, when a member of my church joined a delegation to Palestine. This was the late 90s, and CPT was standing alongside Palestinians facing home demolitions (the Campaign for Secure Dwellings). I didn't fully understand why Israeli military forces were demolishing people's homes and taking their land but instinctively I knew that it was wrong.

Fast forward almost twenty years, and CPT continues to stand alongside people’s movements to protect community, water, and land. After I graduated from high school, I went on my own CPT delegation (to Grassy Narrows) and eventually trained with CPT and served with the teams in Kurdistan and Palestine.

People Gathering in Oceti Sakowin Camp

Photo published by Oceti Sakowin camp website. (©Toni Cervantes)

COLOMBIA REFLECTION: I love God


CPTnet
18 December 2016
COLOMBIA REFLECTION: I love God.

by Jhon Henry

There is nothing more liberating than saying I love God, because by God’s love I am able to understand the struggles of my sisters and brothers, through God’s love it is possible to understand that my commitment as a Christian is to transform the world into a more just place where all can have a place in which to live, a just world for me, for you, for us, for all.

Man from Las Pavas collects firewood

A man from Las Pavas collects firewood for community members who take nightly shifts to guard their crops from attacks by palm oil company, Aportes San Isidro’s private security. (Caldwell Manners/CPT)


MEDITERRANEAN REFLECTION: Being the sidekick


This year seems to be a quiet one in Pikpa. No “masses of refugees flooding” the island of Lesbos, no extra ferries to bring them to Athens, no more riots in the humiliating, overcrowded and dignity-depriving camp of Moria. Instead, there’s a big colorful painting on the main building of Pikpa, an organized schedule for volunteers and voluntourists. Women do their daily washing; kids and men help with the gardening and the lifeguards run a swimming program called “reconciliation with the sea.”

So what else is there to do for an organization like CPT you ask? This question, along with the admiration I receive from some for being “brave” to go into crisis and conflict regions leads me to think that I have some explaining to do.

MEDITERRANEAN REFLECTION: Refugee--the human face of God

When I arrived in Mytilene International Airport Lesvos Greece on 10 July, the city center and the entire island of Lesvos were not new for me. Similarities between what could be considered a Philippine tourist destination spot and the culture of Lesvos can be noticed through the architecture, scenery, weather, urban planning, stony seabed and beautiful mountains. In short, Lesvos is a holiday paradise. The street acts as such: crazy lorry drivers, ending lanes, racing cars and reasonably easy public transport—it felt like home to me. 

However, my main reason for visiting the island was to assist in the work of the Christian Peacemaker Teams Mediterranean project (CPT). Since the war in Syria and Iraq, Greece—and specifically Lesvos—has been the frontline of the refugee crises. Lesvos and the Aegean Sea coast near Turkey are the main focal points for the massive wave of refugees from different countries (Syrians, Iraqis, Pakistanis, etc.) entering the EU. After the EU-Turkey deal (March 20) everything has changed. Presently, many describe Lesvos as two worlds colliding: where holiday paradise and refugee crisis converge. 


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

CPTnet
March 19, 2016
BORDERLANDS DELEGATION: “Doing 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.

IRAQI KURDISTAN: "We're sleeping on oil, yet freezing to death"

CPTnet
16 February 2016
IRAQI KURDISTAN: "We're sleeping on oil, yet freezing to death"

Child places flowers in a lake in to remember the 65 people who  died in the Aegean Sea on Jan 22nd 2016
Child places flowers in a lake in to remember the 65 people who
 died in the Aegean Sea on Jan 22nd 2016

"We're sleeping on oil yet freezing to death" is how one Kurdish man summed up the political climate here in Iraqi Kurdistan. War, dropping oil prices, corruption and mismanagement of government funds have led to a financial crisis. As a result, government workers, making up over half of the population, have not been paid in six months. 

CPTer  Muhammad, a fifth grade teacher, had worked without pay for over five months.  For the past month, along with the other school teachers, he has been on strike.  Almost daily, instead of going to the school, Muhammad stops by the CPT house and gives  the latest news about the strikes.

1 Corinthians 13 for CPTers

 

CPTnet
2 February 2016
CPT INTERNATIONAL: I Corinthians 13 for CPTers

by Peter Haresnape

1 Corinthians 13 for CPTers

If I speak about courage and justice, and siding with the oppressed, and speaking truth to power no matter the cost, but do not speak about love... I am just a loudmouth orator, a white saviour, a shameless self-promoter.

If I am excellent at nonviolent communication, and I take great pictures, and I know all the latest anti-oppressive lingo, and I can analyse racist systems so as to dismantle them entirely, but have not love, I am nothing.

If I fully embrace the work of prophet and activist and martyr, and get dragged away by the riot police or bombed by the military of my own country, but have not love, that is no use to anyone.

Love is patient. Love survives evil, war, oppression. It remains when the teargas clears and the children go back to school. It is still there when the water is protected. Love is kind, not arrogant, not insisting on its own way, but making space for joy and truth even in the hardest circumstance.

Whether it is love between two people, or love of a person for their community, or love of a community for its land, or love of justice and peace and equity, love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

Clever words will be forgotten. The most interesting facts are subject to revision. The best sermon you've ever heard – you will forget. Right now, everything we do is flawed and inaccurate. But. One day we'll experience Truth with a Capital T. And then all this will be unnecessary.

Before I was mature, I was immature. In becoming mature, I left behind ways of speaking, thinking and reasoning that were immature.

Right now we're hearing murmurs, reading translations, seeing shadows on the wall, but one day we'll see face-to-face.

Right now, half of the time I'm guessing, but one day I will know beyond all doubt – and I will be fully known.

What remains when it is all stripped away is three things:
Faith that the flawed world as we see it is not all that there is;
Hope that the next generation will live in a better world;
and Love to give us the strength and motivation to build it.

The greatest of these is Love.

 Peter Haresnape

Want to feel the love, show the love, be the love for CPTers struggling find the best way to personify love in their own work?http://www.cpt.org/participate/donate

INDIGENOUS PEOPLES SOLIDARITY REFLECTION: Who is your king? Romans 13:1-7 and resisting the TPP

 

Photo courtesy CPT-Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Team. November 2015. CPTers Carrie Peters and Charles Wright were part of a CPT presence that accompanied 
and supported Haudenosaunee hunters who conducted a deer harvest in the land now known as Short Hills provincial park, in the face of protest and harassment. 
The team joined a local coalition to support the hunters and honor the treaties.

In November 2011, President Obama with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon began a publicity campaign describing how the United States would “pivot” towards Asia. With the pivot emerged a secretly negotiated trade pact, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”). 

Although called a “free trade” agreement, the TPP is not solely about trade. Of the 29 draft chapters, only five deal with garden variety trade issues. The TPP is actually a grave threat to the planet because it undermines climate change measures and authorizes de-regulation of mining, land use, and biotechnology.  Alarmingly, the TPP intellectual property chapter also provides international legal protections for corporate patents on plant and animal life, granting companies ownership and sole access to all of creation. 

While most of the U.S. coverage about the TPP analyzes overall implications for ‘every day working Americans,’ with a dash of environmental vignettes, another significant aspect needs to be addressed and highlighted: TPP’s detrimental impact on First Peoples and indigenous communities located within each nation state, its continuation of the European history of conquest and exploitation.