6 January, 2014
EUROPE: A bold new step for CPT in Europe
by Marius van Hoogstraten
Alihas made the perilous journey to Europe twice. After the
first time, when he was only in his teens, he was deported back to Afghanistan
– where he knew nobody, since he grew up as a refugee in Iran. He resolved to
come back to Europe, and this time to stand up for his human right to stay.
During the third annual European CPT Convergence in Malmö,
Sweden, in May 2013, Ali, now in his mid-twenties, invited CPTers and
supporters to join him in solidarity. He announced that refugees in Sweden were
organizing a one-month protest march to demand fair treatment and the right to
build their lives without the threat of deportation. He invited CPT to
accompany the march. Although it was short notice, several reservists were able
to respond to this call.
The systematic closure and militarization of Europe’s borders
with its neighbors in recent years contrast sharply with the European Union’s
(EU) rhetoric of democracy and universal human rights.
Thousands of refugees have died along EU borders in recent
years. Miles of barbed wire and military-style border controls are forcing
migrants to take the most dangerous routes—crossing the Mediterranean Sea or
the narrow straits between Greece and Turkey. Those who make it face racism,
violence, institutional incompetence, and frequently confinement or
CPTers in Europe are responding to this crisis. Work has started
on an initial exploratory
delegation to the Greek-Turkish border to meet with refugees, civil society
organizations and activists, build relationships and develop an understanding
of the situation.
This is a bold new step for CPT in Europe. The April 2014
delegation is a serious expansion of CPT’s involvement with this humanitarian
crisis and its work in Europe.
This is a bold new step for CPT in Europe. It comes after a
steady build-up of momentum in the EU, beginning with the first European CPT
training (London, UK) in 2009, annual Convergences since 2011 and the creation
of a part-time position of Europe CPT Outreach Worker in July 2013.
CPT’s institutional growth in Europe is reflected in rising
numbers of delegates, trainees, interns and Corps members from Great Britain,
the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Czech Republic, Italy and
Our work in Europe is made possible by a strong partnership with
the German Mennonite Peace Committee, but ultimately depends on the prayers,
donations and participation of congregations and individuals who wish to
support CPT’s work of building partnerships to transform oppression and
Here’s how you can get involved:
- Pray for the thousands of refugees on Europe’s
borders, and for our emerging solidarity work.
- Consider making a donation to support our 2014
exploratory delegation to Greece and our continuing partnerships in Colombia,
Palestine, Iraqi Kurdistan and the Aboriginal Justice Team.
- Consider asking your congregation to send a
delegate to one of our field teams, a way to participate directly in CPT’s