CPT INTERNATIONAL: On Tour with Uncle Sam in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand

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CPTnet
9 April 2015
CPT INTERNATIONAL: On Tour with Uncle Sam in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand

Sarah
Thompson, Christian Peacemaker Teams Executive Director

 
  CPT Executive Director Sarah Thompson
speaking in Australia

Different
countries do taxes in different ways.  All of February and March I was in
Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand.  The taxes are high there, but these
countries are famous for their affordable medicine, free university education,
and egalitarian policies among settlers (compulsory voting, mandatory school
uniforms).  I’ve heard people in the U.S. make fun of places with social
programs like these, but in those months I witnessed the immensely positive
impact of social policy that puts the common good of all over the private power
of a few.

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Consider the impact of your dollars this tax season and make contribution to CPT. How about $29? $1 for every year since CPT’s founding.

However,
the gap between what is realistically available for settlers of European origin
countries in comparison to what is available to recent non-European immigrants and
Aboriginal Australians and the Maori of Aotearoa is huge.  The brutal
Euro-colonial histories, ongoing dispossessions, and overall disregard for
cultural devastation wrought by industrial society to the indigenous of these
lands are stories that loom large in the sub-conscious of these nations.
 The best work I saw going on in these countries was grassroots, conducted
by people deeply aware of the open wounds of racism, Christian hegemony, and
extractive economics. Activists involved with mobilizations to support
refugees, challenge ecological destruction, and celebrate all families are
aware of the paradoxes inherent in these societies.

These
mobilizations are part of a larger movement for justice in this region of the
Pacific, where Australia and New Zealand are dominant actors. These are
difficult and dangerous days for anti-imperial activists living there.
 There are five trained CPTers here and dozens of former delegates, and
many of them are involved in work that reduces militarization, questions
consumption, and makes more space for those on the margins of society.
 They invited me to their home region of Oceania in order that I might
learn from this context.  This will help CPT be a healthier global
organization and challenge our own Samcentrism. [1]

The
United States, England, and more broadly Europe have a powerful impact on the
psyche of the Australians and Kiwis.   This impact is not just
cultural, but most significantly, in the area of militarism.

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As the U.S. exports our culture of military violence, let’s export peacemaking through CPT. Consider a contribution now.

This
year, New Zealand’s military spending increased by 14% and there were no
substantial increases in the area of health and human services.  You can learn more here. Privatization has
cornered more and more of the market. New Zealand just deployed troops to Iraq.
New Zealand-based CPT Reservist Harmeet Sooden, who was held hostage in Iraq as
a CPT delegate for four months, is back on team with
CPT Iraqi Kurdistan
partially because of this deployment.

Australia
has loaned a number of its bases to the United States, and like the U.S. trains
soldiers at the School of the Americas, Australia has trained infamous brigades
such as Detachment 88, which are responsible for repression in West Papua. Read
more about peacemaking in West
Papua here
.

The
people of Aotearoa/New Zealand and Australia are today facing a crisis. The U.S.
has exported a model of governance that privileges military power and security
over human need. This type of governance is based on fear and the protection of
a consumer-based way of life. Here in the southern hemisphere, fear is
increasingly palpable, and though taxes are still high, more is being allocated
to weapons production, military exercises, and prison/detention centres.

Thank
you for redistributing your resources in order to resist Samcentrism and the export
and import of militarism.  Your support of CPT enables movement-building
trips like my speaking/learning tour, and delegates from all over the world to
come together to find ways of connecting across the oceans…working together
with people in the Pacific to build partnerships that transform the violence
and oppression we all feel. 

[1] Samcentrism
is a term coined in a CPT mini-training workshop in Concepción, Chile with
Chilean Anabaptists.  It is a more specific term than the word
Amerocentrism, which I used to use to denote an orientation toward U.S.
American ways of thinking.

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