Back to the top
PHOTO: "CPT-Colombia team members travel by dugout canoe. Left to Right: Pierre Shantz, Ben Horst, local boat driver, Matt Schaaf, Scott Kerr."
Under the banner "One Day and Night Without Violence,” members of CPT-Colombia held a 24-hour vigil on August 28 in a port area of Barrancabermeja (known as Barranca), the site of four murders in the previous three weeks and fifteen deaths over the past year. Echoing the call of farmers and villagers in the region, CPT urged security forces (police and Navy) to maintain a more visible presence in the port.
Increasingly, paramilitary forces use the port area to target civilians, including motorists who transport food and medicines to rural areas. The violence also threatens local farmers who depend on the port for buying and trading goods.
Team members, joined by local religious leaders and human rights workers, prayed and sang every four hours. A passing street merchant stopped to share with the vigilers, but unable to voice his thoughts, could only speak with tears.
That same port served as the starting point for an October 13 “Pilgrimage of Pardon and Reconciliation.” CPTers joined a group of about 30 Protestant pastors, church members and community residents in an ecumenical peace procession to sites of violence in six neighborhoods of the city. At each stop they prayed for repentance and restoration, sang songs of praise and unification, and offered prophetic calls for peace.
"We are called to be ambassadors of Christ, and to care for this world," one pastor declared. "Peace is only possible when Christ enters the hearts of the people,” added another.
CPT-Colombia team members August through October were: Pierre Gingerich (Minneapolis, MN), Ben Horst (Evanston, IL), Jonathan Horst (Mt. Joy, PA), Scott Kerr (Downers Grove, IL), Erin Kindy (N. Manchester, IN), William Payne (Toronto, ON), Matt Schaaf (Winnipeg, MB), Pierre Shantz (Waterloo, ON), Gene Stoltzfus (Chicago, IL), and Jacobus Vroon (Vancourver, BC). Back to the top
by Pierre Shantz
Pierre Shantz has worked with CPT since 1997 in Haiti, Hebron, Chiapas, Esgenoôpetitj and currently serves in Colombia. We share excerpts from a letter to his friends and family.
Colombia is the first project where I have felt that if CPTers are not physically present accompanying the people, they will be killed.
Last week was particularly hard for me because teammate Jonathan Horst and I found pieces of a body floating down the river. First we found half of a man’s torso with half his arm. Further down river we found the pelvis, no legs and cut off at the belly button. This is typical of paramilitary killing.
We called the Colombian Navy to come and get the body parts. They sent someone out but he did not come with the proper equipment. So the body was secured to the shore and we were asked to return the next day to show the Navy personnel exactly where we had found the floating parts.
The next day when the authorities finally arrived (we waited 4 hours for them), one of the agents asked me to put on some gloves and give them a hand. The agent kept trying to put the body part into the bag with a canoe paddle, but it kept falling back into the water. Finally I just grabbed it and threw it into the bag. We then went to get the second piece.
People whom the paramilitaries identify as collaborators are killed and often end up floating down river in pieces like the ones we found.Back to the top
PHOTO: "CPTer Scott Kerr examines yucca destroyed by U.S. supported fumigation while the plants used to make cocaine flourish in the background."
"The planes come here to kill the coca plants, but look, the coca lives and the yucca rots," said Pedro, describing the fumigations that are being conducted under the U.S.'s Plan Colombia. CPTers Scott Kerr, Matt Schaaf, Pierre Shantz, and director Gene Stoltzfus traveled several hours west of CPT's home base in Barranca to visit recently fumigates communities in the Cimitarra Valley. There the team saw acres of wilting banana plants and rotting yucca in the same fields where coca plants flourish.
The coca plants are resistant to the U.S._manufactured herbicide mixture used in fumigations. "The farmers’ food is being destroyed, leaving them only coca to sell," explained Manuel, a community leader. The fumigation also causes skin rashes, stomach problems and other ailments. The community is very concerned about possible birth defects in future generations.
Stoltzfus has seen this before. "They did the same thing in Viet Nam, dropping Agent Orange on the jungle to kill the undergrowth, and it caused a lot of sickness and suffering there, too," he said.
In the Cimitarra Valley, the U.S. and Colombian governments have targeted small farmers with the fumigations. Alongside the planes carrying the chemicals, helicopters often strafe the hillsides with gunfire, forcing the community to flee in fear. People in Cimitarra believe that the U.S. and Colombian governments are using the “war on drugs” as a pretext to further militarize the area and drive out the rebels of FARC (Colombia's largest guerilla group) and its supporters. They cite as evidence that large coca plantations in the south of Colombia remain untouched by the fumigators. That zone is under the control, not of guerillas, but of right_wing paramilitary groups.
Back to the top
PHOTO: "Abejas women lead the way home."
Since August 28, over 1300 members of the pacifist Christian group Las Abejas (the Bees) have returned to their home communities in the highland county of Chenalhó after almost four years of displacement because of paramilitary violence. The last group returned October 22.
Refugees left temporary shelters in X’oyep, Acteal, Tzajalchen and Don Bosco (near San Cristóbal) and returned to the villages of Puebla, Yaxjemel, Chuchtic, Los Chorros, Canolal, Tzajalhucum, Centro Quextic, Poblado Quextic, and Acteal Alto.
Carrying a banner that read, “We Return Without Justice,” members of the Abejas stated clearly their intention to go home despite the fact that paramilitary groups in those communities remain armed. CPTers participated in the returns and maintain a regular presence in the still-divided communities.
A number of Abejas families say they will probably never return home – some because their high profile places them at greater risk; others will remain permanently in Acteal where their family members killed in the December 1997 massacre are buried. There are still more than 6,000 displaced people (not members of the Abejas) living in makeshift camps, mostly in the Zapatista autonomous community of Polhó.
CPT-Chiapas team members August through October were: Kryss Chupp (Chicago, IL), Rusty Dinkens-Curling (Roanoke, VA), Karis Engle (Belle Glade, FL), Angela Freeman (Kitchener, ON), Matt Guynn (Richmond, IN), Bob Holmes (Toronto, ON), Cliff Kindy (N. Manchester, IN), Frank Moore (Brownsville, TX), Paul Neufeld Weaver (Worthington, MN), Charles and Carol Spring (Menlo Park, CA), Lynn Stoltzfus (Harrisonburg, VA), Shirley Way (Wallingford, PA), and Keith Young (Kalamazoo, MI).Back to the top
From the Civil Society of Las Abejas, Chenalhó, Chiapas, Mexico, to Christian Peacemaker Teams; September 13, 2001:
From the corner of the highlands of Chiapas, we give infinite thanks for your presence during the days that you were with us, the recently returned Abejas, in our home communities. Thank you that you came to console and heal our hearts wounded by the low intensity war, displaced three years and eight months because of threats from paramilitary groups in 1997. We ask that you do not forget us in your hearts because the situation is still not resolved in our county. Your presence is very important for us. God will bless you for your time and your weariness because we have nothing with which to repay you.Back to the top
by Cliff Kindy
On September 30, two hundred members of Las Abejas left the refugee community of X'oyep and returned to their home village of Los Chorros, a center of paramilitary activity. Over 1000 people, including Red Cross volunteers, church leaders, human rights workers, five CPTers and other Abejas members accompanied the returning refugees during the six hour procession to the Catholic Church in Los Chorros.
In November 2000, armed security forces mounted an operation to remove the guns still being held by paramilitaries in Los Chorros. Angry townspeople with stones, shouts and shots drove off the Federal police. Less than a year later and exactly one week before municipal elections, typically characterized by fraud and violence, the Abejas entered the village with songs instead of guns, with prayer instead of force.
The return of the Abejas was not a signal that "all is well" in Chiapas. Rather, it was a bold step of active nonviolence on the part of pacifist Christians. Many Abejas, when asked why they would risk going home knowing that the paramilitaries still have guns gave several reasons. First, conditions in the refugee camps had grown intolerable. But mostly they wanted to be home for the vote. They wanted to see firsthand that there was no cheating. They believed that a victory by their candidate for municipal president (mayor), Abejas leader José Vásquez, would help bring about conditions for justice and lasting peace in Chenalhó. They also wanted to be in a position to offer eyewitness testimony about paramilitary activity and the presence of weapons in their communities – a charge that federal officials deny.Back to the top
Municipal elections in Chenalhó, Chiapas took place on October 7 with no reports of violence or fraud. The PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party that dominated Mexican politics for 70 years) won the election, defeating opposition coalition candidate and Abejas leader, José Vásquez, who took 33% of the vote. Some 10,000 Zapatista supporters, representing about 1/3 of the municipality’s population, did not participate in the elections – a decision consistent with their identity as an Autonomous Community which does not recognize the authority of Chenalhó.Back to the top
by Matt Guynn
"He's one of the people who drove us from our home," said our Abejas host referring to the energetic thirty_something man we CPTers had met on the Puebla basketball court. He had approached us, chatted for a while and then invited us to visit his home. Our Abejas host decided to join us for the meeting.
The next morning we arrived at the home of the alleged paramilitary. He offered us refreshments, then we talked about coffee prices, about his family, and finally about the 1997 conflict that tore this community of 250 families apart. "We strayed from the path,” he said. “We need to find our way again so that we can move together toward the kingdom of God."
The conversation turned to scripture and the Biblical instructions about right living. "Which of these commandments do you find hardest to follow?" I asked. Without missing a beat, he answered, "Loving my neighbor."
"Some of us are repenting now," he shared, and turned to our Abejas companion. "I haven't talked to you in years,” he said. “We strayed from the path here in Puebla."
I asked if we could pray together, CPTers with Abejas with paramilitary. We stood in a circle and prayed aloud. Afterwards, a guitar emerged and we all sang praise songs together for forty_five minutes, complete with harmony.
When we left, our Abejas host confided that he had never been in this paramilitary neighbor’s home before. "I believe what he said about repenting," he nodded.
May we take hope from this member of the Abejas willing to pray and sing with his former persecutor.
Back to the top
Back to the top
Shortly after the U.S. began bombing Afghanistan on October 7 in retaliation for the September 11 attacks, CPT released a “Statement of Conviction” reaffirming our commitment to nonviolence and our refusal to accept violent vengeance in our name. More than 50 persons involved in CPT’s violence-reduction work participated in the formation of this statement. It arose out of our common experience in numerous conflict settings around the world where we frequently encounter raw feelings of anger towards the U.S. because of its misuse of power. Our choice to name former political leaders Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger and others, whom massive numbers of people around the world hold responsible for acts of state terrorism, evoked considerable response. Our intention was not to single out these few as “the worst,” but to try and “level the playing field” so that discussions of terrorism might reflect the convictions of people world wide, especially those in places such as Palestine and Colombia where CPT currently works. We invite you to join this ongoing discussion (see DIALOGUE, p.8-9).
Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) commends this "Statement of Conviction" to churches for study, reflection and action. CPT encourages congregations and groups to adapt this statement and publicize it through media outlets in your local communities.
The deaths of four Afghan employees of the United Nations by a U.S. cruise missile on October 9 illustrates that war always kills civilians regardless of the stated aims of governments.
The acts of terror that killed thousands of people in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 will not be set right by bombing Kabul or any other city. Bombings with the official authorization of western governments are also acts of terror.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we believe that we must choose the nonviolent way of the cross in these dangerous times. If we or our loved ones are attacked, injured or killed by acts of terror, we forbid our governments to retaliate in our names. We believe that our lives are no more important or valuable in God's eyes than the lives of Afghans, Arabs, Colombians, Sudanese, Mexicans, Angolans, East Timorese, Aboriginal peoples and others.
We maintain that those responsible for the September 11 attacks must be held accountable for their crimes through internationally recognized nonviolent means.
We also maintain that other leaders who have used their positions of power to design, order or commit acts of terror that have killed millions of civilians throughout the world must be held accountable for their crimes, including Henry Kissinger (Cambodia, Viet Nam), Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (Gaza, West Bank, Lebanon), former Indonesian President Suharto (East Timor), former U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan (contra war against Nicaragua) and Bill Clinton (Iraq). The list goes on.
We are praying for our leaders to show wisdom and compassion as they seek to respond to the calamities of September 11. We appreciate President Bush's assertions that our quarrel is not with the Arab world or with Islam, but we believe these assertions will ring hollow with Arabs or Muslims who will die or suffer the loss of their human rights as a result of our current foreign policy.
We intend to continue resisting any foreign policy that results in the death or exploitation of human beings, whatever their nationality. Again, we are putting our country on notice today that it does not have our permission to go to war in our names.
CPT invites local churches to:
Meeting in Harrisonburg, VA on the 12th day of the U.S. and British bombing in Afghanistan, CPT’s Steering Committee approved a policy encouraging war tax resistance among its constituents. Citing its mission to find nonviolent alternatives to war and to enlist the whole church in conscientious objection to war, CPT agreed to “engage in war tax resistance and support the war tax resistance practices of its employees.” In response to any government attempts to seize resisted war taxes, CPT vowed to “make every reasonable and creative attempt to appeal and resist such seizure.”
Participants in the meeting also raised concerns regarding the U.S. administration's withdrawal of approximately $20 billion from the Social Security Trust Fund to finance the U.S. war in Afghanistan.
In other business, Steering Committee members discussed the possibility of sending an emergency delegation of experienced CPTers to Afghanistan; organizing monthly delegations to Israel/Palestine in collaboration with other church agencies; and exploring wider ecumenical sponsorship of CPT.Back to the top
If you choose to spend money on gifts to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, consider whether those gifts are consistent with Christ’s message of love for enemies, mercy, and kindness. Content descriptors on the packaging of many popular video games deemed suitable for 13-year-olds, include “Violence” and “Blood and Gore” – defined as “depictions of mutilation or dismemberment of body parts.”
CPT’s “Violence is not Child’s Play: 500 Churches for Change” campaign invites churches and meetings across North America to challenge local toy and video game retailers marketing violence as entertainment to children and youth. An organizing packet offers step-by-step guides for planning local toy store inspections and bring community-wide attention to harmful marketing practices. Contact Kathy Railsback: 208-672-1441;firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back to the top
In Dialogue, we lift exchanges from CPT.D, an open e-mail discussion of CPT’s work. In this issue, we share a small smattering from the deluge of responses to CPT’s Statement of Conviction Regarding the “War on Terrorism.”
Ron Mock, Newberg, OR: This is an exceptionally foolish statement. It fails to recognize crucial distinctions among many of the actions condemned as if they were all the same. The September 11 attack was aimed at civilians, and was restrained in its destructiveness only by the limits of the terrorists' powers. Is it true that CPT cannot distinguish between this kind of intent and method and the other actions listed, none of which show this level of malice? And is it true that CPT cannot distinguish among those “other actions?” Was bombing Cambodia the same as funding the Contras? If Contra violence was terrorism, why wasn't Sandinista violence terrorism? Or why isn't Hamas or Hezbollah violence on the list? If sanctions against Iraq are terrorism, why isn't invading Kuwait?
Kathleen Kern, CPTer, Webster, NY: Kissinger et. al. had the capability to kill more than 70,000 people and they did in order to achieve their political objectives. Do you think Cambodian and Vietnamese children felt any less pain and terror when bombs and napalm were dropped on them than our fellow citizens in the WTC did? Do you think Salvadoran mothers who found their children decapitated by the side of the road felt any less pain and terror than the families in New York who have had to go contribute DNA samples so that they can claim the small morsels of flesh that remain of their loved ones?
Randy Pankratz, Newton, KS: Rhetoric such as that contained in this statement tends to undermine the peace position of the church. It seems unhelpful and inaccurate to label Clinton, Kissinger, Sharon, and Reagan as terrorists. If we appear to equate these leaders with Osama bin Laden, we are guaranteed to marginalize ourselves and our message. I respect and admire the work CPT has done in the Middle East and elsewhere. But this is a time to be respectful of and sensitive to the enormous gravity of the crime that has been committed against the victims in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
Rusty Dinkins_Curling, CPT Mexico: The difference between Henry Kissinger, Ariel Sharon, Suharto, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and a terrorist like Bin Laden is that they were holding a public office with a recognized government when they committed their crimes. Does holding public office make it any less a crime? Actually it might make it more so. These people have much more at their disposal to solve problems, to make their voices heard in the world than do "terrorists" like Bin Laden. It is partly in response to the terror of the "civilized" world that many in the "third" world turn to acts of terror. No one will listen to them until they do. Does this make terror OK? No way! But I hope we will look closely at ourselves in these days, ask why some people are driven to acts of terror, and start calling the "official" terrorists to account for what they have done.
J. Lamar Freed, Philadelphia, PA: While in many ways I agree with the statement, the tone is inconsistent with the message. It is inflammatory and I would not bring it up to my congregation without a total rewrite. We do ourselves no favors when we alienate those who are still listening to us.
Thom Saffold, Ann Arbor, MI: If our generation is going to stand up as followers of Jesus the Christ, we not only need strong moral statements like CPT’s, but people who are willing to incarnate such statements and take meaningful action to resist the current "powers and principalities" that emanate not only from Al Quida's training camps, but much more so from U.S. policies.
Sue Wheeler, Lansing, MI: I find it annoying that American presidents are painted as worse terrorists than Saddam Hussein or Yasser Arafat. This is entirely absurd, in spite of the most poignant eye_witness reports. The typical response is "CPT does not condone violence in any form." Still, I have yet to hear a CPTer condemn a Muslim or Communist tyrant the way they do Westerners.
Jerry Stein, Nazareth, TX: At first I thought the mention of names of leaders to be held accountable was too inciting, but now I think it's the right amount of nonviolent power that needs to be expressed at this time of strong feelings.
Frank Moore, CPT Reservist, Brownsville, TX: Thanks in part to our heritage of being "the quiet in the land," North American Anabaptists seem to think we can't raise our voices in anger, and we ought not label heads of states as the terrorists they are. You're right that harsh rhetoric sometimes inflames the anger of our opponents, and that doesn't look like a constructive step toward peacemaking. If we could stop the killing by being polite or silent, let's shut up. Otherwise, let's keep calling terrorism terrorism.
John Stoner - CPT Steering Committee Chair, Akron, PA: As a U.S. citizen, I confess that I am embarrassed that CPT speaks so timidly about the sin we are facing in this very country. CPT has evoked distress by saying some things which upset some people. Jesus offended people and taught that his followers would offend people, be persecuted and killed. I keep trying to figure out why Jesus got into trouble for speaking his truth, expected us to get into trouble too, yet we don't expect to get into trouble.
CPT Friend, Haiti: The head of the well-known terrorist organization, FRAPH – organized, funded and armed by the CIA – is now being harbored in Queens, NY (see CBS 60 Minutes interview with Emmanuel Constant). The U.S. government refuses to extradite him. Should Haiti bombard Queens? Should Haiti declare war on France, Portugal, and Spain for over 300 years of terror?Back to the top
by Anita Fast
October 5 – Before the sun had risen above the Hebron hills, a series of explosions split the sky. Helicopters circled. Tanks rumbled down the streets. From the Palestinian neighborhood of Abu Sneineh, the deep roar of walls collapsing in on themselves echoed across the Old City where the CPT apartment is located.
When morning arrived, the events of the night became clear. The Israeli military had occupied Abu Sneineh, previously a Palestinian Authority_controlled Hebron neighborhood, killing six Palestinians and wounding at least seventy others. Hospitals were crowded with the wounded. A number of homes were demolished, others were taken over by soldiers to provide lookout and shooting posts for the Israeli army. At least twenty tanks did the job.
CPTers Greg Rollins, LeAnne Clausen and I walked up into the Abu Sneineh neighborhood, passing squashed cars and crumbled walls which had been destroyed by tanks making their way through the narrow streets.
A tank sat in the yard of a Palestinian boys’ school and an Israeli flag flew from its roof. Several women approached us, distraught because soldiers had taken two young men from their home that morning and were apparently holding them in the school. They wanted our help to find out if the boys were ok.
We tried to enter the school but several soldiers stopped us at the doorway and refused to let us see those inside. They assured us that the Palestinians were fine and would be released “in a few hours.” "We aren't terrorists, they won't be tortured," said one soldier. Our repeated pleas to see the young men fell on deaf ears.
We placed a few phone calls to people who could pressure the Hebron commander to let the boys go, then went on up the hill towards another house now occupied by soldiers. It, too, had a tank in the front yard. The family had been cleared out, and sat on the porch of the neighbor's home. Another nearby house lay in rubble. "It blocked the view of the soldiers," said a passer_by.
CPT Hebron’s team during August through October included: Rick Carter (Halstead, KS), Le Anne Clausen, (Mason City, IA), David Cockburn (Middlesex, England); Anita Fast (Vancouver, BC), Kathy Kamphoefner (Beijing, China), Kathy Kern (Webster, NY), Mary Lawrence (Lunenburg, MA), JoAnne Lingle (Indianapolis, IN), Anne Montgomery (Brooklyn, NY), Rick Polhamus (Fletcher, OH), Dianne Roe (Corning, NY), Greg Rollins (Surrey, BC), Jim Satterwhite (Bluffton, OH), and George Weber (Chesley, ON).Back to the top
by Anne Montgomery
"Watchman, what is left of the night?" The watchman replies, "Morning is coming, but also the night. If you would ask, then ask; and come back yet again." (Is. 21:11_l2)
I returned to Hebron on September 2 prepared for a worsening situation – for confusion rather than clarity, problems rather than solutions. I was not prepared to follow so immediately a path of tears and blood through the streets in the evening, walk frightened children to school in the morning and climb over rooftops with the grieving relatives of two Palestinians, both shot in the head, one man while attempting to carry the younger boy for help.
As so often happens, with roof and street vulnerable to both settler and army guns, exact facts are elusive, but not the pain of children breaking into tears in the street or of a grandmother gesturing her grief over a boy she had helped raise from infancy.
As always happens, even under curfew, the pain and confusion spread from house to house and also among the soldiers (two had previously suffered wounds, one's leg badly shattered by a pipe bomb.) The following morning, unsure of new orders, the soldiers at first prevented some children from going to school. Other children dashed past the soldiers in frightened little groups while we watched to prevent harassment. As the children finally rushed into the school the principal called out a warning, not about what they might carry in, but about what they might find "planted" there – not to touch.
In the dark night between death and "life_as_usual" – uncertain, confused, anxious – the big guns had broken all silence. We CPTers tried to complete our interrupted time of team prayer and meeting, considering requests for information and offers of help by gracious friends. In the deeper night of our own helplessness, a reflection of the discouragement around us, we can yet give thanks for the hospitality of those here who have so little themselves, for the hope they offer, and, above all, for the invisible love that works through all.
“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in God's word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning. (Ps. 130:5_6)Back to the top
PHOTO: "CPTers document attack of Palestinian woman by Israeli settlers."
CPTers Kathleen Kern and Anne Montgomery were assaulted by a group of 10-12 settler boys, about 7 to 12 years old, on the evening of September 6. They were responding to a call from a Palestinian friend whose brother was being detained at a checkpoint near the Israeli settlement of Avraham Avinu when the boys ran towards them shouting "F–- you" and throwing small stones at them.
When the two women asked the soldiers at the checkpoint to call the police, they laughed and made ineffectual attempts to stop the boys from pelting the CPTers with stones, water, and sand. One of the boys came around the back of the concrete blocks where the women had sought protection and began hitting Kern with a light metal rod.
When the police finally arrived, the two older boys most responsible for the assault ducked into the settlement. The others began laughing and taunting the police officers, grabbing for the video camera of one officer who was taping them, and yelling "Nazis, Nazis" at the two women.
The CPTers filed complaints at the police station, then contacted the friend who had originally called for help. She had escaped from the settlers without injury, but said that the soldiers had physically abused her brother and taken away his ID, without which Palestinians cannot walk outside their homes.Back to the top
by Nicole Mortellito
Seventeen CPT delegates joined hundreds of Palestinians trapped inside their homes when heavy shelling and gunfire broke out on July 31 in Beit Jala near Bethlehem. The attack followed shots fired by individual Palestinian gunmen after the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) blew up a civilian apartment building earlier that day in Nablus. CPT delegation members in Beit Jala characterized the shooting exchange as “'lopsided'”– for every one shot coming from Beit Jala, dozens were returned from IDF posts in the settlement of Gilo, perched on the hillside above Beit Jala.
The CPT delegation, trapped in the exchange of fire, dashed between buildings, cars and walls amid the waves of shelling and machine gun fire. CPT delegate Char Smith described the experience as "surreal.” “When we got to the houses afterwards I couldn't believe what I'd just been through," she exclaimed, a feeling echoed by the entire delegation.
IDF headquarters was notified ahead of time that internationals would be staying in Palestinian homes in Beit Jala. CPTer Tracy Hughes commented, "I think that our presence brought support to the families with whom we weathered the night. It helped them to know that not everyone in the U.S. supports the aid to Israel and its occupation of Palestine."
Though no internationals were injured during the attack on the Palestinians, two homes were burned badly and several other houses, including those hosting the delegation, came under heavy fire, forcing some to take shelter in basements.
Members of the CPT delegation were Kathleen Kern (Webster, NY), LeAnne Clausen (Waverly, IA), Bill and Genie Durland (Cokedale, CO), Ron Forthofer (Longmont, CO), Brenda Holliday (Waynesboro, VA), Tracy Hughes (Wooster, OH), Kathryn Kingsbury (Madison, WI), Jerry and Sis Levin (Birmingham, AL), Elayne McClanen (Sandy Spring, MD), Nicole Mortellito (Union, NJ), Bert Newton, (Pasadena, CA), Charlene Smith (Gibson City, IL), Gale Toensing (Falls Village, CT), and Dorothy Jean Weaver (Harrisonburg, VA).Back to the top
"I was wondering if you knew where I could go to give blood for the people in America?" asked a Palestinian friend the day after the September 11 attacks. CPTers in Hebron received dozens of phone calls and were approached by scores of Palestinians on the streets who offered condolences. Despite the reports of many newspapers around the world, many Palestinians did not see the attacks as an occasion to celebrate. One Palestinian visitor talked about how all people of the world had to "return to God's way." Another asked to pray with the team for those in the U.S. and throughout the world who had been affected by this. "As Palestinians,” said another, “we know the tragedy that comes from innocent people being killed."Back to the top
On October 24 the U.S. Senate passed a foreign aid bill containing 2.76 billion dollars for Israel, the largest amount for any country. That represents 17.7% of the entire foreign aid budget and breaks down to about $460.00 for every Israeli citizen – this despite Israel’s open defiance of President Bush’s demand that they withdraw their invading forces from Palestinian territories. In support of Israeli and Palestinian peacemakers, members of CPT’s Campaign for Secure Dwellings (CSD) are holding regular public vigils for a just peace in Israel/Palestine. Contact Rich Meyer, email@example.com, to join the CSD.Back to the top
Book Review: Hebron Journal
“Hebron Journal: Stories of Nonviolent Peacemaking” by Art Gish; Herald Press, Scottdale PA and Waterloo ON, 2001; reviewed by Doug Pritchard
Gish’s powerful account of his five winters with CPT in Hebron, West Bank between 1995 and 2001 is a personal record of one peacemaker’s struggle with violence and oppression. The book describes his efforts to be vulnerable while continuing to love the oppressor.
Particularly painful were his attempts to engage Israeli settlers. Time and again he reached out for dialogue but was cursed or attacked.
Gish has written a vivid account of what life is like for CPTers in Hebron. It is an excellent book for anyone interested in the “how-to” of peacemaking in an intense conflict.Back to the top
Israeli Pacifist Sentenced – Israeli conscientious objector Yair Halper, 18, was sentenced on October 17 to 28 days in prison for refusing to enlist in the Israeli army.Yair is the son of CPT Hebron friend and co-worker Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions. Action: Letters to Israeli officials can help prevent mistreatment of prisoners. Send your expressions of concern for Yair Halper (Military ID 7237405) to: Mr. Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Israeli Minister of Defense, Fax: 011-972-3-696-27-57. Write to Halper at: Military Prison No. 4, Military postal number 02507, IDF, Israel.Back to the top
Mi’kmaq lobster fishers at Esgenoôpetitj removed their traps from Miramichi Bay for the season as the lobsters have now migrated into deep water. CPT’s violence-reduction team left October 24 after spending six months in the region.
Community members attribute the reduced violence this year to the presence of outside observer groups like CPT. Nevertheless, Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) imposed an arbitrary fall fishing zone and still continued to seize Mi’kmaq traps and boats. Flotillas of non-Aboriginal fishers also threatened Esgenoôpetitj several times and destroyed hundreds of Mi’kmaq traps while police and fisheries officers stood by.
Esgenoôpetitj fishers say they will continue to exercise their inherent and treaty rights to fish under their own Conservation and Management Plan. They may seek the assistance of CPT and human rights organizations again next year if their rights are not respected.
CPTers present during this fall’s fishery included: Mathew and Nina Bailey-Dick (Waterloo, ON), John Finlay (Walkerton, ON), Anne Herman (Binghamton, NY), Esther Ho (Hayward, CA), Terry Hobin (Stratford, ON), Ruth Johnson (Woodstock, ON), Natasha Krahn (Waterloo, ON), Tuulia Law (Montreal, QC), Gerry and Gina Lepp (Harrow, ON), Barb Martens (Ruthven, ON), Patty McKenna (Manhattan, KS), Diego Mendez (Toronto, ON), Vern Riediger (Toronto, ON), Janet Shoemaker (Goshen, IN), Lena Siegers (Blyth, ON), Jane Mackay Wright (Toronto, ON).Back to the top
In a modern_day version of the Battle of Jericho, CPTers marched around the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) office in Neguac, New Brunswick, seven times on August 14 as the fall fishing season was about to open. They prayed, blew a ram's horn, and called for recognition of First Nations’ inherent fishing rights.
Many people feared that the DFO would resume the violent behavior evident last year when officers rammed boats and beat native fishers. Using a gigantic lobster trap as a visual aid, CPTers urged the DFO to “escape from the trap of violence” and find new ways of dialoguing with First Nations peoples.
PHOTO: CPTer in lobster trapBack to the top
by Natasha Krahn
My first thought was, "They're going to run over us!" I was in a little 16_foot motorboat with a member of the Esgenoôpetitj First Nation (EFN) when a line from one of the lobster traps got tangled in our propellor, bringing us to a stop. Suddenly, a 45_foot commercial fishing boat came racing towards us.
It was Sunday afternoon, September 16, and a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer had informed the EFN that a bunch of non_Native fishing boats from the surrounding area were coming into the bay to have a "peaceful protest." During a similar "peaceful protest" in October 1999 EFN fishers lost over 3000 lobster traps. So several fishers headed out in their dories to try and protect their equipment. I went along with a video camera.
Ever since the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the Mi'kmaq's Aboriginal treaty right to hunt, fish and gather to sustain a moderate livelihood, EFN members have attempted to fish lobster in Miramichi Bay, the front yard of their reserve, under their own conservation and management plan. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and non_Native fishers in the area have attempted to stop them, insisting that they submit to DFO regulations.
Out in the bay, some twenty large boats filled with non-Native fishers circled the handful of EFN dories, creating huge swells. Our motorboat bounced up and down as I held onto the seat with one hand and the camera with the other. The shouting protesters threw beer bottles, rocks, and buoys they had cut from Native lobster traps at us.
That's when one of the large fishing boats raced towards our motorboat. It swerved at the last second and went speeding past. This maneuver happened twice. The third time our propellor was finally free and we sped back towards the shore.
The entire time an RCMP helicopter was flying overhead. Even when shots were fired out on the water, RCMP officers took no action.
Members of the EFN community have asked over and over again, "How can people go to church on Sunday morning and then commit these kinds of acts on Sunday afternoon?"
A 13-member CPT delegation documented a similar demonstration on Sunday, August 26. Delegates expressed concern about the inaction of the RCMP on that occasion as well.
Members of the August 19-28 delegation to Esgenoôpetitj were: Rob Burdette (Butler, OH), Robin Buyers, Don Heap, Williams Payne and Shira Taylor (all of Toronto, ON), Tom Cavanaugh (Lennoxville, QC), Rodney Orr (Cuba, IL), Marilyn Roper (Houlton, ME), Abigail Smith (Gibson City, IL), Lorraine Synder (Kitchener, ON) and Heather Toews (Waterloo, ON).Back to the top
On September 22, while many were still quaking from the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, 208 peacemakers walked in silent procession for a mile through downtown Ft. Wayne, IN, to the offices of Republican Senator Richard Lugar. In the spirit of Romans 12:20 – “if your enemies are hungry, feed them” – participants carried handfuls of grain to the door of the office building along with messages to the Senator, a prominent member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, calling for an end to vengeful retaliation. Heartfelt messages urged Lugar to “take the notion of enemy -loving to the table where strategy is being discussed.” One twelve-year-old wrote: “Please remember that hatred and evil are never the answer and killing people is hatred.”
The public witness was part of Christian Peacemaker Congress VI held at Joyfield Farm near North Manchester, IN, September 20-23. Plenary remarks by CPT Hebron member Dianne Roe, history professor emeritus David Waas, and racial and economic justice advocate C.T. Vivian fed into vigorous discussions and prayers for awakening the nonviolent imagination among God’s people. Numerous participants hailed the “providential timing” of the event, saying, “All of us needed to reflect and act on peacemaking at this time when the U.S. seems bent on war!”Back to the top
Picnic for Peace – University Mennonite Church, State College, PA, hosted a picnic for the Islamic Society of Central PA and the Muslim Student Association at Penn State on September 26. “When Joseph was reconciled with his brothers, he exclaimed, ‘you intended it for evil, but God has used it for good.’ The evil of September 11 should not be minimized, but God may yet act redemptively!” said Dave Miller.
Air Show Demise – Citing a $100,000 deficit and escalating insurance costs, organizers announced that next year’s Hamilton (ON) Air Show will be canceled. The annual show was the target of a three-year action campaign by peace workers who dubbed it a “war show” because of the military hardware featured. Canadian CPTers involved in nonviolent actions against the show include Christine Forand, Bob Holmes, Jim Loney, Krista Lord, Murray Lumley, and William Payne.
Vieques Resistance Continues – Resistance against the U.S. Navy maneuvers on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico continued in legal rallies during military exercises starting September 24. The Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques (CRDV) announced a moratorium on civil disobedience in the wake of the September 11 attacks as an expression of solidarity with the victims. However, organizers asserted that robust actions would resume in November. CPT remains alert to requests to send delegations to Vieques whenever the Navy renews bombing practice.
No Money for War – On October 9th, two days after the bombing of Afghanistan started, CPT Reservist Jane Pritchard received a call from her Credit Union about an order from Revenue Canada to seize money from her account for unpaid taxes. Pritchard explained that, as a physician who believes killing is wrong under any circumstances, she did not want to have the blood of Afghanis on her hands.Back to the top
I went to Illinois Amish country to find a little peace and quiet. As I stopped at farms to be greeted by friendly people and buy beautiful vegetables, I imagined I was in the West Bank, Palestine. Except peace reigned. People were left to live as they wanted, to worship as they wanted. One day I hope, with your support, the peacefulness of the community I visited will serve as an example to people all over the world.