Since August, CPTers providing a protective presence for civilians in communities surrounding the city of Barrancabermeja have received death threats by paramilitaries, experienced detention by Colombian authorities, and been deported by Immigration officials.
On August 8, CPT-Colombia learned of a death threat against them. A reliable source informed CPTers that members of an illegal, right-wing paramilitary organization, unhappy with public statements that CPT issued concerning their actions in the area, were considering killing a CPT volunteer. (CPT denounces violence and human rights abuses committed by all armed groups including the paramilitaries, the guerrillas and the Colombian Armed Forces.)
CPT-Colombia responded by issuing a public "Statement of Conviction," rejecting the use of violence to save their lives or punish those who may kill them and reaffirming their intention to continue providing a protective international presence in civilian communities.
Two weeks later, on August 23rd, CPTers Duane Ediger and Scott Kerr were summoned to a local government office, interrogated briefly and issued deportation orders on the grounds that they had violated the terms of their tourist visas. Reservists Ben Horst and Chris Schweitzer were subjected to a similar procedure on August 29th, resulting in an 18-month ban on re-entering the country.
On August 30, members of several local human rights groups came by the CPT house to show solidarity regarding the pending deportations. They made a banner with quotes including, "To defend life and dignity, you don't need a visa." Nearly all of those who came were under death threats themselves.
By September 2, through the grace of God and the hard work of Colombian partners, high-level government officials agreed verbally to revoke all four deportation orders. Written notice was not received until October 2.
Meanwhile, Horst, who remained in Colombia after his deportation was overturned, and teammate Lisa Martens were detained by DAS officials on October 8th and held for almost 20 hours. (The DAS - Administrative Security Department - is roughly the Colombian equivalent of the U.S. FBI, CIA and INS combined.)
Earlier that day, Martens and Horst had accompanied a Colombian woman bringing the body of her assassinated family member, whom authorities later claimed was a left-wing guerilla criminal, through conflicted territory to the city of Yondó for burial. The woman had requested international accompaniment for herself and the other civilians who made the trip because she feared reprisal from contending forces.
Accompanying cadavers and bereaved survivors in high conflict areas is part of the violence-reduction work that CPT has carried out in many places where the bodies of those killed typically do not to receive proper treatment. Consistent, compassionate care of corpses, including dismembered bodies, creates the possibility for a respectful funeral, an event which in turn sends a message of humanization to all armed groups.
Horst, still holding a tourist visa and hoping to stay with the team through January, was subsequently deported again. Unless the order is overturned, Horst cannot enter Colombia for four years. Appeal proceedings are underway and may take up to a year.
Colombia's President Álvaro Uribe has stated that his government is committed to the protection of human rights. Yet in early September he and his cabinet signed "Decree Number 2002 of 2002," which creates zones where martial law may be imposed and foreigners' movements restricted. In recent weeks, authorities raided the offices of more than 250 peace and human rights organizations throughout the country, including that of the National Permanent Assembly for Peace.
The detentions, deportations and visa denials CPT has experienced are clearly part of an alarming trend by the Colombian government - perhaps with encouragement, advise, or even pressure by foreign governments - to prevent national and international workers from protecting civilians and witnessing human rights violations.Back to the top
When the Colombia project was initiated in May, 2001, CPTers received Religious Worker Visas. Government officials now say a different visa is required and agreed verbally in late August to facilitate granting appropriate visas for CPTers to work in Colombia.
Since then, however, not a single visa has been issued. In fact, both Scott Kerr and Erin Kindy were denied visas by the Colombian Consulate in Chicago in September. Appeals are pending. Four additional full-time CPT workers submitted visa applications in September and were still waiting for a response in late November. As the visas held by current team members near expiration, and with no visa renewals or new visas issued since May, 2002, CPT's days in Colombia, at least in the manner of the current project, may be numbered.URGENT ACTION:
Please send letters to U.S. and Canadian Ambassadors to Colombia with copies to your legislators and Colombian government officials. See Action Alert, sample letters and address information on CPT's website: www.cpt.org.Back to the top
In our work with Christian Peacemaker Teams, we plant seeds of peace daily. We do not know which of the seeds will bear fruit, but each time we talk about peace it can be a seed.
On October 11, Lena Siegers and two members of a CPT delegation to Colombia headed down the Opón River in CPT's motorized metal canoe and saw a lineup of a dozen armed men along the riverbank. They wore new, matching uniforms with insignia of a local paramilitary group. Paramilitaries are illegal according to Colombian law and responsible for approximately 80% of politically-motivated kidnapings and killings in Colombia.
The leader of the group asked Siegers to leave and mentioned that there was another group of paramilitaries down river. She said, "First we'll pray." The group of CPTers joined hands on the riverbank and Siegers prayed loud enough for all to hear. By the time the group finished singing, "Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying," the men were gone.
The CPTers then followed the men down river where they encountered another group of paramilitaries, standing at attention with their feet apart, from the same unit. Each carried an assault rifle slung over his shoulder.
The commander looked surprised to see the CPTers and wanted to talk to Siegers immediately, but she shook hands with each of the young men first. When she finally began speaking with the commander, everything got quiet. She talked with him about CPT, about nonviolence, about vengeance that only creates more violence.
The commander politely asked to speak. "The newspapers say bad things about us. It's all propaganda. We work for peace, for the people. We are farmers too." He said his superior was trained in the United States.
Siegers responded, "If you are farmers too, then you understand that you are putting these farmers at risk. If you really want to help them, meet in the woods away from their houses."
"While you're killing your brothers and sisters," she continued, "the United States and Canada are taking the oil and other natural resources from this rich land. Colombia is so beautiful. If everyone would work together to develop your resources, it would truly be a rich nation."
When Siegers asked about the commander's family, he said, "Oh, yes, I have two beautiful young girls," and talked of his love for them.
Siegers said, "Oh, it would be so wonderful if you could go back to your little girls." His eyes glistened with tears. "But I'm working to build peace, so that I can go home again."
"I feel so sad," Siegers told him as she put her hand on his shoulder. "Someday, before you lay down your weapons, you will meet your brother and have to kill him. He has a face too, he has a mother too." She traced his face with her hand. "I know your face now." She traced her own. "And you know mine."Back to the top
CPT-Colombia invites believers in peace to address simple, short notes to members of armed groups in Colombia. When team members encounter guerillas, paramilitaries or Colombian troops in the course of accompanying civilian communities, they will offer these letters to individual soldiers as a way to initiate dialogue concerning nonviolent ways to deal with conflict.
The goal is to deliver hundreds of short, personal letters (50 words or less) or children's peace pictures, reminding the reader that s/he is a child of God with a message of hope arising from that truth. Team members have already handed out several letters. Sample letters in English and Spanish along with contact information on where to send your letters is available on CPT's website: www.cpt.org.Back to the top
Scott Albrecht (Waterloo, ON), Adaía Bernal (Bogotá, Colombia), Duane Ediger (Dallas, TX), Penn Garvin (Mifflinburg, PA), Ben Horst (Evanston, IL), Scott Kerr (Downers Grove, IL), Lisa Martens (Winnipeg, MB), Doug Orbaker (Mifflinburg, PA), William Payne (Toronto, ON), Matt Schaaf (Winnipeg, MB), Chris Schweitzer (Siler City, NC), Pierre Shantz (Blainville, QC), Lena Siegers (Blyth, ON), Carol Spring (Palo Alto, CA), Charles Spring (Palo Alto, CA), Gene Stoltzfus (Chicago, IL), and Keith Young (Comer, GA)Peacemaker Delegation members October 4-16 were:
Katherine Boeger (Lake Tahoe, CA), Paul Brohaugh (Lindstrom, MN), Barbara Howe (Gainesville, FL), Bernarda Méndez (San Martín, El Salvador), Bruce Miller (Madison, WI), Carol Rose (Wichita, KS), Charlotte Shristi (Iowa City, IA)Back to the top
On October 23, CPTer Kathleen Kern (Webster, NY) was denied entry into Israel at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. Israeli authorities held Kern for 12 hours before placing her on a return flight to the U.S. She was the third member of CPT to be denied entry in the last five months - Michael Goode (Chicago, IL) was turned back in June and Kurtis Unger (Winnipeg, MB) in August.
Kern has traveled in and out of Israel/Palestine since 1995 when she helped establish CPT's violence-reduction project in Hebron. She and CPT supporters have submitted letters requesting that Israeli authorities reconsider their decision.
Kern, a forty-year-old Bible scholar and writer, was scheduled to join CPT's Rapid Response Team based in Jerusalem. The team's mandate includes responding as quickly as possible to attacks or threats against any civilian population, Israeli or Palestinian.
The Rapid Response Team is in part a renewal of an action Kern initiated in 1996 when the #18 bus in Jerusalem was bombed two Sundays in a row, killing dozens of Israelis. Kern and another CPTer publicly declared their opposition to all violence and proceeded to ride the #18 bus the following three Sundays.
According to CPT director, Gene Stoltzfus, "The Israeli government is using the U.S.-led international climate of anti-terrorism and Iraq war fever to run rough shod over Palestinians in general and human rights workers in particular. Kern's rejection is a wake up call for Christians to double our efforts to stop the blood from flowing in that place called the Holy Land."Back to the top
CPT initiated a Jerusalem-based Rapid Response Team on October 1. The two-person team travels quickly to the scene of bombings or attacks, providing on-site ministry for Israeli and Palestinian victims.
"By responding to violent events with compassion, empathy and understanding, we believe a message of peace is possible," said Deanna Boyd (Chicago, IL), who along with CPTer Anne Montgomery (New York, NY) formed the first team.
"In the event of any bombing, we want to express the sorrow of the world at yet another life-ending explosion," explained Rich Meyer, CPT Hebron Team Support Staff. "With each Israeli helicopter missile shot into a Palestinian home and each Palestinian suicide bombing, the spiral of violence escalates. We cannot predict these attacks in advance. The Rapid Response Team attempts to offer a pastoral and compassionate presence."
While CPT continues its primary violence-reduction work in Hebron, the increased number of available peacemakers has enabled CPT to expand its presence - first to the village of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron, where CPT has supported a small team for several months, and now to Jerusalem. Being based in Jerusalem facilitates the Rapid Response Team's ability to travel to crisis spots without the delays caused by Israeli-imposed closures and curfews throughout much of the Occupied Territories.Back to the top
Fifteen people died and another fifteen were wounded after a shooting attack in Hebron on November 15th. Palestinian gunmen opened fire on a group of Israeli settlers and soldiers walking to the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba after Shabbat services at the synagogue in the Tomb of the Patriarchs/Ibrahimi Mosque complex.
Among the dead were nine Israeli soldiers and border police, three armed Israeli settler security members, and three Palestinians believed to have perpetrated the attack. Colonel Dror Weinberg, commander of the Israeli forces in Hebron whom CPTers met on several occasions, was named as one of the victims. The Palestinian militia, Islamic Jihad, confirmed responsibility for the attack, claiming retribution for the Israeli military assassination of its leader, Iyad Sawalha, in Jenin the previous week.
The Israeli military responded to the attack with several hours of firing into Palestinian neighborhoods with machine guns, tanks, and helicopter-mounted artillery. The military also bulldozed several Palestinian homes near the site of the shooting in retaliation for the attack. Much of Hebron was placed under strict curfew.
Team members walked to the site of the attack, conveying their sympathies to Israeli settlers and soldiers gathered nearby. They delivered a letter of condolence to the Israeli military base in Hebron strongly condemning the violence and calling on both sides to end the cycle of revenge, then stayed the night with Palestinian civilian families in areas potentially targeted for retribution attacks.
Within days, Kiryat Arba settlers placed three shipping containers, one bus, and several small tents at the site of the shooting, heeding Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's call to seize the opportunity created by the attack and "quickly" expand the settlement.
At least fifteen more Palestinian families near Kiryat Arba received home demolition orders. These families have no connection with the shooting. The site of the attack is not even visible from most of their houses. These demolitions will leave over a hundred innocent civilians homeless. At least one of the families is a partner in CPT's Campaign for Secure Dwellings.Back to the top
Kristin Anderson (Willmar, MN), Cat Grambles (Waterford, CT), LeAnne Clausen (Mason City, IA), Bill Durland (Cokedale, CO), Genie Durland (Cokedale, CO), Anita Fast (Vancouver, BC), Donna Hicks (Durham, NC), Bob Holmes (Toronto, ON), Kathy Kamphoefner (Beijing, China), Joanne Kaufman (Boulder, CO), Bourke Kennedy (Skaneateles, NY), Mary Lawrence (Lunenburg, MA), Jerry Levin (Birmingham, AL), Sis Levin (Birmingham, AL), JoAnne Lingle (Indianapolis, IN), Anne Montgomery (New York, NY), Rick Polhamus (Fletcher, OH), Sue Rhodes (Bath, England), Dianne Roe (Corning, NY), Greg Rollins (Surrey, BC), Jim Roynon (Archbold, OH), Jim Satterwhite (Bluffton, OH), Janet Shoemaker (Goshen, IN), Jerry Stein (Nazareth, TX), Kathie Uhler (New York, NY), George Weber (Chesley, ON), Mary Yoder (Columbus, OH); Interns: Deanna Boyd (Chicago, IL), Bernt Jonsson (Upsalla, Sweden ), John Lynes (Yorkshire, United Kingdom)Peacemaker Delegation members were:
July 25-August 6 - Janelle Albrecht (Listowel, ON), Linda Ammons (Brimfield, MA), Christine (Spee) Braun (East Chatham, NY), Sean Crane (Media, PA ), Brayton Gray (Chicago, IL), Linda Hanna (Philadelphia, PA), John Harris (Pasadena, CA ), Jerry Hyde (Franklin, IN), Sharon Mullally (Philadelphia, PA ), Carlie Numi and Dick Whitham (Kensington, MD), John Worrell (Brimfield, MA); September 13-26 - Dennis Apuan (Colorado Springs, CO), Douglas Ducharme (Toronto, ON), Deborah Flagg (Azusa, CA), Elizabeth Garcia (Brownsville, TXs), Sylvia Metzler (Philadelphia, PA), Kenneth Near (Englewood,NJ), Shirley Osterhaus and Barbara Rofkar (Bellingham, WA), Orlando Redekopp (Chicago, IL), Tanya Rentz (Nevada City, CA), Bruce Shipman (Groton, CT); November 19 - December 1 - Michael Banks (New York, NY), John Engle (Petion-Ville, Haiti), Joseph Jacoby (Bryn Mawr, PA), Barbara MacDougall (Block Island, RI ), Duncan Murphy (Uncasville, CT), Betty Scholten (Mt. Ranier, MD), Felecia Shelor and Anna Zilboorg (Meadows of Dan, VA ).Back to the top
CPT sent a 15-person delegation to Iraq October 23 - November 5 in coordination with Voices in the Wilderness, a campaign to end the U.S.-UN-sponsored sanctions that have decimated the country. Following are excerpts from reflections on their visit:
John Worrell: Through eyes narrowed by constant pain, the little five-year-old girl forced a smile at my faulty Arabic and antics by her bedside in Baghdad's Al Mansour Children's Hospital - once considered to be among the best such facilities in the world. The eyes of the emaciated little boy in the next bed had lost all of the brilliant black sparkle so characteristic of Arab children, but he managed to thank me sincerely for the balloon I brought him. A tiny one-year-old nearby also managed a smile as he extended his one remaining hand to clasp mine.
These friendly little people only saw me as a friendly big person who cared about them. They were unaware that the principal reason they were denied the common medication and treatments that could save their health, limbs, and lives was the policy of my government. But I knew, making the pain of my shame all the harder to contain.
And their mothers knew, their doctors knew, their entire society knew. Yet, in spite of all the harm my county has caused them, the Iraqi people - from little children to jaded intellectuals - were genuinely glad to see us. They wanted us to see for ourselves who they are and what they are not.
They know and understand a great deal about America and its people. They once regarded us as a beacon for all peoples leading to such values as self-determination, anti-colonialism, prosperity, democracy. "But you are a beacon no more," said one professor. "You have become the leader of colonialism." Another chimed in, "We now see you as the so-called 'democratic' west that carved up the Ottoman Empire to its own measurements and has continued to impose and depose rulers according to your own whim, disregarding the people who live here. This is the democracy you want us to follow? You Americans want us to change our system, but you are incapable of critically questioning your own."
Such earnest criticism was always surrounded by smiling reassurances that it was not personal - they did not mean Americans, they meant our governmental policies. They were adamant that their culture and society were their own, not ours, to mold, that they have much in their culture and values that we could benefit to learn. It is embarrassing that they understand so much about us, while we Americans know virtually nothing about them - the real Iraq. Why don't they hate us? Why do so many of us hate them?
Joe Heckel: Four of us attended a Saturday evening prayer service at the Arab Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Baghdad. We were introduced to the 30 people present, shared scripture (Galatians 6:2 & 10) and offered prayers for the children of Iraq.
Afterwards, we met with the pastor and his wife from Egypt. This congregation, one of five Presbyterian churches in Iraq, has about 300 members. Apparently these churches were established in the 1840s as people from Turkey migrated southward.
They worship on Sunday, a work day in the Muslim world where Friday and Saturday constitute the weekend, so attendance is greatest at the 6:00pm service. The sanctuary is large and immaculate, including the steeple with the cross on top. Our visit was too short, but it was a blessing for us to be there.Back to the top
A U.S.-led attack on Iraq will result in between 48,000 and 260,000 deaths during the first three months of combat, according to a study by medical and public health experts released in Washington, DC, on November 12. Post-war health effects could take an additional 200,000 lives.
The report, Collateral Damage: The Health and Environmental Costs of War on Iraq, was issued by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW), recipient of the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize. It is available on-line at www.ippnw.org.
Back to the top
Quinn Brisben (Chicago, IL), Le Anne Clausen (Mason City, IA ), Peggy Gish (Athens, OH), Anne Herman (Binghamton, NY), Joseph Heckel (Pittsburgh, PA), Barbara Johns (Glendale, CA), Kathleen Kampmann (Palo Alto, CA), Cliff Kindy (North Manchester, IN), David Milne (Belleville, Ontario), Anne Montgomery (New York, NY), Bill Rose (Tampa, FL), Marian Solomon (Ames, IA), Craig Spaulding (Harrisonburg, VA), John Worrell (Brimfield, MA ), and Jane MacKay Wright (Providence Bay, Ontario)Back to the top
The call came to the CPT office in late August from Danielle Shenandoah. "They're to demolish my house! Please send peacemakers to help us stop them."
Danielle and her three children live on Oneida Territory near Syracuse, NY - one of nine families engaged in a long-standing struggle to keep thirty-two acres of traditional Oneida homeland from falling under the control of self-appointed tribal leader Ray Halbritter.
CPT had visited the Oneida in February, 2002, and responded to this call by sending an emergency team to join dozens of other supporters on the land.
The September 15 demolition deadline came and went without incident. However, on October 18, when outside observers were no longer present, authorities came and arrested Danielle for contempt of court. (She was arrested in November, 2001, in a scuffle with police during a previous eviction attempt, but refused to appear in court because she does not recognize the legitimacy of Halbritter's legal system which is staffed almost entirely by non-Native police officers, judges and lawyers.)
Several days later, on October 22, her trailer was bulldozed. Now homeless, Danielle declared, "They can break down my door and demolish my house, but my spirit is still strong."
Since Halbritter seized power of the Oneida Nation in the early 1990's, Oneida families who wish to continue traditional Iroquois forms of government have found themselves increasingly under siege. Halbritter replaced the traditional Clan Mothers with his own supporters, installed a Men's Council whose power superseded the Clan Mothers and established a paramilitary non-Native police force to harass and dispossess Oneidas who have spoken out against his abuses of power.
Halbritter, who refers to himself as the "CEO" of the Oneida people, consolidated his power by banning media coverage, meetings of more than five people and traditional ceremonies on Oneida Territory. He also disenrolled the dissident Oneidas from the tribe, thus rendering them ineligible for federal assistance.
Under the guise of "beautification," Halbritter's forces have now successfully evicted fourteen families and demolished their homes. Since Halbritter has placed himself above both U.S. Federal Law and Iroquois law, the traditional Oneidas have no legal recourse.
Because of the thirteen casinos and other moneymaking enterprises he owns, Halbritter is a multi-millionaire with tremendous resources at his disposal to maintain his hold on power.
Throughout this campaign of harassment the Oneida dissidents have repeatedly refused to respond to violence with violence. They have only their commitment to remain on the thirty-two acres of homeland left to them, and nonviolent grassroots support to rely on.
With impending inspections and threats of eviction against the remaining eight families, CPTers have returned to Oneida.
Team members August-November included: Rusty Dinkins-Curling (Roanoke, VA), John Finlay (Walkerton, ON), Anne Herman (Binghamton, NY), Ben Horst (Evanston, IL), Kathy Kern (Webster, NY), Erin Kindy (Tiskilwa, IL), Joel Klassen (Kitchener, ON), Dianne Roe (Cornin, NY), and Stephani Sakanee (Chicago, IL).Back to the top
In a move that upset some members of the Esgenoôpetij First Nation (EFN), the EFN Band Council and Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) agreed to end a three-year standoff over the exercise of the Mi'kmaqs' aboriginal fishing rights in Burnt Church, New Brunswick.
CPTer Bob Holmes (Toronto, ON) visited Esgenoôpetij at the end of July, 2002, to assess the need for a CPT presence during the fall lobster season just as the deal was being reached. "In the midst of a warm welcome by our Mi'kmaq fisher-friends, I sensed a resignation - equal parts disappointment and relief - that the fishing war was over," Holmes reported. "People expressed gratitude for CPT's solidarity, but clearly this year a team would not be needed."
Since 1999, the exercise of Mi'kmaq fishing rights was the source of violent conflict between aboriginal and non-aboriginal fishers. Federal authorities responded with repressive, at times brutal, tactics against EFN fishers. The EFN invited CPT to Esgenoôpetij in 2000 and again in 2001, in an attempt to reduce the violence - physical and structural - imposed on this small aboriginal community.
According to the terms of the agreement, the Band Council relinquished the EFN's treaty right to regulate their own fishery and submitted themselves to Canadian government regulations and quotas. In return, the government agreed to honor its legal obligation to provide for a moderate living. It promised to give the EFN community an additional twenty-one commercial licenses for the spring lobster fishery (above the 13 they already hold), increase their quota of snow crab, pay for more native boats and underwrite training. A fall fishery for food and ceremonial purposes only, not for sale, is limited to 13,500 kilograms. The cost to the government is estimated at about 25 million dollars (Canadian) over two years.
Is it a good deal or a bad one? Is it a re-negotiation of treaty rights or an extinguishing of Aboriginal fishing rights? Will it bring peace or will the conflict continue? Whatever the case, CPT respects the right of the EFN community to decide their own future and is grateful for the opportunity to stand with them in their lonely, courageous fight for their way of life.Back to the top
CPT's delegation was assigned to Station #12 in the six-hour "Relay for Peace in Vieques" which began at Punta Arenas at the west end of the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico. The U.S. Navy occupied this land in 1940 and members of the families who lost property carried the torch on the first leg. They passed the flame to young men on horseback, who passed it to teachers.
Nineteen exchanges in all passed between unions, women's groups, and peace groups. Children of Vieques lit the eternal flame at the Peace and Justice Camp across from the gate of the U.S. Navy's Camp Garcia. The organizers intend it to burn until the Navy leaves Vieques.
The relay was one more action in the campaign of nonviolent resistance to the Navy's presence there. For over a year, a scattering of small peace camps thrived amidst the tank-targets and bomb-debris. A sweep by 2000 armed agents ended that phase as over 200 "campers," including CPTers, were arrested. One year later, the Navy agreed to vacate the west end of the island. However, they left behind seventeen toxic sites.
The committee which operates the Peace and Justice Camp and organized the relay, in which more than a thousand participated, is even now preparing a new wave of nonviolent intervention to forestall future practice bombings and reclaim the land.
CPT's August 23 - September 3 peacemaker delegation to Vieques included: Christy Bischoff (Harrisonburg, VA), Bob Holmes (Toronto, ON), Cliff Kindy (North Manchester, IN), and Ben Long (Boulder, CO.)Back to the top
With trained Reservists providing core leadership, CPT supporters who live in proximity often meet together as Regional Groups to work at local peacemaking initiatives and undergird CPT's larger efforts.Currently, CPT Regional Groups are active in Cleveland, OH, Colorado, Northern Indiana, Manitoba, and Ontario. Folks in New York City, Washington, DC, Central Illinois and Colombia have expressed interest in forming CPT Regional Groups as well.
For information about developing a Regional Group in your area, contact Sara in the Chicago office.
CPT-Cleveland, along with other local peace groups, held a community prayer vigil at Lee Heights Community Church on September 24 expressing opposition to the death penalty and a desire to support the families of murder victims. In response to a local case, their statement read: "We detest the violent acts that took the life of Krista Lea Harrison. At the same time, we believe that the execution of Robert Buell only continues the cycle of violence in our community and further erodes respect for human life...Murder must be punished, but not with another killing. Execution is not punishment, it is revenge..."
CPT-Colorado members donned PEACE hats to help keep peace at several potentially volatile public events in September and October. When Palestinian Hanan Ashrawi spoke in Boulder, local CPTers intervened in altercations between pro-Israeli groups and pro-Palestinian groups. CPT-CO has also been active in opposing war with Iraq. Before the congressional vote on Bush's war resolution, they set up a table in front of a local congressman's house and invited him to a breakfast dialogue. His wife declined the offer.
In response to paramilitary death threats against CPT in Colombia, CPT-Ontario held a vigil in front of the Colombian Consulate in Toronto. Participants delivered a letter to the Consul General urging the Colombian government to protect both nationals and internationals from violence perpetrated by illegal armed groups in the area of Barrancabermeja and throughout the country.
CPT-Manitoba recently hosted a meeting of 35 people interested in supporting CPT's work in Colombia and connections with First Nation communities in Grassy Narrows. The group organized a delegation to visit Grassy Narrows the weekend of November 8-10. Participants included Caitlin Keyzer, Amy Peters, Liz Plett, Matt Schaaf and Matthew Wiens, all from Winnipeg, MB.Back to the top
In Dialogue, we highlight exchanges regarding CPT's vision and peacemaking ministry. CPT's July 22nd witness at Boeing's International Headquarters, which included pouring non-toxic red food coloring into the Chicago River, drew a range of responses. We also share conversations regarding CPT's work in Hebron.
Erin Kindy, CPTer, Tiskilwa, IL - Thanks to all of you for doing such a creative witness at the site of Boeing headquarters! I could vividly imagine the red of the river after you marked it with color to represent the blood poured out in many places, including Palestine, Colombia, and Afghanistan, through equipment produced by Boeing.
Douglas Iverson - If it wasn't for Boeing building the vast majority of bombers during WWII, you would not have the freedom to protest Boeing or anything else. When will you get that through your thick skulls? And what would Greenpeace think about polluting the Chicago River? Nobody, except fanatics, wants war, but the homeland must be protected. The Bible supports defending oneself. If your motto is to "get in the way" then go to a war zone and stand under falling bombs. You would be asking yourself if under attack "why aren't we fighting back?" Hypocrites!
Louise Claassen, Elkhart, IN - We have been long-time CPT supporters. We feel strongly that the Mennonites should not only oppose war, but also become actively involved in preventing violence. Most of the actions that CPT has taken in areas of conflict have been courageous and "right on the mark." However, we find the action at Boeing to be misguided. We hope actions taken by CPTers stimulate reflection by those witnessing the action and perhaps lead to transformation. It is hard to imagine a positive response to pouring red food dye into waterways near the Boeing plant.
Kryss Chupp, CPT Support Team, Chicago, IL - We think raising up public sentiment that is critical of Boeing's practices is one component of the kind of pressure and challenge that will hopefully lead to change.
The visual symbols - our physical presence and prayerful liturgy, the red river, and the leaflet that explained our witness - were all intended to engage passersby as well as Boeing employees to make the connection that Boeing profits from war and killing. The leaflet invited people to express their opinions to Boeing executives through letters and phone calls.
Boeing weapons are present in nearly every international conflict area where CPT works. The experiences of our teams in the field challenge us to bear clear, bold witness to the powers here at home that share responsibility for the violence and suffering in those places. It was particularly the stories of bodies floating in Colombian rivers and Palestinian children dying in the streets from Apache Helicopter fire that led us to the image of the river running red. We were compelled by the prophet Jeremiah's use of dramatic visual symbols to communicate God's message, and genuinely thought this type of symbolism was consistent with that tradition.
We recognize that the use of "blood" as a symbol in public actions is controversial. Many of us agreed that we would not be comfortable using it in certain ways. In this case, we took care not to mark or stain any buildings or property and we made sure the substance was non-toxic and biodegradable (popsicle food coloring). The group felt good about the way in which the symbol of the river running red gave visual expression to our prayers for healing and disarmament.
Yonatan Maayan, former Israeli soldier - I stumbled across your website and found it interesting to see the events in Hebron described from your view. I served in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), Golani Brigade, 51st Battalion, in Hebron. Reading your reports, I recalled things that I had completely forgotten until now.
On the other hand, I was a bit disturbed by your one-sidedness and the common depiction of Israeli soldiers as uncaring and brutal. I will of course admit that there are soldiers who needlessly assault and humiliate Palestinians, but this is the exception to the rule. Those who are caught brutalizing Palestinians are punished with more than a slap on the wrist. The officers of the IDF realize that this sort of behavior is counter-productive.
In my time in Hebron I personally made friends with a lot of Palestinians, some of whom would even bring me tea and cookies, and sit and talk with me on cold nights when I was on guard duty on the street or on a rooftop. One of these was a boy about 16 years old, who threw a rock at me and fled. I chased him down, and when I caught him, the look of fear in his eyes was something I had not seen close-up before. He thought I was going to kill him, or at least viscously beat him. Instead, I explained to him that I would not hurt him so that he could understand that I was also a human being, capable of compassion, and that I understood why he was throwing rocks. I explained that I did not want to be there any more than he wanted me to be there, and that my feelings towards the settlers were far from affectionate. We sat and talked and shared pastries my mother had sent me.
We do not all hate the Palestinians. We hate the situation that is thrust upon us, and many of us do all we can to change it. We always looked at CPTers with curiosity and wanted to talk to them, but we were under strict orders not to.
Kathy Kern, CPTer, Webster, NY - A sad truth of our work is that it brings us most often into contact with abusive soldiers and settlers. We tend to ignore those who are not harassing people. (This would also be the case for our work in other countries where armed groups are dominating civilians.) However, we do try to share examples of soldiers behaving humanely when we observe them. As things have gotten progressively meaner in Hebron over the last two years, any small act of kindness shown by Israelis to Palestinians and visa-versa are moments we hold onto and cherish. So thank you for sending us more examples of kindness. We will think of them when we begin to feel as though all hope for peaceful co-existence is futile.Back to the top
Voluntary Gas Tax - Conscientious folks in Harrisonburg, VA have participated in a Voluntary Gas Tax for the last two years. Former CPT Reservist, Jeff Heie, writes, "We keep track of how many gallons of gasoline we consume in our cars and then charge ourselves $.50 per gallon and put it into a bank account. At the end of every six months, we collect everyone's tax and decide who to give the money to. Those who have chosen to participate have found it very meaningful and no one has dropped out in the two years since we started." The group donated $500 to support a CPT Delegation member to Iraq.
Abbotsford International Hair Show - As war planes buzzed through the skies at the Abbotsford (BC) International Air Show, scissors and clippers buzzed over heads at the Abbotsford International Hair Show. The hair show, held on August 10 in a Mennonite church parking lot next to the gates of the air show, was meant to provide a positive and peaceful alternative to the celebration of war. The show featured a competition for the best air-show hairdo including a "cluster bomb" hairstyle (short pig tails all over the head), a "mushroom bomb" hairstyle (one plume of hair mushrooming off the top), a "peacenik" hairstyle (long, bleach-blonde hair in ponytails, displayed with a sultry strut down the runway), and a "Nazarene" hairstyle (long, wavy, center-parted "Jesus" hair). Organizers collected $185 in donations for victims and refugees resulting from bombs dropped in Afghanistan. Hair Show sponsors included Mennonite Central Committee BC, Project Ploughshares and the West Abbotsford Mennonite Church.
Peaceful Warrior - Bill Moyer, long-time Quaker and life-long nonviolent social change activist, died of liver cancer on October 21. His legacy lives on through his writing, his widely-used model for understanding social change movements (MAP) and the many peace workers he mentored. Bill's ideas are neatly summarized in his last book, Doing Democracy, published late last year. Praise God for the blessing of Bill Moyer's life.Back to the top
We've Moved!: On October 1, CPT moved from its home of 8 years at Agape House to a newly renovated office at the Douglas Park Church of the Brethren on Chicago's near southwest side. Under the tireless coordination of CPT's volunteer building manager, Paul Becher, hundreds of hands and countless hours of volunteer labor combined with financial resources from the Church of the Brethren to transform the church's former community center into CPT's new international headquarters. On behalf of everyone in CPT, and especially the Chicago Support Team, we extend our heartfelt thanks to everyone who contributed sweat, good humor and in-kind resources to create our new home. Come visit us at 2751 W. 16th St.! Our mailing address remains P.O. Box 6508; Chicago, IL 60680. Our new phone number is 773-277-0253 and the fax is 773-277-0291.
Study Conflict Transformation: Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA, offers a 42-hour Master of Arts degree and a 15-hour Graduate Certificate in Conflict Transformation. In addition, the annual Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) offers intensive 7-day courses for professional training or credit. Every summer, a diverse community of peacebuilding practitioners from around the world gathers to learn together at SPI. SPI 2003 will be held May 5-June 20. Application deadline is January 15th. For information call 540-432-4490; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit the website: www.emu.edu/ctp.
Abejas Coffee Available: Coffee produced by the Maya Vinic cooperative of Las Abejas (the Bees) in Chiapas, Mexico, is now available in the U.S. from Matt Earley; Just Coffee/Café Justo; Your 100% Fair Trade Roaster; 29 S. 4th St.; Madison, WI 53704; 608-243-8407; www.justcoffee.net or from Chris Treter; Higher Grounds Coffee; email@example.com.
Been to Jail for Justice?: The Nuclear Resister newsletter reports all anti-war and anti-nuclear arrests in North America and many around the world. As the U.S. threatens escalation of war against Iraq, peace activists are already going to jail. Please send any news of arrests in your area to: The Nuclear Resister; P.O. Box 43383; Tucson, AZ 85733; firstname.lastname@example.org.Back to the top
STEERING COMMITTEE: Bob Bartel, Paul Dodd, David Jehnsen, Cliff Kindy, Susan Mark Landis, Lee McKenna, Maxine Nash, Orlando Redekopp, Hedy Sawadsky, Muriel Stackley, John Stoner, Rick Ufford-Chase.
STAFF: Gene Stoltzfus - Director/Program Coordinator, Sara Reschly - Regional Group/Training Coordinator, Mark Frey - Administrative Coordinator, Claire Evans - Personnel Coordinator, Kryss Chupp - Training Coordinator (Chicago, IL); Duane Ediger - Colombia Project Support (Dallas, TX)); Rich Meyer - Hebron Project Support/Campaign for Secure Dwellings (Millersburg, IN); Doug Pritchard - CPT Canada (Toronto,ON).
CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKER CORPS: Cat Grambles, LeAnne Clausen, Claire Evans, Mark Frey, Bob Holmes, Kathleen Kern, Scott Kerr, Cliff Kindy, Erin Kindy, Jerry Levin, JoAnne Lingle, Lisa Martens, Rich Meyer, Anne Montgomery, William Payne, Jessica Phillips, Rick Polhamus, Sara Reschly, Sue Rhodes, Dianne Roe, Greg Rollins, Matt Schaaf, Pierre Shantz, Janet Shoemaker, Lena Siegers, Carol Spring, Charles Spring, Kathie Uhler, Stewart Vresinga, Keith Young
RESERVE CORPS: Jane Adas, Scott Albrecht, Nait Alleman, Kristan Anderson, Art Arbour, Amy Babcock, Fred Bahnson, Matthew Bailey-Dick, Nina Bailey-Dick, Benno Barg, Nathan Bender, Grace Boyer, Lisa Brightup, Gary Brooks, Ellis Brown, Tricia Brown, Chris Buhler, Judith Bustany, Robin Buyers, Pat Cameron, Bob Carlsten, Elluage Carson, David Cockburn, Rusty Dinkins-Curling, Bill Durland, Genie Durland, Korey Dyck, Duane Ediger, Anita Fast, John Finlay, Christine Forand, Ron Forthofer, Alyce Foster, Angela Freeman, Lorne Friesen, Ron Friesen, Pierre Gingerich, Art Gish, Peggy Gish, Dorothy Goertz, Amy Gomez, Michael Goode, Jesse Griffin, Matt Guynn, Carol Hanna, Wes Hare, Anne Herman, Donna Hicks, Esther Ho, Ben Horst, Tracy Hughes, Cole Hull, David Janzen, Rebecca Johnson, Kathy Kamphoefner, Joanne Kaufman, Bourke Kennedy, Joel Klassen, Brian Ladd, Mary Lawrence, Wendy Lehman, Gerry Lepp, Gina Lepp, Sis Levin, Jim Loney, Jan Long, Reynaldo Lopez, Krista Lord, Murray Lumley, Barb Martens, Elayne McClanen, Patty McKenna, Diego Méndez, Carl Meyer, Bryan Michener, Cynthia Miller, Marilyn Miller, Robin Miller, Phyllis Milton, Bob Naiman, Paul Neufeld Weaver, Henri Ngolo, Wanda Ngolo, Pieter Niemeyer, Reuben Penner, Paul Pierce, Jane Pritchard, Kathy Railsback, Vern Riedeger, Carol Rose, Jim Roynon, Jacque Rozier, Stephani Sakanee, Jim Satterwhite, Eric Schiller, Carleta Schroeder, Chris Schweitzer, Mary Alice Shemo, Char Smith, Jerry Stein, Lynn Stoltzfus, Harriet Taylor, Kurtis Unger, George Weber, Matthew Wiens, Dick Williams, Gretchen Williams, Doug Wingeier, Jane MacKay Wright, Joshua Yoder, Mary Yoder.
ASSOCIATES/VOLUNTEERS: Webmaster: Mark Byler; Building manager: Paul Becher, PLUS the indispensable team of Chicago volunteers that make our newsletter mailings possible!