CPT-Iraq has documented cases of U.S. military raids on civilian homes in the Baghdad area. These raids occur late at night and regularly involve destruction of property and injury and psychological trauma to family members. Many households report that money, jewelry, and other family heirlooms are missing after such raids. Usually the males in the house are detained and denied access to legal representation even when no evidence of weapons or wrongdoing is found. Estimates run as high as 8800 detainees from the Baghdad area.
The following testimony of a 16-year old boy, recorded by CPTers Le Anne Clausen and David Milne, describes brutal treatment of Iraqis by U.S. soldiers during detention.
"At 2:30 a.m., U.S. troops came to our house and ordered our entire family outside. They broke the locks to our cabinet and threw the contents onto the floor, even though our father gave them the cabinet key. They took our money and a gold wedding necklace belonging to my mother. My father, cousin, older brother, and I were tied and taken away."
"Our wrists were tied with plastic ties behind our backs the entire night. In the morning, we were put out into the sunlight as a type of punishment. We asked for shade, but the soldiers refused. [Temperatures at the time were 110-120°F.]"
"With our hands still tied behind our backs, we were unable to drink any water. The soldiers refused to untie us so we could drink. We asked if just one of us could be re-tied with his hands in front of him so that he could help the rest of us to drink. The soldiers refused. The soldiers re-tied us with the plastic ties in front of us on the next day."
"Another day I asked a soldier for water, because I hadn't had anything to drink for the entire day in the sun. He beat me on my back and chest, while another soldier kicked me in the back."
"When my brother asked for some water, the guard gagged him and began beating him until blood started flowing from his mouth. My brother screamed in pain. We also screamed at them to stop. Then we were beaten in the neck, back, and behind." [The boy indicated that his buttocks were held apart and he was kicked in the anus.]
"I was released wearing only my underwear and forced to walk back to my home in broad daylight. Everyone thought from my dress that I had been caught stealing. I was so humiliated. I was also badly sunburned."
"The officers told me upon my release, 'Don't tell anyone about what happened here, or we'll come pick you up again.'"
No soldier has returned to the family's home to tell them why the men in the family were arrested or what the soldiers were searching for on the night they broke into their home. The soldiers issued no receipts for the money and jewelry confiscated.
The father, brother and cousin remain jaildedat various prison camps throughout Iraq. The family was able to get information about their relatives' locations only through lists provided by CPT members who are working with the mosque in their district.
The boy's mother told CPT workers that her son has nightmares every night, and wakes up shaking and screaming. "The U.S. has a hypocritical policy," she said. "They speak all the time about human rights but they don't believe in it themselves."Back to the top
". . . I felt the Lord's power take control of me and his Spirit carried me to a valley full of bones . . . He said, 'Ezekiel, son of man, can these bones come back to life?'" Ezekiel 37:1-3
CPTers joined with local Iraqi farmers and officials in a prayer vigil on August 15, 2003, remembering thousands of civilians slaughtered or buried alive by Saddam Hussein's forces in 1991.
Walking soberly through the field of mass graves, team members saw a man's headband, clumps of hair, red prayer beads, a pair of old shoes, and the black abaya (full covering) of a woman who was buried with her eighteen month-old baby. Each belonged to a person who had once walked this valley of Al Malhaweel, near Hilla and Babylon in central Iraq. The victims were among 3,000 who had been killed during an uprising encouraged by the U.S. at the end of the Gulf War, according to local officials. Only 1,600 of the buried remains have yet been identified.
Thirty people, including local religious and political leaders, human rights workers and the farmer who discovered the mass grave near his property, gathered under a long canopy tent in the 120ºF desert heat to share thoughts and prayers, readings and silence in honor of the victims and their families.
There in the midst of the "valley of dry bones," God's question to the prophet Ezekiel rang out: "Can these bones live?" Team member Gene Stoltzfus suggested that these bones shall rise again as those who were present, and people around the world, take a stand for justice, truth, and peace.
The memorial service, which brought together Christians and Muslims, Iraqis and Americans, emphasized a common desire for peace and a recommitment to work for a world without mass graves.Back to the top
Five million people participated in a pilgrimage to the holiest Shi'a shrine in Baghdad without major incident September 22, 2003. Shrine officials invited CPT to be present at the pilgrimage, which they feared might be disrupted by U.S. military actions or a terrorist attack from one of the many armed factions operating in Iraq.
In the previous month there had been a car bombing at a religious festival, and an attempted assassination of Sayyid Ali al-Waahd, the head cleric at the Baghdad shrine.
At al-Waahd's request, CPT members met twice with U.S. military officials to explain the significance of the pilgrimage and urged soldiers not to antagonize the crowd through actions such as pointing tank cannons at them.
CPT members and translators stationed themselves on the roof and a lower balcony of a hotel directly across from the shrine where they could observe pilgrim traffic converging on a central square. Hundreds of shrine volunteers set up checkpoints at multiple locations along the pilgrimage route. They deterred a minibus loaded with explosives from entering the vicinity, and reportedly found and detained about ten individuals throughout the day carrying hand grenades or other explosives.
Iraqi police had a strong presence at the event and cooperated with shrine volunteers. U.S. military officials patrolled by helicopter but kept well away from the shrine and pilgrimage area.
Iraq team members July-October were: Matt Chandler (Springfield, OR), LeAnne Clausen (Mason City, IA), Peggy Gish (Athens, OH), Maureen Jack (Fife, Scotland), David Milne (Belleville, ON), Kathy Namphy (Palo Alto, CA), Anne Montgomery (New York, NY), Allan Slater (Lakeside, ON), Jerry Stein (Birmingham, AL), Gene Stoltzfus (Chicago, IL).Back to the top
Mazen Dana was a Palestinian journalist from Hebron and a friend of CPT members there. He was on assignment with Reuters in Baghdad when he was killed by gunfire from U.S. soldiers. CPT reservist, Jeff Heie (Harrisonburg, VA), came to know Dana in Hebron in the summer of 1995.
Mazen Dana believed strongly in his right to cover stories as they were unfolding and he knew the risks of being a Palestinian journalist in this part of the world. During his career in the West Bank he was shot in the leg three times, hit by rubber bullets, beaten by Israeli soldiers, and had his hand broken twice.
On August 17, with permission of a U.S. soldier, Dana and a colleague were filming a bridge near Baghdad Central Penitentiary (Abu Ghraib) when they saw a convoy of U.S. troops approaching.
A review of their camera footage revealed two tanks heading toward them with two soldiers visible and the crack of five shots in quick succession. Then the camera lurches forward and a bullet, shot by one of my fellow Americans, tore into Dana's chest and exited his back. Within seconds, someone that I felt privileged to call a friend was dead.
When I heard the news, I went numb. I stared at the candle next to my kitchen sink, the one that my wife and I light when we are praying for someone. It was too late to light the candle for Dana. My condolences go out to his wife Suzana and his four young children.Back to the top
Two new roads and a long fence now separate about 100 acres of vineyards from their owners in Wadi el-Ghroos, a small valley which lies between the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba and the city of Hebron.
The chain link fence, about two meters high with razor wire at the top, resembles the fencing used in northern parts of the West Bank for the "Apartheid Wall," as Palestinians and some Israelis refer to it.
Landowners in Wadi el-Ghroos were not notified that their land was being confiscated until the fence was already installed, so they had no time to contest the confiscation in Israeli courts.
What will this fence mean to the farmers in Wadi el-Ghroos? CPTers Chris Brown and Greg Rollins found out on October 8 when they went to help pick olives in the town of Jayyous, where the fence runs six kilometers inside the West Bank. Israeli soldiers did not allow anyone to pass through to the fields. Not only were families waiting to harvest their olives, but there were owners separated by the wall from their greenhouses who knew that their produce was dying for lack of water.
Later that day the fence was broken open. Rollins stayed with a group near the fence while Brown went to pick olives with others. When soldiers returned, a number of Israelis and internationals prevented them from closing the gate until they agreed to allow the olive pickers to return to the village at the end of the day. CPTers heard later that soldiers tear-gassed the farmers and internationals when they returned and detained four or five persons. In the end, everyone made it back through the fence.
The Israeli army demolished two Wadi el-Ghroos homes during the first Intifada and two more in February, 1996. CPTers Anne Montgomery, Dianne Roe, Kathleen Kern and Bob Naiman tried unsuccessfully to prevent the demolition of one of the homes by climbing on its roof -- an action that eventually led to the establishment of CPT's Campaign for Secure Dwellings and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. In March, 1997, Israeli police arrested CPTer Cliff Kindy, Rabbis for Human Rights' director Arik Asherman, and two Palestinians as they started to rebuild. Today, nearly half of the 120 families who live in Wadi el-Ghroos face the threat of home demolition to make way for the wall.Back to the top
Israeli troops bulldozed the home of the Najeeb, Mohamed and Omar el-Rajaby families in the Beqa'a valley east of Hebron the morning of September 14, leaving more than thirty people homeless.
"Everything is still inside," Mohamed said. "We didn't have time to take anything out, not even the refrigerator and the washing machine."
That afternoon, soldiers demolished two shops and a water cistern belonging to Nader Jaber. The Jaber family is a partner in CPT's Campaign for Secure Dwellings (CSD).
These demolitions had nothing to do with confiscating land for proposed security fences or retribution for alleged violence by these families or their relatives. There was no military operation in the area at the time. Israeli authorities demolished these homes and shops because they were "built without permits." For the past 36 years, Palestinians have routinely been denied permits by Israel to build on their own land.
"How does Israel expect Palestinians to respond?" asks Jeff Halper, chair of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. "Western countries tell Palestinians to use the political process rather than violence, while the Israeli government demolishes their homes! The countries sponsoring the 'Roadmap to Peace' should insist that these demolitions stop."Back to the top
CPTer Greg Rollins (Surrey, BC) was arrested by Israeli soldiers in May, and jailed for 17 days without charges. The Israeli Defense Force has not yet responded to a petition filed by CPT's lawyer challenging the military order barring internationals and Israelis from Palestinian cities. Rollins remains with the team in Hebron, awaiting the High Court hearing.Back to the top
Last issue CPT reported that Hebron University students engaged in nonviolent direct action on June 4 to re-open the main campus gates which had been welded shut by the Israeli military in February. A series of re-closings by soldiers and re-openings by students ensued throughout the summer. Finally, on August 15, the students' persistence paid off. Israeli authorities informed administrators of both Hebron University and Palestine Polytechnic University that normal academic life could resume.
Hebron team members July-October were: Kathie Uhler (New York, NY), Jim Satterwhite (Bluffton, OH), JoAnne Lingle (Indianapolis, IN), Greg Rollins (Surrey, BC), Kristin Anderson (Willmar, MN), Jerry Levin (Birmingham, AL), Sue Rhodes (Bath, England), Paul Pierce and Kathy Kamphoefner (Beijing, China), Dianne Roe (Corning, NY), Diane Janzen (Calgary, AB), Rich Meyer (Millersburg, IN), Chris Brown (San Francisco, CA), Benno Barg (Kitchener, ON), Mary Lawrence (Lunenburg, MA), Cat Grambles (Waterford, CT), Gary Brooks (Lexington, KY), Klaus Engell-Neilsen (Gothenburg, Sweden).Back to the top
Our friend called it a a winnowing dance. Members of our team took turns wearing a pair of pale, leather moccasins, soles softened to a shine from wear, and "dancing" over batches of roasted, unhusked wild rice in a small pit. When loosened, husks rose to the top of the batch. Another person poured the batch from bowl to bowl as a fan separated the chaff from the grains.
Our Anishinaabe friend remembered how his parents had harvested rice in the traditional way. "It was almost lost," he said. In the late 70's non-natives began processing rice with machines, and the "winnowing dance" was rarely done.
He spoke hopefully about the new generation, who want to bring back traditions such as the winnowing dance and to resist the taking of their traditional lands.
The Anishinaabe traditionally moved about a wide tract of land seasonally, making careful use of its resources. This movement was integral to their culture, and to sustainable land management prior to the Indian Act, which concentrated native communities onto reserves. Therefore, resistance here includes movement off of the reserve -- the building of a blockade encampment and pow-wow grounds.
During wild rice threshing, our moccasins put just the right amount of pressure on the unhusked rice to release the slender grains of rice from the unwanted chaff. The dance at Asubpeeschoseewagong, as it puts pressure on those in power, is releasing precious kernels of culture that were almost lost.Back to the top
Chief Simon Fobister, Deputy Chief Steve Fobister, and Councilor Robert Williamson flew to Montreal in September to meet with John Weaver, President of Abitibi-Consolidated, the company licensed to log the traditional lands of Asubpeeschoseewagong.
"I'm listening here for something I can do to help," offered Weaver. Simon and Steve spoke about the community's history, the difficulties of the mercury pollution and now, the logging. Robert simply said, "I came here to bring a message. Stop clear-cutting."Back to the top
Words and Music by Wilf Buck, The Pas, MB; Third Verse by Matt Schaaf (CPT)
Are you sitting in a barroom, playing a waiting game
Are you stuck inside an office working nine to five a day
The whiskey-jack and the eagle know the healing of the trees
Members of the delegation to Asubpeeschoseewagong October 31 to November 9 were: Phyllis Bergquist (Plymouth, WI), Tom Fox (Springfield, VA), Chris Moore-Backman (Redwood City, CA), Roger Wolcott (Sandy Spring, MD), Barry McGrory (Toronto, ON), and co-leaders Jessica Phillips (Encinal, TX) and Matt Schaaf (Winnipeg, MB).
Team members July - October included: Phillips, Schaaf, Jeff Thiessen (Winnipeg, MB), Tricia Brown (Newberg, OR), Jerry Stein (Nazareth, TX), Stewart Vriesinga (Lucknow, ON), Nicholas Klassen (Fort Langley, BC), Art Arbour (Toronto, ON), Charles and Carol Spring (Palo Alto, CA), Doug Pritchard (Toronto, ON), Erin Kindy (Tiskilwa, IL).Back to the top
It's ironic that, one month after a field has been aerially sprayed, the only thing still growing is coca, the plant from which cocaine is derived. The light yellow leaves flourish in the heavy soils baking under Colombia's hot sun. It's said that if you can remove all the poisoned leaves on all your plants within three days, you'll save your crop. Unfortunately, it means exposing your entire family, everyone who can lend a hand - a three year old, a grandfather, or a pregnant mother - to a chemical combination so toxic it's banned in the United States.
On a recent exploratory visit to fumigated areas in Bolivar department, CPTers documented dead and dying food crops--rice, maize, yucca far from any visible coca. They also photographed dead and dying food crops which surrounded tiny plots of coca, or interspersed with the infamous plant.
The policy of aerial spraying of illicit crops so far hasn't eradicated the cocaine trade, which partially funds both sides in Colombia's civil war. Even the U.S. drug czar admits that the flow of drugs from Colombia to the U.S. has remained stable despite. Recent studies by the conservative U.S. think tank, the RAND Corporation, have shown that money put into rehabilitation and prevention programs to reduce the demand for drugs is 23 times more effective than source country "eradication." Aerial spraying poisons the air, the water and the land. It is inaccurate and sloppy. We are only beginning to learn about the long term health effects on the people.
U.S. policy is making it nearly impossible for subsistence farmers here to choose life and grow crops that nourish the body and soul instead of destroying it. People here feel forced to produce something that destroys the lives of others in order to preserve their own. They do just what the hardy coca plant does: push ahead in poor, unforgiving soils in the pursuit of life despite the ubiquitous poison of war.Back to the top
Between September 25 and October 3, 2003, the Colombian government issued four visas for CPT members. HALLELUJAH! That more than doubles the number of valid visas currently held by full-time CPTers available to work in Colombia. These visas are the fruit of more than a year of struggle to maintain a viable team in Colombia and a testament to the power of prayer and grassroots action. The Colombia team offers heartfelt thanks to the many supporters who sent faxes, made phone calls, visited legislators, and undergirded the team with prayer during these trying months.
Please continue to hold the Colombia team in prayer as they work to reduce violence and support efforts for peace in the region.
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On the evening of July 22, CPTers camping out at the school on the Ciénaga (Lake) of the Opón were woken up at gunpoint about 10 p.m. by a small group of paramilitaries demanding to know who was sleeping in the tent. After recognizing "the gringos," the group moved on to nearby houses.
The team, now fully awake, followed them and kept watch while the armed group got a meal from a local family and had two civilians to drive them in the community canoe.
The seven armed men stayed in the area for two days before leaving with a new recruit. Team members engaged the paramilitaries in many conversations about nonviolence, security of civilians, the danger of combining alcohol and arms (several of the armed men were drinking), and forced work days.
The commander had mentioned their intention of making the community have a work day in order to clean up around the school the local waterways. After the team explained that these orders would be a violation of the human rights of civilians and that the team intended to document it as such, the paramilitaries instead facilitated a community meeting regarding new rules about community life.
The team encountered groups of paramilitaries a number of times during recent months in their accompaniment zone, south of the city of Barrancabermeja.Back to the top
As we raced upriver in our motor canoe, I wondered: "If a song of peace is sung in the forest, and no armed person hears it, does it still produce the fruit of peace?"
Three days earlier, members of our team had been present in the countryside when a group of paramilitaries had launched grenades and sprayed the trees with automatic gunfire. Many people within hearing range were terrified that a battle might be taking place.
After reflecting sadly on how unjust it is that seeds of fear are sown in such a verdant land, we left for the countryside again with my flute, some music, and a plan. We would go to each house that was within hearing range of the ugly noises of warfare, and we would bless and cleanse the air by replacing the frightening noises with songs of peace.
Each family we visited told us how they had experienced the sounds of the paramilitary exercise, and they accepted with a grin the offering of purifying music. As we left, families returned to their everyday work of fishing or laundry or planting, showing their courage to live out their lives regardless of the efforts of armed groups to instill fear.
So, if a song of peace is sung in the forest, and no armed person hears it, does it still produce the fruit of peace? I think so.
Colombia interns, delegates and team members from July-October were: Scott Albrecht (Kitchener, ON), Rafael Boria (Chicago, IL), Lisa Brightup (Wichita, KS), Robin Buyers (Toronto, ON), Julián CarreZo (Colombia), Kryss Chupp (Chicago, IL), Dan Dale (Chicago, IL), Eric Edgin (Indianapolis, IN), Duane Ediger (Dallas, TX), Jim Fitz (Tiskilwa, IL), Elizabeth García (Brownsville, TX), Cassandra Heino (Philadelphia, PA), Barb Howe (Gainesville, FL), Erin Kindy (Tiskilwa, IL), Carmen Kingsley (Elkhart, IN), Michael Lachman (Athens, OH), Dale Lindsey (Cleveland, OH), Vincent Petersen (El Paso, TX), Sara Reschly (Chicago, IL), Sandra Rincón (Colombia), Carol Rose (Wichita, KS), Chris Schweitzer (Fairfield, CT), Pierre Shantz (Blainville, QC), Glenn Simonsen (Comer, GA), Charles Spring (Palo Alto, CA), John Volkening (Sawyer, MI), Doug Wingeier (Waynesville, NC), Stephen Wingeier (Atlanta, GA), Keith Young (Comer, GA).Back to the top
CPT returned to Oneida Territory in New York for several weeks in June to support "traditional" community members in their efforts to stave off more home demolitions. Traditional Oneidas do not recognize Ray Halbritter, Chief and CEO of Oneida Indian Nation of New York, Inc. who orchestrated the destruction of 14 homes on the 32-acre territory.
A series of housing inspections by Halbritter's team declared the remaining homes unfit with demolition scheduled for August 20. However, court appeals delayed the demolitions and on October 28, Tribal Judge Simon issued a stay in order for negotiations to take place. Traditional families consider this move an "answer to prayer" and hope it can result in "healing peace and the restoration of Traditional values."
With the conviction that "peace will prevail only through continued prayerful action," some traditional families together with local supporters are considering a plan to rebuild the previously demolished homes. Habitat for Humanity and Brethren Disaster Service have both been contacted for possible support.Back to the top
CPT programs have increased significantly in the last year. In 2002 CPT had two full-time projects in Hebron and Colombia with part-time work in Oneida and Vieques. Since then CPT has developed two additional full-time projects in Iraq and Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows, Ontario) in response to local invitations.
The Peacemaker Corps now includes two Colombian members, a harbinger for growth in diversity. CPT played a critical role in Iraq as opposition built against the war and continues to do so with a six member team in Baghdad and regular delegations. We need your help this Christmas season as the CPT financial situation plays catch up with new program commitments.
By December CPT will be three years into a five year plan to develop a full time Peacemaker Corps of 50 people (we are now at 32) and a Reserve Corps of 250 persons (we are now at 125). We also expect to work with additional communities in North America and around the world to develop Regional CPT groups.
Now for the news from the spread sheets. In the first eight months of our fiscal year, we have received $460,000 towards our $912,000 budget. That is about $100,000 behind where we should be to meet our expenses. Costs for living, travel and communications in high conflict situations are not cheap. We have three months to correct this imbalance. It can be done.
Thank you, Signs of the Times readers, for whatever routine or inventive opportunities you may see to help support our common work of peacemaking.
"It was my grandmother who taught me to organize," said Bernard LaFayette, the keynote speaker at the opening session of the Christian Peacemaker Congress, held in Youngstown, OH September 25-28, 2003. LaFayette spoke especially about his organizing work in Selma, AL in the 1960's, and the important roles that both black and white activists played in the civil rights movement.
On September 26, the 150 congress participants held a public witness against the U.S. Patriot Act at the Youngstown courthouse, carrying black cardboard jail bars to symbolize the rampant detentions of civilians without charge from the U.S. and Canada to Iraq.
The witness drew the attention of local activists Karen Bryant and Richard Olivito, of Parents Against Police Abuse (PAPA). They attended the congress the next day and shared vivid stories of police officers brutalizing mainly black youth in the nearby town of Warren. In response ten congress participants joined PAPA members for an impromptu prayer vigil at the Warren courthouse.
"Situations like the one in Warren remind us that our call in CPT is to speak out and act against violence in our own communities and around the world," said Paul Neufeld Weaver, CPT reservist and Congress participant from Worthington, MN.
PAPA organizers thanked CPT for their presence. "We often feel isolated," said Olivito. "Some community residents and police officers privately express support for our work but are too afraid to speak out."
Friday evening's keynote speaker, Ruby Sales, challenged white participants to examine the pain and loss that racism causes in their own communities. She also encouraged attendees to examine local issues, saying that they don't need to go to Iraq to find violence.
Substantial leadership for the congress came from the CPT-Cleveland regional group, who conducted workshops and led the worship.Back to the top
CPT members and delegates to the Mennonite Church USA assembly in Atlanta, GA July 4-7 marched to Coca-Cola's world headquarters and prayed for an end to the murder of Coca-Cola bottlers in Colombia.
Some Coca-Cola bottling plants use paramilitaries to intimidate and assassinate labor leaders as a way of undermining workers' organizing. Colombian unions have called for a one-year boycott of Coke products which began July 22, 2003. CPT's Colombia team knows some of these threatened workers and urges supporters to join the boycott. See www.cokewatch.org.Back to the top
A couple decades after Jesus' death, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter addressing perversions of the Lord's supper in the Corinthian church. Some stuffed themselves and let others go away hungry, others became drunk on wine. He told them that "all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves" (1 Cor. 11:29.)
Centuries later, North Americans feed and clothe themselves cheaply with products produced by workers in the two-thirds world, workers denied rights that North Americans take for granted. In doing so, we disregard how our consumption patterns affect these workers, many of them Christians. Perhaps it is time for us to "discern the body" and think twice about buying a Coke when we're thirsty.Back to the top
Sixteen graduates of the 2003 Summer Training marked the 10th anniversary of the formation of CPT's Peacemaker Corps. Of the first group of seven Corps members trained in 1993, four are still active in CPT. Kathleen Kern (full time), Pete Begly, Cole Hull and Lena Siegers (Reservists). Kern, Begly and Siegers were present at the recent Peacemaker Congress.
This summer was also CPT's first bi-lingual training (English/Spanish) with two Colombian participants. Sandra Rincón is now full-time with the team in Barrancabermeja, and Adaía Bernal is a reservist based in Bogotá.
Training participants joined in a public memorial service for the victims of the war in Iraq at Chicago's Federal Plaza on July 23rd. On August 9, (Nagasaki Day) CPTers formed part of an international inspection team to investigate weapons of mass destruction at Project ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) - the U.S. Navy's communications transmitter for nuclear-armed Trident submarines. Eight CPTers were arrested and charged with trespassing when they crossed the property line to inspect the facility. Trial dates are set for December 12, 2003 and February 20, 2004.
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On July 26th peace activists in Colorado visited various missile silos. Seven members of CPT Colorado visited their assigned silo, looking for weapons of mass destruction. After touring the site named "Crying Children," they gathered with other "Citizen Weapons Inspectors" to symbolically bury the missiles under flowers and paper cranes.Back to the top
"GETTING IN THE WAY: Studies in the Book of Acts" is now available from CPT's Chicago office ($5 suggested donation). This unit of four lessons was designed for groups who wish to study the work of Christian Peacemaker Teams within the context of the biblical witness. Accordingly, each lesson is tied to a passage from the book of Acts. Participants will study both the first century church described in Acts and the history and work of Christian Peacemaker Teams.
In the first lesson, Kathleen Kern, member of the Christian Peacemaker Corps since 1993, takes people on a journey through the beginnings of CPT and the early church. Subsequent lessons deal with subverting privileges granted by empires, speaking truth to power through civil disobedience, and models for growth.Back to the top
Signs of Peace: "In the global family, all wars are civil war," said Ghazi Brigithe to CPT delegation participants. Brigithe, a Palestinian Muslim, and Rani Elhanan, a Jewish Israeli are members of the Association of Bereaved Families. Israeli soldiers killed Brigithe's brothers. A suicide bomber killed Elhanan's 14-year-old daughter. In their pain, the two men came to understand that killing is not a Muslim or a Jewish custom, but a government policy. They give lectures on nonviolence and peace building in schools and organize blood banks. Palestinians donate blood for Israeli wounded, as do Israelis for Palestinians. Elhanan calls it, "the same blood for peace."
Control Arms: Oxfam International, Amnesty International, and the International Action Network on Small Arms are launching a campaign, Control Arms. It aims to draw attention to the impact of unregulated arms transfers and champion the Arms Trade Treaty. The groups' report titled "Shattered Lives," is available at www.controlarms.org.
Franciscans Honor CPTer: In their annual conference held in Detroit August 18-21, 2003, the Franciscan Federation of the United States invited their congregations to join CPT's Campaign for Secure Dwellings, and form a CPT delegation to Hebron. CPTer Kathie Uhler was named by her congregation, the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, NY, as one of their own members who had a great influence on their efforts to be instruments of peace and reconciliation.
Peace Pitcher: CPT Director Gene Stoltzfus received a "peace pitcher" in recognition of his life-long work for peace and justice, at the Mennonite Church USA's Peace and Justice Support Network gathering, in Atlanta last July. See http://peace.mennolink.org/resources/atlanta2003/index.html for a text or audio version of his acceptance speech.
Full-Timers Retire: CPT expresses deep appreciation to the Peacemaker Corps members who completed full-time service within the past several months: Bob Holmes, Scott Kerr, William Payne, Rick Polhamus, Janet Shoemaker and Lena Siegers. CPT's strength lies in the courage and compassion of our Corps members, amply demonstrated by these six individuals. Each of them brought their gifts to more than one project site. We are grateful that they will continue to serve with CPT as Reservists.
CPTers to Serve with Quakers: Kathy Kamphoefner and Paul Pierce, CPT reservists, begin positions as the Quaker International Affairs Representatives in Jerusalem on November 1. They will represent the American Friends Service Committee, providing support and encouragement to the nonviolence movement.
War Tax Resister Refuses Deal: For the past six years, CPT Reservist Jim Satterwhite and his wife, Olwen Pritchard, have withheld about 20% each time they file their federal income tax returns (the approximate amount that goes directly to support the military).
"When friends in Hebron show me bullets fired at them that were supplied by my tax dollars, I cannot continue to 'pray for peace and pay for war,'" Satterwhite says. He sent this report on a recent encounter with an IRS Collections Agent:
"We met at a coffee shop, where he offered to take only a portion my paycheck for three years until what we owe is paid. This offer is the carrot. The stick is that if we continue our 'protest' they will take the maximum, probably my entire salary, for five months."
Satterwhite experienced the IRS agent as "very sympathetic." He said he had never encountered a conscientious objector to war taxes before, and that he himself had failed to make choices of conscience in the past when he had the chance.
"It was good to talk face-to-face as a further part of our peace testimony," reflected Satterwhite. "I finally told him I could not agree to his terms, so he will have to do what he has to do to collect the money."Back to the top
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In Dialogue, we highlight exchanges from our web site and e-mail networks regarding CPT's vision and peacemaking ministry. CPT's work in Iraq and an October 15 report from CPT-Hebron about Israeli soldiers tear-gassing school children sparked numerous comments on learning violence.
Sue Wheeler, Lansing, MI: A group of 800 children "starting to throw stones" sounds pretty scary to me. Does CPT involve itself in reviewing the educational materials of Hebron kids, to help them understand that this is a bad idea?
Dannie Otto, Arcola, IL: The release said that 800 children were leaving school and that "a few older boys" started throwing stones. There is nothing scary about children leaving or arriving at school. What is the Israeli army doing hanging around schools in Hebron, anyway?
Rhonda McCarty, Midland, TX: The boys in Hebron are not learning to throw stones in school. They have learned violence directly from their Israeli oppressors.
Barry King, Landisville, PA: Although some have argued that violence against other people comes naturally for humans, that does not seem right to me. The question of how the young Americans in Iraq obtain their acclimatization is perhaps unanswerable. It seems to me that Hollywood and television play a significant role.
Phyllis Bixler, Springfield, MO: It is not just "young" Americans and not just those in Iraq who are thus acclimatized; and one cannot simplistically blame all movies or video games. Nevertheless, violence is a major feature of how we view ourselves and present ourselves to the world.
In "The Missing Peace: The Search for Nonviolent Alternatives in United States History," James C. Juhnke and Carol M. Hunter read United States history through a very different lens, hoping to free us from the determinism of a violent myth and to open us to more creative ways of addressing political problems.
Richard Wilson, St Louis, MO: It is remarkable how infrequently one sees comments about the role of the Prince of Peace in the "Peace Church" conversations we see online. Is there is an uneasy memory of the One who alone can and will bring peace saying: "I come to bring not peace, but a sword."?
Christopher Carroll, Chicago, IL: Christ was using a metaphor to describe the social divisions produced by some choosing to follow Him and some rejecting his message. It has nothing to do with advocating war, violence or actual swords.
Ahmed Hillawy, Dubai, UAE: If you are really free from political agendas, I would have expected you in Baghdad when Saddam was killing us and filling our land with our bodies. I don't need to see weapons of mass destruction because Saddam's mass destruction is evident all over Iraq. I have family in Baghdad and I was willing to take the risk of supporting this war so that my country becomes a decent free nation just as it was thousands of years ago.
Doug Pritchard, CPT Canada Coordinator: We are not able to be present at every atrocity or conflict in the world. The first delegation we sent anywhere was to Iraq in December 1990. We supported the work of Voices in the Wilderness to try and tell the stories of what was happening to the Iraqi people after the news of the Gulf War had left our newspapers. Saddam committed many atrocities against his people and others both as an ally, and as an enemy, of the West. We never condoned that. We do not believe that this war or the ongoing occupation will facilitate Iraq becoming a free nation. Many of the Iraqi people whom we meet every day say the same.
This conversation is excerpted from an electronic discussion forum for CPT full-time and reserve corps.
Jim Fitz, Tiskilwa, IL, CPT Reservist: In the article "Is Hebron on the Roadmap to Peace," (Signs of the Times, Summer 2003) Rich Meyer tries to show that the leaders involved are not really trying to make a Roadmap for Peace. I think Meyer is right, but I feel CPT needs to talk with more balance.
Ariel Sharon has begun to dismantle some Israeli settlements and release some political prisoners. Bush has said the Palestinians can have a state of their own. These are revolutionary things to say. Even if they are completely deceitful in their motives, we need to support them when they move in those directions.
If we are disgusted with something Bush says or does, I challenge us to respond with a diligent commitment to pray for him. The challenge to love our enemies is as hard for us peaceniks as it is for the Bush crew. God will enable us to do it if we try.
I've had supporters of CPT share their discomfort with the tendency in CPT to have a slanted position. To me, it's not about whether that position is right, but about how we are ambassadors of Christ's love to everyone in the conflict, especially those with whom we have the hardest time.
Jim Satterwhite, Bluffton, OH, CPT Reservist: We have to be clear about what is happening "on the ground." The demolished "settlement outposts" are a few inconsequential trailers. There has been no meaningful attempt to restrict settlement growth, let alone dismantle them. The larger issue is that the "Roadmap" narrows the definition of "illegal" settlement to any not explicitly sanctioned by the Israeli government, whereas under international law, all of the settlements are illegal because they constitute a transfer of population from the occupying power into territory under military occupation. Much of the prisoner release seems to be of little consequence.
This is not a question of "balance." If Sharon or Bush says he is for a "Palestinian state" then we have to know what he means by this term before we applaud him.
I do agree that to blame everything on Bush (or Sharon) makes it to easy for us to demonize them. There is a structural dimension that transcends individual leaders, even though they have some influence.
You speak of CPT often having a "slanted position." If by that you mean that we in CPT sometimes tend to only ascribe blame to political leaders, this may indeed come across as "slanted." On the other hand, if you mean that we expose, for example, the supposed "demolition" of settlements to be a sham, and don't applaud Sharon for doing this, then I would say that we are doing our job of reporting what is actually going on.Back to the top
Delegations:Colombia: February 21 - March 4, May 15-27, July 12-24 and September 18-30, 2004.
Middle East: November 20 - December 2, 2003; February 17 - March 1, April 13-25, May 25 - June 6, July 24 - August 5, September 27 - October 9, and November 22 - December 4, 2004.
Asubpeeschoseewagong (Grassy Narrows, Ontario): Dates to be announced
Iraq: November 20 - December 4, 2003 and January 3-17, 2004.
Peacemaker Training:Winter 2004: December 27, 2003 - January 23, 2004
CPT Steering Committee Meetings:Spring: March 25-27, 2004; Chicago, IL.
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