Signs of the Times: Spring 2000 Vol. X, No. 2

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Wade in the Water: Troubled Fishery in New Brunswick

Esgenoôpetitj, Mi'kmaq Territory (Burnt Church, NB) – CPTers William Payne and Bob Holmes of Toronto were arrested and released on Saturday, May 6 when they boarded a Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) boat and attempted to recover 10 lobster traps belonging to Esgenoôpetitj (es-guh-NO-buh-ditch) First Nation member, Brian Dartiboque. DFO agents confiscated Dartiboque's fishing equipment because he did not have a DFO license. Rather, Dartiboque chose to fish under a license issued by his aboriginal community.

In September, 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized that members of the Mi'kmaq (which includes the Esgenoôpetitj), Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy Nations have the right to fish commercially under the terms of a 1760 treaty. However, tensions are high around the question of regulation.

The federal DFO employed "divide and conquer" strategies in attempts to persuade First Nations throughout the Maritimes to accept agreements which imply Canada has a right to regulate the aboriginal fisheries. By the end of April, four of fifteen communities in New Brunswick had settled for financial concessions. Others, including the Mi'kmaq in Esgenoôpetitj, refused, asserting that they must have authority over their own fishery and are not willing to subject that authority to Canadian government regulation.

So the Mi'kmaq Fish and Wildlife Commission developed its own Management Plan and began issuing its own licenses for the spring fishing season. CPTers were on hand as the first fishers went out with Mi'kmaq tags on their traps Saturday morning. DFO officials moved in immediately to shut down the fishery, but the band is organizing more fishers, including the women, to "wade in the water" and continue challenging the DFO's imposed authority.

During last fall's season, the Supreme Court's decision sparked a rampage by non-aboriginal fishers who decimated the aboriginal fishery destroying $250,000 worth of equipment. CPT was invited to send a small team whose presence in Esgenoôpetitj might discourage further violence this season.

CPT's arrival on April 4 sparked a wave of interest across the country from newspapers, radio, and television in both French and English. One community member insisted that the media attention alone helped deter violence. "It shows that there is a lot of interest in what is happening here, and that may make people who want to harm us think twice."

Together with setting up a weather-worthy camp amid sun, rain, wind and snow, CPTers in the first days of the project made a point of speaking with parties on all sides. A community forum brought together people from Esgenoôpetitj and neighboring Burnt Church as well as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the DFO in efforts to prevent further violence.

CPT members in Esgenoôpetitj have included Anne Herman (Binghampton, NY), Bob Holmes (Toronto, ON), Joel Klassen (Kitchener, ON), Gerry Lepp (Harrow, ON), William Payne (Toronto, ON), Janet Shoemaker (Goshen, IN), and Lena Siegers (Blyth, Ontario).




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Colombia: "Please Pray for Us."

by Paul Neufeld-Weaver

A six-member CPT delegation traveled to Colombia April 7-17 at the invitation of the Colombian Mennonite Church and Justapaz, the Christian Center for Justice, Peace, and Conflict, to explore possibilities of future CPT involvement in the region.

In the Pacific coast state of Chocó, the poorest region of Colombia, CPTers met with members of the local Mennonite Brethren Church and visited three resettlement camps for people displaced by violence. Leftist guerrillas, government-allied paramilitary forces, and the Colombian Army are all active in the area. In addition to a lack of clothing, food, and shelter, people in Chocó are worried about the vicious cycle of vengeance. Displaced people asked CPT team members, "How can you stop the violence when so many of the children have seen their parents killed?" Church leaders in this overwhelmingly Afro-Colombian region pointed out that racism compounds the suffering they experience.

In the Atlantic Coast region of Urabá, in the state of Antioquia, team members were told about the assassination of pastor Burgos who asked his captors if he could pray for them before they killed him. They granted his wish, and then completed their task. In another case, armed men played soccer with the decapitated head of a Pentecostal pastor.

CPTers met with representatives of thousands of displaced people in Magangué, Bolívar, a city of 200,000 whose population has more than doubled in the past 15 years largely due to war-related migration. The psychological cost of the conflict is heavy. One displaced mother lamented, "In our home communities, it was our custom to share freely from the little we had. Now we have nothing to share and are forced to beg to survive."

Nearly 5,000 people died in 1999 in political violence in Colombia, most of them civilians. Over 1.5 million people in this country of 40 million are displaced, often fleeing their homes with only a few hours notice.

In an open letter to President Bill Clinton, the Colombian Mennonite Church asked that the U.S. convert the $1 billion in proposed military aid into humanitarian aid to assist the displaced, to support negotiations to end the 50-year-old war, and to develop alternatives to coca production for impoverished farmers.

One church member in Chocó told the story of her daughter's kidnaping and murder, then asked that North American Christians remember them in prayer. CPT corp member Mark Frey responded, "We know it is difficult to experience the crucifixion without feeling the resurrection. We will tell people your stories, and we will pray for you."

CPT's ability to place a full-time team in Colombia will depend on the availablily of personnel and financial resources.

Members of the CPT delegation, were Jose Luis Azurdia (Guatemala), Kryss Chupp (Chicago, IL), Mark Frey (N. Newton, KS), Kathleen Kern (Webster, NY), Val Liveoak (San Antonio, TX), and Paul Neufeld-Weaver (Worthington, MN).



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"Not One More Bomb"

CPT Sends Emergency Response Team to Puerto Rico

On May 1 and 2, a nine-member emergency CPT delegation traveled to the Puerto Rican island of Vieques to support hundreds of nonviolent resisters protesting the U.S. Navy's use of the island for bombing practice. With Marines stationed offshore, the U.S. Marshals and FBI moved in early May 4 and removed protesters from peace encampments so that Navy training operations can resume. Eight CPTers were among those airlifted in Marine helicopters to the Roosevelt Roads Naval Base on the main island of Puerto Rico where they were released later that afternoon. No charges were filed.

The U.S. Navy controls two-thirds of Vieques, population 9400, and has practiced military maneuvers there, including live bombing runs, since 1941. They claim it is so vital because it provides the most complete setting for in-depth training in all kinds of Navy weaponry.

When a stray bomb exploded in April 1999, killing civilian David Sanes, widespread opposition to U.S. military presence erupted throughout Puerto Rico. Churches, educators, fishermen, unions, students and political organizations united to form thirteen nonviolent protest encampments both within and around the bombing area known as "the impact zone" as well as a blockade of the main entrance to the Navy's Camp Garcia. A recent poll indicated that 56% of the Puerto Rican people support the civil disobedience encampments which successfully halted U.S. Navy training operations on Vieques for over a year.

As we go to print, delegation members say the situation is changing rapidly. They are considering staying longer and requesting additional team members to join them.

Members of the emergency response team are: John Buschert and Mark Byler of Goshen, IN; Peter DeMott, Teresa Grady and Mary Anne Grady Flores of Ithaca, NY; Duane Ediger, Dallas, TX; Sue Frankel-Streit, Goochland, VA; Cliff Kindy, N. Manchester, IN; and JoAnne Lingle, Indianapolis, IN.
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An eight-member CPT delegation visiting Vieques March 11-17, met with religious leaders, political and governmental officials, and representatives of the U.S. Southern Command. They spent several days in the resistance encampment at the Camp Garcia gate. Threats of arrest were present then as well. Log keeper Eric Christiansen recorded the following:

  • 3/15/2000 – 9:30pm at the Ecumenical Camp, restricted impact zone, Vieques Island:
  • There have been rumors that arrests will happen tonight. Apparently three helicopters have arrived. Marines with M-16s have replaced civilian security forces at the gates. Earlier we saw a large vessel arriving in the port controlled by the Navy. Some think we'll be arrested tonight or early tomorrow. Whatever happens, we're ready. We're resolute. We're doing the right thing and nothing will scare us away from that.
  • cool story – The protestors have rebuilt three military trucks and use them to get around the island.
  • sad story – During the hurricane, some people took shelter for four days in tank. Carlos Zenon's son Cassimar liked it and made it his cabin for three months. He left with a serious uranium burn on his arm and 37 times the normal levels of uranium in his body.
Members of the March delegation were Phil Borkholder, Vicksburg, MI; Ambrosia Brown and Eric Christiansen, N. Manchester, IN; Angela Freeman, Kitchener, ON; Anne Herman, Binghamton, NY; David Jehnsen, Galena, OH; Cliff Kindy, N. Manchester, IN; and Kurt Ritchie, Constantine, MI.

CPT plans to send another peacemaker delegation to Puerto Rico July 20-30. Contact the CPT office for details.




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Chiapas: For the Eyes of Heaven to See

by Scott Kerr

"The military camp with its 50 soldiers was transformed into a peace festival complete with white flags, banners and a choir," reported CPT director Gene Stoltzfus. "Mayan craftspeople converted the helicopter pad into a great "PAZ" (peace) sign for the eyes of heaven to see."

It was the day before Easter when 400 members of the Mayan pacifist group Las Abejas (the Bees), supported by seven CPTers, converged on the "Civic Action" camp near the highland community of X'oyep. The public witness culminated a 35-day Lenten vigil under the theme: "Return to the Path of God." Team members and Abejas had maintained a round-the-clock presence on the base, fasting and praying every four hours in a makeshift tent made of tree branches and blue plastic.

The shelter symbolized the ongoing condition of displacement for some 10,500 people in the county of Chenalhó -- more than half of the 20,000 in state of Chiapas who have fled their homes within the past two-and-a-half years because of military and paramilitary violence. The Abejas believe that the military has contributed to the situation of tension and violence which has made it impossible for them to return to their home communities. The 70,000 soldiers stationed in Chiapas, one-third of Mexico's entire army, have done nothing to create an environment which would make a return possible.

Across the camp from the helipad-turned-peace-sign, voices from the Abejas choir rang out while CPTers and Abejas raised flags and banners of peace.

On Easter Sunday morning, the CPTers returned to the base for a communion service. All of the symbols and gifts the Abejas had brought to the military the day before were gone and the helicopter pad had been returned to its previous state. CPTer Mark Frey told the base commander, "You have said that you are for the people and for peace but your actions speak your true message."

Members of the Chiapas team included: Mark Frey (N. Newton, KS), Scott Kerr (Downers Grove, IL), William Payne (Toronto, ON), Sara Reschly (Mt. Pleasant, IA), Pierre Shantz (Elmira, ON), Gene Stoltzfus (Chicago, IL), and Lynn Stoltzfus (Harrisonburg, VA).



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South Dakota: Lessons in Listening to Grandmothers

by Carl Meyer

On March 21, the evening CPT's South Dakota delegation arrived at the Pine Ridge Reservation, their Lakota hosts received an urgent phone call: "The BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) is coming tomorrow morning to take the records. We've reached a consensus -- we're going to lock them out."

Since January 16, a coalition of over 100 Oglala Lakota youth, elders, and grassroots community leaders had occupied the reservation offices in order to safeguard financial records which they say document widespread corruption in the Tribal Council. A BIA contractor completed a preliminary audit in mid-March but the BIA refused to release the report. When the BIA announced that the auditor would arrive to haul off the remainder of the tribe's records so he could complete the job, the group hastily agreed they would block the removal unless they received a guarantee that the results of the audit would not be kept secret.

CPT delegates were invited to join the blockade. Shortly after 9am a BIA official and the auditor drove up in a U-Haul truck. Elder Marie Randall, sporting a borrowed CPT cap and flanked by a large crowd of supporters, confronted them. Randall made it clear that the BIA had abused the Lakota people too often in the past to be trusted now.

The auditor was obviously disturbed by the face off. He had been told by the BIA that everything was already settled. Addressing Randall politely as "Unci" (grandmother), he asked to meet with the entire group inside. One by one, the grandmothers stood to make their statements, jumping in mid-sentence from English to Lakota when a foreign tongue could no longer capture the depth of their frustration and grief.

The Tribal Council system was imposed on reservations by the U.S. government in the 1930's and most traditional Lakota have never accepted it as legitimate. "We have had all these laws and paperwork built over us to suppress us," said Randall. "But we are a sovereign nation. We here are the Lakota nation, not that Tribal Council. We are abolishing that government and we have every right to know the results of that audit. We are grandmothers, and we are standing up here so that our Lakota children can remember who they are."

The auditor, a Bolivian indigenous man married to a Lakota woman, was clearly moved by the testimony. His tears, prayers and commitment to conduct an honest audit on behalf of all Lakota won the people's trust and by the end of the day they agreed to a supervised transfer of the remaining records.

Not all the issues have been resolved and the occupation of the building continues. But the BIA did release the preliminary audit to the public. The report confirms a pattern of gross mismanagement of funds by the Tribal Council and has been turned over to the FBI and U.S. Attorney's office for possible prosecutions.

Members of CPT's March 20-30 South Dakota delegation were: Dorothy Goertz (Hillsboro, KS), John and Carrie Harder (Kitchener, ON), Jacob Liechty (Dublin, Ireland), Carl Meyer (Goshen, IN), Rick Polhamus (Fletcher, OH), and Vern Riediger (Toronto, ON).




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Dialogue

In Dialogue we lift exchanges from CPT.D, an open e-mail discussion on CPT's vision and work. Sometimes the unexpected can spark a flurry of conversation – from a peace witness near Jerusalem to the Ashland, WI county courthouse to the controversy over Elián González.

CPT-Hebron team member, Reinhard Kober, described an incident with a settler while supporting the Israeli peace movement, Peace Now, in their resistance against 230 new settler housing units for Har Gilo settlement near the extended Jerusalem border:

Reinhard Kober, CPT-Hebron: As our group of approximately 30 people attempted to block one of the bulldozers, police moved in, forcing us to the side. Suddenly a man, who I immediately recognized as an armed settler, attacked me. He jostled me as I was holding up a sign that read "Settlements = War." "You f---ing German!" the man yelled in my face. "Never tell me about my right to live here. You killed thousands of our Jews!!" I have no idea how he knew that I'm German. After four months of working with CPT in the conflicted land of Israel/Palestine, I knew about the explosive tension that I could expect when "getting in the way." He became very agitated when I responded, "Do you only know how to use violence?"

Sue Wheeler, Lansing, MI: Aware as I am of CPT's pro-Palestinian stance, I still was stunned by the inflammatory language chosen by a "peacemaker" in Hebron: "Settlements = War" !!!!!? I would like to think that CPT has tried to gain an understanding that, for some, at least, "settlements = home." If nothing else, I thought CPT knew something about "nonviolent language."

Nelda Nelson Eaton, Chicago: Sorry, I couldn't agree with you less. If you tore down my house and started building your place on my property, I would think of that as an aggressive gesture and I would challenge your claim to my land. To seize someone else's land or to demolish their home is a declaration of war.

Scott Holland, Richmond, IN:Indeed, for some, "settlements = home." It seems that CPT protests in Israel and Palestine lack both a "public" language and understanding and thus are less than helpful in the complicated quest of seeking peace. It is dangerous to simply import the often sectarian, puritan peace language of the Anabaptist, Mennonite or Brethren traditions to political contexts formed and informed by very different histories, rhetorics and cultural constructions. A careful reading of history might in fact reveal that Sectarianism = War.

Rich Meyer, CPT staff, Millersburg IN: Calling CPT "pro-Palestinian" dismisses the many Israelis who were standing on either side of Reinhard in this story. They are not "pro-Palestinian," they are "pro-Peace." Reinhard's sign was appropriate, nonviolent truth-telling. Since 1967 the settlements have been explicitly part of a war of occupation. If we look at Jesus' example, "nonviolent" does not equal "inoffensive."

Lisa Cantrell, West Park, NY:While war may not be a pleasant or acceptable concept, that is exactly what the settlements cause. Zionists, those who believe the state of Israel must be a Jewish state – thereby eliminating the possibility of the return of millions of displaced Palestinians – by their very beliefs support and perpetuate this war. When the actions of a state knowingly and intentionally prevent the return of people to their homeland, resulting in poverty, loss of rights, hope, and lives, it is no less than war.

Joseph John Perotta, Nashville, MI: I am a Zionist and I agree that this is war. To me the war is because some people (Palestinians) are living on land that is not theirs. God has already given the land to the Jewish people in an everlasting covenant signed only by Him. Just because someone pitches a tent in your backyard doesn't give them the right to claim your backyard as theirs.

On April 4, CPT Reservist Matt Schaaf went to court in Ashland, WI. Schaaf was one of 16 people who entered the U.S. Navy's ELF facility on January 23 to pray for an end to weapons of mass destruction. ELF is the communications transmitter for nuclear-armed Trident submarines. (See "Peace Briefs")

Jan Carrie Steven, Sudbury, ON: My understanding, as a new Mennonite, is that generally speaking Mennonites don't sue. But what do CPTers do when they have to go to court? Do they get legal representation or do they represent themselves or have a CPTer represent them?

Gene Stoltzfus, CPT director, Chicago IL: CPTers going to court have utilized all of the methods you mentioned. In the context of civil disobedience the main purpose of going to court is to witness to the deeper beliefs of what one is trying to represent. Acquittal is not always the best way to make a witness. In the work of nonviolence, we try to spiritually prepare ourselves for whatever punishment might come. We recognize that the act of punishing a truth warrior and the willingness to consciously and voluntarily accept that suffering awakens profound resources and energy for truth work among all people.

Betsy Cunningham, Baltimore, MD: It's your God blessed consciousness that motivated the arrestable act. That's why I think it is best to represent yourself in court.

The Elián González situation stirred vigorous discussion. CPT is frequently asked to issue statements on such matters.

Mart: What is CPT's position or opinion on the Elián González situation? Why have you said nothing and done nothing about reuniting Elián with his father? Do you support the right of Elián's father or the Cuban mafia in Miami? CPT's silence on this issue is deafening.

Sally Gillett, Los Gatos, CA:Each individual and organization has a calling, and each is an important part of the body. If individuals and organizations try to do everything, they burn out and lose focus and force. It upsets me to see a unique, righteous organization like CPT judged for what it's not doing when it's the only organization doing what it does.

Rich Meyer, CPT staff, Millersburg, IN:In the first place, CPT does not ordinarily work by taking positions or stating opinions. We go into conflict situations to stand with the people at the wrong end of the guns. We try to reduce the violence and we report what we see. Secondly, CPT only goes into situations at the invitation of an involved party. To the best of my knowledge, no one from the González case requested CPT's presence.




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Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

by Natasha Krahn

Sitting on the Mount of Olives watching the sun rise on Easter morning, I reflected on the past forty days of Lent.

CPT-Hebron marked the Lenten season by fasting and spending the nights with families who are matched in CPT's Campaign for Secure Dwellings (CSD). These families all have either home demolition orders or a home that has been demolished. We entered into this season with a spirit of staying awake, watching and praying, as Jesus commanded his disciples to do in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Often when I'd lay awake, I'd remember the warmth and security of my childhood – an experience that should be a right for each and every child, but one which the children I played with during Lent do not enjoy.

One night I stayed with a family of eleven in a rough, three-room, cinder block house. They had lived through previous home demolitions and spent last Easter in a tent. Their current house does not have a building permit so this family is still vulnerable to the threat of a bulldozer.

This particular night was extremely windy and the tin roof rattled and shook with every gust. It sounded like we were in the middle of a tornado. Just as I was dozing off, rain started to fall on the tin roof like angry hail. I lay there wide awake and noticed that all the children had fallen asleep, oblivious to the rain's furious dance thundering over our heads.

Working with CPT in Israel/Palestine has been difficult these past months. The few acts of resistance are quickly stifled and spirits are very low. I have witnessed the death of hope.

The period of Lent and the sorrow of Good Friday has always been brightened by the knowledge that Easter follows. But it feels like Easter – the resurrection of justice and true peace – is a long time coming. Until it does, I'll try to stay awake, watch and pray.

CPT's Campaign for Secure Dwellings (CSD) matches Palestinian families under threat of home demolition or land confiscation with North American congregations and peace groups who advocate on their behalf. For more information contact: Rich Meyer - CSD Coordinator; Tel: 219-642-3920; e-mail: cptcsd@npcc.net.



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Tent for Lent 2000: Prayer, Fasting and Public Witness Around the Globe

In the weeks preceding Easter, CPT teams and supporters participated in liturgies and actions that drew attention to the plight of people displaced from their homes because of violence. (See Chiapas article p. 4 and Hebron article p. 8).

The "Tent for Lent" campaign emerged from CPT-Hebron's work with Palestinians whose homes have been demolished by Israeli authorities. Churches matched with Palestinian families through CPT's Campaign for Secure Dwellings (CSD) took the opportunity to intensify their advocacy and education efforts.

In Portland, Oregon, members of the Peace Church of the Brethren sent small packets of soil to the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco along with letters of concern about West Bank land confiscation.

Four couples from the La Mesa (California) First United Methodist Church slept outside one weekend in solidarity with Palestinian families who are forced to live in tents after their homes are demolished.

At the Boulder (Colorado) Mennonite Church, worshipers held an all-night Good Friday vigil, reflecting on stories from CPT projects in Hebron, Chiapas, and South Dakota, and rising every four hours to pray.

CPTer Scott Kerr, studying Spanish in preparation to join the Chiapas team, gathered a group of international students and Guatemalans to vigil at the Israeli and U.S. embassies in Guatemala City.


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Peace Briefs

"Getting in the Way" in Costa Rica – John Sherman, a one-time CPT delegation participant, described being in the midst of student protests over privatization of the country's public utilities in Heredia, Costa Rica: "Several hundred students blockaded streets and faced police in full riot gear. As the battle was about to ensue, I stepped out and informed the police that there were North Americans watching their democracy in action and I urged ‘no police violence!' The police reassembled themselves, talked, got on their buses and left! The next day, the major daily newspaper reported that ‘at the last moment, the police attack was called off.'"

CPTer Tried for Elf Action -- CPT Reservist, Matt Schaaf and three other were tried before the Ashland (WI) County Circuit Court on April 4 for trespassing at the ELF facility in northern Wisconsin. On January 23, Schaaf, six other CPTers, and nine area activists were cited for trespassing after they climbed a chain-link fence at the U.S. Navy's Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) transmitter site, located in the Chequamegon National Forest. The ELF transmitter is designed to send signals to submerged Trident submarines. Each Trident is capable of carrying up to 120 nuclear warheads. In July 1996 the International Court of Justice ruled that first strike nuclear facilities, such as the ELF/Trident system, are illegal under international law. In his statement to the court before Ashland County's Judge Eaton found him guilty and ordered him to pay a $212 fine, Schaaf spoke of the irony of the trespass charge, "seeing that ELF/Trident is the ultimate disrespecter of space and threat to property and life."

Public Park Not Private Golf -- When the Harrisonburg (VA) City Council decided to build an 18-hole golf course on city park land, eight students in Eastern Mennonites University's (EMU) senior seminar in Justice, Peace and Conflict Studies objected that 6,000 trees would be cut down and that an area used by walkers and joggers would be turned into a play-field for the privileged. When letters, e-mails and their presence at city council meetings were ignored, the students collected close to 200 signatures on a petition asking for a public referendum on the issue. They planned to tie pink plastic strips around the trees in the park that were marked for cutting. Attached to the strips were tags signed by city residents that said, "This tree was created by God and entrusted to the people of Harrisonburg."

CPTers Conduct Penny Polls -- As U.S. taxpayers streamed to the post office to file their tax returns on April 17, CPTers and supporters in Elkhart and North Manchester, IN and Boulder, CO asked them how they wanted their tax dollars spent. Poll participants distributed 10 pennies into jars labeled with budget categories. If Congress followed the priorities of those polled, Military spending would be slashed from its current 47% of the FY 2001 budget to 8%. An average from the three sites showed the following popular priorities: Education = 30%; Housing/Health Care = 26%; Environment = 18%; Military = 8%; Foreign Aid = 5%; Other (i.e. Scientific Research, Arts, etc.) = 13%. Pollers notified legislators and the Internal Revenue Service of the results.

CPTer Wins Church Press Award -- Peacemaker Corps member Kathleen Kern won first place in the Theological Reflection category of the American Church Press awards. Her article, "Against the System: Civil Disobedience and the Biblical Record," appeared in the April 20, 1999 issue of The Mennonite. The American Church Press includes such well-known titles as Christianity Today and all the major Catholic papers, as well as smaller publications.



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Calling all Peacemakers:

Steering Committee Looks at CPT Expansion

CPT's 11-person Steering Committee, denominational liaisons and staff met in Chicago April 6-8 to discuss the vision of expanding CPT's capability to place violence-reduction teams in crisis settings. The agenda focused on the proposed goal of growing to an increasingly diverse Corps of 50 full-timers and 250 reservists by the year 2005 with a budget of $1 million and a substantial network of church communities to support them. Current Corps members will meet to continue the discussions at a retreat this August.

"The Spirit is moving," said CPT Co-Chair John Stoner. "The Spirit is opening doors for clear demonstrations of alternatives to violence and is calling for peacemakers to respond."

Corps Coordinator Jan Long added, "We need 5-6 full-time peacemakers to adequately maintain a team in a conflict setting. With our current Corps of eighteen we can balance our commitments in Hebron, Chiapas and Canada. But urgent requests from Puerto Rico and Colombia are pushing us to expand."

Full-time Corps positions are available immediately. Apply now for the January 2001 training. Spanish or other language skills helpful. Contact Janice Kulp Long; CPT Corps Coordinator; 950 Heather Drive; Blacksburg, VA 24060; Tel: 540-951-2788; e-mail: cpt2@igc.org

Blessings, Blessings, Blessings to retiring Peacemaker Corps members: Anne Montgomery, Brooklyn, NY completes four years and will focus her attention on commitments with her local peace community. Mark Frey, Newton, KS, finishes three and a half years and has been accepted into a graduate program in international peace studies at Notre Dame. Sara Reschly, Mt. Pleasant, IA, will also pursue graduate level peace studies after completing three and a half years of full-time service in July.




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Announcements

People's Campaign for Nonviolence -- The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) is sponsoring forty days of vigils, educational events, worship, and nonviolent public witness at the Pentagon, White House, and U.S. Capitol July 1 - August 9, 2000 in Washington, DC. Panels and rallies featuring Daniel Berrigan, Helen Caldicott, John Dear, Marian Wright Edelman, Martin Sheen, and Elizabeth McAlister will raise the call for racial, social, and economic justice and demilitarization. CPT is among many groups co-sponsoring the campaign. For more information contact: FOR; Box 271; Nyack, NY 10960; e-mail: peoplescampaign@forusa.org.

Civil Rights History Bus Tour -- The Damascus Road Anti-Racism Team of Franconia Mennonite conference invites individuals and families with youth age 12 and up to join a Civil Rights History Bus Tour, June 23-July 1. The group will visit sites in North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Virginia with the aim of empowering participants to deepen their commitment to and understanding of the process of dismantling racism. Cost is $750 per person. Contact Sharon Williams; Tel: 215-723-5513.

Peace Studies Directory -- The Consortium on Peace Research, Education and Development (COPRED) recently published an updated directory of academic peace and conflict resolution programs throughout the world. Contains indexes by country, type of program, and religious affiliation. Contact COPRED; Tel: 703-993-2405; e-mail: copred@gmu.edu.


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Letters

CPT should not decide to have nothing to do with people or organizations who are forced to bear arms to defend themselves. I am afraid that CPT may develop a sort of a sanitized country club peace and justice mentality. People who are forced to bear arms in self-defense are the very people that need to hear the power of the gospel of nonviolence and they need the protection a CPT presence can provide. CPT is a Christian organization based in a country whose institutional violence be it in the form of IMF, world bank or School of Americans alumni and weapons are felt mostly in third world countries.

Reynaldo C Lopez, CPT Reservist
Manila, Philippines

I have been reading the reports that you send out. I am glad that CPT is able to experience what living in "Canada," our home and native land is all about. I have said it before and I will say it again -- no one knows what Canada and the U.S. are really about until you have walked this land as an Aboriginal. Keep up the good work.

Terry "Sakoieta" Widrick
Selkirk, MB

I am just arriving at my 83rd birthday and am trying to sort things out of my files that might be of value. The most recent speech I heard and appreciated used the phrase "rebellious imagination." That needs to be resurrected for our time.

Menno Klassen
Winnipeg, MB

[NOTE: Shortly after receiving this letter we were saddened to learn that Menno is suffering from a malignant brain tumor. Says CPT director Gene Stoltzfus, "Menno's firm voice for justice, kindness, and peace has kept us alive when the light seems thin. His example has been wonderful and persistent, and we will continue to be inspired by his ‘rebellious imagination.'"]

One of Haiti's most beloved and credible journalists was assassinated as he was going into his radio station April 3. We knew him personally and listened faithfully his news program. Over the past 25 years he was shot at, imprisoned and exiled. During the coup d'etat (1991-1994), we brought CPTers to the station for interviews. Though we feel that he died true to his convictions, faithful to his country, and honest to his countrymen, this death is as though pages of living history have been torn from the flesh of Haiti's collective soul.

Carla Bluntschli
Ft. Lauderdale, FL

I started a Christian Peacemaker Club with some of my nieces and nephews. They enjoy doing dramas, etc. at family gatherings. My twin nieces wrote this letter to Texas governor Bush without any help:

Marilyn Miller
Boulder, CO

We are 13 years old and we just heard about the Mrs. Beets case, the woman who was executed today!...The only reason you couldn't spare one grandma's life was for the sake of your own votes. That is TERRIBLE!...We learn in school that "two wrongs don't make a right." Why does this rule change for the death penalty?...We understand that not everything is the same in real life...but we will always believe that important rule. Please set a good example for the generations that follow.

Sincerely,

Liz and Katie Sowers
Hesston, KS

Thanks to CPT for the good action in Vieques and thanks to the people of Puerto Rico who courageously and nonviolently stood up against the U.S. military machine. Sixteen of us were arrested for occupying the Armed Forces recruiting office in San Francisco during a major demonstration in support of the Vieques protests.

David Hartsough
San Francisco, CA




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CPT Calendar

May
  • 18-30: Delegation to Chiapas
  • 26-June 8: Delegation to the Middle East
  • July 13-25: Delegation to Chiapas
  • July 21-August 3: Delegation to the Middle East
  • August 4-7 and 18-27: Reserve Corps Training - Kitchener, ON
  • August 6: CPT Sunday
  • August 9-13: Peacemaker Corps Retreat - Joyfield Farm, N. Manchester, IN
  • October 19-21: CPT Steering Committee Meetings - Chicago, IL
  • November 14-27: Delegation to the Middle East
  • November 17-29: Delegation to Chiapas

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