Signs of the Times: Spring 2002 Vol. XII, No. 2

Contents

Hebron: Release the Captives

On Tuesday, April 9, 15-20 tanks rolled into the village of Dura west of Hebron. Although no curfew was announced, Israeli soldiers began shooting anything that moved in the streets including several people leaving a neighborhood mosque. Helicopter gun ships circled overhead occasionally firing rockets into the village, destroying several buildings.

CPTers in Hebron were called to the scene. As Kathy Kern and Greg Rollins approached a house with four Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) parked out front, they were ordered to retreat and shots were fired over their heads.

Kern and Rollins then went with journalists to the top floor of a different house over looking Dura. There they met a man who was very upset because his daughter and grandchildren were blockaded inside the house surrounded by APCs.

CPTers offered to approach the house again to request the family's release. Thinking the soldiers might be less likely to shoot a woman, Kern borrowed a white head scarf and headed up the street towards the troops.

A soldier with an American accent repeatedly ordered Kern to leave. Several warning shots were fired. Kern stated that she wanted to help the family inside get out. The soldier told her there was no family inside. Kern insisted that she had spoken to the woman's father and he was very worried about her. The soldier assured Kern that everyone inside was fine.

When Kern didn't leave, the soldier cautioned several times, "Kathy, you are putting yourself in danger." Kern replied, "Everyone here is in danger." The soldier then said, "Kathy, you are making a fool of yourself. You are turning this into a circus." Kern stated firmly that she would leave as soon as the family inside was released.

The soldier then told Kern to have a seat and wait. After awhile, he said the family would be released if Kern moved back about fifty meters behind a blue car. Kern agreed to move but asked which part of the U.S. the soldier came from. He replied that if she wanted the family freed, she would not ask any more questions.

Within a few minutes the woman came out of the house with her children and Kern escorted them to safety.

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Hebron: Braving the Bridge

by Mark Frey

On Wednesday, April 17, as I traveled from Jerusalem to Hebron, there was a line of cars waiting to cross the bridge over the bypass road that separates Hebron from Halhul. Israeli soldiers took over a house on the hill and were shooting at any car that tried to drive over the bridge.

Occasionally a carload of Palestinians would race across while soldiers fired machine guns at them. At least two people were injured, one seriously in the chest.

Some Palestinians noticed that I had a cell phone. They suggested I call George Bush to tell the soldiers to stop. I didn't have a direct line to Bush but I found the number for the Hebron Brigade Commander. A group of 20 Palestinians gathered around to listen to the foreigner call the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). A woman said she'd talk to someone and in 5 minutes it should be OK. She sounded very sincere.

After 5 minutes, I offered to go first on foot to see what happened. I started walking, waving my red hat and yelling as I neared the bridge that the commander's office said it was OK to go across. No response from the unseen soldiers, so I kept walking.

Then came a burst of shots in the air. I stopped and yelled some more: "Do you speak English? Anyone? I'm just going to walk across. Your commander said it was OK!" No response, so I kept walking. The road was pocked with patches ripped out by bullets.

By now I was half way across the bridge. Whizzz! A bullet hit the wall 10 feet in front of me. I stopped, held out my arms and yelled, "What do you want me to do?" No response.

I got out the phone and called the Commander's office again. I told the woman that I was on the bridge and the soldiers were shooting at me and that this was exactly the situation we'd both agreed we didn't want. She said, "I'm sorry, I'm just a secretary!" I could tell she was distraught. So was I.

Whizzz! Another shot in front of me. The soldiers were sending a clear message: we will target you, a civilian, if you continue. So I turned around and walked back up the hill to smiling Palestinians who seemed to offer a new level of acceptance - I was "one of them" because soldiers shot at me too.

Clearly no one was going to cross the bridge that day. Three different people invited me to spend the night in their homes. The next morning I took a taxi into Hebron, driving across the bridge that the day before had been a lethal place.

Later, CPTer Greg Rollins talked to a soldier on the street in Hebron. He asked why the IDF was shooting at cars on the bridge two days earlier. The solider admitted he was one of the ones doing the shooting because they received word that someone was trying to bring a car bomb into Hebron. Rollins asked why they were shooting at civilians walking across. The soldier looked shocked and said, "We'd never do that!" Rollins then revealed that I, his teammate, was shot at. The soldier just acted dumbfounded.

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Bethlehem: Breaking the Siege

Amidst reports that Israeli authorities were preventing international peace activists from entering the country, a seven-member CPT delegation made it through the Tel Aviv airport and on to Palestine April 1-15. Members were: Deanna Boyd (Chicago, IL), Rhonda Brubacher (Dillsburg, PA), Jeanne Clark (Salem, OR), Don Mead (Glen Arbor, MI), Germana Nijim (Cedar Falls, IA), Terry Rogers (New York, NY), and Eric Schiller (Ottawa, ON).

With the continuing occupation of Palestinian cities by the Israeli army, CPT-Hebron called for an Emergency Delegation to expand the team's presence. Fourteen people arrived April 16-29 including: Robert Allenson (Westville, FL), Allyn Dhynes (Tigard, OR), Aaron Froehlich (Albuquerque, NM), Bob Gross (N. Manchester, IN), Elayne McClanen and Clara Sinclair (Sandy Spring, MD), Kathleen Namphy (Palo Alto, CA), Lorin Peters (San Leandro, CA), Steve Ramer (Washington, DC), Bill Rose (Tampa, FL), Ken Sehested (Clyde, NC), Brad Smith (Comer, GA), Harriet Taylor (Germantown, MD), and Mary Hughes Thompson (Los Angeles, CA).

CPT-Hebron team members February-April included: Nathan Bender (Toronto, ON), Cat Grambles (Waterford, CT), LeAnne Clausen, (Mason City, IA), Mark Frey (Chicago, IL), Art Gish and Peggy Gish (Athens, OH), Kathy Kern (Webster, NY), Mary Lawrence (Lunenburg, MA), JoAnne Lingle (Indianapolis, IN), Rich Meyer (Millersburg, IN), Anne Montgomery (Brooklyn, NY), Rick Polhamus (Fletcher, OH), Dianne Roe (Corning, NY), Greg Rollins (Surrey, BC), Janet Shoemaker (Goshen, IN).

All three groups participated in efforts to break the siege and reach the Palestinians, priests, monks and nuns trapped inside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem's Manger Square.

With the West Bank cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah under invasion by Israeli tanks, Palestinian gunmen entered the Church of the Nativity, along with Palestinian civilians fearing for their safety. The Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah offered sanctuary to the people inside the church on the condition that the gunmen give up their arms, but the Israeli military did not recognize the church's authority to provide sanctuary.

Reports from inside the church said that food and water supplies were critically low. Franciscan and Armenian clergy chose to remain inside to deter Israeli forces from possibly destroying the church which many people believe sits on the site where Jesus was born.

On April 6, delegation members passed through back roads and trails to Bethlehem. All the shops and homes were shut tight. Hardly a sound echoed through the quiet, narrow streets. Evidence of horrific destruction littered the way - charred, bombed cars and buildings, broken glass, automatic rifle shells scattered over the tank-damaged stone streets.

As the group made their way towards Manger Square a soldier fired into the air and ordered them to stop. Delegation members dropped to their knees in a semi-circle, lit a candle, sang and prayed.

"This is a country where prayer has long been a means to claim space," noted delegation member Rhonda Brubacher. "With prayer we confronted evil and redeemed space from the horrors of war."

On the afternoon of April 12, CPTers along with three clergy and one theology professor from Jerusalem attempted to bring food to those trapped inside the Church of the Nativity.

As they neared Manger Square they were commanded to stop by a soldier in a jeep and others in towers around the square. A tank parked at one edge of the square swivelled its gun turret and aimed it at the group.

Pastor Michael Thomas of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer told the soldiers that the group wanted to bring supplies to people in the church and to pray there because it was a holy site for Christians. The soldiers told the group that the church was full of 150 terrorists who would shoot them if they approached. Group members replied that they did not believe this was the case, but when the soldiers called for backup, they decided to withdraw to prevent a possible firefight.

The group knelt and prayed by the mosque in Manger Square. They distributed the food they brought to residents around Manger Square experiencing severe shortages after two weeks under strict curfew.

On April 18, CPT's Emergency Delegation joined members of the International Solidarity Movement and the Fellowship of Reconciliation carrying close to a thousand pounds of food staples such as beans, rice, flour and oil into the heart of Bethlehem.

Within a hundred meters of Manger Square, the group of 35 internationals was barred passage by armed Israeli soldiers. For the next forty minutes, the group continued negotiations, sang songs, prayed and talked with the soldiers.

What began as hard, blank stares softened slightly to include intermittent laughing and joking, although the soldiers still refused to allow the group to enter the Church of the Nativity. The vigil ended when curfew was lifted and the group was able to distribute food to the houses in the area.

While walking back up the twisting road that climbs away from Manger Square, the soldiers sought to continue the dialogue. As delegate Allyn Dhynes put it, "what touched me was the tears in the eyes of both the Palestinians and the soldiers." Hopefully, with continued pressure and presence of international human rights activists, the IDF will find the courage to move beyond the status quo of their "orders" and transform their despair into something constructive.

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CPT Goes to Beit Ummar

On April 8, CPT Hebron established a two-month project in the village of Beit Ummar, north of Hebron. The team provides a protective presence for families in Beit Ummar dealing with harassment from soldiers and settlers and families in the Aroub refugee camp who face weekly incursions by the Israeli military. By the end of May the team will evaluate whether a continuing presence is called for, and whether CPT or another team of international observers might fill that need.

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Palestine Prayer

by Anne Montgomery

We pray for an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine: that justice may roll down like water, that the oppressed be set free, that the lion will lie down in peace with the lamb.

We pray for an end to the occupation of minds and hearts by fear of the other; by a desire for revenge; by the paralysis of discouragement that keeps us from faith-filled action; by the temptation to respond to violence with violence.

We pray that these stones may be lifted from all hearts, that they may be replaced by seeds of hope in the power of the risen Christ to bring all nations to this holy mountain to share the land in peace. Amen.


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Colombia: Bodies in the River

by Keith Young

Nelcy Gabriela Cuesta Cordoba was a teacher and the president of the community action committee in the small village of Puerto Matilde. She was CPT's neighbor in Barrancabermeja (Barranca), kidnaped at a paramilitary checkpoint April 4th.

Sunday morning, April 7, CPTers received a call. Someone had seen a body matching Nelcy's description floating down the river. Could CPT accompany Nelcy's relative, who was also under death threat, to look for her?

CPTers Carol Spring, Scott Kerr, and Keith Young left in a motorized canoe with "Manny" (not his real name) at 10:30am. They scanned the river bank, under overhanging limbs casting shadows. People along the shore pointed further downstream.

Then team members noticed the vultures. They located a body, but it wasn't Nelcy. It was a young man with a bullet wound in his chest. The occupants of another "canoe" which arrived at about the same time seemed to know who the dead man was, and were taking charge of the situation. CPTers and Manny continued their own horrific search.

Eventually the team caught up with a second body. Some people had fished it out of the river. They were in mourning, thinking it was the body of their friend who lived in a little village up-river. They were wrong.

The body, which was very bloated due to prolonged immersion in the river, had been sliced open up the belly, had lacerations on both wrists and three bullet-holes in the head. The bloating in particular made it nearly unrecognizable. A closer inspection of dental work and scars revealed that the dead woman was in fact Nelcy. For Manny and CPT the search was over.

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Colombia: Presumed Dead

On February 8, CPT Colombia issued an urgent message calling for the release of Manuel Francisco Navarro, a leader of the Ciénaga del Opón community who was kidnaped in Barrancabermeja on February 2. Local human rights groups denounced AUC paramilitary forces as responsiblefor the kidnaping.

On March 13, CPT Colombia reported that Navarro was still missing and was presumed dead. They wrote, "Manuel was a great man who cared deeply about his community. Since his disappearance, other human rights workers have been declared military targets by the paramilitary force AUC. More community leaders have fled in fear. It is important that we remember these brave human rights workers and community organizers of Colombia who continue to be targeted by both legal and illegal armed groups for their work."

The disappearance of Navarro is one in a long string of events causing terror in a community that does not want connections to any armed group.

CPT's Colombia team members February-April were: Duane Ediger (Dallas, TX), Jim Fitz (Tiskilwa, IL), Bob Holmes (Toronto, ON), Scott Kerr (Downers Grove, IL), John Marks (Portland, OR), Lisa Martens (Winnipeg, MB), William Payne (Toronto, ON), Sara Reschly (Chicago, IL), Matt Schaaf (Winnipeg, MB), Chris Schweitzer (Siler City, NC), Pierre Shantz (Waterloo, ON), Lena Siegers (Blyth, ON), Carol Spring and Charles Spring (Palo Alto, CA), Stewart Vriesinga (Lucknow, ON), Keith Young (Comer, GA).

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Tent for Lent

Each Friday throughout Lent, CPTers held prayer vigils at different sites of violence around Barrancabermeja (Barranca) and outlying rural communities. During Holy Week they erected a patchwork shelter made of old plastic in front of the Mayor's office to highlight the plight of forty displaced families living in degrading conditions in a school next door. Their witness culminated with a 90-hour fast, a foot-washing ceremony, and prayers every four hours around the clock (8am, 12noon, 4pm, 8pm, 12midnight, 4am) in the days leading up to Easter.

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Colombia: In the Shadow of Death

by Bob Holmes

On Friday, March 22 CPTers attended a wake for Rafael Jaimes Torra, treasurer of the USO (Federation of Labor Unions) in Barranca. He was the third Union leader assassinated by paramilitaries in the last three months, gunned down as he got into his pickup truck in front of his home.

Several hundred mourners gathered in the street to join CPT's prayerful witness of publicly burning a death list in places threatened by armed violence and assassinations.

In prayerful litany we asked our Creator to free us from the shadow of death cast by the many armed groups in Colombia. Then we laid out a page of chart paper and people were invited to create a symbolic "death list." Name after name was written down, of persons known to be targeted by one armed group or another - so many that a second page was needed. My eyes were not the only ones moved to tears as we reflected on those we knew, both on and beyond the list being inscribed. There was eerie silence as we burned the list.

Again, in litany, we begged God to lift us up from the ashes with new hearts and new hope and new light. We poured the ashes into the earth and then planted a young tree in the ashes. With the body of Rafael Jaimes a few meters away, I think we all knew that only with God's power can the tree of life rise up from the ashes here in Colombia.

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Colombia: Death and Resurrection

by Bob Holmes

A death list read - Jesus is condemned.
Bodies on the ground - Jesus dies.
The death list is burned, the ashes poured into the earth - Jesus is buried.
A tree is planted, the bodies lifted up - there is hope of new life.
The tent is vacated - an empty tomb.
A Life List is raised high - Jesus lives.
The fast is broken - Jesus' disciples sent.

On Good Friday in Barrancabermeja, Colombia, across the street from the Mayor's Office, CPT bore public witness to the violence of legal and illegal the armed groups, all of whom have death lists. A delegation of eleven Colombian Mennonites from Bogotá joined the CPT team for Holy Week and participated in that heart-wrenching tableau. They called out to all, Colombians and the world, for an end to the violence and a search for peace.

Then, at dawn on Easter morning, the Colombian delegation joined by three Catholic seminarians from Bogotá rose with the team and lifted up a banner, seven meters tall, naming all those whose lives need to be honored and protected. Another banner was raised - blessed are they who hunger for justice ... love your enemies.

The Colombians returned to Bogotá with renewed passion and determination to labor for a just peace. The team headed upriver to continue providing a protective presence for fisher families living under constant threat of armed groups.

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Colombia: Nada Te Turbe

by Carol Foltz Spring

As teammate Scott Kerr and I were returning home March 27 from a couple of days in the Cimitarra River Valley, two men in their late teens stopped the public transportation vehicle we were traveling in. The teenagers told everyone to get out and show their IDs, and they searched through all the bags. Their twenty-something leader hovered nearby. Each of them carried a handgun in his pocket. This was a paramilitary checkpoint.

The Cimitarra River Valley is an area under the strong influence of Colombia 's largest guerrilla group, the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). Our team had heard reports of paramilitaries threatening and accusing civilians of being guerrilla collaborators, and had received many requests to accompany civilians in the Valley.

Paramilitary groups in Colombia, nearly all now confederated under the name AUC (United Self-Defense forces of Colombia), were declared illegal by Colombian law in 1989. Since then their numbers, and their catalog of human rights violations, have grown dramatically.

These teenaged AUC members asked everyone who passed the checkpoint for a "voluntary contribution." Most drivers handed over 5,000 pesos, about US$2.25, half a day's wages for the average farmer.

Scott began snapping photos, and I wrote down what I saw, in an obvious way. We explained that we were with CPT and that our job was to document abuses of civilians by armed groups.

Realizing that the truck we'd arrived in was being held up because of us, we paid the driver our fare and told him we would finish the journey on foot.

Looking past the fear of the people being stopped, I saw the fear of the teenagers doing the stopping. "If you take one more picture, we'll take your camera away," they said. Scott took another picture as they searched a truck. They put bandannas over their faces, but did not take the camera. Upset and afraid, the two young paramilitaries avoided us.

The man in charge told us sternly that they needed to check traffic, in case there were guerrillas passing through. Scott scoffed, "And what would three men with handguns do against a truck full of heavily armed guerrillas?" He had no reply. The checkpoints are clearly designed to intimidate the civilian population.

The young paramilitaries called their commander to see if he would take away our camera. Scott and I opened an impromptu vigil, praying and singing, "Nada Te Turbe" ("Let nothing distress you").

The commander arrived by motorcycle and explained that their presence was legitimate because "we work in collaboration with the local police and military to protect the area." In the U.S. there is no official acknowledgment that military aid to Colombia often winds up supporting this unaccountable, illegal armed group. The AUC commander expressed concern about Scott's photos, but did not try to take the camera.

After our conversation, we sang another round of "Nada Te Turbe" before continuing our journey on foot. We had refused to play the fear game, and had discovered our power as the eyes and ears of the international community, a power that can come only through nonviolence.


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Chiapas: Abejas Women Issue Exit Visas to Soldiers

International Women's Day (Friday, March 8) dawned clear and warm. Girded with fasting, CPTers Kryss Chupp (Chicago, IL) and Gretchen Williams (Boulder, CO) joined over 30 Abejas in Acteal for an hour-long pilgrimage to Majomút, the largest military base in the highlands of Chiapas. Beginning inside the "Sanctuary of the Martyrs" near the place where forty members of the Mayan pacifist group, mostly women, were massacred in 1997, the women's prayers carried a clear message: "Stop the militarization of our communities!"

As the chain of walkers reached the army base singing the chorus "No es con espada, ni con ejército, más con Tu Santo Espíritu" (not with weapons, nor with armies, but by the Holy Spirit's power), they were joined by a group of students from Loyola University (Chicago), a member of Michigan Peace Teams, and CPTers Cliff Kindy (N. Manchester, IN) and Dick Williams (Boulder, CO).

A liturgy of song, prayers, and scripture read in English, Spanish and Tzotzil (Psalms 33:16-22 - "No king is saved by the size of his army...God is our defense and our shield...") included testimonies from those present about the effects of militarization in their lives. Abejas representatives made it clear that women pay a high price under militarization. Money spent on maintaining armies deprives women of life's necessities and targets them with displacement, prostitution and deepening poverty.

Following the liturgy, participants fanned out onto the base, scurrying up and down trails to isolated outposts, into the officers quarters, across the mess hall, and onto the humvee lot, to issue each soldier a "Visa de Salida" (exit visa). The visa, authorized by women of the world who stand united against militarization, invited the soldiers to abandon the base and "return immediately to your homes where your mothers, spouses, grandmothers, daughters and sisters await you." It called on the troops to stop participating in militarization and dedicate themselves to nonviolence.

Reactions varied from avoidance to warm interest and agreement that God does not want people to carry guns. But the most dramatic reaction came from the local women of the community that services the base. They gathered in wide-eyed amazement as the Abejas women invaded the special operations section of the camp with their invitations for the soldiers to leave. The hum of their voices was an indication that bold actions can inspire others to move into a new way of living.

The International Women's Day witness came as CPTers were wrapping up a two-week visit to the communities where most of the displaced Abejas returned last fall after living for four years in displacement camps. Most people expressed ongoing concern about security, but reported no incidents of violence. Team members repeatedly heard the refrain, "There is no security, there is not justice. The paramilitaries still have guns, but the non-aggression agreements [signed by the municipal authorities in August and again in January] seem to be helping for now."

CPT ended its full-time presence in Chiapas last December and will look for ways to maintain relationships with nonviolent groups like the Abejas as Chiapas lives through the shift from the violence of the bullet to the violence of the empty stomach.


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Delegations

Secwepemculecw (Chase, British Columbia): Go Home!

by Doug Pritchard

"Go home you f--ing Indians!" shouted yet another carload of visitors leaving the Sun Peaks ski resort as they passed the Skwelkwek'welt Protection Center No. 6. This Protection Center, a large tent with a wood-burning stove to give relief from the freezing temperatures, was set up at the entrance to the resort in order to protect Aboriginal title and ensure the accommodation of indigenous interests.

"Duck, everyone, it's a drive-by yelling!" joked a young man to the circle of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal supporters, including CPTers Doug Pritchard (Toronto, ON) and Janet Shoemaker (Goshen, IN), assembling for prayer.

"What do they mean, 'Go home'? I am home," said an elder at the Protection Center. "This is our land. This is where we hunt and gather our berries and medicinal plants. This fire-pit is our living room. This tent is our bedroom."

Since purchasing the Sun Peaks resort in 1992, Nippon Cable Company has expanded on-site accommodation from 100 beds to 4,000. They have plans approved by the British Columbia government to continue expanding to 20,000 beds. But the Secwepemc people oppose this expansion and the ecological damage they say it will do to their traditional hunting and gathering lands. They cite recent Canadian and BC court cases which require that the Province and corporations ensure that the concerns of Aboriginal peoples are addressed in such development projects.

In response to the protests, Sun Peaks has obtained court orders requiring the relocation or destruction of four Skwelkwek'welt Protection Centers and associated sweatlodges built since October 2000. There have been 54 arrests of Secwepemc elders, land-users, leaders and youth who were engaged in defending their lands. In March 2002, Sun Peaks delivered a letter demanding that the Secwepemc remove the remaining Protection Centers because they "have not communicated with the corporation about these activities or received our approval to carry them out."

In a news release on March 20, the Secwepemc say this letter makes a mockery of Canadian court decisions and that their nation continues to dispute the legality of the Sun Peaks expansion project. They have also established and placed on alert a network of support and human rights observation groups in case Sun Peaks or the BC government tries to remove the Protection Centers.

CPT's exploratory delegation, consisting of Pritchard and Shoemaker, were in the region March 17-26. They met with Aboriginal peoples and their supporters, Sun Peaks management, police, and local politicians to better understand the current situation and the prospects for peacemaking. CPT is asked to be "on alert" and ready to respond if the situation deteriorates and further violence is threatened.

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South Dakota: We Met Marie

by Walter Franz

On the northeastern edge of the Pine Ride Reservation, not far off Interstate 94, Marie Randall lives in a settlement of cluster homes. This soft-spoken diminutive mother of ten, grandmother of 30, and great grandmother to another 18 children invited our five-member CPT delegation into her picture-studded living room one late morning in March. She is considered one of the elders on Pine Ridge and is highly respected in the Lakota community. She shared a couple of stories with us about how she exercised her leadership both on and off the Reservation.

A few years ago, along with other women, Marie occupied the Red Cloud Building (home of the tribal council offices) on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Their aim was to force the Bureau of Indian Affairs to conduct an audit of the financial management of the Tribal Council. This meant confronting not only their own council but also, at one point, several scores of police plus a fully equipped Swat Team. Promises and procedures were eventually agreed upon to the satisfaction of Marie and her "sit-in" partners, and the investigation was finally carried out, followed by litigation proceedings.

The second story was set in the imposing state capital building at Pierre, South Dakota. In the governor's meeting room, a large wall-painting pictured a white military figure standing victoriously with one foot on the body of a Native person lying on the ground with arms flung wide. Other Native people were fleeing in fear. Marie, along with female supporters, went to the state building, armed with a star blanket and with hanging poles. Marie explained to the staff that she and her friends were offended by this insensitive display of art, and that she had come to cover it. That offensive painting is now covered by a wall carefully designed to match the décor around it.

The purpose of CPT's March 18 - 22 CPT delegation to South Dakota was to revisit La Framboise Island, where CPT maintained a 6-month presence in 1999 with Lakotas protesting broken government promises; to reconnect with member of the Native community in Pine Ridge; and to demonstrate to tribal leaders and government officials CPT's ongoing concern about justice issues in the area.

Members of the delegation were: Rick Polhamus (Fletcher, OH), Wendy Peters (Dayton, Ohio), Lorne Friesen (Winkler, MB), and Walter Franz and Matthew Wiens (Winnipeg, MB).

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Puerto Rico: Ribbons of Resistance

Responding to an urgent request by the local resistance community, a six-member CPT emergency delegation arrived on the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico as the U.S. Navy began a new round of practice bombing the first week of April.

On April 4, delegates armed with long ribbons approached the entrance to the Navy's Camp Garcia, which encompasses the entire eastern half of Vieques. A police line barred the group's access to the main gate, so the six each offered a short prayer, then strung their loops of ribbon together creating a long string stretched between them. They then symbolically lowered the barrier between those inside the fence (members of the U.S. Navy and Marines) and those outside (the over 9000 residents of Vieques), by placing the ribbon on the ground. The group's witness coincided with a press conference focusing on international support for the Vieques struggle and was broadcast widely on Puerto Rican television.

On April 7 the delegation traveled to the western portion of Vieques where a major radar facility lies within a restricted area. Participants tied the ribbon from the previous action onto a fence surrounding the facility, praying and offering messages of peace. "As we sang in tune with the low-frequency hum of the radar," said delegate Chris Friedman, "the Spirit and presence of God among us was very moving."

Over two dozen Vieques residents were arrested for civil disobedience during the three-week April Navy exercises as they intensified the cry "Not One More Bomb! Not One More Minute!" Robert Rabin, spokesperson for the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques (CRDV) and a key CPT partner, was sentenced to 6 months in prison, one year's probation, and a $250 fine.

Members of CPT's April 2-9 delegation were: Chris Friedman (Boulder, CO), Anne Herman (Binghamton, NY), Cliff Kindy (North Manchester, IN), Rebecca Yoder Neufeld (Waterloo, ON), John Sherman (Dayton, OH), and Michael Smith (Gibson City, IL).


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Afghanistan Update

Following CPT's visit to Afghanistan last December/January, CPT's Steering Committee approved a proposal to place a full-time team there. Recent events confirm CPT's analysis that the most crucial security needs involve developing creative strategies to rid the country of guns and warlords.

With intensified violence in the Middle East and Colombia, CPT workers are stretched to the limit. CPT needs 10 new full-time Corps members by the end of 2002 in order to meet the challenge of placing a team in Afghanistan. Workers will need to learn Dari (related to Farsi) or Pashtu. Full-time applicants will be given priority placement in CPT's summer training July 17-August 14.

CPT is developing a study packet for churches to think through attitudes about terrorism. Some relief organizations, such as Church World Service, are beginning to accept donations for rebuilding homes destroyed by bombs. CPT urges groups to link gifts for rebuilding to a broad understanding of terrorism that includes state terrorism by powerful nations.

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Dialogue

In Dialogue, we lift exchanges from CPT.D, an open e-mail discussion of CPT's work. The following conversation was sparked by CPT's "Policy on War Tax Resistance."

CPT Policy: ...CPT will engage in war tax resistance and will support the war tax resistance practices of its employees...because our mission is to find nonviolent alternatives to war and to enlist the whole church in conscientious objection to war.

Sue Wheeler, Lansing, MI: I am distressed that the CPT Steering Committee proposes its constituents resist paying the taxes needed for the defense of this country. Not only are the United States' borders being threatened, but her infrastructure is too. And to pour your very limited funds into a demonstration like this hardly seems like the most efficient investment for peace.

Tim Blosser, Carlisle, PA: I am alarmed when I hear of a Christian organization actively encouraging any kind of "tax resistance." Perhaps a reminder of the context in which Christ gave the dictum, "Pay to Caesar what is Caesar's" is in order. Not only was he speaking to Christian Jews under military occupation, he was doing so at a time when their tax money was going to a pagan (Roman) government constantly engaged in military conquest. Do you really believe that Christ meant "pay to Caesar what is Caesar's" only if it's convenient, or if Caesar promises to use the funds only for purposes in harmony with scripture?

Charlie Kraybill, Bronx, NY: Jesus was surrounded by critics who were out to trap him. And he shrewdly answered their question without really answering it. One can neither defend nor condemn war tax resistance based on the "pay to Caesar" verse. I suggest that, given the generally subversive perspective of Jesus, he would have willingly kept as much money out of the hands of the Emperor as he could.

John Stoner, CPT Steering Committee, Akron, PA: You treat Jesus' words "give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's" as if Jesus had really answered the question with the words "Yes, it is lawful." He did not say that. Does it matter to you that he did not say "yes", if that is what he really meant?

Eldon Epp, Manhattan, KS: A significant factor in current war tax resistance is that we live in a presumed democracy. And our government now needs our bodies less than our dollars. I wonder what Jesus would have said if his followers were part of the ruling group?

Frank Moore, Brownsville, TX: I respect those who have the courage to not pay federal taxes. As a retired IRS auditor, I don't see such resistance as practical, but that means nothing if resistance is the only righteous thing to do. Congratulations to CPT's Steering Committee for taking a bold stand, even if it's not "realistic" or "effective."

David Cockburn, CPT Reservist, Middlesex, UK: Militaries need funds to do their work, just as much as soldiers to fight, or people to produce weapons. Saying no to funding the wars is a legitimate way for some to say "not in my name." For many of us that is not easily possible, but let us help those who can.

Cliff Kindy, Corps Member, N. Manchester, IN: Can we rally each other to valiant Phone Tax resistance to protest the ongoing U.S.-supported occupation of Palestine? The federal tax on U.S. phone bills, originally levied to pay for the Viet Nam war, still funds the military. We deduct the federal tax before paying the bill and include a letter of explanation to the phone company. Maybe we could send copies of those letters to local newspaper editors and federal legislators.

CPT Staff: The last issue of Signs of the Times carried a letter in which Scott Holland referred to CPT as "our own Anabaptist Taliban." Conversations continue and Holland offers further explanation of his view below.

Scott Holland, Bethany Theological Seminary, Richmond, IN: "I have destroyed the gods for the sake of morality!" Nietzsche thundered. In recent years many of us in Christian peacemaking circles have pondered the prophetic edge of the philosopher's declaration. Those of us with Anabaptist roots or sensibilities understand how destructive it can be to gloss specific political agendas with unmediated and authoritative God-talk. Our tradition has called this the temptation to "Constantinianism" or theocracy. I recently called it the temptation to "Talibanism." I regret that some readers of the last CPT newsletter failed to interpret my admittedly provocative warning within this ironic, Nietzschean and Anabaptist context. Others read it as an invitation to dialogue. Let's explore ways we might find common ground in a theological discourse that understands how God-talk can be both a source of terror and transformation.

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Peace Briefs

International Observers Killed - CPT-Hebron expresses profound grief and sends condolences to the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) at the loss of two of their members shot and killed near Hebron on March 26. TIPH is a team of international observers from six different countries mandated to observe and document the situation in Hebron. CPT and TIPH have worked together on projects and have enjoyed a significant cooperative relationship over the years.

CPT Tax Resister Big News - On April 9, CPT Reservist Matthew Bailey-Dick (Waterloo, ON) was featured in newspapers, on radio and TV throughout Canada because of his refusal to pay war taxes. The media flurry had its origin last year when Bailey-Dick sent a copy of his annual war-tax letter to his local paper, the Kitchener-Waterloo Record. A reporter kept the letter on file and contacted him about his plans for this year. The story was picked up by several print media. CBC and other radio stations aired interviews or commentaries, and one TV crew camped out in Bailey-Dick's yard, ready to talk with him the moment he returned from a walk.

Making a Difference - CPTer Dianne Roe has been named this year's "Woman Who Made a Difference," one of several such awards given annually in the State of New York. Roe will return to her home in Corning, NY a week early from her special assignment in Beit Ummar, a village between Bethlehem and Hebron, to receive the award which will be presented at a luncheon ceremony at the Raddison Hotel (Corning) on May 10.

Peace Award - The War Resisters League "Annual Peace Award" for 2002 goes to CPT in recognition of our work to "further the idea of nonviolent resistance to promote social and political change." Past recipients of the award include Dorothy Day, Norman Thomas, Vietnam War Resisters, Daniel Berrigan, and War Tax Resisters among others. CPTer Anne Montgomery will accept the award on behalf of CPT at the War Resisters League annual dinner on June 10 in New York City.

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Announcements

Thanks for the Boat: Huge thanks to all who contributed toward the purchase of a canoe for CPT's Colombia team. Team member Scott Kerr writes: "We spend many hours on the river visiting with different armed groups and community members. Having our own canoe is important because it allows us to respond more quickly to different needs in the community. Shortly after this photo was taken, CPTers witnessed and confronted a group of paramilitaries burning civilian houses in the area. Had we not been able to travel freely with our own canoe and motor, it would have been impossible for us to see the AUC there. Thanks again for your continued support."

Must Read: Hebron Journal, Art Gish's book chronicling CPT's work in Hebron, is available from the CPT Chicago office for $15 U.S. or the CPT Canada office for $20 Canadian. A generous contributor will make copies available to any Church of the Brethren congregation upon request. Contact CPT at 312-455-1199 or e-mail cpt@igc.org.

Personnel Coordinator Needed: CPT is looking for a warm, enthusiastic person with significant CPT experience for the full-time position of Coordinator of Personnel Development. The Coordinator is the first link to CPT for people inquiring about opportunities as volunteers, interns, corps members or reservists and has general responsibility to foster healthy, joyous and growing CPT workers. Willingness to work at the Chicago office preferred. Start date: mid-summer. Contact Gene Stoltzfus at 312-455-1199. Burundi

Summer Work-camp: New Covenant Fellowship, Athens, OH, will hold its fourth summer work camp July 6-20, 2002. Explore faith and community, simple living, nonviolent action; share in garlic harvest, organic gardening, study sessions, worship. No charge. For more information call Art or Peggy Gish, 740-592-4605. Pre-registration required.

Assignment Burundi: Friends Peace Teams announces openings for two volunteers to join a 27-month project in Burundi developing a Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Service. Successful candidates will have skills and knowledge in either trauma healing, counseling or the Alternatives to Violence Project, or in grant writing and administration. Application deadline: May 26, 2002, for a mid-September departure. Contact davidzarembka@juno.com.

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Letters

I read an article about CPT in The Christian Science Monitor. I feel I have finally found the opportunity to serve that I have been searching and praying for over many years.
Robin L. Smith
Brattleboro, VT
When they kill your people and destroy your churches then lets see what you will have to say!! I saw it coming... You are blind... You'll see soon... They will have no respect for you or your holy places!!
Ron Schwadron
Internet
The most radical, nonviolent action persons of conscience can take in this society is to pledge publicly to live simply, to own no car and to pay no federal income tax for war for the rest of our lives. I pledge this now at age 56.
Don Schrader
Albuquerque, NM
Thanks for your "pray, preach and pester" communication. I have been sharing it around widely. I am lighting a candle daily, and praying, preaching, and pestering as I am led and am able. You are all in our prayers.
Mary Ellen Meyer
Goshen, IN
I just finished Hebron Journal by Arthur Gish and he is my hero! Because of his inspirational book and your web site I have called many government officials and written many letters to the press about the Palestinian situation. I work at a university library and I am telling as many people about your organization as possible.
Wendy McMullen
Polo Aptos, CA
What we saw and heard [on the delegation to Hebron] was heart-breaking, but the overall experience was one of immense joy rooted in my growing awareness that CPTers have found a way into the hearts of many Palestinians and that by being there you are making a real difference in people's lives. In a situation that appears hopeless, I felt continually buoyed by hope.
Ben Richmond
Richmond, IN
Why, when UN gives the right to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan the Northern countries agree, but when UN gives the right to the Palestinians to be independent these countries keep silent? If there are two justices for people, war will increase. But I say one justice for all, and one way for peace.
Palestinian Friend
I am a former CIA Intelligence officer and Office of Management and Budget examiner. U.S. aid to Israel since 1950 has totaled over $200 billion, including weapons. We have an agreement with Israel to replace all ammunition fired by the Israelis and replace all aircraft that are lost in combat. What is going on in the West Bank is pure murder. America is up to its eyes in blood.
Don Jones
Internet
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CPT Calendar 2002

Colombia Delegations: June 29-July 10, October 5-16
Middle East Delegations: May 24-June 5, July 25-August 6, September 13-26, November 19-December 1
Puerto Rico and Chiapas Delegations: TBA
CPT Steering Committee Meetings: October 17-19, 2002; Kansas City, KS
Peacemaker Training: May 3-20 (Winnipeg, MB); July 17-August 13, 2002 (Chicago, IL); December 27, 2002-January 23, 2003 Back to the top

Credits

STEERING COMMITTEE: Bob Bartel, Paul Dodd, Pat Hostetter Martin, David Jehnsen, Cliff Kindy, Nancy Maeder, Orlando Redekopp, Hedy Sawadsky, Muriel Stackley, John Stoner, Dorothy Jean Weaver.

STAFF: Gene Stoltzfus - Director/Program Coordinator, Claire Evans - Administrative Coordinator, Kryss Chupp - Training Coordinator (Chicago, IL); Duane Ediger - Colombia Project Support (Dallas, TX); Anita Fast - Campaign for Secure Dwellings Coordinator (Vancouver, BC); Jan Long - Personnel Coordinator (N. Liberty, IN); Doug Pritchard - CPT Canada (Toronto, ON).

CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKER CORPS: LeAnne Clausen, Claire Evans, Anita Fast, Mark Frey, Bob Holmes, Kathleen Kern, Scott Kerr, Cliff Kindy, JoAnne Lingle, Lisa Martens, Anne Montgomery, William Payne, Rick Polhamus, Sara Reschly, Dianne Roe, Greg Rollins, Matt Schaaf, Pierre Shantz, Janet Shoemaker, Lena Siegers, Carol Spring, Charles Spring, Keith Young

RESERVE CORPS: Jane Adas, Nait Alleman, Art Arbour, Amy Babcock, Fred Bahnson, Matthew Bailey-Dick, Nina Bailey-Dick, Benno Barg, Nathan Bender, Jeremy Bergen, Grace Boyer, LuAnn Brooker, Gary Brooks, Ellis Brown, Chris Buhler, Judith Bustany, Pat Cameron, Bob Carlsten, Elluage Carson, Cat Grambles, David Cockburn, Rusty Dinkins-Curling, Bill Durland, Genie Durland, Duane Ediger, John Finlay, Christine Forand, Ron Forthofer, Alyce Foster, Angela Freeman, 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, Rebecca Johnson, Kathy Kamphoefner, Joanne Kaufman, Bourke Kennedy, Erin Kindy, Joel Klassen, Brian Ladd, Mary Lawrence, Wendy Lehman, Gerry Lepp, Gina Lepp, Jerry Levin, Sis Levin, Val Liveoak, Jim Loney, Reynaldo Lopez, Krista Lord, Murray Lumley, Barb Martens, Elayne McClanen, Patty McKenna, Diego Méndez, Carl Meyer, Rich 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, Jim Satterwhite, Carleta Schroeder, Chris Schweitzer, Mary Alice Shemo, Jerry Stein, Lynn Stoltzfus, Harriet Taylor, George Weber, Dick Williams, Gretchen Williams, Doug Wingeier, Jane McKay Wright, Joshua Yoder.

ASSOCIATES/VOLUNTEERS: Colombia Team Interns: Jim Fitz, John Marks, Stewart Vriesinga; Web master: Mark Byler; Building Manager: Paul Becher; Chicago Office: Stephani Sakanee - Intern, Barb Williamson - volunteer. PLUS the indispensable team of Chicago volunteers that make our newsletter mailings possible!

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A Poem

CPT Steering Committee chair John Stoner sent this poem by the late folk singer Lee Hays and dedicates it "to all of the brave CPTers and Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers who are doing what they can with courage and hope."

To Know Good Will
by Lee Hays

If I should die one day by violence
Please take this as my written will
And in the name of simple common sense
Treat my destroyer only as one ill
As one who needed more than I could give
As one who never really learned to live
In peace and joy and love of life
But was diseased and plagued by hate and strife
My vanished life might have some meaning still
When my destroyer learns to know good will.