Signs of the Times: Winter 2002 Vol. XII, No. 1

Contents

Afghanistan: What is Terrorism?

Why do you call it terrorism when an airplane hits one of your buildings and kills innocent people, but you do not call it terrorism when American airplanes drop bombs that kill people in their homes?" That's the question that CPT director Gene Stoltzfus (Chicago, IL) and CPT Canada coordinator Doug Pritchard (Toronto, ON) heard repeatedly as they traveled in Pakistan and Afghanistan December 15, 2001 - January 14, 2002.

The two-person delegation went to the region to begin an experiment in Christian enemy-loving in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and the retaliatory bombing campaign launched on October 7. They met with a wide range of Afghan and Pakistani human rights organizations, development and relief agencies and Afghan citizens and refugees. They heard firsthand how some Afghan civilians are experiencing the "war on terrorism."
In the areas they visited, many people supported the U.S. bombing which they say helped bring about the demise of the Taliban. At the same time, residents expressed grave concern for the thousands of civilian victims of the bombing and the U.S. government's unwillingness to take responsibility for their deaths.

Pritchard and Stoltzfus peered into the craters where bombs had fallen in the middle of villages but had not exploded. They witnessed extensive damage to civilian homes and toured the twisted ruins of the twice-bombed Red Cross warehouses in Kabul.

One reliable organization with monitoring capability estimated 5000 houses destroyed and 2500 killed in four of Afghanistan's 30 provinces. "We will never know the full statistics of death and destruction as a result of the bombing," said Stoltzfus. "But," he added, "when placed beside the human and economic cost of the September 11 attacks, it is clear that the loss of civilian lives in Afghanistan considerably exceeds the loss of life at the World Trade Center. Most of those victims had nothing to do with any acts of terrorism."
The two delegates returned from Afghanistan solidly committed to defining "terrorism" in a way that includes the misguided, state-sponsored use of bombs that strike civilians in the same category as misguided "holy war," be it Muslim, Jewish, or Christian.

They also came back deeply convinced of the need to raise strong voices of critique and opposition to the emerging role of the U.S. Air Force in policing the international community.

Photos are available on CPT's website: www.cpt.org.
[NOTE: Due to cultural limitations, CPTers were not able to talk to Afghan women, and their hosts would only take them to areas within 20 kilometers of Kabul because of the rampant insecurity of looting and raiding. They were not able to reach the Khandahar region where Taliban support was strongest.]

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Afghanistan: The Challenge to Reduce Violence


CPTer Doug Pritchard meets with victims of U.S. bombing in Afghanistan.

CPT delegates visiting Pakistan and Afghanistan explored the needs for violence reduction and what the role of a longer term Christian peacemaker presence might be in the region.

"Where have you been for the last 23 years?!" exclaimed the leader of an Afghan NGO upon hearing about CPT's work in other conflict zones.

The CPTers encountered some sense of hope among Afghan civilians who think that the end of Taliban rule might provide a brief opportunity for a fresh start in their country. They fear that this narrow opening will be lost unless the widespread abusive behavior of warlord soldiers is brought under control. "Guns are everywhere!" reported CPT Canada coordinator Doug Pritchard. "Heavily-armed men walk the streets of the cities and maintain check posts along the highways."

"This is our biggest problem," said the director of one Afghan aid organization. "These men have no education. They only know how to get food with a gun. We have to get rid of their weapons and find them jobs."

CPT's Steering Committee, Corps and Staff are currently considering a proposal to place a full-time team in Afghanistan. CPT invites your prayers and your voice in that process of discernment and planning.

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Fear Not: A Pilgrimage of Faith

Following the September 11 attacks in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania, CPT issued a "Call to Prayer Action" for churches. That call included the suggestion to stop worship as usual and publicly walk a mile in silent prayerful procession for rejuvenating the nonviolent imagination among God's people.

Congregations across the U.S. and Canada took up the call, conducting special prayer services, planning walks and holding vigils to lift up the Biblical injunction to "love our enemies," and to discourage vengeful foreign policy.

On December 16, as they prepared to depart for a month-long trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan, CPTers Gene Stoltzfus and Doug Pritchard led a prayer vigil near the rubble of the World Trade Center towers in New York. To support that peace mission, CPT-Hebron team members and CPT Regional Groups in Northern Indiana and Cleveland, Ohio engaged in special walks and vigils around the theme, "Fear Not."

Corps member Cliff Kindy (North Manchester, IN) was joined by some 65 people including 16 CPTers for parts of a 230-mile "Pilgrimage of Faith" walking from Goshen, Indiana to Columbus, Ohio from December 22 to January 5.

Averaging 20 miles per day, the pilgrims visited churches, mosques, military bases, and defense plants, inviting people to hear the peaceful voice of Jesus rather than the voices of fear, hatred, and revenge. The walkers carried signs reading, "Don't obey orders to kill" and "We mourn 4000 deaths here, 4000 deaths there, and how many more?"

All along the route, participants engaged in dialogue with community members asking, "How can we hear Jesus' call to pick up the cross instead of the clamor to pick up a flag and a gun?

The walkers entered Columbus, Ohio on January 4 as a hate attack on the Islamic Center was making headlines. They joined in Friday prayers with the Muslim community and paid a solidarity visit later in the afternoon to the damaged center.

The following day, January 5, CPT Reservists from Cleveland led a group of 50 people from all over Ohio, including the walkers, in a prayer vigil for peace on the steps of the state capital building in Columbus. Signs declaring "JESUS SAID LOVE YOUR ENEMY" drew honks and waves of support from some drivers and hostile gestures from others.

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, CPTers prayerfully walked on January 4 from Hebron to Bethlehem to place candles of hope in the Church of the Nativity, the traditional birth-place of Jesus. Like the U.S. pilgrimage, their focus was the angel's birth announcement in Luke 2:10: "Fear Not!"

"Like the Palestine of Jesus' day, this is a time of military occupation, violence, restrictions, and fear on all sides," said Greg Rollins (Surrey, BC). Team members lifted in prayer those affected by choices for war rather than peace, remembering especially those suffering in the U.S. and Afghanistan, as well as Israel-Palestine.

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Tent for Lent

Colombia: Changing Death Lists to Life Lists

Armed groups in Colombia - guerrilla, paramilitary, Army and Navy - each have their own "Death Lists." CPTers have watched paramilitary leaders consult their lists looking for particular names of those marked for death. The governments of the U.S. and Canada are also putting Colombians on "Death Lists" by sending billions of dollars i n weapons to Colombia. Countless Colombians hope for the day when all such lists will be destroyed.

Each week during Lent, the Colombia team sets up camp in a space usually occupied by an armed group and declares it a weapons-free zone. Team members then conduct a liturgy in which lists of people known to be in danger are burnt to ashes. Every week the names on the list change. CPT invites churches in North America to join in burning these "Death Lists." On Easter morning a "Life List" will be written with all the names that were previously on a "Death List" to claim the resurrection power of Love and Life.

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Hebron: Bearing the Burdens

Some signs of hope mark this year's Lenten season in Israel/Palestine - Israeli soldiers publicly refuse to serve in the West Bank and Gaza; Palestinian and Israeli groups organize nonviolent initiatives to resist the Occupation with enlarged vision and hope.

At the same time, the burdens borne by the Palestinian population, as well as by Palestinians and Israelis opposing the injustice and violence, continue to weigh heavy. Entire villages are closed off by a system of roadblocks and checkpoints. Land confiscation and home demolitions, designed as collective punishment and to provide space for ever-expanding Israeli settlements, proceed at an alarming rate. The murderous violence of revenge and retaliation claims more and more lives.

Each week during Lent, the Hebron team focuses on one of the burdens of injustice wrought by the Israeli military Occupation using a liturgy which includes prayers, scripture verses, descriptions of how the burdens of injustice are weighing on the people of Palestine/Israel, and action and advocacy ideas.

The "Changing Death Lists to Life Lists" and "Bearing the Burdens" Lenten materials are available from CPT's web site: www.cpt.org.

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CPT-Colombia

CPT works in the countryside of Northern Colombia near the oil-refining city of Barrancabermeja maintaining a presence in rural conflict zones, traveling on the river transportation artery, and visiting checkpoints of armed groups - paramilitaries, guerillas, and Colombian Navy - thereby decreasing the chance that those with weapons will harass or kill unarmed civilians. CPT's work expands the political and social "space" of safety and action for nonviolent unarmed people and in turn reveals the reality of violence to those who live outside of Colombia.

CPT's Colombia team members November through February were: Duane Ediger (Dallas, TX), Jim Fitz (Tiskilwa, IL), Bob Holmes (Toronto, ON), Jonathan Horst (Mt. Joy, PA), Scott Kerr (Downers Grove, IL), Erin Kindy (N. Manchester, IN), Lisa Martens (Winnipeg, MB), William Payne (Toronto, ON), Sara Reschly (Chicago, IL), Carol Rose (Wichita, KS), Matt Schaaf (Winnipeg, MB), Chris Schweitzer (Siler City, NC), Pierre Shantz (Waterloo, ON), Lena Siegers (Blyth, ON), and Jacobus Vroon (Vancourver, BC).

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Colombian Army Appropriates CPT Boat

At the request of the civilian population, CPT recently sent two team members to the Cimitarra Valley, a couple hours northwest of Barrancabermeja, as a large-scale military operation began in the zone. CPT alerted the Colombian Armed Forces, the Canadian Embassy, the United States Embassy, the Colombian Human Rights Ombudsman and other human rights organizations of the team's presence. Community members report that human rights abuses by the military leading to the displacement of civilians were far less during this operation than in two previous operations. They attribute the army's restraint to CPT's presence. On Sunday, February 10, 2002, CPTers Chris Schweitzer and Scott Kerr were in the village of San Francisco. Also present were more than 100 members of the Colombian Army.

At 4:30 p.m. Kerr was inside the village school when the soldiers began shooting. They fired rapidly towards the other side of the Cimitarra River for approximately 15 minutes, after which they continued to fire sporadically. Members of the Colombian Army said that there were armed people on the other side of the river. CPTers did not see any obvious target, nor did they note any return gunfire coming from across the river.

When the gunfire diminished, Kerr went near the river to investigate the situation. He noticed that CPT's boat had been moved to the opposite side of the river. Several soldiers were walking away from the vessel. About twenty minutes later the soldiers returned and crossed the river in the CPT boat with the CPT flag clearly visible. They had neither the permission of CPT nor of the owner of the vessel to use it.

Kerr took a photo of the soldiers in the CPT boat. At that point Captain Alexander Gallego Marín of #14 Battalion Palagua called to the CPT members. In a public place in the village, in front of many soldiers, the Captain loudly accused CPT of advising the guerrilla of the presence of the Colombian army. Schweitzer explained that CPT's policy prohibits giving information concerning one armed group to any other armed group.

A soldier accused CPT's motorist of being connected to the guerrilla and stated in a threatening way to CPT, "Take care of him." CPT does not travel with or provide official accompaniment to any person connected with any armed group.

Kerr and Schweitzer observed Colombian soldiers inside the homes of civilians in the village. Local people told CPT members that they are afraid because there are rumors that the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (paramilitary group) are coming to the area with the Colombian army.

Schweitzer expressed dismay that many of the weapons used in Colombia - by the Colombian armed forces, by the guerrilla and by the paramilitaries - are manufactured in his own country. "As U.S. and Canadian citizens, we too are implicated when we allow weapons to be exported to war zones where the civilian population is suffering. When are we going to learn that adding more guns to any situation of violence and conflict is never going to improve the situation for the civilian population?"

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New Year, Holy Ground

by Carol Rose

CPTers spent New Year's Eve in the Opón community because we heard violence might increase. The evening was quiet. The radio counted down the hours and minutes to the New Year.

As we crossed into 2002, there were firecrackers, handshakes and hugs, and then the ordinary melted into the holy. We CPTers stepped away, ceding space in awe of intimate, precious exchanges, clusters of tender embrace, tears. One man went off to an edge alone while mother and brother gently brought him back into the circle of care. Parents looked blurry-eyed into the face of each child, heads together. Siblings and spouses spoke quietly, shaking with gratitude at having made it through another year, still alive, still together. I asked about their hopes for the New Year: "A year that is more tranquil, calm." "To fish and work and live right here without problems." "To study sewing." "That they open the elementary school so that my children can learn." "That armed groups leave us be so that we can live in our homes." "To plant a field of corn and be able to harvest it." The one answer that was part of almost everyone's response: "Peace."

The New Year offers no guarantees as family member's still face death threats. Some have already fled. How many more will do so?

One of the boys asked me, "If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?" "Here," I answered. It is true, at this moment, right here on holy ground.

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CPTers Arrested at SOA

PHOTO: CPTers and supporters wash U.S. flag during vigil calling for closure of the SOA.

Five CPTers and supporters were among 85 people arrested for trespassing on November 18 during a solemn funeral procession at Fort Benning, GA calling for the closure of the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA).

CPT-Colombia team members Scott Kerr (Downers Grove, IL) and Ben Horst (Evanston, IL) were held in jail overnight and face up to one year in federal prison. A trial date has not been set. Corps member Sara Reschly (Chicago, IL), Reservist Esther Ho (Hayward, CA), and seventeen-year-old CPT supporter, Helena Graham (Tiskilwa, IL) were all given five-year "Ban and Bar" letters and released from the base that afternoon.

The SOA, which recently changed its name to the Western Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC), provides counterinsurgency training for Latin American soldiers including terror tactics targeting civilian populations. Colombia has the highest enrollment in the School today.

Kerr, who has served in Latin America with CPT for two years, said, "I've met many SOA grads in my work. In Colombia, the General of the area where CPT maintains its presence is an SOA grad with well-documented paramilitary connections. It was in memory of all the farmers killed in Colombia's dirty war that I crossed the line onto the base and remained praying on my knees when I was asked to leave."

Before CPTers entered the base, a group of 100 supporters knelt in a circle to read a litany of resistance. Then, in a symbolic ritual of cleansing, participants washed the U.S. and Canadian flags, saying: "...the teaching of terror at the SOA desecrates the very values of democracy and truth and respect for human rights that our countries claim to uphold. The flag, as a symbol of those values, is stained with the blood of our brothers and sisters in Latin America, Afghanistan and many places around the world...Through the washing of these flags, we express our desire to cleanse the wounds caused by war-making and to clean the stains of shame from our nations..." CPTers then attempted to deliver the flags to the SOA located inside the base but were immediately arrested.

[NOTE: A video of CPT's action at the SOA by Goshen College student Eric Kanagy is available in DVD for $12.95 plus shipping at this eBay site.]

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DIALOGUE

The proposal to place a full-time team in Afghanistan has been on the table for a number of weeks. Decisions in CPT are born after considerable consultation among steering committee, staff, Corps members, and supporters. In this issue of Dialogue, we offer a window into that process. CPT Afghanistan Delegates respond to several concerns, questions and challenges raised by CPTers.

CPTer: I read the Afghanistan proposal yesterday and went straight to a half hour of prayer. I know that sometimes God does lead us to do crazy things, but...Can CPT in Afghanistan communicate readily back to our constituency here in North America? Will CPTers be able to survive the huge cultural leaps and still have energy to do the work of CPT? Are CPT's skills best used to plant the very early seeds of nonviolence when that is almost an unknown concept? How will it work for CPT to be a very small Christian minority?

Afghanistan Delegates: Is our constituency ready to hear the stories? The news we have been getting from CNN has told such a misleading part of the story. None of the many competent, articulate Afghans we met had been interviewed by any media outlet. We in CPT are good listeners and are often charged by the people we meet to "tell your people what is happening here."

Is Afghanistan more of a "cultural leap" than Haiti, Bosnia, Chechnya, Lakota country, Esgenoopetitj, Columbia Heights, Hebron, X'oyep, Ciénaga del Opón? We frankly felt right at home in Afghanistan.

Contrary to popular belief, the seeds of nonviolence have been planted already by Afghan groups. Grassroots organizations have been taking direct nonviolent action to stop the warlords: arresting murderers, recovering highjacked vehicles, claiming back misappropriated relief supplies. Nonviolence is well known among the groups we visited, but Western media sure haven't reported on it.

I wonder what St Paul would say to the question about being a Christian minority. Are we saying that CPT only goes to wars where there are other Christians present in the region? Maintaining a strong spiritual life IS an issue for this Afghanistan proposal. The folks who go will need to be mature Christians and will need to make this a priority in team life.

CPTer: The key question is should we start a new project, or increase the size of our existing projects? Afghanistan is the new Ground Zero and the need is great. But the need is great in both Palestine and Colombia - the West Bank is on fire and Colombia has asked for more U.S. military aid. Why not put more of our energy into conflicts that are increasing and in which we already have an established presence and proven track record? I understand our primary goal to be violence reduction as we push out space for local actors to engage injustice nonviolently. Shouldn't we bolster existing efforts by experimenting with multiple teams per project thereby pushing out even more space and reducing more violence? I don't think that by acting quickly and placing a team in Afghanistan, we will push back or redirect the more global, systemic insecurities faced by the people on the ground.

Afghanistan Delegates: Why Afghanistan? One CPT image that occurs to me is of candles in the dark. We can place our candles together to shed more light in one corner, or disperse them more widely to shed some light in several places.

Another CPT image is that we are a catalyst. We encourage, stand with, and at times challenge those peacemakers who live in the region and live with the consequences of action or inaction. The more places we can catalyze, the more stuff happens. I'm not sure it would happen twice as fast if we had twice as many teams in Palestine.

Another CPT image might be a mosquito. The first mosquito buzzing around the bedroom can get your attention. If there is a second one there too, I think it gets less attention from that would-be sleeper. But if that second mosquito is in a second bedroom attracting the attention of a second sleeper...

CPTer: I would say "yes" to enlarging teams or adding sites to an existing project and I would say "yes" to resisting the unholy crusade in Afghanistan. 1) We need to get in the way of this freight train bound for hell. 2) We need to be a clear alternative to sending in the Marines. Our unique CPT work relies on God's transforming miracle for shalomification. It recognizes that our affirmation of partners on the ground will enable the work to continue past our exit. But our proactive peacemaking must rise to a new level of boldness and intentionality in our goal to reduce violence.

CPT Supporter: Maybe someone should comment on the self-righteous grandiosity of the plan to place a team in Afghanistan. What makes you think you wouldn't be slaughtered just for being Americans? Get real! And thank God that you live in a free country where you can even dream about such actions.

CPT Supporter: Can someone fill me in on the plan to place a team in Afghanistan to visit Afghan civilians suffering because of the military assault? I want to volunteer to go.

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CPT Calendar 2002

Colombia Delegation: April 20-May 1, 2002
Middle East Delegations: April 2-15, May 24-June 5, July 25-Aug.6, Sept. 13-26, Nov.19-Dec.1, 2002.
Puerto Rico Delegations: TBA
Application Deadline: April 15 for July-August Peacemaker Training.
CPT Steering Committee Meetings: March 14-16 - Chicago, IL
Peacemaker Training: May 3-20 - Winnipeg, MB; July 17-August 13, 2002 - Chicago, IL
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ISRAEL/PALESITINE

Hebron: Praying for the Peace of the Cities

In response to suicide bombings in Jerusalem and Haifa December 2 that killed 23 Israelis and retaliatory missile strikes against Gaza the next day, CPTers vigiled "For the Peace of the Cities" December 4-7 and 9. The one-hour silent prayers were held in Hebron on a corner where the Arab market intersects with a street used mostly by Israeli settlers and soldiers, and in Jerusalem on a busy corner dividing Palestinian East Jerusalem from West Jerusalem.

CPT Hebron's team during November through February included: Nathan Bender (Toronto, ON), Judith Bustany (Los Angeles, CA), LeAnne Clausen, (Mason City, IA), Claire Evans (Chicago, IL), Anita Fast (Vancouver, BC), Mark Frey (Chicago, IL), Art 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).

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Bethlehem: Like Sitting Ducks

by Marilyn White

"We are like sitting ducks in a shooting gallery. Thirty to fifty tanks are surrounding Bethlehem, along with snipers." Zoughbi Zoughbi, Director of Wi'am, the Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center, spoke with fourteen members of a Presbyterian Peace Fellowship/Christian Peacemaker Teams (PPF/CPT) delegation who gathered in his Bethlehem living room October 28.

In the window behind him, a tracer bullet arced through the sky while machine guns fired from the Israeli military position on the hillside overlooking his neighborhood near Manger Square. Ten days earlier, Israeli tanks had entered the city. The PPF/CPT delegation was the first group from outside Bethlehem to visit since the siege began.

Delegation participants walked through the hardest hit area of the city. It was the first day that the shooting had subsided enough for shopkeepers and householders to venture into the street. They showed the delegates the damage done when tanks had rolled into town. Some shops had been bulldozed into rubble, others had lost walls in the heavy shelling. Windows of homes were shattered and bullets riddled walls and doors. Parents spoke of children so traumatized by a week of shooting and shelling that they were afraid to be separated from their parents for even a few minutes.

Delegates visited the family of Johnny Thaljieh, 16, who was killed the first day of the siege in front of Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity. The honor student had walked to Manger Square to pray in the church and to pick up a few groceries when he was struck down by Israeli gunfire.

The delegation was stunned by the amount of destruction they saw and by the emotional toll on the citizens of Bethlehem. "We will remember the children who wake up to ask if the tanks are still here in the same way our children ask if it snowed last night," commented delegate Rick Ufford-Chase.

Participants in the October 22-November 3 delegation included Albert Bagley (Bellevue, WA); Cat Grambles (Waterford, CT); Carol Drew (Wellesley Island, NY); John Fife, Matthew Moore, and Rick Ufford-Chase (Tucson, AZ); Joan Heckel, Joseph Heckel and Vivian Lovingood (Pittsburgh, PA); Gene Lefebre (Phoenix, AZ); Alexandra Lusak (Troy, NY); Arch Taylor (Louisville, KY); and Marilyn White (League City, TX).

A November 16-29 CPT delegation included Benno Barg (Kitchener, ON), Beverly Fretz (Guelph, ON), Jim Miller (Sarasota, FL), Jan Passion (Rutland, VT), Reuben Penner (Kola, MB), Bill Rose (Tampa, FL), Marian Solomon (Ames, IA), and Roger Wolcott (Sandy Spring, MD).

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Hebron: Confiscations in the Beqa'a Valley

by Nathan Bender and Dianne Roe

On January 21, CPTers Dianne Roe, Claire Evans, Nathan Bender and two international visitors responded to a call that bulldozers were plowing a new road in the Beqa'a valley. Climbing the rough hillside in the cold wind, they greeted about forty Palestinian men and children who had gathered on the land. The men excitedly showed the CPTers papers and maps to their land, and explained that two brothers had received notice that 100 dunams (about 25 acres) of their land would be confiscated. Two soldiers and one armed Israeli settler guarded the bulldozer, while Israeli soldiers in jeeps were positioned nearby.

The team learned that earlier that day Israeli settlers from the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba had confronted the villagers. Shots had been fired to frighten the Palestinians. A young Palestinian man told Bender that a fifteen-year-old Palestinian girl had gone to the hospital after a physical altercation with one of the settlers. Later in the afternoon, an Israeli Armed Personnel Carrier entered the area.

CPTers Greg Rollins and Brenda and Rich Meyer revisited the area a few days later and talked with several of the families. Abu Mahmoud (not his real name) looked across bypass road 60 at his brother's land on Sultan Mountain. On the previous day a new settler mobile home had been placed on the top of the mountain. Bulldozer tracks now totally encircled Abu Mahmoud's home. He said that the area's military commander told him the week before that his house is on Israeli state land and that he would have to leave. Two years ago, armed settlers from Kiryat Arba surrounded Abu Mahmoud's home and demanded that it be demolished. CPT and Israeli peace activists arrived at the site, and were able to summon international pressure on the Israeli military to protect Abu Mahmoud's land from the settlers. The Israeli military then told Abu Mahmoud that they would protect his house only if he no longer talked with journalists, CPT, Israelis, or internationals. Now two years later, the entire area is threatened.

A representative of the Palestinian Land Defense Committee told CPTers he has seen maps that show some 3000 dunams of land slated for confiscation for a settlement industrial area. Although Israel authorities label the activity as expansion of the existing settlement of Kiryat Arba, the new excavations are more than two kilometers away from the current boundaries of the settlement. Palestinian families in the valley have told CPTers that if the new road is completed, they may as well be transferred out because their lives will become unbearable as Kiryat Arba and nearby Givat Ha Harsina expand to form one huge contiguous settlement.

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CSD Update

by Anita Fast

Advocacy efforts of North American churches involved in the Campaign for Secure Dwellings (CSD) this winter have had an important impact
1) Israeli military attempts to displace an entire Palestinian community in the south Hebron hills were thwarted when the Israeli High Court decided to postpone its debate on the issue, giving human rights lawyers more time to challenge the expulsion;
2) Hundreds of faxes and messages to the Jerusalem office of the U.S. State Department regarding the current confiscation of Palestinian land in the Beqa'a Valley resulted in a State Department official visiting Palestinian farmers in the area and personally witnessing the current expansion activity. During the course of his visit, settlers and heavy equipment arrived, and the road on which his car was parked was bulldozed shut.

For more information contact Anita Fast - CSD Coordinator; csd@cpt.org; Tel: 604-707-0194.

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Hebron: International Delegates Bolster Peace Efforts

PHOTO: CPTer Janet Shoemaker carries a banner during a New Year's Eve march by international visitors in Bethlehem.

During the last two weeks of December, peace activists from around the world bolstered the international witness against Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories in a series of nonviolent actions. In response to the call by Palestinian leaders and the Israeli peace community for international observers to monitor the situation in the West Bank and Gaza, some 260 people from the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), Grassroots International Protection of Palestine (GIPP) and French and Italian delegations converged in the region.

On December 26, two busloads of delegates, including CPTers JoAnne Lingle and Greg Rollins, were prevented from entering Gaza by Israeli soldiers who fired their weapons into the air and physically assaulted some of the group, including older women. On December 30, over 300 of the foreign visitors were turned back at a checkpoint into Hebron.

Members of the Hebron team joined in several of the events including a "die-in" in front of Israeli tanks in Ramallah; a march of 1000 people, mostly Palestinians, to the Bethlehem/Jerusalem checkpoint on Christmas night, and another march of over 2000, including high-ranking Christian and Muslim religious leaders, on December 31.

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CPT Winter Training 2002

On January 23, fourteen people completed CPT's month-long peacemaker training adding 3 new full-time workers to the Peacemaker Corps (c), 10 to the Reserve Corps (r), and one individual who continues in discernment regarding his commitment (d).

Participants engaged in a rigorous program of action, reflection and practice of a variety of peacemaking skills which included two public witness events:

On January 1, the training team held a "public hearing" before the media outside a Toys "R" Us to issue complaints about the presence of war toys and violent videos on store shelves. CPTers offered store management a New Year's Resolution inviting them to stop marketing violence as entertainment to children.

On January 20, the group honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King by traveling to the U.S. Navy's ELF compound in northern Wisconsin. Six CPTers were charged with trespassing when they carried candles onto the grounds of the facility which functions as a first-strike communications trigger for nuclear-armed Trident submarines.

 


Training Group(left to right): back row - Charles Spring, Palo Alto, CA (c); Bill Durland, Cokedale, CO (r); Peggy Gish, Athen, OH (r); Art Gish, Athens, OH (r); Donna Hicks, Durham, NC (r); Jerry Levin, Birmingham, AL (r); Sis Levin, Birmingham, AL (r); middle row - Reuben Penner, Kola, MB (r); Genie Durland, Cokedale, CO (r); Jim Roynon, Archbold, OH (r); Carol Spring, Palo Alto, CA (c); front row - LeAnne Clausen, Mason City, IA (c); Jacobus Vroon, Vancouver, BC (d); Ben Horst, Evanston, IL (r).
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Chiapas: Project Review

by Cliff Kindy

In mid-December, 2001, CPT suspended its full-time presence in Chiapas, Mexico. As this issue of Signs of the Times goes to print, a small team is traveling to the area to monitor the situation and maintain contacts.

When CPT established a team in Chiapas in June, 1998, immigration and military checkpoints dominated the roads. Two hundred internationals had been expelled from Chiapas earlier that year. During Lent 1999 CPTers carried candles to those checkpoints asking personnel to pray with us for the peace of Chiapas and the opportunity for all those displaced by violence to return home. There are now no checkpoints operating in the zone where CPT worked.

About one third of the people of Chenalhó Municipality had fled their homes because of paramilitary threats and violence, seeking refuge in neighboring communities. One month after CPT's arrival in 1998, renewed threats aborted the planned return of 1100 displaced members of the pacifist Christian group Las Abejas to the communities of Yibeljoj and Los Chorros. Starting in August 2001, CPT and other groups provided accompaniment to more than 2500 Abejas whom, after living in refugee camps for nearly four years, finally returned to 14 different communities. Nearly all the Abejas are now home. As prominent players in the drama of Chiapas, the Abejas have political leverage which provides them a great degree of security.

With Chiapas being the most militarized state in Mexico, and Chenalhó being one of the most heavily militarized municipalities, pressure on the Abejas was extreme. Now, at least four of the military bases in Chenalhó are closed and armed paramilitaries no longer make appearances. Currently the greatest pressure on the indigenous people is economic.

CPT has witnessed the transforming power of nonviolence in the changes that have occurred since 1998 and will look for ways to continue supporting such efforts in the coming months and years.

CPT Chiapas team members in November and December were: Angela Freeman (Kitchener, ON), Bob Holmes (Toronto, ON), Cliff Kindy (N. Manchester, IN), and Keith Young (Kalamazoo, MI).

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Chiapas: Paying the Price of Justice

In 1997, over 200 members of the pacifist Christian group Las Abejas fled the highland village of Los Chorros because of threats of violence by their neighbors. On September 30, 2001, most of these families returned home. Virtually every family in Los Chorros struggles with a poverty intensified by low coffee prices.

In order to raise the concern of unjust prices, members of a November CPT delegation bought 250 kilos of coffee at a fair price from the indigenous farmers in Los Chorros and offered it as a symbol of hope in a prayer service in front of the Nestlé factory in Tuxtla Guttiérrez, the state capital of Chiapas. The multinational corporation's purchase of imported coffee is considered to play a role in the low prices paid to local Mexican growers.

The night of November 27, family after family brought small bags of coffee for the offering. Their faces reflected joy that the efforts of their labors were being recognized at last.

It was after midnight by the time the last of the coffee was weighed and bagged. Delegation members called it "a holy night." A small group of men played traditional instruments. Women and children danced. Young girls sang. When the bagging was finished, delegation members lit candles around the coffee. The Abejas community prayed for justice and for the delegation's continued witness.

On December 1, the delegation took the coffee to the Nestlé plant where they challenged the management to purchase it at a fair price. Their offering was rejected. But one of the guards joined the group in their public prayer liturgy outside the factory gates, praying for economic justice for all.

Participants in CPT's November 19 - December 1 delegation to Chiapas were: Rachel Bergen (Winnipeg, MB), Barbara Cook (Waterloo, ON), Tracy Hughes (Wooster, OH), Marilyn Koval (Sioux Lookout, ON), Randy Myers (Taylorville, IL), Amy Peters (Decatur, GA), Vicki Stave (Eugene, OR), and Doug Wingeier (Waynesville, NC).

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Peace Briefs

Israeli Soldiers Won't Serve - According to Tikun Magazine, over 200 Israeli Army Reserve Officers have risked their careers and now face jail sentences because they publicly refuse to serve in the Israeli army in the West Bank and Gaza. These soldiers have witnessed their own army violate human rights, practice torture, destroy homes, and perpetrate violence against civilians. They refuse to "follow orders" to enforce a brutal Occupation.

International Accompaniment - The World Council of Churches (WCC) has initiated an Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine. Forty churches from around the world gathered in Geneva February 1-2 to develop a framework for international monitors to go to Palestine at the request of Palestinian churches. CPT Hebron worked with WCC representatives to fashion a workable proposal and Hebron team member Rick Polhamus attended the February planning event. CPT is currently considering how to support the implementation of this project.

War Tax Resistance - The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee (NWTRCC) serves as a clearinghouse for the conscientious war tax resistance movement in the U.S. NWTRCC offers a variety of resources and contacts to those questioning their contribution to the U.S. government's increasingly military emphasis. Visit their website at http://www.nwtrcc.org.

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Announcements

CPT Summer Training 2002: CPT plans to hold a second training for Peacemaker Corps and Reserve Corps members in 2002. Since 1993 when CPT began to place full-time teams in conflict settings, only one month-long training has been held each year, usually in January. In addition, Reservists have received training in Ontario, Colorado, and Cleveland, OH. Applications will be accepted until April 15 for individuals interested in a three-year commitment to CPT either as full-time Corps members or part-time Reservists to participate in the Summer Training 2002. Contact Jan Long; Tel./Fax: 574-656-8761; e-mail: cpt2@igc.org.

Staff News: CPT Reservist Michael Goode (Chicago, IL), a graduate student at University of Illinois, has joined CPT staff part time to work on fundraising. Corps member Anita Fast (Vancouver, BC) has taken over coordination of the Campaign for Secure Dwellings (CSD). Rich Meyer, former CSD coordinator, has joined his wife, Brenda Hostetter on her sabbatical in South Africa where they will develop a peace education curriculum in Losoto. Rich will return to work with CPT by mid year. Mark Byler (Goshen, IN) began service as CPT's volunteer Webmaster. Byler grew up in Latin America and has been on several CPT delegations to Puerto Rico. He takes over the management of CPT's Web Site from Daniel Rempel (Winnipeg, MB) who brought many improvements to the site over the past year and a half.

New Office Space: CPT is in the process of rehabing a vacant house belonging to the Church of the Brethren in the Douglas Park area of Chicago. Paul Becher, CPT's faithful and competent volunteer building manager, is coordinating the project. More than 70 volunteers have already helped get the water, sewage, heat and electricity working again. More help is needed! Please contact CPT.

Raising the Roof: Participants in two Peacemaker Congresses are aware of the place of blessing and refreshment that Joyfield Farm (N. Manchester, IN) has been for the CPT community. If you cani help put a new roof on the barn during the month of May, notify the Kindy family at Tel: 260-982-2971; e-mail: rgross@hoosierlink.net.

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Letters

After much intellectual resistance, I finally read your "CPT Statement of Conviction Regarding the War on Terrorism." I had been told that your inflammatory rhetoric and theocratic political moralism rivaled the righteousness of Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. The rumors were true. How strange that we now have in CPT our own Anabaptist Taliban.
Scott Holland
Director of Peace and Cross Cultural Studies
Bethany Theological Seminary
Richmond, IN
 
I always enjoy reading Signs of the Times because of your clear and pointed statements of what you believe and practice. I thought the CPT "Statement of Conviction" about terrorism was great and NOT inflammatory. The "inflammation" is in the minds and hearts of those who react so strongly against it.
Roger Farmer - Pastor
Sugar Creek Mennonite Church
Wayland, IA
 
As an Olympic Torchbearer for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, I can purchase the torch that I carry. Boy, I thought that would be neat and a once in a lifetime experience. I am 71 years old, an above-the-knee amputee and in a wheel chair all the time. Also I like to collect things so the torch would be nice. Also I am a Conscientious Objector. My wife and I are very strong in our beliefs of Peace. We feel that to have a Torch sitting around year after year would be a total waste. We checked your Web Site and we would like to give the cost of the Torch, $335, to your program of promoting peace.
Richard & Eileeen Smith
Falling Waters, WV
 
After having read the article in the Christian Science Monitor [on the work of CPT Hebron February 13] I shall have to rethink my commitment to the Catholic Church. How priests and nuns can actively participate in an effort to expel the Jews from a central part of the Holy Land is incomprehensible. To work towards a future where Muslim authorities are awarded land which God gave to his chosen people is simply unchristian!
R.G. Torsvik
internet
 
I am a Canadian photojournalist just returned home from Israel/Palestine. While there I saw first hand an incredibly brave CPT woman who very intelligently tried to convince Israeli soldiers to give some dignity to a group of Palestinian boys who were being questioned on the street in Hebron. And she succeeded. I was very impressed as I have had my own dealings with these soldier types, and have spent my fair share of time working in war zones. Your "agents" in Hebron are doing a very good job!!!
John Jakobfi
Canada
 
I just want to express my deepest concerns for the well-being of our friends of CPT in the Hebron. The news coming out of the Middle East is most distressing to me and I offer prayers for the CPT delegation and the Palestinian peoples
gkisedtanamoogk
Esgenoôpetitj First Nation
New Brunswick, Canada
 
I lost my CPT hat during a peaceful demonstration against the economic summit of President Arroyo. With others I was violently dispersed. I used my CPT training to confront the police but despite my CPT hat they still wanted to beat me to pulp so I ran for my life. As you can see I am still alive but, alas, my CPT hat is gone forever. Please send me a CPT hat asap.
Reynaldo Lopez
CPT Reservist
Manila, Philippines
 
I commend your brave and ethical work in defense of human rights. CPT inspires all that is decent in our hearts.
Tom Nagy, Ph.D.
George Washington University
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CPT Visits Oneida Nation

From February 6-21, CPTers Anne Herman (Binghamton, NY), Cliff Kindy (N. Manchester, IN) and Rod Orr (Cuba, IL) joined others to provide an observer presence with Oneida families in Central New York state. The homes of several families committed to maintaining a traditional Oneida community are under threat of demolition by non-traditional leaders, backed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), who want the land for casino development. "Our spiritual tradition does not condone gaming," says Diane Shenandoah, faith keeper of the Wolf Clan of the Oneida. At a time when many native peoples are trading their land claims for casino licensing, traditional people continue to resist with courage and perseverance.

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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, Michael Goode-Fundraising (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); Kathy Railsback-Violence Is Not Child's Play Coordinator (Boise, ID).
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. 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, Paul Pierce, Jane Pritchard, Kathy Railsback, Vern Riedeger, Carol Rose, Jim Roynon, Jacqui 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 Wright, Joshua Yoder, Keith Young.
ASSOCIATES/VOLUNTEERS: Daniel Rempel, Mark Byler (Webmasters); Bertha Beachy, Arlene, Dean, June and Miriam Kindy, Lois Myers (Fear Not Pilgrimage); Paul Becher (Building Manager); Barb Williamson, Barb Reschly (Chicago office); PLUS the indispensable team of Chicago volunteers that make our newsletter mailings possible!