Prayers

Prayers for Peacemakers 21 June 2018 Colombia

Prayers for Peacemakers 21 June 2018  Colombia

Pablo Santiago, a social leader from the village of Micoahumado, in the South of Bolívar, marches in Barrancabermeja after the recent
Agrarian Summit on the 2nd of June. Over 200 leaders from the region gathered to formulate a proposal and express concerns around
one of the issues that affect them most - energy and mining policies. Photo: Caldwell Manners/CPT

 

Pray for the Colombian peacemakers who, in an adverse political context, are still struggling for their rights, despite the threats to the physical and emotional integrity of them and their families.We also ask you to pray for those who wish to continue the system of injustice and inequality and threaten the lives of Christian Peacemaker Team-Colombia’s partners.

Elections just happened. A new government has been elected after the two terms – four years long each—of Juan Manuel Santos presidency. The new President, Ivan Duque, has publicly expressed his disagreement with large sections of the Peace Agreements signed between the Santos government and the FARC-EP guerrilla group. He has not only promised to try to alter them significantly but also managed to push the Senate to postpone the implementation of the judicial muscle that would implement the agreements. This has raised concerns within the international community that praised the agreements as a holistic approach to peace that searches for the truth and reparation to victims.

Moreover, Duque and his party have a political platform that is very much favourable to large business interests. His party and that of the former president Alvaro Uribe Vélez, Duque’s mentor, have historically been named by local human rights organizations as an actor in the conflict financing armed groups. Several political analysts have claimed that the changes he wants to push through Congress will protect large business interests and ignore the needs of small farmers, turn their back to victims and strip the most vulnerable Colombians of their rights.

Although the agreements brought a sense of safety and instilled hope in the hearts of many, the real threats are strong as always. Since the signing of the agreements, over 300 environmental activists, social leaders and human rights defenders have been assassinated by armed groups that still exist, whether insurgent, paramilitary or state forces. Unfortunately, the Colombian state has not guaranteed this environment for peace.

Prayers for Peacemakers, 30 May 2018 Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

Prayers for Peacemakers, 30 May 2018 Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

 

Pray for the conscience of Canadian Members of Parliament, that they will be moved to support Bill C-262 on 30 May. The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) is a blueprint for reconciliation.  A majority vote will ensure that Canadian laws are in harmony with UNDRIP.

As we anticipate the vote, the people who walked on the Pilgrimage for Indigenous Rights one year ago, including two CPT-Indigenous Peoples Solidarity team members, are attending Indigenous Cultural Camp at Blue Quills College, Alberta.  They are listening and learning of cultural traditions and spiritual ceremony practices of many Nations, especially those of Treaty 6, Alberta.  In this way, they are broadening their understanding of what solidarity means and increasing their ability to be strong allies with our Indigenous relatives.

Prayers for Peacemakers 23 May 2018 Lesvos

Prayers for Peacemakers 23 May 2018  Lesvos

Pray for the LGBTIQ+ refugee community on Lesvos who are both living with and who have fled persecution, discrimination, and violence because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

 On Lesvos there are approximately 8,500 officially registered refuges, 6,500 of them are residing in Moria camp, otherwise known as Moria concentration camp. The refugees who fill the barbed-wired walls are living in horrible conditions, have no privacy and no sanitary facilities to speak of. For the LGBTIQ+ community, Moria is a living hell. On a daily basis they have to deal with discrimination, harassment, verbal and sexual violence perpetrated by other refugees, the migration service and the police.

 - “Due to the way I dress, I am already subjected to mockery and homophobic abuse. People go as far calling me a mistake of nature, saying that I am shameful for my country. The same verbal abuse that I suffered in my country—it hasn’t changed here in Moria. […] For gay people like us, Moria is hell.” (Abigail, Cameroon)

 -"Three policemen surrounded me in the street in [Lesvos' principal town] Mytilene and touched my ass, only me, because I am effeminate. They asked if I had a condom with me.“ (Suad, Irak)

 No access to a fair asylum procedure. LGBTIQ+ people have to prove their identity during the asylum procedure during which time they also face homophobic and transphobic sentiments and remarks.

 "The interviewers told me I'm not really gay because I'm 'active'. The interrogators followed an "Islamic rule" that only the receptive partner in anal intercourse, "the one who is taken," is gay.” (Suad, Irak)

 For people who have to keep their sexual orientation secret their entire life out of fear, these things are horribly traumatic. Added to this is the fact that most of the translators also live in the same camps, and are therefore in a position that can endanger the asylum case of the LGBTIQ+ person.

 When the LGBTIQ+ person does not come across as “queer enough” in the initial interview,  the officials do not believe their story, and the person is at risk of getting deported back to Turkey or their home country. Especially the people who come from Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Cameroon are at risk of getting rejected. They are seen as “economic refugees” and their process gets quickly recorded and closed, while in their home-countries homosexuality is criminalised and LGBTIQ+ people have to deal with discrimination and violence on a daily basis.

 Find out more at Lesvos LGBTIQ+ Refugee Solidarity

Prayers for Peacemakers 16 May 2018 Colombia

Prayers for Peacemakers 16 May 2018  Colombia

Pray for human rights defender Lilia Peña and her family as they heal from the trauma of threats to their lives.

On 9 May 2018,  witnesses state that four masked and armed men entered the home of human rights defender Lilia Peña, threatening the lives of her elderly father, her housekeeper and two of her grandchildren. For approximately twenty minutes the armed men held the group at gunpoint repeating several times to Peña—who pleaded with them to take whatever they wanted but not harm anyone—“We´ve come here to kill you b***h.  Through the window she noticed another man who gave a signal to the men inside. The four men grabbed a laptop, a projector, three  cellphones and left.  As they left they shouted, “If you scream we will kill you.”

Peña, the co-founder of the Regional Association for Victims of State Crimes (Spanish acronym ASORVIMM) has received threats on numerous occasions.  In 2013 CPT accompanied Lilia for several days after someone threatened to throw a grenade into her house.  

Being a human rights activist like Lilia is an incredibly risky venture. According to the Colombian government's Human Rights Protection Office(Defensoria del Pueblo) from January 2016 to the 27th of February 2018, 282 community leaders and human rights activists have been murdered. 

Prayers for Peacemakers 9 May 2018 Palestine

Prayers for Peacemakers 9 May 2018  Palestine

 

Pray for a time when Palestinian children in Hebron are free to spend more time learning, playing and enjoying activities with friends instead of contemplating ways to strike back at the oppression under which they live.

On Fridays when school is out and many people have a day off work, it is common in Al Khalil (Hebron) for clashes between Israeli occupying forces and local young men to occur.  The constant presence of such clashes normalizes the experience for the younger children who live amongst the conflict and observe it in action. The result is that boys, often preteen in age (as seen in the photo), also choose to participate in these clashes. 

Prayers for Peacemakers 25 April 2018 Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

Prayers for Peacemakers 25 April 2018

 
 On Friday April 20, at the terminal of theTrans Mountain pipeline expansion, a small group of faith leaders hold copies of United Nations Declaration on 
the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Photo Credit: Christine Boyle.

Pray for religious leaders and all people of faith and spirit who, on 28 April, will join the Coast Salish people on Burnaby Mountain, British Colombia, Canada. The Coast Salish members, spiritual leaders and youth will be on the land continuing to resist the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker project. They are witness to the danger of the oil project that is threatening the Coast Salish lands, waters, culture and spirit.

Although this movement has continued for the last seven years, there have been huge marches and actions as the construction is set to begin.   Recently, at the end of March, 176 people were arrested for blocking the Kinder Morgan terminal at the Burnaby Mountain site. Last week, BC Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Affleck has called for them to face criminal prosecution. Amnesty International Canada cautions against this move, saying that criminal charges must be saved for situations where safety, lives or serious concerns about property damage are at stake. People have the right to nonviolent, peaceful protest.

Prayers for Peacemakers 18 April 2018 Lesvos

Prayers for Peacemakers  18 April 2018  Lesvos

Pray that the Moria 35 receive justice when they stand trial on 20 April 2018.  If convicted, they could receive sentences of up to ten years and/or deportation.

On 18 July 2017, thirty-five people were arbitrarily arrested during a violent police raid in Moria camp on Lesvos.  That morning a peaceful protest took place in Moria camp, where people demanded that the authorities lift the geographical restriction imposed by the EU-Turkey statement, allow people to travel to mainland Greece, and denounced the inhumane living conditions in the camp. During the demonstration, a confrontation occurred between the police and some of the protesters. An hour after this skirmish had ended, riot police violently raided the African section of the camp and arrested people at random. There is substantial evidence of brutal police violence during the raid, the arrests and in the police station. Many of the people arrested were not even present in Moria camp at the time of the protest. The Moria 35 all face identical criminal charges including arson, resisting arrest, attempted assault, rioting, damage to private property and disturbing the public peace.  No credible or individual evidence appears to exist against any of them.  Authorities have kept them in prison since 18 July. The risk of conviction not only includes a prison sentence, but also an impending threat of deportation.

Members of CPT Lesvos visited some of the people in Chios prison to collect their personal stories in order to counter the state narrative that paints these people as criminals. The team acts as a part of a broader campaign that calls for justice and solidarity for the Moria 35. Pray for justice.

Prayers for Peacemakers 11 April 2018 Colombia

Prayers for Peacemakers 11 April 2018  Colombia

Pray that in the upcoming presidential election, Colombians will vote with a heart of peace and not of stone.

On 11 March Colombians voted for a new congress and on 27 May they will vote for a new President. Ivan Duque, right wing presidential candidate supported by former President Alvaro Uribe, a staunch opponent of the agreement between the FARC and the government, promises to make changes that could drastically derail its implementation.  Duque and Uribe argue that the agreement is too lenient, that former guerrilla members did not receive enough punishment for their crimes.  They prefer a system where FARC ex-combatants are imprisoned rather than receive an alternative sentence in exchange for telling the truth and providing reparations to victims of the conflict. The international community has called the agreement one of the best in history.  

This ambivalence has created a climate of uncertainty in Colombia, generating new levels of violence not seen since the signing of the agreement over a year ago. Although the agreement does not resolve Colombia's issues of violence and injustice, it has helped to bring an end to the war and to shift the focus to the root issues of inequality.  The Colombians most at risk for violence need the agreement to endure.

Prayers for Peacemakers, 28 March 2018 Kurdistan

Prayers for Peacemakers, 28 March 2018  Kurdistan

 

Pray for the family members of the four men who died in a Turkish airstrike following the Newroz celebration of freedom. Pray that the protests that spread again over Iraqi Kurdistan remain nonviolent and bring about the changes the people demand.  Pray that the world not remain silent against the recent Turkish military invasion into Iraqi Kurdistan that threatens the lives of many communities. 

 Iraqi Kurdistan’s six-months-long blockade has ended. The Iraqi authorities have finally lifted the ban on international flights to and from the region. The first airplanes from neighboring countries began landing again in the region’s capital Erbil. Sulaimani is still waiting for the reopening of flights.

At the same time, the Turkish military, encouraged by the silence and inactivity of the international community towards their bombardment and invasion of Syrian Afrin, which killed hundreds and forced over 150,000 people to flee their homes, invaded the border regions of Iraqi Kurdistan. Turkish ground forces are about fifteen miles deep within the Iraqi Kurdistan territory (Sidakan district), building bases and attacking armed groups. Farmers and shepherds, many of whom CPT partners with, are under great threat.

 On 21 March, Kurds and other people around the world celebrated Newroz, the coming of the New Year and the festival of liberation from tyranny. On the Newroz night Turkish fighter jets bombarded Sarkan village and killed four young men: Bezhan Mustafa, Mohammad Ismail, Darbaz Mohammad, Sherko Mahmud. Two of them were relatives of a close CPT friend. Our hearts are with their families and friends. 

This week, new anti-government protests spread around many towns and cities of Iraqi Kurdistan. Teachers, medical workers, and other government employees are asking for the government to pay their salaries. They march and gather in the public spaces and block roads. In the governorate of Sulaimani the security forces have taken on a peaceful, respectful approach even towards people who have set up tents and camp on a major road in front of the Sulaimani courthouse. We hope that the security forces’ attitude continues and the government hears and affirms the people’s demands. In other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan, the security forces have beaten and arrested people, including teachers and journalists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prayers for Peacemakers 22 March 2018 Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

Prayers for Peacemakers 22 March 2018  Indigenous Peoples Solidarity

On World Water Day (22 March), please hold the people of Grassy Narrows, Wabaseemoong, and  Wabauskang First Nations in your thoughts and prayers as they remember those who have died and continue to suffer the health impacts of mercury poisoning.  CPT-Indigenous Peoples Solidarity and other supporters will be accompanying community members of Grassy Narrows as they hold a vigil in Dryden, Ontario, where a pulp and paper mill dumped ten tonnes of toxic mercury into the Wabigoon River in the 1960s, poisoning the people upstream. May the hearts and minds of the public be open to understanding and justice for the intergenerational environmental harm caused by this industrial activity. 

Youth from Grassy Narrows perform "Home to Me" at Queens Park, Toronto, at June 2016 River Run. Only a month earlier, leading North
 American mercury researchers released a report describing a number of promising possibilities for eliminating mercury in the
 English-Wabigoon river system, which, until then, the Ontario government repeatedly claimed would only make matters worst."