Confronting U.S. Warring Madness

CPT IK

Rebekah, Runak, Kamaran (foreground left to right), and I hiked to a cave and waterfall. PC: Weldon Nisly                  

An excerpt from the monthly update of Weldon Nisly, a retired Mennonite pastor and part-time member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams Iraqi Kurdistan (CPT IK) delegation. 

A few years ago, after 25 years as a human rights and women’s rights activist, Gulistan Saeed decided to seek change within the political system. Elected as a Member of Parliament of the KRG, she was granted her request to serve on the human rights committee.

Gulistan welcomed the CPT IK team to the KRG Parliament and listened as we shared the Deraluk families’ sorrow and request for assistance. She promised to take their case to her committee and to an independent Kurdish human rights committee to help the families find their missing loved ones. She also expressed eagerness to work with CPT on future human rights cases and encouraged CPT to bring these Deraluk families to Erbil to meet with other Members of Parliament. She recommended that CPT and the families have a press conference to help the people of Iraqi Kurdistan and the world hear the traumatic impact of Turkey’s cross border bombing of civilians. Continue reading

The Powers of Death and Life, Lies and Truth

KurdistanFrom Weldon Nisly, retired pastor and half-time Christian Peacemaker Teams member serving five months per year in Iraqi Kurdistan (photo right) serving. This is an excerpt from his Holy Week update on the ground in Kurdistan. 

On this Holy Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, we live liturgically between the powers of death and the powers of life. All of us choose daily whether we worship death or life and are committed to lies or truth.

Recently CPT encountered someone who knows the cost of choosing life and truth confronting militarized political powers. Independent Kurdish journalist Mohammed (name changed to protect identity) told the CPT Iraqi Kurdistan team of his refusal to promise to stop seeking and speaking truth about the powers of death. “I am a journalist,” Mohammed simply and firmly declared to us. His commitment was not a theoretical stance. He had recently been arrested, imprisoned, and tortured for more than 40 days and his family was threatened by the powers of death who accused him of inciting opposition to the ruling political party leader. Continue reading

Do your own work: Leadership on the Frontlines

thomson-sarah-3By Sarah Thompson, Christian Peacemakers Teams. Re-shared from her blog.

One of my favorite things about my dear friend MJ Sharp was how he did his work, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He gave his life for peace work there, but he was not simply a martyr.  He was someone giving his all to investigative work.  MJ was a complex character who pushed hard for justice, utilizing creative and courageous tactics that led to positive change in some key situations.  Speaking at his memorial service, the representative from the United Nations remarked, “the international community has lost one of its best investigators.”   Continue reading

We don’t have to soldier on; grief is part of Christian peacemaking.

Sarah MJ and Jonathan Brenneman

MJ Sharp in the middle with Sarah Thompson and CPTer Jonathan Brenneman

By Sarah Thompson and Tim Nafziger, Written for Sojourners Magazine.

3 July 2017, CPT International Reflection

Michael J. Sharp was a close friend. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) he was a Mennonite witness, scholar and peacemaker. Over five years, first with Mennonite Central Committee and then with the United Nations (UN) group of experts, he cultivated relationships of trust and respect with people who were experiencing dreadful violence, exploitation because of government corruption, and the oppressive impact of generations of corporate-colonial resource extraction. His teamwork there included demobilizing armed groups, investigating human rights abuses, and reporting to the UN Security Council towards their goal of creating the conditions for peace in the Great Lakes region of Africa. Continue reading

I Don’t Speak Dari Yet

sarah thompsonA report from Christian Peacemaker Teams executive director Sarah Thompson:

Our Christian Peacemaker Team is accompanying refugees in Mytilene, Lesbos, Greece. As Executive Director I have a chance to do a two week team visit. I sat across the table from a man from Afghanistan yesterday. Neither he nor I are from Greece or speak Greek. I don’t speak Dari yet, and he just began the English classes offered to refugees. We don’t know each other’s names and yet we are deeply and violently connected. My village paid for his village to be bombed (through the US led war in Afghanistan).

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Not Another Nickel

Black Youth Project 100 leader Charlene Carruthers (center, seated) reminds her comrades that they are there because the Chicago mayor wants to allocate an additional $200 million to Chicago police department.

Black Youth Project 100 leader Charlene Carruthers (center, seated) reminds her comrades that they are there because the Chicago mayor wants to allocate an additional $200 million to Chicago police department.

By Sarah Thompson, Executive Director of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)

Local chapters of Black Lives Matter and Jewish Voice for Peace coordinated actions in Chicago, Illinois on the weekend of October 24-25, 2015. CPTers attended the events, employing our public witness, human rights documentation, and nonviolent direct action support skills. We’re in the middle of a month-long training of 10 new recruits; people from across the organization—administrative team, field team, and a trainee—participated.
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Canada Guilty of Cultural Genocide Against Indigenous Peoples

4By: Chris Sabas. Chris  identifies as a Follower of The Way, Anglican, but also Catholic Worker, mystic, former attorney (owned own law firm in U.S., with almost 10 years of living in a courtroom before the Gospel awakening). Now a reservist with Christian Peacemaker Teams (“CPT”) and an At-Large Member of CPT’s Steering Committee.

Today is truly a historic…but somber day in and for Canada.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (“TRC”) released its long anticipated report today, finding Canada guilty of cultural genocide against Indigenous Peoples by way of the state sponsored, and church run Indian Residential Schools. Continue reading