Monday, December 17, 2018

CPTer Julie Brown speaks at Iowa Peace Network Annual Holiday Open House Dec. 8

Pictures to come soon!

By Christine Sheller

The Annual Holiday Iowa Peace Network Open House and Alternative Gift Fair was held Saturday afternoon December 8, 2018 from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm.  About thirty persons were in attendance. 
Vendors for fair trade items were available, and the program consisted of Julie Brown, a Des Moines Catholic Worker when she is in the U.S., speaking on her work in Iraqi Kurdistan as part of Christian Peacemaker Teams.  Refreshments were also served.  The Open House and Gift Fair and program were all well received. 

Handmade items from Guatemala benefited NISGUA (Network In Solidarity with the People of Guatemala); handmade items from Nepal, coffee from Puerto Rico, and wooden items from Palestine benefited Clothing the Children; Catholic Peace Ministry sold fair trade Palestinian olive oil and plowshare pins; Christian Peacemaker Teams had a display; and Iowa Peace Network sold peace and justice items such as the pottery by Russ Leckband, where all profits go to IPN.  Donations were also able to be made to Heifer International, Global Women’s Project, Church World Service, and Teach for Life (also known as Trees for Life).

Julie Brown began her presentation at 2:30 pm as planned.  She is a full time worker with Christian Peacemaker Teams.  She has time in the U.S., away from her project as part of the full time terms. 

One of the most devastating things that is happening in Iraqi Kurdistan, of which Julie had pictures to show, are the border bombings happening in the mountains.  Her picture showed black terrain in fields as well as forest on the mountains, remnants of fire and bombing.  She explained the history of the borders of Syria, Turkey, and Iraq.  Turkey is bombing in the region she works.  The village people including children (Kurds) know it is NATO and Turkey bombing them, however, Turkey denies they are bombing civilians.

Brown also shared the story of a young girl who was directly hit and killed.  She was harvesting in the mountains.  This case has been taken to the Turkish government, in complaint of civilian bombing.  Brown also shared of the Beduin people, living as nomads being targeted, too.  When they hear bombs coming, everyone hides behind rocks.

Sharing stories is one thing CPT does. They also do unarmed accompaniment.  For example, Brown said there has been a teacher protest lasting several years.  The leader was receiving death threats, so CPT accompanied her.  The police did abduct her, however. 

Another program, AVP (Alternatives to Violence Project) is something they are utilizing in Iraqi Kurdistan.  It was created in the U.S. but is being modified for locations around the world.  Natives do a lot of the work to modifiy the program.  So people are learning nonviolent tactics. 
Another poignant picture Julie shared was of piping from bombs.  She stumbled across a stash of spent pipes in the hills.  She later learned the village people learned they could use those as building materials and were storing them there.  Making plowshares from swords seems very real in this story.

Last, Julie Brown listed ways we could be involved and help.  Advocating against weaponry (being given to Turkey), advocate for an end of drones, organizing an action, going on a delegation to see for oneself the devastation, and of course monetary giving were all ways we can be involved.  Donations were taken for CPT at this Open House.  To see more info, see, and above all “Be a maker of peace!” as Julie concluded

Christine Sheller is editor and coordinator of Iowa Peace Network.  She is a graduate of Bethany Theological Seminary.

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