Christian Peacemaker Teams

Parting with Sister Anne Montgomery

Sister Anne Montgomery, photo courtesy Kathy Kelly

Sister Anne Montgomery, photo courtesy Kathy Kelly

Anne Montgomery died this week. I remember her words to me and to our young Iraqi friend Eva, sitting in the Al Monzer hotel in Amman, Jordan. This was in 2006, and she’d waited three weeks for a visa to enter Iraq as a peace witness. Anne had crossed into zones of conflict more times than any other activist I’d known. During these weeks with us, she’d been meeting and working with Iraqi refugees, many of them undocumented and struggling to eke out a living in Jordan.

Now the wait was over. The visas were not forthcoming, and Anne had decided she was needed most in the Palestinian West Bank city of Hebron, where the Christian Peacemaker Team — at that point, she had been a “CPT-er” for 11 years — was particularly short staffed and had requested a month of her time. She was going to attempt the crossing from Jordan into Israel by taxi, since Israel could very well have refused her entry, and we were to save a bed for her. But for the moment, we treasured the chance to learn from her in case this was a parting.

It was, and a greater parting has now come, so I take comfort in her words, and rededicate myself to taking direction from them.

IRAQ REFLECTION: A Small Miracle in Suleimaniya

Funeral for slain teacher and student, photo via Christian Peacemaker Teams.

Funeral for slain teacher and student, photo via Christian Peacemaker Teams.

The news spread through the city of Suleimaniya so quickly. Within an hour, Kurdish news outlets let the locals know that something bad had happened. From there, it moved even more quickly across the ocean.

By the evening of March 1, I was shocked to read it in my Manitoba prairie city’s newspaper: “Iraqi student kills American teacher in Christian school murder-suicide.“

Along with the bare facts, the questions and rumours arose. Why had the 18-year-old Kurdish boy carried a handgun to class in a Christian school in Suleimaniya and shot his teacher to death?

Was it the result of religious disagreement?

Was there some other kind of conflict between the two of them?

How could a handgun have entered the classroom?

Some our Kurdish partners called a meeting to see if some sort of action should take place. None of us had known either the teacher or the boy. Reports said that this type of shooting was not so unusual, that it happens in the United States all the time. But violence like this had never happened in a school in Kurdish Northern Iraq. Kurds were reeling and asking themselves what is it about their country that allows people to settle differences with a gun in a classroom?

Colombia's "People of the Land" Call Out for Justice ... And Some of Us Are Listening

Campesinos in Monguí, Boyaca, Colombia. Image via Wylio.

Campesinos in Monguí, Boyaca, Colombia. Image via Wylio.

Colombia's campesinos ("people of the land") — peasants, farmers and artisanal miners, the indigenous — are calling out for an end to the exploitation and environmental destruction of their lifelong territories and homes.

They call out for a restoration of their livelihoods. Greed and violence punishing their land is also visited upon the campesinos themselves, leaving them dead, disappeared or disenfranchised as one of the world's largest internally displaced people groups.

The campesinos of Colombia have come together and called out.

Will we listen?

Will we locate our own story in theirs?

Will justice be done? Are we willing to work for it?

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