Friday, August 10, 2007

A transformative training

I am in my third week of nonviolence training with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). Even though I have been doing nonviolence trainings in my work for SweFOR for about six years, I still learn a lot every day of this training. The training is intensive in numerous ways. The number of hours of work every day is heavy in itself. We go from 8.15 a.m. to around 9.00 p.m. most days with (nearly) one day off each week. It is also intense thematically, especially this week when we have practiced how to dodge bullets and avoid kidnappings, and reflected on risking death on our CPT work in other countries. Yesterday we talked about sexism and about the privilege that I take for granted as a man, and what it takes to let go of those privileges. Today we talked about undoing racism and again I realized even more the unfair privileges I have as young white Swedish educated heterosexual man. It was rather difficult to realize how much responsibility that gives me to change. I have my work cut out for me! What adds extra spice to the training is also that we don’t just talk about nonviolence, we actually do nonviolence actions during the training. We have performed two direct actions in the training, both of them involving civil disobedience. I have never included actual nonviolent actions in the training, so that was a new and exciting thing for me. You can find two CPTNet (CPT’s e-mail service to which you can subscribe via reports on our two actions below. I wish that I would have had more time to be able to update you on all the fantastic people I have met this summer and all that I have learned. If I have the opportunity to meet you, I will tell you more if you’re interested. If you want to see some of my trip I invite you to go to:

or to my friend Joshua’s pictures from the CPT training:


August 8, 2007

EDINA, MN: Eight Arrested for Delivering Roses to Alliant Tech Headquarters on Hiroshima Day
On Monday, August 6, approximately 40 people gathered at the headquarters of Alliant Techsystems, Inc. (ATK) in Edina, MN to prayerfully commemorate all who died in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 62 years ago, and those who have suffered the effects of Depleted Uranium (DU) poisoning in recent years.
ATK is the world’s largest producer of DU weapons. The United States has used DU weapons in former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Health effects linked to DU’s radioactive particles include increased instances of cancers, leukemia, birth defects, miscarriages, and infant mortality among civilians and soldiers alike. In addition, ATK produces motors for launching nuclear missiles.
Vigil participants representing Christian Peacemaker Teams, Alliant Action, and other Minnesota peace groups, dressed in black and carried white roses to represent healing and remembrance for those who have suffered from nuclear weapons and DU. Instead of missiles and bombs raining down destruction and horror, participants prayed for a new day – for the raining down of love on all God’s people.

CPT training participant, Jean Fallon, a Maryknoll Sister who lived in Japan for 50 years, spoke of the horror of the atomic bomb on the people who survived the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings: "There was residual radiation after the bomb exploded and it was very potent. First the people would get leukemia and thyroid cancer, and other cancers would follow. Depleted Uranium works in the same way. Particles are taken in by the body and they go off at different times. Many of the children get leukemia right away. They have the same kind of birth defect – bone cancer."

Holding signs that said "Hiroshima: Never Again," vigilers passed white roses to others bearing signs representing victims of DU – Iraqi civilians, Soldiers, Children, Afghanistan, etc. As the crowd sang out the words, "None can stop the Spirit, burning now inside us. We will shape the future. We will not be silent," eight participants carried their white roses towards the front door of ATK, hoping to deliver their message of peace to executives inside. When stopped by several ATK employees and Edina police, the eight attempted to engage in dialogue and negotiate entrance to the building. Police warned the group to leave or they would be arrested. The eight then knelt down in prayer. Each person received a citation for trespassing which carries a $142 fine.

Arrested were Tarek Abuata (Bethesda, MD), Sally Ann Brickner (Green Bay, WI), Kryss Chupp (Chicago, IL), Steve Clemens (Minneapolis, MN), Delycia Fuestel (Lebanon, NH), Cliff Kindy (N. Manchester, IN), Martin Smedjeback (Sundbyberg, Sweden), and Colin Stuart (Ottawa, ON).

28 July 2007

CHICAGO: CPTers call for end to Iraq war funding; eight arrested
On Monday, 23 July 2007 members of CPT's summer training group and supporters held a mock trial, indicting Senator Dick Durbin's (D-IL) Iraq war voting record. With "History" as the judge, participants called the "Court of Public Opinion" to order at the Federal Building in downtown Chicago.

Inside both the Senator's 38th floor office and the Federal Building lobby, witnesses offered testimony regarding the Senator's votes for LIFE and for WAR. Entering as evidence large photographs representing LIFE, witnesses affirmed the Senator's stand against the use of force in Iraq in 2002 and against the recent troop surge. However, images of the Iraq WAR's death and destruction accompanied testimony that Senator Durbin has consistently voted in favor of funding the war.

With President Bush's request for another $142 billion in supplemental war funding coming before Congress, Judge "History" declared that court would remain in session until all the evidence was heard. The Court agreed that a signed statement by the Senator pledging to vote against further funding for the war could be admitted. Participants waited but the evidence never came.

Meanwhile, in the plaza outside the Federal Building, supporters held banners, distributed leaflets, and invited passersby to cast their own votes. Out of fifty-eight ballots received, fifty-seven urged Senator Durbin to vote against more money for war.

Participants appealed to Senator Durbin to use his leadership as Senate Majority Whip and member of the Senate Appropriations Committee more effectively to end the war. "If we stop the funding we will stop the war," said CPT trainee Rachel Cloud. "Then people like my brother won't have to return to Iraq, to death and destruction. Senator Durbin has the power to save U.S. and Iraqi lives."

After forty minutes, Chicago police arrived on the scene and arrested eight CPT trainees carrying out their witness inside the building. They charged the eight with criminal trespass (a misdemeanor) and transported them to jail. All were released by 3:30 a.m. and will appear in court on 13 August 2007

CPT training participants who planned and participated in the witness were Tarek Abuata (Bethesda, MD), Sally Ann Brickner (Green Bay, WI), Rachel Cloud (Lawrence, KS), Charletta Erb (Chicago, IL), Jean Fallon (Maryknoll, NY), Delycia Feustel (Lebanon, NH), Jessica Frederick (Jamestown, NY), Joshua Hough (Talent, OR), Paulette Schroeder (Tiffin, OH), Martin Smedjeback (Sundbyberg, Sweden), Fred Snyder (Lincoln, NB), Colin Stuart(Ottawa, ON), and Jonathan Stucky (Bogotá, Colombia).

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