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Peace workers threatened with assassination
August 15, 2002
Winnipeg, Man.An August 12, 2002 Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) news release (attached below) reported a threat by armed groups in Colombia to kill a member of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Colombia.
Mennonite Church Canada is a supporting denomination of CPT and takes this threat seriously. We are calling congregations and individuals in MC Canada to engage in prayer and action on behalf of the CPT team (Three Canadians: Lisa Martens (Winnipeg), William Payne (Toronto), Matt Schaaf (Winnipeg), Scott Kerr (Downers Grove, Illinois) Carol Spring (Palo Alto, California) Charles Spring (Palo Alto, California) and the Colombian people.
We want to remember the continued and frequent violence in Colombia and the regular threats and intimidation many local civilians face. We encourage pastors and worship leaders to include a prayer this Sunday (August 18) and to highlight the press release details, as appropriate. Please also consider the other actions noted below.
This prayer may be used as a focus for our thoughts and action the coming days and for possible use this coming Sunday (August 18).
God of life and author of peace, today we are reminded of the violence in the world, specifically in Colombia, and the ever-present threat of intimidation and death. We pray for peace. Your peace. We pray for an end to the violence. For non-violent, creative, courageous solutions. We pray for the many Colombian civilians who weep for loved ones murdered during 50 years of war.
In that context we are reminded of many in the Colombian church and many others who take courageous stands for justice and peace, including the members of Christian Peacemaker Teams. We acknowledge the courageous work of Scott Kerr, Carol Spring, Charles Spring, Lisa Martens, William Payne, Matt Schaaf today. As their witness for peace, their stand for justice becomes ever more poignant, even finding hostile opposition, we entrust their presence, their witness, their lives to your care and protection. We pray for their safety, for wisdom in difficulty, and we pray that the love they represent might bring transformation and lasting peace.
We also pray that as a supporting church we be faithful to your call of peace. That as Christian peacemakers in Canada, we pray and act, even taking risks for peace, never forgetting but always upholding our brothers and sisters in Colombia and around the world who suffer injustice. May we renew our own commitment to Christs way of peace.
Arlyn Friesen Epp
For background information on CPT and its work in Colombia, see http://www.cpt.org/colombia/colombia.php.
POSSIBLE PLAN TO KILL A MEMBER OF CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKER TEAMS IN COLOMBIA
Barrancabermeja,Colombia Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has recently learned that members of an illegal right-wing self-defense organization, commonly known as the "paramilitary," may have a plan to kill a member of the CPT team in central Colombia.
Through a reliable source, CPT learned late last week that the paramilitary has been unhappy with public statements that CPT has made concerning the actions of the paramilitary and is considering killing a CPT volunteer in response. CPT has denounced violence and human rights abuses committed by all armed actors operating in Colombia (including the paramilitary, the guerrilla and the state armed forces).
CPT Colombia team member William Payne, 39, from Toronto ON, said, "The possibility of violence being directed against a member of CPT has been discussed here in a spirit of prayer and commitment to the gospel of life for all Colombian people.Our team prays for those who make such threats."
Information about this threat has been shared with churches around the world, with U.S. and Canadian Embassies, and other relevant government bodies and organizations.
CPTs team in Barrancabermeja plans to continue its work, with additional precautions, but has no intention to evacuate. CPTs primary focus will continue to be accompaniment of the civilian population in the nearby Opon Township and in the Cimitarra Valley who live in constant danger because of the cycle of violence that grips Colombia.
"We will continue to ask all armed actors to lay down their weapons and
enter into the creative effort of searching for nonviolent solutions to their
problems," stated CPT worker Lisa Martens, 25, from Winnipeg MB, as she left
to accompany the rural population outside Barrancabermeja.
CPT is sponsored by Mennonite and Brethren congregations, Friends meetings, and Christians from other denominations. It has maintained a violence-reduction team in central Colombia since February 2001 at the invitation of the Colombian Mennonite Church.
STATEMENT OF CONVICTION