Many CPT activities are focused on the Middle East, where "conflict resolution teams" make short-term visits (of 7 to 14 days) to Palestinian centers, both to provide "practical guidance to warring parties," and to "link communities experiencing violence with concerned individuals, churches and groups." Toward these ends, CPT has established a forum for "social change through listening, public witness, prayer vigils, [and] dialogue." CPT also funds longer-term "peacemaker teams" whose members return to their home churches periodically, where they are active in "organizing, speaking, training, or other peace work within their communit[ies]."
CPT activities related to the Arab-Israeli conflict began in 1992, when the organization dispatched "violence reduction workers" to Palestinian towns, in close coordination with political leaders such as the mayor of Hebron. Best known for "direct action" sabotage of foreign militaries, CPT's official motto is "Getting in the Way," a skill it honed interfering with Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers. The number of CPT missions in support of Palestinians has grown steadily over time, now constituting half of the organization's worldwide activity. CPT cooperates with, shares personnel with, and works alongside the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), and is particularly active in Hebron.
In addition to its activities in the Middle East, CPT also maintains a seasonal presence along the Arizona / Mexico border, where it conducts what it describes as "a campaign to challenge U.S. immigration policies that result in hundreds of migrant deaths in the desert every summer." CPT team members hold "cross-border prayer vigils, remain alert to vigilante threats, and monitor border patrol officers' treatment of migrants." This campaign is conducted in close cooperation with the open-borders organization No More Deaths. On its website, CPT encourages American churches to hide illegal immigrants.
CPT has maintained a continuous presence in Iraq since October 2002, five months before the start of the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion. At the beginning, the organization sought to "support the UN Weapons Inspection Program as an alternative to war"; to "expose the injustice and deaths from the U.S.-led economic sanctions"; and to "put a human face on Iraq, helping people in the U.S. understand that Saddam Hussein was not the only person living in Iraq." Once the war began in March 2003, CPT team members stayed in Baghdad to "stand alongside Iraqi families; provide an alternative voice to the reporters 'embedded' with Coalition forces; use their bodies [as human shields] to protect critical civilian infra-structure such as water treatment facilities, electrical plants, and hospitals; … document abuse of detainees by Coalition forces; assist Iraqis in gaining access to loved ones in detention; [and] launch the Adopt-a-Detainee Campaign asking churches to advocate on behalf of Iraqi detainees."
On November 29, 2005, a radical Islamist group known as the Swords of Righteousness Brigade kidnapped four CPT members (including one American) in Iraq, claiming that the captives were spies working undercover as Christian peace activists. Blaming the U.S. and Great Britain for the abductions, an official CPT statement on December 1 said: "We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. governments due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people." In early March 2006 the American hostage was shot to death and was dumped on a Baghdad street. Then on March 23, U.S. and British forces rescued the other three. In response, CPT issued this statement blaming their saviors:
"…We believe that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and suffering in Iraq. The occupation must end. … During these past months, we have tasted of the pain that has been the daily bread of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis…"
Part of this profile is adapted, with permission, from NGO Monitor.
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