Peacemaking teams also aim for justice |

Peacemaking teams also aim for justice

Christian Peacemaker Teams was formed in 1986 so that peacemakers could take peacemaking as seriously as soldiers take war and be willing to make the same sacrifice – their lives – if necessary.

So explained Claire Evans, the nonprofit organization’s delegation coordinator and personnel coordinator on Thursday from the group’s Chicago headquarters.

“We go places where we’re invited so we’re together with the people facing the violence. We don’t do diplomatic negotiations; we live with the people,” Evans said. “Our mission is connected to seeing justice as well as nonviolence. We take the side of the people getting the biggest guns pointed at them. We don’t take political sides, as we side with what we see as peace with justice.”

About 30 members of Christian Peacemaker Teams live at sites for several years; another 125 members visit the same sites for about two months, and more than 100 other peacemakers go on short-term visits during the year.

This year, the organization has sent teams to Colombia and the Middle East. In the latter location, Evans noted, peacemakers on two-week visits join a handful of Christian Peacemaker Team members living there continuously since 1995.

“Part of Tanya (Rentz)’s trip will be observing, listening to different voices from Israel and Palestine, and spreading what she’s seen when standing there on a street corner with a notebook after she returns home,” Evans said.

“We also try to challenge the structure of violence,” she added. “If a road is blocked by the Israeli government, we’ve removed the roadblocks. Some people do see it as provocative, but violent structures need to be challenged.”

– Carol Feineman

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