Partera Blog

Embargoes and Blockades

Jun 23, 2011

From somewhere in the eastern Mediterranean:

It’s been difficult to write anything at all, the days are long, exhausting, as we imagine ourselves into the next days and weeks; internet access is common but slow. But perhaps the greatest impediment to writing is the reality of our embargoed status. What at first appears as an intriguing constraint, adding to the flow of adrenalin, becomes increasingly sobering as the days pass and reports flow in. If we didn’t know why we needed to be careful of our speech in public places, why information on timing and location is strictly limited, we now know.

The Indignant Ones

Jun 21, 2011

I pick up a newspaper left on a bench in the National Gardens; it’s a few days old, French. Inside there are photos of last week’s demonstrations in Syntagma, the smoke of burning tires rising behind the images of protesters. Across the page, another photo of people crowding a public space, standing on an overturned car, mouths opened to release shouts – of what? Robson Street, Vancouver. I recall a quote captured in a Canadian paper before I left: What else do you expect me to do? I have to let it out somehow, he says to a journalist as he sets a newspaper box alight.

Protest, Democracy and the Cradle Thereof

Jun 20, 2011

The Canadian contingent is arriving now in droves, half of them Québecois. Several of the US contingent are staying here in the same hotel. The French and the Scandinavians are arriving soon, as well. This evening, the trainers for all teams will be meeting to plan and share ideas.

Egypt’s Good Week: Reading the Entrails

Feb 14, 2011

Sunday 13 February 2011

Greetings, Peacemakers:
It’s been quite a week, hasn’t it?  Not just for Egyptians; not even just for Tunisians and Algerians and Yemenians and Jordanians.  But for Canadians and US Americans.  For the United Nations.  For the world.

Holy Ground: Muslim-Christian relations in a context of civil war

Feb 14, 2011

The room is cacophonous with role-played debate and argument, hands gesticulating, brilliant clothing flying, faces wide open with passion and heat.  Abruptly it all ceases with a signal from the trainer; laughter, some of it nervous, ensues.  Two lines re-form to face one another.  The trainer trawls up and down the corridor formed by bodies, probing, questioning, ‘So what happened?  How did you feel?  What worked?  What didn’t?’ 

WomenPower and Peacemaking

Feb 14, 2011

Many pairs of feet of all shapes and colours and sizes are at work in the hot mid-morning Thai sun.  The mud sucks and sinks with every step and stomp.  The owners of the feet – dancing, circling in what feels like ancient ritual – are mostly ‘Burmese’, young women, Karen, Kachin and Shan, who live in precarious camps in the forests about 20 kilometres from the Thai border.  Some of the feet are Thai, some of them belonging to women who run the Women’s Centre for Peace and Human Rights whose extension will be constructed from the bricks soon to be formed out of the mud oozing between our toes.  Some belong to young boys and girls of the neighbourhood joining in the fun.  A couple of them are Canadian: mine.

Blessed are the Trouble-makers

Jan 26, 2011

Blessed are the Trouble-Makers

Bishop Samuel Ruíz Garcia’s death this week leaves a gap of immeasurable proportions, the passing of a generation, some might say.  Though others of the progressive wing of CELAM (the Latin American Conference of Bishops), such as Gustavo Gutiérrez1, were better known as the early articulators and later elaborators of liberation theology and the preferential option for the poor, Don Samuel was the beloved pastor of thousands of indigenous chiapañecas and chiapañecos, Tztotziles, Tzeltales, Cho’les, and Tojolabales.  Like the 16th century namesake of the highland town, San Cristóbal de las Casas (SCLC)2, and heart of the diocese he led for forty years, Don Samuel was a defender of the indigenous people, whose lives had remained largely untouched by the revolutionary, redistributory changes of 1911 and beyond.

What You Honour Tonight

Nov 30, 2010

It is an honour to be the recipient of an award with such a rich history and to find myself in the company of some remarkable and passionate peacemakers. It can often be lonely work in a world in which there are endless resources available, it seems, to prepare for and make war and so little dedicated to the search for other ways to make our planet secure in the best sense of that word.

Postcards from Sudan #1

Sep 21, 2010

The website of the Sudanese Embassy in Ottawa features some beautiful ‘postcards’, many of them from either the Meröe pyramid fields at the sixth cataract of the Nile or the marine life of the Red Sea, with enticements to consider scuba diving while in Sudan.

Highway of Heroes: An Open Letter to David Miller

Sep 14, 2010

Highway of Heroes: Open letter to David Miller, Mayor of the City of Toronto: 
Peacemaker  Autumn 2010
I would like to register my strong objection to the co-naming of parts of Bloor and Bay Streets and the Don Valley Parkway as the ‘Route of Heroes’.  Three years ago you did the right thing in rejecting the overtures of Legions and others whose interests are linked to war to change the name of the DVP; now it’s parts of Bloor and Bay, as well.