Christian peacemakers advised to leave Iraq
A Christian peacemaking delegation and team have left Baghdad after advice from Iraqi colleagues.
The Chicago office of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) received a phone call yesterday from their Iraq team, saying they and the CPT delegation had left the country on the advice of their Iraqi co-workers.
Christian Peacemaker Teams, have maintained an almost continuous presence in Iraq since October 25, 2002
The "extremely aggressive" actions of the U.S. and Coalition Forces throughout Iraq and especially in Fallujah have created widespread suspicion and fear of the intentions of these foreign armies. This suspicion puts all internationals at risk, says CPT.
Reports from Fallujah indicate that 60% of the fatalities in that city are women and children. The U.S. has bombed one
hospital there and confiscated another for use as an emergency command centre for its troops.
Coalition Forces are detaining massive numbers of people throughout Iraq and Iraqis are reportedly afraid that residents of Najaf will
soon experience the same treatment as the residents of Fallujah have.
CPT's "most trusted Iraqi partners" have urged the team to leave, saying that the current situation will make it impossible for the team to engage in normal, honest engagements with Iraqis or fulfill their mission to deter violence.
They have also suggested that CPT's presence might actually endanger their local Iraqi partners in the emerging violent chaos.
The team will be watching the situation in Iraq from Amman, where, according to CPT director Gene Stoltzfus, they "will be taking a well-earned rest."
CPT's work to highlight the problem of Iraqi detainees "needs to continue unabated," Stoltzfus says.
After the current Coalition Forces' offensive is over, thousands of additional detainees, many of them "swept up in the U.S. dragnet simply because they happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time," will be filling U.S. military prisons say CPT.
Both team and delegation are currently in Amman, Jordan.