Christian Peacemakers say they will carry on their work - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
December 18, 2005

Christian Peacemakers say they will carry on their work

-18/12/05

Although the situation concerning the fate of their four colleagues who disappeared in Baghdad on 26 November 2005 remains agonisingly uncertain, Christian Peacemaker Teams has stressed that it will continue to work for peace and human rights in Iraq and elsewhere.

Three weeks have elapsed since the Swords of Truth (Righteousness Brigade), a previously unknown armed group snatched Tom Fox, Harmeet Sooden, Norman Kember and James Loney from outside a central mosque ñ where they had been helping Sunni leaders over the issue of detainees.

Eight days ago the captors renewed a threat to kill their hostages if those imprisoned by the Americans and British were not released. But Muslims across the world, including militants, have expressed horror at such a prospect.

Since then there has been silence from the Brigade. Some hope that this is a positive sign of a rethink, others are concerned that no direct contact has been made with the captors ñ in spite of recent claims in some media sources.

"We are very concerned about our four colleagues and are working for their return," said Sheila Provencher, a full-time Iraq Team member currently working out of Amman, Jordan.

She added: "We also continue to be concerned about the Iraqi families who experience killing, disappearance, and imprisonment of their loved ones every day. We believe it is important to continue to document abuse and be a support for Iraqi groups struggling non-violently against oppression."

In addition to their work documenting abuse of Iraqi detainees by the American military, first published in a report two years ago, the CPT-Iraq Team has collaborated with local human rights organizations in numerous non-violent actions in Baghdad, Fallujah, Kerbala, and Balad.

They also developed an adopt-a-detainee programme at one point.

This weekend CPT launched an ëurgent actioní to encourage their supporters to contact US politicians and congressional representatives in advance of a speech which President Bush will make on Iraq policy at 21.00 EST (-5 hours GMT).

They want the case for an ordered withdrawal of troops and an end to what is still seen by many as occupation in Iraq.

The speech may be a landmark, as it is unusual for the President to address the nation from the Oval Office in the White House, as is intended.

Yesterday in Toronto, Canada, more than two dozen volunteers also learned how they can support the ongoing work of the CPT-Iraq Team.

After discussions of practical and spiritual preparation, Iraq Team member Alan Slater, a farmer from Zorra Township, Ontario, who is scheduled to return to Iraq in early 2006, shared experiences and photographs with the group.

A four-week, live-in training programme for the Peacemaker Corps will begin in Chicago in the first week of the New Year.

Those who successfully pass through the training will join CPT violence-reduction projects in Iraq, Palestine-Israel, Colombia, Canada, and the Mexico-United States border.

Additional reporting data with grateful acknowledgement to David Helwig of SooToday.Com.

[A full index of Ekklesia coverage of the Iraq hostage situation and CPT can be found at the foot of this news story: Fears 'unfounded' over Iraq hostage negotiator, 16/12/05. Further updates on Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrowís personal weblog]

Christian Peacemakers say they will carry on their work

-18/12/05

Although the situation concerning the fate of their four colleagues who disappeared in Baghdad on 26 November 2005 remains agonisingly uncertain, Christian Peacemaker Teams has stressed that it will continue to work for peace and human rights in Iraq and elsewhere.

Three weeks have elapsed since the Swords of Truth (Righteousness Brigade), a previously unknown armed group snatched Tom Fox, Harmeet Sooden, Norman Kember and James Loney from outside a central mosque - where they had been helping Sunni leaders over the issue of detainees.

Eight days ago the captors renewed a threat to kill their hostages if those imprisoned by the Americans and British were not released. But Muslims across the world, including militants, have expressed horror at such a prospect.

Since then there has been silence from the Brigade. Some hope that this is a positive sign of a rethink, others are concerned that no direct contact has been made with the captors - in spite of recent claims in some media sources.

"We are very concerned about our four colleagues and are working for their return," said Sheila Provencher, a full-time Iraq Team member currently working out of Amman, Jordan.

She added: "We also continue to be concerned about the Iraqi families who experience killing, disappearance, and imprisonment of their loved ones every day. We believe it is important to continue to document abuse and be a support for Iraqi groups struggling non-violently against oppression."

In addition to their work documenting abuse of Iraqi detainees by the American military, first published in a report two years ago, the CPT-Iraq Team has collaborated with local human rights organizations in numerous non-violent actions in Baghdad, Fallujah, Kerbala, and Balad.

They also developed an adopt-a-detainee programme at one point.

This weekend CPT launched an ëurgent action' to encourage their supporters to contact US politicians and congressional representatives in advance of a speech which President Bush will make on Iraq policy at 21.00 EST (-5 hours GMT).

They want the case for an ordered withdrawal of troops and an end to what is still seen by many as occupation in Iraq.

The speech may be a landmark, as it is unusual for the President to address the nation from the Oval Office in the White House, as is intended.

Yesterday in Toronto, Canada, more than two dozen volunteers also learned how they can support the ongoing work of the CPT-Iraq Team.

After discussions of practical and spiritual preparation, Iraq Team member Alan Slater, a farmer from Zorra Township, Ontario, who is scheduled to return to Iraq in early 2006, shared experiences and photographs with the group.

A four-week, live-in training programme for the Peacemaker Corps will begin in Chicago in the first week of the New Year.

Those who successfully pass through the training will join CPT violence-reduction projects in Iraq, Palestine-Israel, Colombia, Canada, and the Mexico-United States border.

Additional reporting data with grateful acknowledgement to David Helwig of SooToday.Com.

[A full index of Ekklesia coverage of the Iraq hostage situation and CPT can be found at the foot of this news story: Fears 'unfounded' over Iraq hostage negotiator, 16/12/05. Further updates on Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow's personal weblog]

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.