Palestinian bishop seeks mercy for Iraq peace workers
The Lutheran Bishop for the Holy Land has urged the kidnappers of four Christian peace workers in Iraq to show mercy by freeing them, reports Michele Green in Jerusalem for Ecumenical News International.
He is pointing out that they belong to a group working for peace and to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians in areas under Israeli occupation.
Bishop Munib Younan, a Palestinian, issued the plea after four members of the pacifist organisation Christian Peacemaker Teams were abducted by an Iraqi insurgent group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness brigades.
"I urge you from Jerusalem, the city of peace, to do your utmost to bring about the release of these apostles of peace who are the friends of every oppressed people," Younan said in a message to Ecumenical News International on 30 November 2005.
Video footage of the four- an American, two Canadians and a Briton - was broadcast on the Qatar-based al-Jazeera television network shortly after they were kidnapped.
In his plea, the bishop said Christian Peacemaker Team members were people of peace who had stood firm with the Palestinians in the face of Israeli occupation.
"The allegation that CPT members are acting as agents of any government is absolutely unbelievable to anyone who knows their work or who has ever been to the homes of the Palestinian families with whom they live," Bishop Younan said.
He continued: "They represent no government; they stand only on their faith and on their refusal to be silent in the face of injustice." He said that members of the Christian group from different denominations often worshipped at the Lutheran church in Jerusalem.
Members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams are especially active in the divided West Bank city of Hebron where 400 militant Jewish settlers live amidst 120 000 Palestinians.
"In Palestine, CPT members are found in those places where vulnerable people need others to stand with them in the midst of conflict and hostility," Younan said. "CPT members have escorted countless children past hostile [Israeli] settlers intent on frightening and intimidating these boys and girls as they attempt to walk to school ... As they have carried out their tasks CPT people have been cursed, confronted, spat upon, arrested, stoned and attacked with clubs and chains."
[Also on Ekklesia: A detailed briefing on Christian Peacemaker Teams; Anti-war campaigner flies to Iraq to plead for Christian peacemakers 01/12/05; Muslims urge release of Christian peacemakers missing in Iraq 01/12/05]