Freedom for Kate Burton comes with fresh threats - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
December 31, 2005

Freedom for Kate Burton comes with fresh threats

-31/12/05

Palestine human rights worker Kate Burton, freed in Gaza last night after two-and-a-half days in captivity with her parents, Hugh and Win, said that the three Britons had been treated well by their abductors, but were relieved the ordeal was over.

Their release followed an international effort in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, backed also by militant groups as well as the UK Foreign Office and human rights activists.

Burton, aged 24, spoke of her sadness that her parents had had such a "desperate experience" during their visit to Gaza, but said she hoped to continue her human rights work there.

She told the BBC they had all been treated well by their captors over the period they were held, but that her parents were "tired".

A group called The Mujahadeen Brigades has released a video denouncing the UK and threatening to take more hostages.

The video made by the Burtons' kidnappers and delivered to an Arabic TV company in Gaza on Friday evening, showed a masked gunman reading a statement while standing next to Ms Burton.

It said the British government bore responsibility for what had happened to the Palestinians since 1918 and urged Britain to put pressure on Israel.

The previously unknown group said that if their demands were not met they would capture international observers in the forthcoming elections, describing the freeing of the Burtons as ìan act of goodwillî.

Other Palestinian militant groups oppose kidnap tactics and are seeking a return to democracy following Israeli withdrawal from the territory.

"I am happy this despicable and shameful act is over," declared chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

The family, from Newbury in Berkshire and Brussels in Belgium, are now being cared for at the British consulate in Jerusalem.

Win Burton has worked for the European Union as an expert on spiritual and religious issues, and has been involved in ecumenical Christian and Interfaith issues.

Kate Burton told the BBC Arabic service she and her parents had been held in Rafah, southern Gaza, but that she could not say a bad word about her captors, who always asked whether they needed anything.

Said the Burton family, thanking all who had "worked tirelessly" to free the three: "We do not forget the wider situation in Gaza, but right now we are looking forward to being together as a family very soon."

The Muslim Association of Britain, which was planning to send an emissary to Gaza to seek the family's release, said that they were "very relieved and joyful."

They added that they hoped the same steps could be followed in Iraq, where Dr Norman Kember and his three Christian Peacemaker Teams colleagues are still being held.

Ms Burton had left a job with the United Nations in Gaza after it pulled all non-essential staff out because of the threat of kidnapping. She continued to work at the al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights as an international coordinator.

[Also on Ekklesia: Vigils go on for Christian Peacemaker Teams hostages in Iraq 30/12/05; Release of human rights worker in Gaza announced 30/12/05; Iraqi and Palestinian Christians seek an end to violence 28/12/05; Radio messages sent to captors in Iraq 27/12/05; Christian leaders hold out love as the alternative to terror 27/12/05; British Muslims in fresh plea for Norman Kember 25/12/05]

Freedom for Kate Burton comes with fresh threats

-31/12/05

Palestine human rights worker Kate Burton, freed in Gaza last night after two-and-a-half days in captivity with her parents, Hugh and Win, said that the three Britons had been treated well by their abductors, but were relieved the ordeal was over.

Their release followed an international effort in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, backed also by militant groups as well as the UK Foreign Office and human rights activists.

Burton, aged 24, spoke of her sadness that her parents had had such a "desperate experience" during their visit to Gaza, but said she hoped to continue her human rights work there.

She told the BBC they had all been treated well by their captors over the period they were held, but that her parents were "tired".

A group called The Mujahadeen Brigades has released a video denouncing the UK and threatening to take more hostages.

The video made by the Burtons' kidnappers and delivered to an Arabic TV company in Gaza on Friday evening, showed a masked gunman reading a statement while standing next to Ms Burton.

It said the British government bore responsibility for what had happened to the Palestinians since 1918 and urged Britain to put pressure on Israel.

The previously unknown group said that if their demands were not met they would capture international observers in the forthcoming elections, describing the freeing of the Burtons as 'an act of goodwill'.

Other Palestinian militant groups oppose kidnap tactics and are seeking a return to democracy following Israeli withdrawal from the territory.

"I am happy this despicable and shameful act is over," declared chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

The family, from Newbury in Berkshire and Brussels in Belgium, are now being cared for at the British consulate in Jerusalem.

Win Burton has worked for the European Union as an expert on spiritual and religious issues, and has been involved in ecumenical Christian and Interfaith issues.

Kate Burton told the BBC Arabic service she and her parents had been held in Rafah, southern Gaza, but that she could not say a bad word about her captors, who always asked whether they needed anything.

Said the Burton family, thanking all who had "worked tirelessly" to free the three: "We do not forget the wider situation in Gaza, but right now we are looking forward to being together as a family very soon."

The Muslim Association of Britain, which was planning to send an emissary to Gaza to seek the family's release, said that they were "very relieved and joyful."

They added that they hoped the same steps could be followed in Iraq, where Dr Norman Kember and his three Christian Peacemaker Teams colleagues are still being held.

Ms Burton had left a job with the United Nations in Gaza after it pulled all non-essential staff out because of the threat of kidnapping. She continued to work at the al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights as an international coordinator.

[Also on Ekklesia: Vigils go on for Christian Peacemaker Teams hostages in Iraq 30/12/05; Release of human rights worker in Gaza announced 30/12/05; Iraqi and Palestinian Christians seek an end to violence 28/12/05; Radio messages sent to captors in Iraq 27/12/05; Christian leaders hold out love as the alternative to terror 27/12/05; British Muslims in fresh plea for Norman Kember 25/12/05]

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