Former Guantanamo Bay detainees call for release of Christian peacemakers

Former Guantanamo Bay detainees call for release of Christian peacemakers

By staff writers
8 Dec 2005

Former Guantanamo Bay detainees call for release of Christian peacemakers

-08/12/05

British former detainees of Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba, have called for the release of Norman Kember and three other members of Christian Peacemaker Teams who are being held hostage in Iraq.

Moazzam Begg told the BBC's Newsnight tonight (Thursday) that he and his fellow former inmates had been reminded of their ordeal by seeing the 74-year-old Briton in a jumpsuit, similar to the ones worn at the controversial prison camp.

New pictures of the detainees have been broadcast on Al-Jazeera with two of the hostages - Mr Kember and American Quaker Tom Fox - in shackles.

The Swords of Truth group had set Thursday as its deadline for the release of all prisoners in Iraq, but have now extended it to Saturday.

Mr Begg said: "When we were first granted release by Allah's mercy we came home to find that there were people who opposed the government in their brutal war waged against Afghanistan and Iraq and stood on the side of justice, and they were not Muslims.

"It is our sincerest belief that Norman Kember, the 74-year-old Briton and those with him are amongst those people, the many people who opposed this war from the beginning and were only in Iraq to promote human rights for the oppressed.

"Just like Sheikh Abu Qatada, we also hope that our words may encourage you to show mercy to these men and let them free."

Mr Straw reiterated on Thursday morning that Mr Kember and his colleagues were peace campaigners, "dedicated to helping others".

He has also urged the captors to make contact.

"As I've said before, if the kidnappers want to get in touch with us, we want to hear what they have to say," he said.

The latest video shows Mr Kember and Mr Fox dressed in orange jump suits with their hands shackled and wearing blindfolds, echoing film of British kidnap victim Ken Bigley who was shown wearing similar clothes before his murder.

Mr Kember is shown telling the camera he is "a friend of Iraq".

"I have been opposed to this war, Mr Blair's war, since the very beginning but I ask him now, and the British government, to do all that they can to work for my release and the release of the Iraqi people from oppression," Mr Kember says.

On Wednesday night, a radical cleric detained in the UK made an appeal for the hostages' release.

In a video filmed in prison, Abu Qatada urged the kidnappers to free them "in line with the principle of mercy of our religion".

Friends and supporters of Mr Kember have been holding a candelit vigil outside Peterborough Cathedral.

Christian Peacemaker Teams is an initiative of the historic peace churches (Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, and Quakers) with support and membership from a range of Catholic and Protestant denominations. Supporting violence-reduction efforts around the world is its mandate. It works in the UK in partnership with Ekklesia

Petition for the release of the four.

[Full and chronological related articles on Ekklesia: Christian Peacemaker Teams full briefing (with links to features and stories on CPT's work); Christian peacemakers - a lesson to the peace movement (by Mark A. LeVine); Why are we here? (by CPTer Tom Fox); Christians criticize UK Iraq war budget increase 08/12/05; Christian peacemakers say the work must go on 08/12/05; Last minute appeals made for Christian peacemakers 07/12/05 ; Muslim detainees plead for lives of Christian peacemakers 06/12/05; Faith groups in the US unite to back Iraq captives 06/12/05; French engineer seized in Iraq 05/12/05; Norman Kember's wife pleads for his life 04/12/05; Iraqi, Muslim and Palestinian support for peace hostages grows 04/12/05; Insurgents say they will kill Christian peacemakers 02/12/05; WCC calls for freeing of Christian peace workers 02/12/05; Vigils and messages of support for abducted peace activist 02/12/05; Palestinian bishop seeks mercy for Iraq peace workers 02/12/05; 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; Al-Jazeera releases film of Iraq peace hostages 30/11/05; Search goes on for Christian peacemaker kidnapped in Iraq 28/11/05. Key book: Patricia Gates-Brown (ed.), Getting in the Way: Stories from Christian Peacemaker Teams, Herald Press]Christian Peacemaker Teams full briefing (with links to features and stories on CPT's work); Why are we here? (by CPTer Tom Fox); Christians criticize UK Iraq war budget increase 08/12/05; Christian peacemakers say the work must go on 08/12/05; Last minute appeals made for Christian peacemakers 07/12/05 ; Muslim detainees plead for lives of Christian peacemakers 06/12/05; Faith groups in the US unite to back Iraq captives 06/12/05; French engineer seized in Iraq 05/12/05; Norman Kember's wife pleads for his life 04/12/05; Iraqi, Muslim and Palestinian support for peace hostages grows 04/12/05; Insurgents say they will kill Christian peacemakers 02/12/05; WCC calls for freeing of Christian peace workers 02/12/05; Vigils and messages of support for abducted peace activist 02/12/05; Palestinian bishop seeks mercy for Iraq peace workers 02/12/05; 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; Al-Jazeera releases film of Iraq peace hostages 30/11/05; Search goes on for Christian peacemaker kidnapped in Iraq 28/11/05. Key book: Patricia Gates-Brown (ed.), Getting in the Way: Stories from Christian Peacemaker Teams, Herald Press]

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British former detainees of Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba, have called for the release of Norman Kember and three other members of Christian Peacemaker Teams who are being held hostage in Iraq.

Moazzam Begg told the BBC's Newsnight tonight (Thursday) that he and his fellow former inmates had been reminded of their ordeal by seeing the 74-year-old Briton in a jumpsuit, similar to the ones worn at the controversial prison camp.

New pictures of the detainees have been broadcast on Al-Jazeera with two of the hostages - Mr Kember and American Quaker Tom Fox - in shackles.

The Swords of Truth group had set Thursday as its deadline for the release of all prisoners in Iraq, but have now extended it to Saturday.

Mr Begg said: "When we were first granted release by Allah's mercy we came home to find that there were people who opposed the government in their brutal war waged against Afghanistan and Iraq and stood on the side of justice, and they were not Muslims.

"It is our sincerest belief that Norman Kember, the 74-year-old Briton and those with him are amongst those people, the many people who opposed this war from the beginning and were only in Iraq to promote human rights for the oppressed.

"Just like Sheikh Abu Qatada, we also hope that our words may encourage you to show mercy to these men and let them free."

Mr Straw reiterated on Thursday morning that Mr Kember and his colleagues were peace campaigners, "dedicated to helping others".

He has also urged the captors to make contact.

"As I've said before, if the kidnappers want to get in touch with us, we want to hear what they have to say," he said.

The latest video shows Mr Kember and Mr Fox dressed in orange jump suits with their hands shackled and wearing blindfolds, echoing film of British kidnap victim Ken Bigley who was shown wearing similar clothes before his murder.

Mr Kember is shown telling the camera he is "a friend of Iraq".

"I have been opposed to this war, Mr Blair's war, since the very beginning but I ask him now, and the British government, to do all that they can to work for my release and the release of the Iraqi people from oppression," Mr Kember says.

On Wednesday night, a radical cleric detained in the UK made an appeal for the hostages' release.

In a video filmed in prison, Abu Qatada urged the kidnappers to free them "in line with the principle of mercy of our religion".

Friends and supporters of Mr Kember have been holding a candelit vigil outside Peterborough Cathedral.

Christian Peacemaker Teams is an initiative of the historic peace churches (Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, and Quakers) with support and membership from a range of Catholic and Protestant denominations. Supporting violence-reduction efforts around the world is its mandate. It works in the UK in partnership with Ekklesia

Petition for the release of the four.

[Full and chronological related articles on Ekklesia: Christian Peacemaker Teams full briefing (with links to features and stories on CPT's work); Christian peacemakers - a lesson to the peace movement (by Mark A. LeVine); Why are we here? (by CPTer Tom Fox); Christians criticize UK Iraq war budget increase 08/12/05; Christian peacemakers say the work must go on 08/12/05; Last minute appeals made for Christian peacemakers 07/12/05 ; Muslim detainees plead for lives of Christian peacemakers 06/12/05; Faith groups in the US unite to back Iraq captives 06/12/05; French engineer seized in Iraq 05/12/05; Norman Kember's wife pleads for his life 04/12/05; Iraqi, Muslim and Palestinian support for peace hostages grows 04/12/05; Insurgents say they will kill Christian peacemakers 02/12/05; WCC calls for freeing of Christian peace workers 02/12/05; Vigils and messages of support for abducted peace activist 02/12/05; Palestinian bishop seeks mercy for Iraq peace workers 02/12/05; 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; Al-Jazeera releases film of Iraq peace hostages 30/11/05; Search goes on for Christian peacemaker kidnapped in Iraq 28/11/05. Key book: Patricia Gates-Brown (ed.), Getting in the Way: Stories from Christian Peacemaker Teams, Herald Press]Christian Peacemaker Teams full briefing (with links to features and stories on CPT's work); Why are we here? (by CPTer Tom Fox); Christians criticize UK Iraq war budget increase 08/12/05; Christian peacemakers say the work must go on 08/12/05; Last minute appeals made for Christian peacemakers 07/12/05 ; Muslim detainees plead for lives of Christian peacemakers 06/12/05; Faith groups in the US unite to back Iraq captives 06/12/05; French engineer seized in Iraq 05/12/05; Norman Kember's wife pleads for his life 04/12/05; Iraqi, Muslim and Palestinian support for peace hostages grows 04/12/05; Insurgents say they will kill Christian peacemakers 02/12/05; WCC calls for freeing of Christian peace workers 02/12/05; Vigils and messages of support for abducted peace activist 02/12/05; Palestinian bishop seeks mercy for Iraq peace workers 02/12/05; 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; Al-Jazeera releases film of Iraq peace hostages 30/11/05; Search goes on for Christian peacemaker kidnapped in Iraq 28/11/05. Key book: Patricia Gates-Brown (ed.), Getting in the Way: Stories from Christian Peacemaker Teams, Herald Press]

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Keywords: guantanamo bay
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