Peacemaker vigils in Washington and Toronto focus on Iraq policy

By staff writers
January 17, 2006

Coinciding with Martin Luther King Day in the United States,

Christian Peacemaker Teams
in Toronto (Canada) and Washington DC (USA) organized protest vigils on Monday against the American-led war and military presence in Iraq.

The aim was also to draw attention to the plight of four colleagues held captive by an unknown group in Baghdad for the past seven weeks.

“Much of the goodwill that came with the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime has been thrown away by the brutality of the US occupation,” said Doug Pritchard, co-director of Christian Peacemaker Teams, an ecumenical group sponsored by the historic peace churches –
Mennonites
,
Quakers
and
Brethren in Christ
.

Pritchard continued: “This kidnapping business, which has flourished in their wake, is really one symptom of that occupation and its failure to bring peace and security for Iraqi people.”

More than 100 people gathered outside Union Station in Toronto before walking to the US consulate via City Hall. They carried signs calling for the release of detainees in Iraq, including the four hostages, and an end to the occupation.

A vigil organised by the Fellowship of Reconciliation and
Pax Christi
in the UK also took place in London’s Trafalgar Square, opposite St-Martin’s-in-the-Field Church.

This was one of three vigils in England, where the emphasis has been on cooperation between Christians and Muslims.

Muslim leaders have been prominent in making pleas for the release of Norman Kember. Harmeet Singh Sooden, Jim Loney and Tom Fox since they were snatched outside a Sunni mosque on 26 November 2005.

They had been taking part in a meeting with Islamic leaders about support for illegal detainees in Iraq.

Nothing has been heard from their captors,
Swords of Truth Brigades
, since 8 December 2005 – despite appeals on al-Jazeera, other Arab satellite networks and the Iraqi press and radio.

In Washington DC the CPT vigil outside the White House has been lobbying and praying for a meeting with President George W. Bush to discuss Iraq policy as well as the situation of the captives – two from Canada, one from Britain and one from the USA.

Christian Peacemaker Teams member Greg Rollins, aged 33, who has been in Iraq since October 2005, will fly home to Surrey, British Columbia, this week, as part of a regular rotation.

He told the media that he will be leaving Baghdad with mixed feelings. “A big part of me wants to stay and continue trying to get [the four] released,” he said.

“At the same time, part of me realizes that it’s good to step aside and take a break,” he added.

Rollins believes that the hostages are still alive. He says that this is the most likely scenario because the kidnappers would likely have publicized anything to the contrary.

The CPT worker said that the current grim situation has shown him just how badly civil order in Iraq has crumbled under the American occupation.

“It’s made me aware of the culture of kidnapping here,” Rollins commented.

He went on: “Since our guys were abducted, there have been over 350 reported kidnappings in Iraq - that’s internationals and Iraqis both - and that’s just [what’s been] reported.”

[Updated complete chronological list of related articles on Ekklesia as of 17 January 2006 AM: Features - 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); A culture of Christian citizenship (Pat Gaffney, CAFOD, Advent inc. Iraq); Why are we here? (by CPTer Tom Fox). Advent hope for Iraq, captives and Limbaugh (Sojourners magazine). What on earth are we waiting for? (Simon Barrow, Advent and Iraq); Watching and waiting with the Christian peacemakers in Iraq (Lee McKenna duCharme); Still marching into hell? (Ron Kraybill). Updates: FaithInSociety; News - Peacemaker vigils in Washington and Toronto focus on Iraq policy, 17/01/06; Catholic Worker plans Guantanamo protests over Lent 17/01/06; Norman Kember remembered across UK 15/01/06; Supporters of Iraq captives reissue media appeals 14/01/06; More UK vigils keep focus on Norman Kember 13/01/06; Christian peacemakers highlight prisoner abuse in Iraq 12/01/06; Protests as US raids Sunni mosque in Iraq hostage search 11/01/06; Australian Muslim seeks freedom for Christian Peacemakers 11/01/06; Iraqi search for kidnapped Christian Science Monitor reporter 11/01/06; British diplomats continue Norman Kember search 09/01/06; Muslim envoy may return to Iraq for CPT four 08/01/06; Release of French engineer brings Iraq hostage hope 08/01/06; Journalist kidnapped in Iraq as friends pray for peace workers 07/01/06; Birmingham inter-faith vigil for Kember and Iraq peace workers 06/01/06; Norman Kember's wife in new TV appeal to Iraq captors 06/01/06; New London vigil for Norman Kember announced 04/01/06; Christian Peacemaker Teams seek meeting with President Bush 04/01/06; Speculation continues over kidnapped peace workers in Iraq 04/01/06; Middle East Christians and Muslims renew plea for Iraq captives 01/01/06; Baptists urge support for Norman Kember 31/12/05; Vigils go on for Christian Peacemaker Teams hostages in Iraq 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; British Muslims in fresh plea for Norman Kember 25/12/05; New appeal for release of Iraq peace workers 24/12/05; Churches Urged to pray for Iraq hostages this Christmas 24/12/05; United Church of Canada calls for an end to detention and occupation in Iraq 21/12/05; Christians and Muslims show continued support for Norman Kember 21/12/05; Christian Peacemakers say they will carry on their work 18/12/05; Lack of evidence for Iraq negotiator abduction claim 17/12/05; Fears 'unfounded' over Iraq hostage negotiator 16/12/05; Search goes on for missing Christian peace workers 16/12/05; UK envoy remains hopeful on Iraq captives 16/12/05; Muslim envoy to Iraq returns as al-Jazeera publicizes mercy pleas 14/12/05; Christian peacemakers demand entry to Guantanamo Bay 14/12/05; Canadian churches pray for missing peace activists 13/12/05; Cardinal joins pleas for Iraq peace workers; Praying for a miracle amid Iraq hostage silence 12/12/05; All faiths candlelit vigil in London for Norman Kember 12/12/05; Officials and families seek news on Iraq Christian peace workers 12/12/05; Lobbying goes on as Iraq hostage deadline passes 11/12/05; Hope continues as Iraq captive deadline looms 10/12/05; Embattled Hezbollah backs Iraq 'doves of peace' 09/12/05; UN secretary general calls for release of all Iraqi captives 09/12/05; Former Guantanamo Bay detainees call for release of Christian peacemakers 08/12/05; Jack Straw says he will talk on Iraq hostages 08/12/05; Abu Qatada pleas for Iraq captives as deadline is extended 08/12/05; 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]

Coinciding with Martin Luther King Day in the United States,

Christian Peacemaker Teams
in Toronto (Canada) and Washington DC (USA) organized protest vigils on Monday against the American-led war and military presence in Iraq.

The aim was also to draw attention to the plight of four colleagues held captive by an unknown group in Baghdad for the past seven weeks.

'Much of the goodwill that came with the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime has been thrown away by the brutality of the US occupation,' said Doug Pritchard, co-director of Christian Peacemaker Teams, an ecumenical group sponsored by the historic peace churches - Mennonites, Quakers and Brethren in Christ.

Pritchard continued: 'This kidnapping business, which has flourished in their wake, is really one symptom of that occupation and its failure to bring peace and security for Iraqi people.'

More than 100 people gathered outside Union Station in Toronto before walking to the US consulate via City Hall. They carried signs calling for the release of detainees in Iraq, including the four hostages, and an end to the occupation.

A vigil organised by the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Pax Christi in the UK also took place in London's Trafalgar Square, opposite St-Martin's-in-the-Field Church.

This was one of three vigils in England, where the emphasis has been on cooperation between Christians and Muslims.

Muslim leaders have been prominent in making pleas for the release of Norman Kember. Harmeet Singh Sooden, Jim Loney and Tom Fox since they were snatched outside a Sunni mosque on 26 November 2005.

They had been taking part in a meeting with Islamic leaders about support for illegal detainees in Iraq.

Nothing has been heard from their captors, Swords of Truth Brigades, since 8 December 2005 ' despite appeals on al-Jazeera, other Arab satellite networks and the Iraqi press and radio.

In Washington DC the CPT vigil outside the White House has been lobbying and praying for a meeting with President George W. Bush to discuss Iraq policy as well as the situation of the captives ' two from Canada, one from Britain and one from the USA.

Christian Peacemaker Teams member Greg Rollins, aged 33, who has been in Iraq since October 2005, will fly home to Surrey, British Columbia, this week, as part of a regular rotation.

He told the media that he will be leaving Baghdad with mixed feelings. 'A big part of me wants to stay and continue trying to get [the four] released,' he said.

'At the same time, part of me realizes that it's good to step aside and take a break,' he added.

Rollins believes that the hostages are still alive. He says that this is the most likely scenario because the kidnappers would likely have publicized anything to the contrary.

The CPT worker said that the current grim situation has shown him just how badly civil order in Iraq has crumbled under the American occupation.

'It's made me aware of the culture of kidnapping here,' Rollins commented.

He went on: 'Since our guys were abducted, there have been over 350 reported kidnappings in Iraq - that's internationals and Iraqis both - and that's just [what's been] reported.'

[Updated complete chronological list of related articles on Ekklesia as of 17 January 2006 AM: Features - 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); A culture of Christian citizenship (Pat Gaffney, CAFOD, Advent inc. Iraq); Why are we here? (by CPTer Tom Fox). Advent hope for Iraq, captives and Limbaugh (Sojourners magazine). What on earth are we waiting for? (Simon Barrow, Advent and Iraq); Watching and waiting with the Christian peacemakers in Iraq (Lee McKenna duCharme); Still marching into hell? (Ron Kraybill). Updates: FaithInSociety; News - Peacemaker vigils in Washington and Toronto focus on Iraq policy, 17/01/06; Catholic Worker plans Guantanamo protests over Lent 17/01/06; Norman Kember remembered across UK 15/01/06; Supporters of Iraq captives reissue media appeals 14/01/06; More UK vigils keep focus on Norman Kember 13/01/06; Christian peacemakers highlight prisoner abuse in Iraq 12/01/06; Protests as US raids Sunni mosque in Iraq hostage search 11/01/06; Australian Muslim seeks freedom for Christian Peacemakers 11/01/06; Iraqi search for kidnapped Christian Science Monitor reporter 11/01/06; British diplomats continue Norman Kember search 09/01/06; Muslim envoy may return to Iraq for CPT four 08/01/06; Release of French engineer brings Iraq hostage hope 08/01/06; Journalist kidnapped in Iraq as friends pray for peace workers 07/01/06; Birmingham inter-faith vigil for Kember and Iraq peace workers 06/01/06; Norman Kember's wife in new TV appeal to Iraq captors 06/01/06; New London vigil for Norman Kember announced 04/01/06; Christian Peacemaker Teams seek meeting with President Bush 04/01/06; Speculation continues over kidnapped peace workers in Iraq 04/01/06; Middle East Christians and Muslims renew plea for Iraq captives 01/01/06; Baptists urge support for Norman Kember 31/12/05; Vigils go on for Christian Peacemaker Teams hostages in Iraq 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; British Muslims in fresh plea for Norman Kember 25/12/05; New appeal for release of Iraq peace workers 24/12/05; Churches Urged to pray for Iraq hostages this Christmas 24/12/05; United Church of Canada calls for an end to detention and occupation in Iraq 21/12/05; Christians and Muslims show continued support for Norman Kember 21/12/05; Christian Peacemakers say they will carry on their work 18/12/05; Lack of evidence for Iraq negotiator abduction claim 17/12/05; Fears 'unfounded' over Iraq hostage negotiator 16/12/05; Search goes on for missing Christian peace workers 16/12/05; UK envoy remains hopeful on Iraq captives 16/12/05; Muslim envoy to Iraq returns as al-Jazeera publicizes mercy pleas 14/12/05; Christian peacemakers demand entry to Guantanamo Bay 14/12/05; Canadian churches pray for missing peace activists 13/12/05; Cardinal joins pleas for Iraq peace workers; Praying for a miracle amid Iraq hostage silence 12/12/05; All faiths candlelit vigil in London for Norman Kember 12/12/05; Officials and families seek news on Iraq Christian peace workers 12/12/05; Lobbying goes on as Iraq hostage deadline passes 11/12/05; Hope continues as Iraq captive deadline looms 10/12/05; Embattled Hezbollah backs Iraq 'doves of peace' 09/12/05; UN secretary general calls for release of all Iraqi captives 09/12/05; Former Guantanamo Bay detainees call for release of Christian peacemakers 08/12/05; Jack Straw says he will talk on Iraq hostages 08/12/05; Abu Qatada pleas for Iraq captives as deadline is extended 08/12/05; 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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