Baghdad demo planned for Christian peacemaker hostages - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
February 14, 2006

Baghdad demo planned for Christian peacemaker hostages

-14/02/06

A local Iraqi human-rights group is planning a demonstration in Baghdad this week to press for the release of four members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) taken hostage in November, a Canadian colleague of the captives has said.

The protest will take place on Friday in the same square where the statue of ousted president Saddam Hussein was toppled almost three years ago following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, fellow team member Allan Slater said from Baghdad.

"They're very supportive of what we do," Slater said of the group staging the protest, which he declined to identify for security reasons.

"They're making the point that we have helped many detainees."

The protest is taking place against a backdrop of anger in the Muslim world that has, at times, erupted in violence over a controversial series of editorial cartoons published in Denmark in September and since reprinted elsewhere.

The "terrible Danish cartoons" have complicated the situation for the hostages who were seized at gunpoint in Baghdad, said Slater.

"It's a big story here and it's very unfortunate," he said. "It hasn't made it any better for us."

Matters may have been made worse, particulalry for British hostage Norman Kember, by fresh allegations of the abuse of Iraqi teenagers by UK forces.

Members of Christian Peacemaker Teams were however one of the first organisations to draw the world's attention to the abuse of Iraqi detainees by occupying forces.

Nevertheless, the group staging Friday's event has asked the Christian Peacemakers in Baghdad to stay away from the protest for security reasons.

Canadians Jim Loney and Harmeet Sooden, American Tom Fox and Briton Norm Kember were abducted by a previously unknown group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigades.

In two videotaped recordings released to the Arabic news network Al-Jazeera, the group's members have threatened to kill their captives unless the U.S. frees its prisoners in Iraq.

Slater, 70, arrived in Iraq three weeks ago to join other members of the Christian Peacemakers in Baghdad.

In order to maintain a neutral distance, his group has no interest in trying to identify the kidnappers or in getting involved with any diplomatic efforts aimed at securing their release, he said.

Despite security concerns, the group is still moving around Baghdad, although in a significantly restricted fashion, he added.

"One of the best things we can do for ourselves and for our detained friends is to keep doing our work," Slater said.

Baghdad demo planned for Christian peacemaker hostages

-14/02/06

A local Iraqi human-rights group is planning a demonstration in Baghdad this week to press for the release of four members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) taken hostage in November, a Canadian colleague of the captives has said.

The protest will take place on Friday in the same square where the statue of ousted president Saddam Hussein was toppled almost three years ago following the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, fellow team member Allan Slater said from Baghdad.

"They're very supportive of what we do," Slater said of the group staging the protest, which he declined to identify for security reasons.

"They're making the point that we have helped many detainees."

The protest is taking place against a backdrop of anger in the Muslim world that has, at times, erupted in violence over a controversial series of editorial cartoons published in Denmark in September and since reprinted elsewhere.

The "terrible Danish cartoons" have complicated the situation for the hostages who were seized at gunpoint in Baghdad, said Slater.

"It's a big story here and it's very unfortunate," he said. "It hasn't made it any better for us."

Matters may have been made worse, particulalry for British hostage Norman Kember, by fresh allegations of the abuse of Iraqi teenagers by UK forces.

Members of Christian Peacemaker Teams were however one of the first organisations to draw the world's attention to the abuse of Iraqi detainees by occupying forces.

Nevertheless, the group staging Friday's event has asked the Christian Peacemakers in Baghdad to stay away from the protest for security reasons.

Canadians Jim Loney and Harmeet Sooden, American Tom Fox and Briton Norm Kember were abducted by a previously unknown group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigades.

In two videotaped recordings released to the Arabic news network Al-Jazeera, the group's members have threatened to kill their captives unless the U.S. frees its prisoners in Iraq.

Slater, 70, arrived in Iraq three weeks ago to join other members of the Christian Peacemakers in Baghdad.

In order to maintain a neutral distance, his group has no interest in trying to identify the kidnappers or in getting involved with any diplomatic efforts aimed at securing their release, he said.

Despite security concerns, the group is still moving around Baghdad, although in a significantly restricted fashion, he added.

"One of the best things we can do for ourselves and for our detained friends is to keep doing our work," Slater said.

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