Statement by released Christian peacemaker James Loney

By staff writers
March 26, 2006

Statement by released Christian peacemaker James Loney

-26/03/06

This is a transcript of a statement made by freed Christian Peacemaker James Loney upon his return from Iraq, at Pearson International Airport

I heard there might be some interest in my arrival so I wrote down a couple thoughts. Iíll just read it so I can get through. During my captivity I sometimes entertained myself by imagining this day. Sometimes I despaired of ever seeing it. Always I ached for it. And so, here we are.

For 118 days I disappeared into a black hole and somehow, by Godís grace, I was spit out again. My head is swirling and there are times when I can hardly believe itís true. We had to wear flak jackets during our helicopter transfer from the international zone to the Baghdad airport and I had to keep knocking on the body armour I was wearing to reassure myself this is all really happening.

It was a terrifying, profound, powerful, transformative and excruciatingly boring experience. Since my release, my rescue from captivity, I have been in a constant state of wonder, bewilderment, surprise, as I slowly discover the magnitude of the efforts to secure our lives and freedom: Tom Fox, Norman Kember, Harmeet Sooden and myself. A great of hand of solidarity reached out for us; a hand that included the hands of Palestinian children holding pictures of us and the hands of the British soldier who cut our chains with a bolt cutter. That great hand was able to deliver the three of us from the shadow of death. I am grateful in a way that can never be adequately expressed in words.

There are so many people that need this hand of solidarity, right now, today, and Iím thinking specifically of prisoners being held all over the world. People who have disappeared into an abyss of detention without charges, due process, hope for release, some victims of physical and psychological torture, people unknown and forgotten. It is my deepest wish that every forsaken human being should have a hand of solidarity reaching out to them.

My friend and fellow Canadian in captivity, Harmeet Sooden, showed me something yesterday. Our captors gave us notebooks and Harmeet opened his notebook to show me two fractions, three quarters and four quarters, that Tom had written. It was the only thing he wrote in my book, he said. Tom, who had been a professional musician, wrote them as part of a lesson he was giving Harmeet in music theory - three quarter time, four quarter time. Harmeet put his finger over the three quarters and said, in the beginning, we were four quarters. Then he put his finger over the four quarters and said now we are only three quarters. Tom is not coming home with us. I am so sorry thatís the ending.

People have been asking whatís the first thing youíre going to do when you get home. All I really want to do is to love and be loved by the people that I love. The one specific thing might be to wash a sink full of dirty dishes. After this Iím going to disappear for a little while into a different kind of abyss, an abyss of love. I need some time to get reacquainted with my partner, Dan, my family, my community and freedom itself. Iím eager to tell the story of my captivity and rescue but I need a little time first. Thatís a subtle hint to anyone out there who might happen to have a big camera or notebook.

For the British soldiers who risked their lives to rescue us, for the government of Canada who sent a team to Baghdad to help secure our release, for all those who though about and prayed for us, for all those who spoke for us when we had no voice, I am forever and truly grateful. Itís great to be alive. Alhamdulillah.

Statement by released Christian peacemaker James Loney

-26/03/06

This is a transcript of a statement made by freed Christian Peacemaker James Loney upon his return from Iraq, at Pearson International Airport

I heard there might be some interest in my arrival so I wrote down a couple thoughts. Iíll just read it so I can get through. During my captivity I sometimes entertained myself by imagining this day. Sometimes I despaired of ever seeing it. Always I ached for it. And so, here we are.

For 118 days I disappeared into a black hole and somehow, by Godís grace, I was spit out again. My head is swirling and there are times when I can hardly believe itís true. We had to wear flak jackets during our helicopter transfer from the international zone to the Baghdad airport and I had to keep knocking on the body armour I was wearing to reassure myself this is all really happening.

It was a terrifying, profound, powerful, transformative and excruciatingly boring experience. Since my release, my rescue from captivity, I have been in a constant state of wonder, bewilderment, surprise, as I slowly discover the magnitude of the efforts to secure our lives and freedom: Tom Fox, Norman Kember, Harmeet Sooden and myself. A great of hand of solidarity reached out for us; a hand that included the hands of Palestinian children holding pictures of us and the hands of the British soldier who cut our chains with a bolt cutter. That great hand was able to deliver the three of us from the shadow of death. I am grateful in a way that can never be adequately expressed in words.

There are so many people that need this hand of solidarity, right now, today, and Iím thinking specifically of prisoners being held all over the world. People who have disappeared into an abyss of detention without charges, due process, hope for release, some victims of physical and psychological torture, people unknown and forgotten. It is my deepest wish that every forsaken human being should have a hand of solidarity reaching out to them.

My friend and fellow Canadian in captivity, Harmeet Sooden, showed me something yesterday. Our captors gave us notebooks and Harmeet opened his notebook to show me two fractions, three quarters and four quarters, that Tom had written. It was the only thing he wrote in my book, he said. Tom, who had been a professional musician, wrote them as part of a lesson he was giving Harmeet in music theory - three quarter time, four quarter time. Harmeet put his finger over the three quarters and said, in the beginning, we were four quarters. Then he put his finger over the four quarters and said now we are only three quarters. Tom is not coming home with us. I am so sorry thatís the ending.

People have been asking whatís the first thing youíre going to do when you get home. All I really want to do is to love and be loved by the people that I love. The one specific thing might be to wash a sink full of dirty dishes. After this Iím going to disappear for a little while into a different kind of abyss, an abyss of love. I need some time to get reacquainted with my partner, Dan, my family, my community and freedom itself. Iím eager to tell the story of my captivity and rescue but I need a little time first. Thatís a subtle hint to anyone out there who might happen to have a big camera or notebook.

For the British soldiers who risked their lives to rescue us, for the government of Canada who sent a team to Baghdad to help secure our release, for all those who though about and prayed for us, for all those who spoke for us when we had no voice, I am forever and truly grateful. Itís great to be alive. Alhamdulillah.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.