Peace workers hold a key to Iraq solution, says think tank

By staff writers
April 17, 2006

Peace workers hold a key to Iraq solution, says think tank

-17/04/06

The UK think tank which has challenged the head of the British army to acknowledge he was wrong to imply that Christian peacemaker Norman Kember snubbed the soldiers who freed him in Iraq, has said that there can be no military solution to the countryís worsening violence ñ and that civilians with expertise in ëconflict resolutioní techniques can play a vital role in transforming the situation.

ìCorrecting the untruths about Christian Peacemaker Teamsí supposed ingratitude ñ they actually made a public statement of thanks on the day of the release ñ is only a small part of the issue,î said Ekklesia director Jonathan Bartley on Easter Monday.

ìThe real question is: why are people so ready to ridicule civilians who seek non-violent alternatives in Iraq and to ignore their achievements ñ when armed force and political manoeuvring has so clearly failed to bring hope and stability?î

Ekklesia, an independent news service and think tank which has close knowledge of Christian Peacemaker Teams, says that although CPT is ìvery smallî, its contribution to bridge-building in Iraq is ìcertainly significantî ñ and largely overlooked.

Christian Peacemaker Teams, which was committed to Iraq well before the allied invasion and occupation in 2003, has been working to bring Sunnis and Shias together. It helped expose prisoner abuse four months before the Abu Ghraib scandal became public and has been instrumental in setting up a civilian Muslim peace building initiative.î

ìThere has been too little attention paid to small-scale alternatives to violence,î says Bartley. ìEveryone is looking at the danger of peace workers going to Iraq ñ but no-one is seriously assessing the potential of their work, or comparing its risks with the huge carnage brought about by military intervention.î

Ekklesia point out that CPT, a church group founded in 1984, has had around 100 volunteers and nine teams in Iraq since 2002. The November 2005 kidnapping of four volunteers, one of whom was subsequently killed, is the first major incident it has endured in that time - and since it went operational in a number of conflict zones around the world in 1990.

ìTogether with praise for its preparation and briefing from other NGOs, CPTís record shows that the charges of naivetÈ and irresponsibility are one-sided and unfair,î says Bartley.

He went on: ìContrary to what is said, peace workers respect the personal bravery of soldiers ñ but military chiefs admit they can only control violence, not achieve reconciliation. And continued occupation remains a major focus of violence and instability. We need political and practical alternatives.î

Ekklesia say that ìfar from rubbishing Christian Peacemaker Teams, those with an interest in long-term solutions should be seeking to learn from them.î

The think-tank acknowledges that CPT is ìa tiny and vulnerable initiativeî, but argues that ñ as with the energy issue of renewable alternatives ñ governments need to invest much more in ìsustainable peace buildingî and less on war-making.

Jonathan Bartley also says that military commentators are themselves casting doubt on their own capacity, and upon the idea that peace workers endanger soldierís lives.

He says: ìSpeaking on the BBC recently, security analyst Colonel Michael Dewar rejected the idea that the Christian peacemaker hostages had endangered the lives of the soldiers who freed them ñ without needing to use force. And this weekend a spokesperson for the Royal United Services Institute admitted that the military cannot change the situation on the ground, only police it.î

Concluded the Ekklesia director: ìWeíre not claiming CPT has all the answers, just that they should be treated seriously rather than dismissed on the basis of inaccurate accusations.î

Christian Peacemaker Teams, which is an ecumenical organisation originally set up by Mennonites, Quakers and Brethren in Christ churches in the USA and Canada, has worked in a range of conflict situations. Including Israel-Palestine and Colombia.

CPT is reviewing the future of its work in Iraq and says it needs to take ìcareful decisionsî in the light of fall-out from the kidnapping in Baghdad. But it still hopes to increase its work across the globe, and on 11 April 2006 made an appeal for increased support.

Ekklesia is also helping to raise funds for CPT through its new ëPeacenikí Internet Service Provider. ìWe deliberately chose the title to combat the stereotypes and get back to serious engagement with the issues,î says Jonathan Bartley.

[Also on Ekklesia: Clarification sought from army chief on false Kember snub allegation 16/04/06; Critics of Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq accused of being ill-informed 16/04/06; Army chief spoke without knowledge on alleged Kember ingratitude -28/03/06; What Norman said - from Iraq captive Kember's BBC interview 15/04/06; Entombed Iraq captive Jim Loney talks of Easter Hope 15/04/06; Kember notes irony of non-violent release by soldiers 15/04/06; Kember still evaluating Christian peacemaker's role in Iraq 15/04/06; Christian peacemaker Norman Kember to give first major interview tomorrow 14/04/06; CPT in Iraq: What now? 04/04/06 - Peggy Gish reflects on the future of Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq. Briefing on media accusations against Christian Peacemaker Teams - detailed background; Contending the logic of violence - Ekklesia's Simon Barrow says that true Christian peacemaking cannot afford naivete]

Peace workers hold a key to Iraq solution, says think tank

-17/04/06

The UK think tank which has challenged the head of the British army to acknowledge he was wrong to imply that Christian peacemaker Norman Kember snubbed the soldiers who freed him in Iraq, has said that there can be no military solution to the countryís worsening violence ñ and that civilians with expertise in ëconflict resolutioní techniques can play a vital role in transforming the situation.

ìCorrecting the untruths about Christian Peacemaker Teamsí supposed ingratitude ñ they actually made a public statement of thanks on the day of the release ñ is only a small part of the issue,î said Ekklesia director Jonathan Bartley on Easter Monday.

ìThe real question is: why are people so ready to ridicule civilians who seek non-violent alternatives in Iraq and to ignore their achievements ñ when armed force and political manoeuvring has so clearly failed to bring hope and stability?î

Ekklesia, an independent news service and think tank which has close knowledge of Christian Peacemaker Teams, says that although CPT is ìvery smallî, its contribution to bridge-building in Iraq is ìcertainly significantî ñ and largely overlooked.

Christian Peacemaker Teams, which was committed to Iraq well before the allied invasion and occupation in 2003, has been working to bring Sunnis and Shias together. It helped expose prisoner abuse four months before the Abu Ghraib scandal became public and has been instrumental in setting up a civilian Muslim peace building initiative.î

ìThere has been too little attention paid to small-scale alternatives to violence,î says Bartley. ìEveryone is looking at the danger of peace workers going to Iraq ñ but no-one is seriously assessing the potential of their work, or comparing its risks with the huge carnage brought about by military intervention.î

Ekklesia point out that CPT, a church group founded in 1984, has had around 100 volunteers and nine teams in Iraq since 2002. The November 2005 kidnapping of four volunteers, one of whom was subsequently killed, is the first major incident it has endured in that time - and since it went operational in a number of conflict zones around the world in 1990.

ìTogether with praise for its preparation and briefing from other NGOs, CPTís record shows that the charges of naivetÈ and irresponsibility are one-sided and unfair,î says Bartley.

He went on: ìContrary to what is said, peace workers respect the personal bravery of soldiers ñ but military chiefs admit they can only control violence, not achieve reconciliation. And continued occupation remains a major focus of violence and instability. We need political and practical alternatives.î

Ekklesia say that ìfar from rubbishing Christian Peacemaker Teams, those with an interest in long-term solutions should be seeking to learn from them.î

The think-tank acknowledges that CPT is ìa tiny and vulnerable initiativeî, but argues that ñ as with the energy issue of renewable alternatives ñ governments need to invest much more in ìsustainable peace buildingî and less on war-making.

Jonathan Bartley also says that military commentators are themselves casting doubt on their own capacity, and upon the idea that peace workers endanger soldierís lives.

He says: ìSpeaking on the BBC recently, security analyst Colonel Michael Dewar rejected the idea that the Christian peacemaker hostages had endangered the lives of the soldiers who freed them ñ without needing to use force. And this weekend a spokesperson for the Royal United Services Institute admitted that the military cannot change the situation on the ground, only police it.î

Concluded the Ekklesia director: ìWeíre not claiming CPT has all the answers, just that they should be treated seriously rather than dismissed on the basis of inaccurate accusations.î

Christian Peacemaker Teams, which is an ecumenical organisation originally set up by Mennonites, Quakers and Brethren in Christ churches in the USA and Canada, has worked in a range of conflict situations. Including Israel-Palestine and Colombia.

CPT is reviewing the future of its work in Iraq and says it needs to take ìcareful decisionsî in the light of fall-out from the kidnapping in Baghdad. But it still hopes to increase its work across the globe, and on 11 April 2006 made an appeal for increased support.

Ekklesia is also helping to raise funds for CPT through its new ëPeacenikí Internet Service Provider. ìWe deliberately chose the title to combat the stereotypes and get back to serious engagement with the issues,î says Jonathan Bartley.

[Also on Ekklesia: Clarification sought from army chief on false Kember snub allegation 16/04/06; Critics of Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq accused of being ill-informed 16/04/06; Army chief spoke without knowledge on alleged Kember ingratitude -28/03/06; What Norman said - from Iraq captive Kember's BBC interview 15/04/06; Entombed Iraq captive Jim Loney talks of Easter Hope 15/04/06; Kember notes irony of non-violent release by soldiers 15/04/06; Kember still evaluating Christian peacemaker's role in Iraq 15/04/06; Christian peacemaker Norman Kember to give first major interview tomorrow 14/04/06; CPT in Iraq: What now? 04/04/06 - Peggy Gish reflects on the future of Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq. Briefing on media accusations against Christian Peacemaker Teams - detailed background; Contending the logic of violence - Ekklesia's Simon Barrow says that true Christian peacemaking cannot afford naivete]

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