Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) issued a press release today in response to a new videotape showing members of the organization abducted in Iraq in Nov. 2005. The tape aired today on Al-Jazeera television was dated Feb. 28, according to ABC News, and showed three of four CPT members alive–Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32; and Briton Norman Kember, 74. The video did not show American team member Tom Fox. This past weekend marked the 100th day since the four men disappeared in Baghdad.
CPT has its roots in the Historic Peace Churches (Church of the Brethren, Mennonite, and Quaker). It is an ecumenical violence-reduction program that places teams of trained peacemakers in areas of lethal conflict.
The full release from CPT follows:
“CPT is aware that a new videotape showing members of our organization abducted in Iraq on Nov. 26, 2005, has aired today on Al-Jazeera television. We continue to pray for their safe and speedy release so that they may return to their families and carry on their peaceful work on behalf of all Iraqi detainees.
“This past weekend marked the 100th day since our friends disappeared in Baghdad. In vigils around the world, people came together to honor our missing colleagues and to call for their safe release. We also hold in our hearts the families of 14,600 Iraqis currently detained illegally by the Multi-national Forces in Iraq who likewise await the release of their loved ones. These detainees are being held without formal charges, without access to their families and legal advisors, and without recourse to a fair and open judicial process.
“In the latest video we were so glad to see Jim Loney alive. We were so glad to see Harmeet Sooden alive. We were so glad to see Norman Kember alive. We do not know what to make of Tom Fox’s absence from this video. However we do know what motivated Tom and his colleagues to go to Iraq. Tom wrote on the day before he was taken, ‘We are here to take part in the creation of the Peaceable Realm of God…. How we take part in the creation of this realm is to love God with all our heart, our mind and our strength, and to love our neighbors and enemies as we love God and ourselves.’
“Many Iraqi friends and human rights workers welcome CPT as a nonviolent, independent presence. Iraqis have asked us to tell their stories in our home communities, to share with them our own experiences of peacemaking, to assist them in building nonviolent institutions in Iraq, and to accompany them as they seek justice for detainees and others suffering from the oppression of Iraq. We seek to promote what is human in all of us and so to offer a glimpse of hope in a dark time. This hope springs from our own faith tradition. We have witnessed a similar hope within the faith traditions of the people of Iraq.
“We believe that the root cause of the abduction of our colleagues is the US and British-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. Many in Iraq have experienced this long war as terrorism. The occupation must end. Work towards this is being coordinated by the Global Call for Nonviolent Resistance to End the Military Occupation of Iraq. The next events in this global campaign are scheduled in cities around the world for March 18-20, which marks the third anniversary of the attack on Iraq. We urge citizens everywhere to join this effort to end the occupation. More information is available at http://globalcalliraq.org/.
“Now is the time for those holding our colleagues Harmeet, Norman, Jim, and Tom to release them back to the care of their families, and back to the peacemaking work which inspired them to come to Iraq.
“Christian Peacemaker Teams is a violence-reduction program and has been present in Iraq since October 2002. Teams of trained peacemakers work in areas of lethal conflict around the world.”
For more about Christian Peacemaker Teams, go to http://www.cpt.org/.