Update on Missing Persons in Iraq
Wednesday, 30 November 2005, 1:00 am, Baghdad, Iraq
BAGHDAD: We were very saddened to see the images of our loved ones on Al Jazeera television recently. We were disturbed by seeing the video and believe that repeated showing of it will endanger the lives of our friends. We are deeply disturbed by their abduction. We pray that those who hold them will be merciful and that they will be released soon. We want so much to see their faces in our home again, and we want them to know how much we love them, how much we miss them, and how anxious and concerned we are by what is happening to them.
We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. governments due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people. Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has worked for the rights of Iraqi prisoners who have been illegally detained and abused by the U.S. government. We were the first people to publicly denounce the torture of Iraqi people at the hands of U.S. forces, long before the western media admitted what was happening at Abu Ghraib. We are some of the few internationals left in Iraq who are telling the truth about what is happening to the Iraqi people We hope that we can continue to do this work and we pray for the speedy release of our beloved teammates.
We can confirm the identities of those who are being held as follows:
Tom Fox, age 54, is from Clearbrook, Virginia and is a dedicated father of two children. For the past two years, Mr. Fox has worked with CPT in partnership with Iraqi human rights organizations to promote peace. Mr. Fox has been faithful in the observance of Quaker practice for 22 years. While in Iraq, he sought a more complete understanding of Islamic cultural richness. He is committed to telling the truth to U.S. citizens about the horrors of war and its effects on ordinary Iraqi civilians and families as a result of U.S. policies and
practices. Mr. Fox is an accomplished musician. He plays the bass clarinet and the recorder and he loves to cook. He has also worked as a professional grocer. Mr. Fox devotes much of his time to working with children. He has served as an adult leader of youth programs and worked at a Quaker camp for youth. He has facilitated young people’s participation in opposing war and violence. Mr. Fox is a quiet and peaceful man, respectful of everyone, who believes that “there is that of God in every person” which is why work for peace is so important to him.
Norman Kember, age 74, is from London, England. He and his wife of 45 years have two married daughters and a 3-year old grandson. He has been a pacifist all his life beginning with his work in a hospital instead of National Service at age 18. Before his retirement he was a professor teaching medical students at St Bartholemew’s Hospital in London. He is well known as a peace activist, and has been involved in several peace groups. For the past 10 years he has volunteered with a local program providing free food to the homeless. He likes walking, birdwatching, and writing humorous songs and sketches. In his younger days he enjoyed mountaineering.
James Loney, 41, is a community worker from Toronto, Canada. He has been a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams since August 2000, and is currently the Program Coordinator for CPT Canada. On previous visits to Iraq, his work focused on taking testimonies from families of detainees for CPT’s report on detainee abuse, and making recommendations for securing basic legal rights. James was leading the November 2005 delegation in Iraq when he went missing. James is a peace activist, writer, trained mediator, and works actively with two Toronto community conflict resolution services. He has spent many years working to provide housing and support for homeless people. In a personal statement from James to CPT, he writes: I believe that our actions as a people of peace must be an expression of hope for everyone. My hope in practising non-violence is that I can be a conduit for the transformative power of God’s love acting upon me as much as I hope it will act upon others around me.
Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32 is a Canadian electrical engineer from Montreal. He studdied at McGill University and is now working on a masters degree in English literature inAuckland University in New Zealand to prepare for a teaching career. He enjoys art, is active in squash and worked part time as a local squash coach. His family describes him as peaceful and fun-loving and he is known to be passionate about the plight of the underprivileged around the globe.
He works tirelessly in his spare time to educate and help others.
Statement of ConvictionIn a “Statement of Conviction,” the long-term Team members stated that they “are aware of the many risks both Iraqis and internationals currently face,” and affirmed that the risks did not outweigh their purpose in remaining. They express the hope that “in loving both friends and enemies and by intervening non-violently to aid those who are systematically oppressed, we can contribute in some small way to transforming this volatile situation.”
Christian Peacemaker Teams has been present in Iraq since October 2002, providing first-hand, independent reports from the region, working with detainees of both United States and Iraqi forces, and training others in non-violent intervention and human rights documentation. Iraqi friends and human rights workers have welcomed the team as a nonviolent, independent presence. CPT teams host regular delegations of committed peace and human rights activists to conflict zones, who join teams in working with civilians to document abuses and develop nonviolent alternatives to armed conflict. The CPT Iraq Team has hosted a total of 120 people on sixteen delegations over the last three years.
Christian Peacemaker Teams is a violence reduction program. Teams of trained peacemakers work in areas of lethal conflict around the world. In addition to the Iraq Team, teams of CPT workers are currently serving in Barrancabermeja, Colombia; Hebron and At-Tuwani, Palestine; Kenora, Ontario, Canada; and on the Mexico-United States border.
Project OverviewCPT in Iraq: Shifting Sands for Peacemakers
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An Urgent Appeal: Please Release Our Friends in Iraq
Four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams were taken this past Saturday, November 26, in Baghdad, Iraq. They are not spies, nor do they work in the service of any government. They are people who have dedicated their lives to fighting against war and have clearly and publicly opposed the invasion and occupation of Iraq. They are people of faith, but they are not missionaries. They have deep respect for the Islamic faith and for the right of Iraqis to self-determination.
C.P.T. first came to Iraq in October 2002 to oppose the US invasion, and it has remained in the country throughout the occupation in solidarity with the Iraqi people. The group has been invaluable in alerting the world to many of the horrors facing Iraqis detained in US-run prisons and detention centers. C.P.T. was among the first to document the torture occurring at the Abu Ghraib prison, long before the story broke in the mainstream press. Its members have spent countless hours interviewing Iraqis about abuse and torture suffered at the hands of US forces and have disseminated this information internationally.
Each of the four C.P.T. members being held in Iraq has dedicated his life to resisting the darkness and misery of war and occupation.
Convinced that it is not enough to oppose the war from the safety of their homes, they made the difficult decision to go to Iraq, knowing that the climate of mistrust created by foreign occupation meant that they could be mistaken for spies or missionaries. They went there with a simple purpose: to bear witness to injustice and to embody a different kind of relationship between cultures and faiths. Members of C.P.T. willingly undertook the risks of living among Iraqis, in a common neighborhood outside of the infamous Green Zone. They sought no protection from weapons or armed guards, trusting in, and benefiting from, the goodwill of the Iraqi people. Acts of kindness and hospitality from Iraqis were innumerable and ensured the C.P.T.
membersa?? safety and wellbeing. We believe that spirit will prevail in the current situation.
We appeal to those holding these activists to release them unharmed so that they may continue their vital work as witnesses and peacemakers.
Urgent Appeal from Hiroshima: Free the Hostages, Bring the Troops Home
>From Hiroshima Citizens Protesting on December 8
the Extension of the Self-Defense Force Mission to Iraq
– Four members of the Christian Peacemaker Team and a German archeologist are being held hostage in Iraq. Their abductors have declared that the hostages will be killed unless all Iraqi prisoners are released.
– The hostages are not spies. Though four are Christian, they are not proselytizing. They respect Islamic teachings and the sovereignty of Iraq. They are seeking to bring injustice to light and establish constructive relations (as opposed to war and occupation) with people of different religions and culture.
– They went to Iraq in 2002 to opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq and have remained there to communicate to the world the reality of Iraq under occupation. In December 2002 when a team from Hiroshima entered Iraq to investigate the impact of depleted uranium weapons, the Christian Peacemakers were among those in Baghdad who assisted their efforts to prevent the US war on Iraq. Later, during the occupation, this was the first group to report the abuse at Abu Ghraib Prison.
– The four members of the Christian Peacemaker Team have risked their lives to protest the war and the occupation. Not content to oppose the war from a safe distance, they entered Iraq knowing the dangers they faced. Believing in and supported by the goodwill of the Iraqi people, they have lived outside the Green Zone without weapons or a security sytem. Of these four, American Tom Fox and Canadians Harmeet Sooden and James Loney have participated in demonstrations against the building of the Apartheid wall in Israel. They have helped Palestinian children pass through Israeli checkpoints and have helped Palestinians to bring their olive harvest back to the West Bank.
– The German archeologist was taken prisoner on November 25 with her Iraqi driver. Susanne Osthoff (43) is married to a Jordanian, has converted to Islam, and has a 12-year-old daughter. In the 1980s she participated in the excavation and preservation of important archeological sites in Iraq. She has lived through three wars in Iraq and been involved in providing humanitarian aid. Since the Iraq War began in the spring of 2003, she has worn Iraqi clothing and driven emergency medical supplies into Iraq from Jordan. She has worked to stop the looting and damaging of the precious historic and cultural legacies of Mesopotamia since the start of the occupation. She has also been planning the construction of a traditional crafts center in Mosul in Northern Iraq.
– The concerned citizens of Hiroshima make the following requests:
The hostages understand and have shared with the Iraqi people the unjust suffering caused by the US war and occupation. We call on their captors to release them immediately!
The cause of all this tragic suffering in Iraq is the American occupation. We call on the United States to withdraw all military forces immediately!
On the HP”
We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. governments due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people.
Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has worked for the rights of Iraqi prisoners who have been illegally detained and abused by the U.S. government. We were the first people to publicly denounce the torture of Iraqi people at the hands of U.S. forces, long before the western media admitted what was happening at Abu Ghraib.
We are some of the few internationals left in Iraq who are telling the truth about what is happening to the Iraqi people.
We hope that we can continue to do this work and we pray for the speedy release of our beloved teammates.