American Society of Friends, and Many Others – 2005-12-07 07:59:59
Statement in Support of the Christian Peacemaker Teams,
a Group that Stands with the Iraqi People
by Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers) and
Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
(December 5, 2005) — Canadian Friends Service Committee expresses our concern for Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and the four CPT team members serving in Iraq — Tom Fox, James Loney, Norman Kember, and Harmeet Sadoon — who are currently being held by the Swords of Righteousness Brigade in Iraq. To those hosting our friends, we appeal to your humanity to return them to their families and friends.
Canadian Friends Service Committee is the peace and service agency of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Canada. We, like the four CPT team members, reject the use of violence for any purpose and condemn the War on Iraq.
Quakers in Canada have participated in various CPT teams, including in Iraq. CPT members have always sought to educate Canadians and others about the truth of the awful war and occupation in Iraq and how it must end. CPT has always been a friend to the oppressed and seeks to reduce violence and to advocate on behalf of the human rights of all Iraqis.
We write to affirm that CPT members have been in Iraq to serve the cause of humanity, to witness for peace and nonviolence in the presence of the war and violence. Tom Fox, James Loney, Norman Kember, and Harmeet Sadoon are not spies. They are innocent peacemakers who eschew all violence who respect the Muslim faith and do not seek to convert people to Christianity. They oppose the war and the occupation and have spoken vocally in North America about the abuses inflicted upon the Iraqi people.
We recognize the pain experienced by the people of Iraq and our friends of the Muslim faith. We, alongside our brothers and sisters of the Muslim faith, seek a peaceful Iraq led by Iraqis. In the name of the most compassionate and merciful God, we beg of our brothers in the Swords of Righteousness Brigade for the release of the four CPT team members being held.
We hold all involved, including those holding the CPT members, in the Light.
• Svetlana S. MacDonald
Clerk of Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
• Beverly Shepard
Clerk of Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
• George N. Rishmawi
The Palestinian Center for Rapprochement between People (PCR)
Christian Peacemaker Team Members Taken Hostage In Iraq
‘War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.’
— John F. Kennedy
(December 6, 2005) — Four members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams were abducted in Iraq on November 26th. The four men are two CPT staff members and two delegates, one American, one British, and two Canadian.
Held by a previously unknown group, the ‘Sword of Righteousness’, the four men appeared in a video released by the captors and broadcast on Al-Jazeera.
The safe passage of these dedicated peacemakers is crucial to all of us. They embody the highest ideals of our collective offering for peace as the answer to war.
Our prayers and concerns also go out to their families, friends and colleagues. Here are various actions the peace community is doing to intercede on their behalf.
• CPT is organizing a nationwide prayer vigils, asking people of faithn to pray for the hearts and the well-being of the people who are holding our friends, and to pray for all people currently missing in Iraq, for prisoners in Iraqi jails and for the prisoners’ families:
• Several groups have come together with an online petition in arabic and english seeking their release:
BIOS OF ABDUCTED CPT MEMBERS
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 US citizens about the horrors of war and its effects on ordinary Iraqi civilians and families as a result of US 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. He is studying for a masters degree in English literature in Auckland 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.
Updates & Statements
• Statement by Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades to kidnappers of CPT Iraq members (Arabic & English), Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades (4 December 2005)
• Statement on Jim Loney from Muslim Detainees in Toronto (Arabic & English), Mahmoud Jaballah, Mohammad Mahjoub and Hassan Almrei (4 December 2005)
• Statement from Palestinian Authority Wall resistance committee on CPT kidnappings (Arabic & English), The National Committee to Resist the Wall and Settlement (30 November 2005)
• Statement about kidnapped CPT members by Palestinian political parties in Hebron (Arabic & English), Statement, Various Palestinian factions (29 November 2005)
• Palestinian Solidarity Activists Amongst Four Peace Activist Hostages in Iraq, International Solidarity Movement (30 November 2005)
• CPT Press Release (Arabic) (downloadable file), Press Release (PDF format), Christian Peacemaker Teams (30 November 2005)
OPINION & ANALYSIS
• CPT, Dahr Jamail (29 November 2005)
• Why are We Here?, Tom Fox (3 December 2005)
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