Thursday, March 30, 2006

[10.50 GMT] Harmeet Sooden returns quietly to New Zealand (Ekklesia, UK). The story also contains a comment on the allegations against the Sooden family concerning TVNZ, and a supportive comment regarding the news that Jim Loney is gay, and the likely impact of that on his reception. Meanwhile, the briefing on various slurs against the CPTers has been updated.
[09.40 GMT] More updates and weblinks on the aftermath of the relase of Norman Kember and his CPT colleagues later this evening. This is just an interim note to give a flavour of what's going on. Yesterday Bruce Kent (rather than Tim Nafziger) appeared on BBC Radio 4's 'The Moral Maze' to defend Christian peace-making work against a range of intemperate and largely inaccurate criticisms still in media circulation. But the story also seems to be turning in a more favourable direction in some quarters, as reflection starts to take over from knee-jerk pontificating. The curious story of the captives being shown a Jesus DVD in Arabic has done the rounds of the newspapers and agencies. Few (the Guardian is one notable exception) have picked up the point that Jonathan Bartley made - which is that this begins to tell us something significant about how the CPTers handled their captors and the situation as a whole. Would they still be alive without their training in nonviolence and their commitment to love of enemies? Yesterday evening, in London's Trafalgar Square, the final vigil took place to give thanks for the freeing of the CPT hostages - with some awareness that this is but a small sign of hope in the midst of a tragic vortex of violence and injustice unfolding in Iraq in the terrible wake of years of dictatorship and then the invasion.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Amidst all the speculation about the military's role in last week's freeing three of the four Christian peace activists held captive in Iraq since 26 November 2005, the first details have begun to emerge about their treatment - and the response of the captives themselves to their awful situation.

In an interview conducted by The Baptist Times to be published in full tomorrow, reported on Ekklesia late last night and now on the PA newswires, CPT worker Norman Kember, a retired medical professor, has said that -- perhaps bizarrely, given the circumstances -- the militants holding the American, two Canadians and a Briton showed them an Arabic film of the life of Jesus.

Along with information that Kember received his heart pills, and that the kidnappers generally treated the captives with respect, this indicates that the four were in all probability able to use their nonviolence training and their Christian convictions to try to build up a rapport with the captors. Christian Peacemaker Teams consistently stresses the need to humanize rather than dehumanize those who act as enemies - a point Doug Pritchard of CPT confirmed to Ekklesia yesterday.

Dr Kember's comments are still rather sketchy, however. They came as part of a short conversation when he rang the UK Baptist newspaper informally to thank them for their support throughout his long ordeal. The CPTer is taking some respite to recover at the moment, and to consider the many media deals he has been offered.

CPT are concerned that when more information is given it is communicated in a way which cuts through the recent hype and furore generated by wild speculation and a considerable amount of misinformation in some commentary and political circles.

What is becoming clearer as the picture fills in is that the experience and stance of CPT contributed in no insignificant way to the men being free today. To what extent is not yet clear.

More information is also being sought on the circumstances of the tragic murder of American Tom Fox, following his removal from the group. There is speculation about differences of attititude and a split among the kidnappers and those to whom they were (or became) accountable. Again, CPT is concerned to wait for the facts.

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

[15.50 GMT] BRIEF CPT UPDATES... Harmeet Singh Sooden has issued a brief statement through the Canadian government, and indicates that he will be speaking more fully on Friday. Norman Kember is seeking some respite, but is (unsurprisingly) being flooded by media offers. He is considering his options. Look out for a big story involving a UK church newspaper tomorrow, breaking sometime after midnight tonight. The issue of Christian peacemaking and the captives will be debated tomorrow night on BBC Radio 4's programme, 'The Moral Maze'. Tim Nafziger is appearing for CPT UK. He is certain to be attacked by irate columnist Melanie Philips. The major issue facing Jim Loney (pictured with Harmeet) at the moment, in addition to resettlement, concerns the fact that he was greeted on his return to Canada by his partner - and this means that people now know that he is gay. Sadly, this is likely to arouse hostility in some quarters. It is to be hoped and prayed that it does not impact his homecoming, just the addition of pink to yellow ribbons! Naturally his sexuality was not made public before, as this would certainly have imperilled his life. Things must have been particularly hard for his partner, who needs our support and prayers too. More later on...

Army chief spoke without knowledge on alleged Kember ingratitude (Ekklesia, UK) - It is now clear that when the head of the British army, General Sir Mike Jackson (pic), expressed "sadness" about the fact that Norman Kember did not seem to have expressed gratitude to his rescuers in Iraq, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) had not, in fact, known for sure whether this was so or not. (It wasn't.) I spoke to the MOD press office last night, after attempts to get hold of them over a couple of days and a call-back earlier in the afternoon. Their spokesperson said that the news of an official note of thanks from Christian Peacemaker Teams the day before Jackson was interviewed on UK's Channel 4 TV (that is, the evening of the release) had "not filtered through to them". Which is a polite way of saying that no-one checked. This would not have been difficult, as the statement was on the front page of Regrettably, it seems that it is easier to insinuate something in the absence of research than to examine the facts, as the media coverage over the last 72 hours has confirmed. It would be polite to say that Jackson's statement was a mistake, and perhaps it was. But the military are clearly keen to talk up their role in the freeing of the CPTers -- which is probably less than has been claimed so far -- and also to question or undermine the work and propriety of CPT. To suggest that General Jackson's statement to Channel 4 was less than well-crafted and carefully intentioned would be to do him a disservice. He is a wily media operator. And the MOD is stunningly well-resourced. So to put it gently, the jury is out on what lies behind this one. What is clear is that three of the key allegations against Norman and CPT have been been refuted over the past couple of days - (i) that they were 'ungrateful', (2) that CPT imperilled the lives of soldiers, and (3) that they had no right to be in Iraq. (On the latter two points, see the material on Colonel Mike Dewar below).

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Monday, March 27, 2006


Military expert says peacemakers didn’t imperil soldiers (Ekklesia, UK, 17.00 GMT) - Good news. As reported earlier on FinS, a senior counter-terrorism and military security analyst has confirmed that it is nonsense to say that Christian Peacemaker Teams caused any danger to soldiers in Iraq by their presence, or by the way they were freed. What's more, contends Colonel Mike Dewar, CPT have every right to be there. Before you run away with the idea that nonviolence has found an unexpected friend in the army, however, read the story and/or have a listen to the 'discussion' on BBC 2 ('listen again - Monday'). Poor old Mike, a stalwart pro-Iraq war commentator, almost explodes with indignation and contempt for anyone who disagrees with him, not least those soppy praying peacenik types. You really do worry for his blood pressure. He's certainly not the kind to shoot himself in the foot ... when machine gunning both his own legs off on a live broadcast is a going option! Sad really. But please don't tell him you're sad - that sets him off something rotten, too. And the idea that people (Norman, Harmeet and Jim) who have just been released from a four-month hostage ordeal and then told that a close colleague (Tom) has been killed might not immediately produce an ideal press release is, according to the Colonel, "special pleading of a most unattractive kind". It's truly cartoon-like in its unfeelingness and unknowingness. As Jonathan Bartley said, in a rational and good-temered contribution, "bewildering." In fact I'm not sure that Dewar is really a defence analyst at all. Judging from his capabilities at generating counter-productive apoplexy, I think he must be a secret mole for the peace movement ;-) ... A lighter reflection in an otherwise deadly serious situation. [Picture: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp on Broadway. The Colonel - no relation - blows a gasket.]

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[14.35 GMT] Sooden touches down in New Zealand (, Canada); Hero's welcome for Loney (, Canada); Peacemakers are misguided ingrates (Toronto Sun, Canada); Freed hostage under fire from UK press (ABC Online, Australia); Addressing media accusations of CPT members (Spero News) - reproduced from Ekklesia. [Pic: James Loney]
[13.30 GMT] Don't be daft, says anti-war group (Ekklesia, UK) - another response to the anti-Kember clamber.

++STOP PRESS++ Speaking on the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine Show today, leading counter-terrorism and security analyst Colonel Mike Dewar (pictured) - under questioning from Ekklesia director Jonathan Bartley - denied that Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq had imperilled soldiers' lives, and said that the activists had every right to be there. This blatantly contradicts widespread accusations against CPT in the media over the past 48 hours. Commentators and political opponents have been suggesting that the rescue actions taken by the military (against the expressed wishes of CPT, who work with diplomats but not the army) risked the lives of personnel on the ground. CPT disavows armed protection both as matter of principle, and to avoid others being imperilled by their actions. It has contested these claims, and now has backing from a senior military figure. You can hear the programme and the debate on the internet by going to this website and clicking on 'Listen again' + 'Monday'. More on this story later today. [See also the Vine show message board on the peacemakers and Iraq.]

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Leading church aid agency defends Norman Kember's integrity (Ekklesia, UK).

Supporters and staff of the widely-respected international development agency Christian Aid have welcomed the release of peace activist Dr Norman Kember who was taken hostage in Iraq 17 weeks ago. And those associated with the agency who know the Christian Peacemaker Teams volunteer have testified to his dedication, responsibility and intellectual rigour – in the face of widespread media slurs which friends say have unsettled the 74-year-old retired medical professor. CONTINUED.

Also today: letters in support of CPT in The Times and The Daily Telegraph. However, neither The Times nor The Sun (both owned by global media baron Rupert Murdoch) have so far seen fit to correct misleading reports which wrongly suggested that CPT and Dr Kember had not thanked his rescuers. Indeed The Times has repeated it in its 'Forum'. Neither paper has acknowledged nor responded to requests for corrections and complaints so far.

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Briefing on media accusations against Christian Peacemaker Teams (Ekklesia, UK, 27/03/06).

Since Christian peace activist Norman Kember returned to Britain on 23 March 2006, following four months of captivity in Iraq, numerous media outlets have printed hostile, inaccurate, poorly researched and sometimes vitriolic accusations against him and his colleagues. Ekklesia, the respected UK religious think tank, which has also developed a fruitful exchange relationship with Christian Peacemaker Teams in the UK, has been covering the story of the hostages and their release in detail since its inception.

We have produced well over a hundred news stories and several briefings, as well as commenting to the media in the UK and internationally. What follows is a rehearsal of the most common allegations followed by straightforward responses to them. The intention is not to go into detail (that is available elsewhere on or to speak on behalf of CPT, but to clarify from Ekklesia’s perspective those major misconceptions which are in danger of being received as ‘facts’ in some quarters. The concern is to seek the truth of the situation and present information which, in spite of being made available to media sources, is still overlooked. FULL BRIEFING HERE.

Your help in making this briefing available and circulating it widely to friends, contacts, media outlets and organisations you are in touch with would be gratefully appreciated. (Simon Barrow & Jonathan Bartley)

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[12.22 GMT] Getting into harm's way: Critics say group should stay out of war zone, but CPT insists it belongs in Baghdad. By Leslie Scrivener (Toronto Star, Canada); How grateful was Norman Kember supposed to be? By Jenny Kleeman (Guardian, UK). There's acres of tosh about CPT in today's UK Sunday papers. Right-wing groups in the US have also been phoning the CPT offices to abuse them - to be met with calm consideration. Well done, Scott. And the National Review has been spamming people with hateful propaganda against them. Amidst this flood of vitriol, its worth focussing on two pieces of much gretaer merit, especially the TS one.

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 Singh 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 I’m 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 that’s the ending. Full statement here.

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Sunday, March 26, 2006


The Revd Canon Dr Alan Billings, a former member of the Archbishop’s Commission on Urban Priority Areas (which produced the famous 1985 Faith in the City report), launched an extraordinarily personal and vitriolic attack on Christian Peacemaker Teams on the BBC Radio 4 Sunday Programme this morning. The UK Sunday newspapers are also full of accusations of ‘ingratitude’ and ‘irresponsibility’. Others – like former hostage Terry Waite (the Archbishop of Canterbury’s envoy, who was himself a captive in Lebanon in the 1980s) and Canon Andrew White (an Anglican vicar and diplomat who has worked for reconciliation but also backed the Gulf wars) – have been wielded out by the media to have a go at CPT too, though usually in rather more moderate terms. Attempts have also been made over the past 24-hours to get leading Muslim spokespeople to join the condemnation.

By contrast, little if anything has been said about the legitimate peace tradition within mainstream Christianity, and many of those being encouraged to condemn CPT appear to know little or nothing of its operations. Dr Billings (who has been a vocal supporter of Tony Blair's war in Iraq) betrayed his ignorance by characterising Christian peacemakers (who he called ‘un-Christian’) as people who parachute in and out of situations of conflict. Nothing could be further from the truth. CPT was in Iraq before the invasion, and prepares, locates and supports its workers with care.

It is extremely sad that people should be so readily co-opted to a press-stoked furore with little attempt to look at the facts or to engage in thoughtful debate. But it is not surprising. By seeking to use non-violent methods and by being prepared to operate without the usual military safeguards (a point which their critics keep overlooking in their rush to say that they ‘endangered the lives of troops’), CPT and similar organisations are calling into question the whole basis of militarism as a policy strategy, and the collusion of much mainstream Christianity in an order which not only perpetuates violence but remains blind to other ways of being (what I'd call 'alternate realisms').

There will be more on this on Ekklesia later today. Hopefully, rather than simply joining a bitter verbal exchange, those who believe that strategic non-violence can play an important and considered role in situations of conflict will over the coming weeks and months seek to join Dr Billings and those like him to a more considered conversation about options and ethics. But we should not be naive to the fact that some who oppose peace-making have little interest in thoughtful discussion, and every motive for waging and ideological battle.

The other issues that need examination are the rush in public life to deny us moral choices (in this case the refusal of violence) and the curious subordination of facts to engineered values in news reporting - something I have commented on in terms of the 'script' of this story in Contending the logic of violence.

See also: Kember receives ire of newspapers (BBC News, UK); The return of Norman Kember: A bitter homecoming (Independent, UK).

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Saturday, March 25, 2006


One of the key roles of Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq has been to help bridge the divide between Sunnis and Shias, to expose prisoner abuses, to work for non-violent solutions to conflict, to stand up for human rights – and in effect, say observers, to restore the reputation of Christianity in the face its cooption for aggressive purposes by the US religious right.

CPT was operating as a recognised NGO in Iraq sometime before the US invasion in 2003. They were also exposing abuse against Iraqis four months before the Abu Ghraib scandal emerged. The group has been public in its willingness to act without military protection, both in pursuit of pacifist principles and also to avoid causing risk or harm to others.

However these points have been largely overlooked in the light of the media-stoked ‘row’ over the wrongful allegations of ingratitude. A key figure in this appears to be General Sir Mike Jackson, described by The Times as the UK’s top army chief. Questioning the role of CPT in Iraq, General Jackson told Channel 4 News and ITN yesterday that he was “saddened” that Norman Kember appeared not to have thanked the soldiers who freed him. These allegations came a full day after Christian Peacemaker Teams had in fact published a public thank-you statement on its website,

A media commentator told Ekklesia today that it “would have been extraordinary” if the army had not known this. General Jackson’s unverified accusation was then interpreted by many news sources as a factual statement – particularly through outlets known to have a strong relationship to the military and the intelligence services.

It is believed that the armed services are keen to use the freeing of the Christian peace activists as a means of bolstering their reputation following continued public and political concern about the invasion, occupation and ongoing military presence in Iraq. The successes of non-violent assistance workers in collaborating effectively with communities otherwise divided by ideology, the insurgency and the Western armed presence is also believed to have caused annoyance to military chiefs.

Those close to the situation on the ground say that there is much more to emerge about the circumstances of the freeing of Kember, Loney and Sooden. Questions are already being raised about the true extent to which the military were responsible. More will emerge in the next few days.

But none of this contention has detracted from the joy and gratitude of the many thousands of people – Christian, Muslim, those of many faiths and simply good faith – who have worked for the release of Dr Kember and his colleagues. More.

Further army intrigue: Colonel Bob Stewart repeated the allegation that CPT had not expressed gratitude, on Channel 4 News tonight. CPT UK spokesperson David Cockburn pointed out that this wasn't true. I am in touch with the Ministry of Defence to find out what is going wrong with their basic intelligence capacities. C4 presenter Krishnan Guru Murthy also said that Dr Kember was "refusing" to talk about his rescue. In fact he indicated that he needed some respite before making further comment.

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Norman Kember returns home to cheers and also smears (Ekklesia, UK); Freed Iraq hostage Kember back in Britain and Kember thanks military rescuers (Reuters, UK); Freed Kember thanks rescuers (BBC News, UK, inc video clip). The Rev Bob Gardiner, of Harrow Baptist Church, said: "We are grateful to the British government for its close co-operation with myself and the Kember family since Norman was kidnapped in November. We were impressed by the sensitivity with which it responded to our concerns about any possible use of force in any rescue attempt. We are thankful for the way in which they honoured their promises to intervene only when there was a considerable degree of assurance that there would be no loss of life. We are also grateful for the compassionate way in which Pat Kember in particular was guided and protected, encouraged and kept up to date during the period of Norman's captivity and the kindness shown by those in direct contact with her."

[Also on Ekklesia: Think tank questions 'ungrateful peacemakers' media allegations (24/03/06); Press briefing on released Christian Peacemakers (23/03/06); news updates on FaithInSociety; Contending the logic of violence (24/03/06) - Simon Barrow says that true Christian peacemaking cannot afford naivete; Churches urged to consider more radical peacemaking following Iraq hostage release (24/03/06); Questions asked about intelligence that preceded Christian peacemaker's release (24/03/06); Nonviolent release for Christian peacemakers (23/03/06); Press briefing on released Christian Peacemakers (23/03/06); Christians defend Iraq nonviolence tactics against critics (23/03/06); Christians urge love of enemies in face of hostage crisis (23/03/06); Joy as Christian Peacemakers are freed in Iraq (23/03/06). Exploring Christianity and violence - meeting in London on 30 March 2006]

Peace activist Dr Norman Kember has been re-united with his family and friends today. But questions remain about the origins of the barrage of hostile publicity he has received - based on the mistaken and (by now) oft-refuted premise that he showed no gratitude to the soldiers who had freed him. In fact CPT issued a thank-you statement the day he was released, a local security official reported Kember as thanking his rescuers, his wife issued a thank-you statement too, and those close to both the former captives and Christian Peacemaker Teams also made the truth of the situation clear. Now Kember has confirmed it as his first public act on arrival in Britain.

Ekklesia has asked The Sun (Norman Snubs SAS heroes) and The Times (Army's top general attacks Kember for failing to thank SAS rescue team) to correct their blatantly misleading stories. The Daily Telegraph at least amended theirs by quoting Jonathan Bartley and the CPT statement at the end ('No note of gratitude' from freed hostage), though they did not alter the headline or the substantial tenor of their report - and apparently did not check the facts themselves. They were only willing to say that it was "claimed" that CPT had expressed thanks. It would have taken seconds to confirm.

Top marks to the BBC and Reuters for unravelling the story pretty quickly, however - with interviews featuring Bartley, Bruce Kent (who rightly expressed amazement that poor Norman was being expected to produce definitive statements immediately after his terrible ordeal) and Tim Nafziger of CPT UK (Kember due back in Britain). The Mirror creditably posed the supposed 'story' as a question (Did Kember refuse to thank SAS rescuers?), though PA was slightly slower to catch on ('No thank-you' storm as Kember flies home) - but has now done so, at least in its later paragraphs.

There are two major points of note here. First, the full story about how the captives came to be freed unharmed has not yet been told - and the army and intelligence services may turn out to be significantly less central to it than they and everyone else seems to assume at the moment. Second, the 'Kember ungrateful' line has come from military sources - particularly General Sir Michael Jackson ("the army's top chief"), who toured the studios yesterday (notably ITN and C4) peddling a notion which, by his own words, it is clear he had not checked. Jackson's "sadness" at a hypothetical situation he could not verify came out of the mouth of a skilled media operative. In fact the CPT statement of gratitude was made public the day before. To suppose the army did not know this would be naive, sadly.

On the contrary, the military have been keen to talk up their actual or alleged role in the saga, to sideline or ignore the fact that Kember and the other CPT activists had unambiguously asked that others should not risk their lives or those of others for them (Kember's family 'were reassured over rescue attempt', Ireland Online) , and to spin those outlets with whom they enjoy a cosy relationship - such as The Times, The Telegraph and The Sun's defence correspondent. has a highly acerbic comment on all this, which is overblown but not unjustified in the circumstances.

More of the truth will emerge over the next few days. Let's hope that by the time the facts come into focus the general media will not already have decided to "move on". See also: Freed Iraq hostage Kember lands back in Britain (ABC News, USA).

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Friday, March 24, 2006


Think tank questions 'ungrateful peacemakers' media allegations (Ekklesia, UK) - "The UK religious think tank Ekklesia has responded to continuing media criticism of Christian Peacemaker Teams for alleged ingratitude towards those who freed Norman Kember and two Canadian colleagues yesterday, and for the supposed irresponsibility of its actions in Iraq. Speaking to Channel 4 News in the UK, Ekklesia director Jonathan Bartley explained why accusations that the CPT hostages had exposed their rescuers to danger were inaccurate. The organisation’s workers in Iraq had explicitly told thee authorities that in the event of capture they did not wish to be freed by military action, he said." Continued here, with attention to CPT strategy, its long-term commitment in Iraq, human rights, Abu Ghraib, and the bringing together of Sunnis and Shias in a Muslim Peacemakers Team. See also: Contending the logic of violence (Simon Barrow).

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I have probably received more angry and irate letters about this than any other public issue since my association with Ekklesia. Amidst the joy about their release, there is genuine outrage and bewilderment at CPT's initial response to the freeing of Norman, Harmeet and Jim - based on the way it has been represented in the media. While the much of the press is going into SAS-mode, Christian Peacemaker Teams have continued to call for the withdrawal of coalition troops from Iraq and to stress that, while delighted that their friends are alive, they at no point asked for military intervention. It is not difficult to see how this can be presented as graceless and ungrateful - perhaps even a denial of the realities on the ground. But that misunderstands the meaning and motive behind what's being said - and not said. An addendum (see below) was rapidly added to the CPT site to make public the gratitude that the captives had expressed personally. On the other hand, there are many commentators who are itching for a "confession" that "nonviolence doesn't work" and that "our boys" have the answer after all. And they show no concern for the immense pressure the hostages have just been under.

There is a seductive and reductive politics behind the personal animosity towards a group of people who (in Doug Pritchard's words) decided to work for justice, peace and human rights without asking for armed guards or security privileges. The US and UK authorities clearly hope to use this story to shore up support for their much-criticised Iraq policy. Of course there are necessary questions about the propriety of this. Just as there are necessary things to be said about the good done by soldiers in what, thankfully, turned out to be an intervention without killing. But such things cannot be usefully said in a climate of accusation and bitterness. Meanwhile, we should not lose sight of the thousands of Iraqis held hostage or detained. What are we doing to help them?

I have tried to respond to the criticisms of CPT in an open and honest way in my article, Contending the logic of violence (Ekklesia, UK). You can read the whole piece and decide whether what I have said is fair and true. Here is an excerpt:

Nonviolence is not an easy or soft option. On the contrary, it requires redirecting, retraining and refocusing some our most primitive and natural energies – rather than simplifying problems by imposing our will or eliminating (quite literally) the human obstacle.

Peace is not primarily a policy, it is a culture, a community and a set of countervailing practices which require both courage and calculation. It is the wisdom of the dove contending with, but not easily displacing, the wisdom of the serpent.

In other words, not-killing does not come naturally. It needs to be learned.

Peacemaking, as distinct from peace-wishing or peace-talking, will often be dismissed as ‘do-gooding’. That was a phrase I heard on the radio to describe Norman Kember... Yet, to use a phrase beloved of military advocates, what is the alternative to doing good? Doing bad, perhaps, or doing nothing? That we can mock serious attempts to inject non-violence into situations of intractable conflict, even at some risk, shows how hopelessly anaesthetised we are by the hatreds that form us.

Christian Peacemaker Teams operate with care and consideration. They train, prepare and support people with a dedication that far exceeds the easy condemnations of their critics. Such dedication is little-known and often much-misunderstood in civilian circles – that is, by people who have known neither the true horror of war nor the true price of shalom/salaam.

There is indeed an irony to peacemakers being rescued by soldiers. And it would be both churlish and wrong to deny the good offices of those who bear arms, even as we seek to outlaw their instruments of death.

But in a world where toxic religion is fuelling both heartless jihad and gung-ho militarism it would surely be a far greater irony to deny the witness of those whose chief role is to demonstrate that human beings do not have to live in the enmity of might-is-right.

For what lies at the heart of Christian peacemaking is neither suffocating piety, nor the invocation of the divine as a magic potion, nor a sense of moral superiority over those caught up in life’s death-dealing. It is, rather, the conviction that a bond of a love which is willing to embrace suffering in hope is finally stronger than all the weapons of destruction ever assembled.

This unlikely possibility is embodied in a ‘script’, the Gospel of Jesus, which is not about quick victory or the triumph of empire. Rather, it is about a small, vulnerable community forged from the wounds of a Galilean peasant – a man crucified between the certainties of politics-as-usual and religion-as-usual.

It is in this event that, extraordinary though it may seem, the boundless love of God is to be seen: a love which delivers us from evil not by twisting events to its own ends, but by reshaping the very people who have to negotiate those events.

More on the future of Christian peacemaking at SojoNet. There is also a heartfelt and beautifully expressed response on the "ingratitude" issue here on FreeTheCaptivesNow.

CPT released this statement last night - "We have been so overwhelmed and overjoyed to have Jim, Harmeet and Norman freed, that we have not adequately thanked the people involved with freeing them, nor remembered those still in captivity. So we offer these paragraphs as the first of several addenda: We are grateful to the soldiers who risked their lives to free Jim, Norman and Harmeet. As peacemakers who hold firm to our commitment to nonviolence, we are also deeply grateful that they fired no shots to free our colleagues. We are thankful to all the people who gave of themselves sacrificially to free Jim, Norman, Harmeet and Tom over the last four months, and those supporters who prayed and wept for our brothers in captivity, for their loved ones and for us, their co-workers. We will continue to lift Jill Carroll up in our prayers for her safe return. In addition, we will continue to advocate for the human rights of Iraqi detainees and assert their right to due process in a just legal system."

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[11.15 GMT] Churches urged to consider more radical peacemaking following Iraq hostage release (Ekklesia, UK). Kember prepares to return to Britain (Guardian Unlimited, UK); Norman Kember: 'It's great to be free' (, UK); Praise for Kember's rescue team (BBC News, UK).
[09.15 GMT] Gene Stoltzfus, the founder of Christian Peacemaker Teams, has written a column called Blessed are the peacemakers (Ekklesia, UK) which argues that churches need to look at more radical options in this area. I'm honoured that he quotes my press statement from yesterday. Gene goes on to say: Can we work to answer the question, how should Christian peacemakers place themselves into difficult situations where terrorism is rampant? Is there a more disciplined way in which peacemaker work might function more effectively in our congregation to overcome terrorism and war? These are the two questions I bring to [the famous] words from Matthew 5. 9-15. You are invited to ask your own questions from your situation remembering that our answers have everything to do with the future of our children, our youth and students, our family life and retired people. Also on Ekklesia this morning: Questions asked about intelligence that preceded Christian peacemaker's release.
[Pic: Gene Stoltzfus. His CPT biographical note is here. And he has a weblog called, appropriately enough, Peace Talk.]
[00.01 GMT] Nonviolent release for Christian peacemakers (Ekklesia, UK); Christian Peacemakers Team To Stay In Iraq (, New Zealand); Christian Peacemakers celebrate release (Christian Science Monitor, USA); Gandhian activists freed in Iraq (Deccan Herald, India); ‘It is essential we voice our concern’ (Whitehorse Star, Canada); God Forgive America (Collective Bellaciao, France); Sault Ste. Marie Relieved for Loney Family (LTVNEWS.COM, Canada); Two minutes to freedom in SAS-led raid (Times Online, UK).

Thursday, March 23, 2006

[18.45 GMT] Ekklesia press briefing on the released Christian Peacemaker Teams activists. By Jonathan Bartley. Norman Kember’s release welcomed by British Muslims (The Muslim News, UK); Loneys ready for reunion (CBC British Columbia [Audio], Canada); Abduction: Scourge of Iraqi unrest (BBC News, UK); Family plans to leave for Iraq today after captive peace workers freed (Radio New Zealand, New Zealand); So Canadian troops are in Iraq (Vive Le Canada, Canada); Western peace activists freed in Iraq (; Your view: brave or foolhardy? (, United Kingdom).
[18.15 GMT] Freed hostages in Iraq for group with Christian conviction in active pacifism (Brooks Bulletin, Canada). A willingness to accept risk has always been part of an organization whose genesis can be traced to a "good old farmboy" from Canada who believed it was a cop-out simply to turn the other cheek. "People think that war is successful even if tens of millions of people get killed in the process," Ron Sider, the theologian credited with inspiring Christian Peacemaker[Teams], said in an interview." If some non-violent peacemakers are put to death by vicious people, that does not mean that non-violence has failed - it means that we live in a vicious world and lots of people do very evil things." It was at a Mennonite world conference in France two decades ago that Sider, who grew up in rural southern Ontario as the child of a Brethren in Christ pastor, challenged Christian pacifists to become more [assertive]. "Unless we are ready to die developing new non-violent attempts to reduce conflict, we should confess that we never really meant that the cross was an alternative to the sword," Sider told the conference in 1984.Now a theology professor at Palmer Theological Seminary at Eastern University in Philadelphia, Sider says Mennonites had to show they had a real alternative to war. "That would mean putting ourselves on the line and putting ourselves between warring parties," he told The Canadian Press. [Pic: Ron Sider] The Sider Centre.
[15.30 GMT] 'Right to go' Peace campaigner Bruce Kent supports Norman Kember's decision to go to Iraq; Hostage release 'is bitter-sweet' ; Full text: Straw statement ; In quotes: Delight and relief (all BBC News, UK). Christian Peacemakers delighted (Montreal Gazette, Canada). Norman Kember [pic] has issued a brief statement from the British Embassy in Iraq, saying that he is safe, grateful to be free, and looking forward to being reunited with family and friends in the UK. Meanwhile, at simultaneous press conferences in Canada and the US, Christian Peacemaker Teams have called for an end to the military occupation of Iraq. In London, Tim Nafziger of CPT (who is also an associate of the Anabaptist Network and Ekklesia), has said: "Some of the grief and pain we have been through is something that is a daily thing for Iraqis. So many lives have been lost and they don't necessarily make the national news."
[14.45 GMT] Listen again to the CPT release news story on BBC Radio 4 - interviews with Peggy Gish of Christian Peacemaker Teams, Canon Andrew White and the Rev Rob Frost. Plus an excerpt from Norman Kember's Premier Radio talk before he went to Iraq. (Related news stories and links below). Latest TV report (BBC). How Iraq hostages were freed (BBC); Hostage Kember is freed in SAS raid (, UK); Canadian hostages freed in covert raid in Iraq (Globe and Mail, Canada); Blast hits Iraq anti-terror unit (BBC News, UK). Christian peace group calls for end to Iraq occupation (Ireland Online, Ireland); Christian peacemakers delighted at release and Hostages in good condition (Edmonton Journal, Canada) - just in from the CPT press conference in Toronto this afternoon. Also from Ireland Online today: 13:45:54 - 'No shots fired' in hostage freeing 13:14:25 - At least 35 Iraqis killed in bomb attacks 11:33:05 - Army dog-handler jailed for Abu Ghraib abuse 10:05:40 - Attacks in Iraqi capital kill at least 19 09:48:32 - British and Canadian hostages freed in Iraq 08:16:02 - Roadside bombs kill five in central Iraq 07:43:00 - Thousands of Shiites march to Baghdad shrine
[14.10 GMT] Christians defend Iraq nonviolence tactics against critics (Ekklesia, UK) - Christian Peacemaker Teams spokesperson Peggy Gish, who also writes for Ekklesia, told the BBC World At One Programme: “All of us on the Iraq team have taken a great risk – but we still look back on our work as very important.” She continued: “I don’t think we have been irresponsible. There are people being killed and tortured in Iraq …on a daily basis. We are reporting human rights abuses, and we believe that when governments and agencies are watching and acting [on these], this reduces the amount of violence going on.” Concluded Ms Gish: “We are all very excited and deeply grateful that [our friends] have been restored to us. But we continue to mourn the loss of Tom Fox.” She said that it was unfair to say that the CPTers had put the lives of others at risk, since the Team has repeatedly said that it does not want violence used to release its captives. That was also a pledge made by Norman Kember, Jim Loney, Harmeet Sooden and Tom Fox. Christian Peacemaker Teams has welcomed the fact that no-one was killed or injured in the multilateral operation which freed the hostages. Additional: Peggy Gish at Voices in the Wilderness; Iraq - A Journey of Hope and Peace, by Peggy Gish (Herald Press, 2004 - pic is of cover); Indymedia UK - Eyewitness Iraq; CPTnet July Releases: IRAQ: Letter from Peggy Gish; Peggy Gish on Ekklesia and related sites.
[14.00 GMT] Joyful day' as military forces free Canadian and British hostages (940 News, Canada); Bombings Kill Another 35 People In Iraq (, NC, USA); Christian Peacemakers delighted (National Post, USA); Man With A Mission (Toronto Pulse 24, Canada); Prayers offered at vigil to end war in Iraq (Daily Miner and News); Christian Peacemaker Teams respond to Loney release (; Killing of Christian Peacemaker in Iraq mourned (Pittsburgh Post Gazette, PA, USA); Who killed Tom Fox? Why and what's the reason for it? (Huffington Post, NY, USA).
[14.00 GMT] Joyful day' as military forces free Canadian and British hostages (940 News, Canada); Bombings Kill Another 35 People In Iraq (, NC, USA); Christian Peacemakers delighted (National Post, USA); Man With A Mission (Toronto Pulse 24, Canada); Prayers offered at vigil to end war in Iraq (Daily Miner and News); Christian Peacemaker Teams respond to Loney release (
[12.45 GMT] Iraq three years later: A glance back -- from the 19th century until today. By Laurie King-Irani, (Electronic Iraq); Iraq Militants Release Christian Peacemakers (BosNewsLife, Hungary). Christian Peacemaker Teams will be interviewed today at 13.00 GMT on the BBC World at One Programme. (Broadcast weekdays from 1.00 - 1.30pm, The World at One is widely regarded as Britain's leading political radio programme. "Lead story: British peace activist Norman Kember and two Canadians are freed four months after being taken hostage in Iraq, after an operation by multinational troops."
[12.30 GMT] FACING UP TO A COSTLY VOCATION: Joy as Christian Peacemakers are freed in Iraq (Ekklesia, UK, 23/03/06) - Said Simon Barrow of the UK religious think tank Ekklesia, which is associated with Christian Peacemaker Teams UK: “The release of Norman, Jim and Harmeet is the wonderful news that many had been working and praying for, but perhaps did not quite dare to believe.” He went on: “Christian peace makers have great respect for those who carried out the operation to free the captives, but they nevertheless remain firmly committed to nonviolence as the only effective, long-term way to break the cycles of hatred, revenge, terror and killing which are destroying Iraq and threatening the world.” Added Barrow: “Many people will continue to question the propriety of unarmed interventions in places of great danger and conflict. But Christian Peacemaker Teams have made it clear that they will not be deterred by threats or opposition. They are tough-minded people who know the situation and know what they were doing. When Jesus called on his followers to make peace, he never said it was going to be anything other than risky – and he paid with his life.” Other reactions: Bruce Kent talks of delight at Kember release (Life Style Extra, UK); Timeline: how Kember saga unfolded (Times Online, UK); 'This is news beyond belief' (, United Kingdom); Jack Straw statement on Iraq hostage release (Times Online, UK); Christian Peacemakers delighted (, Canada); Behind the Christian Peacemakers' trip (Christian Science Monitor, MA, USA); Three hostages freed in Iraq (Shanghai Daily, China); Joy at news of Norman Kember's release (Harrow Times, UK); A life of peace (Guardian Unlimited, UK); 'A veteran peace activist' (The Sun, UK); Update 3: Three Christian Activists Rescued in Iraq (Forbes); Kember freed in Iraq rescue (Swissinfo, Switzerland); Christians urge love of enemies in face of hostage crisis (Ekklesia, UK); An Iraqi expatriate’s perspective: Iraqis suffering under US occupation (LaCrosse Tribune, WI, USA).
[12.15 GMT] Christian Peacemaker Teams' statement today on the freeing of three activists in Iraq (Ekklesia, UK). Press Conferences CHICAGO: CPT Public Witness Against the War, Independence Park, 3742 W. Irving Park Road, 9:00A.M. CST, Thurs. March 23, 2006 TORONTO: 25 Cecil Street, 6:30 A.M. EST, Thurs. March 23, 2006. Addendum: A Mennonite news service has refuted earlier reports, reporting that Tom Fox's body showed no signs of torture when viewed by relatives and friends after arrival in the US and before his cremation (unconfirmed).
[10.30 GMT] MORE ON NORMAN KEMBER'S RELEASE: British hostage Kember freed in Iraq rescue; Peacemaker who wanted to help (BBC News, UK); Indian-origin hostage freed in Iraq (Sify, India); Retired professor 'harmless as a dove' (, United Kingdom); UK 'delighted' at hostage release (ePolitix, UK); . Ihtisham Hibatullah, a spokesperson for Anas Tikriti, the envoy to Iraq at the Muslim Association of Britain, said on Thursday they were "very relieved" that Mr Kember and his colleagues were alive, and that it was fantastic news for their families. FinS comment to the BBC - "This is the good news many of us prayed and worked for but perhaps never dared to believe. Many will call them foolish, but Christian Peacemaker Teams remain committed to Iraq, and to nonviolent witness against the dismal cycles of violence that threaten the future of Iraq - and the world." Add your comments here.
[09.42 GMT] AMAZING NEWS - THE CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKER CAPTIVES ARE FREE: News is just emerging from various sources that Norman Kember, Harmeet Singh Sooden and Jim Loney have been freed from captivity in Iraq -- two weeks after the tragic killing of their colleague Tom Fox, whose body was found on a Baghdad rubbish tip. The three men were apparently rescued by a special forces unit which stormed the house where they were being held, west of Baghdad. Christian Peacemaker Teams has been working in Iraq since October 2002, investigating allegations of abuse against Iraqi detainees by American and Iraqi forces. Reports: Norman Kember freed (, United Kingdom - 9 minutes ago); British man Norman Kember rescued from Iraqi captors (, Ireland); ITN Reports: Norman Kember released (ITN, UK); British hostage Norman Kember released (, UK); Kember freed in Iraq (Reuters, UK); Three Western hostages freed in Iraq (The Age, Australia); Norman Kember freed (Guardian Unlimited, UK); One British, two Canadian hostages freed in Iraq (CJAD, Canada); Special forces free Iraq hostages (CNN International, USA). British Home Secretary Jack Straw says that he has spoken to Norman's wife, Pat Kember, who is understandably "overjoyed" at the news.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

[14.05 GMT] Court martial for Iraq refusenik (BBC News, UK); CPT Iraq member Beth Pyles returns home, available for interviews (Christian Peacemaker Teams). Scholar Chalmers Johnson presents crucial, revealing insights into the nature and impact of imperial militarism on the American economy and culture in a must-read interview. The humanitarian disaster is further illustrated in a report from Caritas Internationalis.

Monday, March 20, 2006

[22.15 GMT] Christian peacemakers protest on third anniversary of Iraq invasion (Ekklesia, UK); Thousands of Canadians take to the streets (, Canada); 'Way too much bloodshed' (London Free Press, Canada); Add Tom Fox's name to book of martyrs (Pueblo Chieftain, CO, USA). Since Fox's death, slurs against CPT and its supporters in the right-wing media and conservative commentators - mainly of the "useful idiots" variety - have increased significantly. Most of these make no attempt to understand the true motivation and perspective of Christian peacemakers. In A Christian Peacemaker Team member sets the record straight (Centre Daily Times, PA, USA), the Rev David B. Miller, pastor of University Mennonite Church in State College, Central Pennsylvania, offers a cogent and temperate response to one of these attacks. [Pic: Toronto anti-war protests]

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Saturday, March 18, 2006

[03.30 GMT] Two who fought the good fight, for bodies and souls (Los Angeles Times, CA, USA); National Gurdwara Co-Sponsors Vigil at Capital Hill (SikhSangat News, Canada); Vigil For James Loney (LTVNEWS.COM, Canada); Seven days in Iraq (Guardian Unlimited, UK); Tom Fox Honored as a Peacemaker at Nashville Memorial (Tennessee Independent Media, TN, USA); Quaker hostage killed in Iraq (The Independent Weekly, NC, USA).

Friday, March 17, 2006

[22.00 GMT] Step back George, Step up people of faith (Ekklesia, UK) - Ron Kraybill of Eastern Mennonite University on why Bush, the European Union and the UN should recognise their limitations in the Muslim world.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

[20.45 GMT] Peacemaker returns from volatile Iraq (Toronto Star, Canada); Three years on, Europe weary of war in Iraq (Middle East Online, UK); Activist killed in Iraq honoured (Richmond Times Dispatch, VA, USA); US left stays mum as terrorists target 'their people' (Scripps Howard News Service, Washington DC, USA); Peacemakers, by Michael de Yoanna (Colorado Springs Independent, CO, USA); Honour hostage killed in Iraq with peace effort, mourners told (Daily Press, VA, USA).
[00.00 GMT] Palestinians release Canadian, last of 11 hostages seized (CBC News, Canada - pic); A View From the Eye of the Storm (AINA, CA, USA); Anti-War Movement Casualty of In-Fighting (, VA, USA). UPI Commentary: High geopolitical stakes (World Peace Herald, Washington DC, USA): "Congress has asked veteran bipartisan geopolitical thinkers James A. Baker III, the former Secretary of State, and Lee H. Hamilton, former chairman of the House International Relations Committee, and co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, to lead an "Iraq Study Group" of 10 prominent Republicans and Democrats. With the president's "war on terror" ratings down to 36 percent, the Iraqi "rethink" group came not a moment too soon. Much bigger threats than civil war in Iraq already loom on horizon 2007. Israel is marking its new frontier with a 420-mile, $2.2 billion barrier that leaves Hamas free to cobble together a state from the patchwork of land left, sans East Jerusalem, which can be neither viable nor contiguous, as pledged by George Bush. Intifada III is now only a matter of time - with rockets and missiles over the wall."

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

[02.10 GMT] Prayers for slain Christian peace activist Tom Fox (Toronto Sun, Canada); Palestinians, US Quakers mourn activist killed in Iraq (Ha'aretz, Israel-Palestine); here is a powerful aricle on the neglect of the story behind the CPT four here: Tom Fox, death squads & the dogs of war (Political Cortex, NY, USA); and a sad reminder of the hatred that consumes some in the US: American hostage killed in Iraq...well, you asked for it (American Daily, USA).

Monday, March 13, 2006

[20.30 GMT] EASTER PEOPLE in a GOOD FRIDAY WORLD: Witnessing Christ in the Conflict of Life (Churches Together in Britain and Ireland Lent Course 2006) - summary plus ordering details; Greenbelt - "Peace is worth the risk"; Body of Christian peacemaker returns home (Ekklesia, UK); Fellowship of Reconciliation: latest on the hostage crisis; UK troop numbers to fall by 800 The number of UK troops in Iraq will be reduced by 800 to 7,000, Defence Secretary John Reid announces. (BBC News, UK). Where are British troops?; Reducing troops, changing views; Kember family braced after hostage killing (The Sunday Times, UK); Tom Fox (, NY, USA); Churches remember Norman Kember (Anglican Diocese of Lichfield, UK); Peace team stays in Iraq despite hostage killing (San Diego Union Tribune, United States); Tom Fox Remembered Around the World as Dedicated Activist (Bay Area Indymedia, CA, USA); Iraqi journalist becomes fifth killed in sectarian violence (Leesville Daily Leader, LA, USA); Peace team reveal fears for hostages (Greenock Telegraph, UK).

Sunday, March 12, 2006

[23.45 GMT] US in talks to close Guantanamo Bay and Christian peacemakers warn against demonisation following death of Tom Fox (Ekklesia, UK); Iraq peace activists morn Tom Fox's death (CathNews, Australia); Friends Remember Slain American Hostage (KFMB, CA, USA); Family ignore torture claims (New Zealand Herald, New Zealand); Iraq: The reckoning (Bay Area Indymedia, CA, USA); Hostage negotiator disappears (Times Online, UK) - a repeat of the dispute story first circulated by the Toronto Star last year. It was contested by CPT and by Ekklesia. The Star declined to respond to questions about their sources. The torture allegations relating to Tom Fox are also unsubstantiated at the moment. Informed observers are relectant to either feed or draw upon the active Baghdad rumour-mill at present. Meanwhile, St George's Anglican Church in the Iraqi capital is seeking assistance with its building project. The appeal is being circulated by, among others, Bishop Michael Langrish of Exeter.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

[18.30 GMT] Fears for hostage after killing (BBC News, UK): Concern grows for kidnapped British peace activist Norman Kember (pictured), after fellow Iraq hostage is found dead. Harmeet Singh Sooden and Jim Loney from Canada are also being held. Kipnappers Tortured Slain American Peace Worker, Iraq Says (New York Times, NY, United States). "Tom Fox, the kidnapped American peace advocate whose body was found this week, had apparently been tortured by his captors before being shot multiple times in the head and dumped on a trash heap next to a railway line in western Baghdad, an official at the Iraqi Interior Ministry said today." And in spite of CPT pleas not to use force or aggression on behalf of the captives, US troops raided households in the neighbourhood where the body was found. The overall situation is very grim indeed - but the vigils and calls for release of the remaining three go on.

[via Ekklesia] The Federal Bureau of Investigation in the USA has confirmed that the body of an American citizen found in Iraq yesterday is that of Tom Fox, one of four Christian peace activists kidnapped on 26 November 2005.

Fox's family has been informed of the tragic loss. There is no further news of the other hostages - Briton Norman Kember and Canadians Jim Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden – who were seen recently on a video released to the al-Jazeera TV station.

Expressions of sorrow and solidarity have begun to pour into the headquarters of Christian Peacemaker Teams, following the news of Tom Fox’s death.

CPT, an ecumenically-supported ministry of the historic peace churches (Mennonites, Brethren in Christ and Quakers) says that the awful news will not deter their determination to confront Iraq’s occupation and cycle of violence with “unarmed love”.

At a hastily convened global press conference in Chicago this morning, the following statement was released the world’s media:

“In grief we tremble before God who wraps us with compassion. The death of our beloved colleague and friend pierces us with pain. Tom Fox's body was found in Baghdad yesterday.

“Christian Peacemaker Teams extends our deep and heartfelt condolences to the family and community of Tom Fox, with whom we have traveled so closely in these days of crisis.

“We mourn the loss of Tom Fox who combined a lightness of spirit, a firm opposition to all oppression, and the recognition of God in everyone.

“We renew our plea for the safe release of Harmeet Sooden, Jim Loney and Norman Kember.

“Each of our teammates has responded to Jesus's prophetic call to live out a nonviolent alternative to the cycle of violence and revenge.

“In response to Tom's passing, we ask that everyone set aside inclinations to vilify or demonize others, no matter what they have done.

“In Tom's own words: ‘We reject violence to punish anyone. We ask that there be no retaliation on relatives or property. We forgive those who consider us their enemies. We hope that in loving both friends and enemies and by intervening nonviolently to aid those who are systematically oppressed, we can contribute in some small way to transforming this volatile situation.’

“Even as we grieve the loss of our beloved colleague, we stand in the light of his strong witness to the power of love and the courage of nonviolence. That light reveals the way out of fear and grief and war.

“Through these days of crisis, Christian Peacemaker Teams has been surrounded and upheld by a great outpouring of compassion: messages of support, acts of mercy, prayers, and public actions offered by the most senior religious councils and by school children, by political leaders and by those organizing for justice and human rights, by friends in distant nations and by strangers near at hand.

“These words and actions sustain us.

“While one of our teammates is lost to us, the strength of this outpouring is not lost to God’s movement for just peace among all peoples.

“At the forefront of that support are strong and courageous actions from Muslim brothers and sisters throughout the world for which we are profoundly grateful.

“Their graciousness inspires us to continue working for the day when Christians speak up as boldly for the human rights of thousands Iraqis still detained illegally by the United States and United Kingdom.

“Such an outpouring of action for justice and peace would be a fitting memorial for Tom.

“Let us all join our voices on behalf of those who continue to suffer under occupation, whose loved ones have been killed or are missing, and in so doing may we hasten the day when both those who are wrongly detained and those who bear arms will return safely to their homes.

“In such a peace we will find solace for our grief.

“Despite the tragedy of this day, we remain committed to put into practice these words of Jim Loney: ‘With the waging of war, we will not comply. With the help of God’s grace, we will struggle for justice. With God's abiding kindness, we will love even our enemies.’

“We continue in hope for Jim, Harmeet and Norman's safe return home safe.”

Also: Christian peacemakers say Bush and Blair responsible for abduction of colleagues in Iraq 08/03/06; Report documents continuing abuse of Iraq detainees 08/03/06. Tom Fox reflection: "Why are we here?",written the day before the abduction. CPT Iraq Statement of Conviction signed by Tom in March 2005.