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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