Monday, April 17, 2006


While the media are now concentrating on the question about whether the British army should admit it was wrong to imply that Christian peacemaker Norman Kember snubbed the soldiers who freed him in Iraq (an improvement on earlier, misleading versions of the 'ingratitude' allegations, certainly), the major issues are still being ignored. These are, first, practical alternatives to the failure of armed occupation to resolve the deep-seated conflict in Iraq?; second, the question about how Kember, Loney and Sooden were really freed (without the use of force in the end); and third, the issue of what happened to the kidnapper ('medicine man', who provided Kember's heart drugs) after he was captured by the British army and led them to the hostage hide-out - apparently after tipping off his fellow kidnappers? On Easter Monday, Ekklesia has decided to focus on peace building as a key to a sustainable future for Iraq.

Says Jonathan Bartley: "[W]hy are people so ready to ridicule civilians who seek non-violent alternatives in Iraq and to ignore their achievements – when armed force and political manoeuvring has so clearly failed to bring hope and stability? ... Everyone is looking at the danger of peace workers going to Iraq – but no-one is seriously assessing the potential of their work, or comparing its risks with the huge carnage brought about by military intervention... Christian Peacemaker Teams, which was committed to Iraq well before the allied invasion and occupation in 2003, has been working to bring Sunnis and Shias together. It helped expose prisoner abuse four months before the Abu Ghraib scandal became public, and has been instrumental in setting up a civilian Muslim peace building initiative... Contrary to what is said, peace workers respect the personal bravery of soldiers – but military chiefs admit they can only control violence, not achieve reconciliation. And continued occupation remains a major focus of violence and instability. We need political and practical alternatives. More.

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