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Prominent Palestinian leaders have appealed for the release of four human rights

from Peaball - 02.12.2005 13:34

After four human rights workers were kidnapped in Iraq this week, political and religious leaders in Palestine have joined those around the world appealing for their release. Their pacifist organization has blamed the US for their kidnapping.

Prominent Palestinian leaders have appealed for the release of four human rights workers kidnapped this week in Iraq, they said at an emergency press conference held in Hebron, November 29.

The activists with a pacifist human rights organization, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), were kidnapped November 26 in Baghdad before a meeting with Muslim leaders.

"Your brothers in Palestine ask the Iraqi fighters … to release our international brothers, who have helped us in our struggle for freedom here," said Basel Masour, at the press conference which brought together Fatah, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Palestinian Liberation Front, Hamas, Christian Peacemaker Teams, and others.

The CPT members – James Loney (41, Canada), Harmeet Singh Sooden (32, Canada), Tom Fox (54, USA), and Norman Kember (74, UK) – were kidnapped at gunpoint on November 26 in Baghdad, by an unknown group Swords of Truth.

A video aired on Al-Jazeera news showed the four hostages, and family members said they were relieved to see their loved ones alive and seemingly unharmed.

Christian Peacemaker Teams has operated in Iraq for several years. It has continuously opposed the US/UK occupation, and was among the first to document human rights abuses in US prisons there, particularly the notorious Abu Ghraib jail.

Opposing all forms of violence and oppression, CPT members refused US military protection and lived with Iraqi families. They remained in the country long after most foreign organizations had fled amidst escalating violence and chaos in the wake of the US invasion.

CPT has publicly blamed the US for creating the climate of oppression in which its workers were captured.

"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," said CPT on its website.

CPT is active in violent conflict areas around the world, including Palestine, Columbia and Canada, where its members attempt to protect the oppressed by "getting in the way." Although CPT asserts that it is not a missionary organization, members believe taking sides with the oppressed is crucial to their faith.

The Palestinian statement follows another by leading Muslim clerics in Palestine and Iraq, and by allies around the world, demanding the release of the hostages.

"They don't deserve to be kidnapped," said Palestinian student Fadi Salim. "They are not friends, they are brothers."

CPT is currently active in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, opposing the illegal Israeli separation wall, protecting farmers in their olive harvest from settlers, and escorting children to school unharmed.

CPT has said it does not wish for a military rescue operation in the event of kidnapping, as it opposes all forms of violence. Meanwhile, friends and allies are hoping and praying for the message to reach the captors: "these are the wrong people."

One of the hostages, James Loney, once said: "Just as soldiers are prepared to sacrifice their lives for the state, as a Christian who believes in non-violence I am prepared to make the same sacrifice for my non-violent beliefs.”


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