CHICAGO/TORONTO/IRAQ: CPT rejoices in the release of our peacemakers

in:

CPTnet

23 March 2006

CHICAGO/TORONTO/IRAQ: CPT rejoices in the release of our peacemakers

Our hearts are filled with joy today as we heard that Harmeet Singh Sooden,
Jim Loney and Norman Kember have been safely released in Baghdad. Christian
Peacemaker Teams rejoices with their families and friends at the expectation
of their return to their loved ones and community. Together we have endured
uncertainty, hope, fear, grief and now joy during the four months since they
were abducted in Baghdad.

We rejoice in the return of Harmeet Sooden. He has been willing to put his
life on the line to promote justice in Iraq and Palestine as a young man
newly committed to active peacemaking.

We rejoice in the return of Jim Loney. He has cared for the marginalized and
oppressed since childhood, and his gentle, passionate spirit has been an
inspiration to people near and far.

We rejoice in the return of Norman Kember. He is a faithful man, an elder
and mentor to many in his 50 years of peacemaking, a man prepared to pay the
cost.

We remember with tears Tom Fox, whose body was found in Baghdad on March 9,
2006, after three months of captivity with his fellow peacemakers. We had
longed for the day when all four men would be released together. Our
gladness today is made bittersweet by the fact that Tom is not alive to join
in the celebration. However, we are confident that his spirit is very much
present in each reunion.

Harmeet, Jim and Norman and Tom were in Iraq to learn of the struggles
facing the people in that country. They went, motivated by a passion for
justice and peace to live out a nonviolent alternative in a nation wracked
by armed conflict. They knew that their only protection was in the power of
the love of God and of their Iraqi and international co-workers. We believe
that the illegal occupation of Iraq by Multinational Forces is the root
cause of the insecurity which led to this kidnapping and so much pain and
suffering in Iraq. The occupation must end.

Today, in the face of this joyful news, our faith compels us to love our
enemies even when they have committed acts which caused great hardship to
our friends and sorrow to their families. In the spirit of the prophetic
nonviolence that motivated Jim, Norman, Harmeet and Tom to go to Iraq, we
refuse to yield to a spirit of vengeance. We give thanks for the
compassionate God who granted our friends courage and who sustained their
spirits over the past months. We pray for strength and courage for ourselves
so that, together, we can continue the nonviolent struggle for justice and
peace.

Throughout these difficult months, we have been heartened by messages of
concern for our four colleagues from all over the world. We have been
especially moved by the gracious outpouring of support from Muslim brothers
and sisters in the Middle East, Europe, and North America. That support
continues to come to us day after day. We pray that Christians throughout
the world will, in the same spirit, call for justice and for respect for the
human rights of the thousands of Iraqis who are being detained illegally by
the U.S. and British forces occupying Iraq.

During these past months, we have tasted of the pain that has been the daily
bread of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Why have our loved ones been
taken? Where are they being held? Under what conditions? How are they? Will
they be released? When?

With Tom's death, we felt the grief of losing a beloved friend. Today, we
rejoice in the release of our friends Harmeet, Jim and Norman. We continue
to pray for a swift and joyful homecoming for the many Iraqis and
internationals who long to be reunited with their families. We renew our
commitment to work for an end to the war and the occupation of Iraq as a way
to continue the witness of Tom Fox. We trust in God's compassionate love to
show us the way.

Living through the many emotions of this day, we remain committed to the
words of Jim Loney, who wrote:

"With God's abiding kindness, we will love even our enemies.

With the love of Christ, we will resist all evil.

With God's unending faithfulness, we will work to build the beloved
community."

Contact:

Dr. Doug Pritchard,

CPT Co-Director, tel. 416-423-5525 (Canada)

Rev. Carol Rose

CPT Co-Director, tel. 773 277-0253 (USA)