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Christian Peace Activists Captured in Iraq

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    Palestinians demonstrate for release of Western activists kidnapped in Iraq December 1st, 2005 A demonstration will be held in Rammallah today at the Al Manara
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 3, 2005
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      Palestinians demonstrate for release of Western activists kidnapped in
      Iraq
      December 1st, 2005

      A demonstration will be held in Rammallah today at the Al Manara
      square 3:00 PM to call for the release of the four kidnapped peace
      activists in Iraq; Harmeet Sooden, James Loney, Norman Kember, and Tom
      Fox.

      Speakers at the demonstration will include a representative of the
      Palestinian Islamic Forum, Shawkat Samha The Mayor of Jayouss (where
      Harmeet and Tom volunteered), Mustapha Barghouti head of the
      Palestinian Initiative and Kadura Fares of the National committee
      against the wall and settlements.

      Another demonstration will be held in the village of Tawani, tomorrow
      at 1:30, where American Tom Fox served as a volunteer.

      The four workers for the group Christian Peacemaking Teams - an
      American, a Briton and two Canadians - were shown in a video released
      by an Iraqi militant group on Tuesday. Three of the four CPT
      (Christian Peace Maker Teams) activists Kidnapped in Iraq spent time
      in the West Bank aiding the Palestinians in CPT and ISM (International
      Solidarity Movement).

      Calls for there release have been made by Head Mufti Akrema Sabri, The
      Al Aqsa Martyr Brigades, The Palestinian National and Islamic Forces
      in Hebron, The Popular Committees Against the Wall and Settlements and
      the Palestinian Islamic Forum.

      ===

      Palestinians appeal for release of Western activists kidnapped in Iraq
      November 30th, 2005
      By ASSOCIATED PRESS
      RAMALLAH

      Palestinians, led by their top Muslim cleric, appealed to Iraqi
      insurgents on Wednesday to release four Western peace activists,
      saying three of them had spent time in the West Bank aiding the
      Palestinians.

      The four workers for the group Christian Peacemaking Teams - an
      American, a Briton and two Canadians - were shown in a video released
      Tuesday by insurgents in Iraq.

      While in the West Bank, American Tom Fox and the two Canadians
      demonstrated against the construction of Israel's security fence,
      helped Palestinian children to get through Israeli army checkpoints
      and pitched in with the olive harvest, Palestinians across the West
      Bank said Wednesday.

      "We demand that these aid workers be released immediately," said Mufti
      Ikrema Sabri, the Palestinians' top Muslim clergyman. "We tell them
      that these aid workers have stood beside Palestinian people and it's
      our duty now to stand beside them."

      Sabri said Islam opposes taking civilians hostage and said such
      kidnappings are "inhumane."

      Palestinians in several towns said they had worked with the three
      activists and asked Sabri to issue the appeal. Hundreds of
      international activists have aided the Palestinians in largely
      nonviolent demonstrations during the more than five years of fighting
      with Israel.

      "They subjected themselves to grave dangers when they stood in front
      of Israeli bulldozers," said the mayor of the West Bank village of
      Jayyus, Shawkat Samha. "We knew them as people who were against
      occupation and supported freedom for occupied peoples, like the
      Palestinian and Iraqi peoples."

      Samha said he had met Fox and recognized him in the video that was
      shown on the Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera.

      Fared Tomallah from the West Bank village of Salfit said he cried when
      he recognized captive Canadian Harmeet Sooden on television.

      "I saw him many times suffering through tear gas with the Palestinians
      when demonstrating against the wall," Tomallah said, referring to the
      separation barrier. "We appeal to Iraqi insurgents to release him and
      we assure them that these people have nothing to do with the occupation."

      The local branch of Christian Peacemaking Teams in the West Bank city
      of Hebron said that one of the captives, James Loney from Toronto,
      Canada, had helped Palestinian children get through Israeli army
      roadblocks in the divided city. Loney was slated to return to Hebron
      next week to continue his work, said Rich Meyer, an activist with the
      group.

      "The kidnapping prevents him from coming here to work," Meyer said.
      The group's Toronto branch released a picture of Fox sitting with
      children.

      2. Hebron: Palestinians offer their help to gain freedom for kidnapped
      CPTers
      December 1st, 2005 | Posted in Press Releases

      (Palestinians hold photos of Tom Fox, one of the four members of
      theaid group, Christian Peacemaker Teams, who were kidnapped in
      Iraq,during a protest outside a mosque in the West Bank city of
      Hebron,Wednesday Nov 30, 2005. Palestinians led by their top Muslim
      clericappealed to Iraqi insurgents Wednesday to release four Western
      peace activists, saying three of them had spent time in the West Bank
      aiding the Palestinians. The banner on the right reads in Arabic:' we
      demands the release of the CPT members ' and the banner on the center
      reads: ' CPT are friends of Palastine and the Arabs, release them '.
      (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi))

      On November 30, 2005 the National and Islamic Forces in Hebron held a
      press conference to ask for the release of four CPTers being held by
      an Iraqi armed group. The first speaker was Sheikh Najib Al Ja'abri,
      who hosted the press conference at the Ali Baka'a Mosque in the Haret
      e-Sheikh neighborhood of Hebron. He spoke of his warm sense of working
      together with CPTers over the years. The second speaker was Abdul
      'Alim Dana of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,
      followed by Fahmi Shahin, Coordinator of the National and Islamic
      Forces in Hebron, representing the Palestine People's Party.

      Naim Daour, Public Relations Director for Hebron University, talked
      about repeated closures of the university and CPT's work to help to
      re-open the university. "Sometimes it is hard to tell who is working
      for us and who is against us, but really Christian Peacemaker Teams
      helps us - whoever is holding the CPTers has made a mistake." Fariel
      Abu Haikal, Headmistress of Qurtuba Girls' School, emphasized the
      difference between CPTers and the American government. "Saif al-Haq
      ('Sword of Justice,' the Iraqi armed group holding the CPTers) I don't
      know, but these problems in Iraq, they come from George Bush. He is
      the problem, not CPT." She described the accompaniment that CPTers
      have provided for teachers and students at her school, who are often
      assaulted by Israeli settlers from the nearby settlement of Beit Hadassah.

      The last Palestinian to speak was Jamal Miqbal of Beit Ummar. Jamal
      and his family live in the shadow of the Israeli settlement of Karme
      Tzur, and the Israeli military issued a demolition order on their
      home. Many CPTers have stayed at their home, both in tense times when
      the Miqbals feared that the bulldozer would come, and in more relaxed
      seasons.

      At the conclusion of the press conference, CPTers read this message:
      "We are very worried about our four friends. We fear that whoever is
      holding them has made a mistake. They are four men who went to Iraq to
      work for peace. They oppose the occupation. They are not spies."

      3. Palestinian Solidarity Activists Amongst Four Peace Activist
      Hostages in Iraq
      November 30th, 2005

      CORRECTION: Three of the group of four have previously been in
      Palestine, not only two as previously stated. James Loney was in
      Palestine five years ago as an activist with CPT Hebron.
      FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

      Two of the four Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) hostages in Iraq of
      whom a video was released today have been in Palestine working as
      Palestinian Solidarity activists. Tom Fox (54) worked with CPT Hebron
      and participated in demonstrations against the apartheid Wall in
      Jayyous. Harmeet Sooden (32) a Canadian citizen who had been living in
      New Zealand, came to Palestine to join the International Solidarity
      Movement (ISM) in December 2004 and stayed until January 2005. He
      worked in solidarity with local Palestinian people, mostly in Nablus
      and Jenin. While in Jenin, he worked with a group of ISM activists who
      planted Olive trees on the `Swithart' farm outside Jenin, He was
      committed to come to Palestine for three months to join the ISM again
      at the beginning of December 2005 as a long term activist for the
      liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation, but first decided to
      join a two week CPT delegation to Iraq.

      Palestinians in Ramallah will hold a demonstration tomorrow at 3pm in
      solidarity with all four kidnapped peace activists and to appeal for
      their release. The demonstration will be attended by notable
      Palestinian religious and resistance figures.

      Mustafa Jayyousi a local Palestinian activist in Jayyous who knew Tom
      said: "When he worked in Jayyous, Tom was part of a group who went
      down to the gates everyday with local farmers to help them access
      their lands made inaccessible by the wall. He also participated in
      demonstrations with the people of Jayyous against the apartheid Wall
      in Jayyous".

      Mohammed Ayyesh a local Palestinian activist in Balata camp, Nablus
      said of Harmeet: "I was touch with Harmeet and was looking forward to
      him coming here to work next week. We must do everything we can to
      secure his release".

      Basem Abu-Bakar a local Palestinian activist in Jenin said: "Harmeet
      came as a volunteer in solidarity with the people of Jenin. He
      supported the Palestinian people and the people of Jenin with his
      presence here, and with his work in New Zealand".

      In an email to his friends Harmeet described the purpose of the
      four-person team's work in Iraq as: "providing humanitarian aid in the
      form of training and documentation of non-violent responses to lethal
      inter-group conflict. We will also record the current conditions in
      Iraq, meeting with representatives of NGOs, Christian and Muslim
      clerics, Iraqi human rights groups and others". He also recounted a
      story from Iraq: "A little 3-year old girl, Alaa, ran up to me and
      gave me a big hug me yesterday. She reminds me of my niece. She,
      however, does not see as my niece sees. She sustained severe shrapnel
      injuries to her abdomen and micro-fragments peppered her eyes, face
      and body during a US military attack in May on al Qaim, Iraq. Her
      mother lost an eye. She lost two brothers and several other relatives".

      ===

      SIGN THE URGENT APPEAL: PLEASE RELEASE OUR FRIENDS IN IRAQ

      Arabic version at http://electroniciraq.net/news/2210.shtml

      Sign the petition at http://freethecpt.org/

      Four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams were taken this
      past Saturday, November 26, in Baghdad, Iraq. They are not
      spies, nor do they work in the service of any government.
      They are people who have dedicated their lives to fighting
      against war and have clearly and publicly opposed the
      invasion and occupation of Iraq. They are people of faith,
      but they are not missionaries. They have deep respect for
      the Islamic faith and for the right of Iraqis to
      self-determination.

      C.P.T. first came to Iraq in October 2002 to oppose the US
      invasion, and it has remained in the country throughout
      the occupation in solidarity with the Iraqi people. The
      group has been invaluable in alerting the world to many of
      the horrors facing Iraqis detained in US-run prisons and
      detention centers. C.P.T. was among the first to document
      the torture occurring at the Abu Ghraib prison, long
      before the story broke in the mainstream press. Its
      members have spent countless hours interviewing Iraqis
      about abuse and torture suffered at the hands of US forces
      and have disseminated this information internationally.

      Each of the four C.P.T. members being held in Iraq has
      dedicated his life to resisting the darkness and misery of
      war and occupation. Convinced that it is not enough to
      oppose the war from the safety of their homes, they made
      the difficult decision to go to Iraq, knowing that the
      climate of mistrust created by foreign occupation meant
      that they could be mistaken for spies or missionaries.
      They went there with a simple purpose: to bear witness to
      injustice and to embody a different kind of relationship
      between cultures and faiths. Members of C.P.T. willingly
      undertook the risks of living among Iraqis, in a common
      neighborhood outside of the infamous Green Zone. They
      sought no protection from weapons or armed guards,
      trusting in, and benefiting from, the goodwill of the
      Iraqi people. Acts of kindness and hospitality from Iraqis
      were innumerable and ensured the C.P.T. members' safety
      and wellbeing. We believe that spirit will prevail in the
      current situation.

      We appeal to those holding these activists to release them
      unharmed so that they may continue their vital work as
      witnesses and peacemakers.

      Signed,**

      * Arundhati Roy, author, The God of Small Things

      * Tariq Ali, author, Bush in Babylon

      * Denis Halliday, former U.N. Assistant Secretary General
      and Head of the U.N. Humanitarian Program in Iraq
      (1997-1998)

      * Cindy Sheehan, mother of Casey Sheehan

      * Noam Chomsky, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of
      Technology

      * Haifa Zangana, Iraqi novelist

      * Kamil Mahdi, Iraqi economist and anti-occupation
      activist. Lecturer, University of Exeter

      * Mahmood Mamdani, "Herbert Lehman Professor of
      Government," Columbia University

      * Rashid Khalidi, "Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies,"
      Middle East Institute, Columbia University

      * Cindy and Craig Corrie, parents of Rachel Corrie, killed
      by Israeli military

      * Hasan Abu Nimah, Permanent Representative of Jordan at
      the United Nations (1995-2000)

      * Ralph Nader, former independent presidential candidate

      * James Abourezk, former US Senator

      * Howard Zinn, historian

      * Naseer Aruri, Professor (Emeritus) University of
      Massachusetts Dartmouth

      * Kathy Kelly, Voices for Creative Nonviolence/Nobel Peace
      Prize Nominee

      * Naomi Klein, author/journalist

      * Michael Ratner, President, Center for Constitutional
      Rights

      * Rev. Daniel Berrigan, poet

      * Jeremy Scahill, independent journalist

      * Mazin Qumsiyeh, author, Sharing the Land Of Canaan,
      board member US Campaign to End the Occupation

      * Milan Rai, author, War Plan Iraq: Ten Reasons Against
      War on Iraq

      * Sam Husseini, writer

      * Dahr Jamail, independent journalist

      * Ali Abunimah, Co-founder, Electronic Iraq/The Electronic Intifada

      * Nigel Parry, Co-founder, Electronic Iraq/The Electronic Intifada

      * Leslie Cagan, National Coordinator, United for Peace and
      Justice

      * Eve Ensler, author

      * Jennifer Harbury, Director, Stop Torture Permanently
      Campaign

      * Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, Auxiliary Bishop,
      Archdiocese of Detroit

      * Anthony Arnove, author, Iraq: The Logic of Withdrawal

      * Medea Benjamin, Global Exchange

      * G. Simon Harak, SJ, War Resisters League

      * David Hartsough, Co-Founder and Capacity Building
      Director of Nonviolent Peaceforce and Executive Director
      of Peaceworkers. Nonviolent Peace Force

      * Blase Bonpane, Office of the Americas

      * Carol Bragg, Coordinator, Rhode Island Peace Mission

      * Rev. Richard Deats, former Executive Secretary and
      Fellowship Editor, Fellowship of Reconciliation

      * Omar Diop, Président de la Coalition Sénégalaise des
      Défenseurs des Droits humains

      * Jim Forest, Secretary, The Orthodox Peace Fellowship

      * Thomas C. Cornell, The Catholic Worker

      * David Grant, Nonviolent Peaceforce

      * Ted Lewis, Global Exchange

      * Charles Jenks, Chair of Advisory Board, Traprock Peace
      Center

      * Jeff Leys, Voices for Creative Nonviolence

      * Andréa Schmidt, independent journalist

      * Michael Albert, ZNet

      * Richard McDowell, Senior Fellow for Iraq Policy, Friends
      Committee on National Legislation

      * Dave McReynolds, former Chair, War Resisters
      International

      * Peter Lems, Program Associate for Iraq, American Friends
      Service Committee

      * Kevin Zeese, Director, Democracy Rising

      * Sunny Miller, Director, Traprock Peace Center

      * Dave Robinson, Director, Pax Christi USA

      * Rev. Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, National Coordinator, Clergy
      and Laity Concerned about Iraq

      * David Swanson, Co-Founder, After Downing Street, Board
      Member Progressive Democrats of America, Washington
      Director Democrats.com

      * Mary Trotochaud, Senior Fellow for Iraq Policy, Friends
      Committee on National Legislation

      * Michael Birmingham, activist

      * Barbara Wien, Co-Director, Peace Brigades
      International/USA

      * Bishop Gabino Zavala, President, Pax Christi USA

      **Organizations and institutions are listed for
      identification purposes only. Contact:
      freethecpt(at)gmail.com


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