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Reflections by Missing Christian Activists

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  • World View
    On 29 November, CPT Hebron (Palestine) contacted EI about the four members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams who were abducted in Iraq on November 26th. The
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 7, 2005
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      On 29 November, CPT Hebron (Palestine) contacted EI about the four
      members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams who were abducted in Iraq
      on November 26th. The four men are two CPTers and two delegates, one
      American, one British, and two Canadian. Held by a previously
      unknown group, the "Sword of Righteousness", the four appeared in a
      video released by the captors and broadcast on Al-Jazeera.

      [It is unclear whether this terrorist group is an Iraqi
      organization, one of America's death squads, or something else. No
      one knew of it before the kidnapping. -WVNS]

      =========

      TAKE ACTION
      # URGENT: Sign the Petition to call for the release of 4 CPT members
      abducted in Iraq (English & Arabic),
      Appeal/Petition, Christian Peacemaker Teams (2 December 2005)

      http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/freethecpt

      ===========

      BIOS OF ABDUCTED CPT MEMBERS

      Tom Fox (CPT)
      Tom Fox, age 54, is from Clearbrook, Virginia and is a dedicated
      father of two children. For the past two years, Mr. Fox has worked
      with CPT in partnership with Iraqi human rights organizations to
      promote peace. Mr. Fox has been faithful in the observance of Quaker
      practice for 22 years. While in Iraq, he sought a more complete
      understanding of Islamic cultural richness. He is committed to
      telling the truth to U.S. citizens about the horrors of war and its
      effects on ordinary Iraqi civilians and families as a result of U.S.
      policies and practices. Mr. Fox is an accomplished musician. He
      plays the bass clarinet and the recorder and he loves to cook. He
      has also worked as a professional grocer. Mr. Fox devotes much of
      his time to working with children. He has served as an adult leader
      of youth programs and worked at a Quaker camp for youth. He has
      facilitated young people's participation in opposing war and
      violence. Mr. Fox is a quiet and peaceful man, respectful of
      everyone, who believes that "there is that of God in every person"
      which is why work for peace is so important to him.

      Norman Kember (CPT)
      Norman Kember, age 74, is from London, England. He and his wife of
      45 years have two married daughters and a 3-year old grandson. He
      has been a pacifist all his life beginning with his work in a
      hospital instead of National Service at age 18. Before his
      retirement he was a professor teaching medical students at St
      Bartholemew's Hospital in London. He is well-known as a peace
      activist, and has been involved in several peace groups. For the
      past 10 years he has volunteered with a local program providing free
      food to the homeless. He likes walking, birdwatching, and writing
      humorous songs and sketches. In his younger days he enjoyed
      mountaineering.

      James Loney (CPT)
      James Loney, 41, is a community worker from Toronto, Canada. He has
      been a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams since August 2000, and
      is currently the Program Coordinator for CPT Canada. On previous
      visits to Iraq, his work focused on taking testimonies from families
      of detainees for CPT's report on detainee abuse, and making
      recommendations for securing basic legal rights. James was leading
      the November 2005 delegation in Iraq when he went missing. James is
      a peace activist, writer, trained mediator, and works actively with
      two Toronto community conflict resolution services. He has spent
      many years working to provide housing and support for homeless
      people. In a personal statement from James to CPT, he writes: "I
      believe that our actions as a people of peace must be an expression
      of hope for everyone. My hope in practising non-violence is that I
      can be a conduit for the transformative power of God's love acting
      upon me as much as I hope it will act upon others around me."

      Harmeet Singh Sooden (CPT)
      Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32 is a Canadian electrical engineer. He is
      studying for a masters degree in English literature in Auckland
      University in New Zealand to prepare for a teaching career. He
      enjoys art, is active in squash and worked part time as a local
      squash coach. His family describes him as peaceful and fun-loving
      and he is known to be passionate about the plight of the
      underprivileged around the globe. He works tirelessly in his spare
      time to educate and help others.

      ===

      Reflections by Missing CPTers
      30 November 2005
      http://www.cpt.org/


      IRAQ/CANADA: Jim Loney's reflection, "A tale of two fathers"

      [Note: CPTer Jim Loney, currently being held captive in Iraq, wrote
      the following reflection in 2004. A version of the story appeared in
      Getting in the Way: Stories From Christian Peacemaker Teams: Herald
      Press, 2005 (See http://www.cpt.org/publications/cptbooks.php.)]

      My father is 70 years old. I am 39.

      I first told him in September [2003] that I was planning to go to
      Iraq with a group called Christian Peacemaker Teams to do human
      rights work. He said, "Well James, I'm not very excited about it,"
      and then, "I wish you'd think of your mother and I when you do these
      things."

      We talked more about it when I went home to Sault Ste. Marie for a
      Thanksgiving visit. We were on our way to the cottage to patch a
      leaky roof.

      I told him I was scared, but that I felt it was something I needed
      to do. I talked about how Rick Yuskiw--he was a year behind my
      brother Ed in grade school--was sent to Afghanistan as part of
      Canada's war against terrorism, and how one of his closest buddies
      was killed when a roadside bomb exploded next to his jeep. If Rick
      was being asked to risk his life as a soldier then I, as a pacifist
      Christian who believes that war is not the way to peace, should be
      prepared to take the same risks.

      My father's temper flared. "What can you accomplish by going there?"
      he demanded. "It's futile. Every westerner is a target. They don't
      care who you are or why you're there. It's just not worth it."
      Silence filled the truck.

      The memory of a breezy June day when I was fourteen visited me. My
      father had just purchased land on St. Joseph's Island and I was
      helping him to cut a clearing in the trees for the house he would
      eventually build.

      My father was bucking a log and I must have been standing too close.
      I don't remember how it happened, but somehow the chainsaw in my
      father's hands sliced through my sweatshirt and undershirt and left
      a foot-long scratch across my chest that ran directly over my heart.
      I marvelled at the ragged slash in my clothes, the red, pencil-thin
      cut. My Dad stepped back, sat down shaking, his eyes wide with
      horror.

      "Jesus Christ! Be careful," he said. I shrugged it off and suggested
      we go back to work; at that age, I was still unfamiliar with the
      concept of mortality. My father said he wanted to do something else.

      Back in the present, I turned to look at my father sitting behind
      the wheel. I knew there was nothing I could tell him that would make
      him feel any better about my decision. We somehow found our way into
      another conversation.

      I called my parents on New Year's Eve to say goodbye. My father
      launched into a defence of American foreign policy, asked me why I
      was always criticizing the Americans. I took a deep breath, bit my
      tongue.

      *****

      Khadan's father is called Ismael. Ismael is 60 years old. Khadan is
      22. He earns three dollars a day as a street cleaner for the
      municipality of Baghdad.

      I interviewed Ismael at Baghdad's Abu Hanifa Shrine where he sings
      the call to prayer five times a day. The corneas of his eyes were a
      smoky white colour and noticeably without pupils. Ismael was blind.

      He explained that his son and a friend were swimming in the Tigris
      River on October 19, 2003 when they heard an explosion--an everyday
      occurrence in Baghdad. It was only when they heard gunfire close by
      that they became scared and got out of the water. They were both
      shot by American soldiers--Khadan in the right foot--and then swept
      up into the U.S. Army's massive security detainee system.

      According to Ismael, the Americans charged him with being in
      possession of a rocket propelled grenade. "This is impossible," he
      said. "My son was excused from the army because of a head injury he
      received in 1997. He does not know how to use these weapons. He is
      innocent."

      Fifteen days later, Ismael learned that his son was being held in a
      nearby hospital but he was not allowed to visit. Khadhan was
      transferred to Abu Ghraib Prison in November and, after repeated
      requests, "they had pity on my situation" and allowed him to visit
      his son at the end of December.

      "My son said the food is sometimes good and sometimes not. Sometimes
      they get diarrhea. The guards don't allow the detainees to receive
      clothes from visitors." During his second visit, Ismael wore a track
      suit under his tunic and successfully smuggled it to Khadhan.

      At the end of the interview, Ismael let go of his cane and extended
      his arms towards me with his palms facing upwards. "I just want my
      son back," he said, eyes staring lifelessly in an open, pleading
      face. "Can you help to get my son released?"

      Several days later my family called. My father's voice was tentative,
      nervous. "How are you, James? Are you okay?" I told him that I was
      fine, feeling much better after spending the day in bed with a fever
      two days before. "Oh--are you sure you're okay?" Yes, I'm really
      fine. "What kind of food do you have to eat?" I told him. "Well,
      make sure you get enough to eat." Okay. "You be careful now," he
      said.

      When the call was done, I closed my eyes and saw my father, his arms
      reaching helplessly across an ocean and pleading for the return of
      his son. I saw Ismael and Patrick, searching blindly for their sons,
      united--if in no other way--by their vulnerability. First grief, and
      then strength poured out of my heart into my arms. I had work to do.

      ===

      CPTnet
      30 November 2005

      IRAQ: Tom Fox's reflection, "Fight or flight?"

      [Note: CPTer Tom Fox, currently being held captive in Iraq, wrote the
      following reflection in October 2004.]

      "If an attacker inspires anger or fear in my heart, it means that I
      have not purged myself of violence. To realize nonviolence means to
      feel within you its strength--soul force--to know God. A person who
      has known God will be incapable of harboring anger or fear within
      him, no matter how overpowering the cause for that anger or fear may
      be." (Gandhi speaking to Badshah Kahn's Khudai Khidmatgar officers;
      A Man to Match His Mountains by Eknath Easwaran, 1985.)

      When I allow myself to become angry, I disconnect from God and
      connect with the evil force that empowers fighting. When I allow
      myself to become fearful, I disconnect from God and connect with the
      evil force that encourages flight.

      The French theologian Rene Girard has a very powerful vision of
      Satan that speaks to me: "Satan sustains himself as a parasite on
      what God creates by imitating God in a manner that is jealous,
      grotesque, perverse and as contrary as possible to the loving and
      obedient imitation of Jesus" (I See Satan Falling like Lightning,
      2001)

      If I am not to fight or flee in the face of armed aggression, be it
      the overt aggression of the army or the subversive aggression of the
      terrorist, then what am I to do? "Stand firm against evil" (Matthew
      5:39, translated by Walter Wink) seems to be the guidance of Jesus
      and Gandhi in order to stay connected with God. Here in Iraq I
      struggle with that second form of aggression. I have visual
      references and written models of CPTers standing firm against the
      overt aggression of an army, be it regular or paramilitary. But how
      do you stand firm against a car-bomber or a kidnapper? Clearly the
      soldier disconnected from God needs to have me fight. Just as
      clearly the terrorist disconnected from God needs to have me flee.
      Both are willing to kill me using different means to achieve he same
      end--that end being to increase the parasitic power of Satan within
      God's good creation.

      It seems easier somehow to confront anger within my heart than it is
      to confront fear. But if Jesus and Gandhi are right then I am not to
      give in to either. I am to stand firm against the kidnapper as I am
      to stand firm against the soldier. Does that mean I walk into a
      raging battle to confront the soldiers? Does that mean I walk the
      streets of Baghdad with a sign saying "American for the Taking?" No
      to both counts. But if Jesus and Gandhi are right, then I am asked
      to risk my life, and if I lose it to be as forgiving as they were
      when murdered by the forces of Satan.

      Standing firm is a struggle, but I'm willing to keep working at it.

      ===

      Why are We Here?
      Tom Fox, Electronic Iraq, 3 December 2005

      CPTer Tom Fox helps with final stages of the clean-up effort in
      Fallujah with Muslim Peacemaker Teams, May 5th 2005

      The Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Iraq team went through a
      discernment process, seeking to identify aspects of our work here in
      Iraq that are compelling enough to continue the project and
      comparing them with the costs (financial, psychological, physical)
      that are also aspects of the project. It was a healthy exercise, but
      it led me to a somewhat larger question: Why are we here?

      If I understand the message of God, his response to that question is
      that we are to take part in the creation of the Peaceable Realm of
      God. Again, if I understand the message of God, how we take part in
      the creation of this realm is to love God with all our heart, our
      mind and our strength and to love our neighbors and enemies as we
      love God and ourselves. In its essential form, different aspects of
      love bring about the creation of the realm.

      I have read that the word in the Greek Bible that is translated
      as "love" in the word "agape". Again, I have read that this word is
      best expressed as a profound respect for all human beings simply for
      the fact that they are all God's children. I would state that idea
      in a somewhat different way, as "never thinking or doing anything
      that would dehumanize one of my fellow human beings."

      As I survey the landscape here in Iraq, dehumanization seems to be
      the operative means of relating to each other. U.S. forces in their
      quest to hunt down and kill "terrorists" are as a result of this
      dehumanizing word, not only killing "terrorist", but also killing
      innocent Iraqis: men, women and children in the various towns and
      villages.

      It seems as if the first step down the road to violence is taken
      when I dehumanize a person. That violence might stay within my
      thoughts or find its way into the outer world and become expressed
      verbally, psychologically, structurally or physically. As soon as I
      rob a fellow human being of his or her humanity by sticking a
      dehumanizing label on them, I begin the process that can have, as an
      end result, torture, injury and death.

      "Why are we here?" We are here to root out all aspects of
      dehumanization that exists within us. We are here to stand with
      those being dehumanized by oppressors and stand firm against that
      dehumanization. We are here to stop people, including ourselves,
      from dehumanizing any of God's children, no matter how much they
      dehumanize their own souls.


      Four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams were abducted this past
      Saturday, November 26 in Baghdad, Iraq. Join Arundhati Roy, Tariq
      Ali, Noam Chomsky, Cindy Sheehan, Denis Halliday, Rashid Khalidi,
      and Many Others in Calling for the Urgent Release of Peace Activists
      Held in Iraq...

      ===

      # Sign the petition now!
      http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/freethecpt

      ===

      Litany of Resistance

      Getting in the way
      by Jim Loney (CPT Reservist), Toronto, Ontario

      One: Let us pray – You have learned how it is said
      All: Love your neighbor and hate your enemy
      One: But I say this to you who are listening
      All: Love your enemies
      One: Do good to those who hate you
      All: Bless those who curse you
      One: Be compassionate
      All: Judge not
      One: Do not condemn
      All: Grant pardon
      One: Because the amount you measure out
      All: Is the amount you will be given back
      One: Let everything you do
      All: Be done in love
      One: Blessed are the poor
      All: For theirs is the kingdom of God
      One: Blessed are they who mourn now
      All: For they will be comforted
      One: Blessed are the meek
      All: For they will inherit the earth
      One: Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice
      All: For they will be satisfied
      One: Blessed are the merciful
      All: For they will be shown mercy
      One: Blessed are the pure in heart
      All: For they will see God
      One: Blessed are the peacemakers
      All: For they will be called the daughters and sons of God
      One: Blessed are they who are persecuted because of righteousness
      All: For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


      One: Deliver us, O God
      All: Guide our feet in the ways of your peace.
      One: In humility, we ask
      All: Hear our prayer. Grant us peace.
      One: In humility, we ask
      All: Hear our prayer. Grant us peace.
      One: Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world
      All: Have mercy on us
      One: Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world
      All: Free us from the bondage of sin and death
      One: Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world
      All: Hear our prayer. Grant us peace.


      One: For the victims of war
      All: Have mercy
      One: Women, men and children
      All: Have mercy
      One: The maimed and the crippled
      All: Have mercy
      One: The abandoned and the homeless
      All: Have mercy
      One: The imprisoned and the tortured
      All: Have mercy
      One: The widowed and the orphaned
      All: Have mercy
      One: The bleeding and the dying
      All: Have mercy
      One: The weary and the desperate
      All: Have mercy
      One: The lost and the forsaken
      All: Have mercy
      One: For those fleeing in terror
      All: Have mercy


      One: For our scorched and blackened earth
      All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
      One: For the scandal of billions wasted in war
      All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
      One: For our leaders who wage war in our name
      All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
      One: For our Caesars and our Herods
      All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
      One: For our generals and tacticians
      All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
      One: For the men and women in battle
      All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
      One: For the men and women training for war
      All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
      One: For the scientists and researchers
      All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
      One: For the arms dealers and the merchants of death
      All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
      One: For our taxes that fund the evil of war
      All: Forgive us for we know not what we do
      One: Deliver us, O God
      All: Guide our feet into the ways of peace
      One: In humility, we ask
      All: Hear our prayer. Grant us peace.


      One: From the arrogance of power
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the poverty of violence
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the tyranny of greed
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the ugliness of racism
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the politics of hypocrisy
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the hysteria of nationalism
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the cancer of hatred
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the seduction of wealth
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the addiction of control
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the avarice of imperialism
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the idolatry of national security
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the despair of fatalism
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the violence of apathy
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the filth of war
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the profanity of war
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the necessity of war
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the madness of war
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the blasphemy of war
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the brutality of war
      All: Deliver us
      One: From the demonic waste of war and of preparation for war
      All: Deliver us
      One: Deliver us, O God
      All: Guide our feet into the ways of peace
      One: In humility, we ask
      All: Hear our prayer. Grant us peace.


      One: Obedience to God comes before obedience to human authority
      All: Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's
      One: Let your will be done, not mine
      All: With the help of God's grace
      One: Let us resist and confront evil everywhere we find it
      All: With the help of God's grace
      One: With the waging of war
      All: We will not comply
      One: With all preparation and training for war
      All: We will not comply
      One: With the forces of fear
      All: We will not comply
      One: With the legalization of murder
      All: We will not comply
      One: With the legalization of genocide
      All: We will not comply
      One: With laws that betray human life
      All: We will not comply
      One: With the bombing of civilians
      All: We will not comply
      One: With the bombing of cities
      All: We will not comply
      One: With the violating of our earth
      All: We will not comply
      One: With the destruction of peoples
      All: We will not comply
      One: With the raping of women
      All: We will not comply
      One: With governments that are blind to the sanctity of life
      All: We will not comply
      One: With economic structures that impoverish and dehumanize
      All: We will not comply
      One: With the manipulation and control of public information
      All: We will not comply
      One: With economics that manufacture instruments of death
      All: We will not comply
      One: With economics that practice the use of instruments of death
      All: We will not comply
      One: With the perpetuation of violence
      All: We will not comply
      One: With structures that divide rich from poor
      All: We will not comply
      One: With the hypocrisy of political maneuvering
      All: We will not comply


      One: With the help of God's grace
      All: We will struggle for justice
      One: With the compassion of Christ
      All: We will stand for what is true
      One: With God's abiding kindness
      All: We will love even our enemies
      One: With the love of Christ
      All: We will resist all evil
      One: With God's unending faithfulness
      All: We will work to build the beloved community
      One: With Christ's passionate love
      All: We will carry the cross
      One: With God's overwhelming goodness
      All: We will walk as pilgrims of peace
      One: With Christ's fervent conviction
      All: We will labour for truth
      One: With God's infinite mercy
      All: We will live in solidarity with all people
      One: In the end there are three things that last
      All: Faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love
      One: Let us abide in God's love
      All: Thanks be to God.

      *********************************************************************

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