News about Tom Fox and CPT

News about Tom Fox and CPT

Statements of support for Tom Fox from Friends Meetings and others

Friday Night Vigil Sacred Peace Texts of World Religions
Related links:
• Home •
• Tom Fox's "blog": Waiting In the Light •
• •
• Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) website •
• Google Search: Latest news on Tom & CPT •
• Handouts (PDF) for prayer vigils for CPT •
• CPT News (constantly updated) ( •
• Pray for Captured Peacemakers •
• Friends missing in Iraq (FUM website) •
• CPT Mennonite website •
• Scoop: Video: Second Release Of Hostage Video •
• Petition: Please Release Our Friends in Iraq •
• Interview with Kassie Fox on ABC's Nightline •

CPT Iraq News Index


News from the World Press:

Carrying the Light
Fairfax Connection - VA,USA
... Working in Iraq, helping to create a Muslim group based on the CPT practices, was the "high point” of Fox’s life, he said. “If Tom had come back here and...

Full text of James Loney's statement in Toronto - USA
... lives and freedom. Tom Fox, Norman Kember, Harmeet Sooden and myself. A great of hand of solidarity reached out for us. A hand that..

Who killed Tom Fox and why?
Arab American News - Dearbom,MI,USA
... I remembered this song, because I've been thinking about Tom Fox. Who killed Tom Fox? Why and what's the reason for? ... Who killed Tom Fox?

Briefing on media accusations against Christian Peacemaker Teams
Ekklesia - UK
... Tom Fox, who has been murdered, and others who have risked their lives as ‘self indulgent’ would be considered by many to be gratuitous in the extreme. CPT

Update from CPT Hostages
Electronic Iraq - USA
Learning about the death of Tom Fox after their release ... They said that Tom had taken leadership in encouraging ... They have not yet shared with CPT any details

Aggressive peacemaking' can mean putting life on line
London Free Press - Canada
... Today, CPT is an even broader international movement, drawing participants from a ... kidnapped James Loney, Harmeet Sooden, Norman Kember and Tom Fox, were so

Rift may have led to rescue
Globe and Mail - Canada
... was already on to them, and when Tom Fox was killed ... and had only just learned that Mr. Fox was killed three ... According to co-workers at the Toronto CPT office, Mr...

What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate
Harrisonburg Daily News Record - Harrisonburg,VA,USA
... Fox’s body now rests in the soil of his homeland ... My hope and prayer is that the other CPT hostages — James ... I firmly believe that Tom’s death was not in ...

An Easter miracle for activists, friends
Hamilton Spectator - Hamilton,Ontario,Canada
... a Christian Peacemakers Team (CPT) to Iraq that was led by Loney in January 2004. "I never said it out loud, but when they found (American) Tom Fox, I honest

NCC on Christian Peacemakers: joy and still grief
Worldwide Faith News (press release) - New York,NY,USA
... His joy was tempered by the mourning expressed earlier this month for CPT member Tom Fox, a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers).

[PCUSANEWS] Rescue of 3 hostages brings joy, renewed sorrow that 1 ...
Worldwide Faith News (press release) - New York,NY,USA
... raising questions about how to continue CPT's resistance to the occupation and continue the witness of the hostage who didn't make it home: Tom Fox, 54, of the ...

A Simple Twist of Fate
Burke Connection - McLean,VA,USA
... I had the opportunity to sit and talk with Tom Fox in the ... A father of two grown children, Tom left behind a life ... He put himself, as CPT members vow, in the way ...

Christian Peacemakers celebrate release
Christian Science Monitor - Boston,MA,USA
... family said Thursday that they were "thrilled" to hear of the CPT members' release ... one." They added that "we are also thinking of the family of Tom Fox at this ...

Carrying the Light
Fairfax Connection - VA,USA
... Working in Iraq, helping to create a Muslim group based on the CPT practices, was the "high point” of Fox’s life, he said. “If Tom had come back here and ...

An Iraqi expatriate’s perspective: Iraqis suffering under US ...
LaCrosse Tribune - LaCrosse,WI,USA
... Inspired by Tom Fox — whose body was found earlier this month after being kidnapped in Iraq — and other members of the Christian Peacemakers Team, Rasouli ...

Fox's friend reacts to release of other CPT hostages
WAVY-TV - Portsmouth,VA,USA
That's how a friend of slain hostage Tom Fox of Virginia describes the rescue of three other members of a peace group by US-led coalition forces. ...

Prayers offered at vigil to end war in Iraq
Daily Miner and News - Kenora,Ontario,Canada
... Their concern for his safety is well founded following the recent execution of Christian Peacemaker group leader Tom Fox, by his captors. ...

Kember freed in Iraq rescue - UK
... The tortured body of American Tom Fox was found dumped in the capital two weeks ago. A CPT spokesman said in Canada that the captors were not present when the ...

BREAKING NEWS: "No Shots Fired" in Iraq As British Troops Free ...
BosNewsLife - Budapest,Hungary
... that the hearts of CPT co-workers are "filled with joy because of their release." But Pritchard added that CPT's "gladness is bitter sweet as Tom Fox is not ...

FACTBOX-Some details on the freed hostages in Iraq
Reuters - USA
... Briton from the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) were snatched in Baghdad in November. The body of a fourth man kidnapped with them, American Tom Fox was found ...
Christian Peacemakers delighted
StarPhoenix - Saskatoon,Saskatchewan,Canada
... a major down point was the death two weeks ago of American Tom Fox, who was ... Pritchard also says CPT members in Baghdad will meet with the freed hostages within ...

Peacemaker who wanted to do more
BBC News - UK
... Kember was on a Christian Peacemaker Teams trip with American Tom Fox, 54, and ... The CPT's mission statement on its website is "committed to reducing violence by ...

Troops free kidnapped aid workers in Iraq
Sydney Morning Herald - Sydney,New South Wales,Australia
... and a Briton from the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) were snatched in Baghdad in November. The tortured body of their American colleague Tom Fox was found ...

British hostage Kember freed in Iraq
Daily Mail - UK - UK
Kember of Pinner, north London and American Tom Fox, 54, and Canadians James ... of solidarity" with Canada-based peace group Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). ...

Aid workers freed in Iraq rescue operation
Reuters AlertNet - London,England,UK
... pacifist Norman Kember from the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) were snatched in west Baghdad in November. The tortured body of American Tom Fox was found ...

Local activist, just back from Middle East, reports on situation ...
The Athens News - Athens,OH,USA
... Just before he left, Gish recalled, CPT members took an emotional blow, with news of the death of Tom Fox, one of four CPT volunteers kidnapped late last year ...

Friends recall Tom Fox
Frederick News Post (subscription) - Frederick,MD,USA
... He told the group that everyone with CPT understands they are placing ... to the audience that they can carry on Mr. Fox's work in ... "That's what Tom would want.".

Protesters hit Canada's streets
Toronto Sun - Canada
... Feb. 28 video released by kidnappers. The body of a fourth hostage, American Tom Fox, 54, was found in Baghdad over a week ago. ...

Man of Peace Accepted The Risks
The Ledger - Lakeland,FL,USA
... so they won't stand out as foreigners, but Tom Fox didn't ... which can be seen on the group's Web site ( ... but since those who were abducted with Fox were a ...

Rallies mark third anniversary of Iraq invasion
Globe and Mail - Canada
... of the Christian Peacemakers Teams held their own demonstration in front of city hall to pay tribute to their slain colleague, American Tom Fox, whose body was ...

Worldwide protests condemn Iraq war
CBC News - Canada
... CPT members – two Canadians and a Briton – have been held hostage by Iraqi militants since Nov. 26, 2005. A fourth hostage, 54-year-old American Tom Fox, ...

A Christian Peacemaker Team member sets the record straight
Centre Daily Times - Centre County,PA,USA
... late November, part of a 10-person delegation sponsored by Christian Peacemaker Teams, when the chilling word came that four CPT members -- Tom Fox, James Loney ...

At 70, it 'gets harder and harder'
24 Hours Vancouver - Canada
... Slater returned home less than a week after the body of kidnapped CPT member Tom Fox was found shot to death and tortured in Baghdad. ...
See all stories on this topic

Quaker hostage killed in Iraq
The Independent Weekly - Durham,NC,USA
... year. Last week, the body of Fager's friend and fellow Quaker, Tom Fox, was found along the road to the Baghdad airport. Fox, who ...  

Tom Fox dies on 'a fairly quiet day' in Baghdad - Leesburg,VA,USA
... one of its own, a former lay leader, Tom Fox. ... the Langley Hill Friends Meeting in 1992, Fox began to ... a written account by the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT). ...

Vigil For James Loney
LTVNEWS.COM - Sault Ste. Marie,ON,Canada
... of Montreal, Briton Norman Kember and American Tom Fox. Fox’s body was discovered on a Baghdad ... by the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) organization—which ...

Tom Fox Honored as a Peacemaker at Nashville Memorial
Tennessee Independent Media - TN,USA
... Fox in a release about the memorial: "Tom Fox, a Quaker from Virginia, went to Iraq with the Christian Peacemaker teams. As part of the CPT, he walked in the ...

Personal Space
Colorado Springs Independent - Colorado Springs,CO,USA
... when word came that one of the hostages, Tom Fox, an American and ... The Durlands had briefly met Fox at the Chicago headquarters of the CPT, an international ...

Struggle for justice
Al-Ahram Weekly - Cairo,Egypt
When Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) member Tom Fox returned from Iraq to his home in Virginia in the summer of 2005, he did not take a much-needed rest from ...

US left stays mum as terrorists target 'their people'
Scripps Howard News Service - Washington,DC,USA
... Along with the late Tom Fox, terrorists last Nov. ... Terrorists seem unimpressed that CPT personnel served as human shields to prevent Iraq's liberation. ...

Peacemaker returns from volatile Iraq
Toronto Star - Canada
... hope to return with hostages James Loney, 41, of Toronto, Harmeet Sooden, 32, formerly of Montreal, Norman Kember, 74, of Britain and American Tom Fox, 54, had ...

Friends of Tom Fox: Chance to break cycle of revenge
Greensboro News Record - Greensboro,NC,USA
... Jesse Seitel recently heard a national conservative radio commentator ask whether the peaceniks finally "get it" after Tom Fox's death. ...

CPT Activist Killed in Iraq
Austin Chronicle - Austin,TX,USA
The body of American activist Tom Fox was found in Baghdad last week. ... Up until the day before his abduction, Tom Fox kept a blog called Waiting in the Light.

Body of slain Christian peace activist returned to United States ...
Associated Baptist Press - Jacksonville,FL,USA
... to the family and loved ones of Tom Fox, and call ... on the conservative, said Fox's work was ... But CPT officials posted several of Fox's own writings ...

Christian Peace Activists Stay In Iraq Despite Danger - New York,NY,USA
... The body of American Quaker peace activist and CPT brigade member Tom Fox, 54, of Clear Brook, Va., was discovered Thursday (March 9) in Baghdad by US troops. ...

EMU to Hold Memorial Service for Slain Christian Peacemaker
Christian Post - San Francisco,CA,USA
... University will honor slain peace worker Tom Fox during a ... Fox had taken a semester-long peace building course at EMU ... before going to Iraq with CPT in September ...

CPT Hostages Update
Embassy - Ottawa,Ontario,Canada
... out hope for the four Christian Peacemaker Team members who were kidnapped in November were saddened by the news that the American hostage, Tom Fox, was found ...

Guilford College News & Events - NC,USA
Tom Fox was a Quaker and the only American in a group of four Christian Peacemakers Teams (CPT) members who were taken hostage in November. ...

Fate of a Christian soldier
Indianapolis Star - United States
Tom Fox is being remembered as the gentlest of men and the most iron ... after authorities discovered the body of the only American among four CPT workers kidnapped ...

Tom Fox Remembered Around the World as Dedicated Activist Who ... - Italy
... to the CPT website and other relevant information at And, of course, for our radio listeners, you can see the images of Tom Fox, the pictures ...

Greens Mourn Tom Fox, Peace Worker and Hostage Murdered in Iraq
Green Party US (press release) - Washington,DC,USA
... Greens expressed their condolences to Tom Fox's family and friends, and also joined CPT in their plea for the safe release of Harmeet Sooden, Jim Loney and ...

The Parasites of God
OpEdNews - USA
... Tom Fox’s beliefs were stated in the CPT’s statement of Conviction: “We reject the use of violent force to save our lives should we be kidnapped, held ...

Fox's fight for peace shouldn't be in vain
Greensboro News Record - Greensboro,NC,USA
The discovery of peace activist Tom Fox's body in Iraq Thursday was ... to move closer to a civil war, Fox's ideals -- shared by his fellow CPT members whose ...

15 March 2006

IRAQ LETTER: "You were faithful until the very end."

[Note: The following letter written by CPTer Sheila Provencher to Tom Fox after his death has been edited for length. People wishing to see the entire letter may read it at
Provencher is Catholic and Fox was a Quaker.]

Dear Tom,

I wish that everyone I love could have met you too. I keep crying but I also feel overwhelmed by the gift of having known you and loved you, my beloved uncle - "Amu Tom" as all the Iraqi and Palestinian children called you. How could we have had such a gift in you? You were gentleness, patience, compassion, forgiveness, and courage.

I cannot believe how patient you always were with me. When I walked into the kitchen in CPT's apartment in Baghdad and flipped out because the person ahead of me on the job chart had not prepared the water for the day, you just smiled and listened and excused all my crabbiness as the result of stress.

Every morning in "no man's land" between Iraq and Syria with the Palestinian refugees, we got up and sat outside our tent, and you read from "The Cloud of Unknowing" and I read from the Liturgy of the Hours. Then we would talk about what message we each "got" at the time. It was my favorite half-hour of the day.

When the Red Sox finally won the World Series after 86 years, and my parents were so excited to share the news with me that they phoned Baghdad and accidentally woke you up at 6:00 a.m. Baghdad time. -- I was still in Amman, and in fact you and I had not even met yet, and here you were listening to these crazy people screaming about how the Red Sox had finally won. You just smiled and said "Well, I'm happy for you," even though you did not know what was going on. When I met you the next day you told me that my parents had called.

You cooked like a master while claiming it was simple. "Anything tastes good if you add enough butter to it." I still wonder if you ever cooked for the people who took you. If they let you, I am sure that you would have.

The night before I left Baghdad in November 2005, two nights before you were taken, you led the good bye prayer service. You said to me, "I don't know why, I just have this feeling that I want to do a Eucharist service for you.
Don't ask me why a Quaker would lead a Eucharist, but I have a feeling this is what we're supposed to do." So we broke bread and drank grape juice and all shared the communion prayer, men and women taking turns. I think Anita wound up with the actual words of consecration. Afterwards you joked about this being your First Communion, at age 54, and we took pictures of me giving you communion, you kneeling like a devout altar boy. Laughing in the candlelight. -- I can hear your voice in my heart. You say things like, "Well, this was what was supposed to happen." "I'm just glad I could be here to help." "You keep taking care of yourself, now." Your one deep pain was knowing the anguish that your suffering could cause your children. You loved them so much, always sharing pictures and stories of them with all of our Iraqi and Palestinian friends.

We met in October 2004, right after Margaret Hassan had been killed. You, Matthew, and I were the whole team in Baghdad, and we talked about kidnapping, what could happen to us, and if we should stay in Iraq. You wrote a statement of conviction that included the words, "If I am ever called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice in love of enemy, I trust that God will give me the grace to do so."

You did it, Tom. You were faithful until the very end. I imagine that even when you were about to die, you looked with forgiveness at the man who would kill you--

God, help us to be as faithful.

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16 March 2006

IRAQ: A letter from Cindy Sheehan to Tom Fox's family

13 March 2006

To the family of Tom Fox and to the Christian Peacemaker Teams:

My heart is breaking for Mr. Fox's family and for the world. This is a dark day for peace and justice. The loss of a man of the stature of Tom Fox and the loss of his voice for peace and reconciliation is a tragedy for our country which operates so often from a paradigm of violence. Every voice for peace is imperative and needed.

I am always told that I am brave, but what I do pales weakly in comparison with the actions of Tom Fox and the Christian Peacemakers who put their actual lives on the line everyday to make the world a better place and to save lives of our brothers and sisters who are in danger.

Jesus said: "To give up one's life for a friend, there is no greater love than this," (John 15:13). This is the same Gospel passage that was read at my son Casey's funeral. Jesus went on to say that it is even more sacred to give up your life for people you don't even know.

Tom lived his life out of his moral center and gave freely of his life to save lives of people he would probably never meet.

Now, the world is begging for the safe release of the other three Christian Peacemakers who are still held hostage. The way to peace is not violence.
The way to peace is only through peace and a respect for all life. The killing of Tom Fox does nothing to foster peace in the Middle East but can be used for a renewed call for the immediate withdrawal of all coalition troops from Iraq so the people of Iraq can rebuild their lives and their country. So the killing of innocents and our American troops can stop.

I did not want my son's death to be exploited to justify more deaths in Iraq and I am sure Tom and his family would agree. It is past time for the cycle of violence and killing to stop.

It is time for we peacemakers and peace activists from around the world to join our hands and our voices together to demand an end to the violence and killing.

Tom Fox and his selfless sacrifice for humanity make me proud to be a human being. I just wish such a holy act of sacrifice was not necessary or required of Tom.

Tom is at peace now, I pray for this peace for Tom's family and for our world.

In Peace and Solidarity,

Cindy Sheehan and Gold Star Families for Peace

If you want to send condolences to Fox's family, send them to Family of Tom Fox, c/o Christian Peacemaker Teams, P.O. Box 6508 Chicago, IL 60680-6508


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17 March 2006

IRAQ UPDATE: 9-21 February 2006

[Note: These updates cover the period before CPTer Tom Fox's body was
discovered in Baghdad. The discovery has increased the workload of the
team enormously, which hindered the ability of the team to get these updates out more promptly.]

Thursday, 9 February

Team members received word that _Shi'a News_ had printed, in English and Arabic, the team's statement regarding the inflammatory cartoon depictions of the Prophet Mohammed.The team received a note of gratitude from an editor of the paper.

The team hired an Iraqi friend to review three weekly Iraqi newspapers for news related to the abduction of their four colleagues: Tom Fox, Jim Loney, Harmeet Sooden and Norman Kember.

Friday, 10 February

An Iraqi human rights worker and friend visited the team to discuss the current deteriorating situation in Iraq. She told them of towns and villages under siege by US and Iraqi forces. Troops have sealed off the villages using walls and check points.

Anita David received contact information regarding a woman and two children taken by American troops. The team agreed to try to locate them.

Saturday, 11 February

A representative of a human rights organization, "The Independent Activates--A society to defend Human Rights" visited the team. He told the team that his group had been holding demonstrations appealing for the release of the four missing CPTers

Sunday, 12 February

Beth Pyles, Maxine Nash, and Peggy Gish went to St. Mary Chaldean Church to attend Mass. The church had been hit by a bomb at the end of January. During the service, the pastor talked about Christian Peacemaker Team's (CPT's) four missing colleagues and jokingly said "I guess it takes a bomb to bring our friends here to see us." In the benediction he prayed for the men and for CPT. Many people remembered the delegation's visit there just two days before the kidnapping.

Monday, 13 February

Michele Naar and David searched for three detained Palestinian men believed to be held in Iraqi prisons in Baghdad. They found none of the men in the two prisons they visited.

Two members from the "Independent Activates" visited the team and told them about their plan to have another demonstration on Friday, 17 February on behalf of the four CPT captives. They agreed to hand out copies of CPT Iraq's most recent statement about their four colleagues and the statement regarding the Danish cartoons. They also reported that they had heard CPT's statement about the cartoons on Dar a-Salaam radio station.

Tuesday, 14 February

Allan Slater, Nash, Gish and Naar met with representatives at the National Iraqi Assistance Center (NIAC.) The representatives spent a great deal of time talking about the difficulties in their work to get medical treatment for Iraqis outside the country. They noted that they are reliant on charitable organizations for this assistance, because the U.S. gives them no funding. The team asked many questions about detainee issues that received no answers. The NIAC personnel agreed to forward the questions to the Judge Advocate General's office. They did confirm there are four U.S. prisons located in Abu Ghraib, Um Qasr, Sulimaniya and in Baghdad at the airport. A central database for the U.S. prisons in Iraq still does not exist. The U.S. detention facility at Baghdad International Airport provides not information at all. They also said that many families are coming to the NIAC to looking for family members they say have been kidnapped.

Wednesday, 15 February

At 8:45 a.m. the team heard a loud explosion, followed by a gun battle that lasted about a half hour. At 11:30 a.m., a car bomb exploded not far from the team apartment. Later team members found out that the attack killed ten and injured eighteen people and that several bombs exploded in other parts of Baghdad. An Iraqi friend visited the team to make sure CPTers were all okay and to tell them that his friend of thirty years, who owned a photo shop, died in the blast. The shop owner was also a friend of the team.

Beth Pyles and Allan Slater accompanied administrators of a private university in Baquba to the Civilian Military Operations Center where the administrators requested an investigation of possible fraud in compensation for the damage of the university by American military forces in June of 2004. The meeting ended with an agreement by both the university officials and the U.S. military to choose an engineer to investigate the reconstruction work that had been completed.

Thursday, 16 February

Maxine Nash and Anita David visited the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) and talked to the new General Inspector. He outlined procedures for finding detainees in the Iraqi system, and CPTers requested information concerning two Iraqi men.

Michele Naar-Obed and Peggy Gish went to the site of the previous day's explosion to offer condolences to shop owners who had suffered damages to their shops.

The team received only three hours of grid electricity throughout the day.

Friday, 17 February

Slater, Gish and a human rights worker from the Muslim Peacemaker Teams
(MPT) in Kerbala accompanied a man from Kerbala to the Shaiba Temporary Logistical Facility, a British prison in Basra, where his brother has been incarcerated for eighteen months. They stayed at the home of the brother's friend and Friday night met with men involved in the case to discuss their concerns.

Saturday, 18 February

In Basra, CPTers and the MPTer talked with a British Command Legal who is on the Divisional Internment Review Committee for the Shaiba Prison. This committee makes recommendations to the Joint Detention Committee (JDC) about the release of prisoners incarcerated over eighteen months. The three outlined several concerns about the prisoner's detention. The Command Legal said he would share these with the JDC that is currently reviewing the case.

In Baghdad, three members of Muslim Peace Taskforce in Najaf (MPTF), a group created by members of the Muslim Peacemaker Teams in Kerbala (MPT), came to visit CPT to talk about their work in prisons in Najaf and Hilla. They observe conditions, talk with prisoners, inform families about visitation procedures, and give workshops for prisoners and for police. Their goal now is to do this work in Camp Bucca. CPT gave them contact information for sending their reports to the United Nations, International Committee of the Red Cross, and the Iraqi Red Crescent Society.

The team's landlord told the team that diesel for the generator was scarce and the price had gone up dramatically. It took three days to have it delivered.

Sunday, 19 February

Two members of the Independent Activates organization came to say that the BBC had covered their demonstration on behalf of Loney, Sooden, Kember and Fox.

Team members attended local church services.

Monday, 20 February

The team wrote a new letter to their kidnapped colleagues to post on the Web.

Gish and Naar-Obed went to Sadr City to meet with leaders of the Sadr movement and of the local governor's office about water problems there and in nearby neighborhoods. Leaders told them about areas where there was no water available and that the water being trucked in daily was inadequate.
Where water is available, it is polluted. There continues to be an epidemic of water borne diseases there. Last summer there was an agreement with the U.S. to build about twenty mini-water treatment plants. According to the leaders, only one has been built which provides less than 2000 liters per day. They discussed meeting with the Iraqi government and the Red Crescent for additional help.

David and Nash visited the Ministry of Human Rights (MoHR) and met with a ministry employee who identified MOI and Ministry of Justice (MOJ) prisons.

Tuesday, 21 February

Gish and Pyles accompanied two members of MPT Najaf (MPTF) to meet with the head of the detainee section and the director of the National Iraqi Assistance Center, formerly the Iraqi Assistance Center (IAC.) Then they met with a representative of the U.N. office of Human Rights. The U.N.
representative said that the lack of due process accorded detainees is a larger problem right now than prison conditions. He put MPT-Najaf in contact with a group of Iraqi organizations that have formed a prison monitoring network.

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20 March 2006

IRAQ: Three years later--Iraqis speak about their disappointments and fears.

by Beth Pyles

[Note: The following piece has been edited for length. People wishing to see the entire report may send their requests to [email protected]]

To mark the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Baghdad asked some friends and acquaintances to reflect on the war and life in Iraq since.

Simah*, an Iraqi Christian woman, said, "I was happy when they came. I thought they would come to get rid of Saddam and then go, but they did not--What little we had, [the Americans] have taken. Before, we had electricity, water, security and love among people. Now there are none of these things. We have lost everything. I wish they had never come."

Hanna, a Palestinian woman, quoted an Arabic proverb, "A fever is better than death." She said, "Life was bad under Saddam Hussein but at least we had security. During the invasion we were able to avoid the bombs because they were directed at military targets. Now there are about ten brigades embedded in the army and police forces that are arresting, detaining and killing our people. It is not safe for our children to go to school. They are accused of being terrorists. There is no hope for the Palestinians in Iraq now."

Aiya, a young Shi'a business woman living and working in Baghdad, says of the occupying American forces, "They want terrorists to be in Iraq."
Regarding rebuilding, Aiya said, "People said wait five years. They entered in five days. Did they make a change in one year or two or three? Instead we are going backwards. I see only ruins." Regarding the conflicts between Sunni and Shi'a, Aiya blames the Coalition for the divisiveness. "The Coalition succeeded in making religious distinctions. We are Shi'a but my brother-in-law is Sunni. We are all related. There is no distinction between us."

The voices of all those interviewed ring a knell of despair when considering the present, and perhaps no one more eloquently than Mahmoud, the engineer who has lived in the United States and loved the time he spent there.

"There is no safety. No change, no use. We thought we would be better but now we are worse. I have seen America. You cannot fool us. You can fix the electricity easily. Under Saddam, the power station was repaired in two days. We are waiting to die. We do not deserve this. It's a big game and we are small people. I want to leave this country. It's not for us. You [Americans] will take it."

In the way of Iraqis, even as he despairs about the massive injustice he sees every day, Mahmoud invokes the help of God: "It's not easy for the U.S., God help them. They cannot control this country. They got rid of Saddam. This is their country now."

Mahmoud ends his interview by saying, "We are waiting for our turn to die.
Well, I'm still alive."

*all names are changed

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21 March 2006

IRAQ: Christian Peacemaker Teams accompanies Palestinians fleeing Baghdad

Eighty-eight Palestinian Iraqis, including forty two children, have been camping on open ground in the "no man's land" between the borders of Jordan and Iraq since Sunday, 19 March 2006. Seeking refuge in Jordan, they left their homes and jobs in Baghdad, arriving at the border Saturday evening, 18 March. Two members of Christian Peacemaker Team in Baghdad accompanied them. Jordanian border officials refused them entry, demanding that they return to Iraq.

"Life was miserable there," said Hameed*, a leader of this group of Palestinian refugees. Another man added, "Many men from our [Palestinian] community are killed every day. They kidnap and take our men, then cut their eyes out or their hands off or burn their bodies with chemicals. Later their bodies are found along the road. Last week one man was up in the night repairing a generator outside when men took him, cut off his head and threw it back into our compound. We don't know who does this. We are peaceful people and don't belong to any political parties in Iraq."

The U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has been alerted. UNHCR is working with Jordanian officials concerning the situation of the Palestinians seeking entry.

When asked why he would risk losing everything to flee for the border of a nation who might not let him enter, one man said, "I don't care about my life. I just want a life for my children."

*name changed for his protection

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23 March 2006

CHICAGO/TORONTO/IRAQ: CPTers missing for four months in Baghdad released

Our hearts were 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."

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23 March 2006

IRAQ: Palestinians on Jordanian border moved back to Iraq

Eighty-eight Palestinian Iraqis, including forty-two children, who have been camping out on open ground in the "no man's land" between the borders of Jordan and Iraq since Sunday, 19 March 2006 were moved back into Iraq on Wednesday. Iraqi forces asked the Palestinians to leave to reduce border tensions, and the Palestinians agreed.

An Iraqi colonel told the Palestinians, whom two members of CPT's Iraq team are accompanying, that if U.N. representatives came to the Jordanian border, he would allow them to enter Iraq to speak with the Palestinians.

The Palestinians have been living in five tents, some provided by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society. They are receiving water from locals, but no other organizations have been able to provide relief supplies.

The U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) are working with Jordanian officials concerning the concerning the situation of the Palestinians seeking entry into Jordan.

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24 March 2006

CHICAGO/TORONTO: News from Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) hostages; response to torture rumours

by Rev. Carol Rose and Dr. Doug Pritchard CPT Co-directors

"For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end" (1 Corinthians 13:9-10).

On 23 and 24 March 2006, the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) in Baghdad met with colleagues Norman Kember, Jim Loney, and Harmeet Sooden who had just been freed after four months in captivity. The team found the men to be well, alert and in good spirits. The men asked many questions about their families, friends and colleagues at home and in Iraq. They have also begun to tell some parts of the story of their captivity--of efforts to stay physically fit, of periodic separations and reunions, of receiving a Christmas cake.

The news of Tom Fox's death--which they learned about only after their release--has been a particular burden. They said that Tom had taken leadership in encouraging the group right from the beginning of their captivity. They have not yet shared with CPT details about their captors or the events which led to their freedom.

In a statement released to the Baghdad media on 24 March, they wrote, "We are deeply grateful to all those who worked and prayed for our release. We have no words to describe our feelings of great joy at being free again. Our heads are swirling and when we are ready we will talk to the media."

The rest of us in CPT are also grateful to all those who worked nonviolently and prayed fervently for their release--religious leaders and soldiers, teammates and government officials, partner organizations, friends, family, children, women and men all over the world. We are particularly grateful that no one was injured in this rescue operation.

In order not to cause Tom Fox's family further pain, and for the sake of accuracy, CPT urges that the media and everyone concerned refrain from repeating the rumour that Tom Fox was tortured. Two CPTers, Rev. Carol Rose and Rich Meyer, viewed Tom's body and did not see signs of torture. We also have reports from two additional independent sources who examined the body more thoroughly. They also did not find evidence of torture. Until the final autopsy report is released, we ask everyone to withhold their judgment.

Christian Peacemaker Teams will continue in the coming weeks, insofar as it is humanly possible, to report the truth of what we have witnessed and learned. We do so because we are followers of Jesus Christ, "the way, and the truth, and the life" (John 14:6.)

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25 March 2006

IRAQ: Tom Fox commemorated in Baghdad

by Doug Pritchard

The Christian Peacemaker Team in Baghdad has erected traditional Iraqi funeral banners at the site where Tom Fox's body was found. These banners are all too common in Iraq today. After careful consultation with Iraqis, they have painted the following words on the large black banners, in Arabic:

"In memory of Tom Fox in this place. Christian Peacemaker Teams declares, 'We are for God and we are from God.'To those who held him we declare God has forgiven you."

The first sentence notes the place of his body. The second sentence is a traditional condolence from the Quran. The third sentence echoes of Jesus'
cry from the Cross, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (Luke 23:34). It is also in keeping with the local understanding that people do not forgive, only God can forgive.

A memorial service was held for Tom at a local church in Baghdad on 12 March. Fifty Christian and Muslim friends of Tom attended. The team read from Tom's writings, did a eulogy, and sang his favourite hymn, "Be Thou My Vision." After the service, the team was sharing with an Iraqi friend their concern for Tom's children and their regrets that any children that they might have will never know their grandfather. The friend replied, "Tom is a hero. It will be an honour for those children to have a grandfather who died in this way and to tell their children about him. I never met anyone like you people who would come here, at this time, to people whom you don't know.
You are angels."

After Tom's death, an Iraqi co-worker asked CPT's Iraq team, "So, are you staying?" The team replied that, after full resolution of the current hostage crisis, they would need to discern what to do next. They would need to ask Iraqi advisors and friends if they felt that there was work for them to do. They would need to ask if there were Iraqis willing to work with us.
They would need to ask within CPT if there were CPT workers willing to come.
The Iraqi responded, "Yes, there is work for you to do here. Yes, there are people to work with you here. Are you staying?"

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25 March 2006

IRAQ/UNITED KINGDOM: Norman Kember's statement

[Note: Kember read the following statement today when he arrived at Heathrow airport.]

There is a real sense in which you are interviewing the wrong person.

It is the ordinary people of Iraq that you should be talking to - the people who have suffered so much over many years and still await the stable and just society that they deserve.

Another group that I hope you do not forget are the relatives of British soldiers killed or wounded in Iraq.

I do not believe that a lasting peace is achieved by armed force, but I pay tribute to their courage and thank those who played a part in my release.

I am not ready at this time to talk about my months of captivity except to say that I am delighted to be free and reunited with my family.

In reality it was my wife who was kidnapped last November. She suffered more than I because while I knew that I was alive and well, she did not.

I thank all who supported Pat during this stressful time.

'Thanks to staff'

While in Baghdad we had opportunity to thank the Embassy staff who worked so diligently for our release.

I now thank the staff in Britain who also dedicated so much time to the same end.

Then I am grateful to all those from many faith communities who appealed for my release and held prayers and vigils in my name.

Pat assures me that I will be overwhelmed by the volume of goodwill messages
- our home is currently like a flower shop.

I thank the media for agreeing to share news and reduce the stress on me.

I now need to reflect on my experience - was I foolhardy or rational? - and also to enjoy freedom in peace and quiet.

Thank you.



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The Death of Tom Fox and the Life of Christianity

Tom Fox went to Iraq to make peace and last week his murdered body was found in a garbage dump in Baghdad. On the surface of it, his mission would seem to be a sad failure. Jesus of Nazareth tried to teach all people to love God with all their hearts and to love their neighbors as they love themselves and after 2000 years more hateful wars have been launched in his name than in any other cause. On the surface, his teaching would not seem to have been very successful. But the whole truth is not always found on the surface of things. Mr. Fox's faith and works prove that Christ's mission is yet alive in the hearts of God's children and that despite millennia of perversion, there is hope yet to redeem Christianity.

Jesus' central message was love, but the example of his life and of his death tells us more than that. To love God and truth and mankind openly and fearlessly is to assume a great risk, and that risk can entail huge sacrifice. The Christian Peacemaker Teams of which Tom Fox was a member understand and accept that risk and are willing to make huge sacrifices. About 40 CPT members are now in Iraq working for peace, three are hostages under threat of death, one is dead. All have done what they believe God asked them to do: comfort the oppressed, speak out for justice, witness for the truth, forgive their enemies, trust not in weapons and earthly powers but in healing power of love.

Fox was a Quaker, a form of Christian who believes that Christ's teaching is an expression of God's love that is a gift to each and every individual person on earth and that gift requires no priests, ministers, churches, books, songs, rituals, oaths, creeds, donations or militias to deliver it. It is a gift that does not require that you know Jesus' name, read "his" book, or join "his" religion. All Jesus asks is that you love God with all your heart and love your neighbors as you love yourself. For this reason Tom Fox was in Iraq helping to organize Muslim Peacemaker Teams without any thought of converting them to Christians, because that would be merely changing the name of God while God's character and His Will does not change. When they were kidnapped, a great number of voices around the world rose in chorus to ask for their release, loudest and most numerous of those voices were Muslim voices begging, demanding the freedom of these Christian men. A cynical political posture? A proof that the CPT are tools of radical Islam? No, just proof of the effect of their love even in a violent, hate filled world: the effect of peacemaking. If one Palestinian radical, if one U. S. Marine, resists his leaders' call to violence and refuses to pull the trigger because of Tom's example, that is a victory for God and for Tom Fox.

Pacifists have always been exposed to the accusation that they are people who stay home in safety and condemn war while others go off and face mortal danger to protect the freedom and wellbeing of pacifists.
If this is true, and it very often is, then pacifists cannot succeed in ending war. Only by assuming the same risks as soldiers in the same numbers as soldiers can the non-violent hope to demonstrate an alternative to warfare. Like the Christian Peacemakers, tens of thousands of others have gone to Iraq, Afghanistan and other war zones to try to improve this world despite danger to themselves. The courage and sacrifice of soldiers is very real, but the hope of that bravery and the fruit of that sacrifice is cheated because they have been sent with the wrong tools in their hands. The tools of war are bombs, bullets and lies. If the objective of this war were really to free Iraqis, rebuild their country, improve their future, we would have to lay aside the tools of war because the first act of love is show trust and trust implies vulnerability. The invulnerable cannot love any more than the uncrucified can save.

In Iraq our soldiers live in fear and want more armor, often shooting anyone who approaches them. At home our American people live in fear and seek anxiously for security; unwilling to accept any risk ,we seem to crave invulnerability, reluctant to make any sacrifice. In short we are become a nation of Anti-Christs.

Religion has always betrayed God, and no less so now than in the time of Jesus. False Christians now lead us in a sham crusade against false Muslims who wage a fraudulent holy war in return. They understand nobody's religion, least of all their own, God is ever on their lips but blood is on their hands.

Fox's destiny was not to change history as Jesus did or challenge an empire like Gandhi or lead a people out of oppression like Martin Luther King. Mr. Fox was a small voice, usually drowned out by the blaring noise of politicians, talk-show hosts and televangelists, a small voice speaking the truth and backing up his words with actions.
Like these other men and like many men and women throughout time, he was killed by those who rejected his message of love. We may never know what passed between him and his captors and killers at the end, but it is reasonable to think that a man who stopped Israeli bulldozers with his body would continue his ministry to the end. He was a lucky man, that God so loved and blessed him.

Thanks to Tom Fox, I am no longer ashamed to call myself a American and a Christian, but I am ashamed I have risked so little for God and my fellow man.

Posted by Anonymous to  at 3/18/2006 01:39:03 PM


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14 March 2006

HEBRON: The piper's pipe dream--Tom Fox's vision for Hebron

by Dianne Roe

My last conversation with Tom Fox was in December 2004 in Hebron. We went to church together in Jerusalem, and then, as we rode back to Hebron, he shared with us a vision he had for Hebron's Old City.

"Why not turn one of these empty storefronts into a safe space for all people?" he asked. As we left the service taxi and walked toward our apartment, we looked at the empty buildings. "Muslims, Christians, and Jews could meet together in one of these places," Tom said.

We later walked down Shuhada Street where the Israeli army welded the Palestinian storefronts shut, turning the buildings themselves into a separation wall. The only chance Israelis have to meet the Palestinians who live in these locked buildings near the CPT apartment is when the Palestinians go to their balconies. Tom saw these closed storefronts and looked for something better.

Pipe dreams, I thought, even though his sharing uplifted me and helped me find hope. How can we make that happen here?

On Saturday, March 11, 2006, the Hebron team heard news of Tom's death. We made copies of Tom's picture as he played the recorder and carried them with us to a vigil in Hebron with the words, "Play on, Tom." I longed to hear Tom's music again and hear the prophetic voice of our CPT piper.

One of the empty buildings is across from our apartment. The Shaheen family, relatives to our landlord, moved out involuntarily when the Israeli army declared the area closed. In 1929, the Shaheens risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors. The Shaheen men and women turned their home into a place of refuge more than seventy-five years ago. Now the Shaheen descendants and their former Jewish neighbors, the Mizrachis, are hoping for reunions. Is it possible that together we can fulfill Tom's prophecy and turn our neighborhood into a place of refuge?

When Moses was in Moab before he died, he spoke to the Israelites, asking them to designate six cities to serve as refuge for the Israelites, for the resident or the transient alien among them (Numbers 35:15). Those who followed him named Hebron one of those cities of refuge. Those of us who have listened to Tom Fox in Hebron look for ways to carry out the vision of Moses and of Tom.


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11 March 2006

IRAQ/DULUTH LETTER: "Dikes that are overflowing, not with water, but with blood"

[Note: The following letter that CPTer Michele Naar Obed wrote to her supporters has been edited for length and clarity.]

Dear Friends,

It's 3am, March 11. The official word of our beloved colleague, Tom Fox, has been made public. Tom's body was found along the road to the Baghdad airport. He had been held captive in Iraq for over 100 days. Our three other colleagues, Harmeet Sooden, Jim Loney and Norman Kember are still missing.
We pray earnestly for their safe release. We pray that the hearts and minds of those holding our colleagues will be softened and they will return our friends to their families and communities. We pray that our own hearts will not be hardened by this tragedy and that we are able to put any feelings of anger or animosity to rest.

I returned from Iraq last Wednesday, March 8, 2006. For 2 months I worked with the team in Baghdad. Our work there seems endless and much of it feels beyond human ability. --[O]ur work has often felt like we were putting our fingers in the holes of dikes that are overflowing, not with water, but with blood.

There has been way too much blood shed in Iraq. Now the blood of Tom is added to that river. We know what it is like to lose a loved one to the insanity of war. Just like the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi families and the thousands of families of US and MNF [Multinational Forces] soldiers, we know what it feels like to grieve.

Early this morning, I awoke to the sound of car bombs, the sight of black smoke rising and the sound of guns. This time, it was just a dream. However, somewhere in Iraq at that very moment, those sights and sounds were real.

It is enough. It has been enough. We continue to call on our government and the governments of the multinational forces to lay down their weapons and return to their homes. We cry out for an end to this insane vicious cycle of violence. We call for an end to the making of widows, widowers, orphans, homeless and displaced peoples.

We call for healing, rebuilding and repairing, not just of physical properties, but of relationship, trust, human dignity and human rights FOR ALL PEOPLE.

CPT still has team members in Iraq working against all odds to be a part of that healing. I've met MNF soldiers in Iraq who want desperately to be part of that healing and know in their hearts that it can't be done with guns and bombs. They feel trapped by "orders" from [their leaders] but they work the best they can to extend their hands in goodwill.

Then there are the thousands of Iraqis, most of whom we will never meet or know, that are laying down their lives, and working with a fervor to heal, rebuild, and repair their fractured and tattered country. Their work is valiant and this groundswell of good and decent people has not been trampled down yet. I've had the privilege of working with some of them.

Right now, it's hard to think of going on, but go on we will. We have to--

Michele Naar-Obed

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27 March 2006

TORONTO: Statement by Jim Loney on his arrival home

During my captivity, I sometimes entertained myself by imagining this day.
Sometimes I despaired of ever seeing it. Always I ached for it. And so here we are. For 118 days I disappeared into a black hole, and somehow by God's grace I was spit out again. My head is swirling and there are times when I can hardly believe it's true. We had to wear flak jackets during our helicopter transport from the International Zone to the Baghdad airport, and I had to keep knocking on the body armour I was wearing to reassure myself that this was all really happening.

It was a terrifying, profound, powerful, transformative, and excruciatingly boring experience. Since my release from captivity, I have been in a constant state of wonder, bewilderment and surprise as I slowly discover the magnitude of the effort to secure our lives and our freedom--Tom Fox, Norman Kember, Harmeet Sooden and myself. A great hand of solidarity reached out for us, a hand that included the hands of Palestinian children holding pictures of us, and the hands of the British soldier who cut our chains with a bolt cutter. That great hand was able to deliver three of us from the shadow of death. I am grateful in a way that can never be adequately expressed in words.

There are so many people that need this hand of solidarity, right now, today, and I'm thinking specifically of prisoners held all over the world, people who have disappeared into an abyss of detention without charge, due process, hope of release-- some victims of physical and psychological torture--people unknown and forgotten. It is my deepest wish that every forsaken human being should have a hand of solidarity reaching out to them.

My friend and fellow Canadian in captivity, Harmeet Sooden, showed me something yesterday. Our captors gave us notebooks, and Harmeet opened his notebook to show me two fractions --3/4 and 4/4--that Tom had written. "It was the only thing he wrote in my book," he said. Tom, who had been a professional musician, wrote them as part of a lesson in music theory he gave Harmeet --3/4 time, 4/4 time. Harmeet put his finger over the 3/4 and said, "In the beginning we were 4/4." Then he put his finger over the 4/4 and said, "Now we're this --3/4." We are only 3/4. Tom is not coming home with us. I am so sorry, Kassie and Andrew.

People have been asking, "What's the first thing you're going to do when you get home?" All I really want to do is to love, and be loved by, the people I love. The one specific thing might be to wash a sink full of dirty dishes.
After this, I'm going to disappear into a different kind of abyss--an abyss of love. I need some time to get reacquainted with my partner Dan, my family, my community --and freedom itself. I'm eager to tell the story of my captivity and rescue but I need some time first-- that's a subtle hint to anyone who might have a big camera or notebook.

For the British soldiers who risked their lives to rescue us, for the Government of Canada who sent a team to Baghdad to help secure our release, for all those who thought about and prayed for us, for all those who spoke for us when we had no voice, I am forever and truly grateful.

It's great to be alive. Hamdulillah

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Taking Chances to Help Peace
Nonviolent interventions are risky, but they show promise and deserve support

by George Lakey

As thoughtful people sort out the lessons of the ongoing Iraq tragedy, some look for seeds of hope.

Tom Fox and his fellow hostages from Christian Peacemaker Teams represent one of those seeds. Three of those captives were freed last week. The body of Virginia Quaker Tom Fox was found on March 9. The day before the abduction, Fox wrote an entry titled "Why are we here?" in his online journal (

They went to Iraq, in Fox's words, "to stand with those being dehumanized by oppressors and stand firm against that dehumanization."

It's easy to dismiss them as nave idealists, trying to make a difference in the middle of chaos. But they are more than that. Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is one of the ongoing experiments in humanitarian intervention. I see it as similar, in the political realm, to the early heart transplants: rare but holding promise for the future.

I was myself on a similar team, with Peace Brigades International, in 1989 in the midst of a bloody civil war in Sri Lanka. Every day we risked our lives as we accompanied human-rights activists who were targeted for assassination by hit squads. We were unarmed bodyguards whose presence raised the threshold for attack. The fact that we were internationals gave some protection.

I'm not a particularly brave person, and I doubt I would have gone to Sri Lanka if this kind of work had not already been tested in violent El Salvador and Guatemala, where Peace Brigades International (PBI) assisted local democracy advocates. There were some close calls, but no team members were killed.

Not long after PBI opened in Sri Lanka, CPT went to Haiti, Israel, and the West Bank. Both organizations are also now in Colombia, where villages terrorized both by guerrilla and government forces have asked for international assistance in establishing "zones of peace."

In Sri Lanka I was gratified that we assisted brave local leaders to build democracy. I was also frustrated that there were so few of us, but this kind of humanitarian intervention was too new and unproved to attract major resources.

The abduction of the four CPT members, however, gives new meaning to the concept of "resources." The captors said they would kill the four in a week unless their demands were met. The week stretched to two, then four, and then much more. What the captors evidently didn't expect was the range of Muslim voices against taking the CPT members hostage. Protests poured in, not only from mainstream Muslims but even from Hamas and Hezbollah. Unlike U.S. and British military intervention, which has little humanitarian credibility to most Muslims, the nonviolent Christian Peace Teams are clearly the "real thing."

TThe other kind of resource - major funding for expansion - has still not come to peace teams organizations, although PBI has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and a new organization, Nonviolent PeaceForce, plans to train thousands for a ready reserve to be dispatched to crisis situations.

Third-party nonviolent intervention, as researchers call it, is not a panacea. Its small-scale successes do, however, raise the question: Why not expand to large scale?

I knew African American civil rights pioneers James Farmer and Bayard Rustin, who led small-scale sit-ins in the 1940s. They didn't call for federal enforcement of civil rights in public accommodations. Calling out the military would have done more harm than good. Instead, they experimented with a nonviolent methodology that was at once more subtle and more powerful than military action. Their experiments became, in time, the movement that ended segregation in public facilities.

Like Farmer and Rustin, CPT is experimenting with a technique that is both subtle and powerful. The contrasting response of the Muslim world to U.S. violence, on the one hand, and CPT, on the other, is dramatic. Will pro-democracy forces take what actually works for humanitarian intervention and increase its capacity a hundredfold, or a thousandfold?

Yes, but that depends on those who believe in genuinely humanitarian intervention. People and institutions of good will can jump-start the technique of nonviolent intervention by investing money where their values are, backing the nonviolent "surgeons" who are already dramatizing the possibility of a new heart.

George Lakey is founder of Training for Change in Philadelphia and coauthor of a training manual on third-party nonviolent intervention. He is the 2006-07 Eugene M. Lang Professor for Issues in Social Change at Swarthmore College.

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3 April 2006

NEW ZEALAND: Harmeet Singh Sooden's statement to media

[Note: Sooden made the following statement to New Zealand media on 31 March 2006. Along with Norman Kember he was participating in a ten-day CPT delegation to Iraq when kidnapped by the group calling itself the "Swords of Righteousness Brigade."]

I would like to express my gratitude for the prayers and support that my family and I have received from communities worldwide, and the assistance provided by the New Zealand Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade and Foreign Affairs Canada.

I acknowledge the burden that my family and friends have borne over the last four months and I thank them for their efforts.

Furthermore, I am grateful to all those involved in the operation that ultimately led to our freedom, especially individuals in the British armed forces and Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

I mourn the loss of my friend Tom Fox who was a dedicated peace activist and a role model to me.

The primary reason for my participation in the Christian Peacemaker Team Iraq delegation was to bear witness to the suffering of Iraqi people living under a harsh military occupation, and to provide an alternative narrative, based on humanitarian principles, to a New Zealand audience.

Thus, it was always important to me that the media (and therefore the
public) have ready and fair access to my stories, which is why I have convened a press conference here today.

The issue many wish me to address is the particulars of our captivity.

I choose to ask a more crucial question:

What are the consequences of an illegal Anglo American invasion and occupation with the complicity of a host of Western institutions, including the New Zealand government, on ordinary human beings living in Iraq?

Surely it is a natural human instinct to promote the reduction of both human rights violations and the risk of exacerbating regional armed conflict.

Although we were held captive for 118 days, all of Iraq is a prison. Iraqis must endure daily violence and insecurity, lack of food, contaminated water, limited electricity and fuel supply, a breakdown in law and order, and they carry fear and uncertainty about the future. Our captors, too, are prisoners of this circumstance.

My experience in Iraq has reinforced my belief that the true impediment to peace is violence, regardless of whether it be the violence of an occupying army or the violence of an insurgent group which uses kidnapping to finance its resistance to that occupation.

If one is serious about peace, one should be prepared to take the same risks for peace as for war.

I continue to hold this conviction. Thank you.

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Beth Pyles - Waging peace: Fairmont native reflects on journey to Iraq and back

Tom Fox, a 54-year-old Quaker from northern Virginia and a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams, was found dead in western Baghdad last month. He had been held captive for four months. Later, three other peace activists abducted at the same time were released.
Beth Pyles, a member from Fairmont, traveled to Baghdad with CPT, and agreed to accompany the body of Fox back home. She has shared these remarks on several occasions.


"Tom's dead."

This is what I wrote in my journal days after learning that Tom's body had been found near some railroad tracks.

In speaking with some young soldiers about Tom a day or two later, I said, "Tom was killed."

It was only yesterday that I said, "Tom was murdered."

It is a harsh word and a harsh reality. I grapple with it still.

The team here in Iraq made a commitment that whenever any of our friends who have been kidnapped were released, healthy or sick, alive or dead, we would accompany them home. As I was the team member scheduled to leave next, it was decided that I would accompany Tom's remains. The problem that developed very quickly was that, even though Tom is a civilian, given the situation here, his remains would be transported by military transport to Dover, Del., for an autopsy. I received initial permission to accompany him and got as far as Anaconda Air Base in Balad, Iraq, only to be turned back two days later, permission denied. In the meantime, I stayed on the base with the Army Reserve mortuary unit that received Tom's body and would send him back to the United States. I was treated with kindness and respect and had a chance just to spend time in vigil and in conversation with young soldiers.
I will write of that experience some other time. Even though I could not accompany Tom's remains, I was allowed to walk with them onto the transport plane.

It is pre-dawn. My new friends bring out Tom's casket, and the first thing I see is that it is draped with an American flag. I am surprised; Tom was not a soldier (as a conscientious objector, he served in Vietnam as a member of the Marine Corps band). For the soldiers, it was an act of honor and respect, and I am touched and even smile a bit at the irony.

They load Tom's remains into a van to take to the plane, and I ride along in the van. The cargo plane is immense, and entering into its empty hold feels like stepping into the Close Encounters spaceship. This is alien territory for me. The plane's engines are running, drowning out all other noise. I walk behind the soldiers who take Tom's body to the front and set the casket down on the floor of the plane. The soldiers salute. I approach and read from John 1, ending with the declaration that the darkness did not overcome the light. When I return to the outside of the plane, with the same respect, but without the flag or salutes, the soldiers carry in the body of an Iraqi detainee (all detainees who die in U.S. or coalition custody are taken to Dover for an autopsy). As they walk by, I start to recite the Muslim "Allah Akbar," but cannot remember any more, so for Tom and this unknown detainee, I recite the words of Job 1, "Naked I came into the world, naked I will depart. The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord."

And I laughed through my tears that, even in death, Tom was accompanying an Iraqi safely to his destination. There could be no more fitting end than to see these two comrades in death side by side, ministered to by young soldiers from Tom's home. No more anger, no more fear, no more violence; only kindness and peace. And I wonder how many more will die before moments of peace for the dead can be transformed into a lasting peace for the living.

When we left the cargo plane, I looked to the sky and saw the bright morning star. In that time and place, I was truly blessed.

Back in Baghdad, we struggle with how to honor the memory of our friend in a way that, as he did in his life, promotes peace and reconciliation. We dream of starting a date palm grove, each tree a living memorial to those who have died here, Sunni, Shi'a, Christian; it is the dying here that is the great unifier across so many divides. Perhaps the living can come together in peace as they honor the dead. We dream, we hope.

Never much of a poet, I struggle to express my own prayers about the manner of Tom's death, prayers of no suffering, prayers of redemption amidst the evil of such violence. The best I can do is:

To the Kidnappers of Tom

If there was a life he begged for, it was yours.

If he wept when you killed him, he wept for you.

If I would have anyone know about Tom, it would be this.

Peace & tears,


*Christian Peacemaker Teams was founded in 1984 by three historic peace churches -- Mennonites, Church of the Brethren and Quakers -- to end violent conflict in war-ravaged countries without proselytizing. They are joined by other denominations, including Catholics, Baptists and Presbyterians.*

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3 April 2006

IRAQ UPDATE: 22 February-7 March 2006

[Note: The death of Tom Fox and the release of Norman Kember, Harmeet Sooden and James Loney caused made getting out these updates in a timely manner difficult for the team]

22 February 2006

A friend of the team came to interview the team for her radio program on a local Baghdad radio station. The team answered questions about why they came to Iraq, their beliefs that lead them to peacemaking, and the differences and similarities between U.S. culture and other cultures of the world.

Militants blew up the Al-Askari Shrine in Samara. Prime Minister Jaffery called for three days of mourning for the Al-Askari shrine bombing, and all but one bridge in Baghdad was closed, effectively limiting traffic flow in the city.

Allan Slater went out to buy extra supplies for the next days in case of curfews or closures, and noted the shops were crowded because others were also stocking up. The police towed one car away from the front of an office supply store where the team shops, in case it was a potential bomb. The police blocked off a couple of blocks in the vicinity of the towed car.
Slater got out of that area (where he was buying phone cards) as fast as he could.

A sheikh in Sadr City postponed a meeting with the team because gun battles had broken out in the streets of Sadr City, in the Baya'e neighborhood and beyond the Jumariyah Bridge and three other Sheikhs had been killed. The team also learned that a friend of the team who is a Christian priest was injured in a gun battle in front of his church. He had to wait until gun battle stopped before he could seek medical help.

The big generator for the building of the team's apartment broke down again.

Thursday, 23 February 2006

Anita David researched the violence arising out of the destruction of Al Askari Shrine in Samara and came up with these statistics: 163 Sunni mosques attacked, ten imams killed and fifteen imams abducted, eighty bodies found in Baghdad and forty seven pulled off a bus and killed in Baquba.

Islamic Party TV said that the Sunni Front and Shi'a Alliance want to march together. In Shertah, a town southwest of Baghdad, Shi'a citizens carried guns to protect Sunni worshipers during evening prayers at the local Sunni mosque. In Basra, Sadrists protected a Sunni mosque. Grand Ayatollah Sistani designated Wednesday as Black Wednesday. Curfew continued to be 8:00 p.m.

Iraqis have compared the day of the bombing of the Al-Askari Shrine as their "9-11."

Friday, 22 February 2006

A curfew in Baghdad banned all car traffic. Vehicles were able to move within neighborhoods on a limited basis. Other than fruit and vegetable stands, most shops were closed. Prices in shops that are open have gone up due to limited supplies and high demand.

Saturday, 25 February 2006

The team postponed the scheduled visit to the forensic morgue in Baghdad.
Later in the day the team heard that the curfew would be extended to Monday at 7:00 a.m.

Sunday, 26 February 2006

A friend from Karbala called to report that a bombing in Karbala had occurred, resulting in a heightened security alert.

At 8:15 p.m. the team heard an explosion. Naar and Pyles went to the roof, and heard six explosions within five minutes. A friend in the Green Zone told the team that six mortars were randomly fired into the Dora neighborhood in southern Baghdad resulting in many injuries and deaths of civilians. The team heard many other explosions and much helicopter and jet activity in the early morning hours.

Monday, 27 February 2006

The team worked on soliciting Iraqis for western media to interview for the third anniversary of the invasion. They also contacted western media journalists who might be interested in interviewing them.

At 11:18 a.m., two Iraqi humvees with armed military personnel traveled down the street where the team's apartment is located.

Lt. Colonel Drago of the National Iraqi Assistance Center called the team for assistance with an Iraqi family whose son is scheduled to be executed in Saudi Arabia sometime on or after 1 March 2006. He did not know the offense. The team referred him to Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights section the UN Assistance Mission Iraq (UNAMI.)

Tuesday, 28 February 2006

A team friend visited reported that Sunni and Shi'a had been demonstrating together against the recent violence and against the occupation at both Abu Hanifa mosque and the Kadamiya Shrine.

The team was able to purchase a tank of cooking gas for 20,000 Iraqi dinar, or about $14. The previous price was about 5000 Iraqi dinar, or $3.50.
Iraq can only supply 50% of its needs, and imports much of the rest from Turkey. Some disputes with the Turkish importers have occurred.

A car bomb went off in the team's neighborhood in front of the restaurant across the street from the Shi'a mosque. Slater had just been shopping in the area minutes before it went off. Early reports indicate eleven killed and many injured. Two other bombs exploded about the same time in the late morning around Baghdad.

Naar and David went to the Morgue to check if any of the team's kidnapped colleagues were there. In the alley near the rear entrance to the morgue is a Plexiglas window with a metal grill over it. At this window, those searching for missing family members gather to view a computer monitor showing images of unidentified dead, each with a numbered tag on his chest.
The image changed to the next image every three seconds. Many of the images would be unrecognizable to relatives or friends. Naar and David had difficulty seeing the monitor well because of the large number of people.
This window is adjacent to the rear entrance to the morgue where bodies are delivered.

The body of a young Iraqi man lay in the back of an Iraqi police pickup truck behind Naar and David as they tried to view the images of the dead.
They did not see any photos that appeared to be of the team's kidnapped colleagues, although they were uncertain that they would have been able to identify them even if they were there.

The leader of the Independent Activates, an Iraqi human rights organization, came to visit and brought pictures of the demonstration they had in Firdos Square in Baghdad for the team's kidnapped colleagues. He said they will be organizing meetings around human rights issues in Iraq in the coming months.

The team heard sounds of a battle raging in Dora.

Wednesday, 1 March 2006

Maxine Nash contacted a U.S. army officer to arrange an appointment to speak about detainee issues including numbers held, Red Cross access, inspection of Ministry of Interior facilities. The officer said he would get back to the team.

Anita David and Michele Naar Obed met with members of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society. Red Crescent aids families in the sending and receiving of messages for detainees held in Multi national Force (MNF) prisons via the International Committee of the Red Cross. A message takes approximately forty days to go from family to Red Crescent to Red Cross to MNF to detainee. Red Crescent personnel may not enter MNF or Ministry of Interior prisons. The Red Crescent and the Red Cross have both requested the Ministry of Interior to give them a list of prisoners but have received no reply. The Ministry of Human Rights is the only monitor of Iraqi Prisons.

The team found out from the Red Crescent that since the beginning of the war, wounded Iraqis flown out of Iraq to Qatar, Kuwait and Germany for medical treatment have never been accounted for. Men taken from the second attack on Fallujah (Nov. 2004) have also never been accounted for.

Thursday, 2 March 2006

Peggy Gish made a follow-up call to the British Military legal advisor in Basra regarding a detainee held in Shaiba Prison for over eighteen months.
Gish and Alan Slater had accompanied the prisoner's family to the prison to get answers to questions about irregularities in this man's case. The representative told Gish they could not give CPT information about the status of the prisoner's case. The prisoner and his lawyer must write a letter requesting such information.

A team friend spoke of the high hopes of Iraqis when the U.S. first arrived and how everything had grown worse and continues to grow worse. She read one of her poems to the team.

Friday, 3 March 2006

Team members met with a man whose brother the U.S. military arrested two years ago but is now believed to be in the Iraqi Army prison at Kadamiyah.

Saturday, 4 March 2006

The team met with the Palestinian Human Rights group in Baladiat about the recent detentions of Palestinians.

Beth Pyles drafted a statement to be read at a vigil marking the 100th day of captivity for Tom, Harmeet, Norman and Jim in London.

The team met today with members of Muslim Peacemaker Team (MPT) Najaf and MPT Kerbala. Issues discussed included the following: 1) Developing an umbrella organization to build bridges between religious and ethnic groups, no political organizations included. 2) Prison Monitoring and training in monitoring techniques. 3) Training teachers in primary/secondary schools human rights and nonviolence techniques; Muslim peace religious training for adults and children. 4) Working in prisons to allocate centers for women and youth to provide workshops, education courses and computer training; 5) Sectarian violence.

Sunday, 5 March 2006

Nash accompanied an Iraqi friend into the Green Zone where an American soldier told him he must carry an ID card to leave his house. The friend had to go home to get his card before he was allowed into the Green Zone.

The team held its own private vigil for Tom, Harmeet, Norman and Jim.

Monday, 6 March 2006

The tulips Slater brought from Holland began to bloom.

The man whose brother was arrested by the U.S. Army in 2004 visited the team for a second time. David told him she e-mailed the Ministry of Interior to begin a computer search for him. The man asked for a search of MNF prisons, too since the family never located the brother. David asked under what conditions his brother was arrested. The man said it was during an attack on U.S. soldiers. She asked if the arrested man a bystander. The man said no, he and his friends were firing on U.S. soldiers. The friends got away but the brother was arrested. He was firing an RPG47.

A car bomb damaged a seminary associated with one of the churches CPTers attend. A student suffered a minor head injury and went to the hospital for an overnight stay. The bishop's car had one of its tires shot because it was too close to an American humvee.

Tuesday, 7 March 2005

Norman Kember, Jim Loney and Harmeet Sooden were on a new video. Tom Fox was missing. Loney and Kember asked for the Canadian and British governments to cooperate with the governments of the Gulf States. Al Jazeera showed only 10.5 seconds of the tape.


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