BosNewsLife – Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) said Wednesday, November 30, it was increasingly concerned about the plight of four of its kidnapped staff members in Iraq who were shown a day earlier on the Arabic news channel Aljazeera. CPT, an international conflict resolution group, also released the names of the American, Briton and two Canadians being held by militants of the Swords of Righteousness Brigade.
Among those detained is American Tom Fox, 54, from Clearbrook , Virginia ,” CPT said. “He 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.”
The kidnapped Briton was identified as 74-year old Norman Kember from London , England who, the group said, “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 ” and “is well known as a peace activist…involved in several peace groups.” He and his wife of 45 years have two married daughters and a 3-year old grandson, CPT added.
The two Canadians being held are James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, CPT said. Loney is a community worker from Toronto who “has been a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams since August 2000, and is currently the Program Coordinator for CPT Canada,” the group explained.
“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.” He is a peace activist, writer, trained mediator, and works actively with two Toronto community conflict resolution services.
Sooden was described as a Canadian electrical engineer from Montreal who studied at McGill University and is now working on a masters degree in English literature in Auckland University in New Zealand to prepare for a teaching career.
“He works tirelessly in his spare time to educate and help others,” CPT stressed.
The organization said it was “very saddened to see the images of our loved ones on Aljazeera television” and it accused the United States and British governments of escalating the conflict in Iraq .
“We are angry because what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the US and UK governments due to the illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people,” the group said. It also accused the United States abusing and torturing prisoners.
However American President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair have strongly defended their decision to go to war in Iraq, saying the country was ruled by an evil dictator seeking weapons of mass destruction which he already used against his own people.
The politicians also argue that their countries’ involvement in overthrowing Saddam Hussein and the possible advent of democracy in Iraq were crucial in creating more stability in the Middle East and the fight against terror.
They have condemned however reports of prisoner abuse by American and British forces. The CPT said it was to “pray for the speedy release of our beloved teammates.”