Quakerkristi at aol.com
Quakerkristi at aol.com
Sun Dec 10 21:39:27 JEST 2006
Forwarded from Baltimore YM from an interview with CPT members
James and Harmeet were interviewed this morning by Amy
Goodman on the show Democracy Now. The interview can
be heard/watched here:
> 8 December 2006
> UNITED KINGDOM: Statement by Norman Kember, James
> Loney, and
> Harmeet Singh Sooden regarding the prosecution of
> their kidnappers
> [Note: Norman Kember, Harmeet Singh Sooden and CPTer
> James Loney delivered the following statement at a
> press conference today in London at 10:30 a.m. GMT]
> We three, members of a Christian Peacemaker Teams
> (CPT) delegation to Iraq, were kidnapped on November
> 26, 2005 and held for 118 days before being freed by
> British and American forces on March 23, 2006. Our
> friend and colleague, Tom Fox, an American citizen
> and full-time member of the CPT team working in
> Baghdad at the time, was kidnapped with us and
> murdered on March 9, 2006. We are immensely sad that
> he is not sitting with us here today.
> On behalf of our families and CPT, we thank you for
> attending this press
> conference today.
> It was on this day a year ago that our captors
> threatened to execute us
> unless their demands were met. This ultimatum,
> unknown to us at the time, was a source of extreme
> distress for our families, friends and colleagues.
> The deadline was extended by two days to December
> 10, which is International Human Rights Day. On
> this day, people all over the world will commemorate
> the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human
> Rights by the UN General Assembly in 1948 by
> speaking out for all those whose human dignity is
> being violated by torture, arbitrary imprisonment,
> poverty, racism, oppression or war.
> We understand a number of men alleged to be our
> captors have been
> apprehended, charged with kidnapping, and are facing
> trial in the Central Criminal Court of Iraq. We
> have been asked by the police in our respective
> countries to testify in the trial. After much
> reflection upon our
> traditions, both Sikh and Christian, we are issuing
> this statement today.
> We unconditionally forgive our captors for abducting
> and holding us. We
> have no desire to punish them. Punishment can never
> restore what was taken from us.
> What our captors did was wrong. They caused us, our
> families and our
> friends great suffering. Yet, we bear no malice
> towards them and have no wish for retribution.
> Should those who have been charged with holding us
> hostage be brought to trial and convicted, we ask
> that they be granted all possible leniency. We
> categorically lay aside any rights we may have over
> In our view, the catastrophic levels of violence and
> the lack of effective
> protection of human rights in Iraq is inextricably
> linked to the US-led
> invasion and occupation. As for many others, the
> actions of our kidnappers were part of a cycle of
> violence they themselves experienced. While this is
> no way justifies what the men charged with our
> kidnapping are alleged to have done, we feel this
> must be considered in any potential judgment.
> Forgiveness is an essential part of Sikh, Christian
> and Muslim teaching.
> Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the first of the Sikh Gurus said,
> "'Forgiveness' is my
> mother..." and, "Where there is forgiveness, there
> is God." Jesus said,
> "For if you forgive those who sin against you, your
> heavenly Father will
> also forgive you." And of Prophet Mohammed (Peace
> Be Upon Him) it is told that once, while preaching
> in the city of Ta'if, he was abused, stoned and
> driven out of the city. An angel appeared to him
> and offered to crush the city between the two
> surrounding mountains if he ordered him to do so,
> whereupon the prophet (or Mohammed PBUH) said, "No.
> Maybe from them or their offspring will come good
> Through the power of forgiveness, it is our hope
> that good deeds will come from the lives of our
> captors, and that we will all learn to reject the
> use of violence. We believe those who use violence
> against others are
> themselves harmed by the use of violence.
> Kidnapping is a capital offence in Iraq and we
> understand that some of our captors could be
> sentenced to death. The death penalty is an
> irrevocable judgment. It erases all possibility
> that those who have harmed others, even seriously,
> can yet turn to good. We categorically oppose the
> death penalty.
> By this commitment to forgiveness, we hope to plant
> a seed that one day will bear the fruits of healing
> and reconciliation for us, our captors, the
> peoples of Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom,
> the United States, and most of all, Iraq. We look
> forward to the day when the Universal Declaration of
> Human Rights is respected by all the world's people.
> Harmeet Singh Sooden, Norman Kember, James Loney
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