[saymaListserv] forgiveness

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:

> CPTnet 
> 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
> them. 
> 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
> deeds." 
> 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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