It’s December 21st, 4 days until Christmas and nearly 2 weeks since any word appeared about the Christian Peacemakers. Kidnapping of foreigners continues throughout the Middle East. The latest kidnapping happened in Gaza, not in Iraq, and involved two Australian nationals.
However, in Iraq, it is important to remember that kidnapping is a much larger problem for Iraqis than for Foreigners. I am not versed in the impact of kidnapping in Palestine so I can’t speak to the issue there. A report by my friend Greg Rollins(also a Peacemaker) quoted an Iraqi Policeman in Baghdad suggesting that as many as 300 kidnappings of Iraqis had occurred in 2005 in his district alone!
This 300 kidnappings in one police district accounts only for those kidnappings that were reported. Consider the hesitance of the CPT to speak to the media in the days immediately following their colleagues’ kidnapping.
If Westerners, with access to skilled security experts and the US, UK, and Canadian embassies to back up police report were unwilling to report the kidnappings, how can one expect Iraqis, who are just trying to avoid death or injury on a daily basis, be expected to react differently?
Although the Christian Peacemaker Team members are still missing, there are some good signs ahead. I recently received a document anonymously from someone purporting to be a representative of Wahj al Iraq. This document is also from the spokesman for the Patriotic National and Islamic Front. The document reads as follows:
The general secretary of Wahj Al Iraq and the official spokesman of the Patriotic National & Islamic Front pleaded the kidnappers to release the hostages.
The general secretary of Wahj Al Iraq and the official spokesman of the Patriotic National & Islamic Front, Sheikh Majeed Al G’ood pleaded he kidnappers of the European and Moroccan hostages.
He said in the letter he wrote addressing them: ” I want to remind you, as you are the guard for our homes and women and families, and he crown on our heads, and the protectors that protect us, that dark will fade away, when the sun of freedom lights our homeland by the efforts of your hands ”
And he added: ” Those who are strong are the ones that forgive while they are in the position of strength, and I plead you, personally and on behalf of all the good people that oppose the occupation, and by the names of our mighty martyrs, and by the name of all those who supported our resistance and still do, from all around the world, to answer my request and release all the hostages; our Moroccans brothers, the peace activists and the German archeologist who had unforgettable humanitarian deeds towards Iraq ”
And he said: “I ask you as a brother, as a request from one that you can’t let down, to answer my request and plead and set all the kidnapped ones free “.
I will attempt to upload the original as an image, in order to include the group’s seal, and further assure I received it. If this document is authentic, it is a very good sign for the safety of my friend and his colleagues. This is of course assuming that they have been kidnapped by Resistance or insurgent fighters. If you look here, you can see another letter from Sheikh Majeed Al G’ood. Clearly the Patriotic National Front is not a collaborator with the Occupation, and there are reasons for fighters to heed their requests. Unfortunately, in the murky world of Iraq’s competing Resistance and insurgent movements, things aren’t as cut and dry as President Bush and his team would describe it.
I hope however, that this group which has taken the Christian Peacemaker Team members will release them soon.
Here is the CPT’s most recent release about their colleagues:
Iraq Team Message to the Missing CPTers
Dear Harmeet, Jim, Norman and Tom,
We still are longing to see your faces. So many people continue to let us know that they are thinking of you and praying for you. As Christmas approaches, we continue to hope that you will be able to join us and your families for the celebrations. Anita has written her aunt for the best turkey dressing recipe known to the world. We continue to stay in touch with your families. Your friends in Iraq ask about you all the time. We don’t know how much you get outside, but the weather is nice here in Baghdad. We hope to see you soon.
With much love,
Your Team Mates in Baghdad
As you enjoy your Holiday season(or don’t, depending on yoru religion and world outlook!), please keep these Christian Peacemakers in your thoughts, but please also, balance it with hope for all the people of Iraq, who are having a difficult time too, and as individuals are too often overlooked in our thoughts.
Please consider these words from Greg Rollins of CPT:
If we in CPT have received a lot of press over our kidnapped colleagues, it is only because we are foreigners. It is disturbing that CPT’s personal tragedy outshines the more frequent abductions of Iraqi civilians but in the end, it doesn’t matter if you are Iraqi or a foreigner, the waiting is still the hardest part.