On a Thanksgiving
visit home two years ago to his family in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario,
Jim Loney tried to explain to his father why he wanted to go to
Iraq with Christian Peacemaker Teams.
He told his Dad about a grade school chum, Rick, sent to Afghanistan
with the Canadian Armed Forces, who narrowly escaped death from
a roadside bomb.
Rick was being asked to risk his life as a soldier then I, as
a pacifist Christian who believes that war is not the way to peace,
should be prepared to take the same risks," he recalled trying
to reason with his father.
Sooden (left) and Jim Loney
in a video on the internet.
from Iraq safely, but on a return trip this year, his fathers
worst fears were realized. On November 26, Jim was taken hostage
in Baghdad, along with three CPT colleagues, Harmeet Sooden, also
from Canada, Norman Kember, from England, and Tom Fox, from the
of people around the world are learning for the first time about
these peace warriors. But what few people know is that CPT members
go to conflict zones like Iraq expressly stating that if they
are abducted they do not want to be rescued by the military
or any violent means.
delegate coordinator in the organizations Chicago office,
read the following from the CPTs "Team Statement"
adopted by each team going into a conflict situation. "We
reject the use of violent force to save our lives in the event
we are kidnapped, held hostage or caught in the middle of a violent
conflict situation. We also reject violence to punish anyone who
has harmed us."
a retired CPT coordinator, explained why the groups members
go out of their way to renounce violence even to save their own
lives. "We are a non-violent group. We cant preach
nonviolent action in protection of human beings and then ask it
to be used on our behalf
that would be inconsistent, inappropriate
to the organizations larger strategy, the retiree who volunteered
as a civilian aid worker in Viet Nam in the mid-60s explained,
"If we would be rescued by a military or police action and
people were killed, it would set a precedent setting back the
work we do."
that CPT members, working in the nonviolence tradition and philosophy,
are prepared to accept whatever happens as a result of their actions,
all of which "becomes useful as a moral witness to point
to the larger goal were working for - a fair and just society."
Edmund Pettis Bridge...
seen through a window
would not have had the modern civil rights movement if people
said, its too dangerous to go across that bridge (the
Pettis Bridge, in Selma, Alabama). Danger is inherent
in the nature of non violence."
is not relying on the fates to rescue the four held in Baghdad,
however. Family members of the hostages have thanked the Canadian
government for its efforts, CPT has appealed to its considerable
network of Sunni and Shia clerics across Iraq, appeals have been
sent out in Arabic from CPT supporters in Palestine, and already
over 200 prayer vigils and demonstrations for their release have
been held on three continents, according to the CPT website.
True to CPTs
principles, the catchphrase, "Love your Enemies; End the
Occupation; Release the Peacemakers," has been appearing
on banners at prayer vigils around the world, such as those at
over a dozen churches in Italy last Sunday where the following
prayer was said: "We pray for their kidnappers, that they
may realize that violence will not help us build a better world.
We pray for our four friends, that their faith may sustain them
in these difficult times and that they may bear witness of the
Christian love for one's enemies, as they have always done in
their activity in support of the victims of war. We pray for all
the Iraqis who have disappeared or are being held captive, that
they may soon be reunited with their loved ones."
across Canada, CBC radio listeners heard an announcer play the
haunting second movement from Henryk Goreckis Symphony
of Sorrowful Songs, offering it "as a public prayer"
for the four hostages.
ago on that holiday trip home, Jim Loney was not very successful
explaining why he wanted to go to Iraq. His fathers response
to him at the time, quoted in an article Jim wrote was, "What
can you accomplish by going there? It's futile. Every westerner
is a target. They don't care who you are or why you're there.
It's just not worth it."
ago, Jims family wrote the following, indicating his work
is having an effect beyond Iraq, all the way to Ontario. "Our
family would like to express its deepest gratitude for the tremendous
support we have received from every corner of the world and from
people of all faiths, especially the Muslim community. We know
that our James would be overwhelmed by the grassroots support
that he is receiving. We are too. We have come to a fuller understanding
of the effect that his humanitarian work for peace has in the
Ferner spent time with CPT and Jim Loney on a two-month trip
to Iraq in early 2004. He is a freelance writer from Ohio.