Palestinians unite to call for release of four peace activist hostages in Iraq

ISM Press release:

December 3rd, 2005 | Posted in Press Releases
International Solidarity Movement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Since the first video of the four Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)
members being held hostage in Iraq was released a few days ago,
Palestinians all over the West Bank and Gaza have been calling for
their release unharmed. The CPT is well known for its work against the
occupations in both Iraq and Palestine. It is probably most well known
in Palestine for its work against the religious-fundamentalist Israeli
settlers in Hebron.

Yesterday in Tuwani, locals held a demonstration calling for the
release of the four. Palestinian women and children held up picture of
the kidnapped peace activists and held up signs in Arabic saying things
such as, “We ask you to release the CPT members. They work in
international solidarity for civil rights.” On the 1st of December,
300 Palestinians demonstrated in Ramallah in solidarity with the four.
The demonstration was attended by Abu Hasan Morrar a representative of
the Islamic Council of Palestine, Shawkat Samha the mayor of the town
of Jayyous, Fatima Asi of the Women For Life group in the Salfit region
and Mustafa Barghouti the general secretary of the Palestinian National
Initiative. All called passionately for the hostage’s release, as
demonstrators held up signs in Arabic and English describing the four
as their friends. A statement on behalf of the Popular Committees
Against the Wall was read adding to the call. Palestinians and
internationals who know the hostages personally were on the
demonstration which was attended by Palestinians from Bil’in who
spoke and called on the kidnappers to release the hostages. TV stations
like Al- Jazeera and Al-Arabiya broadcasted stories about the
demonstration to viewers in Iraq and around the world. Palestinian
militant groups have also called for the immediate release of the peace
activists. The Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigades released a statement saying
that “these activists are the friends of the martyr Rachel Corrie who
was killed while protecting Palestinian homes in Gaza. We know who
these people are and like us they stand against the apartheid wall and
the Israeli occupation. We call on the kidnappers to release these
people so they can come to Palestine to stand on the side of oppressed
people.”

The National and Islamic Forces in Hebron issued a statement signed by
such militant/political groups as Hamas and the DFLP saying that they
“confirm that the CPTers have a very strong role in facing Israeli
crimes and in protecting the life of the Palestinians. They have put
themselves in many situations in front of Israeli tanks. They have
confronted Israeli bulldozers and home demolitions and escorted our
children to and from their schools to protectthem from settlers.
Because of all their activities, members of CPT have been followed,
arrested and beaten by Israeli soldiers and settlers on many
occasions.”

Religious leaders have also joined the calls. “We demand that these
aid workers be released immediately,” said Mufti Ikrema Sabri,
Palestine’s top Muslim clergyman.

“We tell them that these aid workers have stood beside Palestinian
people and it’s our duty now to stand beside them.”

Mustafa Jayyousi a local Palestinian activist in Jayyous who knew Tom
said, “When he worked in Jayyous, Tom was part of a group who went
down to the gates everyday with local farmers to help them access their
lands made inaccessible by the wall. He also participated in
demonstrations with the people of Jayyous against the apartheid Wall in
Jayyous.”

Mohammed Ayyesh a local Palestinian activist in Balata camp, Nablus
said of Harmeet, “I was touch with Harmeet and was looking forward to
him coming here to work next week. We must do everything we can to
secure his release.”

For more information and interviews:

* Mohammed Ayyesh: 054 621 8759 or 052 222 3374
* Shawkat Samha (Mayor of Jayyous): 0545 861 306, office : +972 92
900 130
* Mustafa Samha (son of Shawkat): 0599 798 361

Hebron Palestinians coordinating with CPT:

* Hisham Sharabati: 972-599-271-190, 972-522-248-399
* Hamed Quasameh: 972-599-339-180
* Mustafa Barghouthi, Palestinian National Initiative, Ramallah,
Tel: 02-298-5372
* CPT Hebron (Rich Meyer): 054-631-5786
* ISM Media office: 02 297 1824

for pictures look here:Palsoldisrity.org

See our last post on the case.

  1. Palestinians appeal for release of Western activists kidnapped i

    Nov. 30, 2005 15:21 | Updated Nov. 30, 2005 15:23
    Palestinians appeal for release of Western activists kidnapped in Iraq
    By ASSOCIATED PRESS
    RAMALLAH

    Palestinians, led by their top Muslim cleric, appealed to Iraqi insurgents on Wednesday to release four Western peace activists, saying three of them had spent time in the West Bank aiding the Palestinians.

    The four workers for the group Christian Peacemaking Teams – an American, a Briton and two Canadians – were shown in a video released Tuesday by insurgents in Iraq.

    While in the West Bank, American Tom Fox and the two Canadians demonstrated against the construction of Israel’s security fence, helped Palestinian children to get through Israeli army checkpoints and pitched in with the olive harvest, Palestinians across the West Bank said Wednesday.

    “We demand that these aid workers be released immediately,” said Mufti Ikrema Sabri, the Palestinians’ top Muslim clergyman. “We tell them that these aid workers have stood beside Palestinian people and it’s our duty now to stand beside them.”

    Sabri said Islam opposes taking civilians hostage and said such kidnappings are “inhumane.”

    Palestinians in several towns said they had worked with the three activists and asked Sabri to issue the appeal. Hundreds of international activists have aided the Palestinians in largely nonviolent demonstrations during the more than five years of fighting with Israel.

    “They subjected themselves to grave dangers when they stood in front of Israeli bulldozers,” said the mayor of the West Bank village of Jayyus, Shawkat Samha. “We knew them as people who were against occupation and supported freedom for occupied peoples, like the Palestinian and Iraqi peoples.”

    Samha said he had met Fox and recognized him in the video that was shown on the Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera.

    Fared Tomallah from the West Bank village of Salfit said he cried when he recognized captive Canadian Harmeet Sooden on television.

    “I saw him many times suffering through tear gas with the Palestinians when demonstrating against the wall,” Tomallah said, referring to the separation barrier. “We appeal to Iraqi insurgents to release him and we assure them that these people have nothing to do with the occupation.”

    The local branch of Christian Peacemaking Teams in the West Bank city of Hebron said that one of the captives, James Loney from Toronto, Canada, had helped Palestinian children get through Israeli army roadblocks in the divided city. Loney was slated to return to Hebron next week to continue his work, said Rich Meyer, an activist with the group.

    “The kidnapping prevents him from coming here to work,” Meyer said.

    The group’s Toronto branch released a picture of Fox sitting with children.

    1. Hebron’s National and Islamic Forces Call for Release of CPTers
      In the name of Allah the Greatest the passionate.

      The National and Islamic Forces in Hebron/Palestine express their deep sorrow for kidnapping four of the peace advocates from the CPT in Iraq.

      The National and Islamic Forces in Hebron who has along experience in dealing with crimes and Israeli violations with the CPT from 1995 ,would like to confirm that the CPTers have a very strong role in facing the Israeli crimes and violations and in protecting the life and the belongings of the Palestinians. They put themselves in many situations in front of the Israeli tanks.

      They confronted the Israeli bulldozers and the Israeli home demolition and escorted our children to and from their schools to protect them from settlers.

      Because of all their activities ,the members of the team were followed, arrested and beaten by Israeli soldiers and settlers in many occasions.

      The Israeli authorities have prevented some of them from entering Palestine .

      We urge the brothers in the resistance and all the alert conscience in Iraq , whom we consider our selves together in the same tunnel against the American terrorism and assault, to promptly release the four kidnapped (2 Canadian, one British ,and one American ) from CPT, for their role in supporting our Palestinian and Arab an Islamic nations.

      Freedom for Iraqi and Palestinian people.

      Shame for Zionist and American occupation.

      The Islamic & National Forces in Hebron.

      Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) .

      Fateh Movement .

      People’s Party .

      Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine .

      Palestine Liberation Front .

      Palestine Democratic Union . FIDA.

      Palestinian Front for popular fighting .

      Hebron .

      29/11/2005 .  

      1. in the light
        FLORIDA AVENUE FRIENDS MEETING WASHINGTON DC Dec 4 2005
        George Ball started meeting with a hope that we should bring Thomas Fox and the Christian peacemaking teams and their Iraqi captors into the light. <http://www.cpt.org/corps.php> This is the light.

        Since (even before) America’s use of the Atomic bomb against Japan in WWII, we have all been hostages to each other.
        The Cold War’s Mutually Assured Destruction
        is no different in spirit than weapons of mass destruction, or suicide bomb belts.
        Middle East Diplomacy, the war by other means , has been folly.
        Bush’s “crusade” and
        Promises of “victory” is not the way or the light.
        Carter’s Saini mediation, which required all Jews to leave was flawed.
        Arabs live in Israel. Ours is a global village. If we cannot live together as neighbors everywhere, we all lose.

        Even Sharon’s walk on the Temple heights was an opportunity for peace.
        Can you imagine an America without Temples, Churches, Mosques?
        Why should the Third Temple not be built next to Omar’s Mosque in The Holy City ?
        This is the way and the light.

        Laura Blumenthall’s best Revenge,
        A Story of Hope, changing hearts, is the way and the light.

        West Bank Arabs/Moslems have asked for the release of the Christian
        peacemaking teams. This is the way and the light.

        This summer I visited Scotland’s Rossyln Chapel, home of the Templars(?) and and walked in the footseeps of George Fox in England’s Lake District. I remembered that in the 1600’s, Quakers petitioned judges, Cromwell, and the King to let them sit in jail for ailing Friends, hostages to the English Churches.

        Quakers and the Christian peacemaking teams are history’s trusted Templars. Perhaps, we can best help by gong there in the thousands, the millions. This is the way and the light.
        *********************************************************************
        Omar’s Mosque <http://www.templemount.org/aerial.jpg>webmaster@alinaam.org.za
        Omar wanted to build a mosque in Jerusalem. He asked the Bishop which place would be suitable for the purpose. The Bishop suggested the “Sakhra,” or the rock on which Allah had talked to Prophet Jacob. Here the Christians had heaped garbage to tease the Jews.
        Immediately the Sakhra was cleared of the garbage. Omar himself worked like a laborer with the rest of his men. Jerusalem, the city of David and of Christ, witnessed the equality of Islam. When the Sakhra had been cleared of every trace of dirt, a mosque was built on the site. The mosque stand to this day and is known as Omar’s Mosque.

  2. Palestinian Solidarity Activists Amongst Four Peace Activist Hos
    http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2005/11/30/palestinian-solidarity-activists-amongst-four-peace-activist-hostages-in-iraq-2/
    November 30th, 2005 | Posted in Press Releases,  ISM Media Alerts

    CORRECTION: Three of the group of four have previously been in Palestine, not only two as previously stated. James Loney was in Palestine five years ago as an activist with CPT Hebron.

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Two of the four Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) hostages in Iraq of whom a video was released today have been in Palestine working as Palestinian Solidarity activists. Tom Fox (54) worked with CPT Hebron and participated in demonstrations against the apartheid Wall in Jayyous. Harmeet Sooden (32) a Canadian citizen who had been living in New Zealand, came to Palestine to join the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) in December 2004 and stayed until January 2005. He worked in solidarity with local Palestinian people, mostly in Nablus and Jenin. While in Jenin, he worked with a group of ISM activists who planted Olive trees on the ‚ÄėSwithart‚Äô farm outside Jenin, He was committed to come to Palestine for three months to join the ISM again at the beginning of December 2005 as a long term activist for the liberation of Palestine from Israeli occupation, but first decided to join a two week CPT delegation to Iraq.

    Palestinians in Ramallah will hold a demonstration tomorrow at 3pm in solidarity with all four kidnapped peace activists and to appeal for their release. The demonstration will be attended by notable Palestinian religious and resistance figures.

    Mustafa Jayyousi a local Palestinian activist in Jayyous who knew Tom said: “When he worked in Jayyous, Tom was part of a group who went down to the gates everyday with local farmers to help them access their lands made inaccessible by the wall. He also participated in demonstrations with the people of Jayyous against the apartheid Wall in Jayyous

  3. US, UK blamed for Iraq kidnappings
    US, UK blamed for Iraq kidnappingsAljazeera.net
    by Khalid Amaryeh
    Wednesday 30 November 2005

    The US- and Canada-based Christian Peacemaker Teams has blamed the what it called the illega occupation of Iraq by US and British troops for the kidnapping of its four workers in Iraq.

    The Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) said in a statement that¬†“the actions of the US and UK governments” were to blame for the abduction of the four activists.

    The organisation is an umbrella group for pacifist church activism. It issued a statement on Tuesday confirming that the four men associated with their organisation were kidnapped in Iraq by an armed group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigade.

    Aljazeera aired a videotape showing four peace activists who were captured in Iraq by a previously unknown group, but it could not verify any of the information on the tape.

    The tape, which aired on Tuesday, showed four men and a British passport belonging to Norman Kember. The four workers are an American, a Briton and two Canadians.

    CPT said it had had a team in Iraq since October 2002, working with US and Iraqi detainees and training others in nonviolent intervention and human rights documentation.

    Iraqi appeal

    Iraq’s influential Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) has appealed to the abductors to release the four. The AMS said in a statement received by Aljazeera.net that those workers have a respectable record for helping the poor and disadvantaged.

    The AMS has helped secure the release of many foreigners abducted in Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003.

    Abductors of the four workers accuse them of being spies for the “occupation forces”.

    Fighters in Iraq have claimed that they set up a fair trial for the people they abduct.

    CPT officials in Hebron in the¬†West Bank have vehemently denied the charges, stressing that the four were men of peace who opposed the war on Iraq and Bush’s policies.

    “We are very worried about our friends. We fear that whoever is holding them has made a mistake. They are four men who came to Iraq to work for peace. They oppose the occupation. They are not spies,” said CPT leader Rich Meyer during a news conference at the courtyard of an ancient mosque in downtown Hebron on Wednesday.

    Palestinian appeal

    Palestinians led by their top Muslim cleric appealed to Iraqi fighters on Wednesday to release the four, saying three of them had spent time in the West Bank aiding the Palestinians.

    While in the West Bank, American Tom Fox and the two Canadians demonstrated against the construction of Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank, helped Palestinian children to get through Israeli army checkpoints and pitched in with the olive harvest, Palestinians across the West Bank said Wednesday.

    “We demand that these aid workers be released immediately,” said Mufti Ikrema Sabri, the Palestinians’ top Muslim clergyman. “We tell them that these aid workers have stood beside Palestinian people, and it’s our duty now to stand beside them.”

    Sabri said Islam opposes taking civilians hostage and said such kidnappings are inhumane.

    Palestinians in several towns said they had worked with the three activists and asked Sabri to issue the appeal.
    Hundreds of international activists have aided the Palestinians in largely nonviolent demonstrations during more than five years of fighting with Israel.

    “They subjected themselves to grave dangers when they stood in front of Israeli bulldozers,” said the mayor of the West Bank village of Jayyus, Shawkat Samha.

    Against occupation

    “‘We knew them as people who were against occupation and supported freedom for occupied peoples, like the Palestinian and Iraqi peoples,” Samha said, adding that he¬†had met Fox and recognised him in the video shown on Aljazeera.

    Fared Tomallah from the West Bank village of Salfit said he cried when he recognised captive Canadian Harmeet Sooden on television.

    “I saw him many times suffering through tear gas with the Palestinians when demonstrating against the wall,” Tomallah said, referring to the separation barrier.

    “We appeal to Iraqi insurgents to release him, and we assure them that these people have nothing to do with the occupation.”

    The local branch of Christian Peacemaking Teams in Hebron said that one of the captives, James Loney from Toronto, Canada, had helped Palestinian children get through Israeli army roadblocks in the divided city.

    Loney was slated to return to Hebron next week to continue his work, said Rich Meyer, an activist with the group.

    “The kidnapping prevents him from coming here to work,” Meyer said.

    Aljazeera.net’s Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank and Ahmed Janabi contributed to this report.