CHRISTIAN PEACEMAKER TEAMS
********************* Despite the uncertainty surrounding the fate of their four colleagues who disappeared in Baghdad, Iraq, three weeks ago, Christian Peacemaker Teams continues to work for peace and human rights in Iraq and elsewhere.
More than one week ago, the Swords of Righteousness Brigade — a new group allegedly responsible for the disappearance of Tom Fox, Harmeet Sooden, Norman Kember, and James Loney — declared that, if the United States did not release all Iraqi detainees by December 10th, the four men would be killed.
The deadline passed without any further communication from the Brigade.
"We are very concerned about our four colleagues and are working for their return," stated Sheila Provencher, 33, a full-time Iraq Team member currently working out of Amman. "We also continue to be concerned about the Iraqi families who experience killing, disappearance, and imprisonment of their loved ones every day. We believe it is important to continue to document abuse and be a support for Iraqi groups struggling nonviolently against oppression."
In addition to their work documenting abuse of Iraqi detainees by the American military—first published in a December, 2003, report—the CPT-Iraq Team has collaborated with Iraqi human rights organizations in numerous non-violent actions in Baghdad, Fallujah, Kerbala, and Balad.
They also developed a campaign in which North Americans wrote letters on behalf of specific Iraqi detainees.
Today in Toronto, more than two dozen volunteers learned how they can best support the ongoing work of the CPT-Iraq Team.
In a full-day training led by retired full-time Christian Peacemaker Teams corps members William Payne of Toronto and Matthew Schaff of Winnipeg, the volunteers discussed the spiritual foundation of peacemaking and the work of CPT with Iraqi detainees and practiced public speaking and outreach skills.
Iraq Team member Alan Slater, a farmer from Zorra Township, Ontario, who is scheduled to return to Iraq in the new year, shared his experiences and photographs with the group.
Trained volunteers will begin speaking to church and other groups about the human rights of Iraqi detainees and the work of Christian Peacemaker Teams on behalf of detainees tomorrow.
A scheduled month-long, live-in training program for the Peacemaker Corps will begin in Chicago in the first week of January.
Graduates of the program will join Christian Peacemaker Teams violence-reduction projects not only in Iraq, but in Palestine, Colombia, Canada, and the Mexico-United States border.
Applications have also started coming in for scheduled trainings in Canada and the United States in the spring and summer.