WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES
********************** WCC calls for immediate release of peace workers in Iraq
The World Council of Churches (WCC) called today for the immediate release of four peace-workers kidnapped in Iraq.
In a statement signed by Peter Weiderud, director of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, the WCC asked the government of Iraq to undertake whatever steps are necessary to secure the safe release of the four members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams.
"Their prolonged captivity is not in any one's interest and is likely to further embitter and polarize Iraqi society, causing anger and frustration," the statement affirms.
Recalling the Council's assessment of the war on Iraq as being "immoral, illegal and ill-advised," the statement says organizations and people working today in Iraq to bring about peace and reconciliation need "encouragement and support."
Full text of the statement follows:
******************** WCC calls for release of peace workers in Iraq
The World Council of Churches is deeply distressed at the kidnapping of four members of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Iraq. The four peace workers [are] Tom Fox (USA), Norman Kember (UK), James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden (Canada).
All four were engaged in work for the Christian Peacemaker Teams, a volunteer organization that has a history of sending teams to situations of conflicts and crisis zones around the world.
The World Council of Churches since its inception in 1948 has clearly spoken out against war and violence and has always called for dialogue and engagement to settle disputes and disagreements.
The Council in March 2003 spoke out on the war on Iraq as being immoral, illegal and ill-advised.
Those organizations and their staff who are working in Iraq to bring about peace and reconciliation and for protection of civilians need our encouragement and support.
These peacemakers are undertaking this work at great risk to their personal safety and security. In situations of conflicts like Iraq, churches are called to seek peace and pursue it.
Efforts therefore need to be made by those concerned about human life to intensify initiatives for active non-violence and peace building to resolve conflicts.
The kidnappings have caused immense pain, suffering and anxiety amongst the families and friends of those held captive.
Their prolonged captivity is not in anyone's interest and is likely to further embitter and polarize Iraqi society, causing anger and frustration.
We appeal on humanitarian grounds to those holding them captive to ensure that while under captivity they are treated well and looked after.
The World Council of Churches calls on those responsible for the kidnappings to immediately release all four peace workers so that they can join their families and loved ones.
The Council also calls on the government of Iraq to undertake the steps necessary to secure their safe release.