World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Call for the Release of Peace Workers in Iraq

05 December 2005

2 December, 2005

The World Council of Churches is deeply distressed at the kidnapping of four
members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams 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 conflict
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 conflict 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
release immediately 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.

Peter Weiderud
Commission of the Churches on International Affairs