Four members of the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) in Baghdad were taken last Sunday in Iraq. Those responsible have cited Thursday as a pivotal day, unless all prisoners in US and Iraqi detention centers are released. These four are in addition to others also taken.
CPT is an ecumenical peacemaking agency associated with the Church of the Brethren, Mennonites and Quakers. Its members are deeply committed to non-violent peacemaking and are willing to put their lives on the line to make it happen.
News reports this morning suggest that their captors have extended the deadline another 48 hours.
Religious leaders - including both Christians and Muslims - have released a statement calling for their release:
Open Letter from Religious Leaders Calling for Release of CPT Workers
December 7, 2005
To those who are holding the Christian Peacemakers Team in Iraq, and to people everywhere of all Traditions of Faith and Peace:
We who write you affirm what all the traditions teach that trace their spiritual origin to Abraham:
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all teach explicitly that to kill even one human being -- even more strongly one who is doing no harm, most especially one who is seeking peace and nurturing human bodies and communities -- is to destroy a world. All other religious traditions agree about the holiness of human lives.
This teaching applies to all innocent Iraqis and foreigners who have been killed or taken away in Iraq out of anger against the US occupation - and it applies with special clarity and strength to the members of the Christian Peacemakers Team who are being held in Iraq.
Like us, they too opposed the US attack. They came to serve the Iraqi people. They came not only to urge peace but also to live peace.
We who have opposed the US invasion and occupation of Iraq call on all who live in Iraq to seek the release of these people into safety and freedom. And we call on all people of good will everywhere to join in this call.
No doubt, those who planned and executed the US invasion and occupation of Iraq will cite this capture as evidence for the rightness of their action. We utterly reject this logic, and affirm that the war undertaken by the US has multiplied the violence it pretended to oppose.
We hold morally responsible for the lives of these Christian Peacemakers both those in Iraq who have taken them, and those who have brought about the deaths of thousands of Iraqis and Americans by pursuing this war.
Once again, we call for a swift end to the US occupation of Iraq and for peaceful action by the entire human community to assist Iraqis to achieve their own self-government.
And we send our loving prayers to those who have become victims of their own loving commitment to peace, justice, and healing.
Dr. Sayeed Syeed, head of the Islamic Society of North America
Sheila Musaji, editor of The American Muslim
Abdul Malik Mujahid, chair of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago
that Council as a body
Anwar N. Haddam, elected Member of Parliament of Algeria (Dec 1991), chairman, board of trustees, Education for Life, Northern Virginia, and member, executive committee, Coordinating Council of Muslim Organizations of Greater Washington Area (CCMO)
Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad of Bethesda, MD
Muhammad Ali-Salaam of Boston
Abdul Cader Asmal, MD, PhD
Rev. Robert Edgar, general secretary of the National Council of Churches
Rev. Osagefyo Sekou, Director of Clergy and Laity Concerned about Iraq
Rev. Peter Laarman of Progressive Christians Uniting in California
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Rabbinic Director of The Shalom Center.
Over 10,000 others have added their names to this letter. I'm one of them. Click here to read the full list of endorsers and / or to add your name to the list.
Christian Peacemakers Team is one of the organizations I deeply respect and I pray for the immediate release of the hostages.
Related Post: Christian Peacemakers Team In Iraq