Father and son join a vigil in Toronto for four peace activists held captive in Iraq since Nov. 26. New video footage of the captives has sparked hope for their eventual release.
The anti-war group Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) said it was “grateful and heartened” to see new video footage of the four peace activists who have been held captive in Iraq since Nov. 26 and expressed the hope that they would be released.
“This news is an answer to our prayers. We continue to hope and pray for their release,” the CPT said in a statement following the release of the video Jan. 2. The four include two Canadians, James Loney from Toronto and Harmeet Singh Sooden, a former resident of Montreal who is a student in New Zealand. Mr. Loney and Mr. Sooden, who looked gaunt and malnourished, were joined in the video, dated Jan. 21, by their colleagues, American Tom Fox, and Briton Norman Kember.
“We pray that those who hold them will host them with the grace that so many of us in CPT have received as guests in Iraq,” said the CPT. “James, Harmeet, Norman, and Tom are peace workers who have not collaborated with the occupation of Iraq and who have worked for justice for all Iraqis, especially those detained.”
The four were abducted by a group that called itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigade. The group, which accused them of being “spies working for the occupying forces,” has renewed its threat to kill the hostages unless the U.S.-backed Iraqi government releases all Iraqi prisoners.
CPT has been holding vigils and marches in Toronto, Vancouver and Washington to appeal for the release of the hostages and to press for justice for Iraqi detainees.
“We continue to believe that what has happened to our teammates is the result of the actions of the U.S. and U.K. governments in their illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing occupation and oppression of its people,” said the CPT. “We continue to call for justice and human rights for all who are detained in Iraq. ”
CPT said it was the first group to publicly denounce the torture of Iraqi detainees in the hands of U.S. forces, “long before the Western media admitted what was happening at Abu Ghraib.” Abu Ghraib is a city located 20 kilometers west of Baghdad, where a notorious jail under the regime of former Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein was located. U.S. forces took over the jail, wherea? American soldiers were discovered to have tortured and abused Iraqi detainees captured after the U.S. occupation of Iraq in 2003.