Morning Report 1/28/06 ‘Last Chance’ for Peacemakers


Religious nuts in Iraq release video of Kember, Fox, Sooden, and Loney



Baptism by fire: British physics professor Norman Kember, now held by maniacs in Iraq, at a February 2003 anti-war rally in London.

Word this morning, via video shown by Al Jazeera’s TV station, that at least the four members of the Christian Peacemakers Team kidnapped in Baghdad two months ago are still alive. But the nuts holding them are issuing an ominous threat, as the Daily Mail reports:

Kidnappers holding British hostage Norman Kember today gave US and Iraqi authorities a “last chance” to secure the 74-year-old’s release.

The Al-Jazeera television station broadcast a tape, dated January 21, of the veteran peace campaigner and three other Christian hostages held with him.

The Swords of Righteousness Brigade, which has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, issued a statement saying it was the “last chance” for authorities to release all Iraqi prisoners or the four would be killed.

It’s a ridiculous demand, but then, it was a ridiculous invasion of Iraq in the first place. And Kember and the others Tom Fox, Jim Loney, and Harmeet Singh Sooden — are outspoken critics of the war while they have heroically offered and given practical aid to its victims in both Iraq and occupied Palestinian territory. (Read their bios and my December 11 piece on Tom Fox.)

While Hamas and Israel play hardball — denying each other’s right to exist — you don’t see the Bush regime lift a finger to help the four Christians. Maybe there’s some closed-door diplomacy going on, but don’t bet that the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal has anybody working on it. The CPT Four are no doubt on the White House enemies list for having strongly criticized the war. You won’t see U.S. officials dipping into their slush fund to buy freedom for the CPT Four.

In fact, they criticize all wars and succor all victims. In one of Jim Loney’s last letters back to his friends (he’s from Toronto), he profiled an Iraqi named Bahr Kadhin Al Saady, who was a draft dodger during Saddam Hussein‘s brutal rule (he refused to kill Kurds) and got imprisoned and had part of his ear cut off as a “branding.” Released in 1996, he was an outcast, stripped of his citizenship.

Even after Saddam’s fall, Bahr and thousands of other war resisters have remained disenfranchised — while the exiles the Bush regime and preposterous pasha Jerry Bremer welcomed back have gotten fat. As Loney wrote:

When I met Bahr in January 2004, he was living in a looted government building. As president of the Committee of People Who Refused Wars, he spent his days organizing for the repeal of Resolution 115, seeking compensation and arranging auricular reconstructions for his fellow war resisters. Internal conflicts have since pulled the Committee apart. Bahr is still homeless, jobless and penniless, his suffering unknown and unacknowledged. Sometimes he struggles with whether or not to continue living.

And Loney added:

I thank God for you, Bahr. You have set your face like flint against the war machine. By your wounds you are healing the world; the punishment you accept brings us peace. You are the suffering servant, all that is holding the world together.

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