Thursday, December 08, 2005

Blessed are the peacemakers

Salon.com takes a rather detailed look at Christian Peacemaker Teams, the organization with which 4 Westerners in Iraq worked who were taken hostage on November 26. I haven't been following the story all that much, mainly because I was a bit baffled as to why they were in the country. They weren't there to proselytize, it seems, and that is what I'd assumed. Rather, they were dedicated to peace and advocating on behalf of people living in the midst of conflict.

Christian Peacemaker Teams try to create small zones of peace and reconciliation in the midst of war. The organization was founded in 1988 by a coalition of Christian denominations including the Quakers and the Mennonites. Based in Chicago and Toronto, CPT sends trained volunteers to the most dangerous spots on the planet, including Colombia, the West Bank and the Congo, to act as witnesses and advocates for ordinary people caught in violent conflict. They plan projects based on the needs they see on the ground and the voids they believe they can fill. In Iraq, that means working on behalf of detainees in American custody, many of whom, according to military documents obtained by the ACLU have turned out to be innocent.

It seems nobody's immune, really, to these guys' wrath. I lost faith in any kind of reason when Margaret Hassan was kidnapped and killed (it was a little too close to home for me), and it made even less sense when a suicide bomber blasted up a wedding celebration in Amman all in the name of God knows what.

Here's a link through Electronic Iraq so you can avoid the Salon ad.

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