Peace Activists Appeal for Release of Abducted Christians in Iraq

Nearly six days after four western Christian NGO workers were reported missing in Iraq, their safety remains unknown as peace activists appealed for the release.

Two of the four abducted Christians are Canadians, one from England and the other from the United States, as identified and confirmed on Wednesday by the Chicago-based international Christian peace organization Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT).

A British coalition of anti-war movements announced on Thursday that it would send a leading member to Iraq to appeal directly for the release of hostages. The coalition includes the Muslim Association of Britain, Stop the War, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and among others, according to the Associated Press (AP).

In a statement from the coalition obtained by AP, it said that Anas Altikriti will fly to Iraq Friday and "attempt to appeal directly for the safe and immediate release" of the hostages.

"The movement acknowledges that this is far from a safe or guaranteed mission," it admitted. However, according to AP, the coalition as well as all the people of peace loving nations would "remain in hope and prayer that Mr. Altikriti's mission will meet a successful conclusion."

On Thursday, CPT has released a statement on its website on behalf of the families and friends of the four victims, expressing their concerns and appeals.

"We were very distressed to see the recent video of them. We hope that Harmeet, Jim, Norman, and Tom have been able to explain their work and their opposition to the war and the occupation of Iraq," CPT added in the statement.

The kidnappings of the four CPT members were revealed after a footage showing them was broadcasted on the Arab television network al-Jazeera. The kidnapper accused them of "spying under the cover of Christian activists." CPT has sternly denied such claim.
According to a report from Press Trust of India, the Palestine-based International Solidarity Movement (ISM) that has worked with one of the Canadian captives Harmeet Singh Soodan, appealed for Soodan on Thursday.

An ISM spokesman commented, "He (Soodan) worked in solidarity with local Palestinian people, mostly in West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin."

Following the kidnapping of the four westerners, a new abduction was discovered. German Foreign Ministry reported Tuesday that one of its citizens in Iraq has also been missing for five days, according to the Canadian Press (CP).

Germany's ARD television station has broadcast photos allegedly showing the blindfolded woman with her captors. Initial reports from ARD said the captive is a 40-year-old archaeologist who has been in Iraq for years and speaks fluent Arabic, CP reported.