The aid group Christian Peacemaker Teams has confirmed that the four hostages taken this weekend in Iraq belong to their group, and has posted their identities on their
Among them is an American from Virginia named Tom Fox. He has been blogging from Iraq, and his website, , contains entries from his days working as an activist in some dangerous regions of the country. The last entry is from Fallujah, dated November 6.
This group was founded in 1986, a collective effort by Mennonite and Quaker congregations as well as other pacifist Christian Churches, mainly in United States and Canada. Their work in Iraq has gone well beyond aid and charity to active, anti-war and anti-U.S. actions.
I found an old article on the website that dates back to the first week of the war in Iraq. As you recall, it began around St. Patrick's Day in 2003.
The aid workers from CPT had already been in the country since October of 2002. They were acting as human shields and actively trying to prevent the U.S. occupation of that nation.
When President Bush issued a 48 hour ultimatum to Saddam Hussein, they set up camp in Baghdad and waited out the air raid to protect water supplies for civilians and to help the injured--and there were many.
These efforts, as well as their support of the Palestinian movement, have earned them praise and respect in parts of the Arab world. As the website reports, a vigil will be held for the four men in Ramallah tomorrow--a clear sign of their impact on the Palestinian people.
But the group is also a lightning rod for controversy among the military bloggers and hawks on the Web. Their most questionable project while in Iraq was called the It literally linked up detainees arrested and imprisoned by U.S. troops with Church members around the world who would write letters to them, checking on their well being to ensure they weren't being abused.
That program was suspended in September, but some bad blood still remains among those who were angered by it.
While members of both sides of the war debate hope and pray for a safe return for these four men, it certainly raises an interesting ethical and practical conversation.
At , a blogger writes that their efforts have been misguided, but still hopes for their release.
Other anti-war groups like are sending prayers and support today, and praising the work the group has done for peace around the world.