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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 March 2006, 14:28 GMT
Hostage release 'is bitter-sweet'
Christian Peacemaker Teams vigil in Chicago in January
Christian Peacemaker Teams held vigils during the men's ordeal
Doug Pritchard, co-director of Christian Peacemaker Teams, describes his feelings on the release of three of the four members of the group who were kidnapped in Iraq.

Our hearts are filled with joy this morning as we learned that Harmeet Singh Sooden, Jim Loney and Norman Kember have been safely released in Baghdad.

Christian Peacemaker Teams rejoices with their families and their friends about the expectation of their return to their loved ones and their communities.

Together we have endured uncertainty, hope, fear, grief and now joy during the four months since they were abducted in Baghdad.

We have been especially moved by the gracious outpouring of support from Muslim brothers and sisters

We rejoice in the return of Harmeet Singh Sooden, he was willing to put his life on the line to promote justice in Iraq and Palestine as a young man newly committed to active peacemaking.

We rejoice in the return of Jim Loney. His gentle, passionate spirit has been an inspiration to people near and far.

We rejoice in the return of Norman Kember. He is a faithful man, an elder, to many in his 50 years of peacemaking, a man prepared to pay the cost.

And we remember with tears Tom Fox, whose body was found in Baghdad on 9 March of this year, after three months of captivity with his fellow peacemakers.

Tom Fox (archive)
Tom Fox's body was found in Baghdad two weeks ago
We had longed for the day when all four men would be released together. Our gladness today is bitter-sweet by the fact that Tom is not alive to join his colleagues in this celebration.

However we are confident that his spirit is very much present in each of the reunions today and to come.

In the spirit of the prophetic non-violence that motivated Jim, Norman, Harmeet and Tom to go to Iraq, we refuse to yield to a spirit of vengeance.

'Iraqis held illegally'

We give thanks to the compassionate God who granted our friends courage and who sustained their spirits over the past months.

We pray for strength and courage for ourselves so that together we can continue the non-violent struggle for justice and peace.

We have been heartened by messages of concern for our four colleagues from all over the world. We have been especially moved by the gracious outpouring of support from Muslim brothers and sisters in the Middle East, in Europe and in North America.

We pray that Christians throughout the world will, in the same spirit, call for justice and for respect for the human rights of the thousands of Iraqis who are being held illegally by US and British forces occupying Iraq.

We have tasted the pain that has been the daily bread of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Why have our loved ones been taken? Where are they being held? Under what conditions? How are they? Will they be released? When?

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