Page last updated at 12:21 GMT, Sunday, 29 January 2006

Hope and fear of Kember friends

A fresh video has been aired of Briton Norman Kember and his fellow hostages who were seized in Iraq in November.

The tape says they will be killed if the kidnappers' demand that Iraqi prisoners are freed is not met.

Friends say the footage of Mr Kember, previously last seen in a video in December, has sparked mixed emotions of hope and fear.


Chris Cole told BBC News of his relief at hearing news "after such a long period of silence".

"It's been very difficult, but obviously we're extremely concerned and extremely worried about how they are looking and how they are dealing with the ordeal," he said.

Norman's 74, it's a very difficult time and we hope and pray that they remain strong
Chris Cole

"We very much hope that they are all together. I'm sure that will keep up their spirits.

"But, obviously, Norman's 74, it's a very difficult time and we hope and pray that they remain strong."

Mr Kember's family were under "extreme pressure", he added.

"I've talked to Mrs Kember several times and she's being remarkably strong but obviously it's extremely difficult."


Fellow peace activist Bruce Kent said the kidnappers had "got the wrong people".

"They are peace people," he told BBC News.

Norman Kember
Mr Kember opposes the war in Iraq
Asked if the kidnappers' demands were too high Mr Kent replied: "You always ask for 100% in any deal and there have been some hundreds of people released already. The government says it's no connection between the two things, but I don't believe that.

"And so let's hope and pray that the hostage takers will say enough's enough. They've had enough appeals, appeals from the whole Muslim world to let these people go, so it may work."


Reverend Bob Gardiner, minister at Harrow Baptist Church, where the Kembers have worshipped for 40 years, expressed solidarity with the family.

"Harrow Baptist Church stands alongside Pat Kember and her family, offering her whatever support they can in this trying and difficult time," said Rev Gardiner.

Referring to Mr Kember's fellow hostages, Mr Gardiner added: "We continue to pray for the release of, not just Norman but also Harmeet, Tom and James and all the other hostages held unjustly in Iraq."


Rebecca Johnson, from the Canadian office of Christian Peacemaker Teams - the group to which the four hostages belong - said the men had "worked for all Iraqis, especially those detained".

"We continue to believe that what has happened to our team mates is the result of the actions of the US and UK governments in their illegal attack on Iraq and the continuing illegal occupation and oppression of its people," she told BBC News.

"We continue to call for justice and human rights for all who are detained in Iraq. The innocent should not suffer in place of those who have done wrong."


Mr Kember's friend Reverend Alan Betteridge, meanwhile, told BBC News he longed "to feel that the captors could find a way of saving face and of saving life too".

"I was pleased to see that he is still alive but I was sorry to hear the same demands being made for the release of detainees.

I was pleased to see that he is still alive but I was sorry to hear the same demands being made for the release of detainees
Reverend Alan Betteridge

"I'm sorry that the captors have not made any progress in thinking that these people deserve to be released because they are non-violent peacemakers.

"I'm sorry they have not heard the appeals from all round the world, the Muslim world included, that these folk are genuinely what they say they are and should be allowed to be released and, in this case, come home to their families."


Family friend Sue Claydon said it had been "wonderful" to see Mr Kember still alive.

She told Sky News that Mr Kember's wife, Pat, was "holding up very well" with the support of her friends and family.

"One of the things that is very clear, and Pat Kember has said this a number of times, is that there should be no vengeance whatever the outcome," she added.

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