Ramallah, Occupied Palestine — Over the last week Palestinians from across the political spectrum have issued impassioned appeals and demonstrated for the release of the four Christian Peacemaker Team volunteers who were taken hostage in Iraq, three of whom had previously served in Palestine with CPT and ISM.
Tomorrow, Wednesday the 7th, two further demonstrations will take place. In Nablus, a demonstration will take place at 11am in front of the Red Cross building. Participating will be several Palestinian NGOs and the friends of Harmeet Sooden who met him in January 2005. The Nablus region was the main focus of Harmeet’s work with ISM, and he made many friends there. A candle-lit demonstration calling for the release of the four will be held in Ramallah, meeting at al-Manara at 4:30pm.
Calls for the release of the hostages were made by the head Mufti of Palestine, Ikram Al Sabri; the coordinating body for all Palestinian political parties, the National and Islamic Forces for both Palestine and Hebron; Shawkat Samha the Mayor of Jayyous; the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades; Qadura Fares, the Coordinator of the National Committee to Resist Settlement and the Wall; Ferial Abu Haikal, the Headmistress of the Qurtuba Girls School in Hebron, and many other community leaders from Hebron.
Demonstrations calling for the release of the CPT volunteers were held in Hebron, At-Tuwani and Ramallah. More are planned over the next week in Nablus (tomorrow at 11am) and Ramallah (tomorrow at 4:30pm). Below are statements by these individuals and groups, as well as links to their full statements in English and Arabic when available, and reports on the demonstrations.
Ikram Al Sabri, the Chief Mufti of Palestine on December 5th: “There is a duty for all Palestinian people, institutions and factions to commit to sending a call to release these people who have been kidnapped. They are very important for us to help continue our struggle, whether here in Palestine or in Iraq, to gain our country’s freedom. We repeat our call to release all the civilian people who have been kidnapped all over the world, not only these four.” [Full text]
The Palestinian National and Islamic Forces, the coordinating body for all Palestinian political parties, on December 2nd: “We call upon all the people of Iraq, on all people of faith and honour, on all people of conscience to act for the release of those activists who struggle on our behalf against occupation and injustice. We raise our voice alongside all National and Islamic factions in the district of Hebron who issued a statement on this most serious matter, on November 29th, 2005, which reflects the feelings of all Palestinians from all factions and persuasions.” [Full statement in Arabic and English | Press conference remarks]
The Palestinian National and Islamic Forces of Hebron on November 29th: “We appeal to our brothers in the resistance and all those with alert consciences in Iraq, with whom we consider ourselves to be in the same trench confronting American aggression and occupation, to instantly and quickly release the four kidnapped persons (two Canadians, one Briton and one American) from CPT, in appreciation for their role in standing beside and supporting our Palestinian people and all the Arab and Islamic peoples.” [Full statement in Arabic and English]
Shawkat Samha, the Mayor of the West Bank Village Jayyous on November 30th: “They subjected themselves to grave dangers when they stood in front of Israeli bulldozers. We knew them as people who were against the occupation and supported freedom for occupied peoples, like the Palestinian and Iraqi peoples.” [CBC Article]
The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades on December 4th: “Those are the same friends of the martyr Rachel Corrie who was crushed under an Israeli bulldozer as she stood in the defence of our people and her friends against the Israeli Zionist occupation. We came to know them as they took a courageous stance against the new system of apartheid and the racist separation Wall. They suffered as we did, and were wounded by the bullets of the occupation, while others were exiled and imprisoned. Therefore, we ask the kidnappers to release those hostages.” [Full statement in Arabic and English]
Qadura Fares, Coordinator of the National Committee to Resist Settlements and the Wall on November 30th: “From Palestine we call upon you to release the four from the Christian Peacemaker Teams who were kidnapped from Baghdad. This is an organization that has helped and continues to help our people living under Israeli occupation in the city of Hebron and in other regions throughout our occupied homeland. They expose themselves to danger in order to provide protection to our women and children in front of Israeli military checkpoints.” [Full statement in Arabic and English]
Ferial Abu Haikal, the Headmistress of the Qurtuba School in Hebron on December 5th: “We still remember the nice moments while we were under curfew with the CPT members who we have known since 1995. They came and gave food to people under curfew and showed their love and solidarity with our schools and our children. We will never forget these moments, because the CPT were the only people standing with us at that time. As a women who works with them, I send my call for the Iraqi resistance to release these people because CPT are very important people for us.” [Full statement]
At the December 2nd Demonstration in At- Tuwani, Hebron District, another Palestinian said: “We have been suffering from the Israeli occupation since ages. CPT members first came here two years ago. They have documented such suffering, and were badly beaten by the Israeli settlers for that. As such, we have to stand by them because they hold a message of peace as we call upon the kidnappers to release the kidnapped CPT members in Iraq. They have become human shields for our children against Israeli aggression. We demand that they are to be set free as a reward for their good deeds here in Tuwani and in the rest of Palestine.” [Coverage]
On the 1st of December, 300 Palestinians demonstrated in Ramallah in solidarity with the four. The demonstration was attended by Abu Hasan Morrar a representative of the Islamic Council of Palestine, Shawkat Samha the mayor of the town of Jayyous, Fatima Asi of the Women For Life group in the Salfit region and Mustafa Barghouti the general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative. All called passionately for the hostage’s release, as demonstrators held up signs in Arabic and English describing the four as their friends. A statement on behalf of the Popular Committees Against the Wall was read adding to the call. Palestinians and internationals who know the hostages personally were on the demonstration which was attended by Palestinians from Bil’in who spoke and called on the kidnappers to release the hostages. [Coverage]
Press Conference in Hebron Held by the National and Islamic Forces on November 30th [Coverage]
For more information contact:
ISM Media Office: 02 297 1824 or 057 572 0754
CPT Hebron: 02-222-8485