Since the occupation of Iraq by the US led coalition forces, in April 2003 I have been in Iraq several times. On every occasion the work has been focused on responding to the a massive cry for support from detainee families. The work of the CPT team has been documented elsewhere. Less documented however has been the struggle daily, in Iraq and among international supporters to structure broad, persistent and reliable international support for innocent persons who are picked up and disappear into the darkness of any one of the cooperating or contending forces in Iraq.
How many times have I been in homes where a wife asks? What about my husband? What have you done to get my husband released? He is innocent.
How many times have people I met in Mosques, Human Rights offices or homes, plead for help in locating a relative?
How many times have I gone with relatives to selected official support centers, US Army civic action offices, or higher officials to create space for them to tell their story?
How many times have I asked if they feel safe enough with their story to talk to the press?
How many times have I asked if they will give us permission to write up their story for supporters around the world to work on? Or will the light of publicity make their situation worse?
How many times have I heard families say. We have talked to you, told our story now for months and nothing happens. We haven’t helped them a bit.
How many times have families contacted CPT with good news that a captive has been released?
Experience has demonstrated that the most reliable long term deterrent to torture, irresponsible detention, terror and other forms of plunder of civilian population in war is to shine the light on it as widely as possible.
How many times have I prayed that there would be an international network of 35,541 people who would work for the release and non brutalizing treatment of every detainee that I have met?
How many times have I prayed that churches both pacifist and just war folks would join world wide, in a unified chorus of condemnation of every instance of the mistreatment of civilian population in war?