Home / Reports / Transcript of Palestinian Press Conference Calling for the Release of the Four CPT Hostages in Iraq

Transcript of Palestinian Press Conference Calling for the Release of the Four CPT Hostages in Iraq

Each of the following people spoke in Arabic unless noted otherwise. The following is a transcript of the English translation that was provided by the ISM host.

Ikram al Sabri, the head Mufti of Palestine:

[Recording starts part way through]

“Kidnapping is not a civilised way to resist. The people kidnapped in Iraq used to work in Palestine. They were supporting us and struggling with us against the apartheid wall, they were supporting our position. They have been standing with our children in Hebron. 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. They are not guilty of occupation, they are not engaged in any military or political help to the occupation, either here in Palestine or in Iraq. There is no doubt that the violence in Iraq hurts us all, and the reason for the violence in Iraq is the American occupation. So the occupation is the ultimate cause of violence and suffering of people there. We would like to thank everyone in the press who has helped us send this call to release them all. They have made a commitment to continue their social and humanitarian work in Palestine and Iraq.”

Dr. Wasif Abu-Yousef, a representative of the National and Islamic Forces in Palestine (an umbrella group representing all Palestinian political parties):

“I send my thanks to all the media who have covered this.

These activists have challenged their governments and armies. These four people and all the activists in CPT have challenged the Israeli occupation in Palestine and the settlers in Hebron, in order to support the Palestinian people. We in the National and Islamic Forces are sure that they are standing side by side with the Palestinian people here and the people in Iraq. They are soldiers for peace. They decided to come here to stand side by side with us and in Iraq too. From the heart of Palestine, we condemn and are completely against the process of kidnapping these four people in Iraq. This state of chaos, killings, and criminal acts that have been happening in Iraq will not help the Iraqi people. On the contrary, there are people who will make use of this. The occupation will use this as an excuse to continue. These four people are loyal and faithful people working for peace in Palestine and Iraq. We say there should be freedom for people who have been fighting for our freedom. We have a press release that will be handed out at the end of the conference, condemning these kidnapping, on behalf of the National and Islamic Forces. We say that this accusation of them being spies or collaborators with the American and English occupation in Iraq is an invalid accusation. This is not true because they have proved their solidarity and steadfastness side-by-side with the people here in Palestine. We say we are against the process of killing and executing people, especially the people who came to Palestine and were chaining themselves to homes that were threatened with demolition. Some of them were even martyrs, like our friends Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall. Some were injured or denied entry, some of them have been deported. They have suffered side by side with us. They are real heros, they proved themselves by their acts in the field here. Again we say that we here in Palestine should stand side by side with them. We want these people to be released and to be back in full health without being injured or harmed and to be back continuing their work as defenders of the people against oppression and occupation in both countries. We send our calls for the immediate release of the four peoples and call on all people, parties, institutions, factions in Palestine to intensify their work here to send a call and to make efforts to get these people released. They have a critically important role in supporting people under oppression.”

Ferial Abu-Hakil, the Headmistress of Qurtuba school, Hebron:

“These people have been working with us. They protect the girl students while they go to school in the morning and return in the afternoon. They witness the violence from the Israeli soldiers towards the Palestinians, or even to them at the same time. 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. We suddenly heard this terrible news four of the people who work with us had been kidnapped in Iraq. 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. To Bush I say that democracy is not imposed – democracy is given by people, not given by armies. We are sending our call for the faction that kidnapped these people in Iraq to release them immediately because we need them here.”

Christan Anderson of CPT Hebron (transcript of English original):

“The Christian Peacemaker Teams are committed to opposing war and occupation. For the last three years, CPT in Iraq has assisted families of detainees in locating loved ones. Now there are CPTers who are being held in Iraq and we need your help. First we would like to thank everyone involved in organising this press conference on behalf of our four friends taken in Iraq. Thank you to the media and thank you for those who have spoken on our behalf. We have been humbled by the hundreds of Palestinians who have issued statements and supported us during this past week. We especially thank our friends in Hebron and Tawani. As members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, we have the luxury of leaving our homes and entering into countries under occupation. We understand the risks associated with our work but choose to do so on behalf of those who do not have this choice. Millions of people in Palestine and Iraq must daily struggle to live everyday lives under occupation. For the past ten years it has been our privilege to live with you in Palestine. We have witnessed your strength in struggling for freedom and have grown stronger ourselves as a result of your testimonies. Together we have stood for hours at checkpoints, slept in homes slated for demolition, been beaten by violent settlers and fought against land confiscation. Much of our work in Iraq has been the same. For the past three years, CPT in Iraq has lived in solidarity with the Iraqi people who have suffered under the unjust occupation of US and coalition forces. CPTers in Iraq have assisted families of detainees in locating loved ones and have accompanied them to US-run prisons for the sake of visits and gathering information. CPTers in Iraq have celebrated upon the release of Iraqis and heard horrible stories about their abuse, exposing these abuses in the Western media. CPTers in Iraq have travelled to Falluja on numerous occasions to report on the destruction caused by the US military sieges. We have reported on war crime violations committed by the occupying forces and have lobbied for change in the responsible governing bodies. CPT has continuously opposed occupation in both Palestine and Iraq and will continue to stand with you. This is a difficult time for CPT. We miss our friends and desire them to return to us. They are men who have worked for justice and freedom. So while remembering them, let us remember the thousands of peaceful people being detained by occupying forces throughout the world, and while we ask for a release of our friends, we will continue to work to end the occupations in Palestine and Iraq.

We thank you for your support during this difficult time.”

No English translation of the speech of Abu Hasan, the director of the Islamic Federation of Scholars, was provided due to time restraints.