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Church urges PM to demand withdrawal of troops from Iraq

2005-12-22 10:26:00

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Church urges PM to demand withdrawal of troops from Iraq
Last Updated Thu, 22 Dec 2005 09:08:54 EST
CBC News

The United Church of Canada wants Prime Minister Paul Martin to help free four western hostages in Iraq by demanding that all coalition troops be withdrawn from the country.

* INDEPTH: Iraq

The church issued an open letter to Martin on Wednesday saying the foreign military occupation of Iraq must end.

"We implore the Government of Canada and the international community to call for the full withdrawal of coalition forces from Iraq," the letter reads.

It goes on to say: "We further implore the Canadian government to use all diplomatic means to press the Iraqi government to take appropriate legal and just actions regarding detainees held in Iraqi detention facilities."

The letter also expresses the church's prayers for the safe release of the four hostages, including two Canadians.

James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, as well as Briton Norman Kember, 74, and American Tom Fox, 54, were taken hostage on Nov. 26.

Loney is from Toronto and Sooden has lived in Montreal.

A group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigades had threatened to kill all four by Dec. 10 unless the U.S. and Britain freed all Iraqi prisoners. That deadline came and went and there's been no word on the hostages since.

"Like many Christians around the world, we have offered our prayers for their safe release," the United Church letter says.

"Four men came to Iraq with Christian Peacemaker Teams to work for human rights. Unfortunately, they were kidnapped."

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