26 September 2005

Peace activists living in Baghdad

Lest anyone think that Karlo's a die-hard pessimist, I'd like to quote an excerpt from an article about peace activists living among Iraqis in Baghdad (kudos to Accidental Deliberations for this one):

As a volunteer with Christian Peacemaker Teams, a Canada-U.S. organization, Rollins believes pacifists should be ready to risk their lives for peace just as soldiers risk their lives in war.
Rollins and a handful of colleagues live in a Baghdad neighbourhood among ordinary Iraqis, far from the fortified green zone where the coalition headquarters is located. "We do try to keep a low profile," says Rollins, interviewed during a speaking tour of Canada. The activists dress like local people, are discrete about where they live, and travel with local drivers.

Rollins and his colleagues - the team consists of four to six people at any given time - help families find missing loved ones, document abuses in the Iraqi prison system and get a few prisoners released. They've earned enough respect that the group now gets requests for assistance from the UN and Amnesty International, whose staffers are generally confined to the green zone. Rollins says his closest brush with death occurred when a roadside bomb exploded about 20 metres away from where he was walking. On another occasion he was caught in a crowd that came under fire from Iraqi soldiers.

In neither incident was he a deliberate target. Rollins says the volunteers rarely encounter hostility. "The Iraqi people are very good at telling the difference between a country's foreign policy and a country's citizens. Being from Canada is a big help for me, but even my U.S. teammates are often received well."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While we may disagree on some things, I appreciate this post, and respect the people involved. It is one thing to sit at home and make a lot of noise. It is far more difficult to put those beliefs into action in the way that Mr. Rollins has. He is doing a significant work that should be applauded, and prayed for.