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Former Iraqi hostage speaks at Shambhala Music Hall

The Mir Lecture Series presents James Loney at the Shambhala Music & Performance Hall in Nelson on Friday, February 8.  - photo submitted
The Mir Lecture Series presents James Loney at the Shambhala Music & Performance Hall in Nelson on Friday, February 8.
— image credit: photo submitted

The Mir Lecture Series presents James Loney at the Shambhala Music & Performance Hall in Nelson on Friday, February 8.

In November 2005, Loney and three other men were captured by armed gunmen and held hostage in Iraq. Loney was part of a delegate from Christian Peacemaker Teams — an organization that sends activists trained in nonviolence to conflict zones in order to reduce violence. The four were in Iraq in order to work with local organizations on humanitarian projects, to support local peace and human rights work, and to raise awareness back home about the human rights abuses being perpetrated by the American-backed war in Iraq.

“We are very happy to have James Loney be part of the Mir Centre for Peace winter lecture series,” says Randy Janzen, chair for the Mir Centre for Peace at Selkirk College.  “He brings a personal story that is very inspiring.”

Loney and his three colleagues, fellow Canadian Harmeet Singh Sooden, Norman Kember of Britain, and American Tom Fox, were kidnapped and held hostage in Baghdad in a story that made international headlines. Their 118 days of captivity were the ultimate test of personal strength. All four captives were handcuffed together which made basic physical tasks like sleeping and eating extremely challenging. Additionally, the boredom, the scarcity of food and not knowing whether one would make it out alive, challenged their psychological and spiritual well-being.

Loney, Kember and Sooden were rescued in a high profile military operation after 118 days in captivity.  Tom Fox, however, had been killed two weeks before their release.

Loney’s rescue did not end his relationship with his former captors. Loney,  Kember and Sooden publicly forgave their captors at a press conference in 2006. In 2007, Loney and his colleagues refused to testify at the trial of their captors, who were being held in US detention, citing that the prospect for a fair trial was minimal.

Loney’s story has been captured in his highly acclaimed book, Captivity: 118 Days in Iraq and the Struggle for a World Without War.  Loney will be sharing his personal experience of captivity, his vision of a world without war, and his life-long commitment to pacifism.

The event will be held at the Shambhala Music & Performing Hall, at Selkirk College’s Tenth Street Campus beginning at 7 p.m.  The event will feature a performance by Castlegar’s Vision of Peace Youth Choir. Tickets are available at Otter Books, Selkirk College Bookstore (250-365-1281) and are $16 adults, $13 students and seniors.

 

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