Christian Peacemaker Teams, a program of Brethren, Quaker and Mennonite Churches, has posted volunteers in Iraq since Oct 25, 2002. More recently, additional delegations have gone to Iraq to educate the public and "get in the way" of potential military attacks. This is a diary by American and Canadian volunteers who are now in Iraq.

Click for a map of where the human shields are situated in Baghdad.

Wednesday, April 2, 2003, 5:30 p.m.

This entry was written by CPT member Scott Kerr in Amman, Jordan.

The team decided to leave Baghdad for a number of factors, including the fact that food was becoming increasingly scarce. Ninety-five percent of street activity has ceased, especially since the allies have begun bombing in the day as well as in the evening.

Scott Kerr
Scott Kerr at
a bombed home
For the most part, the bombing's degree of accuracy is incredible. But what people don't realize is that each bombing blows out all the glass fromthe windows for two or three blocks around the bomb site. That's what'scausing most of the injuries. We had pictures shaking in our room and feltgusts of air when bombs fell blocks away. These gusts can blow out birthdaycandles even when the bomb falls several miles away.

I wondered whether civilian bombings were intentional--including the bombing of a school we visited. In baseball, we call it 'chin music' when a pitcher throws a baseball at a batter's chin to shake him up. Maybe the bombings in thecivilian areas are meant to show that no one's safe.

After a while, air raid sirens became so frequent and unreliable that we stopped listening to them. What made more of an impression was the Muslim call to prayer coming from mosque minarets on most nights just as the bombs started to fall.

There were increasing restrictions placed on the team by the Iraqigovernment. It was like after 9/11 when our government became more watchful of foreigners. This included being more concerned for our safety. They didn't want someone who had just lost a child in a bombing to take revenge. Additionally, the Iraqi government was concerned that photos our delegation was taking might be used by U.S. intelligence. It has been burning oil around Baghdad to make U.S. satellite photography intended to assess the damage its bombs were inflicting more difficult.

However, at the time we left, we were still mostly experiencing great hospitality and friendship from ordinary Iraqis. We will spend the next few days discerning next steps. We are not ruling out a return to Baghdad, and we still feel a deep concern for the plight of civilians there.

Tuesday, April 1, 2003 9 a.m. EST

This entry was written by CPT staffer Doug Pritchard in Toronto.

Scott Kerr made a very brief phone call from the Jordanian border to Gene Stoltzfus at CPT's Chicago office to say that all of the team in Iraq had now left Baghdad and were at the border. They will travel on to Amman and should arrive there by early afternoon Tuesday. We understand that some members of the Iraq Peace Team, our sister group, are still in Baghdad. We have no information yet as to why the CPT team left. They will likely regroup in Amman and begin planning future work in the region.

Saturday, March 29, 2003, 10:15 p.m. EST

This entry was written by CPT staff member Gene Stoltzfus in Chicago, based on a phone conversation with the team in Jordan.

Seven members of Christian Peacemaker Teams; two members of the Iraq Peace Team, a related group; and three other internationals were expelled by the Iraqi government today. All left Baghdad at 9:30 a.m. local time in three vehicles and arrived at the Jordanian border at approximately 6:00 p.m. local time.

The expelled CPT members include Peggy Gish; Cliff Kindy; Weldon Nisly, 57, of Seattle, Wash.; Betty Scholten, 69, of Mt. Rainier, Md.; Kara Speltz, 65, of Oakland, Calif.; Jonathon and Leah Wilson-Hartgrove, both 22, of Devon, Pa.

One possible reason for the expulsion, according to Kindy, was the intense level of anxiety throughout Baghdad. The government "minder" assigned to their group ordered the expulsion after team members walked from their hotel to a meeting in another hotel, documenting the destruction in the streets along the way. His own house had been hit by bombs the previous night.

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