On April 14, however, the team left Baghdad and went to Amman, Jordan. "CPT's most trusted Iraqi partners have urged the team to leave, saying that the current situation will make it impossible for the team to engage in normal, honest engagements with Iraqis or fulfill their mission to deter violence," CPT Director Gene Stoltzfus wrote from Chicago. "They have also suggested that CPT's presence might actually endanger their local Iraqi partners in the emerging violent chaos."
Until the team left Iraq, they sent regular email dispatches to friends around the world, including the one below, sent just before Easter last week. The team expects to return to Baghdad when the situation there is safer.
I have met Iraqi people and they have captured my heart. I have met civil engineers,Sunni clerics, linguists, a 12-year-old boy named Omar I met on the steps of the Abu Hanifa Mosque, so many new friends and fruit and vegetable sellers. I need to tell my grandson, Lucas, that his prayer that "no one be mean to his grandma" has been answered; on the contrary, I have been offered everything from tea and kebab to trust.
Trust is a gift I have been honored to receive and a great responsibility that I now have.
That being said, everyone I know and everyone they know must read this report from our visit with Sayyid Ali, a Shi'a cleric who received us in his home in the Kadhamiya neighborhood of Baghdad last week. He spoke of what he would like the Iraqi people to have: The land borders must be closed to prevent foreign terrorists from entering the country and harming the people. The U.S. and other companies should stop importing foreign workers when unemployment for Iraqis is so desperately high.
Elections must be held without interference from U.S. agendas or maneuvering. The media is making Muqtada al-Sadr into more than he is, and is ignoring the many problems facing Iraq and fanning support for an uprising. He issued a call for peace in Iraq and to us: Let no more blood be shed.
I have met yesterday and today men who I feel honored to have met, so ready to build a future with their people. The concern is growing that people are so frustrated with detentions, lack of jobs, unrepaired water plants and sewer systems, and the electricity going off, that they are losing hope.
Please let people know that these are good ordinary people, whose cats come down the stairs to enter the meeting room and are gently shooed away. Do not let these people be helpless in the face of an oncoming storm.
Tell everyone the borders should be closed. Tell the companies to hire Iraqis. Ask for elections. Tell the media to talk directly to the Iraqi people as I have been able to do.
Soldiers should come into these vibrant streets out of uniform, leaving their guns behind to meet the ordinary people of Iraq who have the wisdom of the ages in their war-weary eyes.