Greg Rollins of Surrey, British Colombia, left the Christian Peacemaker Teams Baghdad and made his way back to Canada. He is the first member of the Team that was present in Iraq when his colleagues Tom Fox, James Loney, Norman Kember, and Harmeet Singh Sooden were kidnapped on November 26, 2005, to take home leave.
Prior to his departure, Rollins said he feels bad leaving his friends who are still in captivity behind.
"As I get ready to leave Iraq," he says, "the phrase, ‘leave no one behind,’ constantly runs through my mind. With my four teammates still missing, I don’t want to leave Iraq. I want to stay. It isn’t that I believe I am the only person who can release our abducted colleagues–I have confidence in my teammates who remain. It isn’t survivor guilt either. I don’t feel guilty that my friends were taken while I was not. The reason why I don’t want to leave is because it makes me feel as though I have let my four friends down; as though I have not lived up to our bond to look out for each other."
"I am not a soldier, but I understand what soldiers mean when they say, ‘leave no one behind.’ It is never something that you want to do. It is a break in your bond."
Greg joined the Iraq Team in April of 2004 after 3 years of service with CPT in Israel-Palestine. He began his most recent period of service in Iraq in early October. CPT Co-Director and Support Coordinator for the Iraq project, Doug Pritchard, comments: "It’s been very intense for our Team in Baghdad, and two months after the beginning of the crisis, they’re in need of a break. It’s very important that we continue to have good energy focused on justice for all those detained in Iraq, including our four colleagues."
According to the CPT, Rollins will be replaced by Allan Slater of Ontario, who said it is imoprtant to bring the world’s attention to the reality of the situation in Iraq, and that is a major part of his job there.
"I am not crazy enough to think that my presence in Iraq will miraculously bring peace to Iraqis, get young American soldiers home to their loved ones, and free our four missing comrades," says Slater. But he believes that it is important to draw attention to the "reality of Iraq," where "tens of thousands of ordinary Iraqis have been arrested in violent raids and detained in U.S. operated prisons without access to due process." "War is crazy," he concludes.
The CPT has been active in Palestine since 1995 and have been instrumental in co-founding the International Solidarity Movement which promots nonviolent resistance to the occupation. The CPT members are based in Hebron, one of the areas with high tension between the Palestinian residents and the Israeli settlers who occupy the old city of Hebron.