Skip to comments.Two Canadians held hostage in Iraq
Posted on 11/28/2005 3:54:04 AM PST by F14 Pilot
The fate of two Canadians kidnapped in Baghdad hung in the balance last night as questions were raised about the viability of the government's plan to re-open its embassy there next year as planned.
The Canadian humanitarian workers were snatched in a violent neighbourhood in western Baghdad along with a British and U.S. citizen.
The Canadian government, which has no formal diplomatic presence in Iraq, was frustrated by its inability to help. The government restated its 19-month-old advisory that warns Canadians to stay out of the country.
Insurgents have abducted at least 200 foreigners since then, including a handful of Canadians. In August, dual Canadian-Iraqi citizen Zaid Meerwali was killed two weeks after he was abducted.
Most international aid organizations pulled out of Iraq last year when the wave of kidnappings started.
The government was not identifying the kidnapped Canadians at the request of the organization with which they were working, nor were they identifying the organization.
"This is the best we can do under a trying circumstance. It's a constant reminder -- do not go there," said Liberal MP Dan McTeague, the parliamentary secretary for Canadians abroad.
"For me it's frustrating, I'm pulling my hair out."
Revealing any information could jeopardize the hostages, Mr. McTeague stressed.
The government is monitoring the situation from a distance because Canada has no diplomatic presence in the war-torn country and because the organization in question has asked to government to take a hands-off approach for the time being.
Canada closed its embassy in Iraq before the first Gulf War in 1991 and has not reopened it. The Canadian Embassy in neighbouring Amman, Jordan looks after consular matters in Iraq, but in reality can do nothing for Canadians who get into trouble there.
Foreign Affairs has purchased a compound in Baghdad that it says it wants to convert to an embassy next year.
But the government has maintained that any formal renewal of diplomatic ties would hinge on whether Baghdad became safe enough to lift the Canadian travel ban.
"From a consular perspective, we have not changed our position on Iraq. We do want to return," said Mr. McTeague. "But the situation as far as security is one we also have to take into consideration."
The British Foreign Office identified Norman Kember, believed to be in his 70s, of north London as one of the hostages.
The U.S. government has not identified the American hostage.
Speaking in Vancouver at a Grey Cup pancake breakfast, Prime Minister Paul Martin said he was "very concerned," but did not want to comment further in order not to jeopardize the safety of the hostages.
Canada has disbursed $260 million of the $300 million it has pledged toward Iraqi reconstruction. Most of that money has been distributed through international organizations.
Conservative foreign affairs critic Stockwell Day said Canada should push on with its plans to establish an embassy in order to support the reconstruction efforts.
"The people in Iraq have made huge progress against incredible odds toward democracy," said Mr. Day, "and that should be recognized by a Canadian presence in Iraq."
NDP leader Jack Layton suggested Canada might have to re-examine its plan to open an embassy in light of the security threats there.
there you go guys!
The government restated its 19-month-old advisory that warns Canadians to stay out of the country.
---Why were they there. then? I don't understand.
Humanitarian workers or "peace activists"
American Citizen Reported Missing in Iraq
peace activists...One of the things they were doing was interviewing released prisoners of Abu Ghraib about their treatment.
Why they were walking around West Baghdad or anywhere west in that country I have no idea. Wait..maybe they were talking to Sunnis and their abuses from the new Iraqi government.
Yeah real smart, a peace activist in a war zone!! Sheesh. DON'T expect any help from the Candian Liberal Government. They are ALL cowards themselves.
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