This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Umar Jaleel, Sri Lankan peaceworker released in Philippines

Posted on 06/03/09 at 09:09 PM

This afternoon I was very happy to read of the release of Umar Jaleel, a member of the Nonviolent Peaceforce. Jaleel was kidnapped in February while doing peace work on Basilan Island in the Mindanao region of the Philippines. From yesterday’s press release:

Jaleel is alive and is currently en route to medical facilities.  He was released today at 1245 UTC near the vicinity of Tipo Tipo on Basilan.  Jaleel was released through negotiations between a spokesperson for the captors and Nonviolen Peaceforce, with the assistance of local contacts supported by the provincial administration, the Philippine National Police and the Western Mindanao Command.

Thank God for a peaceful, safe release! My own experience of working with CPT during our own kidnapping crisis 3 years ago meant that I paid closer attention to this crisis then I might otherwise have. I can well imagine the intensive work that Nonviolence Peaceforce put in to negotiating the release of Jaleel.

There are many parallels with the kidnapping of the 4 CPTers, however the kidnapping of Jaleel recieved much less media attention. His release yesterday was only covered by 36 english language media sources as of this writing (see Google news), almost all of them regional. As international peacemaking organizations grow to include more and more non-Westerners, this event is a reminder of the ways the international media heavily favors stories that include Westerners.

In the press release quoted above, Nonviolent Peaceforce goes on to reiterate their commitment to working for peace and human rights in the Philipines. It also credits Atif Hameed, the Pakistani country director for the Nonviolent Peaceforce Philippine project for his work on the ground to free Jaleel. May their work continue to flourish in safety and health.

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