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Friends of murdered US hostage urge no retribution

Written by: Staff

WASHINGTON, Mar 11 (Reuters) Friends of US peace activist Tom Fox, who was kidnapped and killed in Iraq, today cited his stance against retribution today and called for the remembrance of all victims of violence around the world.

Members of the Langley Hill Friends Meeting, a peace group in northern Virginia to which Fox belonged, read a statement he co-wrote in October 2004 in which he shunned violence, even to rescue him should he ever be kidnapped.

''We reject violence to punish anyone who harms us,'' said Doug Smith, quoting Fox, in a statement read to reporters at the group's headquarters in McLean, Virginia.

''We forgive those who consider us their enemies,'' Fox's statement continued. ''Therefore, any penalty should be in the spirit of restorative justice rather than in the form of violent retribution.'' Fox, 54, was abducted in Baghdad in November along with three other members of the Chicago-based Christian Peacemaker Teams by a group calling itself the ''Swords of Truth.'' Iraqi police todday reported the discovery of his body at a rubbish dump in western Baghdad, bound, shot and showing signs of torture.

While mourning the loss of Fox, the Langley Hill group urged people to remember the thousands of Iraqis and others around the world who were victims of violence.

''We at Langley Hill will honor Tom's courage by ensuring that the work to which he was dedicated continues and that all the stories of loss, not just Langley Hill's, are told,'' said Smith.

In a separate statement, Christian Peacemaker Teams said Fox's death ''pierces us with pain,'' but urged Christians to speak against what it called the illegal detainment of thousands of Iraqis by US and British forces.

''Such an outpouring of action for justice and peace would be a fitting memorial for Tom,'' it said.

The group said it planned a vigil in downtown Chicago today night to honor the memory of Fox and pray for the release of its three members still being held in Iraq.

Fears about Fox's fate were raised earlier in the week when Arabic television station al Jazeera aired a video dated February 28 showing only fellow activists Briton Norman Kember and Canadians James Loney and Harmeet Sooden.

There was no word today on the fate of the three, who looked well in the video and did not appear distressed.

More than 200 foreigners and thousands of Iraqis have been kidnapped since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq. Fifty-four foreign hostages are known to have been killed by their captors.

Reuters OM VP0108

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