Harmeet Singh Sooden
Harmeet Singh Sooden is a Canadian
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and New Zealand citizen who volunteered for Christian Peacemaker Teams
Christian Peacemaker Teams
Christian Peacemaker Teams is an international organization set up to support teams of peace workers in conflict areas around the world. These teams believe that they can lower the levels of violence through nonviolent direct action, human rights documentation, and nonviolence training. CPT sums...

 in Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. From November 26, 2005, he was held captive in Iraq with three others and threatened with execution until being freed by multinational forces in an operation on March 23, 2006.

Sooden was born and raised in Zambia
Zambia , officially the Republic of Zambia, is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....

. He was born into a Sikh
A Sikh is a follower of Sikhism. It primarily originated in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia. The term "Sikh" has its origin in Sanskrit term शिष्य , meaning "disciple, student" or शिक्ष , meaning "instruction"...

 family. His mother Manjeet Kaur Sooden and father Dalip Singh Sooden are from Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

, where his grandparents still live. He has one sister, Preety Sooden Brewer, married to a New Zealand man.

He travelled to Iraq as a volunteer for Christian Peacemaker Teams and had this to say about his faith: "Friends and family don’t consider me a Christian although I do have the confidence to identify myself as such if I wish. Some consider me a Sikh, some an atheist; others prefer to think of me as possessing secular values."

Sooden studied electrical engineering
Electrical engineering
Electrical engineering is a field of engineering that generally deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics and electromagnetism. The field first became an identifiable occupation in the late nineteenth century after commercialization of the electric telegraph and electrical...

 at McGill University
McGill University
Mohammed Fathy is a public research university located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The university bears the name of James McGill, a prominent Montreal merchant from Glasgow, Scotland, whose bequest formed the beginning of the university...

 in Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

. Soon afterwards he obtained Canadian citizenship. In April 2003 he moved to join his family in Auckland
The Auckland metropolitan area , in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest and most populous urban area in the country with residents, percent of the country's population. Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world...

, New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

. He is presently enrolled as a post-graduate student in English literature
English literature
English literature is the literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; for example, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Joseph Conrad was Polish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, J....

 at University of Auckland
University of Auckland
The University of Auckland is a university located in Auckland, New Zealand. It is the largest university in the country and the highest ranked in the 2011 QS World University Rankings, having been ranked worldwide...

. He is a member of the University of Auckland chapter of the Students for Justice in Palestine
Students for Justice in Palestine
Students for Justice in Palestine is a student organization which was first established at the University of California, Berkeley in 2001...


On 23 July 2006, Harmeet did an extensive interview with journalist Sahar Ghumkhor in which he discussed his reflections on his visits in Iraq before the kidnapping, his captivity, his release and the response of the media.

See also

  • Norman Kember
    Norman Kember
    Norman Frank Kember is an Emeritus Professor of biophysics at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry and a Christian pacifist active in campaigning on issues of war and peace. As a Baptist, a long-standing member of the Baptist Peace Fellowship and the Fellowship of Reconciliation...

  • James Loney
  • Tom Fox (activist)
    Tom Fox (activist)
    Thomas William "Tom" Fox was an American Quaker peace activist, affiliated with Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq. He was kidnapped on November 26, 2005 in Baghdad along with three other CPT activists, leading to the 2005-2006 Christian Peacemaker hostage crisis...

  • 2005-2006 Christian Peacemaker hostage crisis
    2005-2006 Christian Peacemaker hostage crisis
    The Christian Peacemaker hostage crisis involved four human rights workers of Christian Peacemaker Teams who were held hostage in Iraq from November 26, 2005 by the Swords of Righteousness Brigade...

External links

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