|| N A T I O N A L
N E W S
S T O R Y |
Let us stay - hostage family 24 January
Kidnapped peace activist Harmeet Sooden's parents
have sought residency so their son has a family home to return
to when militants in Iraq release him.
Dalip and Manjeet Sooden want the family
to remain together in New Zealand and have applied for
residency, as they are afraid it could be months or longer
before they learn of his fate.
The couple wish to support themselves and
make a home where Harmeet will be able to recover mentally and
physically. "When Harmeet is released, he won't be the same.
He might look the same, but he won't be the same. It could be
a long time, maybe
years, before we know that he is okay,"
Mr Sooden, a mechanical engineer in Zambia's copper mines,
They have locked up their Zambian home
and he has cancelled a new employment contract so they can all
wait with their daughter Preety Brewer's family in Auckland.
It has now been two months since the
32-year-old Auckland University student was kidnapped in
Baghdad, working with a human rights group. They know their
lives could be in limbo for months, or longer. Some hostages
have been freed after years.
The kidnappers – the previously unknown
Swords of Righteousness Brigade – have been silent since the
threat to execute Harmeet and three others from the human
rights organisation Christian Peacemaking Teams lapsed on
December 12. CPT has been working to protect Iraqi detainees'
Having residency would give the Soodens
more certainty at a difficult time. Originally from Kashmir,
they had planned for a long time to join their children in New
Zealand and previously got permission to immigrate in the
mid-1990s. But Mr Sooden's work commitments kept them in
Immigration Minister David Cunliffe said
he had been told the application was with the Immigration
Service's Henderson branch, and it would be processed fairly
and properly according to policy. As minister he did not get
involved in individual cases, but had met the family as a
»SUBSCRIBE TO FREE HEADLINES
»SUBSCRIBE TO ARCHIVESTUFF