Baghdad, Iraq: The body of George Weber, 73, who was killed in a highway accident near Basrah in southern Iraq on Jan. 6, 2003, has begun its journey home.
Weber had been part of a Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) delegation visiting hospitals, schools, churches and mosques in Iraq to hear first-hand from Iraqis about the devastating impact of the Gulf War, thirteen years of economic sanctions and ongoing bombings by the U.S. and its allies. Bombs fell on the outskirts of Basrah on Jan. 5 as the delegation arrived in the area.
Family and friends of Weber were shocked to learn that the UN sanctions against Iraq, supported by both the United States and Canada, also restricted the “export” of his body from Iraq. Reynald Doiron, spokesperson for Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, told CPT on Jan. 7 that while this restriction was technically in effect, Canadian officials were attempting to get the UN to allow the transfer of his body on a humanitarian basis. Permission was granted on Jan. 8 and the body was flown to Amman, Jordan on Jan. 9 in the company of fellow CPT delegation member James Loney, 38, from Priceville, ON.
When George Weber first arrived in Baghdad, he went to the market and ordered a made-to-measure suit for $100, in order to support the sanctions ravaged Iraqi economy. He was to pick it up on his return from Basrah.
Jim Loney picked up the suit when the delegation returned to Baghdad in order to honour George’s commitment. Upon hearing about the suit, his wife Lena said that George should wear it for his journey home.
Weber’s body and Loney are due to arrive at Toronto’s Pearson Airport late on Jan. 10 and will then travel to Weber’s home town of Chesley, ON. A funeral service for Weber will be held in Chesley at 2 pm on Jan. 13 in St. John’s United Church.
The next CPT delegations to Iraq depart North America on Jan. 11 and Feb. 1.