2010 a terrible year for Iraq’s Christians
by Naman Tarcha
The human rights organization "Hammurabi" registers 92 killed and 47 wounded. Over the past seven years, Christian victims number 822, 629 of those killed because they belonged to the Christian minority. Benedict XVI's exhortation not to leave the country, and the signs of vitality of the Christian community.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) - The year 2010 was the worst year to date for the Christian community in Iraq, it has been revealed by the organization for human rights in Iraq, Hammurabi. Many Christians were forced to leave the country in fear of killings and violence of all kinds. The death toll among Christians over the past seven years, according to Hammurabi exceeds 822 people. 629 of them were murdered for being part of the Christian minority. Others were involved in 126 attacks of various kinds and many others have been victims of military operations undertaken by U.S. and Iraqi forces. 13% of victims are women. Among the Christian victims of 2010 there are 33 children, 25 elderly and 14 religious. In 2010 Hammurabi recorded 92 cases of Christians killed and 47 wounded, 68 in Baghdad, 23 in Mosul and one in Erbil.
The director of Hammurabi, named after the Code of Hammurabi, one of the oldest known collections of laws in human history, William Warda, said that constant monitoring and documentation show that all the Christian Churches in Iraq - Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syrians, Armenians - have suffered heavy losses in the number of their faithful, all over the country. The decline is particularly strong in Baghdad and Mosul, where Christians are concentrated in greater numbers. Warda said that in one year there were more than 90 Christians killed and 280 wounded, and two churches have been the target of attacks in Baghdad. According to UNICEF, between 2008 and 2010 more than 900 children have been killed in Iraq, and 3200 injured. Children represent the 8 .1% of the victims of attacks in Iraq, where there are an increasing number of attacks against schools and educators.
Although violence is still taking its toll on the Iraqi Christian community there are also strong signs of vitality. On 4 July the head of the Chaldean community, Patriarch Emmanuel Delly III, visited the highest Shiite religious authority of Iraq, Ali al-Sistani, and stressed that it was "a fraternal visit to reaffirm the unity of Iraq and of Iraqis, Muslims and Christians. " Last week in Kirkuk, north of Baghdad, the first church built after the 2003 invasion of Iraq was inaugurated, on land donated by the Iraqi government with the support of President Jalal Talabani, and funded by donations from Iraqi Christians (IRAQ, New ‘Three Fountains Church’ near Kirkuk, a sign of hope).
There are also rumours, almost impossible to verify, of a possible visit by Benedict XVI to the historic city of Ur of the Chaldeens, in southern Iraq. A similar trip planned by John Paul II for the Jubilee of 2000 was called off for security reasons. Benedict XVI has repeatedly urged the Christians of the Middle East and Iraq in particular not to leave their homelands.