(AsiaNews) - A month since the militias
of the Islamic state made their push, resulting in the mass exodus of
Christians, Yezidis and other minorities, Mar Raphael I Louis Sako warns that
the suffering of the displaced is increasing.
In a written appeal to AsiaNews, His Beatitude talks about the
"genocide" of a people deprived of "religious, human, moral and
national values", which is "threat for all." ">
As he said in the past, the Chaldean patriarch
notes that "emigration" is not a solution because Christians should continue to
be the "leaven" in the land of Iraq and messengers of
Condemning the timidity shown so far by
the international community (and the Iraqi government) vis-à-vis Islamist
violence, Mar Sako stresses the importance of "raising
our voice against the extremists and work to create a new mentality of living
together [among] Shiites, Sunnis, Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, Christians and Yezidis
in peace and harmony".
For this reason, it is necessary to take
"offensive action at the ideological level" in the
Islamic world to stop the religious and financial legitimation of fundamentalism.
In addition to a peacekeeping force in
Iraq and a UN commission of inquiry into Caliphate violence, the Chaldean
Patriarch's first proposal is to change the school and university curriculum.
education," he says, "can commence this transformation and build a society
where equality amongst citizens succeeds. To guarantee a better coexistence it
is imperative to create a civil society which respects every religion and does
not politicize religions for its own benefit.
is the letter by the Chaldean Patriarch to AsiaNews:
A whole month
the plight of Iraqi Christians and Yazidis and other minorities, as if
it was meant to be. The curtains have been drawn on the painful events, and
120.000 Christians are uprooted from their historical homeland because the
Political Islam does not want them there, and the world is silent, standing
still, either because it approves or because it is incapable of acting. This encourages
ISIS (which has nothing to do with the ancient Egyptian goddess of nature and
fertility ISIS) to move forward with its ferocious war against culture and
diversity and threatening the intellectual and social security. The suffering
of the displaced Christians and other minorities is mounting: their needs are
escalating and their fears of an unknown future of their shocked children,
seized towns, and looted houses keep them sleepless! These people were living
in their hometowns in prosperity, pride and dignity; in the blink of an eye,
they were ousted from their homes, terrified and fleeing on foot in search of a
shelter. It is a scene that takes us back to the dark centuries of the past
although it has become a horrific reality of our present civilization!
peaceful Christians and loyal citizens experienced is a real genocide, a sad
ending, and a proof of the privation of the religious, human, moral, and
national values. Therefore, it is a shameful stain in history. Everybody should
know is a threat for all!
Few days ago we
saw the 13-year-old girl on Ishtar satellite channel, screaming: "I want to
go back to my own town, Qaraqosh. I am tired of this life here; I would rather
die for it rather than living here in humiliation". It's a loud call to the
conscience of the world!
The inability of the Iraqi State: What hurts us most is the
inability of the machinery of the government to impose law and order in front
of the on-going and significant deterioration of security, which fosters a
culture of violence that provides the extremist groups a favorable locale to
expand! In Baghdad, Christians and others are kidnapped in armored and shaded
cars in broad daylight, and are threatened to leave their houses, and harassed
in some schools and in some public offices where they hear spiteful words.
Could these current barbarous behaviors be unleashed without any control or
without a mechanism of re-education?
The people are
suffering and the politicians are fighting for positions instead of being
united to identify the causes that lead to extremism, violence and injustice,
and to seek radical solutions before it is too late! Hopefully the new Prime
Minister and the new Government would recognize this as their historical,
national and moral responsibility!
Emigration: after being robbed of everything they
had, including their official documents, and in the absence of an immediate
solution along with the mistrust in the present authorities, the displaced
Christians are faced with a pointless waiting for an unknown future. Therefore,
many of them are in pursuit of a safe country in the West because in their
country, the country of Manna and Quail, only disasters prevail. Emigration should be not a solution!
In order to
preserve themselves from extinction, and to
keep being the leaven, the
Christians of Iraq must face the situation as it is, especially because they
carry the message of hope by which they can keep aflame the spark of life.
Active and lively Christian groups must move to construct the future, because
the challenges of life are faced with courage rather than cowardice. They have
to take decisive steps to put pressure on the decision-makers at home and
abroad to ensure a life, free and safe, for them in their own Iraq. And here
are some practical suggestions that, hopefully, our people wherever they are,
will work on making them real:
- To form competent Christian
organizations, both political and independent, with qualified staff who
undertake permanent sessions of analyzing and studying situations and proposing
solutions and apt plans to face the consequences arising both from present
crisis and even from unforeseen!
- To create a Crisis Management Team (CMT)
to prepare an accurate statistical record of the displaced families in order to
claim compensation from the government for the damages and loss of properties,
and to help specific cases with solutions and recommendations.
- To organize an Education Committee to
keep track of the academic status and the figures of the displaced students and
to ask the government of Kurdistan to host them in its schools and universities
lest they lose their scholastic future taking into consideration that their
number is considerably low.
- To request the UN and other sponsor
countries to help constructing decent and suitable housing complexes for those
who do not want to be back to their villages, instead of current inappropriate
- To appeal the UN Security Council to form
a United Nations peacekeeping force in collaboration with the Iraqi Security
Forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga for liberating the Nineveh Plain and for
providing adequate security which allows the displaced persons to return to
their home villages where they lived for thousands of years.
- To establish local police force
comprising the different components of the Nineveh Plain to protect the
villages, as envisaged in the new law presented to the new government, which
reassures social interaction among Christians and their fellow-citizens.
- To demand the UN Human Rights Council to investigate
the human rights violations in Iraq by establishing a commission of inquiry
into the atrocities and crimes committed by the so-called "Islamic state" and
to bring to justice those responsible behind these "crimes against humanity".
- We should not give up in raising our
voice against the extremists and work to create a new mentality of living
together Shiites, Sunnites, Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, Christians and Yezidis in
peace and harmony, therefore we also have to take offensive action at the
ideological level with Islamic world to stop the veneer of religious legitimacy
and financing and sending militants. We urge the Central Iraqi Government and
the Regional Government of Kurdistan to spread the culture of openness,
diversity, plurality and equal in the face of a culture of extremism,
elimination, marginalization and social backwardness along with a weak
individual and collective consciousness of its deficiency. This can be achieved
primarily by changing the school and university curriculum. Only education can
commence this transformation and build a society where equality amongst
citizens succeeds. To guarantee a better coexistence it is imperative to create
a civil society which respects every religion and does not politicize religions
for its own benefits.
*Louis Raphael Sako, patriarch and president of the
Chaldean Bishops' Conference