08/25/2014, 00.00
IRAQ

Patriarch of Baghdad: While politicians argue, Iraqi Christians continue to suffer and die

by Joseph Mahmoud

Visiting refugee camps in Erbil and Dohok, Mar Sako speaks of a situation "beyond all imagination". He appeals to the international community and the Muslim world "that have not yet understood the gravity of the situation." The militiamen kidnap a Christian girl of three years, two men die from hunger. Baghdad and Tehran work on a joint plan of action.

Erbil (AsiaNews) - "I visited the camps of the displaced persons in the provinces of Erbil and Dohok and what I saw and what I heard is beyond any imagination!
". Iraqi Christians and other minorities in the country, have received "a terrible blow" to the "heart of their life," deprived of all rights, property, and even documents.

These are the words of Chaldean Patriarch Raphael I Louis Sako, in an appeal - sent to AsiaNews - in which he recalls that since August 6 no "concrete solutions" to the "crisis" have been found. Instead "the flow of money, weapons and combatants"for the Islamic state continues unabated. His Beatitude warns that "faced with a campaign" to eliminate Christians and other minorities from Iraq, the world "has not yet understood the gravity of the situation." He warns that we are now in "the second phase of this disaster", which is "the migration of these families" to the four corners of the world, causing "the dissolution of the history, heritage and identity of this people".

The Chaldean Patriarch and President of the Iraqi Bishops' Conference said that the phenomenon of migration has a "big impact" on both the Christians, and Muslims themselves, because "Iraq is losing an irreplaceable component" of its society. He points the finger at the international community, led by the United States and the European Union, which while acknowledging the need for an immediate solution, they have not taken concrete steps "to alleviate the fate" of a battered population.

Mar Sako spares no criticism for the Muslim community, whose statements about the "barbarism" of the militia of the Islamic State, perpetrated in the name of their own religion, has done little to ensure respect for and defense of the dignity of Christians. "Religious fundamentalism - warns the Patriarch - is still growing in its power and force, creating tragedies, and making us wonder when the Islamic religious scholars and the Muslim intellectuals will critically examine this dangerous phenomenon and eradicate it by educating a true religious consciousness and spreading a genuine culture of accepting the other as brother and as an equal citizen with full rights".

Faced with "terrible and horrific" acts he calls for an "urgent and effective international support from all the people of good will to save the Christians and Yezidis, genuine components of the Iraqi society from extinction, knowing that silence and passivity will encourage ISIS fundamentalists to commit more tragedies". The question the Chaldean Patriarch asks is "Who will be next?".

Finally, he warns the Universal Church that the Iraqi Christians strong testimony do not need exhausting statements but real communion with others, such as the visits by the special envoy of Pope Francis and of the Patriarchs. "We respect the reasons of those who want to emigrate - ends Mar Sako - but for those who wish to remain, we underline our long history and deeply rooted heritage in this land. God has his own plan for our presence in this land and invites us to carry the message of love, brotherhood, dignity, and harmonious co-existence".

The plight of Christians is confirmed by sources of the Chaldean Patriarchate, which speak of "continuous persecution" of militants against unarmed Christian civilians, including children. In Baghdida, one of the cities of the Nineveh plain, IS militants seized Ebada Khader, a child of only three years, "literally tearing her from the arms of her family." The militiamen kidnapped the girl and forced the family to leave their home, dragging them to the checkpoint Khazar. Christian sources in the city of Bashiqa, one of the towns north of Mosul, instead describe having found the bodies of two Christian men, who died of hunger and malnutrition in their home. They are David Georgis and his son Saad. According to local witnesses, the men who are both deaf and dumb did not want to leave the town which has been in the hands of jihadisits for the past three weeks.

Meanwhile, the government in Baghdad and its Iranian ally have launched an appeal to the international community for a joint plan of action against the militias of the Islamic State, which have gained large portions of territory in northern Iraq in recent weeks.

Yesterday, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made an official visit to the Iraqi capital, where he met with outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the new Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, the Speaker of Parliament, Salim al-Jubouri and President Hoshyar Zebari. During the press conference, theTehran representative denied the presence of Iranian troops on the ground in the war against the Islamist militias; he hoped at the same time for a joint international operation against IS that "is committing horrendous acts of genocide and crimes against humanity." His appeal was sustained and echoed by the government in Baghdad, which calls for "comprehensive support" in the fight against the jihadi militias.

 

 

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