Pax Christi International concerned over the situation of Christians and other minorities in Iraq

 

Pax Christi International expresses concern on the dramatic situation of Christians and other minorities in Iraq

We cannot be silent!

 

Pax Christi International is extremely concerned over the forced exodus of the Christian community from the Iraqi city of Mosul following threats from the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). According to local reports, Christians are requested to convert to Islam and pay the poll tax for non-Muslims; otherwise, they have to leave the city or risk execution. Christian houses have been marked and churches have been shuttered. Those who flee are finding refuge in surrounding monasteries and villages but others have gone to localities in the Kurdish region of Iraq.

 

The invasion of ISIS, in early June brought enormous violence and suffering to many communities. Under the ISIS the centuries-old Christian presence in Mosul has been uprooted. Iraq’s second largest city is now without a Christian presence for the first time in nearly two thousand years. The number of Christians in Mosul has gone from 30.000 to zero.

 

On 20 July 2014, Pope Francis expressed his profound anguish: Christians “are persecuted, they are cast out, they are forced to leave their homes without having the chance to take anything with them.”[1]

 

The United Nations Secretary-General and the Security Council have condemned these crimes,[2] but we believe that more needs to be done. Pax Christi International endorses urgent appeals[3] launched by the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako[4] and other Iraqi bishops, calling the Iraqi national government to ensure the necessary protection for Christians and other minorities in the country and to provide financial support to displaced people who have lost everything.[5]

 

Pax Christi international calls the Iraqi government to strengthen steps toward an inclusive political process, to affirm and enforce the respect of fundamental human rights – in particular with regards to religious freedom, to urgently establish the rule of law and to ensure equal rights for all citizens.

 

World leaders should remain alert to events taking place in Iraq and should commit to supporting the country’s efforts to end this cycle of violence. The international community, working through the United Nations, should support Iraq on guaranteeing a framework in which the life and dignity of all Iraqis are respected.

 

Pax Christi International calls our membership worldwide and all people of good will, to pray for all the people of Iraq at this time and in particular for those from minority communities, both Christian and Muslim, who have been forced to leave their homes. As expressed in a recent message to the Synod of the Chaldean Church in Iraq,[6] Pax Christi International reaffirms its solidarity “with the Chaldean community, with all communities of faith, and with all nonviolent peace activists who advocate democratization and the rule of law, and who stand up for the rights of all.”

 

Brussels, 30 July 2014