On Human Rights Day, 10 December 2008, in collaboration with two other NGOs, IHEU issued an urgent appeal to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay on behalf of Iraq’s rapidly disappearing Christian population.
According to a recent report by Christian Solidarity International, since the US-led invason of Iraq in 2003 some 400,000 of Iraq’s one million Christians have been forced to flee the country, with many of those remaining now existing as internally displaced refugees.
Whole communities have been forced to flee their homes and many have been killed. The violence has also been directed at other minorities including the Yezidis, Shabaks and Mandeans. Attacks on these communitiers have come from both Sunni and Shi’ite militias and from armed Kurdish groups.
The full report can be found at:
To the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay
on behalf of the Christians of Iraq
10 December 2008
As the world celebrates the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights today, we are quoting from a recent, 15-page Report (“Terror Reigns over Mosul Christians”) and a press release from Christian Solidarity International (CSI), which we are making available here with this Urgent Appeal to you on Human Rights Day.
“Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, approximately half of Iraq’s one million Christians have fled Iraq for refuge in neighbouring countries, while many of those remaining in Iraq are internally displaced. Other minorities are similarly driven out of Iraq.”
The report draws particular attention to the fast deteriorating human rights situation in the Mosul area:
“Between the end of September and mid-October, over two thousand Christian families – approximately 13,000 out of a total Christian population of roughly 25,000 people – fled Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. They fled in response to a three-week, well-organized terror campaign targeting Christians.”
We are calling urgently for renewed efforts on the part of the overall UN system to monitor, to mediate, and to facilitate reconciliation among the ethnic-religious communities of the Mosul area. We urge the immediate deployment of a larger number of human rights monitors. We appeal to you and your Office to take a lead in this humanitarian effort.
René V.L. Wadlow, Roy W Brown, David G. Littman
Representatives to the United Nations Office in Geneva
Association for World Education, International Humanist and Ethical Union, World Union for Progressive Judaism
cc. Ms. Asma Jahangir, SR: Freedom of religion and belief;
Mr. Githu Muigai, SR: Racism …xenophobia & related intolerance;
Mr. James Anaya, SR: HR & fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples;
Ms. Gay J. Mc Dougall, Ind. Expert on minority issues;
Prof. Walter Kälin Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights of internally displaced persons.
Annex to the appeal:
Press Release on the plight of Christians in Iraq
Terror Reigns over Mosul’s Christians
(CSI, Baghdad, Washington, November 24, 2008)
Today, Dr. John Eibner, Executive Director of Christian Solidarity International urged US President-elect Barack Obama and the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki to prevent the extinction of Iraq’s persecuted Christian community and other powerless minorities, such as the Yezidis, Shabaks and Mandeans.
Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, approximately half of Iraq’s one million Christians have fled Iraq for refuge in neighboring countries, while many of those remaining in Iraq are internally displaced. Other minorities are similarly driven out of Iraq.
Eibner’s appeal to the two leaders coincides with the release of a CSI report on the plight of Iraqi Christians and other minorities, based on a human rights fact-finding visit to Mosul, the Nineveh Plain and Baghdad earlier this month. CSI’s investigation, conducted in conjunction with the Baghdad-based Hamorabi Human Rights Organization, focused on the three week campaign of terror against Christians in Mosul (September 28 to October 11), which resulted in the deaths of at least 13 Christians and the displacement of 13, 000 people, representing about half of Mosul’s Christian population. (Full report and letters to President-elect Obama and Prime Minister al-Maliki posted on www.SaveIraqiChristians.org)
The conflict between Kurdish and Sunni Arab political parties and allied armed forces provides the political context for this anti-Christian terror campaign. “The unarmed minorities of Nineveh Province are caught in a deadly trap between militarized Arab and Kurdish political movements”, Eibner said. In addition to defeating the al-Qaida linked terror cells, measures required for the survival of Christians and other minorities include: eliminating all death squads, securing the withdrawal from Nineveh Province of occupying militias of the Kurdistan Regional Government, and the removal of mutinous elements from the national army. During the recent anti-Christian terror campaign in Mosul, Prime Minister al-Maliki ordered the transfer of predominantly Kurdish military units out of Nineveh Province, but their commanders refused to obey, citing ultimate loyalty to Kurdistan.
In his letters to President-elect Obama and Prime Minister al-Maliki, Eibner added that the above mentioned steps need to be accompanied by an intensification of investment in the economic infrastructure and in local policing. He also noted that inadequate representation of the religious and ethnic minorities in Iraqi governmental institutions will hinder progress.
Addressing Prime Minister al-Maliki, Eibner called for the establishment of a high level, inter-agency commission – including security and economic dimensions – for the protection of the unarmed minorities in Nineveh Province, and for the publication of the results of the Prime Minister’s investigation into the recent campaign of violence against Christians in Mosul. Multi-cultural Nineveh Province is the ancient homeland of Iraq’s Christian community, and is a potential safe haven for all Iraq’s unarmed minorities.
During the US Presidential campaign, President-elect Obama reiterated his concern over the “high level of threat and abuse” experienced by Iraqi Christians and other non-Muslim religious minorities. (Obama to Rice, September 26, 2008, posted on www.SaveIraqiChristians.org)