The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) has joined an appeal to the UN to help the situation of Christians in Iraq. The Christmas Day appeal to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, drew her attention to acts of terror against Christians in Iraq that include the bombing of 59 churches and the killings of bishops, priests and other Christians. These acts of terror, combined with kidnappings, death threats, and anti-Christian social discrimination, have prompted nearly half of Iraq’s one million Christians to flee the country.
The appeal to the High Commissioner was was sent by representatives of the Association for World Education, IHEU and the World Union for Progressive Judaism. It reads as follows:
25 December 2009
Last year, on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we appealed to you on the tragic situation of the Christians in Iraq, making available a detailed 15-page Report (“Terror Reigns over Mosul Christians”) and a press release by Christian Solidarity International (CSI), with copies sent to those Special Rapporteurs and others listed below.
The above-mentioned CSI report drew particular attention to the fast-deteriorating human rights situation in the Mosul area where half of the roughly 25,000 Christians had fled after a well-organized terror campaign targeting Christians in September-October 2008. Although some have returned, the situation has worsened in general for Christian and other minorities.
In December 2009, five bombs in Baghdad killed 123 people and injured another 500, while three bomb explosions damaged churches and killed six people in Mosul. Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, over 500 Christians, including bishops and priests, have been killed and 59 churches bombed. These acts of terror, combined with kidnappings, death threats, discriminatory jizya-dhimmi extortions and non-violent anti-Christian social discrimination have prompted nearly half of Iraq’s one million Christians to flee the country and seek refuge abroad. Many of those who remain in Iraq are internally displaced. Other Iraqi non-Muslim minorities experience similar persecution. “This Christmas, many Iraqi churches will yet again stand empty and forlorn because church attendance carries with it the risk of losing one’s life. The inability of the faithful to celebrate Christmas without fear from jihad-terror reflects the crisis of survival facing Iraq’s ancient Christian community.” (CSI press release, 24 December 2009.)
On Christmas Day, we again call for renewed efforts on the part of the entire UN system to monitor, to mediate and to facilitate reconciliation among the ethnic-religious communities of Iraq – and to combat religious intolerance. We urge a rapid deployment of larger numbers of human rights monitors and appeal to you and your office to take the necessary measures to fully protect the right to freedom of religion or belief of the Christian communities in Iraq.
René V.L. Wadlow
David G. Littman
Roy W. Brown
Representatives to the United Nations Office in Geneva
Association for World Education: Case Postale 205, 1196 Gland, Switzerland
International Humanist and Ethical Union: 1 Gower St, London WC1E 6HD, UK.
World Union for Progressive Judaism: c/o Beith-Gil – 12, Quai du Seujet – 1201 Genève