HOUSE APPROVES PETERS’ RESOLUTION TO PROTECT HUMAN RIGHTS

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Resolution Calls for Investigation of Human Rights Violations and Protection for Iraqis Displaced and Persecuted in the Wake of War
Washington, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives today approved a resolution authored by Congressman Gary Peters to provide support for Iraqi refugees and religious minorities displaced and persecuted in the aftermath of the Iraq war and subsequent ethnic and sectarian violence. The resolution passed by a vote of 415-3.
Rep. Peters’ resolution (H. Res 944) seeks an investigation into human rights violations and calls for an end to the abuse of Iraqi religious minorities. It also urges the United States and United Nations to urge the Iraqi government to protect religious minorities by ensure free and fair elections, training Iraqi security forces and providing safe places to worship. Finally, the resolution calls for the U.S. to work with the Iraqi government to ensure the physical and economic safety of the displaced wishing to return to Iraq.
Speaking in favor of his resolution on the House Floor yesterday (when debate on the resolution began), Congressman Peters said, “Iraqi Christians and other religious minorities are often specifically targeted in gruesome and random acts of violence, such as murder, rape, and abductions. These stories continue to be tragically common, and more must be done by the U.S. government and the government of Iraq to protect religious minorities. It is no longer possible to stand by and watch as millions of religious minorities are subjected to torture, abuse, and discrimination.”
“This is a proud yet solemn day for the Chaldean community. The Chaldean Federation of America applauds passage of this resolution,” said Joseph Kassab, Executive Director of Chaldean Federation of America. “We are very grateful to Representative Peters for authoring this resolution and to his colleagues in Congress for passing it to shed light on the oppression and killing of religious minorities in Iraq. Representative Peters is to be commended for his focus on the issues important to the people he represents, and for working to help protect Christians and other religious peoples from facing terrible injustice simply because of their religious beliefs.”
Since 2003, approximately two and a half million refugees and asylum seekers have fled Iraq and millions more have become displaced, forced to flee their homes and neighborhoods because of sectarian violence. In fact, there were approximately one and a half million Christians in Iraq in 2003; today there is less than half that amount.
The resolution was considered this week to coincide with the two year anniversary of the abduction, and subsequent murder, of Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul Paulos Faraj Rahho on February 29, 2008.
Congressman Peters is working closely on this issue with Senator Carl Levin, who has introduced a companion resolution in the Senate.

Click here to view video of Congressman Peters speaking about this resolution on the House floor.  Click here to view the text of H. Res. 944.