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The Rev Fred Nile MLC, Leader of the Christian Democratic Party, gave the following address in the NSW Upper House on Christian persecution in Iraq.
â€œTonight I refer to the persecution of Assyrian Christians in Iraq. It is a tragedy that many members of religious minority groups continue to be persecuted and murdered. Many refugees have fled to the neighbouring countries of Syria and Jordan. Thankfully, many thousands have been able to come to Australia and to settle in Sydney’s western suburbs. Recently I met with many refugees, in particular at the recent Assyrian New Year festival held at Fairfield showground. In July 2009 the Assyrian International News Agency released its updated report entitled, “Incipient Genocide: The Ethnic Cleansing of the Assyrians of Iraq.” It is an understatement to assert that that report makes for dire and disturbing reading. It details the systematic and consistent persecution of Assyrian Christians in Iraq, including gruesome murders, extortion and violence,â€ said Rev Fred Nile.
â€œMost disturbing is the fact that religious institutions such as churches and church buildings, and symbols are being targeted, in particular, through bombings, inflicting terror and insecurity on the remaining Assyrian community. In December 2008 the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom recommended that Iraq be designated as a “country of particular concern” under the International Religious Freedom Act in light of the ongoing severe abuses of religious freedom and the Iraqi Government’s apparent toleration of these abuses, particularly abuses against Iraq’s smallest and most vulnerable religious minorities. Commission chair Felice D. Daer described Iraq as “among the most dangerous places on earth for religious minorities”. The commission’s report states:
“The situation is especially dire for Iraq’s smallest religious minorities, including the Chaldo Assyrian and other Christians, Sabean Mandaeans, and Yazidis. These groups do not have militia or tribal structures to protect them and do not receive adequate official protection. Their members continue to experience targeted violence and to flee to other areas within Iraq or other countries, where the minorities represent a disproportionately high percentage among Iraqi refugees. Marginalised legally, politically, and economically, they are caught in the middle of a struggle between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the central Iraqi government for control of northern areas where their communities are concentrated.”
There is no indication in that report of any improvement or change to the situation. The Governor of Mosul, who was unable to protect Christians in that city, said:
“… the city’s Christians are victims of a political conspiracy designed to get them out of Mosul and put them in the “Nineveh Plain”, referring to the beneficiaries of this issue, points related to Kurdistan region, describing them as “responsible” for the suffering of the Christians of Mosul campaigns targeting persistent.”
He said that the attacks “reveal the involvement of army officers of the Iraqi Kurds in the process”, in an attempt to ethnically cleanse the city of Mosul. On 2 May buses carrying Christian Assyrian university students from Qaraqosh, Baghdida, 40 kilometres east of Mosul, were attacked with bombs. That resulted in 140 students being injured and a Christian shop owner being killedâ€”another indication of the ongoing terrorist attacks and persecutions in Iraq aimed at Christians. An article from the Assyrian Universal Alliance states:
“Attacks on monasteries and churches, looting and seizing of property by force, kidnappings, and forced conversions into Islam are happening under the watchful eyes of the coalition and Iraqi security forces …”
Even though Australia has been assisting, things have not improved for Christian Assyrians who should be remembered and supported in their plea for peace and freedomâ€, Rev Nile stated.
For Media Interviews contact: Rev Fred Nile (02) 9230 2478 or 0418 619 731
Research Assistant: David Copeland (02) 9230 2978
Â Christian Democratic Party, GPO Box 141, Sydney NSW 2001.
Email: email@example.com Web: www.cdp.org.au Tel: 1300 667 975