A letter from Congresswoman Anna Eshoo to the editor of the Washington Post.

Mr. Bush Has Forsaken Iraq’s Minorities
Nina Shea’s op-ed called attention to the important issue of protecting the diminishing number of religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq [“Iraq’s Endangered Minorities,” Aug. 27]. As a first-generation American whose Assyrian grandparents fled their ancestral homelands in what is now the northern border area between Iraq and Iran, I’ve worked with congressional colleagues for years to address the plight of Iraq’s minority populations. Unfortunately, the Bush administration has ignored our bipartisan calls for action.

In 2005, I offered language, approved unanimously by the House, to encourage the State Department to direct its attention to the needs of Iraq’s indigenous religious minorities. Nothing has happened since then.


Meanwhile, the exodus of Iraqi minorities has intensified. In June, 73 members of Congress joined me in writing to President Bush urging him to take seriously the grave warnings expressed to him by Pope Benedict XVI regarding Iraq’s endangered Christian population. There has been no response. Again in June, the House passed the foreign operations appropriations bill with $10 million in aid to Iraqi minorities living in the Nineveh Plains. The administration has threatened a veto over unrelated concerns.

Iraq’s minority communities have endured for more than 2,000 years, even under brutal despots. Under the United States’ watch, the seeds of a diaspora have been sown, and these communities, cultures and historical legacies are on the brink of extinction.

It’s time for the administration to abandon the policy of neglect and join with Congress to ensure that these communities have the assistance they need to persevere and flourish within Iraq for many generations to come.


U.S. Representative (D-Calif.)