Blood-covered protesters line Sydney streets

 Map: Sydney 2000 Hundreds of Assyrians have gathered in Sydney’s CBD to express sorrow and anger over a church attack in Baghdad.
Black coffins line the pavement and a group of young Australian Assyrians were lying on the ground in Martin Place, covered in fake blood.

They were representing the 52 people, including children and priests, killed in last week’s attack on an Assyrian Catholic church in Baghdad.

Al Qaeda-linked militants in Iraq have issued a statement saying all Christians are legitimate targets.

One of the organisers, Ray Elishapour, says the protest is to tell the Australian Government that what is going on in Iraq is genocide.

“We’re here trying to combat that and raise awareness about the fact that these are ethnic minorities that are being slaughtered,” he said.

He says as part of the “coalition of the willing”, Australia has a responsibility to pressure the Iraqi government to restore law and order to the country.

Protester Bani Pal, 19, says he wants the international community to take action.

“Our aim is to stop these ruthless attacks because these people are innocent,” he said.

“They go to church to find a place of sanctuary and then end up being slaughtered.

“It’s not right. Regardless of religion, regardless of ethnicity, it’s inhumane. It shouldn’t be done.”