Iraq: Christians bemoan targetted killings

After a recent bomb blast and gun attack in Iraq that targeted Christian students, a local bishop has criticized the government for failing to protect Christians, who are suffering from a series of violent attacks by terrorist groups.

Archbishop Georges Casmoussa, the Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, told Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) on Wednesday that the Christian community is “angry” following the recent attacks, and that local authorities “are too busy holding meetings” to get much of anything done.

On Sunday, a bomb targeted a convoy of buses carrying Christian students between checkpoints on the edge of Mosul. One male student died instantly and two young women are said to be in critical condition. The bishop gave his remarks to ACN following a trip to the local hospital, where he visited 163 of the individuals injured in the attack. Fifteen students, said the prelate, will have to be transferred to a hospital in Turkey.

“We feel angry about what happened – and we are full of sadness for those who have suffered so much,” Archbishop Casmoussa said. “We feel there is no central power here. The authorities are too busy holding meetings and not enough is being done.”

Citing local authorities’ failure to effectively collaborate, the archbishop stated that the “army is not close to the government, the government is not close with the police.”

“You have people who are responsible but they are not coordinated in their actions and this opens the door to terrorists,” he explained.

Speaking on the possible corruption among local leaders, the prelate claimed that some “politicians are involved in the actions of terrorists and sometimes murders take place in the name of political parties.”

On the lack of follow through in the cases of convicted terrorists, Archbishop Casmoussa said, “We hear that people who have killed Christians are in prison but legal judgments are not being brought against them.”

“We call on the central government to find those responsible, to judge them and to try them according to international law,” he appealed. “This judgment must be open and known by the people. We ask the UN – and the US, who are masters of the situation – to help the minorities, especially Christians.”

ACN reported that the violence against Christians in Iraq can be traced back to 2004 as part of a widely understood and coordinated effort on the part of militants to extinguish Christianity from the country.