In a recent Arabic-language article by Iraqi Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans Cardinal Louis Raphaël Sako posted on website chaldeanpatriarchate.com, he sheds light on the situation of Christian Iraqis during the past 20 years.
He says that “over the past 20 years, Christians have suffered a lot because they are not protected even though they are the indigenous people of the country. They have become a weak link due to sectarian conflicts, fundamentalist terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, as well as unruly militias and mafias, in addition to the prevailing discrimination in jobs, personal status law, and the forced conversion of minors which prompted them to emigrate and led to the shocking decline in their numbers.”
Referring to the security situation, Cardinal Sako says, “Their churches were targeted, namely the Church of Our Lady of Deliverance while 80 other churches and monasteries were targeted. A number of clergymen were kidnapped and killed, at a time when the organized displacement of Christians in Mosul and the towns of the Nineveh Plain was under way in 2014. Furthermore, houses were stripped of furniture by ISIS militants, as orchestrated terror overwhelmed people in order to take control of their houses and properties and sell them at low prices.”
On the political situation of Christians in Iraq, Cardinal Sako says, “The quota allocated to them in the Iraqi Parliament was seized by a particular party claiming to be Christian, but it strived to confiscate their will and contain them. The recent fierce attack on the head of the Chaldean Church, which is the largest church in Iraq, is only a continuation of the plan to empty Iraq of Christians and wipe out their civilization.”
Cordial Sako regrets that the successive governments did not do justice to them as their marginalization, exclusion continued, and the emigration of emigration continued.
He presents proposals to be forwarded to the government which calls for “holding a conference with the participation of senior clerics, specialists, academics and independent politicians to study demands relevant to a comprehensive documentation of what happened to Christians during the past 20years; providing ironclad measures to protect their regions by the Federal Police in cooperation with the residents of the towns; recovering the looted property and providing financial compensation; allocating part of the budget to Christians and other minorities; creating an environment conducive for the return of at least emigrants staying in neighboring countries; in addition to implementing a job arrangement by which when a Christian leaves a job, it is effectively replaced by another Christian.”
Cardinal Sako concludes his article by stating that “if the government does not provide a response, then there is an option of resorting to international human rights forums.”