#NeverAgain: Justice for Iraqi Christians is long overdue

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Photo Credit: Ewelina Ochab

By Ewelina Ochab

In November I visited Iraq where I met Iraqi Christian internally displaced persons living in Erbil. I met with a number of families from Mosul, Quaragosh, Karamless, and Bartallah that have fled Daesh. I also met with several NGOs helping Christians in the Middle East, including SOS Chretiens, a number of NGOs collecting the evidence of the Daesh atrocities, including Shlomo and Hammurabi Human Rights Organisations, and a number of religious leaders.  Lastly, I visited some of the liberated areas: Quaragosh, Karamless, and Bartallah.

After Daesh took over Ninevah Plains in August 2014, the Iraqi Christians have fled to Erbil and other parts of Kurdistan. Hundreds of Iraqi Christians have left the region for Jordan, Lebanon, and other countries. However, there are still many internally displaced Iraqi Christians living in Kurdistan. There are four camps for Iraqi Christians in Erbil. Families live there in small metal containers. They are provided with some humanitarian assistance. They are reasonably safe. However, many families continue to leave every day.

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        Photo Credit: Ewelina Ochab

Those who stayed the last two years and three months still hope that they would be able to go back to their homes. However, I have seen their homes in Ninevah Plains and it seems that they will not be able to return anytime soon. The three towns I managed to visit: Quaragosh, Bartallah, and Karamless are destroyed. Daesh looted one house after another without leaving any stone unturned. The houses, churches, schools, and shops are looted, burnt down, and some contractually damaged. In every church that I have visited: crosses are broken, the statutes of Jesus and Holly Mary are destroyed, Holly Bibles and books burnt (see: speakupagainstgenocide.wordpress.com/blog/) . These pictures from the recently liberated areas send one and very clear message – Daesh specifically intended to destroy Christianity in the area and everything that Christianity is associated with. This is genocide.

It’s been over four weeks since some of the towns in Ninevah Plains have been liberated, however, there is still a lot of work before people will be able to go back and start rebuilding their lives. The Ninevah Plains Units are checking houses for explosives and Daesh tunnels, and making the safe houses. Some of the houses destroyed by Daesh would need to be checked whether their construction is safe and sound for people to live in. The Daesh tunnels would have to be sealed off. The list of necessary works goes on.

However, Ninevah Plains needs more than only reconstruction of the towns.  The persecuted minorities in Ninevah Plains need a guarantee that the atrocities committed by Daesh will never happen again. They need a guarantee that they will be safe in their homes and will not have to flee in the middle of the night yet again. They also need justice. Recognising the atrocities committed against Christians, Yazidis, and other minorities in Syria and Iraq as genocide is the first step towards the adequate administration of justice, reconciliation, and healing. The Daesh fighters must be prosecuted for their crimes amounting to genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. The victims deserve justice and this justice is long overdue.

Ewelina Ochab serves as a legal counsel in Vienna, Austria for ADF International. Her interests include persecution of Christians worldwide, ISIS/Daesh genocide in Syria and Iraq, Boko Haram in West Africa and minorities in South Asia. She has presented reports in the United Nations Forum on Minority rights. Ewelina obtained a LL.B degree with honours at Kent university, UK and currently is She is a PhD candidate in International Law and Medical Ethics.  She also published a book on ISIS/Daesh genocide ‘Never Again: Legal Responses to a Broken Promise in the Middle East’

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#LahoreBlast: Terror hits Pakistani Christians on Easter Day

Global Minorities Alliance condemns the terror attack on Christians in Pakistan in Gulsan-e-Iqbal Park, Lahore, Pakistan while families were celebrating Easter on Sunday 27 March, 2016. The terror attack has claimed 69 lives (at the time of writing) and reports claim that around 300 are injured. The Government of Pakistan has announced national mourning for three days.

The atrocious act of violence has hit mostly women and children in the eastern city of Pakistan and is thought to be one of the worst attacks that has hit Pakistan’s biggest minority.  GMA condemns the attack and urges the Pakistan Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif to take all measures to uproot terrorism in the country and ensure safety of its religious minorities.

“Our thoughts go out to the bereaved families who lost their loved ones, especially the women and children who are mostly effected in this tragedy. This is a coward attack on the innocent civilians and we condemn such barbarous acts against the defenceless citizens of Pakistan”, said Manassi Bernard, GMA’s Chief Executive.

Global Minorities Alliance also commends Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, on his  stance of activating the ‘safety check mode’ to make sure that people in the area can let their friends know that they are safe.

 

GMA distributes funds to the persecuted families of Youhanabad Church blasts

By GMA

#Pakistan #Christians #Youhanabad #ChurchBlasts #GMABlog

Following a successful fundraising campaign, Global Minorities Alliance (GMA) organised an event on 26 April in Youhanabad, Lahore, to support the victims of the Youhanabad Church blasts, which killed 17 and injured 70 on the 15 March 2015.

Since the attack the usually vibrant Christian neighbourhood of Lahore has become a community of silence and suffering, seeking refuge and reassurance from the government which is yet to materialise.

The event was organised by a GMA partner organisation in Youhanband, a local church led by Pastor Benyaamaeen which works to protect the human rights of the Christian community. The event was attended by the family members of the church blast victims and the wider Lahore Christian community, as GMA aid was distributed to the family members who lost their loved ones.

Global Minorities Alliance started a fundraising campaign in March to help assist the families of those who lost people in the attack. The online campaign aimed to highlight the persecution of minorities in Pakistan as well to raise funds for the family members going through this tragedy. GMA raised £1000 which meant that Pakistan rupees of 8000 was presented to the families as a donation.

GMA’s representative in Lahore, Pastor Benyameen, said:

“On behalf of the Youhanabad community we would like to express our thanks to Global Minorities Alliance, which has helped persecuted families in Pakistan who have suffered an irreplaceable loss due to these attacks. We would like to thank the Alliance for their work and generosity.”

One of the recipients of GMA aid gift – the wife of Tenvir Masih, who died in the Church blasts – said: ‘We would like to thank GMA, who has helped us financially as we grieve the loss of a loving husband since this aid will help me feed my children.”

The mother of the youngest victim of the blasts, Abeesheik Masih, said: “We are greatly consoled by GMA for this aid; it has remembered us in this difficult time, and I thank GMA for their help for persecuted people like me.”

Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK which generously helped GMA raise £250 also appreciated the work of Global Minorities Alliance. Fareed Ahmed, National Secretary External Affairs, Ahmadiyya Muslims UK further maintained:

“All people are equal and everyone must have equal rights including freedom of religion. We pray for peace in Pakistan and pray for all those affected by the horrific attack can now rebuild their lives.”

GMA’s Chief Executive, Manassi Bernard, said:

“We are indebted to all those who contributed around the world to make this fundraising campaign and donation event a success. We continue in our resolve to assist beleaguered minorities in Pakistan who suffer from terror attacks, and call for interfaith harmony and peace among people of different faiths.”

Christians make less than 2% of predominantly Muslim country, where minorities are often used as a soft target for terror attacks.

To donate to GMA, please go to www.globalminorities.co.uk