Iraq launches committee to record abuses against Christians

September 9, 2015 by  
Filed under newsletter-world

iraqIraq, September 09, 2015: The Prime Minister of Iraq, Haydar al-Abadi, has set up a committee to collect and document statistics on anti-Christian crimes in the country. The aim is to counter kidnappings of the country’s Christians and seizures of Christian homes and land, said Fides news agency on 24 August.

The committee plans to carry out a census of properties taken from Christians, using information from title deeds and identifying the individuals, groups or organisations that are now occupying property that has been illegally seized.

Almost 70% of Christian homes in Baghdad have been illegally expropriated, said Mohammed al-Rubai, a member of the city’s municipal council. “These houses belonged to Christians who fled Baghdad, seeking refuge from violent attacks targeting them and their homes,” he said. “The title deed documents have been falsified and the new title deeds have been lodged with the real estate registry. Many properties had been given to other Iraqi citizens.”

Another part of the initiative is to collect information about cases of kidnappings, including any evidence that can identify the perpetrators. Between late June and early July, terrorists kidnapped four Christians, two of whom were killed, despite the fact that their families paid ransoms for their safe return.

An Iraqi church leader who was kidnapped and ransomed was “killed and his body cut up, with pieces of him sent in a box to the family,” said John Newton, spokesperson for charity Aid to the Church in Need. Just a few hours earlier, his family had paid the ransom of $120,000 (£78,000; €100,000).

For many Iraqi Christians these measures will be too little and much too late. Hundreds of thousands fled their homes as the country descended into sectarian bloodshed after the 2003 US-led invasion and the defenceless Christian community was attacked from all sides. There are estimated to be just 300,000 Christians remaining in Iraq.

Many have crossed into other countries and live as refugees; others are internally displaced, taking refuge in the Kurdish north of Iraq. They have severed relations with their former homes, businesses and jobs and their communities are scattered. Many are likely to fear that this initiative will deliver less than it promises, especially as the authority of the government is non-existent or weak in many parts of Iraq, and corruption is common among officials.

– barnabas team

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