Iraq:Call for prayers, solidarity and donations

The FSPC supports the urgent appeals for help for the suffering people of northern Iraq issued by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE). The FSPC has contacted the Swiss federal authorities. At the same time, the FSPC is asking for collections and donations. What follows are statements by the WCC, the CPCE and the Evangelical-Reformed Church of Zurich.
iStockphoto.com/AWSeebaran

Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches, August 11, 2014: The FSPC is answering the call of its global and European church family. The World Council of Churches and the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe have called upon their members to submit their urgent appeals for help regarding the current situation in northern Iraq to the national governments and to bring about an intervention by the United Nations.

The FSPC has contacted the Swiss federal authorities. The first step is to discuss what actions the federal authorities are taking and how the churches and their relief organizations with their many direct contacts to sister churches in Iraq and the neighboring countries can be of help. The FSPC calls for prayers and solidarity with the people in northern Iraq.

Parishes and individuals are called upon to show solidarity and to support the Christians in Iraq with generous collections and donations. For this purpose, the Evangelical-Reformed Church of Zurich has opened a special account, “Bedrängte Christen” (“Christians under threat”):

PC 80-2020-8, Evang.-ref. Landeskirche des Kantons Zürich, CH-8001 Zurich
Note: Account 200 510 “Bedrängte Christen/Irak” (“Christians under threat/Iraq”)

For further information, contact Philippe Dätwyler; phone 044 258 92 65; philippe.daetwyler@zh.ref.ch


The World Council of Churches (WCC) has issued an urgent appeal calling upon the United Nations to take action against the displacement and endangerment of Christians and other minorities by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In addition, the WCC calls upon its member churches to pray and show solidarity with the people in northern Iraq. The following text is a translation by the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches.The text of the English original issued by the WCC applies.

Appeal by the World Council of Churches (WCC) to its member churches for prayer and advocacy for the churches in northern Iraq

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

On behalf of the World Council of Churches, I am writing to solicit your prayers for the Christians, the church communities and all the suffering people on the Plain of Nineveh in northern Iraq, as well as the surrounding region. Reports in recent days have confirmed the forced displacement and indiscriminate killing of Christians, Yazidis, and members of other vulnerable religious and ethnic communities in Iraq as the result of military attacks by the “Islamic State”, a group formerly known as the “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham” (ISIS).

I have communicated with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki Moon, urging him to deploy all efforts to bring a halt to the violence in Iraq and to ensure the physical protection of all people there and support for their human rights including the right to religious liberty. Now I ask for your support, in prayer and advocacy. Please contact your government officials requesting them to:

  • Instruct their UN ambassadors to bring the plight of all vulnerable people and communities in Iraq to the Security Council for immediate protective actions.
  • Obtain from the UN Security Council a binding resolution that ensures the immediate safe return of all those who were obliged to flee their homes and properties.
  • Double their humanitarian efforts now, including urgent aid for the internally displaced and the refugees in neighbouring countries.

Please do also notify us of your action so that we can inform the churches in Iraq and follow-up on the issue at the United Nations.

In the region that is now Iraq, Christianity took root in the earliest decades of the Christian church, and it is there that some of the most faithful of our communities have flourished to this day. These are the brothers and sisters who are under threat now.

The Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon, Louis Raphael Sako, wrote earlier today that ISIS militants conducted a mortar assault last night that has driven as many as 100,000 Christians from their homes and villages, most fleeing on foot towards Kurdish cities where they hope to take refuge. Those fleeing include the sick and wounded the elderly, infants and pregnant women. The patriarch tells us that there is an urgent need for water, food and shelter.

Churches and property belonging to religious communities are being desecrated and destroyed by ISIS, and ancient manuscripts have been burned as an assault on the people’s religious beliefs. According to the Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah, Joseph Thomas, whole towns in northern Iraq have been emptied of their populations.

Let us join in prayer and unite in action to restore these shattered communities, and to aid their people.

In the love and service of Jesus Christ,

Dr Isabel Apawo Phiri
Associate General Secretary for Public Witness and Diakonia and Acting General Secretary

 

Press release of the WCC (en)

WCC open letter to UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon (en)

 


Press release of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe CPCE,  11.08.2014

CPCE on Iraq: Swift action demanded

The Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE) is deeply concerned about the threat facing Christians and other religious and ethnic groups in northern Iraq. Hundreds of thousands of these people are being forced to flee and fight for their survival. The deadly threat against Yazidis, Christians and members of other religious and ethnic minorities exerted by the Islamic terror group “Islamic State” (IS) demands immediate action from the international community. The CPCE therefore supports the call issued by the World Council of Churches (WCC) and urgently requests its members to contact their appropriate government officials – preferably as designated by the UN – demanding effective protection for those under threat, swift aid to displaced persons, and to ensure their safe return and put an end to violence against religious and ethnic minorities. In addition, effective pressure must be exerted by the international community on any countries that support IS in the form of weapons or funding.

The Presidium of the CPCE points out that the dramatic events in Iraq need to be viewed in their broader context. The member churches of the CPCE have long been aware of the oppressive situation forced upon Christians living in the Near and Middle East, which they have learned about via their close affinity with the Federation of Middle East Evangelical Churches (FMEEC), to which the Council of Protestant Churches in Iraq belongs. “Christians in the Middle East have never before in their history in this region found themselves confronted with such a level of catastrophe and chaos as has emerged from the ‘Arab Spring’,” declared FMEEC General Secretary Rosangela Jarjour at the 2012 CPCE General Assembly in Florence. Even back then, the future already looked dim, but by now the very existence and witness of Christians in the Middle East is at stake, to the dismay of the Presidium of the CPCE. “Current events add even greater urgency to the need for solidarity between the churches and their actions,” says the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe.

For this reason, the Presidium and the General Secretary of the CPCE call upon its member churches – and the nearly 50 million Protestants they represent throughout Europe – to increase their practical aid and to support these threatened groups with actions of solidarity. “Any form of religiously motivated violence and brutalised piety destroys human coexistence and is blasphemous to God,” asserts the Presidium of the CPCE. Alongside concrete aid – including assistance for those whose families’ lives are threatened – the current situation calls for all churches to unite in prayer for anyone currently facing such threats.

***
Address: GEKE-Geschäftsstelle, Severin-Schreiber-Gasse 3, 1180 Wien, Österreich, Tel.: +43.1.4791523.900, Telefax: +43.1.4791523.580, Email: office@leuenberg.eu, Internet: www.leuenberg.eu. Pressekontakt: Mag. Ingrid Monjencs, Tel. Mobil: +43.699.18878 052, Email: i.monjencs@leuenberg.eu.


Pressemitteilung der Evang.-ref. Landeskirche des Kantons Zürich vom 25. Juli.
(only in German)

Christenverfolgung durch Extremisten des „Islamischen Staat“ hat im Irak einen Höhepunkt erreicht.

Die Christenverfolgung durch die Extremisten des „Islamischen Staates“ (IS) hat am 19. Juli im Irak einen traurigen Höhepunkt erreicht. Mit Flugblättern wurde den noch verbliebenen Christen in der Millionenstadt Mossul ein Ultimatum gestellt: „Flieht, ohne Gepäck, nur mit der Kleidung am Leib, oder wählt aus drei Optionen: Konversion zum Islam, Sondersteuer oder Exekution durchs Schwert.“ Hals über Kopf haben deshalb am Wochenende die letzten 2000 christlichen Familien Mossul verlassen.

Heute ist die zweitgrösste Stadt im Irak „christenfrei“. Erstmals seit 1800 Jahren findet am Sonntag in Mossul (dem ehemaligen Niniveh) kein Gottesdienst mehr statt. Die IS-Terroristen haben die Kreuze demonstrativ von den Kirchenkuppeln entfernt. Einzelne Kirchen wurden zu Moscheen umgewandelt. Andere wurden demoliert oder werden nun als Waffenlager genutzt. Und die Geschäfte und Häuser der Christen wurden geplündert.

Sogar das legendäre Grab des Jona, den die Muslime als Prophet verehren, wurde mit Vorschlaghämmern zerstört. Der Terror scheint keine Grenzen zu kennen und richtet sich auch gegen Schiiten und gemässigte Sunniten.

Die Region um Mossul gilt seit Jahrhunderten als das Zentrum des Christentums im Irak. Vor zehn Jahren lebten im Irak noch eineinhalb Millionen Christen, davon über 50.000 in Mossul. 2013 waren es nur noch 300.000 im gesamten Irak, davon etwa 25.000 in Mossul.

Internationale Proteste
International hat die Vertreibung der Christen aus Mossul heftige Proteste ausgelöst. Der Patriarch der Syrisch-orthodoxen Kirche, Ignatius Aphrem II., appellierte an die internationale Gemeinschaft, „diesen rechtswidrigen Handlungen ein Ende zu setzen“. Auch der Weltkirchenrat zeigte sich tief besorgt über die Vertreibung. Der Exodus sei eine Tragödie für Christen und Muslime im Irak. Der Papst hat seinerseits auf dem Petersplatz in Rom zum Gebet für die Christen im Irak aufgerufen.

UN-Generalsekretär Ban Ki Moon hat die Christenverfolgung scharf verurteilt und als mögliches „Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit“ eingestuft. Aber auch unter Muslimen hat das Vorgehen von IS Abscheu und Empörung ausgelöst. Die Organisation für Islamische Zusammenarbeit (OIC) nannte die Verfolgung der Christen im Irak ein „unerträgliches Verbrechen“ und bot humanitäre Hilfe für die Vertriebenen an.

Flucht in die kurdischen Provinzen
Unter der Schreckensherrschaft leiden aber auch viele andere. Hunderttausende (gemässigte Sunniten, Schiiten, Yeziden, Christen) sind deshalb in die relativ sicheren kurdischen Provinzen geflüchtet. Aber nun droht dort eine humanitäre Katastrophe. „Unsere Region kann die Ankunft von so vielen Flüchtlingen kaum mehr bewältigen, sagt der Ministerpräsident der Regionalregierung Kurdistan.

Wegen des Bürgerkriegs in Syrien und dem Terror des „Islamischen Staates“ (IS) hat Irakisch-Kurdistan bis heute mehr als eine Million Flüchtlinge aufgenommen. Die kurdische Provinzregierung und Hilfsorganisationen haben in Eile grosse Camps eingerichtet. Überall versucht man die Flüchtlinge unterzubringen. Die Lage ist dramatisch und die Not ist gross.

Christen bieten Unterkunft
Die in den kurdischen Provinzen lebenden Christen helfen tatkräftig mit. Sie bieten den Flüchtlingen unabhängig von ihrer Religionszugehörigkeit Unterkunft in Kirchen, Klöstern, Schulen und zum Teil sogar in Privathäusern. Zudem ist die einheimische Hilfsorganisation CAPNI (Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq) daran, ein grosses Nothilfeprojekt zu starten. Es geht dabei insbesondere um Lebensmittelpakete, Hygieneartikel, Matratzen, Wassercontainer und Medikamente.

Zürcher Landeskirche hilft mit
Die Zürcher Landeskirche pflegt seit Jahren freundschaftliche Beziehungen zur syrisch-orthodoxen Kirche im Irak und im Turabdin (Südosttürkei) und hat in der Vergangenheit auch verschiedene Projekte von CAPNI unterstützt.

Wegen der aktuellen Flüchtlingsnot in der nordirakischen Niniveh-Ebene hat der Kirchenrat kürzlich beschlossen, das Nothilfeprojekt von CAPNI zu unterstützen. Aus dem Sammelkonto „Bedrängte Christen“ wurden CAPNI 20`000 Franken überwiesen. Zusätzlich hat auch das ökumenische Forum G2W einen Beitrag von 10‘000 Franken für das Projekt beschlossen.

Author: 
ÖRK/GEKE/SEK/Landeskirche Zürich