The Christians in Iraq live in fear. From Saddam's arbitrariness, one has been thrown into a nightmare which does not have an ending. All in front of a passive surrounding world. Father Ragheed Ganni and his three deacons were told to get out of their car; right after mass was finished in the Catholic church: The Church of the Holy Spirit, in Mosul, northern Iraq last Monday evening. The armed men who had stopped the car, first tortured the priest by shooting his arm off, according to Expressen, and then proceeded in executing him and his followers. Afterwards a bomb was placed next to the car, so that the bodies would not be removed too quickly. They would lie there placed on public display to elucidate the threat.
This is just the latest of attacks against the remains of Christians in Iraq. In statistics, they are called Iraqis, but they are Assyrians, also called Chaldeans and Syriacs, belonging to different churches, and consider themselves the natives of Mesopotamia. In statistics, the numbers are small, but the reports are bloody and show a systematic violence which serves only one purpose: Flee or die. Innumerable churches have been bombed, religious and political representatives have been kidnapped and beheaded, and nuns have been raped. Christian women in Baghdad are forced to wear a veil, in order not to be targeted for violence. In December 2006, several Christmas tree vendors were abducted and killed. At local elections in 2005, around 40,000 Assyrian votes disappeared in the area around Mosul. Without any measures taken. The brutality and the threats against the Assyrian population must be paid attention to. What goes on in Iraq is nothing but a quiet, ethnic, cultural and religious cleansing. The country, just as the rest of the Middle East, is being emptied of its Christians. It is a trauma for those affected, and it changes the demography in the area in a most tangible way. For the Assyrians, their thoughts go back to World War I, when around a million were butchered by the Turkish state and their Kurdish neighbors. All while the rest of the world watched without interfering. Still, neither the world ! nor the perpetrators have admitted the genocide of 1915. In light of this fact, today's events are all the more frightening.
During the first Iraqi war, the Christians of the country were estimated to be around two million in number. Today the number is 800,000. The numbers are uncertain, because one does not know how many have fled. But what is clear is that the Christians are highly overrepresented in the groups of refugees. Many of them are in Sweden, where father Ragheed Ganni also worked in the Church of St John in Södertälje. But most of the people fleeing, remain in countries such as Jordan and Syria. Where they live under very strenuous circumstances. Before the invasion many feared that the Christians would risk being punished for the American "crusade". But that fear was still mixed with real hopes of a better life in freedom, maybe with an autonomy of their own in the Plains of Ninewe, where the Assyrians are in majority. But no party to the conflict has shown political or economic support for such a solution. What before the war looked like a possibility for Assyrians, after 2,000 years of persecutions, to be able to govern themselves in their own area, became a nightmare. Those responsible for the invasion must take their political responsibility, especially in favor of the defenceless people, and stop the ethnic cleansing. The Assyrians must be guaranteed full safety.
Translated from Swedish by EasternStar News Agency