Comments by David G. Littman, NGO Representative to the United Nations (Geneva):
Association for World Education (AWE) and World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ)
In a 24 December Press Release the U.S. affiliate of Christian Solidarity International (CSI) urged President Obama to send a Christmas Message of Hope to the Persecuted Christians of Iraq.
Last year, on Human Rights Day (10 December 2008), the AWE, the WUPJ and the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) sent an Urgent Appeal to UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay, with copies to three UN Special Rapporteurs and two other UN authorities, regarding the tragic plight of Iraq’s ancient Christian communities.
No response was received, although the situation in Iraq has worsened considerably.
Today, on Christmas Day, a second ‘Appeal’ was sent by us to the High Commissioner and copies will be posted tomorrow to all those listed at the end of our Appeal below.
ASSOCIATION FOR WORLD EDUCATION
INTERNATIONAL HUMANIST AND ETHICAL UNION
WORLD UNION FOR PROGRESSIVE JUDAISM
CHRISTMAS DAY APPEAL
To the High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay for the Christians of Iraq
25 December 2009
Last year, on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we appealed to you on the tragic situation of the Christians in Iraq, making available a detailed 15-page Report (“Terror Reigns over Mosul Christians”) and a press release by Christian Solidarity International (CSI), with copies sent to those Special Rapporteurs and others listed below.
The above-mentioned CSI report drew particular attention to the fast-deteriorating human rights situation in the Mosul area where half of the roughly 25,000 Christians had fled after a well-organized terror campaign targeting Christians in September-October 2008. Although some have returned, the situation has worsened in general for Christian and other minorities.
In December 2009, five bombs in Baghdad killed 123 people and injured another 500, while three bomb explosions damaged churches and killed six people in Mosul. Since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, over 500 Christians, including bishops and priests, have been killed and 59 churches bombed. These acts of terror, combined with kidnappings, death threats, discriminatory jizya-dhimmi extortions and non-violent anti-Christian social discrimination have prompted nearly half of Iraq’s one million Christians to flee the country and seek refuge abroad. Many of those who remain in Iraq are internally displaced. Other Iraqi non-Muslim minorities experience similar persecution. “This Christmas, many Iraqi churches will yet again stand empty and forlorn because church attendance carries with it the risk of losing one’s life. The inability of the faithful to celebrate Christmas without fear from jihad-terror reflects the crisis of survival facing Iraq’s ancient Christian community.” (CSI press release, 24 December 2009)
On Christmas Day, we again call for renewed efforts on the part of the entire UN system to monitor, to mediate and to facilitate reconciliation among the ethnic-religious communities of Iraq – and to combat religious intolerance. We urge a rapid deployment of larger numbers of human rights monitors and appeal to you and your office to take the necessary measures to fully protect the right to freedom of religion or belief of the Christian communities in Iraq.
RenÃ© V.L. Wadlow David G. Littman Roy W. Brown
Representatives to the United Nations Office in Geneva
Association for World Education: Case Postale 205, 1196 Gland, Switzerland
International Humanist and Ethical Union: 1 Gower St, London WC1E 6HD, UK.
World Union for Progressive Judaism: c/o Beith-Gil – 12, Quai du Seujet – 1201 GenÃ¨ve
cc. Ms. Asma Jahangir, SR: Freedom of religion & belief; Mr. Githu Muigai, SR: Racism & Intolerance Mr. James Anaya, SR: HRts & fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples; Ms. Gay J. Mc Dougall, Ind. Exp. minority issues; Pr. Walter KÃ¤lin, Rep. of UN Sec.-Gen.: HR of internally displaced persons.