Category Archives: Human Rights

STATEMENT: PC International member organizations on the crisis in northern Iraq

pcilogonewfrom Pax Christi International

On Thursday 14 August, Pax Christi Member Organisations in Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States have sent letters to their Ministers of Foreign Affairs calling for an immediate action to safeguard the right of life of all vulnerable populations in Northern Iraq.

IraqCrisis-smallPax Christi members are extremely concerned with shocking reports of displacement of peoples and mass slaughter threatened by the self-proclaimed Islamic State against numerous minority groups in Iraq. The news coming from the country is horrendous: thousands of people, mostly minority groups including Christians, Yazidis, Shabak and Turkmen have been brutally driven from their homes; innocent children, women and men are suffering violence of every kind. The ongoing conflict has already displaced some 1.2 million people, mostly minority communities who have fled the northwest of Iraq.

Pax Christi Member Organisations made an appeal on three counts to safeguard the right of life of all vulnerable populations in Northern Iraq:

  • to act to protect people by moving them to places of safety – either within Iraq or outside its borders. This should include the possibility of accepting Iraqi refugees in their own countries.
  • to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to those who are displaced, either within Iraq or outside its borders.
  • to actively support a solution which can only be legitimated by the United Nations and not by individual states.

The letters also asked that international leaders should remain alert to events taking place in Iraq and should commit to supporting the Iraqi efforts to end this cycle of violence. The international community, working through the United Nations, should support Iraq on guaranteeing a framework in which the life and dignity of all Iraqis are respected.

Pax Christi members regret that religion is being misused in this crisis. Faith should not be used to demonize people of other faiths. Religious beliefs should nurture justice, human dignity, compassion and solidarity. Pax Christi supports urgent recent appeals from Patriarch Louis Sako I in Iraq and echo the call made by Pope Francis: “War is not to be waged in the name of God!”

REFLECTION: Making bad situations worse in the Middle East

Tony Maglianoby Tony Magliano

The heart wrenching tragedies throughout the Middle East are not the United States’ fault, that is, at least not entirely.

The fact that many Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims distrust each other, that the Allies established artificial national boundaries to suite their interests after World War I, and that ruthless dictators past and present have often oppressed their people are major reasons why much of the Middle East is broken and bleeding.  

But the U.S. has made several bad situations in the Middle East far worse.

Iraqi sisters look over the damage at a church in northern Iraq.

Iraqi sisters look over the damage at a church in northern Iraq.

In Egypt, according to the Congressional Research Service, since 1987 the U.S. has given that nation $1.3 billion per year in military aid despite the fact that it was long ruled by the dictator Hosni Mubarak.  

Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, its refusal to allow subjugated Palestinians to form an independent nation, and the strangling blockade and brutal invasion of Gaza would not be possible without the approximate $3 billion in annual American aid and the United States’ refusal to demand that Israel reverse course here.

While it is a sad truth that under the dictator Saddam Hussein many Iraqis suffered, it is an even sadder truth that the 2003 U.S. led invasion of Iraq, caused even greater suffering to countless Iraqis.

After nearly nine years of war, hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi children, women and men are dead, over 4,480 American troops were killed, and Iraq overall is in a far worse state.

Furthermore, the U.S. war with Iraq unleashed deadly Islamist attacks upon thousands of Iraqi Christians.

In a CBS 60 Minutes segment, Rev. Andrew White, an Anglican priest who has a long history of ministry in Iraq, said the situation there was clearly worse for Christians than under the Saddam Hussein regime.

And according to a Fox News report earlier this year, Fr. White said that in the past five years 1,096 of his own parishioners were killed.

He said that out of the 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq in 2003, only around 200,000 remain.

And now with the Islamic State controlling a large part of Iraq, the remaining Christian population is suffering even worse.

There can be no doubt that the U.S. invasion of Iraq made a bad situation far worse. 

Please help our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ by giving a generous donation to Catholic Near East Welfare Association (www.cnewa.org).  

And urge your congressional delegation and President Obama (www.whitehouse.gov) to grant emergency asylum to at least 300,000 Christians and other minorities fleeing the barbarism of the Islamic State. Yes, this would be a major undertaking, but the U.S. is capable of doing it. It’s mostly just a matter of will – good will.

To its credit, tiny Lebanon, with a population of approximately 6 million people, has according the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, taken in well over 1 million mostly Syrian and Iraqi refugees and asylum-seekers – with over 500,000 more expected by year’s end. That would be equivalent to the U.S. taking in over 50 million refugees and asylum-seekers.

Three years ago, the U.S. led an aerial attack against the regime of Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi leaving that nation awash in weapons which continue to help fuel the warring militias that have since been unleashed.

While U.S. bombing helped end Gaddafi’s brutal reign, it didn’t stop the suffering of the Libyan people.

Bombs kill. They do not address the root-causes of conflict. Rather, they perpetuate the cycle of violence. Knowing that full well, and in response to President Barack Obama’s threats to bomb Syria last year, Pope Francis called on people of faith to observe Sept. 7, 2013 as a day of prayer and fasting.

On that day the Holy Father said to over 100,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, and to all of us, “Forgiveness, dialogue, reconciliation – these are the words of peace, in beloved Syria, in the Middle East, in all the world!”

Tony Magliano is an internationally syndicated social justice and peace columnist. Please contact your diocesan newspaper and request that they carry Tony’s column. Tony is available to speak at diocesan or parish gatherings about Catholic social teaching. His keynote address, “Advancing the Kingdom of God in the 21st Century,” has been well received by diocesan gatherings from Salt Lake City to Baltimore. Tony can be reached at tmag@zoominternet.net.

IMMIGRATION: Ann Coulter, Cardinal Dolan, and the discourse surrounding migrant children

by Scott Alessi, US Catholic

childrenattheborderbutton-smallThe waves of migrant children fleeing their homeland in search of safety and stability within the United States’ borders has been a major news story in recent months, but now it seems as if our public debate (or in some cases, shouting match) about the situation has become the bigger story.

Some Americans were ashamed and angered to see fellow citizens protesting the arrival of busloads of migrant women and children in California, chanting things like “go home” and “U-S-A” as the buses approached. Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert has called the children’s arrival an “invasion” and compared it to D-Day. We’ve even seen protesters use the slogan “Not our children, not our problem.”

Then came what the New York Times dubbed “the backlash to the backlash,” as religious leaders–especially Catholics–took a strong stand against this kind of rhetoric. The Catholic response to the migrants has been consistently one of welcome and aid, as Catholic Charities offices have been offering assistance along the borders and church leaders like Cardinal Francis George of Chicago have even offered up facilities to help house some of the children. Even Pope Francis weighed in, calling for unaccompanied child migrants to be “welcomed and protected” while condemning “racist and xenophobic attitudes” toward immigrants.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote a blog post expressing his shame over the crowds of angry protesters, saying of their actions, “It was un-American; it was un-biblical; it was inhumane.” Dolan called for the recognition of the human dignity of the migrants, repeating the same stance the U.S. bishops have held throughout the immigration debate. “We might argue and yell about policies, processes, and politics,” Dolan wrote, “(but) we can never argue about the dignity of the human person or the sacredness of life, or yell at people who need our help.”…

Click here to read the rest of the article.

STATEMENT: Statement on the killing of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, MO

Another victim of violence, another unarmed young Black man executed because of the color of his skin, another family torn apart bu grief, another town dealing with fear, rage and chaos…when is enough, enough?

The shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO stands as a stark reminder of the reckless disregard of human rights in our country by profiling groups of its citizens, and the serious lack of interracial justice in the U.S.

Pax Christi USA calls for prayers for Michael’s family and friends, a non-violent resolution and accountability for the execution of this young man and a reconciliation with justice for the community torn apart by this senseless act.

We invite you to lend your support to the members of the Ferguson, MO community:

  • by signing the petition at http://www.colorofchange.org
  • for those in the St. Louis area….to connect with Ferguson residents who are asking for a non-violent investigation and transparency of this unjust situation
  • by examining the structures, policies and attitudes that created and escalated the violence
  • by writing letters and Op/Ed pieces for your local newspapers
  • by asking your local parish community for a specific Prayer of the Faithful for strength and courage for the Brown family for the coming weekend

TAKE ACTION: Justice for Mike Brown

from ColorofChange.org

MikeBrownFather215x160On August 9, 2014 a Ferguson police officer racially profiled and fatally shot unarmed, Black, 18-year-old, Michael Brown as he walked to his grandmother’s residence with a friend. Eye witnesses report that the police officer, who has yet to be identified, fired several shots at Michael as the teen stood in the street with his hands in the air. The family and local community members are calling his death an execution.

Enough is enough. This tragic police killing is representative of the systemic police abuse affecting Black communities in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country. Last year, Black Missouri residents were 66% more likely to be stopped by police, and more likely to be arrested, even though white residents were more likely to be found with contraband.

Racially-motivated police violence has no place in law enforcement. Join us in demanding a rigorous investigation, prosecution, and firing of all officers involved in this tragic police killing.

Click to read the original email we sent to members about this campaign.

CHILDREN AT OUR BORDER: Where is the compassion for the children at our border?

Lopez-Hughes-Dianeby Diane Lopez Hughes,
Pax Christi Illinois

In light of the current humanitarian crisis at our borders, each of us would do well to think like a parent.

Fleeing from hunger and violence in their home countries, we can only imagine how frightened the children must be, leaving behind everything they know to make the harsh and dangerous journey across Mexico to the U.S. border.

childrenattheborderbutton-smallImagine the terrifying conditions that must necessitate parents sending their children into life-threatening circumstances for the possibility of safety, security and a better future. How demoralizing it must be for some of the parents not to have the resources to feed their children or insure their safety, For their parents who already are here, how hard it must be to make the decision to send children on this grueling journey.

The problem is not new. In June 2008, during the Bush administration, I had an opportunity to travel to Guatemala with Witness for Peace for the purpose of learning about the roots of migration from Central America to the United States.

One 13-year-old teen shared his story of detention. It sounded similar to the conditions we hear about today: a lack of health care and only minimal food and water offered to those detained. At that time, many of the detention facilities were run by the same private mega-industry that warehouses U.S. prisoners today…

Read this entire article by clicking here.

IRAQ: USCCB asks parishes to pray for Iraq on Sunday, August 17

from Zenit.org

IraqCrisis-smallThe chairman of the Committee of International Justice and Peace of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) asked the U.S. bishops to invite the people of their dioceses to pray for peace in Iraq on Sunday, August 17. Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, made the request, August 6, sending the bishops the text of a prayer written by the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Iraq, His Beatitude Louis Rafael Sako.

Bishop Pates recounted the struggles of Christians and others in Iraq who have faced the destruction, burning and looting of churches, homes and businesses and, under threat of the Islamic State (ISIS) to join their extremist brand of Islam, have fled for their lives. Accordingly, he urged Catholics to let their elected representatives know of their concern that humanitarian assistance reach Christian and other religious minorities who are suffering in Iraq, Syria and other countries.

Bishop Pates also noted Pope Francis’ calls for peace in Iraq and his observation that “violence generates more violence; dialogue is the only path to peace.”…

Click here to see the full text of this article, including Patriarch Sako’s prayer.