Category Archives: Iraq

PETITION: We are better than this

Pax Christi USA has signed onto this effort.

Is this America?

2165-thumb-with-textWe grieve the many lives that have been lost or painfully transformed in recent weeks through extreme acts of violence.

And we are appalled by the surge of divisive rhetoric that sows the seeds of more violence to come.

A dangerous tide of hatred, violence, and suspicion is rising in America — whether aimed at Arab and Muslim Americans, women and the places we seek health care, Black people, immigrants and refugees, or people just going about their daily lives. This tide is made more dangerous by easy access to guns.

When has hate ever led to progress? Is this really what we want  America to be?

We are better than this.

Click here to sign the petition.

SYRIA: Genocide, crimes against humanity, and refugees

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by Thomas Reese, S.J., NCR

Thirty Christian leaders, including Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, have written a letter to Secretary John Kerry calling on the State Department to include Syrian and Iraqi Christians among those listed as victims of genocide by the Islamic State group (also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh).

refugees“We recently learned that a State Department finding is imminent that ISIS is committing genocide against the Yazidis,” an Iraqi ethnic and religious group whose villages were attacked by the Islamic State group. “We would wholeheartedly endorse that finding, but we are deeply troubled by the prospect that the Department’s statement will either omit or reserve judgment on whether ISIS is committing genocide against Christians” in its territories.

The signers of the Dec. 4 letter asked for a meeting with Kerry “to present the available evidence of ongoing genocidal acts against Christians in Syria and Iraq at a level where it can be considered before a finding is made.”

“ISIS genocidal campaign against Christians continues today,” states the letter, “with hundreds of Christians remaining in ISIS captivity, and with summary executions, including by beheadings and crucifixions, occurring as recently as only a few months ago.”

“Pope Francis has called ISIS’ crimes against Christians by their proper name: ‘genocide,'” says the letter. “The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Christian leaders in the Middle East have done so as well. We agree, and are hopeful that, once you have seen the evidence, you will too.”

Read the entire article by clicking here.

OPEN LETTER: 2500 faith leaders tell Donald Trump to repudiate his proposal for a ban on Muslims

Pax Christi USA has signed onto the following letter which was initiated by Faith in Public Life.

muslimneighborsAs leaders in America’s faith community, our institutions do not engage in partisan politics. We do, however, speak to important moral and ethical issues facing our nation.

In this spirit, we write to express in the strongest possible terms our deep disappointment and even disgust with the proposal made by you to stop allowing Muslims to enter the United States.

Our faith traditions demand that we extend a welcoming hand to those in need. America is an immigrant nation. We know that many have come to our country, and continue to do so, seeking religious freedom and an end to persecution. This is true for Syrian refugees fleeing ISIS today, and many others displaced by war, conflict and disaster.

We remember that too many religious leaders stood silent as Jews fled Germany during Hitler’s rise to power. In fact, some religious leaders and politicians argued that Jews should not be allowed into the United States during that period. In that same timeframe, too many religious leaders stood silent as Japanese-Americans were interned into camps as their patriotism was questioned. Bigotry and discrimination prevailed.

Muslims serve this nation in offices of public service, in our Armed Forces, in law enforcement, and as community builders. These are our neighbors, our friends, and children of God.

We cannot remain silent as political leaders seek to divide Americans along religious lines for partisan gain. Your language and proposals serve only to divide our nation and to bring comfort to ISIS and their allies.

Mr. Trump, as leaders of many faiths we ask that you reflect on your proposals and repudiate those that you have made, that our country may be a beacon of hope and not fear.

Click here to read the press release.

TAKE ACTION: Protect deserving, carefully vetted Syrian and Iraqi refugees and their families fleeing violence and death

from Justice for Immigrants

jfiBackground: In the aftermath of the violent attacks on Paris, 31 governors made public statements that they wanted resettlement of Syrian refugees halted in their states. Days later, the U.S. House of Representatives, with comparable intentions, passed H.R. 4038, The American Security against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act, which would effectively halt all resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States for a protracted time.

The week after Thanksgiving, the same bill or similar legislation will likely be introduced and voted on in the U.S. Senate, and even worse legislation may continue to be introduced. Meanwhile, some federal lawmakers may also try to use the Omnibus appropriations bill that must be passed by December 11th as a vehicle for securing passage of the SAFE Act or similar legislation.

On November 17th, Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, Chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued a statement which said, in part, “I am disturbed…by calls from both federal and state officials for an end to the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States. These refugees are fleeing terror themselves—violence like we have witnessed in Paris. They are extremely vulnerable families, women, and children who are fleeing for their lives. We cannot and should not blame them for the actions of a terrorist organization.”…

Click here to read this full alert and take action now.

SYRIA: Waves of displaced Syrians only “tip of the iceberg” in larger crisis

from the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor

Geneva – As EU officials continue to squabble over how to respond to the growing wave of migrants and refugees, the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor is releasing an in-depth report using Lebanon as a case study of the larger crisis increasingly facing the global community.

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“Most of the current debate has focused on the immediate crisis of the moment: how to stop smugglers and which countries should accept how many asylum seekers,” states the executive summary of the report. “However, there is an ever-growing problem that in the long run will exact an even higher price: the expanding proportion of refugees and forced migrants for whom displacement has become a chronic state.  In fact, the average period of time that a refugee spends out of his or her country now is 10 years.”

The Euro-Med report focuses on Lebanon because it now hosts more refugees per capita than any other country in the world (232 per 1,000 inhabitants), as well as the oldest population of long-term refugees (the Palestinians, living in limbo for 60 years now).

“Syria is currently the world’s biggest producer of both internally displaced people and refugees,” notes Pam Bailey, the researcher for Euro-Med who compiled the report. “And Lebanon is home to an estimated 1.5 million of these refugees—the highest per capita number of all the countries serving as haven. This huge influx is stressing local economies and generating xenophobia in Lebanon and other host countries, thus intensifying the drive to take tremendous risks by crossing the Mediterranean to try their chances in Europe.”…

Click here to read the rest of the story and the report.

REFLECTION: Syria may go from awful to even worse

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by Thomas Reese, S.J., NCR

Syria has suffered like few countries in the world. Although it lived with minimal conflict for many years, its leader, Bashar al-Assad, maintained order through intimidation and terror. When peaceful demonstrators challenged his dictatorial rule, they were attacked, killed, or put in prison. What started as a civil war has become internationalized with the presence of the so-called Islamic State group and its opponents joining the fray.

iraq-syria-buttonAssad has spared no weapon in putting down resistance, whether it be chemical weapons, barrel bombs, artillery bombardments or snipers. The United Nations estimates that 220,000 have died in the war. There are disputes over what percentage of the dead are civilian, but they are certainly significant.

Assad wants to paint all of his opponents as terrorists or Islamic State supporters, but his opponents also include thousands of people fed up with his regime. His military strategy is to go after the weaker, non-Islamic State opponents while avoiding the Islamic State fighters. His purpose is to eliminate the non-Islamic State forces while leaving the anti-Islamic State coalition to degrade and push back the Islamic State. His endgame is to present himself as the only alternative to the Islamic State after he has destroyed his other opponents…

Read the entire article by clicking here.