Iraqi prelate pleads before UN Security Council for international support

THE CURRENT PROTESTS IN IRAQ demonstrate the rejection by the majority of the Iraqi people of the post- 2003 structure and government of the country. It is a rejection of a sectarian-based Constitution, which has divided Iraq and prevented it from becoming a unified and functioning country. Instead of bringing hope and prosperity, the current government structure has brought continued corruption and despair, especially to the youth of Iraq. …

It is important to understand that Christians have not only sided with the protestors openly, but also that the Christians and other minorities including Yazidis, have been welcomed into the protest movement by the Iraqi Muslims. In a real sense, these protests have demonstrated the true richness of the historical Iraq. This opening of reconciliation between all Iraqis demonstrates real hope for positive changes in which a new government in Iraq, if there is a new government, will be much more positive towards a genuinely multi-religious Iraq with full citizenship for all and an end to this sectarian disease which has so violently harmed and degraded us all.

In contrast, the non-violence of the protestors must not be overlooked by the international community. These courageous protestors have been committed to non-violence from the very beginning of the movement, even though there have been daily instances of extreme violence directed towards the protesters from militia forces who have continually attempted to provoke confrontation. Over 400 innocent protestors have now been murdered, and many thousands seriously injured. Yet the protesters still remain non-violent. …

If the protest movement is successful in creating a new government, with a new, civil constitution, respecting the diversity of its religions, and cultures, one not based in Sharia but instead based upon the fundamental concepts of freedom for all, freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights written by this organization where we all sit today, then a time of hope can still exist for the long suffering Iraqi people. Despite everything, the Iraqi people love their country, and they want it back.

If the protest movement is not successful, if the international community stands by and allows the murder of innocents to continue, Iraq will likely soon fall into civil war, the result of which will send millions of young Iraqis, including most Christians and Yazidis, into the diaspora. In the crisis and the genocide of 2014, over four million Iraqis, Muslims, Yazidis and Christians fled to the Kurdistan region seeking refuge from the evil of ISIS, but still remained within the country. In another major conflict, we are likely to see the people flee from Iraq for good. We are indeed at perhaps the last chance for our country.

 The international community must not be satisfied with false changes in leadership which do not really represent change. It is clear that the ruling power groups do not intend to give up control, and that they will make every effort to fundamentally keep the existing power structures in place. The international community must clearly understand that the protesters will not accept this, and the international community must not take part in supporting any type of false change. …

Archbishop Bashar Warda

The young Christians of Iraq have been participants in these protests every day. They have been there because the protests have given them hope for a future, a future in which they belong as equal and contributing Iraqi citizens. Along with the millions of other marginalized Iraqis, they look now to the international community for your action and support. We hold you all accountable for this. Iraq, the country which has so often been harmed, now looks to you all for help. We believe we have a future, and we ask you not to turn away from us now.

Iraq stands at a historic crossroads. The Christian and other minority communities of Iraq stand with – and often beside – Muslim protestors as together they seek a better life, based on equality regardless of religious belief. Either Iraq will develop as these protesters hope, moving away from political violence and the current sectarian power structure and taking its rightful place among nations who respect the rights of all regardless of their faith, or it will slide backwards, a fate previewed in the killing of protesters and most notably with the genocide and other carnage at the hands of ISIS. In this latter case, Iraqi sovereignty too will be undermined as its strong neighbors meddle in its internal affairs.

Let us pray that Iraq finds the path of peace, of equality and of a future for all its people, regardless of their religious beliefs.