"This is cultural and human genocide," Sister Diana Momeka of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena, who used to live in Mosul, Iraq, told lawmakers on the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday morning. "Christians of Iraq are the first people of the land. You read about us in the Old Testament of the Bible. Christianity came to Iraq from the very earliest days through the preaching and witness of St Thomas and others of the Apostles and Church Elders. While our ancestors experienced all kinds of persecution, they stayed in their land, building a culture that has served humanity for the ages. We, as Christians, do not want, or deserve to leave or be forced out of our country any more than you would want to leave or be forced out of yours. But the current persecution that our community is facing is the most brutal in our history."
As ISIS continues to recruit fighters, the Islamic terror army is murdering Christians in Iraq and wiping the country clean of any historical evidence the religion has ever existed in the region. Christian women are being raped by ISIS fighters as a way to convert them to Islam, historical sites are being destroyed and hundreds-of-thousands of Christians and other minority religious groups have been forced to flee their ancient homes.
"On June 10, 2014, the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS, invaded the Nineveh Plain, which is where Qaraqosh is located. Starting with the city of Mosul, ISIS overran one city and town after another, giving the Christians of the region three choices: 1.) convert to Islam, 2.) pay a tribute (Al-Jizya) to ISIS or 3.) leave their cities (like Mosul) with nothing more than the clothes on their back. As this horror spread throughout the Nineveh Plain, by August 6, 2014, Nineveh was emptied of Christians, and sadly, for the first time since the seventh century AD, no church bells rang for Mass in the Plain of Nineveh," Sister Momeka said. "From June 2014 forward, more than a hundred and twenty thousand (120,000+) people found themselves displaced and homeless in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, leaving behind their heritage and all they had worked for over the centuries. This uprooting, this theft of everything that the Christians owned, displaced them body and soul, stripping away their humanity and dignity."
As the United States and coalition partners work to slowly train Syrian and Iraqi fighters to combat ISIS, Christians living in the war torn region are begging for more to be done in support of the Kurdish Army. They also need additional humanitarian aid as well as medical and psychological treatment.
"We need a protection zone," Director of Interfaith Peacebuilding at the George Mason University's Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution Hind Kabawat, who is also a Christian from Syria, testified. "ISIS has in particular destroyed the lives of countless women and girls in a display of enslavement, rape and horror that has no precedent for us in Syria. Women and girls are thus subject to horror from all sides. Beyond its barbaric human rights violations, ISIS has further sought to destroy these communities by erasing their cultural and religious heritage -- attacking churches, mosques, shrines, and ancient sites. By targeting Assyrian archaeology, ISIS goes beyond ethnic and religious cleansing to further wipe out any historical trace of the people it has displaced."
Kabawat explained that the cities ISIS has not yet gained control of must be defended in order to "protect the citizens they seek to conquer."
"Uprooted and forcefully displaced, we have realized that ISIS’ plan is to evacuate the land of Christians and wipe the earth clean of any evidence that we ever existed. This is cultural and human genocide. The only Christians that remain in the Plain of Nineveh are those who are held as hostages," Momeka said.
For a small reference of the historic communities ISIS is wiping out, this is a handwritten bible from 9th century Mosul. Thankfully, it is safe in the Bible Museum in Israel.
ISIS is exterminating Christianity from Iraq. Here's a handwritten bible from early 9th century Mosul. pic.twitter.com/3oCk2qUgJY— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) March 22, 2015