An untold genocide and Christians in Iraq

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by Neil Godfrey

The links in this post are of real-life here-and-now importance, I think, more than most others on this blog. They point to recent radio discussions about Christians in Iraq but their importance is not just for the sake of the people directly concerned, but also for the potential they carry to inform us about today’s role of Christians in the U.S. and some closely related nations.

The first link, Christian Minorities in the Islamic Middle East : Rosie Malek-Yonan on the Assyrians, is a discussion about the ongoing genocide of Assyrians, begun in 1914 and still grinding on today. Why is this not in our headlines and a focus of public outrage? Hitler said: Who remembers the Armenians? in reference to quibbling about a few Jews; not even the Assyrians registered on the radar back then. There is also another slow genocide (cum demonization of the victims and moral and religious superiority assumptions of the perpetrators) under way these last 80 years — similar to the slow genocide waged against indigenous peoples in North America and Australia — in Palestine.

Genocide was defined by the general assembly of the world’s nations in the wake of World War 2 (1948) as:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

See the full resolution at http://www.hrweb.org/legal/genocide.html

Any notion of uniqueness for the sufferings of one group above all others does both that group and the future of the whole of humanity a criminal wrong. (Those enamoured with Bauckham’s Eyewitnesses book would do humanity a favour by accepting, and acting on the awareness, that the Holocaust was by no means as “unique” as a miracle by Jesus!)

The other link is to another radio discussion on the same program, Kahil Samir S.J. on Christian Minorities in the Islamic Middle East.

This interview stunned me with what it can reveal about Christianity in western nations, in particular the U.S. admittedly. Compare the types of Christians who are the persecuted ones in Iraq. They are not the anti-enlightenment fundamentalist types. (Maybe many of those types will think any other sort of Christian should expect persecution for being so liberal.) But what is most enlightening was the gradual rise of fundamentalist hostility on the part of a significant sector of the Muslim community — and its place in society — and how instructive it can be to compare that rise and its character with its “more” incipient Christian counterparts in the US and to a lesser extent in the UK and Australia. Compare fundamentalist intolerance in Iraq against enlightened Christian groups with similar religious intolerance against those enlightened in opposing/secular ways in the west.

We cannot understand ourselves apart from our understanding of others, nor others apart from an understanding of ourselves. It’s a tragedy that the fundamentalist believers will fail to understand by virtue of denying or demonizing their own natures as they strive to give up their lives totally for another “parallel reality”.

I know, the fundamentalists are a minority in the U.S., thank god! But being a minority has not been guaranteed to stop the eventual domination of a well-organized and highly committed and generously funded set of such types in other countries throughout history.

You will have to overlook interviewer Stephen Crittenden failure to support his repeated claims to be discussing Christians throughout the entire Middle East when his illustrative material is exclusive to Iraq. And especially his short-circuiting gaffe when he speaks of “generational conflict” between Sunnis and Shias in that country. (Anyone remotely familiar with sources not attached to the likes of Fox or CNN or the Pentagon will know that there was no such “generational conflict”, that Sunnis and Shias intermarried and worked together, etc. Iraq was definitely not the Balkans, nor 1980’s Nicaragua, until Negroponte’s brief stint in Baghdad. Such is the fruit of tactics from past tried and true efforts (Algeria, Nicaragua) to divide a resistance. But that’s a story for my sweetreason blog if ever the time allows.)

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Neil Godfrey

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4 thoughts on “An untold genocide and Christians in Iraq”

  1. What about the U.S. funded Islamic terrorist in Indonesia?

    From 1999 to Oct/2002 Laskar Jihad and Al Qaeda operatives in training burnt the two hundred Churches of Ambon & the Maluku islands to the ground to replace the indigenous Papuan Christian population with the transmigrants; then in Oct/2002 Laskar Jihad re-located to West Papua.

    Of course West Papua has been subject to systematic genocide since the United States wrote the New York Agreement in 1962 selling the people of West Papua to Indonesia to ‘protect America from communism’ – see US Dept of State records from 1962.

    How about some air-time for a genocide the United States is profiting from, oh and by the way, just like Iraq it is Bechtel that is behind the Freeport mine and US Indonesia Society lobby.

    Indonesian Human Rights Abuses in West Papua:
    Application of the Law of Genocide to the History of Indonesian Control

  2. Hi Andrew,

    Thanks for raising the West Papuans’ plight. The Australian and UN (including US of course) sellout of West Papua was shameful, and I have little expectation that the new Rudd government will change anything.

    The only hope for changes in government policies is for a level of public awareness and action that will be sufficient to make it costly for governments to continue their present course.

    Until recently I had been an active supporter for the cause of the OPM, having helped raise awareness of the West Papuan struggle locally over the years. My old job having wound up hopefully I can be more active again in such issues, though it won’t necessarily be through this blog.

    Worthwhile links:

    Free Papua Movement;
    Free West Papua;
    Rights Australia
    Papua Press Agency — though too many 404 links on this one

    I don’t believe however that the U.S. government is funding Islamic terrorism in West Papua. — unless you can show me evidence to the contrary. The Indonesian military has proved quite capable of doing all that is required in conjunction with mining interests and a wink from outsider nations to keep West Papua where they want it. The U.S. and Australia have had a long history of giving material support to the Indonesian military knowing (because?) its function is primarily to keep the lid on separatist movements.

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