Noam Chomsky Voices Support for the Responsibility to Iraqi Refugees Act of 2007

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House Resolution 2265 would allow more Iraqis into the United States, including religious minorities suffering from persecution.

Their status in countries to which they've fled -- particularly Syria and Jordan - remains perilous as many Mandaeans face possible deportation from these overstrained countries back to shockingly violent bigotry in Iraq. The Mandaeans are one tile in a vast mosaic of Iraqi suffering. Passage of H.R. 2265 into law would be a step toward reducing this catastrophe.

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Mandaean Crisis International, an organization dedicated to ending persecution of the Mandaean community, today announced that Professor Noam Chomsky has publicly lent his support to the passage of House Resolution 2265. Called the Responsibility to Iraqi Refugees Act of 2007, the bill would confer immigration status to the U.S. for many religious minorities, including the Mandaean community in Iraq. The Mandaeans, also known as Sabian Mandaeans, are an ethnic and religious group of great but uncertain antiquity who revere John the Baptist as their last great teacher, but are not Christian.

"I would like to express my strong support for H.R. 2265, the very least we can do for the people of Iraq who are suffering so bitterly from the consequences of the US-UK invasion and earlier actions, including their strong support for Saddam Hussein through his worst atrocities and well beyond, " said Professor Chomsky. "I hope particularly that the Mandaeans will be high on the priority list for rescue, in light of the suffering they have endured and their highly vulnerable situation."

Introduced on May 10, 2007, by Rep. Earl Blumenauer [D-OR] in the House of Representatives, H.R. 2265 would extend the highest priority for immigration rights to the United States to Iraqi nationals who are in danger "of persecution, violence, or harm" and who have worked for the U.S. government or the United Nations, their contractors or subcontractors, for at least one year, as well as to their spouses and families. The bill specifies that, of those granted highest priority, not more than 15,000 per fiscal year from 2008 through 2011 would be admitted into the U.S.

According to various reports, four million Iraqis have been forced from their homes, most of them since the 2003 invasion, and it is estimated that this continues at a rate of more than forty to fifty thousand per month. Unlike other victims of sectarian violence in Iraq, the Mandaean community cannot flee to a protective enclave within the country, nor can they defend themselves with their own militia. Their religion being strictly pacifist, Mandaeans carry no weapons. In addition, their social status -- primarily professionals and jewelers -- also makes them an attractive target for sectarian violence.

"Many members of religious minorities in Iraq are suffering from persecution, which includes robberies, kidnappings, rapes, and even murders. This includes the Mandaean community. We've seen the size of this community drop from more than 60,000 to just above 5,000 in less than ten years," said Professor John Bolender, co-founder of Mandaean Crisis International. "Their status in countries to which they've fled -- particularly Syria and Jordan - remains perilous as many Mandaeans face possible deportation from these overstrained countries back to shockingly violent bigotry in Iraq. The Mandaeans are one tile in a vast mosaic of Iraqi suffering. Passage of H.R. 2265 into law would be a step toward reducing this catastrophe."

Persecution against Mandaeans includes forced conversions, which involves forced circumcisions -- a practice considered sinful in Mandaeism. Mandaean families continue to receive threats indicating that they must convert to Islam, pay a ransom, or face death. Tortures and killings continue to rise, even against small children. It is therefore not surprising that Genocide Watch has issued a genocide alert for the Mandaeans.

For more information about H.R. 2265, visit http://www.govtrack.us/congress/. For more information on the genocide threatening the existence of the Mandaean community, visit http://www.genocidewatch.org/news/IraqGenocideWatchMandaeansofIraq.htm or contact Professor John Bolender at bolender @ metu.edu.tr.

About Mandaean Crisis International:
Mandaean Crisis International is a global group established in January 2007 by the Mandaean Human Rights Group (MHRG) and chaired by Professor John Bolender. MCI's purpose is to bring the attention of the international community to the plight of the Mandaean community. The group makes particular use of the Internet as a way of linking individuals, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other institutes around the world in a network, creating a pressure group for the defense of the rights of the Mandaean population worldwide.

For more information, contact:
Kelly Manuel
Deep Dish Communications
(T) 613-282-5961
http://www.forbiddengospels.blogspot.com

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