In Defense of Christians Applauds Congressional Support For Self Defense and Restoration of Iraqi Minorities

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Yesterday evening the House of Representatives passed two amendments to the F.Y. 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to support Iraqi minorities including Christians.

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On May 19, 2016, IDC President Toufic Baaklini made the following statement: Yesterday evening the House of Representatives passed two amendments to the F.Y. 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to support Iraqi minorities including Christians. The first amendment “[e]xpresses the Sense of Congress that safe areas should be secured for the resettlement and reintegration of indigenous ethnic and religious minorities, including victims of genocide, into their homelands,” which advances U.S. security interests in the region. The second amendment “[e]mpowers local security forces in Iraq—including ethnic and religious minority groups—to deter, hold, or roll back” ISIS. These local security forces include Christian (Assyrian Chaldean Syriac) and Yezidi groups.

IDC applauds Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) who introduced both amendments.

“IDC believes that the restoration of indigenous religious and ethnic minority communities to their ancient homelands should be a priority for the United States and the international community,” said IDC President Toufic Baaklini. “As ISIS is driven back in Nineveh Province, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Yezidis, and other groups must be restored to their historic lands on the Nineveh Plain.”

“While Iraq has been torn apart by sectarian violence, Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac, Yezidi, and other communities of Nineveh have lived in peace,” said Baaklini. “This is a model for pluralism in Iraq and the region. IDC therefore calls for greater local governance, self-determination, and self-defense. This should occur within the existing political framework. Moreover, they are fundamental rights, which we believe are supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans.”

Baaklini continued: “IDC demands that the fundamental rights of the Assyrian, Chaldean, Syriac, Yezidi, Turkmen, and other distinct communities be guaranteed by regional and national governments and by the U.S. and the international community. Securing safe areas, including the Nineveh Plain, for purposes of restoring and reintegrating ethnic and religious minorities, including victims of genocide, into their homelands, is a critical component of a safe, secure, and sovereign Iraq. These groups should also be able to provide for their own self-defense.”

IDC supports arming those entities in Iraq that will defeat ISIS without worsening sectarian conflict or threatening the fundamental rights of vulnerable communities. American assistance should be conditioned upon a continuing, demonstrated commitment by national and regional governments to the dignity, self-determination, and special autonomy of religious and ethnic minorities, particularly those indigenous peoples of the Nineveh Plain.

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Ninar Keyrouz
In Defense of Christians
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