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2015-11-28 18:58:07 Views : 1798 |

Persecution of Assyrians and Copts by ISIL




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The Persecution of Chaldeans, Assyrians and Copts by ISIL refers to the persecution of Christian minorities, within its region of control in Iraq, Syria and Libya by the Islamic extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Persecution of Christian minorities climax following its takeover of parts of Northern Iraq in June 2014.

According to US diplomat Alberto M. Fernandez, "While the majority of victims in the conflict raging in Syria and Iraq have been Muslims, Christians have borne a heavy burden given their small numbers."

 

Background

The mass flight and expulsion of ethnic Chaldeans from Iraq is a process which initiated from the beginning of Iraq War in 2003 and continues to this day. Leaders of Iraq's Assyrian community estimate that over two-thirds of the Iraqi Assyrian population may have fled the country or been internally displaced since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 until 2011. Reports suggest that whole neighborhoods of Assyrians have cleared out in the cities of Baghdad and Basra, and that both Sunni and Shiite insurgent groups and militias have threatened Assyrian Christians. Following the campaign of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in northern Iraq in August 2014, one quarter of the remaining Iraqi Assyrians fled the Jihadists, finding refuge in Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan.


 

Timeline:

Fall of Mosul and the Ninewa Plain

After the fall of Mosul, ISIS demanded Chaldean Christians in the city to convert to Islam, pay tribute, or face execution, by July 19, 2014. This resulted in a complete Assyrian Christian exodus from Mosul, marking the end of 1600 years of continuous Christian presence. A church mass was not held in Mosul for the first time in 1,800 years.

ISIS had also been seen marking Christian homes with the letter nūn for Nassarah ("Christian"). Several religious buildings were seized and subsequently demolished, most notably Mar Behnam Monastery.

By August 7, ISIS captured the primarily Chaldean towns of Qaraqosh, Tel Keppe, Bartella, and Karamlish, prompting the residents to flee. More than 100,000 Iraqi Christians were forced to flee their homes and leave all their property behind after ISIS invaded Qaraqosh and surrounding towns in the Nineveh Plains Province of Iraq.

In early November 2014, a horrifying "price list" for Yazidi and Christian females surfaced online. While human rights NGO Defend International immediately verified the document's authenticity, UN official Zainab Bangura didn't confirm it to be genuine before August 2015.


 

Beheading of Copts

On February 12, 2015, the ISIL released a report in their online magazine Dabiq showing photos of 21 Egyptian Copts migrant workers that they had kidnapped in the city of Sirte, Libya, and whom they threatened to kill to "avenge the [alleged] kidnapping of Muslim women by the Egyptian Coptic Church". The men, who came from different villages in Egypt, 13 of them from Al-Our, Minya Governorate, were kidnapped in Sirte in two separate attacks on December 27, 2014, and in January 2015.


 

Khabur valley offensive

On 23 February 2015, in response to a major Kurdish offensive in the Al-Hasakah Governorate, ISIL abducted 150 Chaldeans from villages near near Tell Tamer in northeastern Syria, after launching a large offensive in the region.

According to US diplomat Alberto M. Fernandez, of the 232 of the Assyrians kidnapped in the ISIS attack on the Assyrian Christian farming villages on the banks of the Khabur River in Northeast Syria, 51 were children and 84 women. "Most of them remain in captivity with one account claiming that ISIS is demanding $22 million (or roughly $100,000 per person) for their release."

On 8 October, ISIL released a video showing three of the Assyrian men kidnapped in Khabur being executed. It was reported that 202 of the 253 kidnapped Assyrians were still in captivity, each one with a demanded ransom of $100,000.


 

Reactions

On 2 and 3 August 2014, thousands of Chaldeans/Nestorian Assyrians/Syriacs of the diaspora protested the persecution of their fellow Assyrians within Iraq and Syria, demanding a United Nations-led creation of a safe haven for minorities in the Nineveh Plains.

In October 2014, Kurdish-Danish human rights activist Widad Akrawi dedicated her 2014 International Pfeffer Peace Award "to all victims of persecution, particularly the Yazidis, Christians, and all residents of Kobanê region."






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