CHICAGO - Over the weekend, rallies in support of Christians in Iraq and Syria sprung up, with two major gatherings in Chicago and San Francisco. The Assyrian International News Agency featured photos of the Chicago protest, which was held at Daley Federal Plaza.
Over 4,000 Assyrians carried signs and chanted slogans to draw attention to ISIS's persecution of Assyrians in north Iraq, and to the humanitarian crisis faced by the refugees, who lack food and water and who are sleeping in open fields. Area reports killings of Christian men, women and children.
The horrific killings of the Assyrian Genocide occurred many decades ago but, tragically, today the Assyrian community in Iraq faces very familiar dangers. I have heard from many of my constituents deeply concerned about their family members and friends who are being targeted because of their Christian faith. They are living in daily danger or surviving in refugee camps, and we must act to protect them.
The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and its military advances against the Iraqi government has left this community particularly vulnerable to extremists who do not respect their beliefs or culture. As you know tens of thousands of Assyrians have fled Mosul and surrounding areas now in ISIS control, fearing the very real threat of persecution or worse.
We cannot let history repeat itself. We must ensure that members of the Assyrian community can live their lives in peace and be able to practice their faith. I am a cosponsor of H.Con. Res. 110 and of H.Res. 683, both of which make it a priority to protect Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and create safe havens for them. I am pleased that H.Res. 683 passed Congress last week -- which shows the high priority that Congress places on protecting religious freedom and human rights.
I will continue to do whatever I can to support and protect the Assyrian community. I am grateful to be able to work with you in that effort.
Since capturing Mosul on June 10, ISIS has destroyed or occupied all 45 of its churches, killed Assyrians, Yazidis, Shabaks, Turkomen and Shiites, and non-Sunni mosques.
Photos from AINA.org