Christianity came to Iraq from the very earliest days through the preaching and witness of St Thomas and others of the Apostles and Church Elders. “We, as Christians, do not want, or deserve to leave or be forced out of our country any more than you would want to leave or be forced out of yours. But the current persecution that our community is facing is the most brutal in our history” said Sister Diana Momeka of the Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena, who used to live in Mosul, Iraq.
Last year ISIS attacked the Nineveh Plain, starting with the city of Mosul. They overran one city after another, giving local Christians only 3 options. To convert to Islam, pay jizya or leave their home with nothing more than the clothes on their back.
As this horror spread throughout the Nineveh Plain, by August 6, 2014, Nineveh was emptied of Christians, and sadly, for the first time since the seventh century AD, no church bells rang for Mass in the Plain of Nineveh.
More than 120,000 people have been displaced in Iraq since last summer and similar atrocities committed in the Kurdistan region. This uprooting, this theft of everything that the Christians owned, displaced them body and soul, stripping away their humanity and dignity.
Efforts of the United States and coalition forces of Syria and iraq are slowly working to combat ISIS in the region. Christians living in the war torn region are begging for more to be done in support of the Kurdish Army. They also need additional humanitarian aid as well as medical and psychological treatment.
Beyond its barbaric human rights violations, ISIS has further sought to destroy these communities by erasing their cultural and religious heritage — attacking churches, mosques, shrines, and ancient sites.
Uprooted and forcefully displaced, ISIS plan to evacuate the land of Christians and wipe the earth clean of any evidence that they ever existed. This is cultural and human genocide.