Monday, November 05, 2007

Christians under siege in Iraq

I read this article today in the dead-tree edition of our local paper. For all the good news coming out of Iraq lately, there still remains much work to be done to put things right, especially for Iraq's Christian population.
Fifteen-year-old Vivian was kidnapped while walking to her Baghdad home.

Her Iraqi Christian parents knew the drill. Like believers often get kidnapped for heavy ransoms.

"How much do you want?" Vivian's mom asked when the kidnappers called.

"We don't want your money," came the terrifying reply. "We want to break your heart."

William Murray and the Rev. Keith Roderick, two members of a fact-finding team looking into the plight of Iraqi Christians, share that story with all who will listen.

The family's plight is ingrained in the minds of Murray and Roderick, who both live in Spotsylvania County. Vivian's parents knew the kidnapping was done in retaliation. A week earlier, they had received a note asking them to bring one of their teenage daughters to the Mosque to marry a Muslim.

They ignored the request.

A week after the phone call, Vivian's naked, mutilated body showed up on a Baghdad street. She had been raped repeatedly, then killed.

Her parents, two sisters and brother fled Iraq with the clothes on their backs, ending up as refugees in Lebanon.
Vivian's surviving family are just a few of many like them who are getting absolutely no help from the US government.
The stories horrified the men. But Murray and Roderick were shocked to learn that the United States government isn't helping the refugees.

"The State Department needs to take greater responsibility," Roderick said. "In fact, they have a moral obligation to take more responsibility. It was our war; we started it. We created this problem."

But in Jordan, the men learned that refugees are not allowed in the U.S. embassy or to talk with its staff. They have to go through the United Nations to determine refugee status.

That policy creates delays, and leads to confusion, Murray said. Many of the refugees have a family member who worked for coalition forces, leaving them open to more persecution, he said.
No matter which side of the Iraq debate one finds oneself, there should be no debate over whether we should be helping these people. We did precipitate the crisis, and the White House needs to intervene to overcome the State Department's inertia over the issue.

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