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Summit highlights the investigation of ISIS genocide against Iraq’s Christians

The United Nations Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh/ISIL (UNITAD) organized a conference in Erbil for Christian community leaders on the 1st of September.

Over 30 Christian community leaders gathered at the meeting with UNITAD’s dedicated units investigating the atrocities of ISIS against the Christian community, including the destruction of Christian religious sites. Representatives of the United States, Canada, Hungary, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and the European Union also joined the summit. 

Special Adviser and Head of UNITAD, Christian Ritscher praised the Christian community leaders: “Your togetherness and your resilience are inspirational, not just to the Christian community in Iraq, but also to us at UNITAD. ISIL’s ideology thrived on violence, sparing neither the people of Iraq nor their diverse cultures and beliefs…As we work in pursuit of justice for all victims and survivors, those who suffered from ISIL’s atrocities, we keep in heart and mind one of UNITAD’s core principles: there is no hierarchy in victims.”

He highlighted that the investigating teams have made significant progress in the development of individual case files for ISIS members: “The identities of these ISIL members are corroborated by testimonial evidence, ISIL internal documents and case files provided by the Iraqi judiciary.” He also underlined the findings in regard to “the destruction of Christian cultural heritage in Mosul and the Ninawa plains, where ISIL perpetrators targeted churches, monasteries, cemeteries, manuscripts, Christian symbols and artwork in barbaric attacks, rooted in hate and inhumanity.”

Kurdish leaders accentuated that the Kurdistan Region intends to be a refuge and safe haven for Iraq’s Christians. Safeen Dizayee, Head of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Department of Foreign Relations stated: “Christians are the indigenous people of this land and must continue their lives with dignity and security”. 

Dindar Zebari, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Coordinator for International Advocacy, portrayed the background of Iraq Christian’s persecution and highlighted how the majority of the remaining approximately 200,000 Christians have now taken refuge in Kurdistan: “In the years 2003, 2006, and 2009, they suffered diverse phases of displacement from their residences due to acts of terrorism involving the destruction of churches and residences, compelling their relocation to a more stable region. This migration of Christians peaked after the attacks of ISIL (ISIS) in 2014, resulting in hundreds of thousands of Christians and other communities being displaced and seeking refuge in the Kurdistan Region”.

The participating Christian leaders shared their recommendations for the Investigative Team on how to enhance cooperation, gathering of evidence, and soliciting witness accounts. Based on this, the investigators will be able to lead further engagement with the Christian community.



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