Iraq: churches and govt agree... sort of from InFocus on Vimeo.
Get a Christian perspective of news and politics with the latest political commentary from ACL on “The Politics in Focus”. This TV segment airs fortnightly on the Australian Christian Channel as part of Seventh Day Adventist Media’s weekly InFocus program. Tune in on Fridays at 7pm or Saturdays at 12pm.
Australia accepts 13,700 refugees per year. There are a staggering 51 million displaced people in the world.
There are now hundreds of thousands more - mainly Christians, Yazidis and Shia - thanks to ISIS brutality.
At the Coalition’s campaign launch just over a year ago, Tony Abbott said: “And we won't increase the humanitarian migrant intake until such time as it's no longer being filled by people smugglers.”
That’s fair enough but the Government’s policies have worked. After 1200 deaths in the past few years, no one has drowned in the past year. People smugglers are out of business.
To its credit the government has used its newly-won flexibility to target those most in need, recently announcing 4400 places to those fleeing ISIS in Syria and Iraq.
This is a very good start but it is obvious the persecuted need far more help.
The long term strategic aim of the international community must be to eradicate or at least contain ISIS so a safe haven can be created for Christians and other minorities to return home.
A Middle East purged of Christians is too glittering a prize to hand the extremists.
Nonetheless, many will need resettling.
Yesterday at the National Press Club in Canberra, the Immigration Minister Scott Morrison gave the government’s reason for not acting on increasing Australia’s humanitarian intake.
Asked if it could be doubled, Mr Morrison said the cost of resettling refugees at $2 billion over the forward estimates was too high.
But surely there are offsets in the closing down of detention centres and the eventual cessation of offshore detention.
Sure, Australia’s refugee intake is high by global standards on a per capita basis.
But the need is phenomenal and we are rich.
Military intervention in the name of humanitarianism is laudable. But so too would be allowing in more refugees fleeing ISIS brutality.
Both are costly. It’s hard to understand why we can afford one and not the other.
If you haven’t already, please sign our petition.
For release: Monday 8 September 2014
Liberal Member for Longman Wyatt Roy’s call for a doubling of Australia’s humanitarian intake should be heeded, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.
Mr Roy’s call comes a week after the Coalition’s junior partner, The Nationals, voted unanimously in favour of an urgency motion seeking an increase at its Federal Council meeting in Canberra.
ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said 19,500 people had signed ACL’s on-line petition calling for an increase in the wake of the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.
“The Government deserves credit for stopping people smuggling, halting the deaths at sea and removing children from detention,” Mr Shelton said.
“But the problem of 51 million displaced people in the world is massive and has been further exacerbated by the persecution of hundreds of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq.
“While Australia’s refugee intake of 13,700 is generous on a per capita basis, much more needs to be done to help suffering people.
“Extraordinary brutality requires extraordinary generosity and Australia, as a relatively wealthy nation, is well-placed to do more.”
Mr Shelton said Mr Roy was right to point out the escalating persecution of Christians in north Africa and the Middle East.
While resettlement of refugees was necessary, the international community should also be ultimately seeking to establish safe havens for Christians and other persecuted religious minorities so that they could return to their homes in Syria and Iraq.
“The Islamists’ goal of purging Christians, Yazidis and other Muslim minorities should not be allowed to stand,” Mr Shelton said.
This follows unanimous support for such a move at this weekend’s Nationals Federal Council meeting in Canberra.
The chair of the Nationals’ New South Wales Women’s Council, Claire Coulton tweeted that the Nationals’ Federal Council “unanimously supports urgency motion to increase foreign aid to and refugee intake from Iraq and Syria”.
ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton welcomed the junior Coalition partner’s urgency motion which calls for a change of Government policy to see the humanitarian intake go beyond its cap of 13,700 refugees per year.
“Extraordinary brutality requires extraordinary generosity,” Mr Shelton said.
“Christians, Yazidis and Muslim minorities are being targeted in what can only be described as religious cleansing and Australia is well-placed to do more to help.”
ACL previously welcomed the 4,400 places recently announced for Christians and other religious minorities but noted this was within the 13,700 quota.
“The Government has made a good start in responding to what Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described as a ‘humanitarian catastrophe’, but we can do better.
More than 19,000 people have signed ACL’s petition calling for the Abbott government to lift the cap on refugees beyond 13,700.
“ACL believes the quota should be lifted to at least 20,000 and possibly beyond,” Mr Shelton said.
Below is a copy of Rev Fred Nile’s media release.
Rev Fred Nile successfully moves unanimously a Motion to protect the Assyrian Christian in Iraq from the ISIL brutal death squads
13 August 2014
On Tuesday12 August 2014, Rev Nile moved the following Motion which was passed unanimously by the NSW Upper House relating to bloody attacks and murders by the ISIL Islamic terrorist movement of Assyrian Christians.
I move Private members’ business item No. 1927 outside the order of precedence, standing in my name relating to Assyrian Christian Communities.
ASSYRIAN CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES
That this House:
(a) condemns Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's [ISIL] assault on Mosul, Ramadi and other cities in northern and central Iraq;
(b) notes that the conflict has resulted in the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people thus becoming refugees in surrounding countries and provinces;
(c) further notes that all the Iraqi communities are affected by this turmoil particularly Assyrian Christian communities of Nineveh Province;
(d) recognises the ongoing support of the Assyrian community in New South Wales for responding to the ongoing turmoil by providing support for the refugees;
(e) supports the Australian Government in its effort to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to the displaced families;
(f) reaffirms this House's call for the establishment of an Assyrian province in their ancestral homeland in northern Iraq; and
(g) recognises the ongoing efforts of the Assyrian Universal Alliance—Australia for its tireless efforts to bring the plight of Assyrians to the attention of the Australia Government, in particular Mr Hermiz Shahen, Deputy Secretary General, and Mr David David, President of the Assyrian Australian National Federation.
“Commemoration of the Assyrian Martyrs and Genocide Day”
On Sunday 10th August 2014 the Rev Fred Nile was warmly thanked for his efforts on behalf of the Assyrian Christians in Iraq by the large audience of 600 representatives at the Commemoration of the Assyrian Martyrs and Genocide Day at Edessa Reception Hall, St Hurmizd’s Cathedral, Greenfield Park NSW.
We thought we had learned from the ethnic and religious purges of the Holocaust and the Balkans.
‘Never again’ was the vain refrain.
But this week hundreds of thousands of Christians have been driven from their homes in northern Iraq under the threat of convert to Islam or die by Islamic state militants.
Chilling images of decapitation, crucifixions and summary mass executions have filled news websites all week.
The images are hard to verify but the reports indicate that the killings include Shiites, former Iraqi army members and Christians.
Churches are being ransacked and destroyed.
In alarming echoes of the Holocaust where Jews were marked with the Star of David, Christian homes have been marked with the Arabic letter ‘N’ to signify that they are followers of the Nazarene, Jesus.
Christians have been in this region for 2000 years and now almost all have fled.
Many of my Facebook friends have changed their profile picture to the Arabic letter ‘N’ as a show of solidarity.
It was also good to see prominent global Muslim leaders condemn the violence.
With world leaders understandably paralysed by the other numbing tragic crises in Gaza and Ukraine, much of what is occurring in northern Iraq is going on under the radar.
However, it was also good to see the Australian government pledge $5 million in aid.
This week, religious liberty analyst Elizabeth Kendal spoke to ACL’s Katherine Spackman about the plight of Iraqi Christians who have been ordered by ISIS militants to leave the city of Mosul or convert to Islam.
Leaders of Australian churches with Middle Eastern roots are understandably very concerned. Many have loved ones in war-torn Syria and Iraq.
They have organised a rally at Melbourne’s Federation Square this Saturday at 1:30pm.
ACL’s Victorian Director Dan Flynn and I will be there. If you can, please join us as a sign of solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering.
An Australian Senator has highlighted the plight of the Assyrian community in Iraq in the Senate this week.
Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells condemned the actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), calling on a strong voice of condemnation from Australia and the international community. She said,
It is important that the plight of the religious minorities in Iraq, including the Assyrian Christians, be raised and continue to be raised at international forums such as the United Nations.
Assyrians, a mainly orthodox Christian ethnic group from present-day Iraq, have long face persecution for their faith and their ethnicity. The situation has recently deteriorated, with the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the north of Iraq. ISIS has slaughtered many Iraqi defence personal, as well as civilians.
The Assyrians face an additional threat. As ISIS has taken control of some areas, another group, the Kurds, have gained control of a number of Assyrian villages. While Kurdish forces are protecting the villages against ISIS for the time being, the Assyrians remain opposed to Kurdish occupation.
Last week the Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop announced $5 million in assistance for those fleeing the violence.
ACL commends Senator Fierravanti-Wells for raising this issue in Parliament.
Read Senator Fierravanti-Wells’ speech here. Read also Minister Bishop’s comments in Parliament last week here.