Human Rights Commission figures showcase the situation of Christians in Iraq
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The High Commission for Human Rights in Iraq has revealed the extent of the the killing, displacement, abduction, and torture suffered by Christians in the country after 2003.
“The number of Christians in Iraq before the year 2003 was one and a half million people, but decreased to only 250 thousand people, most of them living in the Kurdistan Region,” Ali al-Bayati, a member of the Commission, said in a statement late Sunday.
He added, "only 40 percent of Christians have returned from the region to the Nineveh plain after the liberation of their areas” from the Islamic State group.
Since 2003, the number of Christians has been in decline in Iraq, a situation made worse by ISIS’s occupation of Christian-populated areas in the Nineveh plains after 2014.
As for the group’s crimes against Christians, Bayati said that 130,000 were displaced, 115 killed, 161 kidnapped, 91 tortured, and 68 sexually abused, according to the Commission’s research. Some 1,315 Christians were killed between 2003 and 2014, he said.
Iraqi Christians belong to various sects, such as Chaldean, Syriac, and Assyrian, and trace the roots of their faith in the country back almost to the dawn of the religion itself.
On Sunday, Pope Francis concluded his historic trip to Iraq with a Mass in the Kurdistan Region’s capital of Erbil, which was attended by almost 10 thousand people.
Religious and historic sites of all kinds, including mosques, tombs, shrines, and churches were targeted by ISIS. The extremist group damaged or destroyed whatever it considered contrary to its interpretation of Islam.
For Iraqi Christians, the ISIS occupation dealt a blow to a population already shrinking since the security breakdown and rise of militancy that followed the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.
Editing by Joanne Stocker-Kelly