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Press Release: NETWORK Statement on Safety for Religious Minorities in Iraq

FOR RELEASE: August 18, 2014
CONTACT: Stephanie Niedringhaus, 202-347-9797 x224, sniedringhaus@networklobby.org

Washington DC: NETWORK today released the following new statement on the crisis in Iraq:

We know that "War is not the Answer." However, there are times when intervention is necessary to protect human lives. Today, we cannot sit by and watch atrocities happen to Christians, Ysidis and other religious minorities in Iraq.

On the Nineveh plain in Northern Iraq we are hearing daily of massacres taking place as ISIS (ISIL) extremists surround towns and kill the men, and kidnap women and children. Email and text messaging put us immediately at the scene as women report to relatives in the United States what is happening before their eyes.

One kidnapped teen kept her hidden cellphone with her. She let people know where they were taken and begged those who received her message to get the United States to bomb the place so that the kidnappers would be killed. She said she would rather die than live in her current hell. Another young woman texted that she was watching the men of her town being executed.

In our global age, we cannot claim distance or that we do not know. We have a front-row seat and know the horror that is happening, and we weep in frustration.

But frustration is not enough. We need to act. The United Nations must take the lead and immediately engage to create safe zones in the Nineveh plains so that those who have fled in terror can return in safety. The United States needs to use all resources (diplomatic, humanitarian, military) to assist in freeing these kidnapped women and children.

This is a humanitarian crisis that demands a response. The roots of the crisis are in U.S. policy that caused the invasion of Iraq, and this ensuing chaos and violence nearing genocide must be stopped. Limited international military engagement may be necessary to stop the atrocities. But this will not create a permanent solution.

The true way forward to a permanent peace is through diplomatic and humanitarian efforts. We must do all in our power to cause Iraqi elected officials to quickly form a government and respond to the needs of all of their people.

In this anguished moment we must engage the international community in acting for justice for these vulnerable people.

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