The Freedom Blog

I’m just coming back from the front line with ISIS. We visited the liberated towns and villages: Bartalla, Karmless, Quaraqosh to document evidence of genocide. The destruction is beyond words. They are ghost towns. Everything is burnt and destroyed. And then this incredible experience: we go in a burnt and destroyed church. ISIS has broken every sign of the cross, cut the heads of all the statutes, burnt the bibles and holy books. And out of the black (literally!) appears the parish priest! Fr. Behnam was the last to leave and the first to be back. He can’t live there yet, but the first thing he did was to make his church a place of worship and prayer again. The picture says more than 1000 words.

I’ve returned from our trip with both joy and sorrow in my heart. Joy, because so many encounters with the persecuted Christians who lost everything taught me what it means to believe in the almighty God. Their faith keeps them alive even under the most dire circumstances. They can still smile, no one calls for revenge. But their faces are marked by the deep suffering they are going through. Sorrow, because their destiny is more than uncertain.

They don’t want to leave their country, they want to move back to their destroyed villages and towns, which they love as much as their own life. But everyone is afraid – afraid of more persecution, of being again at the mercy of neighbors who want to degrade them to second or third class citizens – or expel them altogether – even after ISIS. They call for international security in the Nineveh Plains, but they have little hope in the international community. They feel left alone and unable to protect themselves as a minority of less than 1% right now. This is why we work hard to achieve an international recognition of these atrocities as genocide and, as a consequence, to get help, security, and prosecution for the perpetrators.

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