August 18, 2014 2 Comments
The Anglican Bishop of Leeds had sent a letter to the Prime Minister, my understanding is with the full knowledge and approval of the Archbishop of Canterbury. This is it.
Dear Prime Minister,
Iraq and IS
I am conscious of the speed at which events are moving in Iraq and Syria, and write recognising the complexity and interconnectedness of the challenges faced by the international community in responding to the crises in Syria and Iraq.
However, in common with many bishops and other correspondents here in the UK, I remain very concerned about the Government’s response to several issues. I write with the support of the Archbishop of Canterbury to put these questions to you.
1. It appears that, in common with the United States and other partners, the UK is responding to events in a reactive way, and it is difficult to discern the strategic intentions behind this approach. Please can you tell me what is the overall strategy that holds together the UK Government’s response to both the humanitarian situation and what IS is actually doing in Syria and Iraq? Behind this question is the serious concern that we do not seem to have a coherent or comprehensive approach to Islamist extremism as it is developing across the globe. Islamic State, Boko Haram and other groups represent particular manifestations of a global phenomenon, and it is not clear what our broader global strategy is – particularly insofar as the military, political, economic and humanitarian demands interconnect. The Church internationally must be a primary partner in addressing this complexity.
2. The focus by both politicians and media on the plight of the Yezidis has been notable and admirable. However, there has been increasing silence about the plight of tens of thousands of Christians who have been displaced, driven from cities and homelands, and who face a bleak future. Despite appalling persecution, they seem to have fallen from consciousness, and I wonder why. Does your Government have a coherent response to the plight of these huge numbers of Christians whose plight appears to be less regarded than that of others? Or are we simply reacting to the loudest media voice at any particular time?
3. As yet, there appears to have been no response to pleas for asylum provision to be made for those Christians (and other minorities) needing sanctuary from Iraq in the UK. I recognise that we do not wish to encourage Christians or other displaced and suffering people to leave their homeland – the consequences for those cultures and nations would be extremely detrimental at every level – but for some of them this will be the only recourse. The French and German governments have already made provision, but there has so far been only silence from the UK Government. Therefore, I ask for a response to the question of whether there is any intention to offer asylum to Iraqi migrants (as part of a holistic strategy to addressing the challenges of Iraq)?
4. Following on from this, I note that the Bishop of Coventry tabled a series of questions to HM Government in the House of Lords on Monday 28 July. All but two were answered on Monday 11 August. The outstanding questions included the following: “The Lord Bishop of Coventry to ask Her Majesty’s Government what consideration they have given to resettling here in the UK a fair proportion of those displaced from ISIS controlled areas of Northern Iraq.” I would be grateful to know why this question has not so far been answered – something that causes me and colleagues some concern.
5. Underlying these concerns is the need for reassurance that a commitment to religious freedom will remain a priority for the Government, given the departure of ministers who championed this. Will the Foreign Secretary’s Human Rights Advisory Panel continue under the new Foreign Secretary? Is this not the time to appoint an Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom – which would demonstrate the Government’s serious commitment to developing an overarching strategy (backed by expertise) against Islamist extremism and violence?.
I look forward to your considered response to these pressing questions.
The Rt Revd Nicholas Baines (The Bishop of Leeds)
Personally, I think a cc. to President Obama would have been in order, because it’s all true here as well.
You know it’s getting very bad out there when you start seeing stories like this from the £ Daily Mail
The call came in the early hours, the voice muffled, furtive and shaking with fear. ‘If they see me talking to someone they will kill me for sure, maybe kill all of us.’
This was Nisreen, a 17-year-old seized by the vicious Islamic State forces who have swept through Iraq and Syria spreading fear and panic.
She told how she was one of 96 Yazidi girls kidnapped when their towns and villages fell to the fanatics.
Now these teenagers wait in terror to be sold into slavery or forced into marriage with militant Islamists.
‘I know this exact number because I hear them talking,’ said Nisreen. ‘We are sure they have sold us. We do not fear for our lives but for our dignity as women.’
It was a brave phone call from a desperate woman.
The world has heard the hideous stories of refugees fleeing the jihadists but here, for the first time, was a voice from the other side: from a kidnap victim trapped in IS’s newly-won territory.
The husband of another teenage woman, heavily pregnant, held captive by the IS told me how she would rather the US bombed her prison – with her inside – than be handed out like a piece of property to an extremist fighter.
She said: ‘Let those jets come to bomb us and save us from this situation by killing all of us.’ She added death would be a better fate than to ‘be forced off with a strange man.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2726894/Please-let-American-jets-bomb-prison-death-better-forced-strange-man-8-months-pregnant-captured-Islamic-thugs-waging-Sexual-Holy-War-one-woman-issues-heartrending-plea.html#ixzz3AfQbgswl
In fact the last time I can recall such stories they came from
Auschwitz, in 1944
Crossposted from The Conservative Citizen