This is cut and pasted from an email from the Rosary Shrine.
The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena in Iraq
have been keeping the Dominican family up-to-date on their situation
via letters. They have asked that these letters be shared as widely as
possible to try to bring help to the situation in Iraq.
This is the most recent letter, dated 23 August 2014:
We continue to share our daily struggle with you, hoping that our
cry will reach the world. We are like the blind man of Jericho (Mark
10:46-52), who had nothing to express himself, but his voice, asking
Jesus for mercy. Although some people ignored his voice, others
listened, and helped him. We count on people, who will listen!
We entered the third week of displacement. Things are moving very
slowly in terms of providing shelter, food, and necessities for the
people. There are still people living in the streets. There are still no
organized camps outside of schools that are used as refugee centres. An
unfinished, three story building has also been used as a refugee
centre. For privacy reasons, families have made rooms using UNHCR
plastic sheets in these unfinished buildings. These places look like
stables. We all wonder, is there any end in sight? We appreciate all
efforts that have been made to provide aid to the displaced people.
However, please note, that providing food and shelter is not the only
essential thing we need. Our case is much bigger. We are speaking about
two minorities (CHristian and Yezedians), who lost their land, their
homes, their belongings, their jobs, their money, some have been
separated from their families and loved ones, and all are persecuted
because of their relig
Our church leaders are doing their best to solve the issue. They
have been meeting with political leaders, with the President of Iraq and
Kurdistan, but initiatives and actions of these political leaders are
really slow and modest. Actually, all political meetings have led to
nothing. Until now, there has been no decision made about the current
situation of the displaced minorities. For this reason, trust in the
political leaders has diminished, if it exists, at all. People cannot
tolerate it anymore. It is too heavy of a burden. Yesterday, a young man
expressed that he would rather die than live, without dignity. People
feel that their dignity has been stripped from them. We are being
persecuted because of our religion. None of us ever thought we would
live in refugee camps because of that.
It is hard to believe that this is happening in the 21st century.
We wonder what is exactly happening. Is it another plan or agreement to
subdivide Iraq? If this is true, by whom and why? Why are the events of
dividing the Middle East, that happened in 1916, being repeated now? At
that time it was a political issue and innocent people paid for it. It
is apparent that there are sinfully, cunning people dividing Iraq, now.
In 1916, we lost seven of our sisters, many Christians died, and more
were scattered. Is it just circumstance we face this division again, or
is it deliberate?
However, the struggle is not only in the camps, with the
displaced people. What has happened in our Christian towns that have
been evacuated is even worse. This IS forced out of their homes those
who did not leave their towns up to the night of August 6th. Yesterday,
seventy-two people were driven out of Karakosh. However, not all of them
arrived; those who arrived last night were in miserable condition. They
had to cross Al-Khazi river (a tributary to the Great Zab) on foot
because the bridge had been destroyed. There are still quite a few on
the side of the riverbank. e do not know when they will make it to
Erbil. It depends on the situation and negotiations between the
Peshmerga and the IS. There are some people who went to fetch the
elderly and the unable to walk. One of our sisters went to bring her
parents, and told her story. Another woman, said that she was separated
from her husband and children, and she knows nothing about them; they
are probably among the ot
hers who are on the other bank, or they might be among the hostages
taken by the IS. Also, a three-year old daughter was taken from her
mother’s lap, and she also knows nothing about her. We do not know why
the IS are sending people out of Karakosh, but we have been hearing from
those who just arrived, that IS are bringing barrels into Karakosh and
the contents are unknown.
In addition, we know of four Christian families who are are stuck
in Sinjar for over three weeks; they are probably running out of food
and water. If they do not get help, they will die there. At the present,
there is no contact with them, and there is no way to negotiate with
As for our community, we know that our convent in Tel Kaif is
being used as an IS headquarter. Also, we know that they had entered our
convent in Karakosh. Those that recently arrived have stated that all
the holy pictures, icons, and statues are being destroyed. Crosses have
been taken off the top of churches and they have been replaced with the
IS flag. That is not only in Karakosh and Tel Kaif. In Baqofa, one of
our sisters hear the situation was calm, so she went back with few
people, to get her medicine. She found the convent had been searched;
everything was open and strewn across the rooms. The minute they entered
the convent, three bombs hit the town. They left immediately.
Apart from what is happening to the Christians, yesterday, Friday
the 22nd, a Shiite suicide bomber and gunmen attacked Sunni mosque of
Abou Mussab in village under Iraqi government control in Diyala province
leaving 68 dead. It is heartbreaking to hear about people get killed
while praying. In terms of Media and news release, this massacre
overshadowed what is happening to the Christians in the Nineveh Plain.
We are afraid that our struggle will become only our own affairs, and
that it will not have impact on the world anymore.
At last, we have to say that people are losing their patience.
They miss everything in their hometowns: churches, church bells,
streets, and neighborhood. It is heartbreaking for them to hear that
their homes have been robbed. Although they love their towns, most
people are now thinking of leaving the country so they can live in
dignity and have future for their children. It is hard to have hope in
Iraq, or to trust the leadership of the country.
Please, keep us in your prayers.
Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena-Iraq.
PS Please share the letter with other people. Let the world hear the cry of the poor and the innocent.
If you are looking for a way to send aid to Iraq, the Order has set
up a system through our Province in France. Help can be sent to that
Province which will ensure that it is used to help the communities in
Iraq as well as Iraqi families who are refugees elsewhere. Contributions
should be identified as “For Iraq” and can be sent to the following
PROVINCE DOMINICAINE DE FRANCE
DOMICILIATION: HSBC FR AGENCE CENTRALE
IBAN: FR 76 3005 6001 4801 4854 2857 016
Code B.I.C.: CCFRFRPP