July 13, 2010
Please Join the International Religious Freedom Caucus and the
Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus for a
Staff Briefing on Iraq’s Vulnerable Religious Minorities
340 Cannon House Office Building
Please join the International Religious Freedom Caucus and the Religious Minorities in the Middle East Caucus for a special opportunity to discuss the state of Iraq’s vulnerable ethno-religious minorities with experts in U.S. policy and religious freedom.
According to the 2010 annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom:
“The religious freedom situation in Iraq remains grave, particularly for the country’s smallest, most vulnerable religious minorities. The violence, forced displacement, discrimination, marginalization, and neglect suffered by members of these groups threaten these ancient communities’ very existence in Iraq. These minorities, which include Chaldo-Assyrians and other Christians, Sabean Mandaeans, and Yazidis, continue to experience targeted violence, receive inadequate official protection or justice, and suffer discrimination. Since 2003, many have fled to neighboring countries, where they represent a disproportionately high percentage of registered Iraqi refugees.”
We urge you to join us to hear from the following experts about the unique needs and challenges facing minority faiths in Iraq and to discuss what more can be done to promote and protect their religious freedom rights through U.S. policy. Panelists include:
Archbishop Avak Asadourian - Primate of the Armenian Diocese of Iraq, General Secretary of the Council of Christian Leaders of Iraq
Dr. Layla Alroomi – Spokesperson, Mandaean Human Rights Group
Mr. Zirian Shammo - Representative, Yezidi Community
Michael Corbin – Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Iraq in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
Nina Shea – Director, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom
Jason Gluck – Senior Rule of Law Advisor, U.S. Institute of Peace
Christopher Blanchard – Middle East policy Analyst, Congressional Research Service
In an effort to alleviate the suffering of thousands of Iraq’s war torn and displaced Chaldean Persons in Turkey, the Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) www.tc-america.org and the Chaldean Federation of America (CFA) www.chaldeanfederation.org held a signing ceremony for the $100,000 TCA humanitarian assistance grant to the CFA. The ceremony was held at the Shenandoah Country Club in West Bloomfield on Wednesday, September 2, 2009, at 7:00 PM.
Monsignor Francois Yakan, Vicar of the Chaldean Patriarchate in Turkey and Mr. Erol Dura, a board member of the Turkish Chaldean-Assyrian-Syriac Humanitarian Organization (KASDER) also signed on receiving this humanitarian award for their organization being selected as the facilitator and provider of award funds to these displaced persons. CFA and KASDER agreed to allocate 100% of the grant funds for the intended humanitarian relief; no overhead cost will be deducted. The local Chaldean Assyrian Association and community has played an invaluable role in implementing this aid program in addition to their existing efforts which have sustained the most pressing needs of the refugees for a considerable time.
“The Chaldean Federation of America is grateful to the Turkish American Community for the well thought and just in time humanitarian aid grant towards the immediate needs of the thousands of displaced Iraqi Chaldeans scattered throughout Turkey. CFA will continue to work with TCA to ensure adequate humanitarian relief and protection to those who need it the most,” said Joseph T. Kassab, Executive Director of CFA.
“The Iraqi refugee crisis continues to be one of the world’s most pressing humanitarian concerns. The work that the Chaldean Federation of America is doing to serve this vulnerable population is of critical importance, and helps contribute to the overall stability and security of the region,” Congressman Gary C. Peters, who represents Michigan’s 9th Congressional District which includes the Chaldean Federation of America’s national headquarters in Farmington Hills and is home to tens of thousands of Chaldean-Americans. “I extend my gratitude to the Turkish Coalition of America for providing this grant, and look forward to working with both of these organizations to help address the needs of Iraqis refugees and internally displaced people.”
“I thank the Turkish Coalition of America for providing financial support to one of the largest Chaldean populations in southeastern Michigan,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (MI-13). “This donation to the Chaldean Federation of America illustrates the positive impact that America’s ethnic communities can have on improving the lives of people in the United States and abroad. I applaud both organizations for working together to assist those in need.”
“There are hundreds of thousands of Iraqi minorities who fled from violence and threats on their lives in Iraq, only to find they are unable to support themselves and their families in host countries where they live as refugees,” said Congressman John Dingell (MI-15). The partnership between the Turkish Coalition of America and the Chaldean Federation of America, which will provide assistance to displaced Iraqi Chaldeans in Turkey, is a much needed lifeline for this vulnerable population. As a Representative from a Congressional District with a high proportion of Iraqi refugees resettled in the United States, I have seen first hand that the U.S. cannot simply rely on the generosity of groups like TCA and CFA. The U.S. must lead by example, and immediately implement a comprehensive plan to address the Iraqi refugee crisis.”
“TCA is proud to make this donation to the Chaldean Federation of America in an effort to help alleviate the suffering of displaced individuals,” said Lincoln McCurdy, President of the TCA. “It is our hope that this effort will continue our efforts to build bridges between communities and further understanding between cultures.”
TCA and CFA will continue to promote their relationship to their respective communities and the general public in the U.S. and Turkey to provide the best possible comfort to the displaced and the vulnerable Iraqi Chaldeans in Turkey.
The Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) is an educational, charitable organization incorporated in February 2007. Based in the nation's capital, TCA's objective is to educate the general public about Turkey and Turkish Americans and voice their opinion on critical issues to interested parties; engage and cultivate a new generation of young Turkish American leaders; promote and advance the interests of the Turkish American community and Turks; foster friendship, understanding and cooperation between the United States and Turkey; protect the character and ensure a realistic portrayal of Turkey and Turkish Americans in the media and the arts; serve as a think tank of expertise and a clearinghouse of information on Turkey and Americans of Turkish descent.