Elderly Christian Women Violently Assaulted in Bartella, Iraq
Violent Home Invasion Part of Continued Persecution of Christians in Disputed Territory
05/14/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on May 13, 2019, assailants broke into a Christian home and assaulted two elderly women, a mother and daughter. The women were repeatedly stabbed with a knife, and their gold and money was stolen. The two victims were hospitalized in Mosul. The daughter, who sustained a violent head injury, remains in critical condition.
One woman who lives in Bartella shared with ICC, “We’ve heard that two men were arrested and possibly they are guilty, both are from Shabak. The mother has come back to Bartella, but the daughter who is 69 years old is still struggling with death in Mosul.”
The Shabak are a Shia ethnic group that is supported by Iran alongside the Hashd al-Shaabi militia, which has occupied Bartella since the defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS). Bartella’s Christian population was entirely Christian prior to the invasion of ISIS. However, most have not returned home due to poor infrastructure, security concerns, and militia aggression.
“The incident is perfectly done with timing; it is more than an attack. The attackers tried to deliver a message of threat: whoever doesn’t have support should leave. I don’t think it was a robbery because they stabbed the daughter on her head by a knife which means the criminals tried to kill them,” she continued.
Lara is originally from Bartella, but she has not returned. She told ICC, “Bartella is the most targeted area for these militias. They are trying to change the demographic distribution of this particular village by making Christian life there very difficult.”
A local Syriac Orthodox priest, Fr. Jacob Shammas, concurs that the risk is increasing. He told ICC, “You know who could be the ones who may attack Christians. Everyone knows them. But no one can give you the names since they are supported by the militia.”
Juliana Taimoorazy, President of Iraqi Christian Relief Council, said, “There will be some who will brush this off as an isolated incident and others may present it as a gang-related crime. This is, in fact, yet another orchestrated tactic to intimidate and push the Christian community, the indigenous children of the land, out of their homes. Unfortunately, these heinous acts will continue until the Christian community is well equipped to defend itself and have the law on their side to deal with these criminals swiftly and justly.”
Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, said, “We must not make the mistake of thinking that the defeat of ISIS means the end of persecution in Iraq. This violent home invasion in Bartella is yet another example of how Christians are routinely targeted with the intent of sending a message that they are not welcome in Iraq. We must increase our diligence in addressing the root causes of persecution in Iraq. We pray for a speedy healing for these two women, for the just application of due process, and for the cessation of aggression in Bartella.”
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