by ROWENA OREJANA
AUCKLAND — More than 1000 Iraqi Christians and their supporters marched from St Patrick’s Cathedral through Queen St to Aotea Square in Auckland to on August 30 to press for help for
persecuted Christians and other minority groups in Iraq.
The group chanted “Save our Christians”, “John Key, we need your help” as well as “Stop killing our people” as they marched through the drizzle on the cold, dark afternoon.
Yousif Korkis, a member of the organising committee for the four Eastern Catholic Churches in Auckland, said they are calling on the United Nations to send peacekeeping troops into Iraq and to “stop the genocide”.
“We are also calling on New Zealand to follow the lead of France and Australia and implement a special emergency refugee quota for persecuted Christians,” he said.
The group met at the cathedral before the march to listen to various speakers and watch videos of events that have taken place in Mosul, in Iraq.
Barnabas Fund representative, Stephanie Dole, said Christians are being persecuted all over the world.
“An estimated 600,000 Christians in Syria have already fled the country. We are helping over
30,000 Iraqi Christians,” she said.
Auckland Anglican Bishop Ross Bay said the terrible suffering of our fellow Christians as well as that of innocent people of many faiths cannot be ignored.
“To murder innocent people, to identify and justify it as religious duty that somehow honours
God, that is surely the greatest of blasphemy.”
Catholic Vicar-General Msgr Bernard Kiely said Catholics stand in solidarity with persecuted
Christians in Iraq and Syria.
“We, as a Church, are called to walk alongside our brothers and sisters who are persecuted for their faith. On Friday we celebrated the beheading of St John the Baptist. It’s a tragic episode in the Gospel, and the sadness is that the same episode is still being lived out
today in the current situation,” he said.
“There’s a great call for the New Zealand government to be more pro-active in terms of
helping refugees, especially those who already have family in New Zealand,” Msgr Kiely said.
by ROWENA OREJANA