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Aucklanders to March in Solidarity with Iraqi Christians

Aucklanders to March in Solidarity with Iraqi Christians

Hundreds of people are expected at a march this weekend in Auckland's Queen St, calling for solidarity with persecuted minorities in Iraq.

Christian groups and those supporting other religious groups who have been brutally attacked by the Islamic State, are calling on the Iraqi community in New Zealand and others to take part in the peaceful march.

The Parish Priest of St Addai Chaldean Catholic Church, Father Fawzi Hanna, says people in Auckland are very concerned.

“There is a big Iraqi community in New Zealand, especially in Auckland, and we are all terrified for our friends and family in Iraq."

Another organiser, Danny Kettoola, says he has been working with a committee from four Eastern churches in Auckland to organise the meeting this coming Saturday.

“The barbaric persecution and extermination of Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq by the Islamic State – which until now has included systematic beheadings, crucifixions, torture, raping and selling of women and girls, intentionally causing mass starvation and dehydration and driving thousands of people from their homes – is nothing short of genocide," says Mr Kettoola.

"We are asking the New Zealand Government to urgently help in any way that it can.”

Rachael Wong, a barrister specialising in immigration law attending the march on Saturday, is calling on the New Zealand Government to open its doors to Christians and other minorities fleeing the Islamic State (formerly ISIS / ISIL).

“New Zealand should follow the lead of France and Australia in facilitating asylum for refugees from Iraq," she says.

"Ranked 87th per capita, due to our extraordinarily low annual quota of 750, the least we can do is respond accordingly in times like this.”

“The Government must also offer generous humanitarian assistance and like Australia, seriously consider offering military support. While we have a moral responsibility to alleviate the suffering of those in Iraq, it would also be naïve to think that the Islamic State’s caliphate – if left unhindered – will not eventually have direct ramifications for New Zealand and other western countries.”

“The Islamic State embodies an evil that the world has not seen for a long time and it is only getting stronger, wealthier and more ruthless. The time to act is now,” Ms Wong insists.

Catholic Bishop Patrick Dunn, and Anglican Bishop Ross Bay, as well as other Iraqi Christian leaders, will take part.

The event also happens to coincide with a similar march organised by Assyrian youths, from Civic Square to Parliament in Wellington.

The meeting will take place from 2-4pm at St Patrick’s Cathedral, 43 Wyndham St, followed by a peaceful march up Queen St to Aotea Square. For those who cannot attend but would still like to show their support, donations can be made to the “Hope for Iraq Fund” – ASB 12-3026-0469396-51.


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