We are thankful to God for helping Open Doors Canada Executive Director Gary Stagg present the Hope for Middle East petition to MP David Anderson who went on to present it to the House of Commons on Dec 11th. The situation of displaced Christians and minorities was highlighted before the Government of Canada. We value your prayers that people in leadership and authority will be able to help bring about a change and respond to the calls of the petition for equality, dignity and a role in reconciliation for Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria.
An Open Doors delegation – led by 12-year-old Noeh from Karamles, Iraq – has presented the Hope for the Middle East petition to the UN in New York. Noeh was accompanied by his father Hathem, Father Behnam Lallo, a priest from northern Iraq, and a team from Open Doors.
The petition has been signed by more than 800,000 people in 143 countries. It calls for equality, dignity and a role in reconciliation for Chrisitians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria.
”We all hope to have our full rights in Iraq… This is the most important thing we need to continue staying in Iraq,” said Father Behnam Lallo, a priest from northern Iraq, who is also part of the delegation. “The material things are really important. But to continue staying, to continue existing, we need to gain our full rights as real citizens of Iraq.”
“I feel genuinely convinced that we have found favour here – thanks be to God – and that the cause of our brothers and sisters in the Middle East ill be heard,” said Zoe Smith, head of Advocacy for Open Doors UK and Ireland.
The Syrian and Iraqi populations are facing immense suffering because of years of war and violent unrest. We believe that in Syria and Iraq the lives, livelihoods and freedoms of all people should be protected and guaranteed. This includes the Christians.
"I want my fellow citizens to know that we are not strangers to Iraq. Our ancestors built this country. Consider me as a sister, not as a stranger."
- AN IRAQI CHRISTIAN
The Open Doors team and partners will present this petition to the House of Commons, Government of Canada as well as to the Secretary General of the United Nations on 10th December 2017. It will have a huge impact as this day is celebrated as Human Rights Day all over the world. In addition, between now and November 2017, colleagues and partners around the world will raise these calls with different people and organizations who have direct influence over each of the campaign recommendations and can truly make a difference on the ground.
We’re aiming to collect 1 million signatures on our global petition by the first week of December 2017. Such a significant number from across the world will maximize the impact of a special presentation of the petition to the new Secretary General of the United Nations at the UN in December 2017. More importantly, such a significant number will also send a clear message to Christians in the Middle East that they are not forgotten, but instead can join with thousands of others around the globe who are praying and speaking out for them.
In 2013, over 300,000 people around the world signed the Save Syria petition calling on the UN to recognize that Christians were especially vulnerable within the Syrian crisis. Thanks to Save Syria, people at the highest levels know that Christians in Syria and Iraq are suffering. But nobody knows how to support Christians in the Middle East. Christians in Syria and Iraq tell us that they can stay and rebuild their lives if certain changes are made. We must act with a deep sense of urgency to tell the world in as loud a voice as possible what these changes are so that Christians can have a hope for a future in their homelands, and can consequently continue to contribute to the good of their societies.
In 2010, over 428,000 people signed the Right to Believe petition campaigning against the ‘defamation of religions’ resolution at the UN. In 2011 this resolution gained significantly less support. It has not been tabled since 2012.
In 2013, over 300,000 people around the world signed the Save Syria petition calling on the UN to recognize that Christians were especially vulnerable within the Syrian crisis. Thanks to Save Syria, people at the highest levels know that Christians in Syria and Iraq are suffering and it has now become mainstream knowledge.
These campaigns show how speaking out in advocacy can make a real difference. With you we can have a louder voice when we approach those who have direct control over the situation to deliver the recommendations of this campaign. But most importantly, while we advocate to governments we also have an advocate in heaven – prayer and advocacy are a powerful and important combination.
We would love to keep you in touch with news of the campaign and what is happening to Christians in Syria and Iraq. Your address will not be passed on to any third party.
We conducted extensive consultations with Christians in Syria and Iraq between September 2015 and March 2016 to gain a clearer understanding of how Christians in the Middle East understand their role within their society, and to ascertain their needs in order to better understand how we can stand alongside Christians in the Middle East. The recommendations which came out of these consultations fell broadly into three categories, which defined the content and calls of this petition.
Please lift your voice to our advocate in heaven and pray for Christians in Syria and Iraq. You can also spread the word and get your friends and family to join, and make a donation to provide ongoing practical support. Signing the paper version of the Petition ensures that the Government of Canada hears your voice as well (print the petition according to instructions provided, or email us to request for a printed copy of the petition today).
Open Doors is active in more than 60 countries, supplying Bibles, leadership training, Scripture-based literacy programmes and support for Christians persecuted for their faith.