Iraqi’s Manaeans Face Genocide – All Other Religious Minorities at Risk

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Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the
Crime of Genocide defines genocide as "any of the following acts
committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national,
ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life
calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."
(Link 1)

Islamic elements in Iraq are working towards the total destruction
of the Mandaean community. Iraq's Mandaeans are facing genocide.
(For what Mandaeans believe, see http://www.mandaeans.org/ )

The Society for Threatened Peoples (Gesellschaft fur bedrohte
Volker) has published a report entitled "Mandaeans in Iraq: After
centuries of persecution – Today their very survival is threatened"
(March 2006). The report can be found on their website. (Link 2)

This German-based organisation documents the same sorts of abuses
that have been documented by the Sabian Mandaean Association of
Australia (SMAA) and used in previous WEA RLC postings on Iraq.
Abuses include forced conversions, kidnappings, rapes, forced
marriages, tortures and killings (often highly barbaric) of innocent
Mandaean civilians including women and children.

Since the overthrow of the Hussein regime the situation for
Mandaeans in Iraq has become untenable as violence against them has
increased markedly. Because Mandaeans, are labeled "unclean" and not
even afforded "protected" dhimmi status, they may be publicly
persecuted or killed with impunity. In fact the killer may even have
a sense of justification, as if he has performed a noble and
principled act of cleansing. On top of this, Mandaeans are pacifists
and therefore defenseless. They are generally well educated and
highly skilled. Altogether this makes them choice, prime, easy
targets for greedy criminals as well as for bigoted Islamists.

The Society for Threatened Peoples is also documenting the flight of
Mandaean refugees. They estimate that around 1,000 Iraqi Mandaean
families had fled to Syria or Jordan by January 2006. In September
2005, the BBC estimated that a mere 13,000 Mandaeans (about one
third of the pre-war population) remained inside Iraq.

In May the United States Commission on International Religious
Freedom released its Annual Report for 2006. Pages 9 – 12 are
devoted to the human rights situation in Iraq, and make it very
clear that "The future of religious minorities hangs in the balance".

Here are some excerpts from that four-page segment entitled: "IRAQ:
Human Rights in Jeopardy". (Link 3)

"Minority communities, including Christian Iraqis, are forced to
fend for themselves in an atmosphere of impunity, and lack any
tribal or militia structure to provide for their security. The
result is that members of these communities continue to flee the
country in the face of violence, in an exodus that may mean the end
of the presence in Iraq of ancient Christian and other religious
minority communities that have lived on those same lands for 2,000
years. The UN has reported on 'an explosion of Islamist extremist
movements and militias which target, among others, members of
religious minorities,' concluding that religious minorities 'have
become the regular victims of discrimination, harassment, and at
times persecution, with incidents ranging from intimidation and
threats to the destruction of property, kidnapping and murder,' and
that 'members of the Christian minority. . .appear to be
particularly targeted.' As discussed below, this violence is also
directed against women, including non-Muslim women, who are deemed
as not complying with Islamic strictures, which are being imposed

"Sabean Mandaean organizations continue to report that extremist
Islamic elements are targeting individual members of the Iraqi
Sabean community, solely on the basis of their religious belief. In
a number of instances, attackers reportedly attempted to forcibly
convert their victims before murdering them, sometimes going so far
as to leave the victims' valuables behind to underscore the
religious motivation for their acts. Other violence directed against
the Sabean community reportedly included kidnapping, rape,
immolation, and the gouging of eyes.

"According to the Germany-based Society for Threatened Peoples,
17,000 of the 30,000 Mandaeans have already fled Iraq in the wake of
this violence. According to sources cited by the UN, Iraqi religious
leaders issued several fatwas during the past year which 'have
provided Islamic fundamentalists with the religious justification
for acts carried out against the Mandaeans, and have accentuated the
level of fear among the Mandaean community'."


Today, Iraqi Mandaeans are being given an ultimatum – to convert to
Islam or leave Iraq. The only other option is death.

Here are translations of two letters received recently by Mandaeans
in Iraq. The translations are taken from the Appendix of the report
by the Society for Threatened Peoples.
Threatening letter addressed to Layth Shaker
[excerpt of translated letter]
In the name of God
Warning Warning
To the citizen Layth Shaker, you are going astray and you have to
come back to God and his prophet. This is a warning to you and your
family, the fighter's brothers will be satisfied if you transfer
from Al-Ramady with your family. You have time limit for three days
only and after that you will be punished because the settlement is
started and this is a last opportunity to you and you are under
control by the Al-Jehadia group. . .
Threatening letter addressed to Mahmoud Shaker
[full text of translated letter]
In the name of Allah
'If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to
Allah), never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he
will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good).'
'O, ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of)
stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination of Satan's
handiwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper.'
To the magus, the infidel, the Sabi the goldsmith Shaker M & his
sons, we warn you and your sons that you must abandon the religion
of the infidel and the atheist and to convert to Islam. Your sons
must join the Al-Jehad group to fight against the occupiers and the
army of the infidel. By the way your sons who ever is Mahmoud Shaker
and his brother Moneer Shaker are an agent soldiers in the army of
what called the national guard and you drink wine, you are dirty,
cursed infidel and low. You have only two choices, either convert to
Islam or to leave the country of Islam.
He who was warns is excused
The national Islamic resistance
Kataeeb Thwart Al-Eshreen
Information Office.


On 23 June, the SMAA reported that in the previous week, ten
Mandaeans had been mutilated and killed in Basra, and that all the
other Mandaeans still living in Basra had received "warning" notices
ordering them to leave Iraq or be likewise killed. The letters
reported to the SMAA follow the same line as the "warning" notice to
Mahmoud Shaker (above), and falsely accuse the Mandaeans of being
drunkards, gamblers, idolaters, prostitutes and practitioners of
black magic.

The Mandaeans of Basra have even been informed that they no longer
have the option of converting to Islam. They are fleeing for their
lives, and those who cannot flee are living in terror of their
lives. All the Mandaean clergy have fled.

But where will Iraq's Mandaeans find refuge?

When Iraq's Jewish population was faced with the same choice - leave
or die - the newly created state of Israel came to the rescue. Iraqi
Jews accounted for one third of Baghdad's population at the time of
World War One and most were highly educated, skilled professionals.
Persecution of Jews (and Christians) escalated after the British
mandate ended in 1932. The Christian Assyrians suffered a
catastrophic massacre in 1933. Then in October 1939, the arrival in
Iraq of the pro-Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem (a personal ally to Hitler)
heralded the beginning of the end of a 2,500 year history of Jews in
Iraq. After years of inciting anti-Semitic violence all over
Palestine and the Middle East, Haj Amin El Husseini incited
anti-Jewish pogroms and massacres in Iraq with a view to genocide.
There were still up to 150,000 Jews in Iraq in July 1948 when
"Zionism" was made a criminal (in some cases capital) offense, with
only two Muslims required to denounce one Jew. By 1951 more than
100,000 Iraqi Jews had been evacuated empty-handed, rescued by
Israel to be absorbed in Israel as refugees. A remnant of 34 mostly
elderly Iraqi Jews were found in Iraq in 2004. (Link 4)

There is no rescue in sight for Iraqi's immediately threatened
Mandaeans. Due to the enormous numbers of refugees flooding into
Syria and Jordan, Syrian and Jordanian tolerance is beginning to run
out. Also, many Mandaean asylum seekers are not finding refuge in
the West as political forces, motivated by trade deals as well as
political and diplomatic considerations, are increasingly
interfering with refugee tribunal decisions.

Below are two resources from the United Nations High Commission for
Refugees to further assist with asylum claims of Iraqi Mandaeans,
Christians and other religious minorities.

Background Information on the Situation of Non-Muslim Religious
Minorities in Iraq. (October 2005)

Guidelines Relating to the Eligibility of Iraqi Asylum-Seekers.
(October 2005)

Elizabeth Kendal
rl-res[email protected]


1) Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of
Genocide. http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/p_genoci.htm

2) The Society for Threatened Peoples (Gesellschaft fur bedrohte
Volker) http://www.gfbv.de "Mandaeans in Iraq: After centuries of
persecution – Today their very survival is threatened." March 2006.
(direct link to English version:
http://www.gfbv.de/inhaltsDok.php?id=694 )

3) United States Commission on International Religious Freedom
released its Annual Report for 2006. http://www.uscirf.gov/

4) Iraq's Jews
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3107219.stm ALSO

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