MANILA, August 26, 2014—Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick S. Pabillo said it is high time the Philippine government speaks out against the persecution of religious minorities in Iraq, what many believe amounts to a “crime against humanity”.
“We need [these] world leaders, including our own, airing their side on this very important concern. It disappoints me how our government can still afford to keep mum when it comes to religion,” he said.
The bishop, who also chairs Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (CBCP-ECPA), shared that besides offering prayers, the atrocities committed by the religious extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) against Iraq’s Christian communities have to be condemned for what they are.
There is also a need for Filipinos, led by the Philippine government, to express concern for Iraqi Christians, Pabillo stressed, by sending humanitarian aid.
Aside from renewing his appeal to the Filipino faithful to denounce the ongoing persecution of minority Christians in the predominantly Muslim country of Iraq, Pabillo also said he expects the Philippine government to take part in the humanitarian efforts in Iraq as soon as possible.
The prelate stressed the right to choose one’s religion is one of the basic rights recognized by the United Nations (UN) Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), of which the Philippines is one of the 48 signatory-states.
Article 18 of the 1948 document reads, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
Iraqi authorities report that some 100,000 Yazidis (Iraqi Christians) have left Iraq to take refuge in neighboring Kurdistan. (Raymond A. Sebastián)