Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans and Head of the Chaldean Catholic Church’s UN speech
Louis Raphaël I Sako’s speech at the UN Security Council meeting on Eastern Christians (2015)
New York, 27 March 2015
On behalf of Christians of different ethnic and cultural denominations who endure such a severe ordeal in the Middle East, I extend my thanks to the French government for this pioneering humanitarian initiative, particularly to His Excellency Mr. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As you know, this year we commemorate the centenary of the massacres of Christians in the Ottoman Empire. Today, a hundred years after this tragedy, we are living in a similar tragic situation, which has caused many people to emigrate, and it is a great loss for all. Frankly speaking, the so-called Arab Spring, for us, didn’t turn out well. Had we had the opportunity to work in harmony with the mosaic of religions and ethnic groups in our region, there would have been a driving force for progress towards peace, stability and openness throughout the region.
From my seat, I wish to express the following message inspired by the humanitarian and spiritual values that live within me. Positive coexistence based on justice, peace in love and citizenship should remain a top priority for the Security Council and the United Nations.
Regarding my country, I urgently call out to support the central government of Baghdad and the regional government of Kurdistan to free the city of Mosul, as well as the cities of the Nineveh Plains, where Christians, Yezidis and Shabaks live.
I make a solemn appeal to provide them with international protection, with a secure area, while strongly proclaiming the right to property for displaced families so that they can return to their villages and homes and resume a normal life. The central government must also compensate all these families for the damage and harm they have suffered.
In fact, the major problem lies in the way men think of religion, the state, and citizenship. In all of this, it is important to understand the role of individuals as citizens and members of civil society; that is why it is critical to neglect the role of religious and national education. All this is suggested to promote better coexistence in peace and respect.
Islamic extremist currents refuse to live with non-Muslims. They persecute them, tear them from their homes and destroy all traces of their history. We are faced with a cultural crisis that monopolises power, dismantles institutions and restricts freedom. It is therefore urgent to establish coherent criteria based on international law.
As I address this honorable assembly, I wish to emphasize that terrorists who commit crimes against humanity must not be equated with the innocent faithful of Islam. Indeed, this silent and peaceful Muslim majority rejects the politicization of their religion and accepts harmonious conviviality with others in a rule of law where laws and institutions are respected.
On the other hand, it is becoming increasingly clear that peace and stability can not be achieved exclusively through military intervention. They are unable to dismantle this fierce ideology that destroys lives and the cultural heritage.
This requires the international community, including the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, to take decisions leading to political, cultural and educational solutions. The international community is called upon to effectively protect the mosaic of individuals and different groups in the same country, despite their diverse religious and ethnic origins, by promoting their rights and by strengthening relations between them.
I would like to draw your attention to the risk to see new currents, as harmful as Daesh (ISIS), emerge. When millions of children and young people are deprived of school and education, when millions of refugees are gathered in camps, deprived of the bare minimum of care and attention, then frustration, unemployment and poverty can easily lead them to revenge and extremism.
Therefore, we propose a process whose ambition is to get out of this vicious circle.
- Demand, from the United Nations, the executive update of constitutions and laws so as to achieve justice, equality and dignity for all, as citizens, without any discrimination. It is essential that our countries adopt governments that demand equality among all citizens. These governments must be responsible for protecting everyone and guaranteeing the rights of all citizens. The mere enumeration of these basic needs testifies to their serious lack.
- Recommend that religious leaders adopt a moderate speech, which helps to deepen the meaning of citizenship. Regardless of the diversity of their religious denominations or their ethnic affiliations, people should identify themselves first and foremost with their national territory. One important factor is lacking: it is curriculum reform that could help deepen the principles of respect among citizens, promote tolerance and dialogue and condemn division, hatred and revenge. All this is necessary to protect future generations from the sad consequences of certain positions that lead to extremism, violence and terrorism. This goal can only be attained if religious leaders present an appropriate exegesis of their sacred texts, and do not tolerate the use of violent sentences or passages taken out of context.
- Adopt a law that criminalizes and blames states and individuals who support terrorist groups, whether financially, intellectually or with weapons. Their actions are crimes against social peace.
- Promote the development of organizations for human rights and civil liberties. These organizations should have an executive and not just an advisory role, both regionally and internationally.
Thank you all and rest assured of my best wishes for success in your humanitarian service.