Special Eyewitness Briefing: Restoring Hope in Iraq for Persecuted Christians and Other Religious Minorities
(Sister Diana Momeka, December 7, 2016)
Transcript available below
About the speaker
Eyewitness Dominican Sister Diana Momeka, during a hearing before Congress in 2015, testified: “Uprooted and forcefully displaced, we have realized that ISIS’s plan is to evacuate the land of Christians and wipe the earth clean of any evidence that we ever existed.” Sr. Diana’s own convent was destroyed by ISIS.
She and Syriac Catholic Father Behnam Benoka founded and run the Humanitarian Nineveh Relief Organization in Iraqi Kurdistan where they provide crucial health services and humanitarian aid to thousands of displaced families in and around Erbil. Today, many of the ancient villages have been liberated from ISIS, but the majority of homes, churches, building and infrastructure have been damaged or destroyed. As ISIS retreats, their goal is to restore hope for those who have survived.
Sister Diana shared personal stories of ISIS’ campaign of genocidal acts throughout her homeland. She speak about the future of Christianity and other religious minorities in Iraq, the current humanitarian crisis and the urgent need to support the population.
Sr. Diana was displaced from her hometown Qaraqosh, where she taught English since 2013, by ISIS on August 6, 2014. She has also taught at St. Ephrem Seminary in Qaraqosh and the Baghdad Academy for Human Science. She received a Doctorate of Ministry degree from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.
Robert R. Reilly:
I want to acknowledge the presence here tonight of Bishop Julian Dobbs, who is an office mate here and associated with Barnabas Aid, which is one of the premier organizations to help persecuted Christians. You’ll see information out there on it and I also want to point out that there are several leaflets on the table about Sister Diana’s organization of the Nineveh Relief- Nineveh Relief Organization.
I just want to point out for those of you who saw earlier invitations that Father panocha was not able to come because of an emergency that arose in northern Iraq not unfortunately an infrequent thing please join me in turning off your cell phone ringer and now I have the pleasure of telling you that we have the honor of having Congressman Frank wolf to introduce our guest tonight you all know Congressman wolf from his 17 terms in the U.S. Congress we’re in the House of Representatives he was known as the conscience of the House and the greatest champion of religious freedom and against the persecution of Christians. Even today his good work there continues because Chris Smith has a bill before Congress now, the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act. Please join me in welcoming Congressman Wolf.