Iraqi Nun Testify Before Congress, Calling on U.S. to Help Rebuild Lives of Christian Refugees Displaced by ISIS

( [email protected] ) May 16, 2015 04:21 PM EDT
Iraqi Nun Testify Before U.S. Congress
Iraqi Sister Diana Momeka testify before the House Committe on Foreign Affairs in Washington D.C., “We want nothing more than to go back to our lives; we want nothing more than to go home.” (CNS)

After getting caught in a controversy when she was denied a U.S. visa in April, Sister Diana Momeka was finally able to enter the country when the U.S. State Department reversed its earlier decision and granted her a visa to travel to Washington, D.C. She appeared before the House Committee of Foreign Affairs and testified about the cruelties of ISIS on fellow Iraqi Christians.

Her testimony rang with a simple message: that the U.S. government help displaced Christian Iraqis who have been victims of ISIS go back to their homeland.

Addressing the House Committee of Foreign Affairs, she said, "I call on all Americans to raise your voices on our behalf so that diplomacy and not genocide, social well-being and not weapons, and the desire for justice, not selfish interests determine the future for Iraq and all of her children." Her testimony appears on the website of Christian News Wire.

Sister Diana said the faith of the homless Iraqi Christians are 'increasing more and more' despite living in devastating conditions - families taking shelter in containers, parents without jobs and children without an education.

"It's making us stronger," she said. "We were displaced, yet we feel that the hand of God is still with us. ... In the midst of this darkness, this suffering, we see that God is holding us," she explained, adding that it is a "gift of the Holy Spirit" to be able to stay and have faith through hardship.

Sister Diana is a Dominican sister from Mosul, Iraq. She went to the U.S. with the help of the Institute for Global Engagement and 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative to urge the U.S. government to help Christians in Iraq by freeing their land from ISIS and helping them go back, rebuilding their infrastructure, and establishing projects that will help rebuild Iraq.

She also asked for psychological help for the victims of ISIS, especially for women have been traumatized by rape, according to Catholic Herald.

The nun described how ISIS destroyed her homeland. They came to the Nineveh Plain, where the city of Qaraqosh is located, on June 10, 2014. The Christians there had three choices: convert to Islam, pay a tax to ISIS or die. As a result, many of them fled to Iraqi Kurdistan with nothing but the clothes on their back.

The city of Qaraqosh had been a strong Syriac Catholic area since the first century. A Syriac Catholic bishop who hails from Qaraqosh once described his birthplace as "the biggest island of Christianity in the Islamic ocean." Sadly, by August 6, 2014, there were no Christians left in Nineveh Plain except those caught by ISIS.

According to Sister Diana, there are now more than 120,000 Christians displaced from Mosul and Nineveh Plain. They are presently living in the Iraqi Kurdistan region, crowding in converted shelters, homes and church buildings.

ISIS not only drove them out of their land but also destroyed churches and other places that they considered sacred, including two monasteries and the tomb of the prophet Jonah. Sister Diana said these represented their heritage, and now that these are destroyed, they felt that they have lost their dignity and identity as a people.

"The situation for my people and my country is grave, but not without hope. I believe that the international community, and especially the good people of the United States, want to see my government fulfill its responsibility to protect, defend and promote the welfare of all of its citizens," she said, according to Christian News Wire.

She ended her message with, "We want nothing more than to go back to our lives; we want nothing more than to go home." 

Tags : Iraqi nun, Sister Diana, Sister Diana Momeka, Qaraqosh, Nineveh Plain, northern Iraq, Syriac Christians, Syriac Catholics