The Mandaeans of Iraq Since 2015
The Mandaean Human rights group condemns the brutal killing of a Mandaean man in Kirkuk and wounding his brother.
On Sunday 27 Nov 2016 Mr Sami Kafif Z. AlZuhairy was murdered in the streets of Kirkuk, and his brother was wounded. The two brothers were attacked by four gunmen while driving to work. The attackers escaped chanting anti "Kufar" slogans.
The Mandaean Human Rights Group holds the Iraqi government and the security forces responsible for protecting all minorities and especially the weakest group 'the Mandaeans of Iraq". The Genocide that the Mandaeans are facing is a direct blow to all efforts to keep, let alone build ,a free and safe country.
We ask of the international community to help the Mandaeans in their dilemma and put pressure on the Iraqi sectarian leaders to respect the human rights of minorities in general and the Mandaeans in particular.
It is time to establish the Minorities Security Council under an international umbrella to protect, preserve and provide logistic support for the survival of the Iraqi Minorities.
The Mandaean Human Rights Group
To protect the remaining minorities in Iraq, the world needs to support the establishment of the Minority Security Council that has the authority to defend the rights of the minorities and assure equal treatment and opportunities to all Iraqi citizens. This council must have advisors to the Iraqi President, the Prime Minister, and the Chairperson of the Council of Representatives of Iraq (CoR).
The Iraqi minorities have found that their rights took a deeper dive to the worse in the New Iraq. They had no place to voice their concerns and fewer political powers would listen, let alone act. Their situation is getting worse especially after the rise of ISIL. The renewed fight for power after the new elections and the rearrangement of power makes the Minorities Rights much lower on the Iraqi agenda. We think that this issue has no chance of success if it were adopted by the USA and UN as an international responsibility.
This Council will be a first step toward trust-building and as a sign of good faith from the new Iraqi leadership towards religious minorities.
The definition of security here implies short-term and long-term security including physical, mental and social security.
The council should include the following:Representatives of all ethno/religious minorities in Iraq including Christians, Sabian Mandaeans, Yezisdis and other religious minoritiesRepresentatives of the Prime Minister's OfficeRepresentatives of the Security and Emergency Forces from both the police and militaryRepresentatives of the Ministry of Human Rights in IraqObserver/s from the UN or any other agreed upon, neutral international body
Council functions:Short Term:1. Act upon any immediate threat to the minorities by direct hot lines from designated Minority members2. Follow up on the atrocities and find out the final result in regular monthly meetings3. Follow up on the humanitarian needs of the refugees inside Iraq or outside4. Other immediate needs
Long Term:1. The council will work as the place for minorities to voice their concerns and suggest working solutions for these concerns based on citizenship2. Work to monitor the progress of the governmental implementation of the constitutional rights of minorities and bring the attention of the government to any breaches of these rights3. Work to rebuild the lost confidence between the minorities and the Iraqi government and help in the return of the refugees to their homelands4. Work to build the infrastructure of the historically disadvantaged minority communities in Iraq
The presence of an international monitor appointed by the UN through a mandate by the Un Security Council will work as a safeguard and prevent any future disregard to minority rights.
We hope that our suggestions will be considered, studied and improved to a final suggestion that can be negotiated with the Iraqi powers.
Suhaib NashiG. SecretaryThe Mandaean Associations Union
The Mandaeans Of Iraq situation in the last two months is getting to a genocide level by the Islamic militants and other evil powers and individuals in all Iraq not just IS (Islamic State) controlled area.
Mandaeans in areas under IS control have already fled to other areas and are living as refugees either inside Iraq or in Turkey, which some have fled to. The escape of more than 50 families from Ramadi, Fallujah and Abu Ghraib area close to Baghdad due to the constant threat and escalation of violence demonstrated by the IS. Some displaced families currently live in temporary shelters built by the Mandaeans in the Mendi area (worship area for Mandaeans).
The situation in Shia controlled areas of Iraq , is getting even worse The following are Killing and kidnapping cases that the MHRG (Mandaean Human Rights Group) has investigated and documented for this month (October 2014)
On October 1st 2014 A 36 year old man Atheir Abed Al Kader Lazim was kidnapped in the very centre of Bagdad during lunch time on the 12.102014 his body was found in a plastic bag with sever torture signs, he was killed by hanging with a robe; he leaves a pregnant wife and a daughter child. No belonging were stolen.
On the October 8th .2014 at 3 pm four houses inhabited by Mandaean families were burned at the same time in one area Al-Mostenseria – Baghdad , many injuries sustained by they occupants needed hospital treatment ,photos of the burned houses are available on request. .
On the October 11th 2014 In Misan Provence, in town of Mejjer Al Kbier at 5 PM a young man named Wasfi Abed Al Nabi L'abi Khalawi was shot with 3 shots 2 to the head and on to the spines He died later in the hospital . No belongings were stolen.
Other recent atrocities:On August 18th 2014, a man aged 25 named Nowar Hussein Rathi was kidnapped , tortured and then killed after his family paid the ransom of $50,000
On August 16th 2014 a man named Mr Wisam Weshah Al Mohena was kidnapped in Al Shatrrah in the Nasriyah province, was only released when a big ransom was paid.
on August 1st 2014 a man named Mr Hossam Naji Swadi was kidnapped, in Missan Omarrah in the south of Iraq, he was taken with gold goods valuing in the region of $50,000, was held to ransom for $60,000 which was paid by his family yet he was not set free and no one knows his whereabouts.
On February 26th 2014 a tragic, and most importantly avoidable incident happened in Al Mahmodia south of Baghdad, to a man named Mr Aid Nezal Khaleff Al Kohieli, who had returned to Iraq from Sweden as he was rejected asylum was killed with no belongings or valuables and left a family behind.
On February 2nd 2014 another man, Mr Samir Sami Yassien was killed in Baghdad with no valuables or belongings were took.
On January 17th 2014 A heart breaking story of a young man called Rami Jebar Swadi aged only 21, was killed in the south of Basra, they cut his throat and burned his body.
Since the beginning of the year we have recorded that more than 50 families been displaced with a lot of bereavements and financial losses.
The most striking thing about the killings of Mandaeans in Iraq is that it ranges from monetary gain by the extremists to the more sinister reason of ethnically cleansing the population of Iraq to get rid of the entire population of Mandaeans.
The Mandaean Community in Iraq is currently and more than ever in its history under real threat of being wiped out at the hands of IS and other religious extremist groups. As we could notice that all areas of Iraq are affected and there is increasing intensity and severity of the atrocities.
As the constant threat from IS grows in Iraq, as does the crimes committed against some Mandaeans. Crimes against them such as looting of their houses, forced conversions, kidnappings for ransom, threats to leave the area continue to go on without intervention from the government or the police, all matters are reported to the police and noted, but not investigated.
Frequent circulars from the MHRG were circulated very widely updating the international community about the continuous plight of the Mandaeans,
Dr Nashi General Secretary of the Mandaean Association Union in Exile met together with other Iraqi minorities with officials in the Pentagon on the September 22nd 2014 .
Representative from the MHRG attended the UPR Precessions organised by OHCHR from the October 7th 10.2014 in Geneva.
Representatives from the MHRG attended the Peace Summit in Seoul Korea from September 23rd-26th 2014.
What is needed
1. Urgent actions are needed by the international community to protect the religious minorities in Iraq by putting them under the international protection whether through UN Security Council resolution or individual governments mandates like USA, Australia and UK and holding the Iraqi Government accountable.
2. The formation of The Minority security Council which comprise of representatives from the different minorities, the armed forces, the police force, the office of the Prime minister and Ministry of Human Rights and international representation from UN to oversee the immediate security issues. Along with long term welfare and security of those minorities including their rights as ethnic, linguistic and as indigenous people of Iraq as implemented by the UN articles on religious ethnic and linguistic minorities rights and indigenous people.
3. Iraqi Government should give legal, economic, cultural and socio-religious rights for the Mandaeans and other religious minority groups both as citizens and as indigenous people of Iraq.4. Iraq Government should take care and support the refugees/displaced inside and outside of Iraq, until that time that it is deemed safe to return to their homes.
5. The start of religious tolerant campaign among Iraqis that identifies all Iraqi religions as equal citizens and fight hatred and divisiveness. The campaign should start in all media, religious establishments and the national curriculums in schools.
6. Correction of voting system for parliament that minority and not everybody else will choose the representative of a minority.
7. The properties and entitlements of refugees whether inside or outside Iraq should be protected by the government of Iraq.
8. Expediting the resettlement process for the Mandaean refugees in Syria by the UNHCR and IOM.
9. The International community, should allow the affected families in Iraq who want to leave and resettle somewhere else to do so and start the resettlement process inside Iraq.
Although Mandaeans neglected to document their history and have lost much of their oral traditions, they were quite eager to keep their religious heritage by copying their manuscripts. They therefore adopted strict regulations for copying their sacred manuscripts, to maintain and preserve them from one generation to the next.The Ginza Rabba, or “Great Treasure”, is Mandaeans’ largest collection of religious principles and instructions. According to their beliefs, the Ginza was the first revelation of God to Adam and thus considered as their holy book. Among Mandaeans, the book is also known as Sidra Rabba, the great codex or Sidra ’d Adam, the codex of Adam.As unique as these people are, their holy book is specially arranged: it consists of two volumes, the yamina or “right” and smala or “left” Ginza. The “right” volume is larger and contains 18 chapters divided into individual tractates, whereas the “left” volume includes 3 main chapters containing many hymns. The way of binding both volumes together is very particular and used by the Mandaeans only for this book. Both parts have to be bundled together in one tome; the “left” part is placed upside-down to the “right” part, so that both parts can be read from right-to-left according to the Mandaic alphabet.The Ginza Rabba varies in its contents and deals with spiritual, even metaphysical aspects. It also deals with the mortal life of human beings and describes ancient visions concerning life after death. In particular, the “right” volume depicts the Mandaean theology, cosmogony and anthropogeny, i.e. the Mandaeans’ dogma of monotheism and the creation story of the cosmos and mankind; in this part, Mandaean ethics are outlined by a detailed account of moral duties. On the other hand, the “left” volume is concerned entirely with the return of the soul to its origin in the world of light; it is about the ascent of the soul after death and the idea of eternal life.Generally, the Ginza Rabba represents consecutively the principles of the Mandaean doctrine: the belief of the only one great God, Hayyi Rabbi, to whom all absolute properties belong; he created all the worlds, formed the soul through his power, and placed it by means of angels into the human body. So he created Adam and Hawa/Eve, the first man and woman. Since the soul was brought down to the material world, it has to stay for a defined period of time in the human body and is obliged to suffer its worldly fate; however, the soul as a part of the divine creation should encourage human beings to do good deeds and to confront evil with God’s help. God therefore sent the saviour to protect the soul, along with messengers to guide the people to a pious life according to His will. When the soul completes its predestined lifespan, the saviour will come to accompany it back from the body to its origins, whereupon it has to pass through several stations of purification.In more recent times, Mandaeans have been facing serious difficulties in reading and understanding the Ginza Rabba, and explaining its contents to their children and neighbors because of its original Mandaic language.In the past, there were several serious attempts to translate the Ginza Rabba into foreign languages by scholars as part of their studies of Mandaean religion. This began with the attempt of the Swedish Orientalist Mathias Norberg to translate it into Latin in 1815/1816. The first printed version of the Ginza Rabba was copied by the German Orientalist Heinrich Julius Petermann in 1867. Then the German scholar Wilhelm Brandt attempted to translate the whole book into German, but only published some portions in 1839. His colleague Mark Lidzbarski produced the first translation of the whole book into German in 1925. Other scholars included in their publications some passages translated into English, usually relying upon the German version.Despite these considerable efforts, Mandaeans were unable to use these editions in Iraq and Iran due to the unfamiliarity of German and Latin there. As the result of an increasing need to have a comprehensible Ginza in Iraq, the headship of the Mandaeans decided to translate the Ginza Rabba into Arabic.Since the last quarter of the twentieth century, the Mandaeans have been forced to leave their homelands. They have escaped to many countries, so that three-quarters of them are now living in the Diaspora.Due to their emigration to foreign countries, the new generation of Mandaeans is becoming fully integrated into their new societies. They are deeply influenced by the cultures and the languages of these new “homelands”. However, they have to sustain their identity by means of understanding their own religion and presenting their faith to other interested people.As a result of this, it became necessary to translate the Ginza Rabba into English, so that coming generations will maintain their religious education in a language which is of common use.Even though this edition represents a translation of the meaning, reflecting the intentions behind the original text rather than a literal translation, we were quite careful and attentive towards conveying the spiritually worded text from its Mandaic origins to an understandable language. The Ginza Rabba should be easily read and understood by everyone; our aim is to make its ancient heritage coherent with modern usage, so that readers are not confused.This project was according to the permission and supervision of Rishema Sattar Jabbar Hillo the head of the Mandaeans in the world and Rishema Salah Jabbar Tawos the head of the Mandaeans in Australia. I would like to thank them for involving me in this important project.http://www.amazon.de/Ginza-Rabba-Prof-Qais-Al-Saadi/dp/B00A3GO458[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IOXWHyvSm8U[/youtube]
PRESENTATION AT THE LONDON UNIVERSITY CONFERENCECHAIRMAN SIR HAROLD WALKER (EX. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ)May the 5th 2007The Sabean Mandaean are one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the middle east.The name Mandaean is derived from Aramaic which means knowledge. Their Arab neighbors call them Sabean from the Arabic word Saba meaning cleansing in the water as they do so during prayers and baptism.The religion has strong ties with ancient Gnostic and has many aspects in common with Judaism, Christianity and Islam but is also different. It is in fact the only living Gnostic religion today. There is strong emphasis on dualism of the world of light and that of darkness. Adam is considered the first prophet and Yahia (John the Baptist)is the Greatest Teacher.The Mandaean language is Aramaic which is the language of the liturgy and still spoken by some of the Mandaean of Iran.Mandaean value family, marriage children and pay great emphasis to peaceful existence and pacifism. They have lived in southern Iraq and Iran for centuries practicing their faith peacefully. Their numbers were estimated in seventiesto be around 60,000-70,000.At present their numbers inside Iraq is much less.In recent times and particularly since 2003, thousands have fled Iraq to the neighboring countries for safety. According to UNHCR and I cote "The Mandaean who carry no weapons, who will not kill and have no social establishment to defend them are the first and an easy target". According to the human right watch the majority have already left Iraq.The killing, the kidnapping, the rape of women and young girls ,the forced conversion and the ransacking of their shops and properties have escalated deliberately and disproportionately to their small numbers. Fatwas issued by some Islamic clerics calling the Mandaean kafar(blasphemous), negis (impure),accusing them of witch craft and calling on Muslims to convert them to Islam.In march 2007 the BBC reporter Angus Crawford filed a report from Damascus .He spoke of this community facing extinction at the hands of extremists who are trying to wipe them out through forced conversion ,rape and murder.The recent escalation of sectarian violence in Iraq is forcing many communities to leave causing huge refugee crises in the neighboring countries according to the UNHCR recent conference in Geneva last month. Estimates of 1.2 million Iraqi refugees in Syria and a million in Jordan and others in Egypt and EUA, in addition to two million internally displaced are latest casualties of the conflict.Among the most vulnerable are the Iraqi minority communities according to Minority Right International UK most recent report mostly the Christians, Mandaean, yazids and others. Although they make up 3%of the population but according to the UNHCR office in Syria they represent a third of those registered for asylum. This exodus has not only caused hardship and uncertainty but could mean the end for these ancient communities and will adversely change the ethnic mix of the Iraqi society for ever.I was in Syria early this year. I witnessed the miserable conditions these communities live in .No school or formal education for their children. No work permits for the young adults. No health care for the elderly and sick. They are living on their meager saving which they brought with them from Iraq which is running short by the days. There are mechanisms in place to support those who experience torture and violence.I met women who have been raped, children who have been kidnapped, old women moaning the loss and death of their sons, adults whose bodies still carry the wounds of the bullets.Selwan is only 9 years old with half of his face and body burnt after kidnapping when his parents could not afford to pay the thousands of dollars ransom. And Lowai who is 19 and who was forcefully dragged out of his college and circumcised to convert him to Islam. A 34 years mother of three (not to be named) who was raped by 4 men in front of her husband because they knew her to be a Mandaean who refused to wear the Veil. I met a Mandaean jeweler who was blinded by acid been thrown in his face while his shop was ransacked.Like them I felt that very little has been done by the outside world so far to help their situation.These minority religious groups who are refugees can not go back to Iraq .There is no safe place for the Mandaean for example to return to inside Iraq.Western governments have a moral duty to settle them in safe countries as happened during the Balkan war, otherwise these ancient ethnic and religious minority groups will disappear for ever and what a loss and tragedy for the mix and diverse cultural ethnicity of Iraq and the world if this is would be allowed to happen.