Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Mandaean Emergency Campaign

Since my last post on the international crisis that the Mandaeans face, I have been in contact with Professor Jorunn Buckley (Bowdoin) and Professor Charles Häberl (Rutgers) who have been tirelessly working for years as activists on behalf of the Mandaean community. I have also been in touch with the leader of the Mandaean Society of America, Dr. Suhaib Nashi. All welcome and encourage our help. Dr. Nashi says that the situation is dire. Mandaeans by the thousands have fled Iraq to Syria and Jordan. Most are in hiding for fear of their lives. Professor John Bolender (Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey) is forming a group, the Mandaean Crisis International, which will assist in the campaign to save the Mandaeans.

I would like to ask you to help. How?

1. Link or copy this post and the previous one to your own internet resources.

2. Copy the letter below and send it immediately to your congress representatives and senators. All the addresses can be found here. If you don't want to deal with snail mail, then send it by e-mail. But I can tell you that letters are taken more seriously if they are on letterhead and are hard copies. What we need is NUMBERS.

3. If you have connections to a Media department (universities all have them), send this letter to them or write one of your own. If you can, draw their attention to any local communities of Mandaeans living in your area. Do what you can to get the media in your town publishing articles about this state of emergency.

4. If you are teaching, talk to your students about this. Tell them who the Mandaeans are and what they are facing as a persecuted religious minority in Iraq. Get the word out.

5. Here are weblinks that might serve as resources for you about the Mandaeans.



RE: Mandaean Emergency Campaign


The Houston Chronicle published a syndicated AP article on Saturday, February 10, 2007, that reported some startling statistics I hope to bring to your immediate attention. In the early 1990s, there were 60,000 Mandaeans in Iraq. Today, the estimates range from 5,000 to 7,000. This special religious population is facing extermination.

Who are the Mandaeans? They are a persecuted religious minority whose homelands are Iraq and Iran. The Mandaeans are the only surviving Gnostic religion from antiquity. Mandaeans esteem John the Baptist as one of their greatest teachers. They practice multiple baptisms in rivers in order to journey to the world of light which they consider to be a better place than earth. Their books are very old, written in Mandaic, a Semitic dialect.

Many Mandaeans are trying to flee Iraq as they are targeted by Islamic extremists. They are being killed, raped, and forced to convert to Islam. Their properties are being confiscated by these extremists, according to a report released last week by the Mandaean Society of America in Trenton, New Jersey. Many Mandaeans are convinced that very soon there will be no Mandaeans alive in Iraq if we do not help them immediately.

There is a lobby working in Washington, D.C. to get the Mandaeans out of Iraq, as well as Jordan and Syria where many have fled, but still suffer abuse. They have no easy way to escape to countries like the US where they would be safe. On January 17, 2007 congressional testimony by Assistant Secretary Ellen Sauerbrey said that the department has been expanding the ability of the US to bring in more Iraqi refugees, including the special populations of religious minorities. Dr. Suhaib Nashi, the leader of the Mandaean Society of America, will be sending a letter to Capital Hill in the next few days, with details about the crisis that his community faces.

I would like to draw your attention to the genocide that is occurring among this special population, and ask you to do whatever is in your power to help bring into the US these refugees. There are already established Mandaean communities in cities like Houston and Detroit. The Mandaeans who live in the US and are established in professions and businesses, are willing to assist fleeing families from abroad, if only we can get those families here.

For further information, you may contact:
  • Professor Jorunn Buckley, Bowdoin College, 7300 College Station, Brunswick, ME 04011;; 207-725-3687.
  • Professor Charles Häberl, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, 54 Joyce Kilmer Avenue, Piscataway, New Jersey 08854;; 732- 445-8444 Ext. 17.
  • Professor April DeConick, Rice University, MS 15, Houston, Texas 77251;; 713-348-4995.
This is an extremely urgent matter, and I ask that you give it your immediate attention.




Jeremy said...

Thank you for taking action on behalf of these oppressed Gnostic communities. We have begun a letter writing campaign at The Palm Tree Garden, a small but international community of Gnostics who are also concerned about our Mandean brothers and sisters. We will also work to get the word out, on our personal websites and otherwise.

Thanks again for your initiative and compassion.


Bro. Jeremy Puma

April DeConick said...

Thank you, Jeremy.