Friday, May 25, 2007

Urgent! Bill 2265 to Help Iraqi Immigrants including Mandaeans

It has come to my attention that Bill 2265 which would confer immigration status to the U.S. for many religious minorities in Iraq, including Mandaeans, is going to the House of Representatives soon for a vote. This is the time (ASAP) to send a(nother) letter to our legislators urging them to vote in favor of 2265. Let's swamp them with letters and e-mails!

The following is a possible letter which you can use or alter as you see fit. For addresses, see my previous post.

Dear _______________________:

I would like to alert you to the suffering of the Iraqi Mandaeans, who desperately need immigrant status in western nations, and urge you to vote for bill 2265.

The Mandaeans, or Sabian-Mandaeans, are an ethnic group whose monotheistic religion is one of the oldest in the Middle East. They are followers of John the Baptist. Baptism is their main form of religious activity. The Mandaean religion began at the time of Jesus and has historical connections to ancient Gnostic movements.

The traditional homeland of the Mandaeans is in Iraq and Iran, but recent persecutions have greatly decreased their numbers in those areas. The precise total number of Mandaeans worldwide is not known but approximates 70,000. But at present only five to seven thousand
remain in Iraq, with many having fled to Syria, Jordan, and Sweden as well as other countries. Mandaeans in Iraq are targeted for killing, kidnapping, and confiscation of property.

Unlike other victims of sectarian violence in Iraq, Mandaeans cannot flee to a protective enclave within the country, nor can they defend themselves with their own militia. Their religion being strictly pacifist, Mandaeans carry no weapons. The spread of extremist ideology has resulted in the targeting of "infidels" and especially the defenseless, pacifist group the Mandaeans. The police often refuse to intervene. Since Mandaeans have no voice in the Iraqi parliament and no direct connection to any member of government, the government has taken little action to protect them.

Although many Mandaeans have taken refuge in Syria and Jordan, these countries are not able to accommodate the huge influx of Iraqi refugees on a permanent basis. Normally, a refugee from Iraq is granted a three-month visa with an extension of up to six months in certain cases, after which time they are living in the country illegally if they continue to stay, even though a Mandaean's returning to Iraq is fraught with danger.

Please see the Mandaean Human Rights report for 2007:
Thank you very much for your attention to this urgent matter.


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