March 19 is the 12th Anniversary of the Invasion of Iraq. I’m writing to express my concerns about the People of Iraq and my belief in the U.S. “responsibility to protect”.
I draw your attention to the responsibility the United States and the international community has for the victims of current human rights abuses taking place in Iraq as a direct consequence of that ill-begotten war.
My religious Order, the Dominicans, is one of the few humanitarian organizations still operating in the regions of Northern Iraq where hundreds of thousands of men, women and children are suffering disastrous abuses of their human rights and human dignity. My Iraqi Dominican Sisters and Brothers, themselves displaced from their homes by the incursion of the so-called “Islamic State”, daily expend their energies to look after the physical, spiritual, and psychological needs of hundreds of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). Yet, their own government, the international community, and most especially the United States, fail in their “responsibility to protect” outlined in the United Nations convention on Genocide which declares that states bear the responsibility for “protecting populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, and their incitement,” and if they fail in this, “The international community has a responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other means to protect populations from these crimes.”
We Dominicans stand in solidarity with people of good will throughout the world in our call for immediate action to protect vulnerable populations in Iraq by seeking an immediate cessation of violence; effective protection for civilians, access to education for displaced children and, additional funding to ensure the protection of human rights and the basic human necessities for all.
For twelve long years we have stood in solidarity with our Iraqi Dominican Family. While we advocate for their protection and the human rights of all they serve, we remember with poignancy that this anniversary of the U.S. action that has led to the current tragic consequences of war, is also, in the Catholic calendar, the feast of St. Joseph, the husband of Mary, who is honored as the protector of families.
We, the citizens and government of the United States, have an especially strong need to be, like St. Joseph, a protector of the children and families in Iraq.
[Lucianne Siers is a Dominican Sister in Grand Rapids, Mich.]