Head Of AAC Diocese In Baghdad Fears For Armenian Community Of Iraq


27.07.2007 15:24 GMT+04:00

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ An Iraqi bishop addressing an anti-Israel
ecumenical jamboree in Amman, Jordan declined to demand an immediate
U.S. evacuation from Iraq.

"Is it going to bring about peace or play into the hands of
terrorists?" asked Archbishop Avak Asadourian, the Primate of the
Iraqi diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church, who was responding to
a question about U.S. church groups that are demanding an expeditious
time-table for U.S. troops to quit Iraq.

Asadourian spoke at the "Churches Together for Peace and Justice in the
Middle East," organized by the Geneva-based World Council of Churches
(WCC). Speaking to 130 church officials from the WCC’s affiliates
around the world, the Armenian Archbishop of Baghdad was representing
the Council of Christian Church Leaders in the Iraqi capital.

Asadourian called the calls for a U.S. military withdrawal time-table a
"two-edged sword." He expressed hope that the U.S. military presence
would "eventually" end but showed even more interest in U.S.-led
security forces reducing the violence in Iraq. "The occupying powers
have to enforce the Geneva conventions and guarantee the security of
the country," the archbishop said. "If they were able to bring about
security, a lot of problems would be solved."

"Security is needed to make democracy viable," Asadourian said.

"Every day terrorist attacks are targeting people who could be the
cornerstone of a new Iraq: professionals, physicians, and engineers,"
Asadourian told a WCC interviewer. "And this is resulting in an
across-the-board brain drain, which is a shame since it takes decades
to train qualified people."

Asadourian referenced the recent murders of two Christian priests in
Iraq and noted that 27 members of his church have died, while another
23 have been kidnapped. The Christian population has dropped from
7-8 percent of Iraq to 3-4 percent. Some Christians are also moving
"north within the country," which is relatively safer, the archbishop
said. He recounted that his own church has declined from 600-700
worshipers to 100-150.

Some have left Baghdad, some fear going out, while others just lack
fuel for their cars. "My message to my flock is: do not be afraid,
but be careful," he said, reports FrontPage magazine.com, CA.