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Hundreds protest Iraq's Christian killings
by Belinda Merhab. Australian Associated Press (AAP). November 16, 2010 at 6:39PM
(AAP) — Bearing bloodied crucifixes and photos of murdered children, hundreds of protesters have gathered in Sydney to demand the Australian government helps persecuted Christians in Iraq.
A sea of Assyrian and Iraqi flags waved through Martin Place on Tuesday, as about 500 protesters chanted "stop the violence, stop the killing".
Christians in Iraq have been systematically attacked by Islamic militants since the 2003 coalition-led invasion of Iraq and the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime.
On Wednesday, three Christians were killed and 26 wounded when their homes were bombed in Baghdad.
Last month, 58 Christians, including children and priests, were murdered during evening mass when their Syrian Catholic church in Baghdad was stormed by al-Qaeda linked militants.
The massacre was re-enacted on Tuesday by a group of young people who lay on the concrete covered in fake bloody wounds in front of photos of the murder victims.
Rally organiser Raymond Elishapour said the Australian government must intervene before the Christian minority, many of whom have fled Iraq to neighbouring Jordan and Syria, is "completely wiped out".
"Ever since 2003 with the invasion of the Coalition of the Willing, the Australians, the UK and the Americans, many forces have mobilised against (the Christians) to try and wipe them out," Mr Elishapour told AAP.
"Before the invasion, there was 1.2 million (Christians) there. Now, they've been reduced to 300,000 and 400,000.
"Give it another year or so, they'll be completely wiped out.
"We are contending that this is genocide, and Australia, as the invading force, has a responsibility to these people."
Mr Elishapour said the war had breathed new life into groups that had been suppressed under Saddam's regime.
Fundamentalist Islamic groups are now trying to "ethnically cleanse" indigenous minority groups such as the Syriacs, Assyrians and Chaldeans because they are Christians and are not Arabs, Mr Elishapour said.
"There are many people there that are not only being wiped out but who want to seek asylum on Australian shores that are being subjected to long bureaucratic processes," he said.
"They're being caught up in violence that they can't escape.
"Australia is liable because they were involved in causing the destabilisation (in Iraq) that has aggravated the circumstances for these people.
"There's a very legitimate fear of violence and death for those people and they shouldn't be made to wait."