Now that the Islamic State (ISIS) has been rolled back, the Turkish government is continuing the persecution of Christians in Iraq by targeting Christian villages for airstrikes. Clearly the Turkish government is using its military actions against the PKK to further its longstanding persecution of Christians, which we have seen in the occupation and ethnic cleansing of northern Cyprus; the ongoing discrimination against of and harassment of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the remaining Christians of Turkey; the long imprisonment of Pastor Andrew Brunson and other Christian leaders; and much more. The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East has a diocese in Iraq, the Archdiocese of Baghdad. Like other Christian communities in Iraq, however, the Orthodox community has been decimated by well over a decade of war.
This is yet another indication that Turkey richly deserves its designation by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) as a Tier 2 violators — that is, a country in which religious freedom violations are systematic, ongoing, and/or egregious.
“Turkey Retaliates in Iraq at Christians Expense?,” International Christian Concern, July 20, 2019:
07/20/2019 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – A Turkish diplomat was assassinated Wednesday at a restaurant in the capitol of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region. In retaliation, Turkey on Thursday launched an air attack in the most northern region of Kurdistan.
Turkey is actively engaging in military activities in Iraq’s far north, saying that they are engaged in a war with the PKK, a terrorist organization recognized by the US….
Turkey’s war with the Iraqi PKK comes heavily at the expense of Christians. The air strikes conducted by Turkey in Northern Iraq do not discriminate between civilians and militants. Turkey has a record of dropping rockets on Christian villages who do not have any PKK presence. There is much concern from Christians in this area that the recent escalation of violence will further put believers in harm’s way.
Photo by PH1 Timm Duckworth, USN. – Image in Destined Glory/ “Loyal Midas” 2005, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10639305