Washington, D.C. June 28, 2001. Mideast Newswire.

The Middle East Christian Committee MECHRIC, a coalition of several ethnic organizations and associations representing the American communities from Mideast Christian descent launched a year ago in Washington DC, expressed its concern "towards the recent escalation of oppression against the region's minorities"; In a press-release issued in the capital as a result of an evaluation of its members reports on abuse and suppressions striking its communities in the region, MECHRIC addressed the situation of the latter in Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Sudan as well as other countries including Iran and Algeria. Based on the reports by its member organizations, MECHRIC underlined the following main crisis:

1) Egypt: According to reports by the US Coptic Associations and the various international human rights organizations, the mistreatment of the Coptic Christian community has increased over the past year. The Christians of  Egypt, estimated at around 12 millions, were submitted to a systematic political and social discrimination over the past few decades. Recently, Coptic demonstrations initiated as a result of Church symbols bashing, were met with excessive Police and security forces violence. Anti-Copts violence in Egypt is not only generated by Radical Islamist forces, but also by Government agencies. MECHRIC expresses its serious concerns with regards the persecution of the Copts in Egypt, the largest Christian community in the Middle East.

2) Lebanon: Lebanese Christian opposition and Human Rights groups have reported an intensification of political and security repression of the Christian community at large (about 1.6 million) and of its youth in particular. This broadening of oppression, which started in the early 1990s, has reached an apex this past year with the resuming of abduction, torture and jailing of hundred Lebanese Christians and non-Christians, accused of being either anti-Syrians or pro-Israeli. In his historical journey to North America and his subsequent expressions inside Lebanon, Maronite Patriarch N. Peter Sfeir has clearly underlined the necessity for the international community to intervene to force Syria out of Lebanon. The Maronite Council of Bishops and many Lebanese Christian groups in exile have also called for the withdrawal of the occupiers.

3) Syria and Iraq: The Christian Assyro-Chaldeans, Syriac and others communities (about two million) are still submitted to forced Arabization and assimilation. The Baath regimes in both countries are pursuing a policy of
cultural and eventually ethnic cleansing, by abolishing the native languages and dispersing the population across the land. In the "safe haven" in northern Iraq, Kurdish military groups have similarly targeted Assyrians with
expropriation of lands, persecution, and assassination of Assyrian political leaders. Human rights abuses are systematic against the ethnic nationalist movements.

4) Sudan: As reported by world media and international monitoring associations, the "genocidal" policy of Khartoum against the mostly Christian seven million Southern Sudanese is increasing in violence and scope. Slavery, ethnic cleansing and forced Islamization are destroying the ethnic fabric of the African Nubian communities of the South and the Central West.

5) Iran and Saudi Arabia: In Iran, the Mullah regime and despite the leadership of pragmatic President Khatemi, still maintains a religious apartheid system against the non-Muslims, particularly the Christians and the Bahais. In Saudi Arabia, the legal system systematically discriminate against Christians. By Law, Saudis cannot be Christians, by law, Christian foreigners cannot worship in freedom.

6) Muslim Minorites: MECHRIC also deplores the continuous oppression of Muslim minorities as well as Christians. Particular concerns is towards the renewed threats by Saddam against the Kurdish free enclave in Iraqi
Kurdistan. The Baghdad regime is mustering forces to invade the no fly zone and commit a genocide against the Kurdish population, similar to the Halabja massacre in the 1980s. Also, MECHRIC expresses its concerns towards the suppression of cultural and historical rights to the Berber people in Algeria, and the assassination of Berber intellectuals,artists and families.

The Middle East Christian Committee (MECHRIC) calls on the international community and on the US Government in particular to raise the issue of survival, freedom and human rights of the Christians and other Minorities in the Middle East as an international question, and take the appropriate action. MECHRIC demands from Washington to apply the same parameters it has devised in the Balkans and towards the Palestinians, in all other parts of the region. For we, as representatives of three million Americans from Middle East Christian descent, will not accept to see American values and support not available to our mother communities in the Middle East just because they are Christians.

MECHRIC was formed in June 2000 with the aim of raising the profile of the concerns of the various Christian communities in the Middle East. Participating organizations include:
The American Coptic Association
U.S. Copts Association
Arabic Baptist Church (Washington, DC)
Assyrian Academic Society
International Coptic Federation
Christian League of Pakistan,
American Maronite Union
Assyrian Universal Alliance
Beth Nahrain National Organization
Southern Sudanese Voice for Freedom
World Lebanese Organization (America)
Iranian Christian International
Chaldean National Federation
Syrian Christian Organization
Washington DC