The “#WeAreN2016” Congress on ‘Defending religious freedom and other human rights: Stopping mass atrocities against Christians and other believers’ will bring together high level experts and witnesses to speak out and testify about persecution of Christians and other religious minorities in the world and call the international community to action to stop the massacre.
During a press briefing held on Tuesday at The Roosevelt Hotel in New York, Álvaro Zulueta, General Manager of CitizenGO, one of the organizers, was accompanied by Father Douglas Al-Bazi (Chaldean Catholic Church parish priest of Erbil, Iraq) and Father Rodrigo Miranda (missionary in Syria), two speakers attending the Congress.
They spoke to the media about the intense agenda of the Congress and their expectations for this event.
“There is a will of systematic extermination,” said Fr. Rodrigo.
“Day by day I can see how my people are losing hope. But I remain knocking doors. I hope the international community does something,” remarked Fr. Douglas.
The meeting, sponsored by the Holy See Mission to the United Nations, will attract witnesses and scholars concerned about the plight of religious minorities. Experts, bishops and missionaries, witnesses and victims will present their testimonies at the UN and in subsequent events in New York City throughout the weekend.
IDC President Toufic Baaklini, Executive Director Kirsten Evans, Haven Project Managing Director Stephen Hollingshead, Director of Media and Communications Ninar Keyrouz, Senior Advisor Jordan Allott and Advisory Board Member Tom Farr are among the speakers.
The UN program will be held at the Economic and Social Council Chamber and will begin at 10 a.m.
Opening remarks will be delivered by Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN and Ambassador Ufuk Gokcen, Permanent Observer of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation to the UN.
Their remarks will be followed at 10:25 by a panel on “Protecting victims of persecution and fostering religious freedom worldwide.” Archbishop Auza will chair and will be joined by Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, promoters of the Report submitted to the US Secretary of State on Genocide against Christians in the Middle East; The Hon. Lars Adaktusson, Swedish Member of the European Parliament, initiator of the EP Resolution on the systematic mass murder of religious minorities by ISIS/Daesh; and Dr. Thomas F. Farr, Director of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University, In Defense of Christians Advisory Board Member, and first Director of the US State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom.
At 11:15 a.m., Ignacio Arsuaga, President of CitizenGO, will chair a panel featuring witnesses of mass atrocities and exodus of Christians and other religious minorities. He will be joined by:
Bishop Joseph Danlami Bagobiri of Kafanchan, Nigeria; Carl and Marsha Mueller, parents of Kayla Mueller, a young aid worker and ISIS/Daesh hostage who was killed in Syria; Father Douglas Al-Bazi, Chaldean Catholic Church parish priest kidnapped by ISIS in Iraq, and Sister Maria de Guadalupe, missionary in Syria.
The UN session will conclude with a 12:10 p.m. panel on “Christian and Yazidi women and girls: sexual victims of crimes against humanity.” That panel will be chaired by Kirsten Evans, Executive Director, In Defense of Christians, with panelists Samia Sleman, a Yazidi woman kidnapped by ISIS/Daesh; Dr. Elisa von Joeden-Forgey, Associate Professor and Director, Master of Arts in Holocaust and Genocide Studies Program, Stockton University and Vice President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars, and Ms. Jacqueline Isaac, American-Egyptian Humanitarian Attorney and Vice President of Roads of Success.
The UN meeting will be followed by an international conference sponsored by CitizenGo, MasLibres and In Defense of Christians, with events planned at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan April 29-30. That conference is called the #WeAreN2016 Congress.
On Saturday, April 30, the conference at the Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan will feature other speakers as well, including: Toufic Baaklini, President of In Defense of Christians; Father Douglas Al-Bazi, Chaldean Catholic priest from Erbil, Iraq; Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom; Joseph Fadelle, Iraqi writer; Kirsten Evans, Executive Director of In Defense of Christians; Drew Bowling, senior policy advisor of Congressman Fortenberry, promoter of the US Congress vote on the genocide committed by ISIS; the family of Asia Bibi, charged with blasphemy in Pakistan; Stephen Hollingshead, Managing Direct of the Haven Project of In Defense of Christians; and Father Rodrigo Miranda, Chilean missionary in Syria.
In conjunction with the events of the week, the documentary film “Insha Alla-Blood of the Martyrs” will premiere on Friday, April 29, at the Roosevelt Hotel beginning with a reception at 6:30 followed by the documentary presentation at 7:30.The film is produced by MasLibres and CitizenGo.
In Defense of Christians Director of Media and Communications Ninar Keyrouz and Senior Advisor and Producer Jordan Allott will present “Our Last Stand” documentary trailer, directed and produced by Jordan Allott and filmed on location in Syria and Iraq. The film is in partnership with In Defense of Christians and is in post production now.
The #WeAreN2016 Congress in New York will culminate in the final preparation of a petition calling on the international community to recognize the nature of the systematic attacks on Christians and other religious minorities and to commit itself to protect them in accordance with international law and previous United Nations resolutions.
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All details about the program, speakers and registration form can be found at www.wearen.org. There are different tickets to attend the three days Congress as well as a special rate for families and code discounts. To access the event at ECOSOC in the United Nations headquarters it is mandatory to be previously registered by April 26.