International Religious Freedom Roundtable Letter for Donald Trump
International Religious Freedom Roundtable
October 11, 2019
The Honorable Donald Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Re: Do Not Abandon the People of Northeast Syria!
Dear President Trump:
We urge you to reconsider and reverse your decision of October 6 allowing Turkey to invade the Self-Administration of Northeastern Syria (SANSE). It was deeply shocking to us as advocates for international religious freedom. SANES is a rare example of success for US military intervention post-911 — a showcase for religious freedom and democracy.
Its people are Christians, Kurds, Yazidis, Arab Muslims, and other minorities. Kurds are a minority of the SANES population, although leaders on the battlefront. The proposed invasion includes key historic Syriac Christian towns and churches, all Kurdish majority towns, most of the SANES population, and key administrative and education centers.
Turkey’s plans are clear: exterminate the entire SDF (our military allies), drive current residents out, and replace them. Just like Afrin in 2018, it will commit genocide, ethnic cleansing, crimes against women, seize homes and businesses, impose Islamist rule. Christians are specifically targeted for slaughter, not protection. The invading forces are a jihadi-army–hardened Al Qaeda and ISIS fighters. Their battlecry is sectarian: “We are the Army of Mohammed;” “free our brothers — ISIS fighters.” The bloodbath has already begun. The dead include civilians and children. The home of a Christian family with a prominent cross outside was an early target. US supplied F-16 fighter jets mercilessly bomb defenders with no planes or anti-craft weapons. Turkey is bombing holding camps for ISIS fighters, who are escaping to fight again.
Letting Turkey invade sounds the death knell to the hopes of Christians, Yazidis, Kurds, and other minorities for religious freedom and equal rights in both Syria and in Iraq. It gravely undercuts the trust they placed in the United States. It undercuts our own trust that this Administration is truly committed to international religious freedom and the survival of religious minorities in the Middle East.
Russell More, President
Southern Baptist Ethics &
Religious Liberty Commission
Scott Morgan, President
Red Eagle Enterprises
Michelle A Morisson, Attorney at Law
President, Concordia College-New York
Former President, Lutheran World Relief
Global Senior Pastor
Northwood Church, Dallas
Writer/Author – International Religious Freedom
Rev. Rob Schenck, D.Min., President
The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute
Father Joseph Varghese
Adjunct Professor, Liturgical Studies, Holy Sophia Coptic Orthodox School of Theology.
Executive Director: Institute for Religious Freedom and Tolerance, New York
Priest: Syrian Orthodox Church
The Rev. Eric Wester
Lutheran Pastor (ELCA), Chaplain (Colonel), US Army (Retired)
Dr. Fahong Jemchang Yildman, Chairman
Forum of State Chairmen, National Youth Council of Nigeria
John Zmirak, Ph.D.
Senior Editor, The Stream