Iraq: The SRSG shocked and outraged at the continuous killings targeting religious minorities

Baghdad, 12 November 2008 - The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG) Staffan de Mistura expressed his shock and outrage at the continued targeting and killing of religious minorities, following the murder of two Christian sisters in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which has recently seen thousands of its inhabitants flee their homes after a campaign of threats and attacks.

The SRSG noted that this cowardly attack came hours after the UN High Commissioner for Refugees reported that some recently displaced Christian families are beginning to return to Mosul as the security situation in the city shows signs of improvement.

He said Mosul has historically been and must remain the cradle of religious and ethnic diversity, reiterating the United Nations' position that respecting and guaranteeing the rights of minorities in Iraq is "absolutely fundamental to a stable and democratic future for the country".

Mr. de Mistura called on the Iraqi Government authorities to do everything in their power to safeguard the human rights and protection of Christian, Yezidis, Shabak and other minorities - all of whom have been the victims of terrible attacks - and to ensure that those responsible for these attacks are swiftly brought to justice. The SRSG also urged local authorities, as well as the Kurdistan Regional Government, to assist in protecting the rights of minorities and their religious identity, as well as in ending impunity for these criminal attacks.