Refugee Voices

CLERGY TO HOLD MASS JULY 30 OUTSIDE OTAY DETENTION CENTER FOR CHRISTIAN DETAINEES

 

Faith leaders Mark Arabo to call for immediate release of over 27 Iraqi Chaldean Christians being held for crossing border after fleeing ISIS.

July 28, 2015 (San Diego)- Since the rise of the Islamic State terrorists known as ISIS, many Iraqi Chaldean Christians have fled to neighboring countries. Some have been made it across the Mexico-US border. Now, 27 Iraqi Christian men and women have been imprisoned for over four months after fleeing ISIS. Word has come that their requests for asylum may also be denied, Mark Arabo told East County Magazine.

CHALDEAN VOICES - A TALE OF IMMIGRANTS

 

Photo: Film makers Miguel Angel Soria and Peter Alkatib

Film review by Mimi Pollack

July 19, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)--As an ESL teacher at Grossmont College, the majority of students in my classes are Iraqi and Iraqi Chaldean. Thus, I had a particular interest in the documentary, “Chaldean Voices”, which I saw Friday evening at “Documentaries on the Prado” at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park. Chaldeans are Christian Iraqis. Most have fled their war-torn home and with the exception of Detroit, Michigan, the largest number of Chaldeans now live in El Cajon, California, and surrounding neighborhoods.

FBI SEEKS INFORMATION FROM PEOPLE IN U.S. ON HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS OVERSEAS

 

East County News Service

July 16, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is reaching out to refugees, asylum seekers and other immigrants in the U.S. to help identify and prosecute those committing human rights violations in other countries.

VARGAS, ARABO IN FOX NEWS SPECIAL: CROSSING JORDAN

 

June 27, 2015 (San Diego)--Congressman Juan Vargas and Mark Arabo will be featured in an hour-long special, “Crossing Jordan—Escape from Terror” on Fox News detailing their work  to help facilitate safe passage for religious minorities out of Iraq and Syria, and to secure their freedom.

The program anchored by Bret Baier premiered Friday night and will air again on Saturday, June 27 at 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time and on Sunday, June 28 at 6 p.m. Pacific Standard time.

IRAQI CHRISTIANS WHO FLED ISIS ARE IN DETENTION CENTER AT OTAY: LOCAL LEADERS CALL FOR RELEASE

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

East County News Service

Photos of rally by Peter Mansour

June 24, 2015 (San Diego) – Clergy members and Iraqi community leaders held a prayer vigil on June 18th, calling for release Iraqi Chaldean Christians held in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center.

Since the rise of ISIS, many Iraqi Chaldean Christian have fled to neighboring countries. Some have been fortunate enough to make it across the Mexico-US border. But many of these Christians have now been imprisoned in the detention center for up to four months without any indication of imminent release, despite testimony from Christian family members in San Diego that can vouch for their identity.

SAN DIEGO RESEARCHER HELPS LAUNCH “PROJECT MOSUL” TO RECREATE HERITAGE DESTROYRED BY ISLAMIC STATE

 

By Miriam Raftery

June 4, 2015 (San Diego)—Imagine using crowd-sourced images to digitally recreate ancient works of art and architecture, starting with those destroyed by the Islamic State in Iraq and other world heritage sites where antiquities have been lost.  That’s precisely the mission of Project Mosul, an innovative undertaking started by University of California San Diego (UCSD) researcher Matthew Vincent, along with several others.

You can help!  Needs include uploading videos you have from destroyed or damaged sites, such as vacation photos you’ve taken. You can also assist in sorting, masking, or processing reconstructions on the site.  Start  here.  If you know how to code, you can build tools here or join a conversation with volunteers  here.

MARK ARABO SPEAKS AT ST. BARTHOLOMEW'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH IN POWAY SUNDAY JUNE 7 AND JUNE 28

 

Upcoming Sunday Education:

June 4, 2015 (Poway) Sunday, June 7 and 28, at 9 a.m., St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Poway will host an Education Summit.  Nationally-recognized global humanitarian Mark Arabo will share details of the urgent circumstances in Iraq and neighboring Syria. He will provide insights into how we may be able to help our fellow Christians in the part of the world where Christianity was born. The theme of Arabo’s speech will be “Persecution of Christians in the Middle East.”

ARABO SPEAKS OUT ON ISIS RANSOM DEMANDS

 

By Miriam Raftery

May 1, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Islamic State or ISIS forces are reportedly demanding ransoms of up to $100,000 apiece for 250 to 300 Christians captured in Syria February 23rd.  Fox News reports the demands were made to Assyrian leaders during negotiations with ISIL fighters arranged by Sunni Muslims.  Thus far, 23 have been released.

BILL TO EXPEDITE HELP FOR IRAQI REFUGEES INTRODUCED IN CONGRESS

 

By Miriam Raftery

March 25, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - A bill introduced this week by San Diego Congressional members Juan Vargas, a Democrat, and Duncan Hunter, a Republican, would provide expedited processing for religious minorities in Iraq/Syria.

U.S. BISHOPS CALL ON U.S. AND EUROPE TO HELP SAVE SYRIAN REFUGEES

 

Arabo praises support for relocation of displaced Christians

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Syrian refugee children at clinic in Jordan, by Russell Watkins, Dept. for International Development

March 6, 2015 (San Diego’s East County ) – Today the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged the global community, led by the United States and Europe, to take action to save the lives of 4 million Syrian refugees.

A LONG WAY FROM JAMAICA WEST INDIES!

 

 

Driven: When Obstacles Take Center Stage , by Magetta Chantiloupe (Austin Macauley Ltd., London, England, 2014, 379 pages).

“Keep guard over your eyes and ears as the inlets of your heart, and over your lips as the outlet, lest they betray you in a moment of unawareness.”

Anne Bronte, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Book Review by Dennis Moore

March 4, 2015 (San Diego) - Looking from the outside at Magetta Chantiloupe and all that she has accomplished in life, one would think that this San Diego resident and author of Driven: When Obstacles Take Center Stage, has always had it together. But looks would be deceiving, as this Certified Financial Planner with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards – retired General Stock Broker and native of Jamaica West Indies, and mother of four adult children has fought and struggled to attain all that she has accomplished. Also the author of Iraq: The War That Shouldn’t Be – You Decide, Chantiloupe has been a world traveler – she has cruised the world, 41 of which were on the CUNARD Line. Her actual achievements and overall story could fill several books.

OCEANLEAF AWARDS HONORS THOSE HELPING REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS FROM EAST AFRICA AND SOMALIA

 

By Janis Russell

March 1, 2015 (San Diego)- On Wednesday February 25, Somali Family Services held its third annual Oceanleaf awards celebration at the Four Points by Sheraton. Aaron Bruce,  a professor at San Diego State University, was the Master of Ceremonies. The theme this year was Honoring Communities Woven Together by Hope and Resilience.

ISIS SEIZES HUNDREDS OF CHRISTIANS IN SYRIA

 

Trials by ISIS underway as some captives reportedly freed; local Chaldean leaders speak out on crisis

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Open Doors

March 1,2015 (San Diego’s East County) – Fears mount for hundreds of Assyrian Christians taken captive by ISIS last week, amid reports that the self-proclaimed Islamic State militants are putting hostages on trial, though some reports indicate that a handful have been freed. 

The hostages include at least 262 men, women and children taken from villages in northeastern Syria, CNN reports.  Open Doors USA, an organization serving persecuted Christians worldwide, reports the captives include 72 families.

CHRISTIANS TAKE UP ARMS AGAINST ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ,

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Islamic State militants

February 10, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) --Hundreds of Christians in Iraq are taking up arms and training to fight against Islamic State forces and reclaim their towns, the Wall Street Journal reports.

A BORN LEADER, WITH THE STRENGTH TO RALLY HER VILLAGE TOGETHER AND MOTIVATE OTHERS

 

 

 

Janju: The Voice Of One Girl, by Priscilla Koranteng (Poised Publishing LLC, Lanham, Maryland, 2014, 150 pages.)

Book Review by Dennis Moore

January 27, 2015 (San Diego's East County) - Priscilla Koranteng, an author and businesswoman born in Ghana, West Africa, to a teacher and politician, and who grew up with a lot of optimism and the zeal to achieve the best in all she could, has written a warm and fictional account of a young girl growing up in Africa; Janju: The Voice Of One Girl.

CHALDEAN PATRIARCH DEFIES POPE, ORDERS PRIESTS BACK TO IRAQ

 

East County News Service

Photo: St. Peter’s Cathedral in El Cajon; photo by Khari Johnson

January 18, 2015 (El Cajon)—Chaldean Church Patriarch Louis Sako has issued a statement published in an Arabic language publication indicating that he refuses to recognize the authority of Pope Francis.

AKRAM: DAUGHTER OF IRAN, A MOTHER'S LOVE FOR HER DAUGHTER

 

Akram, by Akram Arastehjoo (The Scriptory, Stacy Thunes Krieger, Menlo Park, California, 2014, 115 pages).

Screenplay Review by Dennis Moore

January 7, 2015 (San Diego's East County) - Akram Arastehjoo, a descendant of the great Persian Empire, which we now know as Iran, tells her own and personal family story that encapsulates the long and illustrious history of kings and queens, in a screenplay written by Stacy Thunes Krieger, Akram. The author actually derives her name from the Holy Quran; meaning generosity, or “most generous.” This is pointed out by Krieger in this well-written and warm story.  Arastehjoo is unabashed in her pride for everything that is Persian, and rightfully so. It comes across in my interview of the author and throughout the story. I have been made aware that Iran actually converted from the original name of Persia to Iran in 1935, but it did take some getting used to. Many seem to prefer that bygone era of Persia, and all it stood for, including the iconic Darius the Great.

IMMIGRANTS LINE UP TO APPLY FOR DRIVER'S LICENSES

 

East County News Service

January 2, 2015 (San Diego’s East County)--Starting January 1st, California has begun issuing special driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. Across San Diego, lines formed as immigrants stepped up to apply for the new licenses, which are valid only for driving and are not valid for use as a federal ID, such as applying for a passport.

NILE SISTERS HONORS ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF REFUGEES AND IMMIGRANTS AT PORTRAITS OF SUCCESS EVENT

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos by Nat Roberts and Miriam Raftery

Hear our radio coverage of this event for KNSJ:  http://kiwi6.com/file/209625u098

December 29, 2014 (City Heights) – At the Nile Sisters’ 2nd annual community celebration, Portraits of Success, local refugees and immigrants were honored for their achievements and heard inspirational and motivational stories.

“Keep dreaming, keep believing in yourselves,” urged keynote speaker Mark Kabban, a CNN hero and founder of Youth and Leaders Living Actively (YALLA).

PETITION ASKS U.S. TO ARM CHRISTIANS IN IRAQ

 

By Miriam Raftery

November 28, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) – A petition launched on Change.org by  Nahren Nora, an Iraqi-American woman in Michigan, is asking President Barack Obama and Congress to” arm Christians in Iraq and grant them their ancestral land of the Nineveh Province before they face extinction.”

CHALDEAN AMERICAN ASSOCIATION CALLS FOR UNITY IN COMMUNITY AT ANNUAL AWARDS

 

 

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photos, (ltop left to lower right):  Noori Barka and Supervisor Dianne Jacob, Wadi Deddeh and Congressman Susan Davis, Father Noel and Congressman Juan Vargas, Lion of Babylon/Citizen of the Year presentation to Pastor Harold Brown (third from right)

 

 

November 13, 2014 (El Cajon ) – With a theme of “together, we can build a better community,” the Chaldean American Association convened at the Crystal Ballroom in El Cajon on October 30th for the organization’s annual awards banquet. 

LOCAL CHALDEAN CHURCH APPEALS TO POPE TO SAVE PRIESTS ORDERED TO RETURN TO IRAQ OR FACE SUSPENSION

 

Photo: Father Noel and Congressman Juan Vargas, at Chaldean-American Association banquet Oct. 30

By Miriam Raftery

November 2, 2014 (El Cajon)—Father Noel at St. Peter’s Cathedral in El Cajon is among nine Chaldean Catholic priests ordered to return to Iraq, a situation that likely amounts to a death sentence, or be suspended from the priesthood.

Louis Sako, Patriarch of the Chaldean Church in Iraq, ordered nine priests from the local diocese suspended on October 22 for refusing to return to Iraq, where priests are being tortured and murdered by ISIS terrorists and mass is no longer being held due to the danger.  Now the Eparchy of St. Peter has appealed these suspensions to Pope Francis.

Under church canons, the suspensions are on hold until the Pope issues his decision.

INSIDE KURDISTAN'S REFUGEE CAMPS: A REPORT FROM RESCUE TASK FORCE

 

 

 

 

 

Rescue Task Force, a nonprofit international rescue organization that started in East County, now has a team in Kurdistan/Iraq assisting the refugees there. It has been difficult even for major international media to get reports from inside this region, since many news organizations have pulled out their correspondents after the beheading of two journalists by ISIS terrorists (also known as ISIL or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). Today we received this report from Gary Becks, founder and president of RTF, on the situation he and his team have found there as they work to assist religious minorities forced to flee their homes.

By Gary Becks

October 5, 2014 (Kurdistan)--Less than one mile separated us from ISIS.  It was too close for comfort, but it was where comfort was needed the most.  One of our RTF mottos is: We Go To Where Others Will Not, To Do What Others Will Not’.

In the Nineveh region of Kurdistan (Iraq) there are formal refugee camps set up in proximity to major cities to help the one million two hundred thousand displaced people.

Out here in the hinterland, though, there are tens of thousands of refugees who fled from ISIS into these countryside areas where they had connections and/or to where they feel safer than in the large metropolitan camps.

CONGRESS ADJOURNS WITHOUT TAKING ACTION ON IRAQI REFUGEE BILL

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 28, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)--Congress adjourned last week without voting upon a measure to help relocate Iraqi minorities displaced by ISIL, the Islamic terrorists who have seized control of much of Iraq and Syria.

ASYLUM BILL INTRODUCED FOR IRAQI RELIGIOUS MINORITIES

 

By Miriam Raftery

“We are confident that with the continued support of the citizens of San Diego, we will not only be able to give a hope to the hopeless, but a state to the stateless.” -- MarkArabo

September 9, 2014 (San Diego) – Congressman Juan Vargas is introducing a new bill that would grant asylum for religious minorities displaced by the ISIS, or Islamic State, terrorists in Iraq.

RESCUE TASK FORCE HEADS OVERSEAS TO AID IRAQI CHRISTIAN REFUGEES: $20,000 IN DONATIONS SOUGHT FOR RELIEF EFFORT

 

Photo:  At a recent rally in El Cajon, thousands of local Iraqi Christians implored America to send help for their families in Iraq fleeing genocide

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 7, 2014 (San Diego’s East County)—Rescue Task Force, an international aid group that started in East County, announced today that it will send a multi-national team of veteran disaster responders to help refugees displaced in Kurdistan by ISIS or Islamic State terrorists. The RTF volunteers will bring medical and dental help along with humanitarian supplies.

The group will meet up in California with leaders Gary Becks and Larry Cutting. They will travel to Erbil and then trek to northern Kurdistan.

To date, 1.2 million people have survived the initial slaughter by ISIS forces and have fled to safe havens in Erbil and Kurdistan, faced with a stark choice of fleeing, converting to Islam, or being beheaded.  Most fled with only the clothes on their backs.

NEW LAND, NEW HOPE: SOMALI-BANTU ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA CELEBRATION SEPT. 20

 

September 5, 2014 (San Diego)—A cultural celebration featuring music, dance and cuisine of San Diego’s Somali-Bantu community will be held on Saturday, September 20 from 2-5 p.m. at the United Domestic Workers of America office, 4855 Seminole Drive, San Diego.

OVER A HALF MILLION DOLLARS RAISED LOCALLY TO HELP IRAQI CHRISTIANS

 

 

 

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left:  Noori Barka speaks as slideshow depicts Iraqi Christian refugees forced to walk across the desert, fleeing their homeland to escape ISIS terrorists with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

 

September 4, 2014 (ElCajon)--Community members and religious leaders came together on August 27  in El Cajon at a fundraiser to help save Christians in Iraq who have fled their homes to escape the Islamic State imposed by ISIS terrorists.  ISIS is systematically massacring Christians and other minorities who refuse to convert to Islam.  The event, which was emceed by KCBQ radio host Mark Larson, raised over $588,000. 

Bishop Sharhad Jammo (photo, right) has pledged to personally  travel to the Middle East to deliver the donations, despite grave dangers in the region, where Christian religious leaders have been kidnapped, tortured and murder.

FUNDRAISER TONIGHT IN EL CAJON TO HELP IRAQI CHRISTIANS

 

 

 

East County Chaldean Bishop Jammo to personally deliver donations from Iraqi Christian Relief Fund fundraiser to persecuted Christians in Iraq

East County News Service

August 27, 2014 (El Cajon) Tonight at 7 p.m.,  over 700 San Diegans, including the Chaldean community, will gather in solidarity to raise funds for persecuted Iraqi Christians, at the Iraqi Christian Relief Fund (ICRF) fundraiser at St Peters Chaldean Cathedral in Rancho San Diego.

This is the first major fundraiser in San Diego for persecuted Iraqi Christians.

Speakers at the fundraiser showing unity with Iraqi Christians, will include Dr. Jim Garlow, Senior Pastor of Skyline Church in Rancho San Diego.

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