Later this week Coventry Cathedral will be joining around 20 people from Europe who are preparing to walk from the Ashdi (“Peace”) Christian refugee camp at Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, through local villages and communities, into Muslim territories in the mountains, with the blessing of the Chaldean Archbishop from Erbil. The walk departs on Palm Sunday and aims to complete on Easter Sunday.
The Revd Canon Dr Sarah Hills, leader of the Cathedral’s Reconciliation Ministry and the Community of the Cross of Nails, will join former political prisoner and Chairman of the Human Rights Centre in Cottbus, Germany, Dieter Dombrowski, and others who have been involved in key political events across Europe in recent decades. The Chaldean Patriarch, Louis Raphael Sako, will join the group at the same time as Canon Sarah, on Holy Thursday, and will lead worship, during which he will wash the feet of Christian refugees, members of the group, and four Muslims.
Canon Sarah says:
“The war in the Middle East has destroyed cities and thousands of years of cultural heritage, and has led to much loss of life. More and more Christians and Yazidis are fleeing Iraqi Kurdistan to other countries and this cannot carry on indefinitely. We aim on the march to express our support and love in God this Eastertide for these communities as well as their Muslim neighbours, and sensitively, where possible, enable talking, sharing, and the exchange of ideas about peace and reconciliation”.
The Centre for Human Rights Cottbus (HRC) was founded in 2007, after a meeting of hundreds of former political prisoners of the former German Democratic Republic. The organisation has the following aims: “To contribute to reconciliation within the scope of processing and clarification of the history of the two former prisons in Cottbus. Moreover, we want to make our visitors aware of the fact that there are people in other countries who are persecuted for political, racial or religious reasons and we want to motivate them to help those people by means of processing the history of injustice of this place”.
The Human Rights Centre, Cottbus http://www.menschenrechtszentrum-cottbus.de/