ISIS Demands $23 Million for Assyrian Hostages, Vigil Held in Australia
By Jeremy Reynalds, Senior Correspondent, ASSIST News Service (email@example.com)
SYRIA (ANS. MAY 3) Assyrian church leaders are reporting that ISIS has rejected a ransom offer for the 230 Assyrians it captured on Feb. 23 in the Hasaka province of Syria.
According to a story by the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA), 253 Assyrians were captured in the initial attacks on the 35 Assyrian villages on the Khabur river. Twenty three were subsequently released, but 230 remain in captivity, including 52 children, 84 females and 95 males.
ISIS has demanded 100,000 US dollars for each hostage, for a total of 23 million.
Leading the negotiations with ISIS is Bishop Mellis of Australia. AINA reported that in an interview with SBS Radio in Australia, Mellis said “We are a poor nation. These people have not done anything wrong and won’t harm anyone. We as Assyrians do not have this amount of money you are asking for.”
Mellis said a settlement offer was made for an undisclosed amount. “With the amount we offered, we thought it was acceptable, to have the return of the 230 people. After two days, they (ISIS) told us, ‘The amount the church offered was not acceptable. From now on, we will no longer negotiate with you.”
The hostages have been moved to Raqqa, the ISIS stronghold in Syria, and are now awaiting trial in Islamic court under Sharia law, where a Muslim judge will decide their fate.
AINA said that desperate church leaders have pleaded for assistance neighboring countries, including Turkey, in securing the release of the Assyrian hostages.
Assyrian Candlelight Vigil Held in Melbourne, Australia
Victoria’s Assyrian community came together at a Candlelight Vigil, in solidarity with the 200,000 displaced Assyrians in Northern Iraq and the 230 Assyrian hostages held by the Islamic State in north-eastern Syria.
The event was held at Federation Square in the heart of Melbourne’s Central Business District, and drew a large crowd of supporters.
AINA said the event was attended by representatives of a wide number of Assyrian churches and organizations, as well as members of Victoria’s Greek, Armenian, Coptic, Kurdish and Alevi communities.
Representatives of the Victorian Council of Churches and the international aid organization Act for Peace were also present, along with supporters from the wider Australian population.
AINA said the event was well received, with the program including a minute of silence in honor of all suffering persecution and displacement, the reading of poetry and biblical reflections and prayer.
For more information visit www.aina.org
Photo captions: 1) Assyrian Church of the East Bishop Mellis of Australia (Photo AINA). 2) Part of a candlelight vigil held in Melbourne, Australia (Photo: AINA)
Abour the writer: Jeremy Reynalds is Senior Correspondent for the ASSIST News Service, a freelance writer and also the founder and CEO of Joy Junction, New Mexico’s largest emergency homeless shelter, http://www.joyjunction.org . He has a master’s degree in communication from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in intercultural education from Biola University in Los Angeles. His newest book is “From Destitute to Ph.D.” Additional details on “From Destitute to Ph.D.” are available at http://www.myhomelessjourney.com . Reynalds lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico with his wife, Elma. For more information contact: Jeremy Reynalds firstname.lastname@example.org .
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