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maps illustrating "disputed
territories", claims, KRG
control objectives, Mosul
oil & gasfields, & "PKK areas"; annotated historic map; see also: United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq
in Iraq: The Other Victims | Iraq
and the Kurds: Trouble Along the Trigger Line
Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq’s minority communities since 2003
Rapid Assessment of Return of Iraqis from Displacement Locations in Iraq & from Neighbouring Countries
Iraq’s Refugee and IDP Crisis: Human Toll and Implications | Iraq's three-region solution Petition
Analysis of proposed Kurdish constitution: An Insult to all Iraqis and a Formula for Regional Disaster
19 Jan 11 Joint
Resolution of US Congress on Assyrians (post-consultation finalised
18 Jan 11 Letter to Professor Dr. Anthony d'Amato, Anton Keller
18 Jan 11 Copenhagen Crisis Summit: Final Statement, FRRME
13 Jan 11 Copenhagen summit aims for Iraq fatwa on sectarian violence, ankawa.com, Ra’ed Al-Bayati
4 Jan 11 Resurgent Turkey Flexes Its Muscles Around Iraq, NYT, ANTHONY SHADID
23.Dez 10 Exodus der Christen aus dem Irak, NZZ, Inga Rogg, Kommentare
12.Dez 10 Ein Ghetto für verfolgte Christen, NZZ am Sonntag, Inga Rogg, Kommentare
4 Dec 10 Declaration of the 27th World Congress, Assyrian Universal Alliance, Arbil
24 Aug 10 Yonan's kidnapping in Kirkuk: one out of many Assyrian Tragedy, AINA, Rosie Malek-Yonan
16 Jul 09 Towards equal and non-discriminatory Iraqi citizenship, MVC, Anton Keller
16 Jul 09 What Iraq Needs More Than Oil: Water, Foreign Policy, ANDY GUESS
15 Jul 09 British Parliamentarians launch report on Kurdistan Region, APPG
15 Jul 09 Amnesty International condemns attacks on Christian minority in Iraq.
11 Jul 09 Turkey won’t accept the Mosul carrot, Today's Zaman, GÜRKAN ZENGIN
11 Jul 09 Ankara dismisses proposals to unite with Iraqi Kurds, Today's Zaman
10 Jul 09 Turkey only ‘viable alternative’ for Iraqi Kurds, says ICG, Today's Zaman
10 Jul 09 Kurdistan Regional Government Minister: 'The best way forward: a new Mosul Vilayet', ICG, Today's Zaman
10/13 Jul 09 Turkmen & other Non-Kurds Oppose Sham Constitution for 'Iraq's Kurdistan':'It doesn’t augur well'
9 Jul 09 Iraqi Kurds sees Turkey as viable partner, hurriyetdailynews.com
8 Jul 09 Iraq and the Kurds: Trouble Along the Trigger Line, International Crisis Group, Middle East Report N°88
7 Jul 09 Iraq: Is Another Conflict Inevitable?, PNA, IPS, Mohammed A. Salih
16 Jun 09 Autonomy and the Assyrians of Iraq, Nimrud Baito
10 Jun 09 Northern Iraq elections: the case for suspending them sine die, letter to H.E. Jalal Talabani, ICESC
27 Mar 09 Iraq: The most dangerous place in the world for Christians, The Telegraph, Canon Andrew White
18 May 09 Tensions Stoked Between Iraqi Kurds and Sunnis, NYT, SAM DAGHER
15 May 09 Can the election eliminate the domination of the 2 leading parties?, KurdishMedia.com, Mufid Abdulla
1 May 09 Provincial Elections in Kurdish-administered region: reliability and concerns, SOITM
23 Apr 09 UN suggestions: share Kirkuk or give it autonomy, FT, Anna Fifield
17 Apr 09 For relocating 13000 Palestinians: Abbas seeks Barzani’s support, Kurdish Media, Mufid Abdulla
4 Apr 09 Joint minorities statement on KRG's Nineveh expansion plans, SOITM
Mar 2009 “Nobody’s Client: The Reawakening of Iraqi Sovereignty,” lowy Institute Analysis, lydia Khalil
27 Feb 09 “Responsibly ending the war in Iraq,” Camp Lejeune, President Barack Obama
11 Feb 09 Nineveh Plain Election Observation Mission, UNPO-ACE
30 Jan 09 Iraqi Elections Face Crucial Test in Violent Mosul, NYT, IAN FISHER
4 Jan 09 Disputed Territories in Iraq, Kurdistani Nwe, Roberta Cohen
Jan 2009 Minorities in Iraq: The Other Victims, CIGI Special Report, Mokhtar Lamani, comment
2009 “Preventing Conflict over Kurdistan,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Henri J. Barkey
27 Dec 08 Common goods in Islamic and Arab law - Questions on water. land and fire (oil), Sami ALDEEB
24 Nov 08 Appeal to President-elect Barack Obama to protect also Northern Iraq's Turkmen, Orhan Ketene
12 Nov 08 Pls trust me: "Our path to a secular, federal democracy is inspired by the U.S.", WSJ, Masoud Barzani
11 mai 07 Une conférence à l’Institut kurde de Paris, Qanya
10 Mai 07 Members of European Parliament Question Barazani on Assyrians, ado-world.org
8 May 07 The assault on Assyrian Christians, IHT, Paul Isaac
13 avr 07 Le congrès populaire chaldéen-syriaque-assyrien, Qanya
31 Mar 07 Farewell to Assyrian Universal Alliance!, zindamagazine.com, William Yosifov
30 Mar 07 Briefing of Congressional Human Rights Caucus, Dored Shiba
29 Mar 07 US Congressional Caucus is briefed on the plight of Iraqi Refugees
27 Mar 07 European Parliament Conference on Kirkuk Crisis, zindamagazine.com, Assyrian Democratic Organization
25 Mar 07 Eighth General Assembly, Assyrian National Congress
20 Mar 07 Kurd's - Persian New Year and its Assyrian - Babylonian origin, Christians of Iraq, William Warda
14 Mar 07 Assyrians against Kurdish bid on Kirkuk, zaman.com
14 Mar 07 AGC Calls for Assyrian Federal Region Within Iraq, ADO-WORLD.ORG, Assyrian General Conference
13 mar 07 Communiqué final du Congrès populaire chaldéo-syriaque-assyrien
3 Feb 07 WHO ARE THE ASSYRIANS??, assyrianconference.com, W Gabriel Dinkha
17 Jan 07 'Kirkuk belongs to all Iraqis', The New Anatolian, Assyrian General Conference
30 May 04 Foundation of a new organization, European Syriac Union, insideassyria.com, Iskender Alptekin
16 Jul 04 The ChaldoAssyrian Cause in Iraq: Implications for Maronites, ado-world.org, John C. Michael
27 Apr 03 ASSYRIAN AMSTERDAM RESOLUTION
20 Apr 03 Invitation to Assyrian Amsterdam Conference, Assyrian Universal Alliance
14 Jun 01 Questions on Representativeness of Assyrian Associations, UNHCR
18 Jul 00 Assyrian/Chaldian/Syriac?, ANC, Press Release
21 Feb 00 UN Denies Assyrian National Congress Consultative Status, AINA
1982 "Assyrian Case for Autonomy", Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party, introduction by Anthony d'Amato, map
no date NEGOTIATING THE ASSYRIAN IDENTITY IN IRAQ,1919-1933, commentary by John Joseph
Iraq's Ethnoreligious groups & major tribes
Iraq's reportedly known gas & petroleum fields
Some Assyrian groups' territorial claims
Overlapping territorial claims
source: International Crisis Group, Middle East Report #88, 8 July 2009, p.31
Present Iraq: For readers’ information and interest, KRG territories are Duhok (15), Erbil (16) and Sulymania (18), most of our villages are in 14, 15 and 16. Nineveh is (14). Kirkuk is (17).
UN Denies Assyrian National Congress Consultative Status
(AINA) In a disappointing setback
for the Assyrian human rights movement, the United Nations (UN) Committee
Non-Governmental Organizations denied a request by the Assyrian National Congress (ANC) for consultative status on the Economic and
Social Council of the UN According to a January 27, 2000 press release by M2 Presswire, the NGO committee voted eleven to one
with six abstentions to reject the ANC application. The sole vote in support of the ANC application was voiced by the US representative.
By attempting to obtain consultative status, the ANC had hoped to bring
greater international attention to the plight of Assyrians as an indigenous
and persecuted minority in the Middle East. Along with other Assyrian organizations,
the ANC has in the past attempted to
document and expose human rights violations perpetrated against Assyrians especially by the Iraqi government. In a tersely worded letter to the committee, the ANC unleashed years of frustration with the obstructionist U.N. committee stating that despite cooperation with the
committee, the ANC was confronted by an orchestrated campaign carried out against our application by the Iraqi Observer and few [sic] other representatives from the Arab countries. The ANC further stated that the reason for the campaign against its application was that the ANC monitors human rights abuses against Assyrians including the linguistic and cultural rights of the indigenous people in Iraq, where a campaign of ethnocide and Arabization have been carried out against the history and culture of those indigenous people.
In reality, harassment and intimidation of Assyrians has intensified throughout Iraq in recent years. Whether in the US backed northern Safe Haven or the government controlled portion of the country, Assyrians have not been given official recognition as a people let alone as the indigenous people of Iraq. In northern Iraq, Assyrians are subjected to Kurdification policies and are routinely referred to as Kurdish Christians while the Arabization policies in Baghdad refer to Assyrians as Arab Christians.
The Behdanani-Sorani tribal elites who are ostensibly diametrically opposed to the Baghdad government have none the less found much common ground with the government vis a vis the Assyrians. In addition to denying the existence of Assyrians, both government authorities have pursued a policy of ethnic cleansing with the destruction of over 200 villages by the central government in the 1970’s with the subsequent illegal resettlement by Behdanani and Sorani tribes. Still more, since the Gulf War an additional 50 villages have been expropriated by tribes in areas controlled by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
Although Assyrians have exercised their internationally backed right to establish schools in northern Iraq, the Iraqi government earlier issued an edict demanding that these schools be closed as a threat to national security (Iraq Report - December 3, 1999, Volume 2, Number 44). For their part, the Behdananis and Soranis have likewise attempted to obstruct the advancement of Assyrian students to higher-level Assyrian schools (AINA October 20, 1998). All the while continued attacks against Assyrians throughout the country remain uninvestigated.
International awareness of the plight of Assyrians throughout the Middle
East has greatly increased over the past several years on account of work
by numerous Assyrian organizations as well as international human rights
organizations such as Amnesty International and Human
Rights Watch. Human rights abuses against Assyrians have even been documented by the U.S. State Department. However, the UN has been slow to formally recognize, investigate and address the issues involving Assyrians. UN Consultative status for Assyrian organizations is a necessary first step towards an enhanced international understanding of the crisis facing Assyrians. With several UN committee representatives pointing to weaknesses in the ANC application, it is hoped that future applications will combine the logistic and political strength of several Assyrian human rights and political organizations with those of the ANC in order to ensure consultative status for Assyrian human and political rights within the UN.
THE ASSYRIAN NATIONAL CONGRESS Press Release
Let Us Unite And Gather The Fragments That met Nothing Be Lost
The Assyrian National Congress, and its affiliated organizations in California, are organizing a demonstration in front of the Federal Courthouse Building in the city of Frezno (1130 0 Street), California to protest last year's decision of the U.S. Bureau of the Census to change the "Assyrian Category" of 1980 and 1990 to a new "Assyrian/Chaldian/Syriac" category. The ANC, being true to its name and objectives, filed a law suit against the Bureau on March 3, 2000 in an effort to stop it from using the new designation. The first hearing on this law suit will be held at the Federal Courthouse in Frezno at 1:00 PM on Monday July 24, 2000.
The slashing formula, "Assyrian/Chaldian/Syriac", masks the true and historical identity of Our nation. It goes against the national and political name of the Assyrian people. Following the policy of "Divide and Rule", the Iraqi regime adopted a similar formula in 1972 against the Assyrians. In the past, the Assyrian people had offered supreme sacrifices and displayed outstanding acts of heroism in confronting plots and treachery committed against them. The battles fought by our people were neither easy nor short, but they were capable of waging it and surviving all calamities. ?To be defeated and not to surrender, that is victory."
The Assyrian national cause in Iraq is founded on the fact that the Assyrians are direct descendants of the ancient Assyrians, which automatically ties them to the land of Bet Nahrain, present day Iraq. Agreeing to be labeled as Chaldean (a religious name) and Syriac (a linguistic name) automatically declares that the Assyrians identity is questionable, therefore, weakening and even destroying any rights Assyrians had/have/could have in the homeland.
Chaldean was a name branded on a segment of the Assyrian people who joined the Roman Catholic Church in 1551. Syriac is the name of our ancient Aramaic language spoken by Jesus and his disciples. Thousands of our martyrs died for the Assyrian name. They did not die for denominations or a language designation. They died for their Assyrian identity.
Let us not be silent. Let us remember that damaging decisions made today will effect our future.
Assyrian National Congress
P.O. Box 3539 Modesto, California 95352 USA
Tel: (209) 522-3229
Fax: (209) 538-2795
Questions on Representativeness of Assyrian Associations
Iraq: names of the founders
of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM); relationship between the ADM
and the ANC (Assyrian National Congress); relationship between the ANC
and the Iraqi regime; whether the ANC office in California can confirm
membership; relations between the ANC and PUK in Kurdistan (northern Iraq)
During a telephone interview on 12 June 2001, the President of the Assyrian National Congress (ANC) provided the following information.
The Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) was founded in 1979. The President of the ANC was not able to provide more information on that topic.
The ADM is a member of the ANC. The ANC is an umbrella organization which regroups Assyrian parties, organizations, individuals, etc. from any country in the world. He specified that in the 1980's a split occurred within the ADM and the party was divided into 3 or 4 sections. The section which remained within the ANC is the ADM-National Line.
The ANC will hold a congress in Stockholm on 29 June 2001 which delegates from nearly 17 countries will be attending. There will be an Assyrian delegation from northern Iraq which will make a presentation on the situation in Iraq. Following congress, the ANC will release a statement on the situation in Iraq and its relationship with the Iraqi regime (ibid.).
The Assyrian International News Agency stated that the ANC, with other Assyrian organizations "has in the past attempted to document and expose human rights violations perpetrated against Assyrians especially by the Iraqi government" (21 Feb. 2000)
The President of the ANC stated that the ANC has contacts with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) as it has with other opposition groups (12 June 2001).
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Assyrian International News Agency. 21 February 2000. "UN Denies Assyrian National Congress Counsultative Status." <http://www.aina.org/unanc.htm> [Accessed 12 June 2001]
Assyrian National Congress, Modesto, California. 12 June 2001. Telephone Interview with the president.
Additional Sources Consulted
Internet sites including:
The Assyrian Academic Society
Human Rights Watch
Zowaa On line
Search engines including:
We, the undersigned Assyrians who are part of the indigenous and constitutive peoples of Iraq, representing a total of over 3 million persons living mostly in Iraq, the United States, Europe and Australia,
noting that in 1932, when the predecessor of the United Nations carved Iraq out of the remains of the Ottoman Empire, Iraq incurred permanently binding international minority protection obligations (.../a3a.htm#obligations) which cover not only such specific human rights as freedom of practicing the Assyrian's Christian beliefs, language privileges and preferential employment stipulations (.../CERES.htm#guarantees) but, most importantly, the obligation of the Iraqi State to respect the land ownership and other private property as it existed prior to Iraq's independence (.../a3a.htm#protected rights)(**);
noting that for Iraq's Assyrians, too, religion and language are so intertwined that to suppress either one will effectively mean the destruction of the Assyrian identity;
noting also that the International Court of Justice, in 1950, unequivocally stated (.../a3a.htm#367/Add.1):
take note of the political and military leadership of the Governments of the United States, Great Britain and Australia which is intended to bring about overdue changes in all of Iraq, i.e. this leadership provides for duly representative national and local governments headed by credible leaders to enforce the humanitarian and security-related UN Security Council resolutions 688 and 1441, and it opens the way to finally fulfill the all-too-long neglected international minority and property rights conditions which the international community had enshrined into Iraq's basic laws;
Member States of the UN General Assembly to see to it
- that the UN's economic sanctions are promptly lifted,
- that the Iraqi people may enjoy their own sovereignty rights and resources, i.e. without inappropriate UN burdens and in line with the UN Report of April 1992 (.../UN92.htm), and
- that, in accordance with its own Resolution 24 (I) of 12 February 1946 (.../UNGA.htm#1946), the UN Trusteeship Council, or another suitable UN body, be charged with the exercise of functions or powers entrusted to the League of Nations by virtue of the Declaration of the Kingdom of Iraq of 30 May 1932 (.../a3a.htm#DECLARATION);
request in particular the authorities of Switzerland and of other art markets to take such legislative and administrative measure which they deem proper and effective in order to promote the return of looted archeological treasures to their rightful owners; and
invite the representatives of the Arab, Kurdish, Turkomen and other constitutive parts of Iraq's multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-language society to jointly explore suitable avenues for contributing to the regional stability as well as to the internal and external security, e.g. by creating a Truth Commission for examining and overcoming the effects of Iraq's recent past.
(*) Assyria is not to be confounded with Syria, even though the Assyrian Empire of some 4000 years ago did indeed embrace all of what is now modern Syria - and much more. Assyria was destroyed as a political system in 612 BC but not as a nation, not as a race and not as a language. However, there are definite and continuous traces of Assyrians throughout history since 612 BC. They were among the first to embrace Christianity in the first century AD, and as a consequence they have suffered persecution and massacres. During the First World War they were invited by Great Britain as an ally, helped win a decisive battle against the Ottoman Empire and were caused to lose two thirds of their population in that war. In articles 38ss of the Lausanne Treaty of 24 July 1923 (.../Lausanne.htm), "non-Muslims" such as the Assyrians were given special protection by way of special Turkish "obligations of international concern". The British had promised the Assyrians independence, autonomy and a home for all Assyrians. Instead the British mandate in Iraq was terminated and the Assyrians were released to the Iraqi Government, covered by the international minority protection guarantees written into the Declaration of the Kingdom of Iraq of 30 May 1932. Since then Iraq has failed to comply with most articles of its still binding 1932 Declaration (see also: E/CN.4/1995/NGO/52). In particular, Iraq has violated article 14 (covering land ownership rights), and it ignored special rights and privileges that were accorded to the inhabitants of the Mosul Vilayet which, in 1925, were placed under the conditional and limited authority of the Kingdom of Iraq.
Some of these rights and special privileges concern in particular the Northern
part of Iraq, called the Mosul
Vilayet which was conditionally attached to the Kingdom
of Iraq in 1925 (.../UNGA.htm).
thus incurred international obligations
which it could not alter unilaterally, and from which it could be relieved
only by the League of Nations or, in the event, by the United
Nations acting as the League's succesor in accordance with UN
General Assembly resolution 24 (I) of 12 February 1946.
|Assyrian Universal Alliance
Assyrian National Organization
Assyrian Liberation Party (GFA)
Assyrian Democratic Party
Bethnahrin Freedom Party
Patriotic Union of Bethnahrin
Assyrian Liberation Movement
Assyrian Patriotic Party
Dutch Union of Christians of the Middle East
Syriac Assyrian Federation
Syriac League of Lebanon
|Babylon - Institute for Assyrian Kultur - Eu
Atour Assyrian Association of Armenia
Assyrian Federation of Russia
Assyrian Australian National Federation
Assyrian American National Federation
Dutch Assyrian Society
Assyrian Youth Federation of Middle Europe
Assyrian Youth Ferderation of Sweden
Free Women of Bethnahrin (HNHB)
Svenska Kommitten for Assyrier (SKA)
Assyrian-Syriac Union - Germany (UASD)
International Assyrian Congress of Georgia
CaldoAshor Organization Communist Party of Iraq
contact: Senator John J. Nimrod (ret.), Secretary General, Assyrian Universal Alliance | www.aua.net
tel: +1773-2749262 fax: +1773-2745866 e-mail: email@example.com ¦ firstname.lastname@example.org
courtesy by: Anton Keller, Adviser & Representative of the Mosul Vilayet Council
www.solami.com/mvc.htm | tel + fax: +4122-7400362 e-mail: email@example.com
of a new organization
Closing declaration of the foundation convention of the European Syriac Union
On May, 14th and 15th 2004 the foundation convention of the European Syriac Union (ESU) was held in Brussels, the Belgian capital.
242 delegates representing the following institutions participated in this convention: Syrianska-Assyriska Riksförbundet i Sverige and the magazine Renyo Hiro from Sweden, the Union of the Syriac Associations of Switzerland, the Union of the Assyrian-Syriac Associations from Germany, the Bethnahrin Information Bureau from the Netherlands, the Institut Mésopotamie de Bruxelles and the Centre de Peuple de Mésopotamie from Belgium, the Assyrian-Syriac Culture Club Vienna from Austria and the international acting Institutions of the Assyrian-Chaldean-Syriac Union (ACSU), the Bethnahrain Free Women’s Union (HNHB) and the Union of the Youth of Mesopotamia (HCB).
On the first day of the convention the draft of the constitution was presented to the delegates and was accepted democratically by election. According to the constitution the name of the new institution is “European Syriac Union” (ESU). Then the chairman and the managing board of the union were elected. The chairman was elected first and then 18 members of the board as well as 12 deputy members of the board, altogether 31 members of the board, were elected in the board of directors of the ESU in separate ballots. Later the managing board committee determined six of the members of the board as executive organ. The executive organ consists of following persons and their tasks:
Chairman: Mr. Iskender ALPTEKIN (Switzerland)
Deputy Chairman and responsible person for foreign affairs: Mr. Fikri AYGUR (the Netherlands)
Secretary: Mrs. Rima TÜZÜN (Germany)
Cashier: Tuma ÇELIK (Switzerland)
Responsible person for women and youth: Mrs. Neriman KÜÇÜKASLAN (Sweden)
Responsible person for culture and education: Mr. Fuat OYAL (Sweden)
Responsible person for media: Mr. Lahdo HOBIL (Switzerland)
The second day of the convention besides the delegates numerous guests and representatives of the press participated. Mr. Iskender Alptekin, the chairman of the European Syriac Union, started the second day with an inaugural address. After explaining the goals of the ESU he presented the managing board to all participants. Afterwards following speaker presented their important viewpoints to the auditors: Professor Dr. Herman Teule, director of the Institute of Christian Orient from the University of Nijmegen (Netherlands), Mr. Ayad Mossad, the chairman of the Union of the Christians from the Middle East (Netherlands), the flemish-christian democratic member of parliament, Mrs. Brigitte Grouwels and Mr. Walter Van Den Bosche, Senator John Nimrod, the Secretary-General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA), Mr. Eshaya Isho, the Secretary-General of the Assyrian National Organization (ANO) and the priest Daniel Chammoun, the deputy of Mar Odisho Avraham, the archbishop of the Assyrian Church of the East in Europe.
The motives for the foundation of the
European Syriac Union (ESU)
The Syriacs are one of the oldest people of the middle east. The Syriacs appeared already in the year 4000 before Christ with different names at different times. Starting from 2350 before Christ they formed political states, empires and kingdoms under the names Akkad, Assyria, Babylon, Aram and Osrohene (dynasty of Abgarits) and formed history. The Syriacs are one of the first peoples who converted to Christianity. Due to their special civilization and Christian characteristics they spread their culture in the whole middle east.
For more than 1600 years the Syriacs are persecuted due to their Christian faith. Although they had no political power they could retain their existence. The events during the First World War, which took place within the borders of the Ottoman Empire, was a heavy cut in the development of this people. At that time hundreds of thousands of Syriacs were massacrated and were disseized from their homes. Afterwards they were excluded from the political re-organization in the middle east. In the period between the First World War and the end of the Cold War the Syriac people was confronted with complete extermination. The policy of the forces, which directed and determined the Cold War, was driven by oil and led to the non-consideration and isolation of the Syriacs people. While in the region the rulers were determined, there were no democratic conditions for the Syriacs in the whole middle east, which could ensure their future existence. Due to the unstable and uncertain situation and the constant suppression they had to leave their homeland into all four directions.
In the last 40 years an active emigration took place into the Western European countries. Particularly in Europe the Syriacs people could develop and become active in social and cultural fields, and found numerous associations and federations. Due to the political and social movement, which takes place for 10 years, the consciousness of the search of an ethnical identity was again conceived and concretized. Furthermore innumerable demonstrations, hunger strikes, political, cultural and social events and actions were organized, in order to refer to the persisting suppression for hundreds of years of the Syriac people and to terminate the current discrimination and persecution. Therefore the demands for democratic rights could develop within the Syriac people.
On the other hand the demands of our people were published on the agenda of the European parliaments and other platforms. Therefore a necessity became apparent. Because the legitimately entitled rights of our people had to be transmitted more professionally to the responsible international authorities. Due to this challenge and due to the global change process which take place current, and their requirements to the Syriac people, the European Syriac Union (ESU) was founded. The scope of the ESU will be in the context of the European right terms.
The goals of the European Syriac union
1. To represent the Syriacs in the homelands of the middle east and in the Diaspora.
2. To promote the integration in the European states and to maintain the own identity.
3. To develop the social and cultural points of view of the Syriacs coming from the middle east and to
create possibilities for teaching the Syriac (Suryoyo) language.
4. To create bridges between the Syriacs living in the European states.
5. To publish the requests of the Syriacs of the middle east on the agenda of the national and international political platforms.
6. To promote the return of the Syriacs from the Diaspora to the homeland.
7. To promote, develop and strengthen the position of the Syriac women within the society.
8. To solve the problems and questions of the Syriac youth.
We believe that the Syriacs could play an important role in the democratization of the Middle East because the Syriacs are an integral component of the middle east and Europe. The Syriacs living in Europe since 40 years are integrated in the European society and could therefore act as a bridge between the culture of the east and the west. This point of view and confidence rely on the historical experiences and values, which could be won in the last years of our movement. Additionally the Syriacs could participate due to their peaceful and friendly relations to all denominations in the middle east in the construction of a democratic environment. Therefore we are convinced that in this way the understanding of friendship, brotherliness and the mutual confidence between the Orient and Occident could grow and could be spread widely.
Chairman of the European Syriac Union (ESU)
ChaldoAssyrian Cause in Iraq:
Implications for Maronites
John C. Michael, MD
Assyrian Academic Society,
Presented at the National Apostolate of Maronites Convention, Orlando, Florida
The ChaldoAssyrians (also known as Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syriacs) are the indigenous people of Mesopotamia and have a history spanning over 6700 years. Today's ChaldoAssyrians are the descendants of the ancient multiethnic Assyrian empire and one of the earliest civilizations emerging in Mesopotamia. Although the Assyrian empire ended in 612 B.C., history is replete with recorded details of the continuous persistence of the ChaldoAssyrian people till the present time. Assyrian civilization at one time incorporated the entire Near East most notably the area of the Fertile Crescent.
The heartland of Assyria lays in present day northern Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey, and northwestern Iran. The remains of the ancient capital of Assyria, Nineveh, lie next to Mosul in northern Iraq. Until earlier this century prior to the ChaldoAssyrian Holocaust of 1915, the major ChaldoAssyrian communities still inhabited the areas of Tur Abdin and Hakkari in southeastern Turkey, Jazira in northeastern Syria, Urmi in northwestern Iran, and Mosul in northern Iraq as they had for thousands of years.
The world's 4.5 million ChaldoAssyrians are currently dispersed with members of the Diaspora comprising nearly one-third of the population. Most of the ChaldoAssyrians in the Diaspora live in North America, Europe and Australia with nearly 400,000 residing in the United States of America and 200,000 in Europe. The remaining ChaldoAssyrians reside primarily in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon and to a lesser extent in Iran, and Turkey.
ChaldoAssyrians constitute the third largest ethnic group in Iraq. They represent the historically indigenous people of the region. Estimates of the total ChaldoAssyrian population in Iraq range between 1.5-2 million people. Most ChaldoAssyrians currently in Iraq reside in and around the Baghdad area with 750,000- 1,000,000 ChaldoAssyrians within central Iraq. An additional 300,000-400,000 ChaldoAssyrian reside within the area in and around Mosul (ancient Nineveh). Approximately 100,000 ChaldoAssyrians reside in the former northern UN Safe Haven. Another community of ChaldoAssyrians numbering in the range of 25,000 resides in Karkuk while the remainder of the population is scattered in smaller concentrations in the remainder of the country. Due to disproportionate emigration, ChaldoAssyrians from Iraq constitute the largest group of Iraqis in the U.S. with estimates ranging between 80-90%.
ChaldoAssyrians are not Arabs but rather have maintained a continuous and separate ethnic identity, language, culture, and religion that predate the Arabization of the Near East. Until today, the ChaldoAssyrians speak a distinct language (called Syriac or Aramaic by some scholars), the language spoken by Jesus Christ. As a Semitic language, the ChaldoAssyrian language is related to Hebrew and Arabic but predates both. The Syriac or Aramaic language of the ChaldoAssyrians remains the oldest continuously written and spoken language of the entire Middle East.
The ChaldoAssyrians were among the first people to accept Christianity in the first century A.D. through the Apostle St. Thomas. Despite the subsequent Islamic conquest of the region in the seventh century A.D., the various ChaldoAssyrian Churches flourished and their adherents at one time numbered in the tens of millions. ChaldoAssyrian missionary zeal was unmatched and led to the first Christian missions to China, Japan, and the Philippines. The Church of the East stele in Xian, China bears testament to a thriving Church of the East as early as in the seventh century A.D.
Early on, ChaldoAssyrian Christians developed into two ancient branches, the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Church of the East. Over time, divisions within Eastern Christianity led to the establishment of various Syriac Churches including the Chaldean Church, the Assyrian Church of the East, the Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic Churches, the Syriac Maronite Church, and the Melkite Churches. Persistent persecution under Islamic occupation led to the migration of still greater numbers of Assyrian Christians into the Christian autonomous areas of Mount Lebanon as well. With the arrival of Western Protestant missionaries into Mesopotamia, especially since the nineteenth century, several smaller congregations of Assyrian Protestants arose as well. Over the course of several centuries, some ChaldoAssyrians came to identify themselves by these varying but closely related names.
Despite some differing self-identifications, ChaldoAssyrians still overwhelmingly consider themselves one people irrespective of whether they refer to themselves as Assyrians, Chaldeans, or Syriacs. In the 2000 U.S. Census, mainstream organizations from the different communities including the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA), the Assyrian American National Federation (AANF), the Chaldean Federation of America (CFA), and the Syriac Universal Alliance (SUA) endorsed the Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syriac category that tabulated all respondents as one people independent of their preferred term of self-identification. Letters from the Bishops of the Chaldean, Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholic, and Syriac Maronite Churches encouraged their parishioners to support the unified category in order that all segments of the community are tabulated together.
A direct consequence of ChaldoAssyrian adherence to the Christian faith and their missionary enterprise has been persecution, massacres, and ethnic cleansing by various waves of non-Christian neighbors which ultimately led to a decimation of the ChaldoAssyrian Christian population. Quite tragically, Great Britain invited the ChaldoAssyrians as an ally in World War One. The autonomous ChaldoAssyrians were drawn into the conflict following successive massacres against the civilian population by forces of the Ottoman Empire consisting of Turks and Kurds. Although many geopolitical and economic factors were involved in provoking the attacks against the ChaldoAssyrians, a jihad or "holy war" was declared and served as the rallying cry and vehicle for marauding Turks, Kurds, and Persians. Although the Muslim holy war against the Armenians is perhaps better known, over three-fourths, or 750,000 ChaldoAssyrian Christians died by outright murder, starvation, disease and the all too familiar consequences of genocide between 1914-1923 during the ChaldoAssyrian Holocaust along with a significant number of Pontic Greeks.
The conflict and subsequent ChaldoAssyrian Holocaust led to the decimation and dispersal of the ChaldoAssyrians. Those ChaldoAssyrians who survived the Holocaust were driven out of their ancestral homeland in Turkish Mesopotamia primarily toward the area of Mosul Vilayet in Iraq, Jazira in Syria, and the Urmi plains of Iran where large ChaldoAssyrian populations already lived. The massacres of 1915 followed the ChaldoAssyrians to these areas as well, prompting an exodus of many more ChaldoAssyrians to other countries and continents.
The ChaldoAssyrian Holocaust of 1915 is the turning point in the modern history of the ChaldoAssyrian Christians precisely because it is the single event that led to the dispersal of the surviving community into small, weak, and destitute pockets. Most ChaldoAssyrians in the Diaspora today can trace their emigration from the Middle East to the ChaldoAssyrian Holocaust of 1915. Many who fled from their original homes into other Middle Eastern countries subsequently, just one generation later, once more emigrated to the West. Thus, many ChaldoAssyrian families in the West today have experienced transfer to a new country for three successive generations-beginning, for instance, from Turkey to Iraq and then to the United States.
On account of the ChaldoAssyrians siding with the victorious Allies during World War One, Great Britain had promised the ChaldoAssyrians autonomy, independence, and a homeland. The ChaldoAssyrian question was addressed during postwar deliberations at the League of Nations. However, with the termination of the British Mandate in Iraq, the unresolved status of the ChaldoAssyrians was relinquished to the Iraqi government with certain minority guarantees specifically concerning freedom of religious, cultural, and linguistic expression.
Many of the ChaldoAssyrians surviving the Holocaust had been gathered in refugee camps in Iraq pending final resettlement in an autonomous ChaldoAssyrian homeland. In 1933, however, the Iraqi government declared an ultimatum giving the ChaldoAssyrians one of two choices: either to be resettled in small populations dispersed amongst larger Muslim populations that had recently been violently antagonistic or to leave Iraq entirely. Some ChaldoAssyrians chose to leave to neighboring Syria and so notified the Iraqi government of their intention. In response, the Iraqi government dispatched the Iraqi army to attack the ChaldoAssyrians fleeing into Syria. In their subsequent defeat, the retreating Iraqi army massacred over 3,000 ChaldoAssyrian civilians in Simele and other surrounding towns in northern Iraq in August of 1933. Upon his return to Baghdad, the commanding officer ordering the massacre was hailed as a conquering hero. Thus, the first official military campaign of the Iraqi army served as the newly independent government's final solution to the ChaldoAssyrian question. The demoralized ChaldoAssyrian refugee population in Iraq was thereby resettled in dispersed villages while the other surviving isolated communities languished in the areas of Tur Abdin, Turkey; Jazira, Syria; and Urmi, Iran. The lessons of World War I remain fresh in the ChaldoAssyrian psyche. On the one hand, deep apprehension about the peaceful intentions of our neighbors is coupled with profound suspicion about the reliability and commitment of Western powers.
The Baathist government of Iraq was not any more sympathetic to ChaldoAssyrians. Under Saddam Hussein, over 200 ChaldoAssyrian villages were razed in northern Iraq in order to resettle ChaldoAssyrians into urban areas such as Baghdad in a bid to better assimilate and "Arabize" the population. ChaldoAssyrians were denied recognition as an ethnic minority and instead categorized as Christian Arabs. The Iraqi state routinely interfered in Church matters. Eventually, one Assyrian Patriarch (of the Assyrian Church of the East) left Iraq under intense pressure and settled near Chicago, thereby moving the Holy See outside of Mesopotamia for the first time in nearly 2000 years. Under the Baathist regime, Koranic instruction was also introduced into school curricula. In 1984, dozens of ChaldoAssyrian activists were imprisoned and three leaders of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) were hanged in an attempt to squelch a burgeoning ChaldoAssyrian awareness.
Following the first Gulf War, the ChaldoAssyrian experience in the Kurdish occupied Northern provinces or UN administered "Safe Haven," was not significantly better. In the Northern provinces, Kurdish tribal and feudal groups occupied ChaldoAssyrian areas and expropriated over 50 villages in whole or in part. Overly proactive ChaldoAssyrian leaders were assassinated as in the example of Francis Shabo, a ChaldoAssyrian Member of Parliament in the Kurdish Parliament of northern Iraq from the ADM who had been assigned the task of adjudicating land disputes between ChaldoAssyrians and Kurds. According to Amnesty International, Mr. Shabo was killed by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) headed by Mazsoud Barzani. Similar to their Baathists neighbors, the Kurds denied ChaldoAssyrians their ethnicity and referred to them as Christian Kurds.
Within the northern area, however, the ChaldoAssyrians were able to establish political parties, who, as long as they did not threaten Kurdish occupation of the Northern provinces, were able to operate schools, and, to a limited extent, administer some reconstruction and humanitarian aid projects. Also, during that time, the ADM was able to transform from an underground clandestine political organization into a legitimate political party free of direct Iraqi government threat although the threat from the KDP remained. Through the assistance of other affiliated political organizations in the US known as the Assyrian Coalition, as well as through the direct lobbying efforts of the Assyrian American League (AAL); the ADM gained legitimacy in Washington DC as the official representative of the ChaldoAssyrian people in Iraq. In the lead up to the second Gulf War, the ADM was included in opposition meetings consisting of the eight major opposition groups and was included by the US government in the Iraqi Liberation Act. Mr. Yonadam Kanna, the Secretary General of the ADM, was included as the sole ChaldoAssyrian member of the 25 member Iraqi Governing Council.
In a historic first, the ADM along with the Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) on October 22-24, 2003 cosponsored a conference referred to as the Chaldean Syriac Assyrian General Conference in Baghdad to declare the political aspirations of the ChaldoAssyrian people of Iraq. Among the diverse list of attendees was Dr. Imad Chamoun as the representative to Maronite Patriarch Sfeir. The conference affirmed that the various names of Chaldean, Syriac, and Assyrian refer to one people. "Due to the pressing need imposed by the critical situation that our people and cause are going through, the Conference highlights the importance of concurrence on one unified national appellation." The Conference attendees "agreed on appellation of 'ChaldoAssyrian' to designate our people and the appellation of 'Syriac' to designate our language and culture to be incorporated into the Constitution."
Furthermore, on a political level, the Baghdad Conference "stressed the need to designate an administrative region for our people in the Nineveh Plain with participation of other ethnic and religious groups, where a special law will be established for self-administration and the assurance of administrative, political, cultural rights in towns and villages throughout Iraq where our people reside." Referring to past policies of resettlement and destruction of villages, the Conference also stressed the redress of such policies that "altered the demographic structure of several regions that belonged to our people. 1957 Census and earlier should be used as benchmarks." The conference also demanded the right of return for Iraqi ChaldoAssyrians.
From October to March, ChaldoAssyrians mobilized to meet the challenge of incorporating their political platform into the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL) -- the presumed precursor of the future Iraqi Constitution. The final version of the TAL left ChaldoAssyrians both hopeful and apprehensive. On the one hand, the TAL was an historic first in the modern history of Iraq since ChaldoAssyrians were recognized as an ethnic minority as an integral part of the Iraqi mosaic including among others Arabs, Kurds, and Turkman. Notably, they were recognized as one people with the combined name declared by the Baghdad Conference. Also, in line with the Baghdad platform, the TAL stated in Article 53, paragraph D "This law shall guarantee the administrative, cultural, and political rights of the Turcomans, ChaldoAssyrians, and all other citizens." The TAL also established the legitimacy of the Iraqi Property Claims Commission which may potentially allow the resettlement of ChaldoAssyrians as well as other displaced people to their original homes and villages.
The TAL, however, left some cause for concern as well. First, the reference to ChaldoAssyrian rights was vague and did not specify a territory -- namely, the Nineveh Plain. Secondly, the TAL acknowledged the KRG's effective control and occupation of the three northern provinces of Arbil, Dohuk, and Sulmaniyah including additional areas in Nineveh, Kirkuk, and Diyala provinces. Dohuk, Nineveh, Kirkuk, and Arbil provinces include many ChaldoAssyrian towns and villages with Nineveh and Dohuk including the bulk of the Assyrian heartland. Especially, troubling in the context of rising Islamic fundamentalism was the TAL's recognition of Islam as "the official religion of the State and is to be considered a source of legislation." Moreover, "No law that contradicts the universally agreed tenets of Islam, the principles of democracy, or the rights cited in Chapter two of the Law may be enacted during the transitional period. This law respects the Islamic identity of the majority of the Iraqi people and guarantees the full religious rights of all individuals to freedom of religious belief and practice."
With the handover of sovereignty in June, the US sponsored UN resolution 1546 recognizing the legitimacy of the interim Iraqi government did not include the TAL. However, it is believed that much of the TAL will remain an important starting point for the upcoming constitution following general elections.
In summary, ChaldoAssyrians would like to see a democratic and secular Iraq with proper recognition of Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syriacs as a unified indigenous people of Iraq. ChaldoAssyrians aspire to have the same political rights as other constituent groups at a minimum, such that autonomy granted to some groups should be afforded ChaldoAssyrians within the Nineveh Plain as well. There must be a proper accounting of ChaldoAssyrians both within and without Iraq coupled with a genuine right of return. There must be equitable allocation of the nation's resources and reconstruction aid to allow necessary infrastructure aid to allow infrastructure development and rehabilitation of destroyed villages.
Moving forward, the remaining challenges include formulating an Iraqi constitution that preserves the gains of the TAL -- namely recognition of ChaldoAssyrians as a people -- while specifying the rights and geography of the ChaldoAssyrian self-administered area. Serious problems that remain include rising Islamic fundamentalism, growing Kurdish hegemony, concern over increasing emigration, fair and equitable appropriation of reconstruction and development aid to ChaldoAssyrian areas, internal sectarian and name-based tensions, and, American/Western resistance to helping ChaldoAssyrian Christians out of concern over an Islamist backlash.
Now, why is the ChaldoAssyrian cause important to Lebanese Christians in general and Maronites in particular? Change is coming to the entire Middle East and the first stage of that change has begun in Iraq. Successes and failures of minorities i.e. ChaldoAssyrians in Iraq will have profound reverberations throughout our communities in the Middle East, especially in Lebanon and Syria. The federal model of democracy with emphasis on a self-administered area is the only model that can help ensure the cultural survival of the various communities of Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syriacs in the Middle East. In Iraq, the emphasis on the Nineveh Plains where our villages and towns still remain must be internationally sanctioned by law in order to allow the language, religion, culture, and geography to survive intact.
Maronites and Lebanese Christians as a whole face similar challenges that ChaldoAssyrians are now experiencing. We all are concerned with Islamic fundamentalism, demographic and political hegemony (albeit from different groups), the need for fair and equitable economic development and reconstruction, internal sectarian tensions (even within Christians groups), and a growing realization that the "Christian" West has been reluctant to advocate on our behalf out of fear of alienating the regional Muslim majority. Finally, we all face the prospects of increasing emigration from our homelands and a potentially overwhelming challenge to register and count all of our people in the diaspora.
We share a common history, culture, religion, Syriac language, and, at one time, a contiguous geography. But most importantly, we share an intimately tied future fate. When we ignore the dire situation of one of our communities in the region, we diminish from our own interest and magnitude as a people. We must now begin to present ourselves to the world as a people with a regional, international problem rather than as isolated groups with internal domestic problems.
Though many of us believe we are indeed one people, we must not delude ourselves that this has been universally adopted by all of our people. However, from a simply strategic and tactical perspective, we cannot allow the beatings and disappearances of Lebanese students, as one example, to be viewed by the world community as an internal Lebanese affair anymore than we can allow the loss of another ChaldoAssyrian village in northern Iraq to be so seen. We need to evolve to a level of cooperation where any such instance in one area draws criticism from all of our groups.
A practical approach to allow us to develop such communication and a common understanding involves increasing contacts between our leaders and people at such conventions and meetings as these. Organizing joint conventions and symposia will help to "connect the dots" of our various scattered and isolated communities and increase cross pollinization of ideas and strategies. Such approaches will send the signal to our neighbors as well as the world community that we are linked as a regional issue, not simply an internal domestic nuisance. Sponsoring research, position papers, research centers, and think tanks through the collaborative efforts of our organizations at the academic level will also have a synergistic effect. Organizing joint delegations of our leaders to our governments and representatives in the diaspora as well as to international organizations on the political level will undoubtedly augment our standing.
On behalf of the Assyrian Academic Society, we look forward to further collaboration with like-minded organizations from across the spectrum of our people.
References and Further Reading
Assyrian International News Agency (AINA)
Assyrian Academic Society (AAS)
Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM)
Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO)
belongs to all Iraqis'
Assyrian General Conference
Representatives of Iraqi Sunni, Shiite, Turkmen and Assyrian groups urged a consensus on the future of Kirkuk at a panel discussion in Ankara on Monday, while Sunni and Shiite representatives warned against the possible negative outcomes of a Turkish intervention.
The Kirkuk 2007 panel discussion, hosted by non-governmental organization the Global Strategy Institute, discussed the future of Kirkuk with the participation of Iraqi Sunni, Shiite, Turkmen and Assyrian groups. No representative from the Iraqi Kurdish groups was invited but the organization committee said they are asked to send their written views.
The panel discussion follows growing fears in Turkey that Iraq's Kurds will seize control of Kirkuk as part of a push for an independent Kurdish state, exploiting the planned referendum late this year for future of this oil-rich city. A prominent deputy from the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party on Sunday called for a special and urgent session in Parliament on Kirkuk. "Turkey should announce that it will not recognize the results of a controversial referendum late this year on the future of Kirkuk under these conditions. And we should also announce that we are going to intervene if civil war erupts in Kirkuk," he said.
A leaked intelligence report by the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) on Kirkuk's changing demography said, "An estimated 600,000 Kurdish ethnic Iraqi citizens have been moved to Kirkuk from different areas in northern Iraq and have subsequently been registered to vote in elections." But the report was disputed by the Iraqi Kurdish groups.
Taking the floor at the Kirkuk 2007 panel discussion on Monday, Huseyin Avni , Deputy Chairman of Iraqi President, stressed that Kirkuk belongs to all Iraqis. Underlining that nothing could be achieved by provoking sectarian strife, Avni stressed that Kirkuk's future depends on national consensus.
Deputy Chairman of the Iraqi National Dialogue Front Hamit El Mutlak indicated that it's up to the Iraqi people to decide on the fate of Kirkuk. Mutlak said not only those living in Kirkuk, but all Iraqis should express their opinion on the matter. Mutlak thanked Turkey for its contributions so far to the security, stability and well-being of Iraq, but warned that Turkey's interference in the issue would become counter-productive. He suggested Ankara continue its positive role.
On the other hand, Kerim Muhsin El Yakubi, a deputy from the Iraqi Virtue Party, indicated that peace in Kirkuk meant peace in Iraq and a struggle in Kirkuk would provoke a dispute in the country. Yakubi also indicated that the Kirkuk issue could be solved through dialogue.
Another participant Halid Osman from the Iraq Islamic Party stated that none of the relevant parties should be ignored and opinions of all segments in Iraq, as well as points of view of neighbor countries, should be asked.
Meanwhile, deputy head of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and a former ambassador Onur Oymen expressed Turkey's concerns about a possible failure to obtain tangible results in the fight against terrorism in Iraq.
"While a part of the world is interested in the underground richness of Iraq, some countries, including Turkey, are dealing with humanitarian issues," he said.
"Since 40 percent of Iraq's oil reserves are in Kirkuk, this Iraqi town deserves more attention," he added. Oymen asked for a stronger involvement by the United Nations in Iraq and called for the deployment of a UN peace force in the neighboring country. "Democracy should be established in Iraq. Turkey is ready to make all kinds of contributions to this end," he added.
ARE THE ASSYRIANS??
By W. Gabriel Dinkha
Who are the Assyrians?
The kids at school would say,
Are you people Christians?
Do you go to church and pray?
What country do you come from?
What language do you speak?,
We’ve seen you write - from right to left
It’s really quite unique.
I’d look at them in disbelief
Could they really be naive?,
Have they ever read a history book?
To see what we’ve achieved.
How could they not know us?
We were the world’s first nation,
The people of Mesopotamia
The Cradle of Civilization.
The land between two rivers
The Euphrates and The Tigris,
These rivers are shown on our national flag
With the sun and all its brightness.
We were the first inventors
We showed you the unknown,
We taught you how to read and write
From letters carved in stone.
We devised the concept of time for you
We gave you the seven day week
We discovered the signs of the zodiac
Astrology – another technique.
We inspired you with our wisdom
When Ashur built the first library,
We brought order into your courtrooms
With the laws of King Hammurabi.
We introduced you to Christianity
We were the first to believe,
The Bible was written in our mother tongue
The highest honour that one can achieve.
We constructed the Tower of Babel
And also the Gate of Ishtar,
We invented the wheel, we invented the arch
And Astronomy to study the stars.
We built Nineveh the world’s greatest city
Hanging Gardens of Babylon too,
The gardens that Nebuchadnezzar built
So his wife could have a nice view.
How proud we are of our history
Our pride is our Motherland,
But lately we’ve seen – that something’s not right
We’ve been touched by the enemys hand.
Ancient Assyria – the Land of the Kings
Whos’ empire once ruled the world,
The nation our ancestors fought to protect
Is now being run by the Kurds.
King Ashur, King Sargon & King Nemrod too
Would all be ashamed of us now,
Gilgamish, Akhiqar & Tiglat Pilaser
Would be scratching their heads saying…HOW?
Have you forgotten the massacre of 33
When they slaughtered your fathers and sons?
When they took all your women and raped them by force
The nightmare had only begun.
When they took all the babies and speared them with swords
And used them to light up the fire,
Then stood back and watch with a look of content
The Kurds had fulfilled their desire.
Thousands of Assyrians fell victims
To the Ottoman Turks and the Kurds,
As they continued the Assyrian Genocide
Through the villages – the screams could be heard.
The blood of your fathers, your brothers and sons
Has not yet dried on this land,
Yet today you sit, in your high powered suits
And agree to the name KUR-----!!!.
KUR---- CHRISTIANS!! How dare you? – we don’t accept
Who gave you the right to decide?
Our name was all we had left in this world
That allowed us to be recognised.
If YOU want to lower yourself and accept
This title you now have approved,
Then please - relinquish your Assyrian rights
The majority does not share your views.
The Assyrians have suffered for thousands of years
From country to country they’d roam,
Never giving up hope that maybe one day
They’d have a place to call home.
Never giving up hope that maybe one day
Their flag would fly free and with pride,
Blowing in the breeze, above the Nineveh Plains
Letting it be seen worldwide.
But sadly we see, that is not to be
Their fighting has all been in vain,
So now we’ll sit back and take orders from Kurds
Our DIGNITY went with our name.
Assyrians against Kurdish bid on Kirkuk
Iraqi Assyrians wrapped up a three-day meeting in ?stanbul yesterday with a statement opposing Kurdish attempts to establish control over the ethnically mixed city of Kirkuk.
In a statement released after the meeting, the Assyrians said Kirkuk was part of Iraq, not of the Kurdish region.
"The Kurdish region is not as big as claimed (by Kurds)," said group member Barem Behram. "If you look at the history, you will see that Assyrians were populating the area that is claimed to be the Kurdish region today."
Iraqi Assyrians discussed the overall situation in Iraq during their three-day meeting at the Conrad Hotel in ?stanbul. The meeting was originally planned to be held in Baghdad, but the plans had to be changed after participants from other countries were denied entry visas by Iraqi authorities. The meeting was attended by some 43 participants, 17 of whom were from Iraq. The participants included US, Australian and German citizens.
Le congrès populaire chaldéen-syriaque-assyrien
J’ai eu l’honneur d’être convié au congrès du peuple chaldéen-syriaque-assyrien à Ainkawa, près d’Erbil. Le congrès s’est tenu le 12 et le 13 mars 2007. Le nombre de participants venus de tout l’Irak, de l’Europe, de l’Amérique, du Canada et de l’Australie était de 900 personnes. À l’ouverture du congrès, il y avait les représentants des partis politiques du Kurdistan qui souhaitèrent le succès de la réunion ; le Ministre de l’Économie et des Finances Sarkis Aghajan l’honora de sa présence.
Le congrès affirma l’unité de notre peuple, malgré les trois dénominations, et insista sur l’importance de notre langue, la langue syriaque classique et moderne, le soureth. Il demanda que les terres ou villages vidés jadis de leurs habitants soient rendus à leurs propriétaires. Les droits culturels, linguistiques, religieux et politiques du peuple chaldéen-syriaque-assyrien devraient être reconnus dans la Constitution irakienne et dans celle du Kurdistan fédéral.
Posté par ephrem_isa à 12:06 - Commentaires  - Rétroliens
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The popular congress
I went on a trip in Ainkawa, close to Erbil, to take part in a congress organized by the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people. This congress took place from 12 March to 13 March 2007. 900 participants came from all Iraq, Europa, America, Canada, Australia and took part to the meeting.
With the opening of the congress, there were the representatives of the political parties of Kurdistan , they wished the success of the meeting.
The Minister for the Economy and Finances Sarkis Aghajan honoured it with his presence.
During the congress, the members affirmed the unit of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people, in spite of the three denominations, and insisted on the importance of the traditional and modern Syriac language (Soureth). They asked that the cultural, linguistic, religious rights of this people should be recognized in the Iraqi Constitution and in the Federal Constitution of Kurdistan.
Conference Calls for Assyrian Federal Region Within Iraq
In the recent political circumstances in Iraq and both the international and regional equations, the conference took place between March 10-12 where the delegates discussed numerous cases concerning the national and patriotic issues in Iraq.
On the national level, Assyrians feel that they were marginalized and been purposely distinguished notwithstanding the fact that the Assyrians are the indigenous people of Iraq. The conference decided to work on preserving the Iraqi national unity based on Lawful State, separation of authorities, and dissemination of the brotherhood principals among all the religious and ethnic groups to clear paths to all the sects of Iraqi people to live their own national rights. Under the umbrella of this Lawful State, the Conference demands reinforcement of the national unity of the Assyrian people, reveal its national identity stated in the constitution. Also, to remove the unjust acts caused to them since the establishment of Iraq until today. Furthermore, to secure their rights and return to their historical land in order to practice their national rights, and the need to establish an Assyrian Federal region within a United Federalized Iraq as per the constitution.
On the patriotic level, the conference discussed the Iraqi constitution which in its articles aborted the rights of the Assyrian people.
The conference also discussed Kirkuk issue considering it as a patriotic one not to be included in narrow scales. The conference looks at Kirkuk as a smaller Iraq where all the sects of the Iraqi people meet.
In addition, the conference discussed the normalization issue in Dohuk demanding activation of all the relevant articles included in the Iraqi constitution and the necessity of centralizing the law to distribute the resources to the central government.
The conference is thankful to the neighboring countries for adopting a positive attitude in all their standings toward the Iraqi affair.
As for the international level, the conference decided to approach the international community to protect the rights of Assyrians in Iraq, the unity of Iraq, and the principals of human rights.
In conclusion, the conference extended its gratitude to the people and government of Turkey for giving the opportunity to hold this conference on their land which was unable to take place on the homeland (Iraq).
Assyrian General Conference
- Persian New Year and its Assyrian - Babylonian origin
By William Warda, Christians of Iraq staff writer
In citing background information about the Iranian New year Davood N. Rahni writes:
"The Norooz Festival is immortalized in the Decree of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Achaemenid Empire, granting national, cultural and religious freedoms to the peoples of Babylon and beyond in 542 B.C.E." (1)
There is no mention of Norooz in any of the inscriptions by Cyrus. The invasion of Babylon by the Persians took place on October 4th 539 B.C., months before the Spring equinox the first day of the later Persian new year. Cyrus could not have granted the Babylonians any rights 3 years before his invasion of the city. Historical evidences suggest that the Persian Norooz was borrowed from the Babylonians after the conquest facilitated by the Priests of Marduk and perhaps also by the exiled Jews.
Inscriptions by the Babylonian priests, their king Nebunaid and Cyrus indicate that there was ongoing conflict between the Priests of Marduk and their king who attempted to elevate the Harranian deity Sin above Marduk consequently causing the hatred of him by the general population. To make matters worst Nabunaid left the country and lived in the oasis of Tima in northwest Arabia for 17 years.
During his absence the New year was not celebrated because king played an important role in the ceremonies. Canceling of the New year was undoubtedly a great disappointment for the Babylonians who considered its observance not only as a time for joy also an important religious obligation.
Such despair is evident in one Babylonian inscription :
"On the eleventh year [of the Nabunaid's rule] ... 'The King did not come to Babylon for the Ceremonies of the month Nissanu, Nabu did not come to Babylon, Bel [Marduk] did not go out in procession, the festival of the New Year was omitted.."(2)
After defeating Nabunaid's army in Opis The Persian troops marched to Sippar and took it without opposition and Cyrus entered Babylon without a battle. "On the third day of Arahshamnu (October) Kurash (Cyrus) entered Babylon, green twigs were spread in front of him - the state of "peace" (shulmu) was imposed upon the city."(3)
Cyrus's kindness to the Babylonians and the Jews was clearly a pay-back for the fact that he did not have to fight the population of the city who had in fact helped him to conquer it.
The involvement of the Priests of Marduk in helping the Persian conquest
of Babylon is implied in an inscription by Cyrus.
"Nabunaid was heretical; he changed the details of worship. He was also an oppressor....But Bel-Marduk cast his eye over all countries, seeking for a righteous ruler.. Then he called by name cyrus, King of Anshan and pronounced him ruler of the lands."(4)
Since the city was captured without bloodshed with the cooperation of the population it was natural that Cyrus in contrast to Nabunaid would appeal to the Babylonian's religious sensitivities which he seems to have had detail knowledge of. In another inscription Cyrus declares that Marduk the great lord was pleased with his deeds and sent friendly blessings to 'the King who worships him, and his son Cambyses ' .'(5)
The book of Isaiah implies that Jews were also part of the effort to
help Cyrus invasion of Babylon which it would pave the way for their return
"This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open before him so that gates will not be shut."(Isaiah 45) Given the Jewish exiled hatered of the Babylonians such posibility can not be dismissed. "Sit in silence, go into darkness Daughter of the Babylonians; no more you will be called Queen of Kingdoms.(Isaiah 47: 5) ....They will come upon you in full measure, despite your many sorceries and your potent spells." (Isaiah 47: 9)
It is important to note that the chapters 40-55 of the Biblical book of Isaiah also knwon as 'Second Isaiah' or 'Deutero-Isaiah' were added to the book by unknown Babylonian Jewish exile within the period of 546 to 538 B.C.E..(6)
After the invasion, Persians adopted many of the Assyro-Babylonian social, political and administrative innovations. Historians believe that the Persian empire owed much to the Assyrian accomplishments. "Assyrian art, science, literature and technology, integrated from many sources and revealed by excavation" have influenced the later nations including those in Europe.(7) It should not surprise us that Persians borrowed their New year from the Babylonians.
In 538 B.C. Cambyses the son of Cyrus was installed as the king of Babylon and on the 4th day of Nissanu [March 24th of the western calendar] he went through the historic New Year ritual of paying homage to Bell [Marduk] and Nabu thereby he was appointed officially the viceroy of Marduk in Babylon with headquarter in Sippar.(8) This is the first mention of a Persian king participating in the celebration of the New year festival which later became to be known as Nowruz. When Cyrus was killed on the battlefield in 530 B.C. Cambyses inherited the empire's throne. As king of Babylon he had presided for eight previous years over the Babylonian New year celebrations which by then had been gradually passed on to the Persians.
In the Persian capital Persepolis or Pasargad founded by Cambyses and finished by Dariush engravings show various nations of the empire bringing gifts to the King during the New Year's celebration, There is no historical evidence to show that either the Medes or the Persians observed the Spring Equinox as New Year before the conquest of Babylon.
The Assyro-babylonian new year originated during the Sumerian period in mid third millennium B.C. was the most important religious ceremony which was observed starting on the spring equinox (March 20-21), the day of creation and also of the rebirth of the nature, according to their religion. During the New Year ceremonies the story of the Creation describing the battle between Marduk and Tiamat leading to the creation of the world, all the living things including mankind was recited and enacted.(9)
Assyrian king Sennecherib had engraved the event at the "Bet Akitu" on a pair of copper doors at Assur . His inscription reads: "I engraved upon the gate the gods who marched in front and the gods who marched behind him [Assur], those who ride in chariots, and those who go on foot [against] Tiamat and the creatures [that were] in her."
Alexander the Great according to the Greek historians participated in the Persian new year festivities in 330 B.C. He was asked to go through a ritual ordeal which consisted of fighting a "monstrous death demon" and emerge victorious. This seems to have been a reenactment of Marduk's battle with Tiamat as told in the assyrian -Babylonian creation story. Alexander's Participation in this event renewed his rule for another year as Ahura Mazda's vice regent on the earth.(10)
Assyrian and Babylonian kings were considered viceroys of god on earth, every new year the king had to go through a ritual which led to his dethroning by the high priest in the presence of Marduk or Assur to confess that he 'had not sinned against the land and had not neglected the divinity' his crown was returned to him by the high priest and his kingship was extended for another year.(11) This concept seems to have survived among the Persians. The kings of the Sassanian dynasty were also considered the regents of the Ahura Mazda and were known as "Bokh" or "Minu Chehre Az Eazadon" i.e. 'related to god', also 'Farah Eizadi' i.e 'guided by god".(12)
Bas-reliefs of that era show Sassanian kings receiving their crown from the Mobed Modbedan i.e. the Zoroastrian high priest. It is interesting to note that the Persian emblem of Aura Mazda with minore differences seem to be identical to that of the Assyrian god Assur.
Evidence also suggests that the practice of the Sacred Marriage of the Assyro-Babylonian new year intended to insure the fertility of the land was also part of the Persian New year celebrations."..the [Achaemenian] king spent the first night of the New Year with a young woman. The offsprings of such union would be sent to a temple and they would normally end up as high-ranking religious officials."(13)
Another aspect of the Nowruz celebrations, not practiced since the medieval times, was called 'Kosa Rishin' which seems to have had Mesopotamian origin. It was a play acted at the market place involving a temporary king or False Ameir who was mocked and made fun of and ultimately driven away. We know that during the Sumerian period one aspect of the Akitu festival involved the mocking of a substitute king for a day usually a criminal dressed in royal regalia. In one instance when the real king unexpectedly died the false king Enlil-Bani inherited his throne.(14) The concept of the substitute king was also practiced by the Assyrians and Babylonians. When Alexander was in Babylon one day he was surprised to find a young man clad in the king's robes with a crown on his head sitting on his throne. He asked him who he was or what he was doing, the man did not answer. Later Alexander was old that the young man was a prisoner who was told to put king's robes on, sit on the throne and say nothing. This was the "Mesopotamian ritual of the substitute king enthroned when the Omens foretold danger to the true king."(15)
After the conquest of Babylon in 539 BC, the Babylonian cyclic calendar became standard throughout the Persian Empire. From the Indus to the Nile. Aramaic documents from Persian Egypt, for instance, bear Babylonian dates besides the Egyptian. The royal years as in Babylon began on Nissanu 1, which coincided with the vernal equinox. " It is probable, however, that at the court itself the counting of regnal years began with the accession day while the Seleucids and the Parthians maintained the Babylonian calendar."(16)
From the 1st century BC, on the fiscal administration in northern Iran, used Zoroastrian month and day names in the Pahlavi (the Iranian language of Sassanian Persia). "The origin and history of the Zoroastrian calendar year of 12 months of 30 days, plus five days (that is, 365 days), remains unknown. It became official under the Sassanian dynasty, from about AD 226 until the Arab conquest in 621. Arabs introduced the Muslim lunar year, but the Persians continued to use the Sassanian solar year, which in 1079 was made equal to the Julian year by the introduction of the leap year.(17)
Assyrian limmu system, was also adopted by the Persians. 'It entailed casting the lot [Assyrian puru] during the new year ceremonies to decide who among the top brass would be chief minister for the year which would be known by his name. A Pur, a small inscribed die dated about 840 B.C. , is now in the Yale Museum."
According to the Old Testament story of Esther during the Xerexe'x rule "lot was cast on the Persian New Year in Nissan and Haman's name came up to be Chancellor for the year "from day to day, from month to month, until the twelfth month, the month of Adar" (Esther 3:7). The Chancellor's duty among other things was to collect the annual revenues for the Empire, The Hebrew word "pur" which appears in Esther 3:7, 9:24 and 26 is usually taken to mean 'lots'. It is derived from the Assyrian puru meaning a pebble used for casting lots. The Esther holiday celebrated by the Jews is called Purim.
The above facts clearly show the process by which the Assyro-Babylonian new year of the spring equinox was transferred to the Persians which the Achaemenian kings embraced. If the Persian Nowruz had a Zoroastrian origin, as some claim, elements which were not of the Persian religion would not have been part it. Ruling nations seldom adopt the traditions of their subjects but in the Persian's case Cyrus and Cambyses were eager to please the Babylonians by showing they respected their religious practices. Since the New Year celebration was a very important event for the Babylonians during which the legitimacy of the ruler was acknowledged it was to the benefit of the early Persian kings to accept this tradition as their own.
Kurdish writers in recent times have invented mythical origin for the Newroz or Noruz, New year, their people celebrate on March 21st, for political expediency they claim it is the celebration of Kawa's victory over the Assyrian king Zahak.
One website describes the origin of the Kurdish New year as follows:"On March 21st in the year 612 B.C., Kawa killed the Assyrian tyrant Dehak and liberated the Kurds and many other peoples in the Middle East. Dehak was an evil king who represented cruelty, abuse, and the enslavement of peoples. People used to pray every day for God to help them to get rid of Dehak. On Newroz day, Kawa led a popular uprising and surrounded Dehak's palace. Kawa then rushed passed the king's guards and grabbed Dehak by the neck. Kawa then struck the evil tyrant on the head with a hammer and dragged him off his throne. With this heroic deed, Kawa set the people free and proclaimed freedom throughout the land. A huge fire was light on the mountaintop to send a message: firstly to thank God for helping them defeats Dehak, and secondly to the people to tell them they were free. This is where the tradition of the Newroz fire originates."(18)
The above claim is clearly fictitious intended to serve Kurds' political agendas. The Kurdish nationalists by using a convoluted version of the Persian myth of Zahak who was not an Assyrian wished to inspire their people to rise against the cruelty of the ruling governments. In doing so they portray the ancient Assyrians as cruel, the enemies of the Kurds and all other people thereby promoting hatred for the contemporary Assyrians.
To further add insult to the injury they claim their celebration of this day began in 612 B.C. which is the year when Ancient Assyrians were defeated by the combined forces of the Medes, Babylonians and the Scythians. However as we will shall see Kurd's Newroz or Newruz has nothing to do with the fall of Assyria or the Zahak's myth. In fact the New Year they celebrate is in reality that of the ancient Assyrians and Babylonians, originated in the third millennium B.C. long before there was a mention of Kurds in history. Further more March 20-21 the first day of this event is vernal equinox and has nothing to do with the fall of Nineveh which happened in August of 612 B.C.. It is unconscionable for the Kurds who until recently were portraying themselves as an oppressed people to further their political agendas at the expense of the Assyrians especially since the latter have been subjected to repeated massacres by the former during the last few centuries.
Evidently Kurds acquired their knowledge of the Zahak's legend from the 11th century Persian poet Ferdosi's Shahnameh (the Book of Kings) who identifies the tyrant king as Arab and not Assyrian. Furthermore According to Ferdosi Zahak lived in Jerusalem and was killed by Feraidoun and not Kawa (Persian Kaveh).(19)
After crossing the river Tigris the forces of Feraidoun "turned their faces towards the city which is now called Jerusalem, for here stood the glorious house that Zahak had built. And when they entered the city all the people rallied around Feraidoun, for they hated Zahak and looked to Feraidoun to deliver them... Feraidoun did as he was bidden, and led forth Zahak to the Mount Demawend [north of today's Tehran]. And he bound him to the rock with mighty chains and nails driven into his hands, and left him to perish in agony. And the hot sun shone down upon the barren cliffs, and there was neither tree nor shrub to shelter him, and the chains entered into his flesh, and his tongue was consumed with thirst. Thus after a while the earth was delivered of Zahak the evil one, and Feraidoun reigned in his stead."(20)
The disparity between the real story of Zahak and the one advanced by the Kurds is either due to lack of specific knowledge of the myth or is a deliberate attempt to vilify the ancient Assyrians. It is clear that Zahak's ruling center was not in Mesopotamia and he did not die on March 21, 612 B.C. and and his myth has nothing to do with the Kurds or Assyrians. There is always a danger in defining historical event based on myths rather than documented historical evidences because myths and legends can be easily perverted to satisfy the prejudices and political ambitions of the moment. The same legend can be told in different ways to indirectly vilify this or that people without regard to the truth as the Kurds have done in this case.While there is no documented historical evidence for when and why the Kurds began to observe their Newroz or Nowruz there is no doubt that they learned to celebrate it form the Persians. The Persian new year Nowruz in addition to the Kurds is observed by the Afghan, Turks, and the Persian speaking people of pakistan, India and Central Asia who were once part of that empire.
Regardless of its origin Nowruz during the last 2,500 years has evolved
into a tradition which is uniquely Persian and no longer resembles its
ancient version. It is also celebrated by other people related to the Persians
or have came to contact with them including Kurds, Afgans, Turks and others.
For political reasons Kurds, in recent years, have invented fictitious
stories about why they celebrate their new year, in the process they vilify
the ancient Assryians and promote antagonism against their descendance.
While myths may have been enough for the primitive societies to explain
important events in their life in today's world nothing less than documented
facts will do. The Kurd's explanation for the origin of their new Year
or so-called "National Day" contradicts all known historical facts. Assyrians
who in the past have been persecuted by their neighbors including the Kurds
primarily because of their faith should not be victimized for the sake
of Kurds national ambitions. During the last few decades Kurds have changed
their predatory practices against their Assyrian neighbors but falsely
explaining their New Year celebration as an anti Assyrian crusade transform
their Nowroz into a day of hate rather than celebrating the renewal of
nature which historical has been the reasons for its observance.
1 - payvand.com/news/06/mar/1209.html
2- James B. Pritchard edit. The ancient Near East, An Anthology of Texts and Pictures, Princeton University Press 1958 p. 203.
3 - ibid p. 204.
4 - ibid pp. 206-8.
5 - ibid p.207.
6 - hope.edu/academic/religion/bandstra/RTOT/CH10/CH10_2.HTM
7 - J.E. Curtis and J. E. reade editors, Art and Empire, Treasures form Assyria in the British Museum, the trustee of the British Museum, 1995 p. 31.
8 - Burn, Andrew Robert "Persia and the Greeks, the Defense of the West 546-478 B.C.", Stm Marin's Press, Inc. 1968 p. 58.
9 - Alexander Heidel, "The Babylonian Genesis, The Story of Creation", The University of Chicago Press 1951 pp. 16-17.
10- Green, Peter "Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 N.C. A historical biography" copyright 1991, p. 314.)
11 - Henri , Grankfort, "Kingship and the Gods, as Study of the ancient Near Eastern religions", Chicago University Press 1948 p.320.
12 - Nafissi, Saeid "Masseheyat Dar Iran", Noor Jahan Tehran, Iran 1964 pp. 40-41.
13 - Massoume, "Iranian New Year Nowruz", @ persia.org/Culture/nowruz.html, May 2004.
14 - Kids Discover 'Mesopotamia', Kids Discover 2000 p. 2 .
15 - Joan Oates, "Babylon"Thames and Hudson 1979 page 40.
16 - ragz-international.com/mesopotamiancalander.htm
17 - ibid.
18 - Newroz @ homepages.tig.com.au/~simko/newroz.html May 2004
19 - Ferdosi, "Shah-Nameh", Moasseseh Chaap was Entesharrat Ameir Kabeir, Tehran Iran, Chaape sevome 1344 pp.28-35.
20 - farhangsara.com/shanhnameh_shahsofold3.htm
This article comes from
AssyriaTimes.com - Assyrian News Agency, a service of Bet-Nahrain, Inc.
The URL for this story is: http://assyriatimes.com/engine/article.php?storyid=3272
The Eighth General Assembly
Ceres, California March 24-25, 2007
The Eighth General Assembly of the Assyrian
National Congress met at the Assyrian Cultural Center of Bet-Nahrain in
Ceres, California (USA) on March 24-25, 2007. More than 170 Assyrian delegates
from 12 countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, United Arab Emirates/Dubai, Japan,
Armenia, Australia, Holland, Britain, Denmark, Canada and the United States)
attended the General Assembly. Delegates included a high
number of prominent national activists from all Assyrian religious denominations.
Officials and representatives from the following major Assyrian national and political entities were present:
Assyrian Universal Alliance,
Assyrian National Congress,
Assyrian Democratic Movement,
Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party,
Assyrian Democratic Party,
Ashur liberation Party (Furkono),
Save the Assyrians Campaign and
Assyrian Intellectuals and Writers Association of Iraq.
Participants at the Eighth General Assembly of ANC included
Dr. Hamid Al-Baiati, the Iraqi Ambassador at the United Nations,
Ambassador Christopher Ross, from the U.S. Department of State,
Mr. Aaron Pina, from the Department of State's Office of International Religious Freedom, and
Dr. Muhsen Shabout, the ANC's Advisor for Iraqi Affairs.
The Congress received a large number of supporting and congratulatory emails, letters and telephone calls from friendly Iraqi parties, Assyrian organizations, and Assyrian church prelates, especially a historic letter from His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV, the Catholicos Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East.
The delegates renewed their commitment to defend the Assyrian historic identity and gain recognition for the Assyrians worldwide. They appreciated the efforts of ANC to further our national objectives. A committee of nine prominent Assyrians was appointed to study the feasibility of forming an Assyrian International Confederation. The AIC shall function as the social, cultural, and educational arm of the
Assyrian nation and will consist of Assyrian social and educational institutions worldwide.
Representatives of the Assyrian national and political entities, in the presence of all attending delegates, held a "Joint Conference" to discuss the present situation of the Assyrian people in Iraq. They agreed to form an "Assyrian Parliament" consisting of 50 members. These "Guardians" will be appointed to the "Assyrian Parliament" at a special conference to be held in Tehran, Iran within the next three months. In addition, the attending representatives agreed to work jointly to further the following national agenda in Iraq:
1. To seek a free, united, pluralistic and democratic Iraq. The Assyrians condemn all sorts of terrorism in our homeland.
2. To secure the Assyrian national and historic identity and language in the Iraqi constitution and all "regional constitutions" in Iraq.
3. To affirm that the Assyrians are the indigenous people of Iraq. An Assyrian, regardless where he/she was born is entitled to Iraqi citizenship. Assyrians must be compensated for their losses.
4. To secure the Assyrian national rights in Iraq. Our people are entitled to an "Assyrian State" in northern Iraq. This "state" must have full autonomy and be under the authority of the central government in Baghdad.
ASSYRIAN PEOPLE’S PARLIAMENT
The attending delegates acknowledged the efforts of Bet-Nahrain Organization, the hosting affiliate, and its AssyriaSat Television Network in making this a most successful congress. Special thanks were conveyed to Dr. Muhsen Shabout and Mr. Aniss Attala for their support and organizational skills.
Long live the Assyrian people. Long live all Iraqi nationalities.
European Parliament Conference on Kirkuk Crisis
Report by the Assyrian Democratic Organization in Brussels, Belgium
Special thanks to Mr. Abboud Zeitoune in Germany
On 26 and 27 March 2007, the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO) and the Iraqi Turkmen Human Rights Research Foundation (SOITM), in partnership with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) and the Nonviolent Radical Party (NRP), organized a conference entitled “Iraqi Turkmen: The Human Rights Situation and Crisis in Kirkuk”, held at the European Parliament in Brussels.
Ms. Mary Younan of the Assyrian Universal Alliance & Mr. Abdulahad
Astepho of the Assyrian Institute of Europe at the European Parliament's
Conference on the Kirkuk Crisis on 26 March 2007.
Two goals were focused for this conference, the history and concerns of the Iraqi Turkmen, for the first session titled “Sources of Conflict”, followed by “An Iraq for the future and the Crisis in Kirkuk”.
The assembled press, parliamentarians, European leaders, and civil society activists took part at the round table conference. These includeded Mr. Marco Cappato MEP, Committee on Foreign Affairs and Subcommittee on Human Rights; Mr. Marco Pannella MEP, leader of the Nonviolent Radical Party; Mr. Jan Marinus Wiersma MEP, Vice-Chairman of the Socialist Group; Mr. Nicola Dell Arciprete, Parliamentary Assistant ALDE Group; Mr. Marino Busdachin, UNPO General Secretary; Mr. Ken Kostyo, Director of Global Democracy Resource; Mr. Martin Schulthes, Special Programs Manager of No Peace without Justice.
Many prominent figures from the Turkmen community were in attendance, both from Iraq and the Diaspora. These included Mr. Muzaffer Arslan, Advisor on Turkmen Affairs to President Jalal Talabani; Ali Mehdi, Head of the Turkmen Group at the Kirkuk City Council; Sheth Jerjis, SOITM Chairman; Merry Fitzgerald, Secretary of the Representative of the Iraqi Turkmen Front in Belgium; Dr. Hassan Aydinli, Iraqi Turkmen Front Europe representative and many other Turkmen authors and editors.
The Iraqi Arabs were represented by a member of the Kirkuk City Council.
In addition, the courageous participation of Burhan Jaf, EU Representative of the Kurdish Regional Government, was appreciated by most participants at the conference.
The Assyrian delegation comprised Ms. Mary Younan, Executive Secretary of the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA), Mr. Ablahad Astepho, Mr. Rimon Youkanna and Mr. Naher Arslan from the Assyrian Institute of Europe (ASINE).
Mary Younan in the first day session spoke about “The Assyrians of Northern Iraq " and clearly denounced the Arabisation and Kurdification campaigns, violation of human rights and expropriation of lands and villages of the Assyrian people in their ancestral homeland. She added that “above and beyond all ethnic and religious differences, they were all gathered as Iraqis and it is the duty of each one to ensure that basic human rights of all Iraqis are guaranteed”.
Ablahad Astepho, Director of ASINE, in his presentation during the following session expressed the “deep concern and growing alarm over the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Communities in the Diaspora at the rapidly deteriorating situation of the ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq, specifically our Assyrian people”. He noted that “this dramatic situation touches all national, ethnic and religious groups that constitute the Iraqi society. However, the escalation of violence, since Ramadan October 2006, towards Christians in Iraq spread terror and despair within this already ravaged, persecuted and dispersed community; his high-ranking clergy and political leaders consider it as a fore phase to a final coup de grâce not only for Christians of Iraq, but also for all the Christians of the Middle East”.
Then he asked the audience to refer to “the excellent recent report of the Minority Rights Group International 2007 by Preti Taneja, entitled “Assimilation, Exodus and Eradication: Iraq’s minority communities since 2003”, which paints a very dark image of the human rights situation of these minorities”.
Exposing briefly the conflicting aspects of the “brewing battle over
Kirkuk”: oil riches, ethnic competition over its identity between the four
main communities- Assyrian, Arab, Kurd and Turkmen, interpretation of articles
140 and 142 of the Iraqi Constitution, controversies over normalisation,
census and referendum program, he concluded “that Kirkuk’s Assyrians don’t
enjoy great political influence, mirroring their demographic numbers and
political power nationally. But they should have a big and important role
in acting as Etat de tampon, an intermediary that can play an important
role in the process of facilitating a negotiated interim solution for Kirkuk’s
He continued “ we agree and support the International Crisis Group - Middle East Report N° 56 - 18 July 2006, and we consider that its recommendations to all sides are a solid basis for a road map consisting of compromised arrangements which may not completely meet the vital interests or agendas of all ethnic and religious groups in Kirkuk, but at the very least it would curb if not put an end to this rapidly deteriorating situation and eventually, and contain the potentially violent sectarian conflict and the spreading of civil war”.
He asked all participants to look at Kirkuk as “a smaller Iraq where all the components of the Iraqi society meet and contribute progressively to the suppression and/or solution of possible conflicts, to adopt principles of democracy, citizenship, cohabitation and to build together, as partners, a modern political, economic and social system, on a solid foundation based on dialogue, comprehension and mutual respect”.
Considering “the participation of all ethnic, national and linguistic communities’ in a common federal system will undoubtedly constitute a rich model and serve as a safety-valve for the future of the united federalised and lawful state of Iraq”.
Ablahad Astepho in his closing statement alarmed the audience “Until Kirkuk’s December 2007 deadline, we can only observe and note the fact that it is over for yesterday’s Iraq. And now the question is: What does the future hold for Iraq, will it adopt and implement a federal system within a strong and united country or will it be fragmented into small and vulnerable separate entities”.
At the end of the two-day meeting, prior to the press conference, a few participants attempted to open Kirkuk’s Pandora’s Box, thankfully the atmosphere of courtesy continued and this was appreciated and highlighted during the press conference.
The organizers of this conference, UNPO and SOITM, recommended an EU-appointed commission to continue dialogue and discussions started at this conference, aiming to securing a sustainable solution and preventing further conflict and confrontation.
Please join the Congressional Human Rights Caucus for a members' briefing
on Iraqi refugees. The briefing will focus on the serious humanitarian
situation faced by Iraqi refugees in Syria and Jordan , as well as internally
displaced persons (IDPs) inside Iraq .
The briefing will be chaired by Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky and is open to staff, the public and the media.
According to recent estimates, the ongoing violence in Iraq has created two million refugees who are seeking protection in neighboring Jordan and Syria . The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that 2-3 million Iraqis are internally displaced. Sunni and Shiite insurgent groups commit extremely violent acts against civilians in their efforts to 'cleanse' whole neighborhoods, not sparing women and children.
The large numbers of refugees seeking safe haven in Syria and Jordan are changing the character of entire neighborhoods and creating severe strains on the local economies. These host countries cannot maintain their accommodating refugee policies without international support.
In response to this humanitarian crisis, the US State Department announced on February 5, 2007, the creation of a senior-level task force to address the growing problem of Iraqi refugees and IDPs. Chaired by Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, Paula Dobriansky, the key objectives of the task force are to assist internally displaced Iraqis and Iraqi refugees by building up the capacities of UN agencies and NGOs. The briefing will also discuss realistic expectations for the UNHCR Geneva Conference on Iraqi refugees and IDPs that is scheduled to take place on April 17, 2007.
To discuss these important issues, we will welcome as our expert witnesses:
Representative , U.S. Department of State (invited)
Michel Gabaudan, Regional Representative, UNHCR
Anna Husarska, International Rescue Committee
Lavinia Limon , US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Kristele Younes, Refugees International
Dored Shiba, Iraqi community leader, Skokie , Illinois
We look forward to your attendance at this important event. Please contact
Jeppe Fogtmann (Rep. Lantos) at x6-5295, Molly Miller (Rep. Frank Wolf)
or Megan Brown (Rep. Schakowsky) at x6-6894. For media inquiries, please
contact Lynne Weil at x5-5021.
Tom Lantos, M.C. Jan Schakowsky, M.C. Frank R. Wolf, M.C.
Co-Chair, CHRC Exec. Cmte. Member, CHRC Co-Chair, CHRC
The Congressional Human Rights Caucus
Rep. Tom Lantos
2413 Rayburn HOB
Washington, D.C. 20015
Congressional Human Rights Caucus Members' Briefing
By: Dored Shiba
My name is Dored Shiba, I am an Assyrian American. I am not a member of any political group.
First, on behalf of thousands of voiceless Assyrians throughout the world, I would like to extend their sincere gratitude for giving me this opportunity to express their justified concerns and fear with regard to our government’s plans for the future Iraq and the plight of the Iraqi Assyrians in the light of the anticipated future.
I have just greeted you in the Assyrian language which translates: May Peace Be upon You.
Ladies and gentlemen as the elected representatives of the greatest democracy mankind ever established, I am assuming responsibility to speak on behalf of the remnants of, once, a great nation that ruled over the entire region of the Middle East, but at present, a rather small, helpless, and marginalized people who beg your necessary attention.
It is not in my capacity to brief you about the history of Assyrians; their rise and fall, their considerable contribution to civilization, and their unspeakable calamities. However, the following facts that I am about to state are historically well established and documented.
1- The Assyrians are the indigenous people of today's Iraq.
2- The cradle of civilization is being destroyed.
3- Demographic changes and genocide against my people is an on going occurrence.
If we divide Iraq into three parts, the South, the Center, and the North, and look into the Assyrian Christian population, with all its denominations, we hardly see any Assyrians living in Southern Iraq because of the sectarian fight and the Muslim fundamentalism.
In central Iraq, as you gentlemen know, many churches have been bombed and many priests have been abducted and a few beheaded.
Recently in Baghdad, in the Dora neighborhood, they have been offering protection for Assyrians, the “Protection Tax,” to pay the jizya the poll tax demanded by the Koran, which all Christians and Jews must pay in exchange for being allowed to live.
We as Americans are creating chaos in the region. Mr. Akheqar Odisho was killed in cold blood last August in Northern Iraq, which has been under United States protection since 1991. His killer is free and walking the streets of Nohadra (Dohuk). It is very hard when the claimed oppressed becomes an oppressor. Our people in northern Iraq are being called Christian Kurds and are not allowed to write any signs in their language. They are being striped of their basic human rights. Our land, villages, fields, and properties are being occupied. Our heritage and history is being threatened. Not even in Genghis Khan times have we witnessed this much uprooting. The Kurds are trying to displace us from our ancestral homeland. They are intimidating our people and destroying our history. My People can not mutter a single word; they are scared, frightened, and threatened. When you see a killer walking the streets of your neighborhood, free and with body guards, you would not dare say any thing because you know your fate ahead of time. You will be killed and no one will be arrested. This is the democracy claimed in Northern Iraq. There are secret prisons and people are disappearing in mysterious ways from different parts of Iraq.
If you ask any Assyrian in Iraq if his/her life has improved after the fall of Saddam, they would definitely say NO. Assyrian people are disappearing from their ancestral homeland. Their numbers are dwindling and they are being targeted in northern Iraq. Some one wants Assyrians out of Iraq and they are working very hard and using our protection, the American presence, money and resources to accomplish these goals and to carry out their agenda. They are trying to divide Iraq and destroy the country. They want a referendum and normalization of Kirkuk, but they are forgetting about Nohadra, Zakho, and Arbel. We need to normalize all of Iraq, not only one city. Moreover, Nohadra (Dohuk) is an Assyrian city and we want the same constitution applied there as well. Normalize Dohuk, and let the Assyrians return to their homes, land and villages.
Today we see our Assyrian political parties experiencing intense pressure from the two Kurdish parties to support the idea of annexing the Nineveh plain to the northern part of Iraq.
I do support the call of the Assyrian General Conference, for an Assyria Region in the Assyrian Triangle. We have to be protected and saved just as other ethnicities are. We ask the United States Government to support the establishment of the Assyria Region in Northern Iraq. We are paying the price for being Christians and being supporters of the Coalition forces. The Assyrian, being Christians, are targeted by Islamic fundamentalist groups. They are persecuted for sharing a common religion with the American occupiers and for their alleged loyalty to the West.
Indeed, the Assyrians have always been sympathizers of the Western democratic and cultural values. We need to have our own place to practice, protect, and live in peace with our neighbors.
We need to see one Iraq and one people. We do not want to see our country “America” as the cause of the third world war nor as a cause of division and not unity. We need to leave Iraq and the region in a stabilized condition, not in chaos. I plea to you to help establish the Assyria Region as mentioned by the Assyrian General Conference declaration on March 14, 2007. Please help our people to survive, to flourish and once more contribute to the good of humanity as our forefathers had.
Thank you and may God Bless America and Bless Assyria.
William Yosifov, Vice President, Envoy to the AUA, LARUS
To the Executive of the Assyrian Universal Alliance,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The League of Assyrians of Russia, or LARUS, hereby announces a decision to withdraw from the Assyrian Universal Alliance. After weighing with utmost responsibility all pros and contras of this move, we grudgingly judged it the wisest possible in the current circumstances.
Unfortunately, the latter-day policies of the AUA leadership have been either devoid of action or directly destructive. The AUA is headed by people who put their egoistic calculation and unfounded ambition way before the interests of the Assyrian communities and organizations for whom they are supposed to speak. Most of these people are without national pride. They also ignore the principal chartered pursuit of the AUA, that of bringing about global Assyrian unity -- regardless of political, tribal, confessional, geographic or other divides. The struggle is for unity, not schism of any kind.
These days, we also urge the AUA to focus effort on helping our brothers and sisters in our historical homeland in Iraq. Diasporal solidarity for this purpose would help them survive, preserve the sacred graves of our Assyrian forefathers and keep at least part of our ancestral land for us. Unfortunately, the AUA is now directed by people who dance to the tune of the Kurds. These people, including Dr Kambar, Mr Fawzi Hariri and the entire Darmo clan, are going out of their way to mislead the Assyrian nation to the benefit of their oil-rich masters.
The television channel of Mr Sargon Dadesho is an even more destructive influence. Any Assyrian with a semblance of reasoning will have already cracked Mr Dadesho as a national enemy driven by a megalomaniac ambition to be the father of all Assyrians. His Modesto home from which he seeks to father us is of course a glitzy paradise with comfortable, warm and shiny washrooms on hand. This is a universe away from the conditions of his ethnic kin in Iraq, where they suffer untold misery and lack access to even basic sanitation, leave alone clean water, nutritious food or a living income. The impression is that Mr Dadesho is mentally unwell and needs compassion and medical help.
Why then a sudden decision by the AUA to merge with the organization under him? Naturally, this merger creates a situation in which LARUS can no longer cooperate with the AUA.
All our hope is now pinned on the Nineveh Plains Administrative Area Project. A secure homeland in Iraq would enable the Iraqi Assyrians to improve their social and economic conditions, retain at least part of their ancestral land and save themselves from genocide.
All Assyrians must unite in demanding change that ensures the survival of their people. And unless they speak up as one, the world will not hear them.
The latest executive decision by the AUA runs counter to the founding charter of this group. In an understandable reaction to this, the League of Assyrians of Russia, or LARUS, is hereby informing the executive of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, or the AUA, of its decision to sever ties with the AUA.
The assault on Assyrian Christians
By Paul Isaac, Washington
A militant Islamic group in Iraq recently issued a fatwa, or religious edict, to the Assyrian Christian residents of the Baghdad suburb of Dora: Convert to Islam within 24 hours, or face death. At the same time, Muslim neighbors were instructed, over the loudspeakers of local mosques, to confiscate the property of Christians and enforce the edict.
The response was as swift: The majority of Assyrians remaining in Dora immediately gathered whatever they could carry and fled the city.
Iraq's Assyrian Christians know quite well that these latest threats are not empty promises. Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, over 25 churches across Iraq have been bombed, in highly symbolic and coordinated manners. The Islamic group claiming responsibility for the bombing of four churches in August 2004 issued a warning. "To the people of the crosses: Return to your senses and be aware that God's soldiers are ready for you. You wanted a crusade and these are its results."
Several priests have been abducted and beheaded, one in apparent retribution for the pope's public musings about Muhammed and the nature of Islam in October 2006. In March, two elderly nuns were reportedly stabbed to death in Kirkuk. Several Christian women have been beheaded or doused with chemicals for failing to wear the veil. And last October a 14-year-old Assyrian boy was crucified near Mosul.
For the Islamists, the violence has certainly had the desired effect: The massive exodus of Assyrian Christians from Iraq. The UN High Commission for Refugees estimates that as many as a third of the 1.8 million refugees now outside Iraq are Christian.
A similar percentage of the 1.6 million internally displaced within Iraq are likely Christian, many of whom have fled Baghdad, Basra and Mosul to the relatively stable Northern Iraq. The Catholic Bishop of Baghdad, Andreos Abouna, recently stated that as many as half of Iraqi Christians, perhaps half a million people, have fled the country since the 2003 invasion.
Assyrian Christians, the indigenous people of Iraq, the inheritors of the ancient Mesopotamian civilization and the world's earliest converts to Christianity, are at risk of being completely eradicated from their homeland.
In a case of tragic irony, the "liberating" international forces have done nothing to protect Iraq's Christians. Not wishing to admit the catastrophic security failure nor be seen as intervening on a religious basis, U.S. officials have simply stood aside and watched. The State Department's recent offering of 7,000 visas for refugees is not only woefully inadequate but will merely encourage the flight of Assyrians from Iraq.
The United States has been complicit with the destruction of an entire people and should be held liable for the rectification of this misfortune.
Many Assyrians have pled for the establishment of an autonomous region for Christians in Iraq. This zone would likely be situated around the Nineveh Plains, the Assyrians' ancestral homeland, where Christians still comprise the majority. Sargis Aghajan, the finance minister for the Kurdistan Regional Government and himself an Assyrian, has called for autonomy in the Nineveh Plains. He also has financed the construction of thousands of homes in the area and to the north, to prevent those Assyrians fleeing Baghdad and elsewhere from leaving the country altogether.
In March, I joined 1,200 Assyrian intellectuals and civic leaders, both from the diaspora and around Iraq, in attending a conference in Erbil which formalized Iraqi Christians' demand for autonomy. An autonomous region for Assyrians will convince those remaining in Iraq that their faith, language and way of life has a future in Iraq and persuade many of those who have fled to return.
The Bush administration and its Iraqi allies should support this development and ensure its realization. The fate of an entire people lies in the balance.
Paul Isaac is a member of the Assyrian Christian community in Washington and has been a leading campaigner for Assyrian rights since the invasion of Iraq.
of European Parliament
Question Barazani Regarding the Assyrians
Brussels - ADO -- The Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament met with Mr. Massoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, on Tuesday, 8 May, 2007, where views and opinions were exchanged regarding the Kurdish Region.
Mr. Ablahad Astepho, representative of the Assyrian Democratic Organization – European Office, also attended this meeting. Although only the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee had the right to question and participate in the debates and discussions, the Assyrian–European lobby, through the contacts, in particular of Assyrians from Holland, contributed to the forum by presenting prepared and written questions that were answered by Mr. Barazani.
After a general introduction on the situation of Iraq, twelve questions were posed to Mr. Barazani, five of which dealt with minority rights, especially those of the Assyrians and Turkmen under the control of the Autonomous Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq, and where these minorities fit into the planned referendum for the contested city of Kirkuk.
These questions were asked by Jan Wiersma (PES, NL), Joost Lagendijk (Greens/EFA, NL), Cem ?zdemir (Greens/EFA, DE), Nicholson of Winterbrourne (ALDE, UK), and Istvan Szeut-Ivanyi (ALDE, HU). Mr. Barzani responded by stating that the new Kurdistan Regional Constitution will guarantee the rights of all groups living in Kurdistan and that all groups will be able to vote freely and according to their own conscience in the referendum for Kirkuk.
Additionally, Mr. Barazani underlined that his “government was adamant to adhere to the unity of Iraq as long as every party respected the Iraqi Constitution” and argued that "separation of religion and state is necessary" for a functioning Iraqi state.
Le samedi 28 avril 2007, j’ai donné une conférence à
l’Institut kurde de Paris, en présence de Kendal, de Joyce Blau,
et de nombreux Kurdes, sur le voyage que j’ai effectué du 9 au 24
mars, au Kurdistan irakien.
Le peuple assyro-chaldéen-syriaque vit en paix au Kurdistan autonome, sous la direction de Masoud Barzani, et ses droits politiques, religieux, linguistiques, culturels sont respectés. J’ai remarqué qu’il y avait plus de 40 villages en reconstruction, sous la direction du Ministre de l’économie du Kurdistan, Sarkis Agadjan. Des milliers de familles chrétiennes, assyros-chaldéennes-syriaques, chassées par les fanatiques islamistes de Bassorah, de Bagdad, de Mossoul, trouvent une aide auprès de leurs coreligionnaires du Kurdistan et de la population kurde.
Lors de ce voyage en Irak, j’ai assisté le 12 et le 13 mars au Congrès populaire chaldeo-syriaque-assyrien. J’ai été très heureux d’y participer.
Voici le communiqué final.
Communiqué final du Congrès populaire chaldéo-syriaque-assyrien (Souraya)
Sous la devise : «Les réclamations de nos droits nationaux
constituent une lutte démocratique pour renforcer la fraternité
combative et bâtir le nouvel Irak», s’est réuni un congrès,
dans une atmosphère d’optimisme tendue vers la sécurité
et la stabilité, à l’ombre de l’expérience jeune et
démocratique qui se déploie dans la région du Kurdistan.
À travers cette merveilleuse manifestation démocratique civilisatrice, à laquelle ont participé des milliers d’adhérents dynamiques, de nombreuses personnalités politiques indépendantes et les représentants de différentes institutions civiles, culturelles, sociales, intellectuelles, artistiques, caritatives et des représentants de la jeunesse, s’est révélée l’importance du Congrès, sa position, son orientation unificatrices. Ce Congrès populaire chaldéo-syriaque-assyrien (Souraya), s’est tenu pendant la période du 12-13 mars 2007, et a terminé ses travaux à Ankawa/ Arbil.
Le Congrès a souligné l’importance du programme suivi par le gouvernement irakien pour réaliser la réconciliation nationale, et pour condamner toutes les formes d’actions terroristes. Il a dénoncé le déplacement forcé concernant l’ensemble des composants de notre peuple, tout en mettant l’accent sur son rejet de toute intervention dans les affaires intérieures de l’Irak.
Le Congrès a fait le lien entre le développement de la conscience nationale et patriotique de notre peuple à travers toutes les phases de sa lutte, et entre les transformations survenues en Irak après le 9 avril 2003, ce qui a imposé l’existence d’un besoin urgent visant à unifier les efforts des masses de notre peuple, à organiser ses rangs, afin de pouvoir obtenir ses droits légitimes sur le sol de son pays ; ceci à l’instar des autres communautés et des autres peuples qui ont acquis leurs droits conformément aux lois internationales, et aux conventions de la société internationale, sur la base du principe du droit des peuples à prendre leurs destins en mains.
Le Congrès a pris la décision de former un conseil populaire chaldéo-syriaque-assyrien (Souraya), chargé de suivre l’exécution des résolutions et des recommandations de ce Congrès, et de déployer tous les efforts nécessaires afin d’unifier le discours national. Le Congrès a souligné unanimement le respect de toutes les appellations relatives à notre peuple qui l’ont désigné à travers l’ensemble de ses phases historiques.
Partant de cette vision, les participants au Congrès ont déclaré qu’ils approuvent l’appellation chaldéo-syriaque-assyrien (Souraya), désignant l’ensemble de notre peuple dans la constitution fédérale, ainsi que dans le projet de la constitution du Kurdistan.
Le Congrès a souligné que notre peuple constitue une partie intégrante du peuple irakien dans l’ensemble de ses composants nationaux et religieux, un peuple dont les origines remontent au début de son histoire, un peuple réputé par son patriotisme et par son appartenance à l’Irak.
Il a insisté sur le fait que l’obtention de nos droits se déverse dans le processus politique qui s’efforce de construire un Irak démocratique, fédéral, fait de multiples communautés ; un Irak constitutionnel, croyant en la souveraineté de la loi, dans lequel sont respectés les droits de l’Homme et de la véritable citoyenneté irakienne ; un Irak unifié, dans lequel notre peuple vit main dans la main avec tous les citoyens : Arabes, Kurdes, Turkmènes, Shabaks, Yazidites, Mandéens et Arméniens, dans leurs efforts pour la construction du nouvel Irak, sur la base du principe du dialogue, du consensus, de la compréhension mutuelle, de la cohabitation et du partenariat dans un seul pays.
Sur cette base, le Congrès croit que le processus politique ne peut avancer et ne pourra parvenir à ses objectifs que lorsque toutes les communautés vivant dans la fraternité obtiendront leurs droits légitimes dans un pays unifié, conformément à la constitution et à la loi.
Le Congrès a affirmé l’importance de souligner l’ensemble de nos droits nationaux légitimes, dont l’autodétermination, au sein d’un Irak unifié.
Il a salué le rôle de nos partis et de nos organisations politiques dans la diffusion de la conscience nationale, de la lutte assidue afin d’obtenir nos droits et de déployer nos efforts visant au relèvement de la langue syriaque si enracinée dans notre patrimoine, symbole de notre existence nationale.
Il a insisté sur la nécessité d’unifier nos efforts et de coordonner l’action menée entre toutes les forces politiques de notre peuple et ses institutions civiles, culturelles, sociales et intellectuelles, d’une part, et d’autre part, sur la nécessité d’unifier l’ensemble de ces institutions civiles, quelles que soient leurs orientations, sous une seule direction, notamment celles qui s’occupent de la jeunesse, la force de l’avenir.
Le Congrès a encouragé le gouvernement irakien et le gouvernement de la région du Kurdistan à accélérer leurs actions afin de trouver une solution au problème des déplacés, il a souligné la nécessité de mettre en oeuvre des mécanismes garantissant l’arrêt de l’hémorragie de l’émigration vers l’étranger, qui affecte négativement notre existence nationale et met notre destin en danger.
Il a demandé également de traiter rapidement le problème des changements démographiques survenus dans nos régions historiques, il a réclamé la restitution des villages et des terres confisquées à leurs propriétaires légitimes, et aussi, il a souligné la nécessité de régler ce problème conformément à l’article 140 de la constitution irakienne.
Les participants ont exprimé leurs chaleureux remerciements à tous ceux qui ont apporté à ce congrès leur soutien matériel et moral, dans le but de réussir cette manifestation nationale et civilisatrice. Ils espèrent que ce congrès constituera un pas important dans la bonne direction, qui mènera notre peuple en avant et ancrera ses racines dans les profondeurs de la terre nationale.
Le Congrès populaire chaldéo-syriaque-assyrien (Souraya) a clôturé ses travaux dans la ville d’Ankawa le soir du 13 mars 2007, en adoptant deux mémorandums, établis par les Commissions spécifiques, sur les résolutions émises par le Congrès, concernant les amendements dans la constitution irakienne et le projet de constitution de la région de Kurdistan irakien.
Ephrem-Isa YOUSIF (France)
Posté par ephrem_isa à 12:04 - conferance - Commentaires  - Rétroliens  - Permalien [#]
04 mai 2007
Les Syriaques racontent les croisades
Je suis heureux de vous annoncer que je serai sur France-Culture le dimanche 6 mai, à 8 heures du matin dans l'émission "Foi et traditions des chrétiens orientaux", pour parler de mon dernier livre "Les Syriaques racontent les croisades" http://storage.canalblog.com/38/51/32211/12843793.jpghttp://storage.canalblog.com/38/51/32211/12843793.jpg
Posté par ephrem_isa à 12:06 - 16 avril 2007
Kurdistan Is a Model for Iraq
Our path to a secular, federal democracy is inspired by the U.S.
By MASOUD BARZANI
Iraq's Kurds have consistently been America's closest
allies in Iraq. Our Peshmerga forces fought alongside the U.S. military
to liberate the country, suffering more casualties than any other U.S.
And while some Iraqi politicians have challenged the U.S.-Iraq security agreement, Iraq's Kurdish leaders have endorsed the pact as essential for U.S. combat troops to continue fighting terrorists in Iraq.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is committed to a federal, democratic Iraq that is at peace with its neighbors.
We have benefited enormously from the service and sacrifices of America's armed forces and their families, and we are deeply grateful. We are also proud to have shared in such sacrifices; my brother was among those severely wounded during the liberation of Iraq.
Last year, following a U.S. request, we deployed Kurdish troops to Baghdad. These troops played a decisive role in the success of the surge. Last month I once again visited Baghdad to meet with the leadership of the federal government. We stressed our commitment to developing an Iraqi state that abides by its constitution and that is based upon a federal model with clearly delineated powers for its regions.
In spite of all this, some commentators now suggest that the Kurds are causing problems by insisting on territorial demands and proceeding with the development of Kurdistan's oil resources. These allegations are troubling. We are proceeding entirely in accord with the Iraqi constitution, implementing provisions that were brokered by the U.S.
In the constitutional negotiations that took place in the summer of 2005, two issues were critical to us: first, that the Kurdistan Region has the right to develop the oil on its territory, and second, that there be a fair process to determine the administrative borders of Iraq's Kurdistan Region -- thus resolving once and for all the issue of "disputed" territories.
Unfortunately, ever since the discovery of oil in Iraq in the 1920s, successive Iraqi governments have sought to keep oil out of Kurdish hands, blocking exploration and development of fields in Kurdistan. Saddam Hussein's government went even further, using Iraqi oil revenues to finance the military campaigns that destroyed more than 4,500 Kurdish villages and to pay for the poison gas used to kill thousands of Kurdish civilians.
The Kurdish leadership agreed to a U.S.-sponsored compromise in 2005 in which the central government would have the authority to manage existing oil fields, but new fields would fall under the exclusive jurisdiction of the regions. Since then, the KRG has taken the lead with Baghdad in negotiations on a hydrocarbon law that is faithful to Iraq's constitution and is conducive to modernizing Iraq's oil infrastructure and substantially increasing its oil production.
We have awarded contracts for foreign oil companies (including some American ones) to explore our territory. In so doing, Kurdistan is not threatening the unity of Iraq. It is simply implementing the constitution.
The "disputed territories" have a tragic history. Since the 1950s, Iraqi regimes encouraged Arabs to settle in Kirkuk and other predominantly Kurdish and Turkmen areas. Saddam Hussein accelerated this process by engaging in ethnic cleansing, expelling or killing Kurds and Turkmen, or by requiring nationality corrections (in which non-Arabs are forced to declare themselves to be Arabs) and by moving Arabs into Kurdish homes.
The dispute between Baghdad and the Kurds over Kirkuk has lasted more than 80 years and has often been violent. All sides have now agreed to a formula to resolve the problem, to bring justice to Kirkuk, and to correct the crimes against Kurds committed by Saddam Hussein's regime. Iraq's constitution requires that a referendum be held in disputed territories to determine if their populations want to join the Kurdistan Region. Conducting a plebiscite is not easy, but it is preferable to another 80 years of conflict.
If the pro-Kurdistan side should lose the referendum in Kirkuk, I promise that Kurdistan will respect that result. And if they win, I promise that we will do everything in our power to ensure outsized representation of Kirkuk's Turkmen, Arabs and Christians both on the local level and in the parliament and government of the Kurdistan Region.
Regional stability cannot come from resolving internal disputes alone. That is why expanding and deepening our ties with Turkey is my top priority.
My meeting last month in Baghdad with the Turkish special envoy to Iraq was a historic and positive development. There should be further direct contacts between the KRG and Turkey, as well as multilateral contacts that involve the U.S. We are eager to work with Turkey to seek increased peace and prosperity in the region.
I am proud that the Kurdistan Region is both a model and gateway for the rest of Iraq. Our difficult path to a secular, federal democracy is very much inspired by the U.S. And so we look forward to working with the Obama-Biden administration to support and defend our hard-fought successes in Iraq, and to remain proud of what the Kurdistan region is today: a thriving civil society in the heart of the Middle East. When we insist on strict compliance with our country's constitution, we are only following America's great example.
Mr. Barzani is the president of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
President Elect Barack Obama
from: Orhan Ketene, a Turkmen from Kirkuk (Northern Iraq) living in the US
Nov. 24, 2008
Dear and Honorable Mr. President:
Congratulations on your historical election as the president of the United States of America. Your victory is the triumph of hope, a hope for a good change and a better future for the United States and the world.
I am writing to you not just because you won an election but because you have good intentions and you stand for justice and equality.
As a Turkmen from Northern Iraq, I ask you to pay attention to the plight of the Turkmens who are the second largest community in Northern Iraq and the third largest one in Iraq.
This peaceful and civilized people have been a part of Iraq’s history for at least fifteen centuries and have contributed a lot to this country. Their monuments throughout the history still stand.
Turkmens have always been friendly with neighboring communities in the region. They have shared their wealth and lands with the others for thousand years.
However, for the last nine decades, they have been unjustifiably prejudiced as disloyal to the country and wrongfully portrayed as the fifth column of a neighboring state. They have been under suspicion and have been victims of assimilation and ethnic cleansing campaigns.
Their population, which is in the category of millions, had been ignored and until today, they have been treated as a small minority by every administration in Iraq. My people were and are marginalized and denied their right of self determination, autonomy and any role in the state affairs as well as any high position in the successive governments.
Dear Mr. President; this people are in dire need of justice.
It is helpful to know that Northern Iraq is a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and multi-religious area.
Unlike the rest of the country, which is predominantly Arabic, there are four major distinct groups in the North; the Kurds, the Turkmens, the Arabs and the Chaldo-Assyrians as well as two smaller groups, the Ezdis and the Shabaks.
Northern Iraq includes the ethnic homelands of Kurdistan, Turkmeneli and Assyria. Therefore, each of those communities would like to have their autonomy and the right of self-determination, in order to protect and promote their language and culture.
None of the groups accept to be dominated by the other, but rather through equal partnership between the majors and a fair share for the rest.
The American administration has told Iraqi minorities that they will bring equality to individuals and communities alike. However, they favored one minority only and gave them every thing they dreamed of and more. On the other hand they gave symbolic positions and representations to the Turkmens and the Chaldo-Assyrians.
Moreover, they let this favored minority to dominate the whole of Northern Iraq by force, despite the will of the other components.
The reality in Northern Iraq is; one ethnic homeland of one ethnic group is expanding against the other ethnic homelands.
Unlike what has been portrayed in the western media, Northern Iraq is not a haven for democracy, peace and stability, but rather, a land of mini dictatorships, ethnic discriminations, ethnic cleansing, countless assassinations, unwarranted arrests and torture. Currently, there is a resistance in Northern Iraq against this imposed hegemony which will escalate into a bloody conflict unless equality between all groups is established.
Dear Mr. President;
Turkmens hope to see the United States adhere to its American values and leave a good legacy behind, for this troubled region.
Empowering and enabling those great values will stop terrorism, ethnic intimidation and the drain of wealth. It will bring peace, stability and cooperation between all ethnic groups in Northern Iraq which will make it a good model for the rest of the Middle East region.
I ask you, as a defender of justice and righteousness, to consider the real situation in Northern Iraq and do the right thing to restore Americas’ rightful image.
Thank you for your attention.
Elections Face Crucial Test in Violent Mosul
By IAN FISHER
MOSUL, Iraq — The thud of the car bomb was familiar, if in this case close, rattling the windows and puffing out the drapes.
“This is our fate,” Mohammed Shakir, 67, the top candidate running for the local council with the Iraqi Islamic Party, said post-boom a few days before the provincial elections here. “There is no politics when there is chaos and car bombing.”
Around a largely quiet Iraq, the elections on Saturday — considered crucial as the first widely contested balloting since the American invasion in 2003 — will take place in something like normality.
But in Mosul, the chief city in the north, long torn between Arabs and Kurds, the violence has not ended. A civilian died in this car bombing. A day later a bomb exploded down the street from the Kurdish Democratic Party headquarters, killing four Iraqi soldiers.
This is the test of the provincial elections in Mosul, a last bastion of the Sunni and jihadi insurgency: whether a political system that more closely reflects local ethnic and sectarian splits will be a first step toward stability. The issue is the same in places around Iraq where calm is still fragile: whether democracy can trump violence.
There are some encouraging signs here in Mosul, even if many people fear the elections are simply another means for Arabs and Kurds to continue their bloody struggle over land, oil and sovereignty. Certainly there is no progress on the more threatening issue of Kirkuk, a city to the southeast so full of oil and ethnic tension that elections there were postponed.
But politics are changing here. In the last provincial elections, in 2005, most Arabs boycotted. As a result, Kurdish groups, who make up at most a third of the city, hold 31 out of 41 seats on the provincial council in Mosul and surrounding Nineveh Province. The provinces have broad local authority to spend and govern.
Now the council has 37 seats, and Arabs, represented by two main parties, are expected to win, and Kurds largely accept that — one reason, many here say, that the violence, while still much higher than in most of Iraq, has not flared more. On Thursday night, however, a candidate who is an adviser on tribal affairs to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki was assassinated outside his house in Mosul. But even if it is too dangerous for candidates to shake hands in the streets, where wild dogs rove over rubble and garbage, 55 voter registration stations survived the campaign unscathed.
“People think these elections will be different,” said Maj. Gen. Hassan Kareem Khidir, commander of Iraqi Army operations in Nineveh, who has much to gain from the calm. Outside his fortified office a plaque lists the names of 523 security officers killed just since May. “The major factor in Nineveh is not security or military — it’s political,” he said.
But the full picture is more clouded and complex, a backdrop for the long-running tensions between Kurds and Arabs that many fear may intensify after the elections.
One major struggle is local control, embodied in these elections and which the Kurds advocate, versus the strong central state that Saddam Hussein long used to keep in line Iraq’s Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and other groups.
After the Kurds ruled the city for four years — a time of extreme violence, with the latest killings last fall forcing thousands of Christians to flee Mosul — Kurdish groups readily concede that Arabs should control the city itself.
“Of course the Arabs have the majority here,” said Kisro Goran, 48, the deputy governor, who despite his second-rank title is the most powerful politician in Mosul and is overseeing the campaign for the largely Kurdish grouping Brotherly Nineveh. “We will not collect more than what we are. We are only one-third so we won’t get more than that.”
But he is equally frank that their real goal is winning rural areas outside the city — places where Kurds say they have a majority and that, they argue, should ultimately belong to the nearby autonomous enclave of Kurdistan. The Kurds have long been frustrated by the failure of international promises for a census and referendum to settle Kurdish claims, particularly in Kirkuk.
So Mr. Goran said the elections would serve as their own census, he hoped, to further the Kurds’ agenda.
“We are looking not only to know our political size but our ethnic size,” he said. “How can we know the truth? By democratic means. We don’t want to force any identity on anyone. Voters will choose what identity they want.”
Talk like this infuriates Arabs, who accuse the Kurds of using the elections not for the unity of Iraq but its dissolution. The issues run from impossibly complex — should Yazidis, a non-Muslim Kurdish-speaking minority, count as Kurds? — to explosive.
Atheel al-Nujaifi, leader of the list al-Hudba, a largely Sunni Arab slate that seems set to win the most votes, said that Kurds were using the election to solidify control over areas around the Mosul dam, strategic for water supply and near an oil pipeline. In theory, Arab gains in this election would be a force against what they see as Kurdish expansion — another possible source of conflict. “In these areas they have militias,” said Mr. Nujaifi, 51, a businessman who owns a satellite channel and breeds horses that were favored by Saddam Hussein’s sons. “I am worried the votes won’t be fair.”
“We think the elections are for political parties,” he added. “It’s not for nationalities to decide their final fate.”
And thus these elections are studded with contradictions: On one side, the prospect for fairer representation and less violence in the city. Most parties, Arab and Kurdish alike, are pledging to work together in a possible coalition government after the elections (Mr. Goran, however, has ruled out working with the candidates on the slate from al-Hudba.) On the other side, there appears to be rising suspicion between Arabs and Kurds, worsened by the widening gap, in safety and prosperity, between Iraq proper and Kurdistan.
More and more, the roads out of Mosul feel like an international boundary, with checkpoints and virtual customs stops before the Kurdish cities of Dohuk and Erbil. While Mosul is battened down and tense, Kurdistan is safe and lively, full of construction, car dealerships and nice Turkish washing machines for sale. Arabs say that, despite their holding Iraqi passports, Kurdish pesh merga troops harass them and admit them only grudgingly.
“I went to Erbil the other day and they wouldn’t let me in without somebody guaranteeing me,” said Haithem Abdul-Wahab, 44, as he stretched a huge campaign poster for the Iraqi Islamic Party on an iron frame. “I had an Iraqi flag in my car and they tore it.”
A nearby security guard, Abdullah Wa’ad, 30, shouted out, “We don’t want Kurds in Mosul!”
The feeling is much the same in a disputed village north of Mosul, a few miles from the dam, populated by 21 Kurdish families. The village’s name in Kurdish is Ghani Shireen, but it was given an Arab name, Ain Hilwa, after eight Arab families were forced to move there in 1991 as part of Saddam Hussein’s effort to “Arabize” the area and dilute Kurdish control. The Arab families left after the Americans, allied with the Kurds, arrived in 2003.
Now many worry what it will mean for them with Arabs likely to be in control of the provincial council. Saddiq Abdullah, 48, bitter at having been thrown off his land when the Arabs arrived, said it would be good if these elections helped inch Kurdistan closer to his village.
“Kurdistan is a stable and safe country,” he said. “We would sleep there without bombs or worries.”
But for all the ethnic and sectarian politics, there is a small voice — rising in Mosul and elsewhere in Iraq — that is looking for competence first.
Firas Jamil, 25, a Kurd who owns an electronics shop in Mosul’s barricaded downtown, listed his priorities: better electricity and water; unblocked streets; more jobs; and of course greater safety.
For that, he is turning to al-Hudba, perhaps Arab but in his mind more capable.
“Here we vote for the political party that would serve the interests of the city,” he said, “regardless of ethnic identification.”
Riyadh Mohammed contributed reporting.
The most dangerous place in the world for Christians
By Canon Andrew White
The Christians of Iraq are some of the oldest and long standing Christians in the world. Here among these wonderful people is still spoken the language of our Lord. Ninety-eight per cent of my people at St George’s, Baghdad originate from “Niniwah” (Nineveh) and are the result of the most miserable evangelist ever, who arrived by submarine transportation 2,700 years ago – Jonah. Another miserable person turned up 700 years later called doubting Thomas. He was on his way to India. He told the people that their Messiah had come. They believed him and, to this day, the Christians in Iraq revere Jonah and Mar Thoma.
Yet I look around our church and most of our members (over 2,000) are women and children because our men have been killed or kidnapped. All of our members apart from me are Iraqis and all have suffered terribly. Last year alone, 93 of my people were killed. This year already, five of my people have been killed. All of my original church leaders were killed in 2005 and all Christians in the country who had the means have left and gone to Jordan, Syria or Sweden so that those left behind tend to be the poorer members of the community.
Thus, we are still in the most dangerous place for Christians in the world. Security has slightly improved and some people have returned to places like Dora, but Christians in Iraq are still surrounded by great danger.
I am in a minority here in saying that the war had to happen and Saddam had to be removed, but I was here in Iraq before the last war. I saw the fear and debauchery of the regime. I still do not denounce the war, but what happened afterwards was worse than terrible. It was awful for all but particularly for those groups who are small in number. I do not call them minorities because they themselves object to that term. It does not matter if they are Mandeans, Yazidees, Turkman, Fali Kurds or Christians – they have all suffered, been marginalised and forgotten by the masses.
Proper thought did not take place about the needs or protection of these groups. The fact that these people would be persecuted was to be expected, yet the plans that were needed for their future did not exist. I spent many days in Washington DC and London beforehand and there was a total rejection of any possible religious component to the development of sectarianism. I was told that first water and electricity needed to be dealt with and at a far later date, religion. A few weeks later I was told they could not even deal with water and electricity because religion kept getting in the way.
Religious sectarianism has always potentially been a major issue in Iraq but under the previous regime it did not show its head. The minority Sunni were in control and their first enemy just happened to be the majority Shia. Therefore in previous days the Christians were treated relatively well and given certain freedoms as long as they totally complied.
Today things are different but still people often do not wake up and listen. Hundreds of Christians have been killed, forced to convert or made to pay jezerah tax. On the whole people have not even heard of these problems. I stand in church each week and look at the widows and children without parents. They are my people and I have to provide for them. There is no social security, they need food, clothes and healthcare. They have no money so we have to provide it. I thank G-d that by his grace through our supporters, I have always been able to do this. I might be an Anglican but we do not just give to our own we also give to the Assyrian, Armenian, Chaldean, Syrian Orthodox and to some of the Protestant groups. What we can give though is minuscule compared to the extent of the needs.
Other present solutions could be international political engagement and the support of the Iraqi Government. The International Political community has not done a huge amount to help the Christian community. In reality what it can do is limited. The coalition in Iraq has tried to increase security and protection for the Christians and has done so where possible. In recent months it tried to increase MNFI security around Niniveh when the attacks against Christians escalated and together with the Iraqi Government there was some success. But the Christians have had to be careful about the extent of help it receives from the coalition because many of the terrorist groups have wrongly thought that Christians of Iraq have Western links and are part of a Western religion.
The coalition in Iraq has also failed to understand the nature of Iraqi Christianity. At one stage I was asked by the coalition if it would be possible to establish groups of Christians like the ‘Sunni Awakening’ who would take up arms and would protect the others. This very statement may sound good but it is fundamentally flawed. At no point are Christians like the Sunni community. Very rarely do and would Christians take up arms. Neither do they usually live in communities where the majority are purely Christians and where it is easy to protect a specific area.
Regarding the Iraqi Government, at no point has it ever taken negative action towards Christians. The Iraqi Government does care about its Christians. Members of the Cabinet even regularly come to church. The council and the governor often see how they can help us. But whilst individuals and churches have helped us help the Christians of Iraq, never once has any Christian relief agency ever helped us. It is far too dangerous for them to send people in so they do not help us. It is this point that really frustrates me, that those in some of the greatest need cannot be helped because it is too dangerous to have a presence.
The fact is that it is in the most dangerous places that our fellow Christians need help. It is often said that I have the most dangerous parish in the world. Maybe I do but I will not leave them. Just the other day a famous American preacher said to me the problem is that people have not seen G-d enough like Job did. He said “you have seen G-d in the children of Iraq”. I agree I have, I will never leave these people they are indeed the most wonderful people in the world and they just happen to be Iraqi Christians.
Statement on KRG expansion plans
Recent media reports about the political situation in northern Iraq expose an escalating conflict between the KRG and the Iraqi government. Several Kurdish leaders have expressed themselves in the media, going as far as saying there will be a war between Arabs and Kurds if the government continues to assert its authority in areas bordering the Kurdish dominated region.
In their comments Kurdish leaders fail to reflect the true nature of the areas bordering the KRG. In many of these so called disputed areas there are very few Kurds to be found. In the Nineveh plain for example the percentage of Kurds is at best 5 percent. Still, Kurdish leaders insist these areas be annexed to the KRG. In fact, the stretch of land bordering the KRG is mostly dominated by Turkmens and minorities such as Yezidies, Assyrians, Shabaks and Kakais. Instead of acknowledging this fact Kurdish political groups have launched a fierce campaign to describe minorities like Yezidies and Shabaks as Kurds, while carrying out different programs in an attempt to Kurdify these minority populations. While oppressed in the past, Iraq’s Kurdish political parties have grown to become themselves the new oppressors in Iraq - seen from the perspective of minorities.
The Kurdish Peshmerga forces were successful in the help against Saddam Hussein as part of the Iraqi liberation movement, but today we note with sadness the transformation of the Peshmerga into a militia which is used to enforce Kurdish expansion plans in non-Kurdish settlements against the will of the inhabitants of these areas. The Peshmerga is today used to instil fear in minority communities in order to ensure compliance with KRG expansion scheme. Any referendum on the future of so called disputed areas carried out under Peshmerga presence will not be free and fair.
From being a centre of stability the KRG has turned itself into the major source of instability in Iraq today. While most of Iraq is becoming increasingly secure for all Iraqis, including vulnerable non Muslim communities such as Assyrians and Yezidies, the expansion plans of the KRG threatens to destabilize Iraq, its neighbouring countries and severely affect the vulnerable minorities who live in the areas claimed by Kurdish groups.
The undersigned organizations call on the KRG to refrain from all acts of violence and withdraw its forces from all areas outside the KRG. We also call on Kurdish leaders to respect the rights of minorities, to stop interfering in their internal issues and to stop describing Yezidies and Shabaks as Kurds.
We hope the UN and the EU will hear the calls of Iraqi minorities for justice and respect of their rights in Iraq.
Assyria Council of Europe
Iraqi Turkmen Human Rights Research Foundation
Yezidi Human Rights Organization
Shabak Democratic Assembly
the election eliminate the domination of the 2 leading parties?
By Mufid Abdulla
If words and actions are what defines our Kurdish leaders then the last week has given us the full measure of the KDP and PUK coalition and alliance in their responses and campaigning in the upcoming election on the 25th July 2009. The nature of the campaign and ferocity of the two leading Kurdish parties have not only surprised the public but also their friends. For example, we have seen evidence of Jalal Talabani who despite being older in age and perhaps not in the best state of health physically, has been travelling widely, conducting ongoing meetings, in an almost desperate and painful campaign, obviously in an attempt to restore the trust of the people. The KDP is only run at the moment by six main members because the four other politburos resigned in February 2009. The PUK anger and frustration is obvious and this is having the adverse effect of raising suspicion and dissatisfaction amongst the mass of the people. People are very unhappy and dislike the two main parties greatly for not doing their job properly and for the widespread corruption. The Kurdish public need political leadership, not ‘play politics’ for a few people.
If we go back and study the clips of all the opposition Kurdish leaders from socialist parties to the Islamic party, Toiler party and others, they have all stated that Kurdistan needs change, but our question is who is going to lead that change and how can it best be achieved?
In the south of Kurdistan, the party politics no longer object but belong to the enduring people. The 1991 uprising was achieved by the sparking of anger from the mass of the people rather than by political parties and we have now realised the essential need over the last so many years to do something, anything.
Jalal Talabani’s PUK is not only weak but has also lost a lot of grounds with his grassroots and leadership which we have seen for the last several years has been following the wrong strategy. Talabani’s leadership has resulted not in enhancing the PUK rank and leadership but instead has generally destroyed the structure of the party. For example, instead of negotiating and reaching an agreement with these openings within the party and leaving a space for reform and change, contrarily, what he has done is blocked all opportunities for negotiation and ignored all of his enemies within the party. Talabani’s actions are evidence of the wrong strategy. Let us remember the saying, ‘Keep your friends close but your enemies closer’. The second man in the PUK has not only been ignored but has also had his ideas and projects abandoned which have claimed and asked for reform in all aspects inside the PUK for a long time.
There are several qualifications we can conclude form the above:
1. The PUK leadership, instead of taking the logical route to unite the party and bring back all the people who have been upset and left the party have not done so but instead have carried out a hidden strategic agreement with the KDP at the expense of their friends and alliances. This strategy has obviously caused the PUK many adverse problems and this, combined with the drastically reduced size of the party, means it is obvious to everybody that the PUK is no longer in charge of the Presidency, Parliament and the main key Ministers of Kurdistan. Talabani should have reached an agreement with Nawshirwan Mustafa long ago to bring him back and make him a beacon of a symbol for hope and change.
2. Nawshirwan Mustafa and ‘The Change Group’ have at last concluded that the only way out from the massive disaster inside the PUK is to work outside the PUK to challenge change and update Kurdish nationalism, hope and aspirations. That is the reason for Nawshirwan Mustafa’s hostility towards the leaders of the PUK, his reluctance to talk and negotiate with them and his independent participation in the upcoming election.
The future of the KDP and PUK is adrift. As a nation we should teach our politicians about work and action. ‘The Change Group’, which belongs to Nawshirwan Mustafa’s leadership, has advocated the policies and ideas of reform and the need to adjust the political stretcher in the south of Kurdistan. The Wusha Company, incorporated by Nawshirwan Mustafa, has become a symbol of the only hope and revolution in the south of Kurdistan to bring about change despite the very limited resources accessible to Nawshirwan Mustafa compared to his enemies.
The KDP and PUK are presently controlling almost all of the airwaves with ten satellites which are on air 24 hours a day compared with Nawshirwan Mustafa’s station KNN which is only on air for 6 hours. According to close friends of Nawshirwan Mustafa’s, they have confirmed to me that he is extremely confident and hopeful that he will win a lot of seats in the Kurdish election. Even if this does not happen, the main point is that he has sown the main seeds of revolution for change which will be growing and spreading day by day.
3. The KDP will not be comfortable with regards to all this progress over the last several months. Not only do they dislike Nawshirwan Mustafa but they are working to undermine and dismantle his and his group’s policies and objectives. The KDP is traditionally a tribal party, mainly run by the Barzani family. For the first time, a member of the KDP committee leadership, Jawhar Namiq, came out of that party several years ago and is now allied to Nawshirwan Mustafa for the upcoming election. So, the KDP are facing a crisis as well. We must all know that there are solid reasons for the way we are thinking and the need for a sustained recovery from corruption which we have to be realistic about, it will take a long time and will not happen overnight.
Finally, we are in a time where there are strong feelings of hope and anger by the Kurdish general public, feelings which we are actively using to promote change. If the mass of people win this election it will be the start of the rebuilding of our nation and country brick by brick.
Stoked Between Iraqi Kurds and Sunnis
By SAM DAGHER
BASHIQA, Iraq — Tensions between Sunni Arabs and Kurds are boiling over in Nineveh, the northern Iraqi province that includes Mosul, as Kurds fight the result of a provincial election in January that shifted power to Arabs.
New York Times
The governor of Nineveh was prevented from entering Bashiqa.
Though strains between the groups are not new, in recent days Kurdish forces have blocked Arab officials from carrying out their duties, in a sign that the Kurds refuse to recognize the regional government’s sovereignty over all of Nineveh. The Kurds have also pressured districts under their control to boycott the new Arab governor, and they said they might even resort to military force unless they were given several positions in the government.
American officials have long feared a military conflict in the north, where Arabs and Kurds have competing claims to territory and have legions of trained men under arms. The struggle for power has also fueled the insurgency in the north, giving groups like Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia an opening to appear to back an Arab cause. And it comes as American combat troops are scheduled to withdraw from Iraqi cities by the end of June.
It is unclear whether the tensions will escalate, but several episodes in recent weeks have raised concerns. On May 8, the newly elected Sunni Arab governor, Atheel al-Nujaifi, was prevented by Kurdish forces from entering Bashiqa, a Kurdish-controlled town northeast of Mosul. The governor said he received a call from an Iraqi officer in the joint Iraqi-American command center in Mosul informing him that the Kurds had issued a “shoot to kill” order against him if he went to Bashiqa. The episode ended when the governor turned back to Mosul.
The Kurds denied they had issued the order but said they were under instructions from the leadership in the semiautonomous Kurdistan region to halt Mr. Nujaifi’s advance. Last Wednesday, hundreds of armed Kurds stopped the Nineveh police chief, a Sunni Arab, from crossing a bridge into a disputed area of the province under Kurdish control. His convoy included Iraqi soldiers and police officers. A witness described the standoff, which lasted almost three hours before the police chief’s retreat, as “frightening.”
On Saturday, Kurdish military forces fanned out on the road to Zumar, an area northwest of Mosul, following a rumor that the governor might visit, according to a local tribal leader. And on Sunday, a car bomb went off near the governor’s residence in Mosul, killing a police officer, though it was unclear who was behind the bombing.
For almost five years, Kurds dominated the provincial government in Nineveh despite the fact that Arabs make up a majority of the population. The Kurds’ grip on power was aided by the thousands of Kurdish forces that were sent to the province with American approval to shore up security in what remains one of the most violent spots in Iraq.
Last month Mr. Nujaifi, a wealthy businessman with ties to powerful Arab tribes, members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party and possibly insurgents, was chosen as the new governor. His predominantly Sunni Arab coalition, Al Hadba, which won 19 of the 37 seats on the provincial council, froze out the second-place Kurdish coalition from all senior positions in the new government.
The Kurds responded by boycotting the government, and they are now threatening to escalate the conflict unless they are given the posts of deputy governor and provincial council chairman.
Mr. Nujaifi says there will be no talks with the Kurds unless they recognize Nineveh’s administrative borders and pull their forces back to behind the so-called Green Line, Iraqi Kurdistan’s boundary before the American-led invasion in 2003.
The Kurds reject that request and say they will not budge before the fate of disputed territories north of Mosul is settled. They say they trust neither Mr. Nujaifi nor the central government in Baghdad, led by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, which has been seeking to assert its authority in northern Iraq at the expense of the Kurds. “We do not trust these people, we know their intentions,” said Khasro Goran, the Nineveh leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the most powerful Kurdish force on the ground.
Mr. Nujaifi recently called for Sunni insurgents to curtail attacks against American soldiers as they pull out from joint Iraqi-American garrisons in Mosul to Marez, their big base on the outskirts of town. He said that the insurgents “seemed to have responded” to his call, but that controlling Sunni Arab anger against Kurds might be more difficult.
Joost Hiltermann, an analyst who is advising the United Nations on territorial disputes in northern Iraq, said the Kurds had more of an interest in escalating the conflict. “It could be of Kurdish interest to provoke confrontation in order to persuade the Americans that if they abandon the Kurds, the consequences would be dire,” said Mr. Hiltermann, a senior Iraq analyst at the International Crisis Group.
The American military has played down the significance of the recent Kurdish actions.
Meanwhile, residents here on the Nineveh Plain, a mix of ethnic and religious groups, are bracing for the worst. A checkpoint staffed by Kurdish military forces on the highway between Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan’s capital, and Mosul was recently moved closer to Mosul. Kurdish observation posts along the plain’s roads and hilltops have also been fortified. Near Bashiqa, dirt shields several roadside military outposts. Machine guns could be seen on the roofs of some buildings.
Mr. Goran said that no new forces were brought in, but that those “on vacation” inside Kurdistan were told to come back because of the heightened alert. "We are a small sect, we do not want trouble,” said Khodr Elias, 49, a resident of Bashiqa, which is dominated by Yazidis, an ancient Kurdish-speaking sect. “We are squeezed between Arabs and Kurds, and we cannot open our mouths.”
Kurds also appear to be pressing people in Christian enclaves of the plain to not recognize the governor. In the towns of Tal Keif and Qaraqosh, municipal officials who want to cooperate with the government in Mosul say they are impotent in the face of a heavy Kurdish security presence.
Comments by a senior Kurdish police officer in Qaraqosh illustrated the problem. “We have terrorists in power,” said the officer, who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to speak with reporters. “God willing, there will be confrontation; otherwise there will be no solution.”
Mohamed Hussein contributed
reporting from Baghdad.
Iraqi Kurds sees Turkey as viable partner
BRUSSELS - Daily News with wires While the United States has always been a crucial ally for Iraqi Kurds, the prospect of losing Washington as their direct protector is compelling Kurdish leaders to approach Turkey as the only viable alternative, according to a report.
The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based American think tank, said in a report titled “Iraq and the Kurds: Trouble Along the Trigger Line” that Kurdish leaders began to talk openly concerning the need to deal with Turkey since 2007 and quoted an unnamed Kurdish official as saying: “We have the right to be independent, but if that doesn’t work out, then I’d rather be with Turkey than Iraq.”
It expressed the consistent improvement of the relations between the Regional Kurdish Administration in northern Iraq and Ankara following the re-election of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP.
“If the Shiites choose Iran, and the Sunnis choose the Arab world, then the Kurds will have to ally themselves with Turkey,” the report quoted Fuad Hussein, chief of staff of Massoud Barzani, the leader of the regional administration in northern Iraq, as saying. “In turn, Turkey will need the Kurds in that case. We are compelled to be with Turkey, and from Turkey’s perspective they have no other friend or partner in Iraq.”
He also noted that Kurdish officials are convinced that U.S. President Barack Obama will act in accordance with the timetable he announced, adding that Kurdish leaders are of the opinion that Iraq will collapse in the aftermath.
Under these circumstances, he said, Kurds will avail Turkish protection. He added that Turkey, in return, will attain the opportunity of having direct access to the huge oil and gas reserves in the Kurdish region. “Turkey will have Kirkuk indirectly. It’s the only way for Turkey to get it,” Hussein said.
The report underlined the point that although Barzani has not yet held talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an and Turkish President Abdullah Gül, senior Kurdish officials have had contacts with Turkish officials several times.
“These developments have revived the notion of ‘Mosul vilayet,’ Iraq’s old Mosul province to which post-Ottoman Turkey laid claim,” noted the report, highlighting the point that “the impetus is coming not from Turkish nationalist circles but from the Kurdish side, even at senior levels.”
Meanwhile, the report also included the expressions of both Kurdish and Turkish officials regarding the betterment of relations between the two parties without citing their names.
“We have the right to be independent, but if that doesn’t work out, then I’d rather be with Turkey than Iraq, because Iraq is undemocratic,” said a senior Kurdish leader.
The best way forward, he said, was for the Kurdish region “to join Turkey as part of a new ‘Mosul vilayet’ and for Turkey to join the EU, with a solution for the situation of the Kurds in Turkey.”
The report underscored Ankara’s hesitation to the idea of Turkey’s formal incorporation of Iraqi Kurds as it quoted remarks from an unnamed Turkish official in regards to Ankara’s stance toward the issue.
“An economic confederation with the Kurds of Iraq will be possible in the future, but it would have to be a de facto, not a de jure arrangement,” the Turkish official said. The official underlined that Turkey wants a united Iraq. “Iraq is like a barometer of the ethnic and sectarian balance in the region. But economic incentives are possible,” the official said. He noted that Turkey might make its border with the Kurdish areas more flexible through agreements and thereby establish a free trade zone.
Ankara, which does not want Iran to increase its influence over Iraq, seeks to boost its ties with Baghdad in order to strengthen the central government in the country, according to the report. On the other hand, Turkey aims to diminish Iranian influence in the south through opening a consulate in Basra, said the report.
The report pointed to a dilemma that Turkey confronted regarding the developments in Iraq, noting that Turkey has no clear-cut idea of the upcoming situation that will shape the country in the aftermath of the military withdrawal of U.S. soldiers. Against this kind of background, the report said, Ankara does not know “whether it should place all its eggs in Baghdad’s basket, risking alienating the Kurds, or bolster the Kurdish authority in order to create a buffer between itself and a future Iraq under strong Iranian influence, thus angering Baghdad.”
“In effect, it is hedging its bets and balancing relations with both sides,” the report added.
Turkey only ‘viable alternative’ for Iraqi Kurds, says ICG
Turkey emerges as the only viable alternative for Iraq's Kurds as the US, their main protector against the Baghdad government and neighboring states, prepares to withdraw from Iraq, and amid growing tension in their ties with the Baghdad government, an international think tank has said in a report.
The report, titled “Iraq and The Kurds: Trouble Along The Trigger Line,” and drawn up by the International Crisis Group (ICG), was released in Brussels on Wednesday. It mainly focuses on the ongoing tension between the federal government in Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government in Arbil. While analyzing the roots of the tension, the report also casts a probable role for Turkey in various scenarios.
Fouad Hussein, Massoud Barzani's chief of staff, was quoted in the report as saying: “If the Shiites choose Iran, and the Sunnis choose the Arab world, then the Kurds will have to ally themselves with Turkey. In turn, Turkey will need the Kurds in that case. We are compelled to be with Turkey, and from Turkey's perspective they have no other friend or partner in Iraq. We don't love each other, but we don't need to. If the Americans withdraw soon without [mediating] a good political arrangement [for the Kurds] with Baghdad, there will be conflict, and then Turkey will have no choice.”
In the report, the ICG elaborates on the Iraqi Kurdish people's concerns over their situation after US withdrawal from Iraq, with Iraqi Kurdish leaders agreeing that withdrawal would be calamitous for Iraq, including the Kurdish region.
“Historically, the Kurds have been caught between the needs to fight to protect their national movement -- an endeavor that has forced them into the mountains and inflicted huge damage on their people -- and to seek accommodation with stronger actors surrounding them. In either case, they require a reliable protector, and this they have never had. Iran's support in 1974-1975 proved fickle. US post-1991 protection was never fully satisfying, even if it kept the Kurdistan region safe. The Kurds had greater hopes for US support after 2003, but while Washington provided unprecedented political space for them to operate in Iraq, their leaders complained that the US should have done more in support of their main goal, which has been to incorporate Kirkuk,” the report summarized.
Supporters of Kurdistan Menu, led by Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, wave Kurdish flags in Arbil, northern Iraq. The ICG says an alliance with Turkey could be the only alternative for Kurds as the US prepares to withdraw from Iraq.
“Still, Iraqi Kurds have flourished like none of their regional brethren, enjoying both protection and development, however uneven. The prospect of the loss of the US as their direct protector against both Baghdad and neighboring states -- just as the [Prime Minister Nouri] Maliki government is seeking to reverse some of the KRG's [Kurdistan Regional Government] territorial gains -- is now forcing Kurdish leaders to view one of those states, Turkey, as the only viable alternative, even if the US retains a residual military presence,” the report, then, suggested.
Ankara has long accused Iraqi Kurds of turning a blind eye to the presence of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) within its territory. Bilateral relations between Iraq and Turkey entered a new phase after a landmark visit to Ankara by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in early March 2008. Before that, Talabani, elected president in 2005, had visited Ankara in September 2004 as then-president of the governing council of Iraq. Talabani's visit was followed by a visit to Baghdad by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an in summer 2008.
Massoud Barzani, head of the largely autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq, has long been viewed with suspicion in Turkey for tolerating the PKK presence in northern Iraq, but in a sign of a thaw, the government initiated diplomatic-level dialogue with the Kurdish leader in February 2009, before President Abdullah Gül's landmark official visit to Baghdad in March. The visit made him the first president from Turkey to visit neighboring Iraq in 33 years.
According to the ICG: “Turkey may be a traditional Kurdish enemy, but it has the great advantage of offering a lifeline to Europe, an export channel for the Kurdistan region's oil and gas trade and investment for its booming economy and protection from the one old enemy the Kurds distrust even more -- Baghdad. Kurdish leaders started talking openly about the need to deal with Turkey in 2007, after the re-election there of the Justice and Development Party [AK Party]; relations have improved steadily since then, despite repeated Turkish bombardments of suspected bases of the Kurdistan Workers' Party in northern Iraq. The relationship is based on recognition that Turkey and the KRG may need each other.”
Citing several meetings between Turkish and KRG officials, the report suggested that both sides have stressed the need for a process of confidence-building steps that would lead to an agreement on relations, including Turkey's formal recognition of the KRG.
“Surprisingly, these developments have revived the notion of ‘Mosul vilayet,' Iraq's old Mosul province to which post-Ottoman Turkey laid claim. However, this time the impetus is coming not from Turkish nationalist circles but from the Kurdish side, even at senior levels. A KRG minister said, ‘We have the right to be independent, but if that doesn't work out, then I'd rather be with Turkey than Iraq, because Iraq is undemocratic.'The best way forward, he said, was for ‘the Kurdistan region to join Turkey as part of a new Mosul vilayet and for Turkey to join the EU, with a solution for the situation of the Kurds in Turkey,'” the report explains, while, however, noting that Ankara officials have made clear that Turkey's formal incorporation of an additional population of Kurds would be undesirable and politically inconceivable.
“An economic confederation with the Kurds of Iraq will be possible in the future, but it would have to be a de facto, not a de jure arrangement. We want Iraq to remain unified. Iraq is like a barometer of the ethnic and sectarian balance in the region. But economic incentives are possible. Via agreement with Baghdad, we can make our border with the Kurdish areas flexible and create an economic zone,” a Turkish official, nonetheless, told the ICG.
need to address Human Rights Abuses
of Indigenous populations in Northern Iraq
paper presented by SOITM (Iraqi Turkmen Human Rights Research Foundation) to
Council of Human Rights, Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
2nd Session, 10th – 14th August 2009 - Switzerland – Geneva
Agenda Item 4a: Implementation of the Declaration at the regional and national levels
Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Iraq is currently facing a challenging chapter in its history. Establishing and enforcing rule of law, maintaining security and stability and ensuring the fundamental rights of its people, particularly the Indigenous peoples are protected are not easy tasks to achieve. Despite the relative stability established in northern Iraq, there remains a bleak human rights situation in the region that requires the urgent attention of the UN Human Rights Council.
Sectarian conflict, extreme nationalism and a lacking democratic norms have hampered the reconciliation process in Iraq, particularly in northern Iraq. A state of insecurity after occupation has lead to a significant deterioration of human rights conditions of the indigenous populations of Iraqi.
Northern Iraq is a country with a mosaic of multi-ethnic and multi-religious communities. It consists of Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, Chaldea-Assyrians, Yazidis and Shabaks. The non-Kurdish communities make up the majority of the population. Following the invasion of Iraq, the region was ruled by occupation forces and Kurdish Peshmerga militias. The subsequent administration established in northern Iraq has been disproportionally dominated by Kurdish authorities.1 Non-Kurdish groups are consistently alienated from political dialogue, with demographic and electoral manipulation having resulted in increased Kurdish domination of the region.2
The mass in-migration of Kurdish families to regions, which have been historically populated by Iraqi indigenous populations, resulted in the increased marginalization of non-Kurdish populations, including the Turkmen, as well as significant demographic changes in the region. The peoples have since been subjected to assimilation policies, targeted violence and harassment.
Reports continue to indicate that non-Kurdish communities, their politicians and activists are being suppressed, intimidated, arrested, abused and in some cases executed.3 Some examples include:
Relating to those of Arab ethnicity, Dr. Sabri Aba Al-Jabbar, from Kerkuk, spoke out against Article 140 and was subsequently kidnapped and killed in late October 2007.4
Relating to the Turkmen, on 27 May 2009, Mr. Saleh Ibrahim was kidnapped by the security agents (Asayish) of KUP. He was exposed to severe torture before he was rescued. On 29 May 2009, Mr. Istabraq Yazaroglu’s home in Taze Khurmatu was subjected to gun shots. Yazaroglu is deputy of the chief of Turkmen Student Union. He played important role in defending Mr. S. Ibrahim. On 1 June 2009, a Turkmen shop was shot by Kurdish police Colonel Abdullah Kadir and his guards. Four were severely injured, the condition of two of them was critical. On 14 May 2009, two Turkmen were shot in the city of Tuz Khurmatu. Mr. Alaa Sabir Mecid was killed and Mr. Abd al-Hadi Kalandar Shahbaz was injured.
Regarding the Chaldeo-Assyrian community, they are frequently exposed to attacks and intimidations in the areas where the Kurdish soldiers dominate.5
The Shabaks of Nineveh face oblivion as a people, targeted politically by Kurdish authorities with claims on their land.6 Mr. Kadhim Abbas, from Shabak minority, who was a fierce opponent of the recent demographic changes in Mosul, was killed at July 13th, 2008.7
Yazidi politicians who are disloyal to the Kurdish authorities are unable to visit their constituencies for fear of assassination. Many Yazidi politicians and activists have been arrested, persecuted and intimidated. Relatives of the Yazidi activists out of Iraq are arrested and intimidated.8
These brutal actions go un-investigated and un-challenged by Iraqi Government authorities, United Nation Office and International human rights organizations. As such we are asking the United Nations to increase their attention and action against human rights abuses in northern Iraq.
Mr. President, while we recognize the harsh challenge of monitoring human rights in current-day Iraq it should be said that it is vital to remain vigilant about human rights situations when peace and stability are at their worst. Therefore in view of the above stated information, we urge the UN Human Rights Council to:
· Increase its monitoring of the human rights situation in northern Iraq, including:
o increased communication and bilateral cooperation between the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Iraq;
o Establishment of UNAMI offices in Mosul city, Nineveh plain, Tuz Khurmatu, Khanaqin and Mendeli regions
· Call upon all relevant Special Procedures Mandate Holders to include the following concerns when reporting back to the UN Human Rights Council in relation to the situation in Iraq:
o Adequate representation of all ethnic and minority groups in regional administrations;
o Impartiality of all police and military bodies in northern Iraq;
o Adequate consideration for
all concerns brought forward by relevant stakeholders, including all ethnic
groups such as the Turkmen, Chaldea-Assyrians, Yazidis, Shabaks and Arabs.
1 SOITM report entitled “US-made Kerkuk City Council decides once again in favor of the Kurds”, http://members.lycos.nl/soitum/USA-madeKCP.pdf
2 “Letter of a Group of 12 Iraqi Community Leaders”, http://members.lycos.nl/soitum/ThBa1.pdf. and, Iraqi Turkmen Front Elections Committee, http://www.turkmen.nl/1A_soitm/ITFEC.doc
3 Shamiran Mako, “The Current Situation of the Indigenous Assyrians of Iraq” http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/minorities/docs/11/Assyrian_3a.doc
4 Aljeeran, website of the association of Iraq and Kuwit, “Ignored by Kurdish political parties, the inhabitants of the Kerkuk attends the condolence ceremony of Abd al-Sattar Tahir Sharif”, 7 March 2008, http://www.aljeeran.net/wesima_articles/reports-20080307-98907.html
5 Assyrian International News Agency, “Kurdish Involvement Suspected in Attacks on Assyrians in Mosul”, 10-17-2008, http://www.aina.org/releases/20081017000537.htm
6 BBC interview with Hunain al-Qaddo, “Crushing Iraq's human mosaic”, July 2007, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/6293230.stm
7 SOITM Foundation, “To the international community: The Iraqi people are in severe need of your help”, 13 July 2008, http://www.turkmen.nl/1A_soitm/PR.20-G1308a.doc
8 SOITM Foundation, “Kurdish authorities and Iraqi Indigenous populations: the suppression of Iraqi Yazidis”, 27 October 2008, http://www.turkmen.nl/1A_soitm/Rep.29-J2708.doc
By Rosie Malek-Yonan
Los Angeles (AINA) -- What will you do if a loved one is kidnapped? To what extreme will you go to see them returned safely? Will you pay a kidnapper to have your child returned? What will you do if the authorities do not mount an investigation? Will you give in to the demands of the kidnappers? How much will you pay to have your teenage son returned? What if you can't come up with the thousands of dollars being extorted for the return of a brother or sister? Would you pay the ransom knowing there is a chance you would still never see your abducted father or mother?
These are not just hypothetical questions. They are questions Assyrians have been forced to reconcile with since the onset of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. The targeted kidnapping of Assyrian Christians in Iraq has been big business and will continue to escalate with the U.S. withdrawal from the region.
How to pay for the release of a loved one is a monumental concern for those who have no means to pay the kidnappers. On the other hand, paying off kidnappers in Iraq carries a greater ramification as the U.S. treats these Assyrian victims as colluding with Islamic terrorists.
But what if you didn't have the means to pay the ransom? What then? This is the anguish Yonan Daniel Mammo's family has been living with since his abduction several weeks ago.
Yonan is married and has two small children. They live in the Assyrian neighborhood in Kirkuk. Yonan's sister and brother also live in the area. His children have no idea why they have been separated from their father, though I suspect his six-year-old daughter will most likely understand more than her two-year-old brother. She is old enough to know her mother's tears are caused by her father's absence.
Yonan graduated with a bachelor's degree in English from Baghdad University. He worked at Hammurabi Exchange Office on Al-Jamhwaria Street in Kirkuk and supported his family on a modest salary of $300 a month.
At 8 pm on 29 July 2010, when Yonan left his place of work, four armed gunmen jumped out of a BMW in front of the Exchange Office and took the Assyrian man as hostage. According to witnesses, Yonan was stuffed in the trunk of his abductor's vehicle. That evening, Yonan's family waited for his return. There was no sign of him. The family clung to hope and prayer. Nothing else was in their power. With the dawn of a new day, their hopes were shattered.
On 30 July 2010, the Muslim kidnappers used Yonan's own cell phone to contact the family. Yonan was allowed to briefly speak with his family. He informed them that he was taken against his will. The kidnappers then demanded ransom in the amount of USD $150,000 for Yonan's safe release. When the phone went dead, Yonan's family realized their nightmare had already begun. Countless Assyrians had been kidnapped. They knew all the stories. All the lives that had been cut short. And now the tragedy was theirs to live through.
Yonan's family did not have the means to come up with this kind of money. Two weeks dragged on. When on 14 August 2010, the kidnappers realized that this was an impossible amount for the family to raise, they lowered their demand to USD $100,000.
On 23 August 2010, sources informed me that the local police in Kirkuk raided several locations in the city in search of Yonan but came up empty-handed. There has been no other contact with the kidnappers.
This Assyrian tragedy has not come to an end yet. Yonan's future rides on the morals of his hostage takers as his family continues to hold on to hope that perhaps they will be able to raise the money to buy back Yonan's freedom.
The Assyrian tragedy in Iraq is the hidden carnage that the world has chosen to ignore. But what of the role of the elected Assyrian officials in Iraq? What are their responsibilities towards members of their nation in these cases? Why are they not publicly demanding the release of Yonan? Why are they not publicly demanding a full investigation? Why are they silent when so many Assyrians continue to suffer in this manner? Why is Yonan's release not being negotiated with the kidnappers? Why must the family remain in isolation and live in fear of further retaliation from the kidnappers?
One family member writes in frustration, "Why am I Assyrian? Why am I Christian?" These are questions of frustration that stem from Islam's intolerance of the Assyrian nation in Iraq.
What if Yonan were your father, brother, son, husband or friend? What would you do?
Rosie Malek-Yonan is an Assyrian actress, director and author of The Crimson Field. She is an outspoken advocate of issues concerning her nation, in particular the Assyrian Genocide and the plight of today's Assyrians in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. On June 30, 2006, she was invited to testify on Capitol Hill about the genocide and persecution of Assyrians in Iraq. The study of the Assyrian Genocide globally absent from the curriculum of educational institutions changed when in 2009 the SUNY system (State University of New York) added "The Crimson Field," to its curriculum for a World Literature class. She has worked with many of Hollywood's leading actors and directors. She played the role of Nuru in New Line Cinema's "Rendition." To schedule an interview with her please send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Member, Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO)
The 27th World Congress
Erbil, Iraq December 2-4, 2010
The 27th World Congress of the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) took place in Erbil, Iraq from December 2 through December 4, 2010, with the participation of Assyrian representatives from around the world. After extensive, elaborate and open discussions on the condition of Assyrians on both the ancestral lands and in the Diaspora or exile, the following resolutions were unanimously approved.
WHEREAS, the Assyrian Universal Alliance,
a representative body of Assyrian organizations worldwide, a) considers
Iraq, the birthplace and ancestral land of the Assyrian nation, a very
special and holy land in which God chose to establish His Garden of Eden
where he placed Adam and Eve, His first creations, the proud birthplace
of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires whose people gave the world its
first civilization and the Code of Law, a land whose people developed one
of the first written languages, a land whose awe-inspiring archaeological
artefacts adorn the museums of the western world, a land whose scientists,
philosophers and learned people have contributed so much to the human civilization
and mankind; and
b) observes that Iraq is a land whose inhabitants have endured many wars, injustices and heartbreaking suffering regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or political affiliation; and
c) is deeply and acutely concerned with the situation of Assyrians in their homeland, where Assyrians are not recognized as the indigenous people of the Federal Republic of Iraq, but rather as a religious minority; and
d) strongly condemns the intolerable denial of equal rights of our people in Iraq, and deplores all acts of persecution, terrorism, beheadings, kidnappings, extortion and killings committed against them, and particularly our religious figures, causing massive and disproportionate internal displacements and forced migration of our people from Iraq; and
- that the Sayedat al-Nejat Church in Baghdad was terrorized on October 31, 2010 resulting in the deaths of numerous innocent and defenceless parishioners, their children and holy fathers, the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) strongly condemns this act of terrorism and all others directed at the Christians in Iraq, and all other places of worship worldwide; and
- that the school bus bombing of our innocent people near Mosul on May 2, 2010 claimed the lives of several students, maimed many others, and left a dark psychological fear on the soul of the survivors; and
- that Assyrians have a long history of persecution throughout the Middle East including their persecution before and after WWI and the genocide committed against them during WWI; and
- the denial of our political and national rights at the Lausanne Conference and by the League of Nations after WWI; and
- the Simmel Massacre in 1933, the Soria Massacre in 1969, the subsequent oppression and persecution of Assyrians by the former Iraqi regimes; and
- the continued hostilities against indigenous Assyrians in Iraq since 2003 resulting in an exodus of one half of the 2.5 million of our people; and
- AUA’s unwavering condemnation of all acts of terrorism and violence worldwide; and
- Assyrians’ inherent identity as the most indigenous people of Iraq; and
- that Assyrians are entitled to an autonomous region on our ancestral lands in northern Iraq, as an integral part of the Federal Republic of Iraq; and
- the unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Iraq; and
NOW THEREFORE, the AUA declares the following:
1. Condemns the tragedies against the people of Iraq and demands worldwide support for the federal government of Iraq to fight all kinds of terrorism in the country.
2. Condemns the terrorist acts carried out against all Iraqis and including acts against Iraq's indigenous and defenseless minorities.
3. Welcomes the recent agreement establishing a new government for Iraq, and expresses gratitude to all the concerned parties who contributed to paving the way for this successful act.
4. Pleads that the new government place a priority on the serious and dire situation of the Assyrian people and to help them in a fundamental way.
5. Draws the attention of the world to the tragedies befallen the Assyrian people and demands worldwide support to save this ancient and indigenous people of Iraq.
6. Demands the immediate establishment of an Assyrian autonomous region, as part of the Federal Republic of Iraq, on our ancestral lands in northern Iraq which region shall include an indigenous parliament, and a security force,
7. Demands the establishment and implementation of a repatriation program and necessary appropriation and assistance to returnees, so that our Assyrian people may serve as the most faithful citizens of Iraq, contributing to the development of our beloved homeland.
8. Demands the establishment and implementation of a special program by the federal government of Iraq to take all necessary measures to save and protect the Assyrian archaeological, sacred and historical sites.
9. Emphasizes the necessity of and thereby requests that in the forthcoming census of Iraq there be an accurate count of all Assyrians, which census shall include not only those Assyrians in Iraq but also all Assyrians in the Diaspora, and requests that Iraq's federal government take all necessary measures to ensure that all future census programs are undertaken under an appropriate and effective level of supervision by recognised international and human rights organizations.
10. Appeals to all countries neighbouring Iraq to extend their continued support to all Iraqi refugees, of whom the Assyrian people comprise a large number of the displaced population, and to advance incentives for their voluntary and safe return to Iraq.
11. Appeals to all countries neighbouring Iraq to recognize the necessity of an Assyrian autonomous region in Iraq, and accordingly to encourage its immediate formation.
12. Appeals to the international community and the United Nations to recognise the historical significance of the Assyrian rights, and to thereby encourage, motivate and implement plans and policy for the federal government of Iraq to secure an Assyrian autonomous region for Assyrians on our ancestral lands in northern Iraq, as an integral part of the Federal Republic of Iraq.
13. Appeals to all Assyrian communities worldwide in the wake of the terrible suffering of the Assyrian people to join and collaborate together regardless of religious, ideological, national and cultural differences to establish an Assyrian autonomous region on our ancestral lands.
14. Designates “1st of July” as “Assyria Day” and proclaims it a national day, and therefore requesting all Assyrians throughout the world to observe this day as a symbol of our national revival day, “Return to Assyria.”
AND FURTHER, the AUA:
1. Extends gratitude to all neighboring nations of Iraq for hosting and assisting the stranded Iraqi refugees, to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) authorities of the Kurdistan territory for providing facilities to our displaced people, and to the United Nations, as well as the Islamic countries, for the valuable assistance they have extended to our Assyrian people.
2. Commends the Islamic Republic of Iran for its support of strengthening the ties between Assyrian and other Iranian communities.
3. Thanks particularly the Honorable Dr. Ali Larijani, the Speaker of the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Iran, for delivering an encouraging welcoming message to the 27th AUA Congress.
4. Thanks all Iraqi authorities for welcoming and hosting all Assyrians who participated in the AUA's 27th World Congress, this being a first and historical time in our fatherland, and thanks especially the Honourable Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki for sending his representative to the
AUA World Congress, wishing the Prime Minister well in forming a national government that represents all segments of the Iraqi society.
5. Thanks and welcomes President Jalal Talabani for his proposal to establish a province for the Christians of Iraq, and thereby hoping that the President will bring to fruition such proposal while carrying out his duty to give full and fair effect to the Iraqi constitution, and to that end introduce and/or support the necessary constitutional amendments that will pave the way for the formation
of an Assyrian autonomous region.
6. Thanks President Massoud Barzani for proposing that a Christian and a Turkmen occupy the positions of Deputy Prime Minister or Vice President in the newly-formed Iraqi government, and hoping that the President will ensure that such proposal is also implemented in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
7. Thanks all nationalistic Iraqi individuals and organizations who, fully aware of the historical and societal values of Iraq, have voiced their support of our Assyrian people, and thereby calling on the government of Iraq to take the necessary steps to prevent the departure of our Assyrian people from our homeland of Iraq.
8. Thanks all nationalistic Iraqis who are actively working toward stabilizing the country and helping to usher in an era of peace, security and economic prosperity for all Iraqis.
9. Encourages and pleads with our nation to support these valuable activities and participate in the economic recovery of our ancestral homeland.
10. Thanks the Australian authorities for approving the construction of the Assyrian genocide memorial on public land in Sydney, Australia.
11. Thanks the Armenian authorities for granting permission for the construction of the Assyrian genocide monument on public land in Yerevan, Armenia.
Gründung eines Teilstaats im Nordirak soll das Christentum im Land
Ein Ghetto für verfolgte Christen
Nach dem Massaker in einer Kirche in Bagdad fürchten die irakischen Christen um ihre Existenz.
Tausende haben das Land schon verlassen.
Inga Rogg, Bagdad
In sich gekehrt, den Blick starr auf den Boden gerichtet, sitzt Kusai Sabah in einer Ecke neben dem Eingang zur Kirche Sayidat al-Nejat (Maria Heil). Die Wand neben ihm ist mit Einschusslöchern übersät, das Holz der hohen Eingangstür ist geborsten. Dort, wo einmal der Altar stand, liegen nur noch Trümmer, die Wand dahinter ist russgeschwärzt und voller Blutspritzer. An der Decke über dem Kirchenschiff kleben Gewebereste. Vor sechs Wochen starben in der Kirche im Zentrum von Bagdad 46 Gläubige, als fünf Selbstmordattentäter den Sonntagsgottesdienst überfielen.
Jeden Tag kommt Kusai Sabah seitdem in die syrisch-katholische Kirche. Um für seinen Bruder zu beten, der bei dem Überfall schwer verletzt wurde, und um seines Freundes und Mentors Wassim Sabih zu gedenken, eines der beiden Priester, die von den Terroristen erschossen wurden. «Vater Wassim hatte immer ein offenes Ohr für uns Junge», sagt der 25-Jährige. «Manchmal hat er mit uns Fussball gespielt, er hat Ausflüge mit uns gemacht. Ich vermisse ihn sehr.»
Anzeige:Lebensgrosse Fotomontagen vor und in der Kirche erinnern an die beiden Priester. Neben dem Altar ist ein Tisch mit Bildern von den 44 weiteren Opfern aufgestellt – Männer und Frauen mit ernstem Blick, eine junge Frau im Brautkleid, ein Säugling und ein dreijähriger Bub. Auf dem Boden sind in Kreuzform Zettel mit den Namen der Toten angebracht. Immer wieder sind die Christen im Irak in den letzten Jahren Opfer von Anschlägen und Morden geworden. Hunderttausende sind seit dem Sturz des Saddam-Regimes in den Norden oder ins Ausland geflohen. Hunderte von Familien haben nach Angaben von Pfarrern der Hauptstadt in den letzten Wochen den Rücken gekehrt.
Auf dem Gebiet der alten Assyrer
Um das Aussterben des Christentums zu verhindern, fordern zahlreiche Vereinigungen jetzt die Einrichtung einer eigenen Christen-Provinz im Nordirak. Nach den Vorstellungen der Initiatoren, einem Bündnis von 16 Parteien und Verbänden, soll die Provinz auf dem Gebiet des alten Assyrer-Reichs in der Ninive-Ebene östlich von Mossul gegründet werden.
«Das ist unser Land, wir lebten schon vor mehreren tausend Jahren dort», sagt Abu Bassam. Der 60-Jährige mit dem schlohweissen Haar stammt aus Karakosh, einem der vielen Christen-Dörfer in der Ninive-Ebene. Uralte Kirchen zeugen bis heute von der langen Geschichte der Religion in der Region. Wie viele Christen betrachtet sich Abu Bassam als Nachfahre der Assyrer und damit als einer der Ureinwohner des Iraks. Ähnlich wie die Kurden verlangen die Christen-Parteien weitgehende Autonomie mit eigener Regierung und Sicherheitskräften, gewissermassen einen Mini-Christen-Staat im Irak. Ein solcher Teilstaat sähe sich freilich von mehreren Seiten bedrängt. Mossul ist eine der wichtigsten Basen für sunnitische Extremisten und Terrorgruppen wie die Kaida im Irak, die den Christen nach dem Überfall auf die Maria-Heil-Kirche offen mit der Vernichtung gedroht hat. Die Kurden, deren Sicherheitskräfte das Gebiet seit Jahren faktisch kontrollieren, wollen es ihrem Teilstaat zuschlagen.
Mit einer heftigen Kopfbewegung wischt Abu Bassam die Bedenken über den Schutz der geplanten Provinz beiseite. «Wir Christen sind gute und ergebene Kämpfer», sagt der ehemalige Offizier. «Wir werden für Sicherheit sorgen.»
«Nur der Friede kann uns retten»
Ausser Christen leben allerdings auch zahlreiche andere religiöse und ethnische Minderheiten in der Ninive-Ebene. Einer ihrer prominentesten Vertreter, Hunain Kaddo von den Shabak, lehnt das Ansinnen der Christen deshalb ab. «Wenn wir eine Provinz für die Christen gründen, werden andere Minderheiten das Gleiche verlangen», sagt Kaddo. «Am Ende haben wir einen Staat von lauter Ghettos.»
Obwohl etliche Kirchenobere auf internationalem
Parkett für den Plan werben, hält Pfarrer Ayser von der Maria-Heil-Kirche
wenig davon. «Damit geraten wir zwischen Hammer und Amboss»,
sagt er. Seit sechs Wochen spricht er den Überlebenden und Hinterbliebenen
des Überfalls Trost zu. Einzeln oder in kleinen Gruppen kommen Besucher
und zünden Kerzen für die Toten an, auch Muslime sind dabei.
Aus seiner Ecke blickt ihnen Kusai Sabah zu. Leises Schluchzen erfüllt
das Kirchenschiff. Wie so viele will auch er den Irak verlassen. «Was
soll ich ihnen sagen, ich kann nichts für ihren Schutz tun»,
sagt Pfarrer Ayser. «Nur der Friede kann uns retten.»
Walter Krupinski (14. Dezember
Ich glaube sie haben die Ironie in Herrn Mosers Kommentar irgendwie nicht erfasst.
Rafiq Tschannen (13. Dezember
Nicht nur Christen wollen immer noch den Irak verlassen.
Sondern auch Muslims. Leider sieht die Gegenwart und die Zukunft immer noch so ziemlich hoffnungslos aus. Gemaess Schulbuecher der 'post conflict' Wissenschaft sollte es so 10 Jahre nach Beendigung des Konfliktes langsam besser werden. Der Anfang dieser 10 Jahre wird gezaehlt ab dem Zeitpunkt wenn alle Besetzungssoldaten ('offiziell' und 'private') das Land verlassen haben. Dieser Anfangszeitpunkt ist immer noch nicht in Sicht.
Rafiq Tschannen (13. Dezember
Nicht nur die Christen in Irak gingen 'zurueck zu ihren Wurzeln'
Alle internen Fluechtlinge gingen zuerst mal zurueck in ihre Heimat, aus Baghdad gingen die Schiahs nach Sueden, die Sunnis ins Zentrum und eben die Christen nach Norden. Ueberall wurden sie als 'alte Stammesangehoerige' aufgenommen. Darum gibt es kaum Fluechtlingslager im Irak, trotz der hohen Anzahl von internen Fluechtlingen.
Rafiq Tschannen (13. Dezember
Roland Moser. Ich hoffe niemand nimmt ihn Ernst.
Die Frage der 'Christianisierung' Iraks ist noch nicht aufgekommen, ausser innerhalb der US Truppen, aber die hatten ja kaum Kontakt mit der einheimischen Bevoelkerung, ausser wenn sie mit den Schuhen die Tueren eintraten.
Keller (13. Dezember 2010, 15:01)
Eigentore an der Wiege der Menschheit
Die Araber, Assyrer, Chaldäer, Juden, Kurden, Turkmen, Shabak, Yezidi und andere ethnische, kulturelle und religiöse Minderheiten im Mosul Vilayet (Nordirak) haben während Jahrhunderten ohne Exklusivitätsanspruch nebeneinander gelebt. Der Zusammenhalt dieser Stämme und Gemeinschaften wurde in der osmanischen Phase durch weitgehende Toleranz und Selbstregierung, nach der 1932er Gründung Iraks durch den Völkerbund durch eiserne Klammern gewährleistet. Seit dem Fall Saddams sind rücksichtslose einseitige externe Begünstigungen und entsprechende Verdrängungen zu beobachten (Iran: Shiiten, Arabien: Sunniten, USA: Kurden, Turkei: Turkmen, Israel: Juden, etc.). Und Bemühungen der konstituierenden Gemeinschaften zu eigenständigen konsensuellen Lösungen (www.solami.com/mvc.htm) werden myopisch & mit Akribie hintertrieben - auch von der offiziellen Schweiz. Kein Wunder, der Nahe Osten kommt nicht zur Ruhe, und Christen erleiden das Schicksal der vor ihnen vertriebenen Juden.
Roland Moser (13. Dezember 2010,
Der Irak schützt sich vor einer Christianisierung,
meines Erachtens zu Recht. Es weiss doch jeder, was die Christianisierung von Europa für die Menschen in Europa bedeutet hat: Schmerz, Blut und Tränen.
Dass sich bei diesem Wissen die islamischen Länder gegen eine Ausbreitung des Christentums schützen, scheint mir logisch zu sein.
Und wir wollen ja auch keine Islamisierung von Europa. Wieso also sollten islamische Länder christianisiert werden?
Zudem kann ja jeder Christ im Irak die Religion wechseln. Es gibt ja gem. Islam und Christentum nur einen Gott, also spielt es keine Rolle, welcher Religion man angehört.
der Christen aus dem Irak
Der irakischen Minderheit ist nicht nach Weihnachten zumute – viele denken an Flucht
Das Massaker in einer Kirche in Bagdad hat unter den Christen eine erneute Fluchtwelle aus- gelöst.
Viele haben die Hoffnung verloren, dass der Staat willens oder fähig ist, die belagerte Minderheit zu schützen.
Christen versammeln sich nach einer Messe vor der katholischen Heilig-Herz-Kirche in Bagdad. (Bild: Reuters)
Die religiöse Toleranz, die sonst im Irak eher selten geworden ist, scheint im Bagdader Viertel Karrada noch gegenwärtig. Ein Meer von Flaggen, mit denen die Schiiten in diesen Wochen des Tods ihres Imams Hussein vor 1340 Jahren gedenken, bestimmt das Strassenbild. Dazwischen haben aber etliche Geschäfte ihre Auslagen mit Weihnachtsdekoration geschmückt. Vor einem steht ein lebensgrosser Nikolaus in rotem Mantel, mit weissem Rauschebart und Saxofon, nebenan zieren Christbäume aus Plastic das Schaufenster. Ein anderer Händler setzt auf Wandteppiche mit Jesu- und Marien-Darstellungen.
Den Christen ist in diesem Jahr jedoch nicht nach Weihnachten zumute. Statt an das Fest zu Christi Geburt denken viele an Flucht. Kurz vor der Adventszeit hatten Extremisten in Karrada eine Kirche überfallen und ein Massaker unter der versammelten Gemeinde verübt. Seitdem haben Hunderte Familien Bagdad verlassen, viele weitere sitzen auf gepackten Koffern.
«O Herr, lass sie in Frieden ruhen», hallt es aus der Kirche Sayidat an-Najat (Maria Heil). Mit erhobenen Händen steht Helin Selim Francis vor den Bildern der 46 Opfer des Überfalls und betet. Es klingt mehr wie ein Aufschrei der Verzweiflung denn wie ein Gebet. «O Herr, schütze den Irak. Gib uns einen geeinten und friedlichen Irak.»
Francis glaubt nicht an den Frieden, zu oft wurden ihre Hoffnungen enttäuscht. «Seit Jahren lebe ich auf der Flucht. Ich kann nicht mehr», sagt Francis. Vor sechs Jahren war sie aus dem Stadtteil Dora im Süden von Bagdad geflohen. Sunnitische Extremisten hatten in Dora und Karrada, den beiden Zentren der Christen in Bagdad, mehrere Autobomben gezündet.
Zusammen mit ihren beiden Schwestern mietete sich Francis eine kleine Wohnung im Zentrum und hielt sich mit einem Job in einem Supermarkt über Wasser. Doch dann überfielen schwerbewaffnete Räuber den Supermarkt. Francis leidet seitdem an Panikattacken. Trotzdem wollte sie den Irak nicht verlassen. «Ich bin in Bagdad geboren, gross geworden, mein ganzes Leben ist hier.» Schliesslich traute sie sich sogar ins Elternhaus in Dora zurück – bis sie vor vier Monaten einen Drohbrief mit einer Kugel darin erhielt. Wieder flüchtete die Hotelfachfrau, die ihre Ausbildung in Frankreich und der Schweiz absolviert hat. Zusammen mit ihren beiden Schwestern lebt sie seitdem bei einer schiitischen Familie in Karrada. «Wenn wir jetzt nicht einmal in einem Gotteshaus sicher sind, gibt es überhaupt keine Sicherheit.»
Einzeln oder in kleinen Gruppen kommen Besucher in die Kirche, um für die Toten zu beten und Kerzen anzuzünden. Auch Muslime sind darunter. Auf den Stühlen vor dem Tisch mit den Bildern der Opfer sitzen fünf Scheichs in Kamelhaarroben und schwarz-weiss gescheckten Kopftüchern. Terroristen haben in den letzten Jahren Tausende von Anschlägen in der irakischen Hauptstadt verübt. Bis heute vergeht kaum ein Tag, ohne dass irgendwo in der Stadt ein Sprengsatz explodiert. Tausende Muslime, besonders Schiiten, haben durch den Terror ihr Leben verloren. Aber kaum ein Anschlag hat über die Religionsgrenzen hinweg ein solches Entsetzen ausgelöst wie der Angriff auf die Maria-Heil-Kirche. Runah Shammeri ist in den letzten Wochen oft in die Kirche gekommen. «Obwohl ich keine Christin bin, spüre ich den Frieden, der von hier ausgeht», sagt die junge Muslimin. «Ich schäme mich dafür, was diese Verbrecher im Namen des Islam getan haben.»
NZZ-Infografik / mei., mfe.)
Mit Tränen in den Augen steht Leila Tarik mitten in der verwüsteten Kirche. Wo der Altar war, liegen nur noch Trümmer. Die Fenster sind herausgeblasen, das hohe hölzerne Eingangstor geborsten. Die Wände am Eingang und hinter dem Altar sind mit Einschusslöchern und Blutspritzern übersät. An der Decke kleben braunrote Gewebeklumpen. Leila Tarik weiss, was es bedeutet, einen geliebten Menschen durch einen Terroranschlag zu verlieren. Nicht weit von der Kirche entfernt wurde vor fünf Jahren ihr Ehemann durch einen Autobombenanschlag getötet. «Er war auf dem Weg zur Arbeit und kam nie wieder. Ich kann es bis heute nicht glauben», sagt die Lehrerin. «Dieses Blutvergiessen muss endlich ein Ende haben.» Aber wie die Christin Francis glaubt auch die Muslimin Tarik nicht an den Frieden. «Ich habe Angst», sagt sie, «grosse, grosse Angst.»
Kaltblütige, junge Täter
Die syrisch-katholische Maria-Heil-Kirche, die im Jahr 1963 nach vierjähriger Bauzeit fertiggestellt worden war, ist ein Wahrzeichen von Karrada. Der Kirchenraum, der wie ein Schiffsrumpf geformt ist, wird durch ein mehrere Meter hohes Eingangsportal mit einem riesigen Kreuz in der Mitte überragt, das Maria mit ihrem Schleier symbolisiert. Rund hundert Gläubige hatten sich am 31. Oktober zum Sonntagsgottesdienst in der Kirche versammelt, als um viertel nach fünf Uhr nachmittags ein Geländewagen vor dem Hintereingang parkierte – direkt gegenüber dem Wohnzimmerfenster von Majid Mohammed. Der Ingenieur sah, wie die fünf Täter zwei grosse Plastic-Kisten über die Kirchenmauer hievten und über die Mauer sprangen. In panischer Angst brachte er seine Frau und seine drei Töchter im hinteren Teil des Hauses in Sicherheit, dann explodierte der Geländewagen.
Jung seien die Täter gewesen, fast noch Kinder, sagt Mohammed. Wachen von der gegenüberliegenden Börse eröffneten das Feuer und verletzten einen der Täter, der sich daraufhin in die Luft sprengte. Seinen vier Terrorkumpanen gelang es jedoch, in die Kirche einzudringen. Kaltblütig erschossen sie etliche Gläubige und die beiden Priester, die versuchten, die Gemeinde in einem kleinen Seitenraum in Sicherheit zu bringen. Einer nahm auf dem Dach Stellung, dann wurde es still in dem Viertel. Rund drei Stunden später stürmte eine Anti-Terror-Einheit die Kirche, und die Selbstmordattentäter sprengten sich in die Luft. Hartnäckig halten sich Berichte, wonach mehrere Opfer durch Kugeln der Elitesoldaten starben. Ausser den 46 Christen wurden auch zwei Polizisten getötet. Etwa 60 Personen wurden teilweise schwer verletzt.
Handwerker haben notdürftig die Schäden im Wohnzimmer der Mohammeds renoviert. Über den schweren Möbeln liegt eine dicke Staubschicht. Zusammengekauert sitzt Mohammed auf einem Hocker und zündet sich eine Zigarette nach der anderen an. Wie viele Christen will auch der Muslim so schnell wie möglich weg aus dem Irak. «Ich kann die Gebete, die Schüsse und die Explosion nicht vergessen», sagt der Ingenieur. «Ich halte das nicht mehr aus. Der Irak ist erledigt.»
Zu der brutalen Tat hat sich der sogenannte Islamische Staat im Irak bekannt, ein Zusammenschluss von Terrorgruppen aus dem Umfeld der Kaida im Irak. Sie hat den Christen mit der Vernichtung gedroht. Wenige Tage später gingen vor christlichen Häusern in mehreren Vierteln von Bagdad Bomben hoch. Kürzlich präsentierte die irakische Regierung zwölf Verdächtige als angebliche Drahtzieher der Tat. Mohammed und mit ihm viele Christen sehen darin freilich nur einen Versuch der Regierung, von ihrem Unvermögen abzulenken. «Jeder kann es gewesen sein», sagt Abu Bassem. Dabei dreht sich der alte Mann im Kreis und zeigt auf die Häuser um die Kirche. «Der hier oder der dort, jeder hier. Ob Terroristen, Politiker oder Polizisten, die Muslime haben alle nur ein Ziel – uns Christen zu vernichten. Das ist der Islam.»
Viele Christen im Irak betrachten sich als Nachfahren der Ureinwohner des Landes. Noch bis in die Mitte des 20. Jahrhunderts bildeten sie in vielen Gebieten des Nordiraks die Mehrheit. Aber Kriege, Vertreibungen oder soziale Not haben sie in vielen Gegenden an den Rand gedrängt. Wie viele Christen heute noch im Irak leben, weiss niemand genau. Schätzungen gehen von weniger als 300 000 Personen aus. Und diese sind auf mehr als zehn Konfessionen verteilt. Nur in der Umgebung von Mossul verfügen die Christen bis heute über ein mehr oder weniger geschlossenes Siedlungsgebiet. Etliche Vereinigungen fordern dort die Gründung einer autonomen Christen-Provinz mit eigener Regierung und Sicherheitskräften.
Gebet für die Versöhnung
Doch gerade in der Region, wo gemäss der Überlieferung der Prophet Jona gewirkt haben soll, ist die Bedrohung für die Christen besonders hoch. Nach dem Massaker in Bagdad riefen islamistische Extremisten in Mossul offen zur Vertreibung der Christen auf. Seit Jahren sorgen sie mit Entführungen, Bombenanschlägen und Morden für Angst und Schrecken. Von den ehemals mehreren zehntausend Christen sollen heute nur noch einige tausend in Mossul leben. Im Osten schielen die Kurden, in deren Teilstaat viele Christen Zuflucht gefunden haben, nach dem Gebiet.
In der Maria-Heil-Kirche haben sich etwa 150
Gläubige zu einer Andacht versammelt. Sie begehen den von Muslimen
und Christen gleichermassen gepflegten altorientalischen Brauch, am 40.
Todestag der Verstorbenen zu gedenken. In seiner Ansprache bittet Pfarrer
Ayser Behnam um Vergebung und Versöhnung. Auch Helin Selim Francis
ist gekommen. Inbrünstig stimmt sie in ein Kirchenlied auf Aramäisch,
der Sprache Jesu, ein. Für einen Moment huscht ein Lächeln über
ihr Gesicht. Als der Pfarrer an das Martyrium der Opfer erinnert, strömen
ihr Tränen übers Gesicht. «Die autonome Provinz ist eine
schöne Idee», sagt sie nach der Andacht. Ihren Entschluss zu
fliehen, ändert das nicht. Möglichst noch vor Weihnachten will
sie Bagdad verlassen. «Helfen wird uns diese Idee nicht», sagt
Francis. «Nur Gott kann uns retten.»
Marco Fischer (23. Dezember
Der Islam muss sich dringend reformieren!
@ Mustafa Yildirim: danke für Ihren Beitrag! Was mit den Uiguren (und den Tibetern!) in China geschieht, ist in der Tat ein Skandal. Andererseits kommt der Terror von einem totalitären Regime, dass die Menschenrechte und die Meinungsfreiheit mit Füssen tritt. Es mag auch sein, dass die Berichterstattung in den Medien einseitig ist. Dennoch - und sehr zu meinem Missfallen - besteht tendenziell auch eine hohe Korrelation zwischen dem Islam und der systematischen Herabsetzung der Frauen und Mädchen. Vom Umgang mit Homosexuellen ganz zu schweigen. Leider reiht sich auch die Verfolgung der Christen im Irak wie ein weiteres Puzzleteil in dieses Mosaik ein. Der Islam muss sich dringend reformieren und gemässigter werden, ansonsten stösst er in weiten Teilen der Erde zunehmend nur noch auf eines: Unverständnis und Kopf schütteln!
Christian Pfister (23. Dezember
@Marco Fischer (23. Dezember 2010, 09:17)
„Dennoch fällt auf, dass Buddhisten, Hindus, Atheisten, Juden und grösstenteils auch Christen solche Anschläge selten bis nie verüben. „ Diese Sichtweise kann ich nicht teilen. Was war in Indien als sich die Kolonialmacht England zurück zog? Das Machtvakuum hat zur Abspaltung von Pakistan geführt und auf beiden Seiten, Hindus wie Muslime haben tausende Massakriert und verjagt. Was war mit Jugoslawien als das Machtvakuum entstand? Christen und Muslime haben sich gegenseitig Massakriert. Erinnern wir uns an Screbrenica. Was war mit Nordirland? Usw.
Religiöse Gefühle werden schon seit Anbeginn für Weltliche belange instrumentalisiert. Solange der Mensch in einer funktionierenden und akzeptierten Gesellschaftsstruktur lebt ist es meistens friedlich. Fällt diese Weg, durch Krieg, Bürgerkrieg oder durch Demagogie ist der Mensch fähig die Hölle auf Erden zu errichten.
Roland Moser (23. Dezember 2010,
Das Christentum stammt aus dem nahen Osten
und soll nun in seiner Ursprungsregion verboten werden? Ich gebe ja zu, dass wir das Christentum in Europa auch nicht gewollt haben, und es erst tolerieren, seit es politische keine grosse Macht mehr hat.
Aber was dort stattfindet ist doch einfach: Christlicher Terror wird durch islamischen Terror ersetzt.
Dass sowohl das Christentum als auch der Islam massive Probleme mit dem Menschsein haben, wissen wir alle. Nur scheint jetzt langsam die Zeit zu kommen, in welcher der Islam in die Schranken verwiesen werden muss wie seinerzeit das Christentum. Hier! und dort!
Mustafa Yildirim (23. Dezember
@Marco Fischer: Solche Verblendete gibt es in jeder Religionsgemeinschaft
Nur weil die Gräueltaten von Extremisten aus den Reihen der Hindus, Juden oder anderen nicht reisserisch als solche wie bei Islamisten auf den Titelseiten breitgetreten werden, heisst es nicht, dass sie nicht stattfinden. So wie in Europa mehr und mehr rechtsradikale Kräfte an die politische Macht gelangen, sind auch in Indien extremistische Hindus in den Parlamenten, bzw. bereits in der Regierung vertreten. Ihre Gräueltaten mit tausenden Toten können sie nachlesen. In China wird die muslimische Minderheit genau gleich wie die Tibeter unterdrückt und verfolgt. Jedoch sucht man vergeblich nach vergleichbarer Berichterstattung über das Leid der Uiguren wie das der Tibeter. Über Juden müssen wir ja nichts sagen. Das sehen sie ja in den Medien. Aber getarnt, bzw. geschönt als „Kampf gegen den Terror“. Ich frage sie, wie würden sie es nennen, wenn die geballte Militärmacht eines Staates ein Ghetto stürmt und dabei 1000 Zivilisten tötet?
Marco Fischer (23. Dezember
Abscheuliche Taten von Verblendeten
Obwohl ich nicht religiös bin, stimmt mich dieser Artikel über den Exodus der Christen im Irak traurig. Natürlich waren es einige wenige Verblendete bzw. Fundamentalisten die solche abscheulichen Taten begehen. Dennoch fällt auf, dass Buddhisten, Hindus, Atheisten, Juden und grösstenteils auch Christen solche Anschläge selten bis nie verüben. Hat am Ende der Islam ein Problem mit dem Rest der Welt? Oder woher kommt diese Gewaltbereitschaft und Intoleranz? Ich fühle mich ohnmächtig und suche nach Antworten.
Peter Kuhn (23. Dezember 2010,
Wo bleibt der Medien-Protest?
So, was soll man nun von diesem Islam-Glauben halten? Wie gewohnt blauäugig schweigen? Es ist ein wahrer Skandal, dass der grösste Teil unserer Medien, solche Ereignisse nicht klar und aktiv verurteilen, wie das ihre Pflicht wäre. Stattdessen wir schöngeredet und/oder verschleiert. Viele anständig geschriebene Kommentare zum Thema Islam werden blockiert, man will nicht Stellung beziehen oder die Artikel verschwinden in absoluter Windeseile. Es wäre die klare Pflicht der Medien, diese menschenrechtswidrigen Ereignisse scharf zu kommentieren. Und dies nicht nur wenn die SVP oder bürgerlich-konservative Kreise einen den Medien missliebigen Vorstossunternehmen. Dann ist man schnell zur Stelle. Eine absolut unakzeptable Situation bei unserer (leider) einseitigen Mainstream-Medien-Landschaft!
Turkey Flexes Its Muscles Around Iraq
By ANTHONY SHADID
ZAKHO, Iraq — A Turkey as resurgent as at any time since its Ottoman glory is projecting influence through a turbulent Iraq, from the boomtowns of the north to the oil fields near southernmost Basra, in a show of power that illustrates its growing heft across an Arab world long suspicious of it.
Its ascent here, in an arena contested by the United States and Iran, may prove its greatest success so far, as it emerges from the shadow of its alliance with the West to chart an often assertive and independent foreign policy.
Turkey’s influence is greater in northern Iraq and broader, though not deeper, than Iran’s in the rest of the country. While the United States invaded and occupied Iraq, losing more than 4,400 troops there, Turkey now exerts what may prove a more lasting legacy — so-called soft power, the assertion of influence through culture, education and business.
“This is the trick — we are very much welcome here,” said Ali Riza Ozcoskun, who heads Turkey’s consulate in Basra, one of four diplomatic posts it has in Iraq.
Turkey’s newfound influence here has played out along an axis that runs roughly from Zakho in the north to Basra, by way of the capital, Baghdad. For a country that once deemed the Kurdish region in northern Iraq an existential threat, Turkey has embarked on the beginning of what might be called a beautiful friendship.
In the Iraqi capital, where politics are not for the faint-hearted, it promoted a secular coalition that it helped build, drawing the ire of Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, along the way. For Iraq’s abundant oil and gas, it has positioned itself as the country’s gateway to Europe, while helping to satisfy its own growing energy needs.
Just as the Justice and Development Party of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reoriented politics in Turkey, it is doing so in Iraq, with repercussions for the rest of the region.
While some Turkish officials recoil at the notion of neo-Ottomanism — an orientation of Turkey away from Europe and toward an empire that once included parts of three continents — the country’s process of globalization and attention to the markets of the Middle East is upsetting assumptions that only American power is decisive. Turkey has committed itself here to economic integration, seeing its future in at least an echo of its past.
“No one is trying to overtake Iraq or one part of Iraq,” said Aydin Selcen, who heads the consulate in Erbil, which opened this year. “But we are going to integrate with this country. Roads, railroads, airports, oil and gas pipelines — there will be a free flow of people and goods between the two sides of the border.”
By the border, he meant Zakho and the 26-lane checkpoint of Ibrahim Khalil, where 1,500 trucks pass daily, bringing Turkish building materials, clothes, furniture, food and pretty much everything else that fills shops in northern Iraq.
The economic boom they have helped propel has reverberated across Iraq. Trade between the two countries amounted to about $6 billion in 2010, almost double what it was in 2008, Turkish officials say. They project that, in two or three years, Iraq may be Turkey’s biggest export market.
“This is the very beginning,” said Rushdi Said, the flamboyant Iraqi Kurdish chairman of Adel United, a company involved in everything from mining to sprawling housing projects. “All of the world has started fighting over Iraq. They’re fighting for the money.”
Ambition, in 4 Languages
Mr. Said’s suit, accented by a black-and-white handkerchief in the pocket, shines like his optimism, the get-rich-quick kind. In some ways, he is a reincarnation of an Ottoman merchant, at ease in Kurdish, Turkish, Persian and Arabic. In any of those languages, he boasts of what he plans.
He has thought of contacting Angelina Jolie, “maybe Arnold and Sylvester, too,” to interest them in some of his 11 projects across Iraq to build 100,000 villas and apartments at the cost of a few billion dollars. So far, though, his best partner is the singer Ibrahim Tatlises, the Turkish-born Kurdish superstar, whose portrait adorns Mr. Said’s advertisement for his project the Plain of Paradise.
“The villas are ready!” Mr. Tatlises says in television ads. “Come! Come! Come!”
Erbil, the Kurdish capital in the north where Mr. Said lives, has become the nexus of Turkish politics and business, made possible by the sharp edge of military power.
About 15,000 Turks work in Erbil and other parts of the north, and Turkish companies, more than 700 of them, make up two-thirds of all foreign companies in the region. Travel requirements have been lifted, and the consulate in Erbil issues as many as 300 visas a day. A Turkish religious movement operates 19 schools in the region, educating 5,500 students, Arabs, Turkmens and Kurds mingling in a lingua franca of English.
Turkish officials talk about transforming the region into something akin to the American-Mexican border, a frontier as ambiguous as any line on a map is precise. Even some Kurdish officials have embraced the idea, though interpreting the notion differently.
While Turkey sees integration as a way to tap nascent markets in the Middle East, some Kurdish officials have seen it more emotionally, as a way to bind them to Kurdish regions in neighboring countries that no degree of political negotiations could ever achieve.
“The borders between us were not drawn by us,” Kamal Kirkuki, the speaker of the local Kurdish Parliament, said of the frontier with Turkey, Iran and Syria, all with Kurdish minorities, “It’s a de facto border and we have to respect it, but in our hearts we don’t see it. We want to integrate the people without any bureaucracies keeping them apart.”
Kurds represent nearly 20 percent of Turkey’s population, and Turkish governments have long viewed calls for their self-determination as a fundamental threat to the state. The same went for Kurds in Iraq, whose autonomy might provide an inspiration to Turkey’s own minority. Since 2007, those assumptions have undergone a seismic shift.
Over the smoldering reservations of the Turkish military, which has carried out repeated coups against elected governments, Mr. Erdogan has undertaken halting steps to reconcile with Turkey’s own Kurds in what the government has termed “the Kurdish opening.” They have met with mixed success, but the new climate reflects the changes: Turkish diplomats here casually refer to Iraqi Kurdistan — the K-word long being a taboo — and Massoud Barzani, that region’s president, no longer talks about Greater Kurdistan.
Diplomatic Balancing Act
Less publicly, American officials in late 2007 began to support Turkish military action against Kurdish rebels in Turkey who have sought refuge in northern Iraq. Turkey still keeps as many as 1,500 troops here, officials say, and the cooperation has allowed them, as a senior American official put it, “to quite effectively strike” the Kurdish rebels.
Iraqi officials in Erbil and Baghdad have protested, requiring a measure of American diplomacy to soothe their resentment. But at least for now, Kurdish officials have viewed their alliance with Turkey as a greater priority in a region still contested by Iran.
“Kurdistan is not against the interests of Turkey,” Mr. Kirkuki said simply. A surprising feature of Turkey’s success is the image it has managed to project in Iraq. On the road from Erbil to Baghdad, its pop culture is everywhere.
Posters of Turkish television serials — from “Muhannad and Nour” to “Forbidden Love” — sell by the tens of thousands. The action series “Valley of the Wolves” is a sensation, the lead actor lending his name to cafes. His own posters are computer-altered to show him in traditional Kurdish or Arab dress — grist for a graduate school seminar on the adaptability of cultural symbols.
Its political influence in Baghdad is no less widespread. Unlike Iran and the United States, it has cultivated ties with virtually every bloc in the country, though relations with Mr. Maliki have proved difficult at times. (At one point, his officials tried to revoke the Turkish ambassador’s credentials to enter the Green Zone. “A misunderstanding,” Turkish diplomats called it.)
Turkish diplomats stay for two years, unlike the one-year posting for Americans, and over that time, they have managed to reach out to unlikely partners, namely the followers of the populist Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr.
Most of Mr. Sadr’s bloc of lawmakers traveled to the Turkish capital, Ankara, for training in parliamentary protocol. In October, Turks were the only diplomats to attend a commemoration the Sadrists held at Baghdad University. “It is not a group to be excluded,” one of them said.
Courting the Sadrists, though, is a sideshow to the real prize being sought in the prolonged months of negotiations over a new government.
Turkey strongly backed the fortunes of a coalition led by Ayad Allawi, a secular Shiite politician who enjoys the support of the country’s Sunnis. More than any other country, Iraq’s Arab neighbors included, it is credited with forging the coalition in the first place.
American and Turkish interests did not always line up on the government’s formation, and some diplomats questioned whether American officials were perceived as backing Mr. Maliki too strongly.
“A high-wire act,” said the senior American official, describing Turkish-American relations generally.
Yet those interests are roughly aligned now, and the degree of power Mr. Allawi’s coalition eventually plays in the government will vividly illustrate Turkey’s relative weight in Iraq.
“I’d say the Turks put a lot of effort into it,” the official said, “and they still are.”
In southernmost Iraq, the old Ottoman quarter in faded Basra is crumbling. Its windows are patched with cinder block, though the stench of sewage still seeps in. Across town is the Basra International Fair Ground, built by Turks and opened in June. Three fairs have already been held there, including one organized in November for Iraq’s petroleum industry.
Oil is still king in Iraq, and as much as anything else, underlines Turkey’s interests here. The pipeline from Kirkuk, Iraq, to Ceyhan, Turkey, already carries roughly 25 percent of Iraq’s oil exports.
The Turks have signed on to the ambitious $11 billion Nabucco gas pipeline project, which may bypass Russia and bring Iraqi gas to Europe. Turkish companies have two stakes in oil contracts, and two more in gas projects, potentially worth billions of dollars. In a land of oil, no place has more than Basra.
Turkish ships offshore provide 250 megawatts of electricity a day. Turkish companies have refurbished the Sheraton Hotel in Basra and are helping to build a 65,000-seat stadium. The Turkish national air carrier is planning four flights a week from Istanbul to Basra; only one is offered now, by Iraqi Airways. Vortex, Crazy Dance and other amusement rides in Basraland are Turkish. So are the sweets sold there.
“No one is working here except Turkey,” said Mr. Ozcoskun, the Turkish consul in Basra.
It was a bit of overstatement from the garrulous diplomat, but not by much.
“Basra is virgin,” he said, a phrase Turkish diplomats volunteer about the rest of Iraq, too. “Who comes first, who establishes first, who makes contacts first will make the most profit in the future. I don’t feel any competition right now. Not at all.”
summit aims for Iraq fatwa on sectarian violence
By Ra’ed Al-Bayati
A summit gathering some of Iraq’s top religious leaders in Copenhagen this week is hoped to result in a joint decree condemning violence against Christians, organisers said Wednesday. “I hope that we will be able to produce a joint Shiite-Sunni fatwa (religious decree) against violence towards Christians,” said Canon Andrew White, head of the Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME) and vicar of St. George’s Church in Baghdad.
“There is a total unity between the Muslims and Christians: we need to do something radical,” White told AFP on the sidelines of the three-day closed-door meeting that began Wednesday.
The emergency summit at a heavily guarded Copenhagen hotel, organised by FRRME and the Danish foreign ministry, comes on the heels of a string of attacks on Christians in Iraq, as well as in neighbouring countries.
It is time “to think seriously about steps that need to be taken to protect all the minority communities,” White insisted.
Danish Foreign Minister Lene Espersen agreed.
“Ending this spiral of violence requires Iraq’s religious communities to come together and decide that they want to reject violent extremism in all its forms,” she wrote to AFP in an email from Doha Wednesday.
“We have today in Copenhagen a gathering of religious leaders representing Shiite, Sunni and Christians,” she pointed out.
“This group of leaders has the power and influence to negotiate on behalf of the people they represent, to deny legitimacy to the use of violence and to call authoritatively for reconciliation and peaceful solutions,” Espersen said.
“They have done so successfully before, and if they decide to, they can do it again.”
FRRME, a British non-governmental group, had previously only revealed that eight of Iraq’s Muslim and Christian religious leaders would take part, refusing to divulge their identities for safety reasons.
On Wednesday, however, White revealed some of the participants to AFP, pointing out that one of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s top Sunni advisors, Sheikh Abdul Latif Humayem, was at the meeting.
Shiite leader Sheik Abduhaleem al-Zubairi, Younadam Kanna, who represents Iraq’s Assyrian community, and Archbishop Avak Asadorian, who is head of the country’s Christian Council, were also present, White said.
“We have some influential leaders here,” he said.
Hard work is needed to stem the recent wave of violence against Christians in Iraq.
In the worst such attack, militants stormed a church in central Baghdad on October 31, leaving 44 worshippers, two priests and seven security force personnel dead. Al-Qaeda’s local affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq, claimed responsibility for the assault.
“I hope this gathering will send a clear message to the Iraqi people: that religious communities must be protected and sectarian violence in all its forms is condemned and must be brought to a halt,” Espersen said in her email.
“In Iraq every single religious community has suffered religiously motivated violence. This is not about Muslims attacking Christians, these are extremists attacking humanity,” she lamented.
“The majority of Muslims in Iraq are not against Christians,” he insisted, claiming that “so much of the violence, particularly from Al-Qaeda links, has come from outside Iraq.”
“We are not against each other. We are not fighting each other and we need to work together,” he said.
The Copenhagen summit also comes as Christians have increasingly come under attack in Iraq’s neighbouring countries as well.
A policeman shot dead a Christian on a train in Egypt, wounding five others, on Tuesday, less than two weeks after 21 Coptic Christians were killed in an attack on a church in the northern Egyptian city of Alexandria on December 31.
“Christians are at risk in many, many Islamic countries now,” White said, lamenting that “Christianity is seen in the wrong way.”
“(It is) seen being totally aligned with the West,” he said, pointing out that people like Florida pastor Terry Jones, who last September threatened to burn a pile of Korans, were tarnishing the confession’s reputation.
France24 – Copenhagen summit
aims for Iraq fatwa on sectarian violence
Crisis Summit: Final Statement
IRAQ’S RELIGIOUS LEADERS UNITE FOR EMERGENCY SUMMIT
At the initiative of the Foundation for Relief
and Reconciliation in the Middle East, and under the sponsorship of
the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a Summit was held in Copenhagen from 12th to 14th January 2011.
Participating were key religious leaders and parliamentarians from different parts of Iraqi society.
The Summit discussed the political situation
and noted that progress had been made, despite the great
challenges to national reconciliation.
The formation of a national unity government, with the participation of most of the factions engaged in the political process, is noted as an indicator of positive progress towards the national reconciliation required to create peaceful coexistence. In addition, the government’s promised program gives hope for security, stability and flourishing [economic development] in the near future.
The Summit calls on all ministries in the coalition government to stick to these principles and to implement the promises and goals suggested by the Prime Minister in his speech at the announcement of the formation of the new government.
The Summit discussed the criminal attacks on Christians in Bagdad and Mosul and in particular the mass killing in the Sayyidat al-Najat Church on the 31st of October 2010 and the subsequent attacks on Christian homes on the basis of their religious affiliation.
The Summit expressed its concern at this collapse [in law and order] and the dangerous way in which it fundamentally undermines the unity of Iraqi society. These actions form part of a series of attacks targeting the political process. They are financed by foreign groups but they are indicative of a dangerous collapse of societal values and they undermine historic brotherly relations and national co-ownership.
They have frightened people and have led to the displacement of many [Iraqis].
There have been a number of foreign voices actively encouraging Christians to flee Iraq. The Summit refuses these foreign calls because play into the hands of those whose hostile agenda is the expulsion of Christians from Iraq. The Summit declares that Iraq is for all of Iraqis and that the Christian community is the root of the Iraqi people. Defending them and their rights is the responsibility of all Iraqis.
We the religious and political leaders stand against this collapse [of societal values].
The Summit discussed [requirements needed
for peaceful] coexistence, social justice, national co-ownership and participation,
as well as the role of the media in all of the above.
The Summit has made the following recommendations:
support the recommendations of the Iraqi parliament concerning their opposition
to the targeting of Christians and we call upon the government to put them
into effect as quickly as possible.
2. We call upon all concerned in the houses of worship and in the media to practice moderate religious preaching, holding to the values of the Divine Messages.
3. We call for the criminalisation of incitement to sectarian and religious hatred and ask that this issue be put on the agenda of the next Arab Summit, which is to be held in Baghdad.
4. We call for the changing of the school curriculum at all levels so that it will better serve the unity of society, promoting a culture of diversity and national coexistence.
5. We call for the Constitution to be put fully into effect by granting social justice and equal opportunities to all Iraqi people [regardless of their ethnic or sectarian affiliation].
6. We call for employment practices in state institutions to be wholly meritocratic and without discrimination.
7. We oppose administrative and economic corruption at all levels and call for a review and correction of relevant legislation so that it better prevents corruption.
8. We call for the reopening of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, to ensure that all religious preaching and teaching contributes to peaceful co-existence and the unity of the Iraqi society.
9. We call upon the Government to produce a program for prisons that will counter extremist ideology and to arrange sound and moderate religious teaching in prisons.
10. We demand an end to the militarisation of society through militias and armed groups and call for respect for the rule of law and veneration of the state.
11. We call for the generation of employment opportunities, which give dignity as well as fighting poverty.
12. We call on the government to allocate the necessary finances to facilitating the return of those who have been displaced and to reintegrating them fully into society by compensating them for their losses and by handling their legal claims.
13. We praise the national security forces for their fight against the terrorism and criminality and we express our appreciation for the positive role that the leadership of the province of Kurdistan has played, in addition to the role of the rest of the provinces, in welcoming and helping the displaced.
Crisis talks address sectarian violence
IRAQ’S RELIGIOUS LEADERS UNITE FOR EMERGENCY SUMMIT
'It will be a complex process. But we hope this summit will mean the beginning of a change to the sliding degree of trauma facing religious minorities in the Middle East.' Canon Andrew White
IRAQ'S religious leaders have united in a bid to end sectarian violence gripping the country.
The High Council of Religious Leaders in Iraq (HCRLI) have gathered for a four-day crisis summit in Copenhagen to address increased violence against the country’s religious minorities.
It follows a recent wave of attacks on Iraq’s Christian community, in which more than 100 people have died, including 52 during a siege at a central Baghdad church.
Since then, scores of Christians have fled Baghdad, with more than 1,000 internally displaced to Kurdistan in the north of the country and many more fleeing as refugees in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
The HCRLI exists to bridge sectarian divides in the country. Its 10 key members include senior religious leaders from across Iraq’s faith and ethnic groups – Sadrists, Kurds, Sunni, Shia and Christian.
The summit, arranged British charity The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East (FRRME), is addressing current sectarian violence, and aims to enable leaders to take the first steps toward peace. FRRME also formed the High Council.
Canon Andrew White, Vicar of St George’s Church, Baghdad, and President of the FRRME said: “The international community is awakening to the fact that all is not entirely well in Iraq.
“January’s Emergency Summit in Copenhagen will unite some of Iraq’s most influential religious leaders. Negotiations will be difficult and delicate.
"Owing to their sectarian differences, some people might imagine that these men would have significant enmity towards each other. Yet they have been meeting together in this way since 2002, and now they come together as friends. If they can work together they have the power to bring peace. If not, things will only get worse."
He added: "It will be a complex process. There are no clear solutions. But we hope this conference will mean the beginning of a change to the sliding degree of trauma facing Christians in Iraq, and the wider Middle East."
FRRME Director, Peter Marsden, added: “Canon Andrew White is uniquely placed to do this work. He has earned his relationship with these religious leaders through his commitment to Iraq since 1998. They know him and they trust him.
“He also has the advantage of being neither Sunni nor Shia; Arab nor Kurd. In the Middle East there is a real tradition of ‘the honest broker’ and Canon White is just that.”
Letter to Professor Dr. Anthony d'Amato,
This is to follow up on your kind invitation to send you material relevant to the very informative - and unfortunately out-of-print - paper "Assyrian Case for Autonomy" which was "commissioned by THE SECOND WORLD CONGRESS of the BAT-NAHRAIN DEMOCRATIC PARTY" and "Published By Political Bureau of BET-NAHRAIN DEMOCRATIC PARTY Post Office Box 41034 Chicago, U.S.A. 60641". I have noted with much interest your introductory note which indicated that the "Assyrians have prepared a comprehensive legal plan ... for a limited degree of autonomous status within the plenary authority of the state of Iraq". And that unfortunately the plans for its publication did not materialize. Thus, we have to build on the still useful elements compiled in this paper - which I understand was "Written in consultation with" you by an unidentified author. And to advise the powers that be of the most useful elements which have thus and since been developed and become available. Assuming - as your continued interest in the matter suggests - that both of us can and are willing to make a positive dent and contribute our "stone" to the common edifice of an internally and externally reconciled, stabilized and prosperous Iraq.
With that general goal in mind, I'd like to draw your attention back to what I consider to be a key document and potential key political catalyst, i.a. the Kingdom of Iraq's constitutive Declaration of 30 May 1932 which contains potentially helpful international minority protection and property rights garantees (www.solami.com/a3a.htm#DECLARATION). True, in its part I, the above paper describes in many details the genesis of this declaration and even summarises some of its key points. But for unknow reasons, on page 22 it refers to same by saying: "(see Appendix A)" without, however, offering either the full text nor any direct reference to this official League of Nations document. For starters, I may thus rest my case with this document which I uncovered at the League of Nations' Archives in early 1992. And with a modest reference to my some 19 years of involvement in related works as adviser of the 1992-founded Mosul Vilayet Council which essentially builds on same - in the vein of Saddrudin Aga Khan's Sorbonne recommendations of 1992:
What is your opinion on the validity and current and future relevancy of this officially disregarded Iraqi Declaration of 1932, and how, in the event, would you proceed for turning these international garantees into effective and individually relevant instruments?
HUMANITARIAN RELIEF AID: DOES IT PROTECT THE NEEDY?... The League's international minority protection obligations were recognized as fundamental laws for countries concerned, i.e. inter alia, Turkey, Iraq, Serbia-Croatia-Slovenia. They could not be altered without the consent of the League Council and were explicitly declared to take precedence over any existing and future national "law, regulation or official action" (5).
The League focused on preventing minority rights abuses through the possibility of early public exposure of violators. To this effect, issues could be brought before the League Council by any of its Members, and in some cases even by individuals. Before Nazism embarked on armed aggression, this method was quite successful.
In the aftermath of World War II the League of Nations was replaced by the United Nations. Some writers (6) suggest that minority protection obligations put in place at the time of the League could perhaps be a means of reinforcing UN resolutions and that certain relevant treaties and obligations under the League should be considered as remaining valid. They contend that the UN, as the legal successor of the League, can accede to League instruments through simple General Assembly resolutions. The argument is advanced that League obligations could be applied with respect to Iraq and the former Yugoslavia(7). It would be helpful if international law experts were to examine the validity of this proposal. If it were valid, this might strengthen the UN's position. ....
Trusting this to be of interest, I'm looking forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience and remain, with best health and other New Year's wishes
+4127-2812477 +4179-6047707 email@example.com
to commend and support the Assyrian people in their efforts to bring about
safety, reconciliation and well-being in their Iraqi homeland for themselves and
for their Yezidi, Jewish, Shia and Sunni Arab, Kurdish and Turkoman brethren in One God,
by way of equitable power-sharing, cooperation and fruit-sharing institutions and services,
a follow-up to the 1923 Lausanne Conference,
and an Advisory Opinion by the International Court of Justice
on Iraq's international minority and private property protection garantees and obligations.
there is no road,
the road is made by the traveller!”
Whereas it is in the interest of the citizen, the state and the common good to promptly overcome the fury and blinding fog of war by truth, wisdom and eternally valid principles found in one's own roots and in those of friends at home and abroad;
Whereas the break-up of the Ottoman Empire along artificially fashioned borders has not been in line with either the visions or the principles which have guided the Founding Fathers of the United States, and the still festering wounds of the colonial designs symbolized by the Sykes-Picot Agreement risk to burden future generations, regional stability and even world peace unless the root causes of conflict will be properly addressed and the dignity, legitimate rights and aspirations of the peoples concerned will be truly honored in reality, now and lastingly;
Whereas even with the best of intentions, as illustrated by the recurringly violent schisms among the Jewish, Christian and, now again, the Muslim communities, simmering conflicts anywhere can unwittingly and suddenly be brought into the open, spin out of control and jump national borders, without much chance of being contained and eventually resolved on worn-out tracks with only traditional means and methods, thus calling for fresh eyes, open minds and principled reflections on such mostly forgotten but still mutually helpful common roots as can be found notably among the Assyrians, their monotheistic traditions and the Holy Scriptures of all those who have submitted to God;
Whereas the Holy Quran
says of Idris (Isaiah):
he was a truthful man, a prophet" (19.65),
and the Old Testament mentions his prophecy as follows (19:23-25):
"In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: Whom the LORD of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.";
Whereas Ayatollah Khomeini embraced Persia's ancient monotheistic and other traditions, with Nawroz, the ancient New Year festivities, taking precedence over more recent traditions;
Whereas the study of the roots of monotheism, particularly those preceding Muslim, Christian and Jewish traditions, has been welcomed by Al Azhar's Imam Tantaoui "for the sake of sincere worship of God, to follow the good moralities, to spread the kind virtues among people and to declare the spirit of Brotherhood, Tolerance, Freedom and Peace among all the members of human society. Besides that, Al Azhar thanks those who assist in building such kind of institute and preparing it for the good aims and purposes mentioned above";
Whereas the One God religions of the Egyptian, Persian and Assyrian empires have been built on the eternally and universally valid principle of "good thoughts, good words, and good deeds";
Whereas the Assyrian people, now numbering over 3 million persons worldwide, have had an uninterrupted presence in Mesopothamia for over 4000 years, who, while deriving their identity, inspirations and aspirations from this obliging history, had sent their sons into battles on the side of allied troops in the First World War, and who thus gained not only recognition and official pledges for autonomy, but, in the run-up to the admission, on 3rd October 1932, of the independent Kingdom of Iraq to the League of Nations, were also given international guarantees on minority and private property protection;
Whereas notably the Arab, Assyrian, Kurdish, Turkoman, Yezidi and other ethnic, language or religious communities residing in the Mosul Vilayet (Northern Iraq) were formally granted international guarantees with Iraq's constitutive Declaration of 30 Mai 1932;
Whereas Iraq joined the United Nations in 1945 without any changes to those international guarantees, and without diminishing the "obligations of international concern" which Iraq incurred as a condition of its independence;
Whereas the United Nations General Assembly resolved that it "will itself examine, or will submit to the appropriate organ of the United Nations, any request from the parties that the United Nations should assume the exercise of functions or powers entrusted to the League of Nations by treaties, international conventions, agreements and other instruments having a political character" (Resolution 24 (I), 12 February 1946);
Whereas the International
Court of Justice, in an Advisory Opinion of June 1950
concerning the analoguous Namibia case, expressed the opinion:
"These [international guarantees and minority and private property protection] obligations represent the very essence of the sacred trust of civilization. Their raison d'être and original object remain. Since their fulfilment did not depend on the existence of the League of Nations, they could not be brought to an end merely because this supervisory organ [i.e. the Council of the League of Nations] ceased to exist. Nor could the right of the population to have the Territory administered in accordance with these rules depend thereon." ( I.C.J. Reports 1950, p.133);
Whereas the United Nations' Special Representative for Iraq, Prince Saddrudin Aga Khan, in 1992, confirmed that "The League's international minority protection obligations were recognized as fundamental laws for countries concerned, i.e. inter alia, Turkey, Iraq, Serbia-Croatia-Slovenia. They could not be altered without the consent of the League Council and were explicitly declared to take precedence over any existing and future national 'law, regulation or official action'", and he voiced the view that "minority protection obligations put in place at the time of the League could perhaps be a means of reinforcing UN resolutions and that certain relevant treaties and obligations under the League should be considered as remaining valid";
Whereas the Representatives of the Mosul Vilayet's constitutive Arab, Assyrian, Kurdish, Turkoman and Yezidi communities, its mayors, universities, political parties and main professional associations, by way of their joint Declarations of 1992, reiterated and amplified notably by their Unity Declaration of 31 May 1994 and in line with the above fully valid international guarantees and obligations, called on the powers to "take such measures and give such directions as [they] may deem proper and effective in the circumstances";
Whereas the Representatives of the Mosul Vilayet's Assyrian, Kurdish and Turkoman communities in particular have taken the lead to provide both for effective dispute-settlement, reconciliation, power-sharing and land-registry measures as well as for practical and mutually helpful initiatives designed to avoid religious and other conflicts and to provide for individual security, recovery and well-being;
Whereas the Assyrian communities in Iraq and in the Diaspora in America and elsewhere, for the common good of not only their co-religionists in Iraq but also for that of their brethren in One God here and there, have labored hard, competently and with a commendable clearsightedness, vision and determination, as is evidenced, for example, with their Amsterdam Resolution of 27 April 2003, which has been supported by representatives of all existing Assyrian, Chaldean and Syriac associations worldwide, thus:
Whereas the House Committee on International Relations has received for consideration a resolution "Expressing concern for the status of the Assyrian people in post-war Iraq" (H. RES. 272, June 12, 2003), specifying "Assyrians should be entitled to freely practice their religion and customs, speak their language, and celebrate their culture in Iraq";
Whereas the signatories of the Amsterdam Resolution, "noting that for Iraq's Assyrians, too, religion and language are so intertwined that to suppress either one will effectively mean the destruction of the Assyrian identity", also "invite the representatives of the Arab, Kurdish, Turkomen and other constitutive parts of Iraq's multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-language society to jointly explore suitable avenues for contributing to the regional stability as well as to the internal and external security, e.g. by creating a Truth Commission for examining and overcoming the effects of Iraq's recent past"; and
Whereas the Swiss Federal
Pact of 1291 laid the foundations
for Switzerland's successful culture of genuine respect, cooperation
and power-sharing among its constitutive language, religious and political
minority and majority communities, for its steadfast rejection of all foreign
judges, and for staying out of disputes among foreign powers, all under
the heading "In the name of God, the Almighty, amen", and with universally
appreciated achievements, such as the watershed meeting between President
Ronald Reagan and Chairman Michael Gorbatchev in Geneva which gave rise
to the Joint Declaration of
the United States Congress of 8 November 1985 to "commend the people
and the sovereign confederation of the neutral nation of Switzerland for
their contributions to freedom, international peace, and understanding":
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate
and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress
That it is the sense of the Congress:
To commend the Assyrian
people and their leaders
- for raising the awareness of all those who submit to God, of their important roots which also are shared by all Iraqis and their friends at home and abroad,
- for the Assyrians' willingness to avail their good offices, particularly in the religious domain,
- for helping to bring about early, effective and lasting reconciliation, recovery and well-being among all Iraqis, and
- for providing effective leadership towards these universally cherished goals;
support the establishment, in the Mosul Vilayet as the core of the
ancient Assyrian Empire, of such homesteads, centers and services
- which will be secure, which may enlighten all of us on the roots of monotheism, particularly prior to Muslim, Christian and Jewish traditions,
- which may help all Christian Assyrians, all Sunni and Shia Arabs, Kurds and Turkomans, all Jews, and all Yezidis to recognize and respect each other, and to regain trust among themselves, not least on the solid basis of their One God brethrenship, and
- which, by giving meaning to existing treaty rights and obligations, may also firmly set these communities on their own road to genuine successful power-sharing, cooperation and fruit-sharing and, as such, again make them a source of security, stability and inspiration radiating beyond Iraq's fully preserved borders; and
To call particularly
on the governments signatories of the Lausanne
Treaty of 24 July,1923 (France, Great Britain, Greece, Italy, Japan,
Romania, Serb-Croate-Slovene Kingdom and Turkey), as well as on the governments
of the observer countries Germany, Russia, Switzerland and the United States,
for appropriate, determined and immaginative initiatives which are incumbant
on the powers that be, such as
- a follow-up to that 1923 conference, and
- an Advisory Opinion by the International Court of Justice on the current status of the above international guarantees and obligations;
and to invite all governments concerned to desist from any action which may be detrimental to the objectives thus pursued.