Publius Forum

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Assyrian Christians In Iraq Struggle For Civil Rights

An Iraqi friend of mine brought to my attention the plight of the Assyrian Christians in Iraq. Just recently, the Provincial Election Law (Article 50) has been abolished, leaving all minorities no protection and no guarantee of seats in the Parliament.
There have been demonstrations throughout the world by various concerned groups including over 5,000 in demonstrations within Iraq.

In a nation where over 2 million people have left and are refugees both inside and outside the country, minorities including Yazidis, Shabak, as well as the indigenous people of Iraq, the Assyrian Christians and others are deeply concerned at what they see as an Islamic drift in the country with growing influence from Iran and other more conservative regimes.

They see Article 50 which sets aside seats for each minority to protect them as a check on that drift.

One Assyrian Christian representative asking for anonymity said, “Article 50, which protects the minorities, is critical for the future of Iraq. We feel, in fact, that a similar provision should be in the Iraqi Parliament where for example we have only two seats out of 275.

“If our numbers are properly considered – 2.5 Million or approximately 10% of the country at the last count during the time of Saddam Hussein – we should in fact have 10 seats.” [Continue reading ASSIST News Service (ANS), October 3, 2008.]
I have presented this news to you by an independent news source, because I now have a list of articles from Waleeta. Her organization is Assyria Foundation. They are trying to help people within and outside of Iraq aware of their plight.

In this previous article, I noticed (some words so far) that President Talibani has made promises toward renewing Article 50.
“The law was just recently passed,” Talibani said. “It is not consistent with the Constitution nor with what we feel is needed for Iraq. We need to do all we can to help those who are currently displaced to return home. As President I have the right to amend what parliament passes and I can assure you that we will be amending the change in the law immediately.”

He continued: “We need to protect our minorities and this change sends exactly the wrong message. We are doing all we can to help those displaced to return and recently have put together a plan to provide 10 million Dinars (Approximately 8,500) to all who return as well as help in building a home and starting business for all.”

In earlier statements Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and Foreign Minister Zebari echoed Talibani’s words by promising monthly payments to all refugees from the ballooning Iraqi Oil Fund as well as recognition for an Assyrian Province in the homeland of the indigenous Assyrian Christians in Northern Iraq.

“We need to get a message to the Assyrians and others that now is the time to come home. Whatever they need we will do for them,” Talibani concluded.
Let us pray this is true. However, it is the Kurds who I have stood up for them to have their own state (as long as they do not claim Assyrian lands) who are the ones who are violently abusing our Christian brothers and sisters. This is uncalled for, this is a violation of their civil rights, and it must STOP.

I lay this at your feet, STATE DEPARTMENT Bremer. You drafted this. You implemented this. You disbanded the Iraqi Army. President Bush is too much of a decent person (for his own good) to say anything against you, BUT I WILL! I knew it was a disaster the moment the state dept started meddling where they do not belong. You have proven me correct.

Back to the main point...

I have six articles I would like you to read so you may grasp the extent to which these people suffer even until today. They need our prayers, our posts, our witnessing for them, and our voices. Please join me in this struggle with my brothers and sisters in Iraq. Thank you.

These article are from the Assyrian International News Agency.

Kurdish Land Grabs Leave Assyrians Dependent on Food Aid.
September 11, 2008.

"It's odd to see Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) line up for food aid in a village which boasts rich agricultural lands and plentiful water. The explanation can be seen just a few meters from the center of the village, where 15 Muslim Kurdish families have built their houses. The Muslim Kurds have forced themselves into the village and have taken control of all the farming land and the water sources belonging to the village. The Kurdish families have also built a mosque. In Muslim tradition, once a mosque is built it may never be destroyed; thus the Kurds have announced to the Assyrians their intention of staying permanently."

Dutch MPs Visit North Iraq, Call for Protection for Assyrians.
April 15, 2008.

"Based on the information gathered during the visit, the delegation has concluded the the Christian Assyrians are being eradicated from their ancestral lands and the international community must act to protect them."

Action Needed to Save Iraq's Assyrians.
October 2, 2008.

"I spoke to a number of displaced widows who shared their tragic stories. One woman told that her husband had been kidnapped and a $15,000 ransom demanded. Although she paid, her husband was never returned and is presumed dead. Another widow's husband had been killed by a bomb and she has been left to care for their son and two daughters, one of whom has Down's Syndrome. Another told me that her husband had been killed by a roadside bomb in 2006 while he was returning from church. A few days after her husband's death her daughter was kidnapped. At this point she started crying uncontrollably and we had to end the interview. I later learned that her daughter has never returned and is presumed dead."
"The average Iraqi faces many risks but Christians are exposed to even more: they have to deal with the additional threat of attacks from Islamic extremists, who want to drive them out of Iraq, kill them or force them to convert to Islam; attacks by insurgents who mistakenly view the Christians as close allies of the "Christian" West; abduction by kidnappers who think that the generally well-educated Christians are more wealthy than other Iraqis; and having large areas of their land - and many of their houses - misappropriated by neighbouring Kurds in in what appears to be a systematic attempt to take over Christian-owned land and drive Christians out of the Kurdish region. At least 58 Christian villages have been partially or wholly misappropriated by Kurds." [HOW DARE YOU!]

Iraq Christians Demand Reserved Council Seats.
October 6, 2008.

"We defend the rights that have been stolen from us and call on the authorities to ensure that there is no discrimination.

"With one voice, we appeal to our leaders -- (President) Jalal Talabani, (Prime Minister) Nuri al-Maliki, (parliament speaker) Mahmud al-Mashhadani, (Shiite spiritual leader) Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani and the (Sunni) Association of Muslim Scholars to restore Article 50."

The dropping of the clause from the law adopted by parliament has drawn criticism from the United Nations as well as Iraqi minorities.

Iraqi Christians Call for Autonomy.
October 4, 2008.

...U.N. officials Thursday called on Iraqi lawmakers to reinstate Article 50 by Oct. 15, the first day candidates would be eligible for review.

Jamal Zeno, an Assyrian lawmaker, said Iraqi Christians had drafted a memo for self-rule in the northern province of Dahuk, Voices of Iraq reported.

"The demonstrators will present an official memo to the local authorities in Dahuk province to back their efforts and help them demand the rights of our people," he said.

More Than 10,000 Iraqi Christians Protest in Iraq's Dahuk.
October 2, 2008.

"Parliament's decision to remove Article 50, which specifies a quota for minorities in provincial councils, has sparked a heated reaction from several political blocs representing the country's Christians and other minorities." [Removed September 24, 2008.]

These are excerps from each article. Please read the entire article, although some may have the similar information. It is time for us to stand together as one Body of Christ. If not now, when?

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May you walk with the LORD always, and when you cannot take another step, may He carry you the rest of the way until you can walk along side Him again.

Linkfest Haven, the Blogger's Oasis

Friends who have shared their posts for your reading pleasure:
2. Beagle Scout - "Save the Uighurs from Gitmo!" they said.
Seventeen Uighur terrorists, taken prisoner by the US in an Al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan, whom Judge Ricardo Urbina yesterday ordered be released onto the streets of Washington DC by this Friday, today had the terms of their release challenged...
3. Leaning Straight Up - Finally, a positive effect from the economic crisis: Less Global Warming!
4. Assyrian Life - Kurds Emulate Saddam And Oppress Assyrians In Iraq.
5. The World According To Carl - Godly Wisdom - October 9, 2008.
6. The World According To Carl - Don't They Look Alike?
7. Take Our Country Back - Czarbie and His ACORN Farm.
8. Mark My Words - To be or not to be messianic.
9. Adam's Blog - Rotten Nuts.
10. Leaning Straight Up - ACORN: The little nut that grew into the mighty fraud tree.
11. Pirate's Cove - Confirmation On Barack Obama's Iraq Agreement Medling.

Cross-posted @ Rosemary's News and Ideas. Digg! Digg!

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