New York (AINA) -- The Eastern region affiliates of the Assyrian American National Federation (AANF), the largest organization representing Assyrians in the US, will hold a demonstration against the lockout of Assyrian voters in the Iraqi elections. The Protest will be held at the UN in the United Nations Plaza in New York on Saturday, February 19, 2005 from 1-3 PM EST.
The affiliates issued the following statement on the planned protest:
The Assyrians (including members of the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Church of the East, and the Syriac Orthodox and Catholic Churches plus Protestants) are the cultural decedents of the ancient Assyrians who have continuously inhabited Northern Iraq for over 7000 years. Since the inception of Iraq in 1932, the indigenous Assyrians have suffered terrible atrocities and uncountable injustices at the hands of Iraq's leaders, beginning with King Faisal, who in 1933 approved the slaughter of thousands of innocent Assyrian men, women and children in and around the village of Simele, in Northern Iraq. Under Saddam Hussein, entire Assyrian villages were destroyed, thousands murdered in horrific ways, and Assyrian women violated and abducted. Assyrians were forced to register as either Arab or Kurd, prohibited from teaching their history and language, and barred from promoting their culture and heritage. In addition since August 1, 2004 Assyrian churches have been torched and bombed, church leaders threatened and kidnapped, and over 50,000 intimidated into exile. Without help, mass exodus may follow.
The Kurdish Democratic Party's (KDP) blockade of the Assyrian villages in the Nineveh plains prevented eligible Assyrians from voting in the recent Iraqi elections. Reports from Iraq have affirmed that under orders from the KDP, voting boxes and ballots were prevented from reaching Bakhdida, Bartilla, Karemlesh, Shekhan, Ain Sifne, Bahzan, and other heavily Assyrian populated towns in the area thus disenfranchising hundreds of thousands people. In the U.S. alone, tens of thousands of Assyrians in San Jose/Central Valley, San Diego, and Phoenix had to drive hundreds of miles on two weekends -- first to register and then to cast their ballots -- because West Coast Assyrian heavy centers had no voting stations.
The AANF Eastern Region makes an URGENT APPEAL to the newly elected government of Iraq, the United Nations which directed the election commission, and the United States to redress these injustices against the Assyrian people and against democracy. These are our demands:
- Fair and equal National Assembly representation for the indigenous Iraqi Assyrian population
- Formation of a special UN committee to investigate fraud during the recent Iraqi elections.
- Immediate end to the KDP terror against Assyrians in Northern Iraq, including Mosul and Kerkuk.
- Creation of a Self-Administrated Region on the Nineveh Plains to preserve and protect the history, language, and culture of the indigenous Assyrian Christians.
- Constitution protection for the Aramaic/Syriac language of the Assyrians - the last global entity capable of preserving the oldest language of the Middle East.
Iraq is not and can never be a free and democratic state without adequate representation for the all Iraqis. A true democratic process protects the rights of all minorities and does not seek to eliminate the indigenous population.