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Assyrian Christians of Iraq Wanted to Vote But Were Not Allowed

Mubarak Sliva (58) sits in fornt of "Muntaka" coffe shop by an old table and drinks tea out of a little glass with his friends Michael and Jacob, He watches Shiites and the Kurds celebrating their election victory which will allow them to rule the country. Again and again Mubarak looks at this but seem like every time he feels like being stabbed in the heart. His friends feel sad also. The "Muntaka" is social center of the city of Qaraqosh located 15 kilometers distance from Mosul. All 30,000 inhabitants are Christian Assyrian who were prevented fom voting during the Iraqi elections."No one heard our voices, we were deprived of our constitutional right as in the Saddam Husseins time, nothing has changed", shouts Mubarak Sliva.

East of Mosul, there are many places where only Christians live but because they wear the typical Arab clothing they are not noticed. Out of the 200,000 Assyrians in the region 90 percent were not allowed to vote. "The large iraqi parties celebrate, and the USA wants to establish democracy in Iraq but the minorites will not be part of it", complained Mubarak Sliva: " not even once any body cared to mention in Baghdad that we were deceived. It was alleged that they did not know what happened. That is a lie . Three weeks ago the American consul from Mosul visited us."

Louis Markus Ayoob (45), the deputy mayor and representative of the electoral committee for Qaraqosh, has testified that it was Kurd's intention to keep Christians from voting. The KDP ( democratic party of Kurdistan ) has a large party office with police, secret service and soldier in Qaraqosh where no Kurds live. The Christians do not speak Kurdish language and the Kurds do not speak Arabic or Assyrian.The Christians wanted to elect their own representatives in Baghdad and not be represented by the Kurds.

In Mosul, the organizers of the elections were predominantly Kurd members of the KDP. Louis Markus Ayoob testified, that the 24 trained election helpers were planned to leave Mosul and arrive in Qaraqosh bringing with them the ballot boxes and the election documents but were sent instead to a remote neighborhood west of Mosul. The deputy mayer called the election committee in Mosul informing them that there has been a misunderstanding and the documents and helper had not arrived in Qaraqosh. Similar incidents were reported from other Christian villages. Some had received few ballots other nothing because were stolen.

In Qaraqosh, a spontaneous demonstration was organized by several hundred people on the election day which had never happened before. They chanted "We don't need Kurds in Qaraqosh . We want to democratically select our own representatives". People were disappointed and asked Louis Markus Ayoob to call the US-American consul in Mosul at 5:00 P.M. He reported what had happened and was told two Helicopters will bring the ballots to Qaraqosh and would be delivered to Ayoob personally.

The election committee planned to make an exception to allow christians to vote late at night because a fraud had been committed to prevent them from doing so. But the vice-mayor Louis Markus was unable to get to the Helicopters when they landed. According to a report he was was stopped by Kurdish soldiers of the KDP who approached with weapons and pulled him out of the car. What subsequently happened, has left behind its marks on Louis Markus Ayoob's body and face even after the physicians mended his wounds and fixed his broken nose.

Ayoob reports that he was taken to the KDP party office and beaten brutally. The local Kurdish party chief Mohammed Amin had told him this was a punishment for the demonstration against the Kurd in the city. The bleeding election leader of Qaraqosh was held as a prisoner in the party office when the Helicopter landed. Since no one had come to the the landing field to claim the ballot boxes the helicopters waited for a couple of minutes then they returned to Mosul. Around eleven fifteen p.m. the badly injured Louis Markus Ayoob was finally allowed to leave the KDP party headquarter.

By Erwin Decker
Frankfurter Rundschau Online


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