(AINA) -- The Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) on the East Coast of the United States gathered to protest the voter lockout of Assyrians in the Iraq elections. The demonstration was held at the United Nations on February 19.
Nearly 100 mostly young people chanted, sang and prayed in Syriac for two hours behind a police barricade. They carried large banner signs in Assyrian (neo-Aramaic), English and in Chinese, all of which addressed the problem of the six towns east of Mosul which did not receive ballots despite two days (Jan 30 and 31) of waiting to vote. These are the same towns in which the candidates on Assyrian list (204) had campaigned for three days, and hundreds of thousands of votes for ChaldoAssyrian representation would have been cast had the people not been prevented from voting. As it was, because the voting did not take place, only enough votes were counted to seat one independent ChaldoAssyrian representative. Four other ChaldoAssyrians came in under the auspices of the leading Kurdish list and one, from Baghdad, gained a seat under the Allawi list.
The demonstrators at UN Plaza, many from Massachusetts and Connecticut who had rented a bus for the trip, joined others from Long Island, Manhattan and New Jersey to make their voices heard on a very cold New York day chilled further by proximity to the East River. Passing cars and foot traffic noted especially the sign in Chinese which said "1400 American soldiers died in Iraq, but Assyrian Christians still could not vote."
The Assyrians were joined by a group of Turkomens from the New York area, including a musician who is a Turkomen Christian from the Kirmizi Kelise community of Kirkuk, which is known as Qal'a Gawur. Turkomens also joined the protest in Chicago on February 13.