The Assyrian Democratic Organization Rejects Iraq's Constitution
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(AINA) -- The Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO), founded in Syria in 1957 and the largest Assyrian organization in Syria and Europe, has rejected the Iraqi draft constitution. In a strongly worded statement, the ADO objected to the language in the constitution which artificially divides the Assyrians into two groups, "Chaldeans" and "Assyrians".

The full ADO statement follows:

On August 25, Iraq's draft constitution was submitted. The draft will be voted on in a general referendum and ratified by the general assembly on October 15. The submission of the draft constitution was a great disappointment and blow to the ambitions of the Chaldean Assyrian Syriac people.

The preamble of the draft constitution intentionally ignored the historical reality of the indigenous people of Iraq (known as Assyrians or Chaldeans or Syriacs). It does not mention the Assyrians as being one of the components of the Iraqi people, alongside Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, nor does it mention Christianity, Sabaeanism and Yezidism as religions that existed and preceded Islam in Iraq. Article 135 of the draft constitution divides the Assyrians by inserting the dividing conjunction AND between the designations "Chaldeans" AND "Assyrians", aiming at showing them as two separate independent and different ethnicities. In fact, this article comes to falsify non-negotiable historical truth and reality about the unity of the Assyrians as one nation historically, culturally and linguistically, in spite of the fact, that the three known designations Chaldean, Assyrian and Syriac have been used interchangeably during the course of Assyrian history.

The prior Iraqi regime as well as the Transitional Adminstrative Law (TAL) did Assyrians more justice. In 1972 a decree was issued recognizing the cultural and linguistic unity of the Assyrians. Moreover, TAL approved the unified name "ChaldoAssyrian'', a designation which was agreed upon by the majority of Assyrian religious, cultural and political institutions during the Syriac Chaldean Assyrian general conference in Baghdad in October 2003. The Assyrian Democratic Organization considers this constitution divisive for the Assyrian people, and a flagrant violation of their inalienable rights in their homeland, Iraq. This constitution may lead to a feeling of frustration, despair and prejudice in the future Iraq, and may push Assyrians to abandon their lands and homes and to emigrate. The ADO holds the following parties responsible for dividing the Assyrians in the Iraqi draft constitution:

  1. The heads of the religious institutions, which have dispatched one memorandum after another to the various authorities in Iraq, demanding that each designation be mentioned separately. To make the matter worse, only a few days before the declaration of the draft constitution, some of them gave up their nationality and declared their affiliation to Arab nationalism.
  2. The Assyrians representatives in the Iraqi National Assembly, as well as in the constitution drafting committee, who have failed in their efforts to preserve the unity of the Assyrians; they should have withdrawn from the committee in protest.
  3. Some of the extremist organizations in Iraq and the Diaspora, whose fanatical stance concerning the name, as well as their memorandums filed to the Iraqi authorities rejecting the unifying name, has marginalized the Assyrians and compromised their unity.

The ADO, as a staunch believer in firm national principles, strongly rejects the articles and clauses in the Iraqi draft constitution that do great prejudice against the Assyrians and their national identity. We call upon all Assyrians institutions and organizations in the homeland and Diaspora to work together in appealing to the Iraqi authorities and patriotic forces as well as the international community to do justice to the Assyrian people. We ask Assyrians to say NO to this latest draft constitution in the general referendum unless it is amended to guarantee the rights, unity and the identity of the Chadean Assyrian Syriac people.

August 31, 2005 -- 6755

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