North Iraq (AINA) -- Thousands of Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) took to the streets in cities across northern Iraq's Nineveh plain yesterday to protest what they see as a deliberate manoeuvre by the political majority to shut them out of Iraqi politics. The passing of the new provincial elections law on Wednesday saw the elimination of article 50, which guaranteed Iraq's minorities reserved seats in the provincial councils. Since then, a storm of protest has erupted in Iraq, followed by condemnation from outside.
The quota seats for minorities were agreed upon and passed into legislation on July 22, 2008. It was a major step forward for Iraq as it guaranteed minorities would have a meaningful role to play in the political sphere. The Assyrians, for example, were guaranteed 13 seats in the councils of six different Iraqi provinces. But the political achievement would only last a few months as the Arabic-Kurdish majority in the Council of Representatives chose to eliminate article 50, which was not supposed to be re-examined by the Iraqi lawmakers but it was sent back to them by the office of President Jalal Talabani. Despite affirmations to the only independent Assyrian lawmaker, Mr. Yonadam Kanna, that the Council of Representatives would only vote on the issue of the provincial council of Kirkuk, the MPs, in what can only be described as a political coup, nullified article 50 from the law on provincial elections.
Assyrians from every church denomination and political affiliation have come together to raise their voices against the attempts to minimize their role in Iraq's political sphere.