Assyrians Demonstrate in Stockholm Against Persecution in Iraq
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(AINA) -- The church bell indicated noon. It was time for lunch in Sweden, when there are most people in the streets. Workers, students and teachers were on their way to their meal. In one of Stockholm's fashionable districts near the famous Engelbrekts Church, one of the towns oldest and biggest churches, a flag with the text Allah u Akbar (God is bigger/biggest) was swaying. Here on Baldergatan, a small street with buildings from the beginning of 20th century is the Iraqi embassy.

Outside the embassy the line became longer and longer. Most people in the line this rainy day were refugees who wanted to arrange their ID cards for asylum applications. The Iraqi mosaic of ethnic groups and religions was represented. Arabic, Assyrian and Kurdish could be heard from the crowd. Not so strange since Sweden has received most Iraqi refugees than any other western country.

More than twenty persons were not in the line but they stod on the other side of the street. Their matter was not about ID cards but about continuing existence. They were representatives of Assyrian, Chaldean and Syriac organizations demonstrating their dissatisfaction with the last development in Iraqi politics.

Overshadowed by the international financial crisis oppression and persecution of Iraqi minorities has escalated in a devastating speed.

While spreading leaflets the demonstrators were informed by a policeman that they didn't have a permission to demonstrate and were removed to a busy avenue on Valhallavägen, a highly trafficked road. Obviously irritated they stood in a road among construction workers and concealed for the public by passing buses.

"They are not allowed to stay outside the embassy because we are afraid of disturbances. Unfortunately there is road-building today, I can't do anything about that," said a policeman to me when I asked why the demonstrators were moved.

Nabil Tomi, an artist, was indignant, but not only about the Swedish police:

"We är a peaceful people, we don't want to carry weapons. We don't want to throw stones and we definitely don't want that our campaigns here will harm our brothers and sisters in Iraq. We only want the truth to come through. The United States and its allies have failed to bring democracy to Iraq. It has become a segregated country full of hate, oppression and persecution. The Iraqi government claims that violence has decreased and that it will protect the minorities but it is just propaganda. They say one thing and act in an opposite way."

Sargon Slivo, chairman of the Assyrian Democratic Movement in Europe, stated that the place of the demonstration is not important but the message. He emphasized that the Iraqi government and parliament must know that Assyrians will fight for their rights until the final moments and will not disappear from the place which has been their homeland during thousands of years.

Beside him stood Isak Monir, spokesman for the Chaldean Federation in Sweden:

"Since the decision to exclude minorities representatives was taken by the Iraqi parliament the violence against Christians has increased remarkably. The groups who want Iraq cleaned from other ethnic end religious groups maybe felt that they are backed up by the parliament and consequently have begun to kill Christians again. They want a homogeneous Iraq cleaned from other ethnic end religious groups."

Demonstrators told me that they had spoken with relatives and friends in Iraq and the remaining non-Muslims in cities like Mosul, who earlier persist to stay in thier towns are now fleeing in pure panic. I asked one of the demonstrators to help me to find the telephone number to an Assyrian activist in Mosul.

"It is true. Tens of families flees every day. The last days, since the decision to exclude minorities representatives from provincial authorities, violence, threats and killings of non-Muslims has increased tremendously."

After finishing the call I looked at the university a hundred meters away. Students, teachers and others were hurrying back to the university after the lunch break. The Swedish weekday went on. The news bills were full of panic expressions about the financial crisis... Who remember the Assyrians? Bush has deceived them, the Iraqi government has lied to the international community about protecting them -- empty words. Terrorists, or maybe just a neighbor who wants their home, take the chance to steal, loot and kill.

The delegation of Assyrian/Chaldean/Syriac organizations handed over a communiqué to the embassy demanding that the decision to exclude minorities representatives from provincial authorities to be revoked.

By Nuri Kino

Translated by Johannes Khawsho.

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