AINA News
Assyrian Delegate Calls for Safe Haven, UN Protection for Assyrians and Other Minorities in Iraq

Dr. Surood Muqadasi addressed the Dutch Parliament on the need for a safe haven and international protection for Assyrians in North Iraq (photo: ankawa.com).
(AINA) -- Addressing the Dutch Parliament, Dr. Surood Muqadasi called on the international community to provide a safe haven in the Nineveh Plain of Iraq for Assyrians and other minorities, under the supervision of international forces. He also called for military action against ISIS, as well as the formation of security forces composed of Assyrians, Yazidis and other minorities, to enable them to protect themselves.

Dr. Muqadisi, an Assyrian, was part of a parliamentary delegation from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), headed by Parliament Speaker Dr. Yusuf Mohamed. The delegation included Yazidi representative Shamo Sheikh Namo, Turkmen representative ... and Soran Omar, head of the Human Rights Commission in the KRG parliament.

The Delegation met with Dutch officials and Dutch Foreign Minister Mr. Frans Timmermans to discuss the suffering of the various ethnic groups in the Nineveh Plain.

This session included questions from members of the Dutch parliament about the safe haven and the details of its implementation, as well as questions about creating an autonomous region in the Nineveh Plain, which the Iraqi Parliament agreed to do.

Here is Dr. Muqadasi speech:

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share with you the issues and worries of our Christian community that concern you too.

My homeland Iraq, that has witnessed decades of dictatorship and violation of human rights of all the components of its citizens and caused instability in the whole area, was supposed to be a different country in the aftermath of the last regime change in 2003.

In return for such unstable conditions, Iraq has been paying a dear price at a time when ethnic, religious, and small linguistic groups and small minorities representing various components of the Iraqi people such as the Chaldo - Assyrian Christian community, the Yezidis, Shabeks, Turkomen, Armenians, and the Kakai experienced tremendous tragedies because they are the most vulnerable group within the Iraqi society, and because they lack in various means of self defense compared with the majority.

The Chaldo-Assyrian Christians, for example, who are the oldest indigenous people in the area, had a population of more than 1.5 millions until 2003. This figure dropped dramatically and in an alarming way to just less than 500 thousand people, a figure which continues to drop, particularly following the events of the 10th of last June causing this and other small components to face a serious challenge that threatens their existence in their ancestral land.

From the first days of this last change this component was subject to continuous direct targeting of their individuals, religious leaders and churches, in addition to various forms of demographic change in their historical lands affecting their direct characteristics and changing their cultural, civilization, and religious identity in the absence of any development projects, and a deterioration in the basic services in most of those areas as well as lack of job opportunities. This was accompanied by absence of any effective political, social, legal, and security solutions by the central government.

In my capacity as a member of Parliament in Iraqi Kurdistan Region and one of the five members of the Quota representing the Chaldo-Assyrian Christian community in Iraq, I find myself obliged to speak about the prevailing conditions in Kurdistan Region independently of what has been going on in the country as a whole.

The recent events, however, especially in the aftermath of the control by ISI S of large areas of many Iraqi provinces since 10 June 2014, including the province of Nineveh and the area of the Plain of Nineveh, the historical home of the Christian Chaldo-Assyrian people, Yezidis, Shabeks, and Turkomen, the area that represents a model for a mini-Iraq in all its rich culture, civilization, and religion, have led to heinous acts of terrorism by ISIS and caused the displacement of more than one million minority groups. And following acts of ethnic and religious cleansing, and crimes that amount to crimes against humanity and genocide, especially the killing of thousands of Yezidis and abduction of hundreds of Yezidis women in Sinjar,

All the areas in the Plain of Nineveh became empty of their indigenous people for the first time in history for more than 1700 years. The church bells of nineveh went silent and no more heard, For the first time and across 7,000 years of nineveh emptied of its indigenous population, the chaldo-assyrian were they build their Assyrian Babylonian civilization.

The area of Nineveh plain has witnessed some very serious developments after being under control of ISIS, these events has made the minorities living in the area lose confidence in the political process in the country. They now think it difficult to go back to their original places even when they are liberated from the grip of the armed militants. It also raised voices calling for providing safe haven for these minorities under international supervision for a certain transitional period until improvement in the security situation, Otherwise, they will have no other choice than the bitter immigration, which threatens to empty the whole area of its indigenous people leaving a negative impact on the neighboring countries and Europe.

It remains important for KRG and the federal government to have a real political will. They have to overlook their disputes, and take effective steps and measures for addressing the general conditions of all Iraqis and the vulnerable minorities in particular in terms of preserving their existence and protecting them from all acts of violence, killing, cleansing and displacement as well as guarantee their inclusion in the political, economic, and public life through real and effective partnership. They have to address the bad conditions that prevail in the historical areas of these minorities in terms building, reconstruction and the provision of services and job opportunities. Laws and regulations have to be passed to guarantee the rights of those communities against discrimination. The legislation for example that concerned with preserving rights of minorities, that the KR parliament is to pass during the coming period , it is hoped that the law will address essential rather than superficial issues directly relevant to the conditions of those minorities including political and administrative rights, especially with reference to the right of these minorities in administering their own affairs in their historical and areas and lands in a manner that would preserve their special character, cultural, civilization and identity.

It also remains important to pass laws and take measures that would secure the addressing of the consequences of policies and decisions made by the last regime and afterwards which still continue to date in terms of violations and demographic changes made in many areas of the Chaldo-Assyrian Christian.

If it were important for the international community to support the federal government in general and particularly the KRG in their fighting against the border-crossing terrorist groups that threaten not only the KR and Iraq alone, but also the regional and international peace and security, then what is also of more importance for those states is to support and push the federal and regional governments to protect the existence of the Christians in all the Middle East, and the Yezidi, and Mandai communities that represent the oldest ethnicities and religions in the area.

And among the factors for the survival of these minorities and defending them is for them to have self- defense forces on the ground in their areas. They have to be provided with the necessary means of self defense in terms of equipment, rehabilitation, and training, especially as they already possess the technical, security, and military potentials, as well as the potential for building and reconstruction. This is going to make an effective contribution in the reconstruction of the whole area as well as Iraq.

Finally my message which is the message of my people is that we want to continue living in our homeland, to preserve our habits, culture, identity and the most important is to preserve our holy language, the language spoken by Jesus Christ and for achieving these goals we need your support and the factor of time is important and immediate steps are necessary.

Thank you for listening.


Type your comment and click
or register to post a comment.
Bookmark and Share

* required field
User ID* enter user ID or e-mail to recover login credentials
Password*