The Assyrian Assistance Center in Baghdad has claimed that a “calculated effort is under way to deny Assyrian Christians representation in the upcoming elections.”
Ken Joseph Jr., from AssyrianChristians.com, says, “A 1,000-member election commission is being chosen to represent the various constituencies from which elections will be ultimately carried out.”
Amir George of the Assyrian Assistance Center in Baghdad, who has asked that his name be changed to protect his identity, added, “To date we have confirmed only 20 Assyrian delegates out of the total of 1,000.
“The names the Assyrian Christian Community has turned in for inclusion in the election commission have all been rejected by the Kurdish Regional Government authorities. We are calling upon freedom loving peoples worldwide to protest in the strongest way possible this blatant attempt to shut us out of the electoral process.”
The Assyrian Christians are the indigenous people of Iraq, and Christians. They face blatant discrimination first because they are not Arab, then because they are not Moslem, and again because they are seen as allies of the West.
“We are doing all we can to demand that we be accorded representation in accordance with our status as the indigenous people of Iraq,” says Assyrian Christian activist Robert Isaac.
“During the time of Saddam Hussein the Assyrian Christian Population was given as 2.5 million by the Iraqi Government. That should give us a minimum of 100 seats out of the 1,000-member assembly.
“In both Dohuk and Irbil the Assyrian Christian population figures give us four delegates to the convention each – we have been given none. This is completely unacceptable.”
According to Ken Joseph Jr., “AssyrianChristians.com has confirmed directly with Iraqi government officials who flatly stated for the record that ‘the Assyrian Christians as the indigenous people of Iraq shall have the representatives of their choice and any difficulties they may encounter will be fought to the full extent of the law.'”
He said that an Iraqi official has stated, “Please give us the details so we can ensure that this important and historic Iraqi community can be part of the process.”
George Lazarus was then quoted as saying, “This blatant shutout from the election process of the indigenous Assyrian Christians is a part of a long history of discrimination, ethnic cleansing and genocide endured by one of the last remaining Christian populations in the Middle East in an area that has seen non-Moslem numbers fall from nearly 18 percent according to some figures a generation ago to now under 2 percent.”
The Assyrian Holocaust of 1917-1918 saw nearly two thirds of the community wiped out in one of the most terrible, but least known massacres of the 20th century.
“We call upon the international community to protest in the strongest way possible to their local Iraqi Embassy that the rights of the Assyrian Christians be protected,” says George.
“We demand immediately that the Assyrian Christians be accorded delegates to the convention from Dohuk, Irbil and every area of Iraq in accordance with our status as the indigenous people of Iraq,” added Lazarus.