The future of Assyrian Christians in Iraq is believed to be at great risk, according to a recent report by the Assyrian Council of Europe.
6/6/2011 Iraq (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization) – A fact-finding report issued by the Assyrian Council of Europe, Finland-Assyria Association and the UNPO believes that Iraq risks being “severely and negatively impacted” by failures to safeguard the rights of Assyrians in the country
Below is an excerpt from the joint fact-finding mission report:
At a meeting of the Assyrian Universal Alliance world congress, held in Erbil, Northern Iraq on 2-4 December 2010 a new union was formed between Assyrian political parties in Iraq. The union represents a landmark in Assyrian and Iraqi politics and brings together political parties of all ideological backgrounds to advance and protect the rights of the Assyrian community in Iraq.
The union is a direct response to the attack on the Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad that claimed the lives of fifty-eight people on 31 October 2010 but also reflects a security situation that is deteriorating, ongoing discrimination in the workplace, and the steady emigration of thousands of Assyrians from Iraq.
A perceived failure in regional, national, and international policies is therefore seeing the tabling of new proposals. Chief among these are calls for the establishment of a Nineveh Governorate and for adoption of Article 35 of the draft constitution for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).
It was against this backdrop and to gauge public and institutional support for the political union and its policies that from 27 March – 3 April 2011 the Assyrian Council of Europe (ACE), Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO), and Finland-Assyria Association conducted a fact-finding mission to Northern Iraq.
As a result of its meetings, discussions, and interpretation of the testimony heard the fact-finding mission concludes that there may be one generation remaining in which to safeguard the Assyrian community in Iraq.
Throughout its meetings, a feeling of abandonment and entrenchment was widely evident. The continued flow of Assyrian community to neighboring countries and further abroad has left its existence on a knife-edge. Without support and promotion for security and sustainable economic development in the region there can be no firm basis upon which the Assyrian community can remain rooted in Iraq.
However, the sense of entrenchment has also demonstrated the Assyrian community’s belief that change is possible and that both Assyrian and Iraq have a mutual future. The fact-finding mission believes that the new political consensus between Assyrian parties, and increasingly between Iraq’s minorities as a whole, must be supported with responsible international engagement, and by the European Union in particular.
Initiatives to raise and broaden debates on local and provincial governance reform should be promoted to improve the current levels of debate. In a similar way there is a need to encourage historical reassessments of Iraq’s history in ways that can place proper emphasis on the role of minorities in shaping what was one of the Middle East’s most culturally dynamic centers. Looking to the past will be key to promoting the country’s past cultural heterogeneity and raising awareness locally and internationally of Iraq’s history of pogrom, discrimination and emigration that is at risk of recurring and causing the country and its reconstruction great and irreparable damage.