Commentary: Christians Shut Out Of National Conference In Baghdad As Stream of Refugees number 40,000!

By Ken Joseph Jr.

April 29, 2005 - In a series of moves that do not bode well for the future of democracy and the rule of law in Iraq a series of maneuvers at the Iraqi National Conference in Baghdad have undermined the voice of the Assyrian Christians, who according to figures of the previous government comprise 2.5 Million or over ten percent of the country.

According to sources within the conference who asked not to be named, out of the total of 1,000 delegates only 54 Assyrian Christians were allowed to attend and in backdoor maneuvering a total of only three out of the 100 Delegates to be chosen are being allowed. 100 Assyrian Christian delegates should have been allowed to the conference and 10 for the National Committee.

"We are calling on the democratic countries of the world to assist us" the source said "Out of the watchful eyes of the world the same old thugs from the old regime are throwing their weight around and depriving the Christians of their historical and political rights'

"We call up on the democratic countries of the world to insist that the Assyrian Christians, as the indigenous people of Iraq be set aside 10 out of the 100 members of the National Council and that these members be chosen from our own community, not imposed from outside."

The Assyrian Christians, are the indigenous people of Iraq, a population that according to some experts nearly 60% of the current Iraqi population are former Christians. 

The people of "Nineveh", of the Biblical story of Jonah and the whale, the Assyrian Christians play prominent roles in Church History becoming the first nation to accept Christianity and according to Kenneth Scott LaTourette in "A History of Christianity" the largest missionary sending people in Christian History.

Sources close to the conference, in particular single out The Kurdish Regional Government who in violation of Article 53 of the Iraqi Constitution have not provided for local autonomy for the Assyrian Christian Community in Northern Iraq.

Article 53 provides the Assyrian Christian with their local administrative rights in their original homeland in Northern Iraq, but they have not been able to enforce the law.

Apparently, strong pressure is being brought to reduce the numbers of Assyrian Christian representatives from the 10 to three and those members being appointed not by the community but by the Kurdish Regional Government.

The state of the Assyrian Christians has taken a sudden turn for the worse in recent days with the announcement by the Iraqi Minister of Migration, Pascale Isho Warda, the only Assyrian Christian in the Iraqi Government,  that "The number of Christians who have left Iraq has reached 40,000 according to the latest statistics. This emigration is due to insecurity and the attacks on the Churches in Baghdad and Mosul two weeks ago."

According to Assyrian Christian activist William Yonan, who asked that his name be changed for fear of reprisal "We urgently need help! There is a calculated campaign to cause our people, the original people of Iraq to leave.  There are those who hate Christians, simply because of our faith and because of the simple fact that we represent the voice of reason and normalcy.

The vast majority of the Iraqi people do not want the dark forces to rule in Iraq and are fighting valiantly to prevent their takeover.  It is the Assyrian Christians who are at the forefront of this fight defending the Iraqi people who are for the most part completely secular against the mullahs and other dark forces who want to turn Iraq into another Iran."

An Assyrian Christian website posts pictures of recent killings as well as a plan for the enforcement of Article 53 on the ground in Iraq.

Yonan continues "It should now be clear to the world that the only way for the Assyrian Christians to survive in Iraq is to be accorded our rights under Article 53 for our  homeland in historic Assyria. We call upon the democratic countries of the world to demand that the Iraqi constitution be honored and our land be returned to us so we can live in safety and honor as guaranteed by the Constitution."

Rev. Ken Joseph Jr, an Assyrian says "The Assyrian Christians are one of the last remaining Christian communities in the Middle East. The true cause of the current problems in the Middle East is this dramatic departure of the historic communities of the region.

The only long term solution for the Middle East is for the world to stand up for these communities which have historically been the engine of growth in the region. It is their mass exodus that has triggered the true cause of the problems in the middle east - economic collapse.  The historic balance of the region must be restored as the only long term solution for the region.';

A recent report by the European Union stated that "little or no aid is being received by the Assyrian Christians in Iraq. International aid is mainly distributed through regional and therefore moslem leaders and seldom or never reaches the Assyrians."

The population of Christians in the Middle East as a whole has gone from nearly 20% a generation ago to now under 2%.  Reports tell of a conference held in 1980 in Lahore, Pakistan in which regional representatives vowed to climate all Christians from the Middle East.

As the numbers drop below 2% and with this most recent exodus from Iraq their goal is more and more a reality.

Assyrian Christians from across Europe are planning a Sunday, 1PM demonstration in London, in front of the residence of the British Prime Minister at Number 10 Downing Street to thank the British for their help in Iraq and highlight the plight of the Assyrian Christians in Iraq.

Ken Joseph Jr.


Rev. Ken Joseph Jr. is an Assyrian and has been in Iraq since March, directs and is writing a book about his experience in Iraq entitled `I Was Wrong!`

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