Report to Committee on Foreign Relations:
Ken Joseph Jr.
On Foreign Relations
Richard Lugar, Chairman
Christian Assistance Center
Christians of Iraq are the descendents of the Great
Assyrian Empire which can be traced back to Nineveh
(present day Mosul) to 5000 BC and its peak in 612BC when
it controlled much of the Middle East.
people first come to the attention of most people in the
story of Jonah. They are the people of the city of Nineveh
who `repent` of their sins and come back to God following
the coming of Jonah. Again, they come to the fore
following the death of Christ, when they become the first
people to convert to Christianity through their King Abgar.
Following Following this they become, according to Kenneth
Scott LaTourette, the historian, the `greatest missionary
sending people in history`, bringing Christianity to
China, India, Japan, The Philippines and throughout Asia.
closing of the `Silk Road`, their numbers began to
dwindle, but the Assyrian Christians remained in their
homeland in Assyria, in the north of present day Iraq.
`Assyrian Holocaust` beginning in 1918 saw nearly 2/3 of
the Assyrian Christians massacred at the hands of Muslims
In spite of
these many reversals they continued to remain in their
homeland. A tiny minority in a sea of Islam.
there are approximately up to 6 million Assyrian
Christians worldwide. According to figures from the time
of Sadaam Hussein as recently as 2003 the population of
Assyrian Christians within Iraq was put at 2.5 million.
Assyrian Christians are centered in Baghdad, the capital
and in their homeland in northern Iraq.
Due to their
status as the Indigenous people of Iraq they have been
living in their homeland for over 6,000 years. Due further
to the fact that they are Christians in a majority Islamic
area they face persecution in a number of ways.
because they are the indigenous or original people.
Second, because they are Christians. Third, because they
are always seen as `agents` of the `west`.
Since the fall
of Sadaam, the situation of the Assyrian Christians in
Iraq has become very precarious and the only way for them
to be able to survive in the dramatically changing
environment is for a system to be put in place that will
allow them to stay.
Administration Region is an area that comprises part of
the Assyrian Homeland in Northern Iraq. (Map Enclosed).
The area currently has an approximately 82% Assyrian
population with a total population of approximately
The capital of
the Assyrian Administrative Region is the city of Bakhbeda,
with approximately 30,000 population. The main industry is
farming, poultry and light industry.
Administrative Region if provided autonomy and self
government as in Kurdestan to the north, will be
economically viable through the above industries as well
as trade with neighboring Syria and Turkey and through
investment and return of many of the 2.1 million Assyrian
Christians in other areas of Iraq as well as the 3.5
million Assyrian Christians living overseas.
qualified and able set of Assyrian Christians
professionals are currently administering the area and can
easily take over administrative duties of the Assyrian
Administrative Region, as an autonomous, administrative
region is able to provide for local services, including
schools, security, transportation and basic services.
Due to the
recent war and the effect of the sanctions there will be a
need to upgrade various infrastructure.
It ie expected
that their will need to be an initial expenditure
according to the Coalition Provisional Authority
calculations per region to repair damages from the war and
bring basic infrastructure systems to the basics to enable
business to return.
Once this is
completed, though the area is well set to develop in a
positive and forward looking matter.
It would be a
tragedy if the Assyrian Christians, the indigenous,
original people of Iraq and one of the last remaining
Christian homelands in the Middle East were to be forced
as a result of a recurrence of a long pattern of
oppression to have to leave en masse from their own
In spite of
various attempts at working out compromises, the current
Transitional Administrative Law in article 7 states `Islam
is the Official Religion of the state` and puts the
Assyrian Christians under the administrative control of
the Kurds, those who a generation ago killed 2/3 of their
minimum of regional autonomy, as granted to the other
Minority groups in Liberated Iraq, the population will be
forced to join the 3.5 million Assyrian Diaspora living
If, though the
minimum autonomy can be achieved, The Assyrian
Administrative Region will be a Middle East Success story
of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, economic success
and an example not only to the region but to the world.
Assyrian Christian Assistance Center
Ken Joseph Jr. is an Assyrian and has been in Iraq
since March, directs Assyrianchristians.com and is writing
a book about his experience in Iraq entitled `I Was Wrong!`