Assyrians Need Autonomous Region, Says Advisor to Mosul's Governor
By Nahren Anweya
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Dr. Duraid Tobiya Zoma, advisor to the governor of Mosul.
(AINA) -- On June 10 ISIS captured Mosul, Iraq's second largest city. The house of Dr. Duraid Tobiya Zoma was the first house to be occupied by ISIS and was marked with the letter "N" for Nazarene (Christian). Dr. Zoma, who is an advisor to the governor of Mosul and an Assyrian, lived in north Mosul. He fled to the Assyrian town of Tel Kepe in the Nineveh Plain of Mosul when ISIS captured the city. He remained in Tel Kepe until August 4, when ISIS moved into the Nineveh Plain, which forced 200,000 Assyrians to flee their homes. Dr. Zoma fled to Arbel.

Dr. Zoma received a summons from the United States Department of Homeland Security for a meeting with the White House, Department of State, Congress, Pentagon, and the United States Institute for Peace.

The following is an interview with Dr. Zoma.

What is your message to the people of the United States?

Please speed the process of the liberation of Mosul and other Christian cities as well as the cities of other minorities. If they prolong it any longer it will be the worst catastrophe for all Iraqi civilians and a devastating loss of many innocent lives.

If ISIS is allowed to stay in Iraq, we fear the majority of the general public of Iraq will have no choice but to join the occupation by ISIS and will be forced to practice its ideology to destroy humanity as well as continue the displacement of the indigenous Christian people and other innocent civilians. They would do this if they feel there is no hope whatsoever and that would grow ISIS. This can be prevented to avoid a worse disaster for the people of Iraq.

What are you requesting legally?

For the Assyrian Christians to be armed; we have 4,500 volunteers who are ready to help protect Nineveh and their other minority friends. We need to be immediately liberated and we need an emergency international intervention for a substantial solution.

What about the Internally Displaced People?

There are 1.2 million displaced civilians who are scattered in camps, yards, churches, bridges and just about anywhere they have found temporary shelter in Dohuk, Arbel, Sulaymaniyah, Baghdad and Basra. They are in desperate need of food, water, blankets, medications and other basic items necessary for survival.

There are three groups of IDPs. The first group has left Iraq, seeking asylum in other countries. The second group will only go back to their homes if they secure safe passage and their cities are liberated. The third group is demanding their properties back and insisting they want to return to their homes now.

What about humanitarian aid? Who's actually helping?

America is helping the most and Canada second, with a few others who are providing humanitarian aid.

The central government is delivering minimum aid, giving $800 per family for 6 months. 30% of the people have not received any help whatsoever. A large portion of the money was sent to the Kurdish government and many people have received nothing.

The churches are the most helpful for the IDPs and they are helping every hour of the day. The churches offer help such as money to help pay rent for the numerous families that are in one room or hundreds of families in one building.

People are still living in abandoned buildings, unfinished buildings, bridges, yards, streets, under trees and every inhuman place. The caravans have helped immensely; they're using them for partial shelter, food storage, medical clinics, temporary schooling and other charitable dispensaries.

The majority of people are not receiving the funds the international communities and governments claimed were sent. Also, they have received expired food and clothing inadequate for the extreme upcoming winter.

What did you request from the U.S. government?

I recommended troops on the ground and more air strikes. Individual air strikes are not sufficient to stop ISIS. We are requesting immediate boots on the ground and not just advisers. ISIS is estimated to have 50,000 total in Iraq. Air strikes alone are not sufficient for stopping them. People are dying every day and from simple things such as lack of food and medicine. The Christians are extremely vulnerable.

We requested to have stronger language in the constitution of Iraq on the protection of the indigenous people and minorities and we need the U.S to support this, to demand the protection of the indigenous people and minorities who are the most afflicted. The Assyrians of Iraq, who have lasted for almost 7,000 years, are facing extinction. We have testified the Assyrians are marginalized in the union of Iraq. Iraq is not recognizing the Christians as an important entity in the structure of Iraq nor acknowledging their indigenous rights. The Christians need a personal status law and they need to be treated as equal citizens and not as second class citizens, and should not be persecuted any further.

We are requesting an autonomous region for Assyrians in the Nineveh Plain to protect them as the indigenous people, who are being extremely affected by ISIS.

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