Stockholm (AINA) -- Assyrians in Europe took to the streets on Saturday, May 28 to protest the ongoing Kurdish expropriation of Assyrian lands in North Iraq (AINA 2016-04-14). Demonstrations were held in Gutersloh, Germany and in Stockholm and Gothenburg in Sweden. The street protests were organized by the Assyrian Confederation of Europe, an umbrella for the national Assyrian federations in EU countries.
The issue of Kurdish land expropriation in Assyrian areas in North Iraq was recently highlighted by Human Rights Watch in a report on the most recent case which took place in April this year in an area called Nahla valley. Following a familiar pattern, an influential Kurdish businessman with ties to the ruling Barzani clan started building on Assyrian owned lands in the Nahla valley. When Assyrians of the area tried to stage a protest outside the regional parliament in Arbil they were met with armed peshmerga and Kurdish security known as Asayish.
According to demonstrators, these land grabs are part of a systematic campaign which aims to drive out the remaining Assyrians from their ancestral homelands.
The Nahla Case
A Kurd named Ibrahim Hajji Yasin moved into Nahla a few months ago and began seizing land in the village of Zoly and moving livestock into it. He brought more than 200 cows into the land. He also began constructing 3 homes.
According to Assyrian sources, Mr. Yasin is employed by Retha Zebari, a close relative of Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Regional Government.
Nahla has eight Assyrian villages, Upper and Lower Hezani, Belmand, Khalilane, Zoly, Kashkawa, Meroke and Rabatke. The land of Nahla on parcels 89 and 90 includes Upper and Lower Hezani, Zoly and Khalilane, and all the deeds in these villages are held by 117 Assyrians in a co-op. The deeds, most of which were granted before 1970, have been recognized by the Iraqi Department of Agriculture and Iraqi courts.