Berlin (AINA) -- In a letter sent to the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) President Nechirvan Barzani on October 4th, 2018, the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) and the Assyrian Federation in Germany and European Sections (ZAVD) urged Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq to respect Assyrian rights and political participation in the KRG region and to give pro-active support for Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs), the only indigenous people of Iraq.
The letter was signed by Ulrich Delius, Director of the Society, Aziz Said, Chairman of ZAVD, and Dr. Kamal Sido, Head of the Middle East Department of the Society.
The latter states "It is important that in Kurdistan and throughout Iraq one does not get the impression that the Christian minorities of the Assyrians, Armenians and others are not welcome."
The letter emphasized that STP has supported the struggle of the Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan for autonomy and self-determination from the beginning of the 1960s, citing Mr. Masud Barzani, the former KRG President, who affirmed that STP had indeed stood by the Kurds "in the most difficult period of their history and brought the human rights violations against Kurds to light."
The STP and the Assyrian Federation list several issues of urgency in relation to Assyrians:
- Involvement in the decision-making processes for the future of Kurdistan
- Extension of the current quota applied for the regional parliament to participation in other regional institutions
- Increased financial support to promote language, culture and traditions
- Streets or public squares should preferably be named after personalities from the history, literature and culture of the group in order to promote a peaceful and equal coexistence
- Property disputes in the villages and cities, for example in Ankawa, must be resolved peacefully and fairly; the Assyrian population must not be disadvantaged
- Equal treatment for Assyrians and other minorities in the courts
- Incitement against Assyrians, Yezidis and other believers by radical mullahs in the mosques to be stopped and to be punished judicially
- No concessions to the radical Sunni and Shiite groups in reforming laws or the constitution
- Cultural autonomy for minorities to be ensured
The letter also expresses concern about reports from the region that the KRG blocked access from Dohuk and Arbel to the villages into the Nineveh Plains. As a result of this measure, "many people living in the Nineveh Plains cannot get to Dohuk or Arbel. The road connection between the towns in the Nineveh Plains and in the areas under the control of the KRG are vital for the people." The STP and ZAVD ask the KRG regional government to do its utmost to ensure that people can travel freely between the KRG area and the Nineveh Plains.
With respect to the recent elections in the KRG region, and as related to the issues listed above, the Assyrians European diaspora organizations expressed deep concern about the "level of interference and corruption in the elections," and that especially for the Assyrians it was unprecedented (AINA 2018-10-01). The Assyrians organizations called on European governmental and non-governmental institutions "to voice their concerns and demand that the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government respect the rights of minorities and amend the election law immediately and hold it accountable."