Concern expressed for Assyrian Christians in Iraq -18/12/05

12/18/2005 9:56:44 AM

As citizens of Iraq and international observers await the full outcome of what is generally regarded as a successful election, concern has been expressed for the impact of political horse-trading on the country’s Christian minority.

In a letter too the Guardian newspaper in the UK on Friday, four politicians from both left and right, together with Andy Darmoo of the pressure group Save the Assyrians said that it was important that the international community did not forget them.

The appeal has added weight because its signatories include Giorgos Dimitrakopolous, the European Parliament’s rapporteur on Iraq.

Noting that indigenous Christians amount to almost a million people, around 7 per cent of the total population, the correspondents – including British MEPs (Member of the European Parliament) Glyn Ford, Labour, and Charles Tannock, Conservative – said that they should not be overlooked in the concern to safeguard the interests of Sunni and Shia Arabs and Kurds.

They pointed out that the Assyrians, who are frequently omitted from media reports, were actually the original inhabitants of Iraq.

“Protecting the rights, electoral or human, of this indigenous Christian community is not a priority for the US”, the group noted, “while the interim Iraqi government doesn’t want to divide the spoils of victory any further.”

They also raised the question of how Christians would be impacted by a possible Western “exit strategy”.

“Unless something is done to address Assyrian concerns the trickle of refugees from the Nineveh plain will turn into a flood”, the group concluded, employing biblical imagery.

The fourth signatory to the letter is Mark Seddon, known for his involvement with the UK Labour Party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and the historic, dissenting Tribune weekly paper.