Christians 'Shut Out' of Iraq Vote, Agency Reports

'Calculated effort is underway to deny' representation in upcoming election
( [email protected] ) Jul 31, 2004 06:35 PM EDT

Reports reaching the Assyrian Assistance Center in Baghdad indicate that a calculated effort is underway to deny Assyrian Christians representation in upcoming elections, according to a Jordan-based news agency.

"The reports we are receiving directly from the area are telling us that that the names the Assyrian Christian Community has turned in for inclusion in the election commission have all been rejected by the Kurdish Regional Government authorities," Amir George of the Assyrian Assistance Center told Assyrian Christian News. "While we confirm the details we are calling upon freedom-loving peoples worldwide to protest in the strongest way possible this blatant attempt to shut us out of the electoral process."

According to Rev. Ken Joseph Jr., Assyrian Christians, the indigenous people of Iraq and Christians have faced “blatant discrimination first because they are not Arab, then because they are not Muslim and again because they are seen as allies of the West.”

Assyrian Christian activist Robert Isaac commented, “While we confirm the reports we are doing all we can to demand that we be accorded representation in accordance with our status as the indigenous people of Iraq.”

“During the time of Saddam Hussein the Assyrian Christian Population was given as 2.5 million. That should give us a minimum of 100 seats out of the 1,000 member assembly,” he said.

“What is particularly worrying about these reports is that it appears they are trying to put their own people in our place instead of those chosen by our community.”

As details begin to be confirmed over the coming days there is expected to be a strong effort to have the plans reversed.

Assyrian Christian News added that if confirmed, “the attempt to deny the Assyrian Christians their voting rights will simply be a part of a long history of discrimination, ethnic cleansing and genocide endure by one of the last remaining Christian populations in the Middle East in an area that has seen non-Muslim numbers fall from nearly 18% according to some figures a generation ago to now under 2%.”

In the meantime, the Assyrian Assistance Center in Baghdad has called upon the international community to protest to their local Iraqi Embassy that the rights of the Assyrian Christians be protected.