Ankawa.com – Rayan Nakara – San Diego, United State
Translated by Rashwan Issam Al-Daqaq
Winter knocks on the doors and the Christian people of our nation mostly smiling for this uninvited heavy guest. But, which door will be knocking this winter? It will be for those who live in the open sky….. They are the honor displaced people of Iraq, sons of civilization and history, sons of Sumer, Assyria and Babylon, they are the wounded Dove of peace and the last gasp of a culture spanning thousands of years. All wondering, what will be the fate of the Iraqi Christians (Indigenous people of Iraq) and the rest of the threatened minorities?
We are carrying on our shoulder this question wherever we go, and move forward asking about our future and the future of our children, which land will grow good for us and give it our thoughts that was once a beacon of the universe?
After we heard that there are active efforts carried out by Mark Arabo in coordination with St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Church in San Diego of the United State, that represented by the Bishop Mar Sarhad Jammu, Pastor of California and Western America, to put pressure on the Congress and the American Government in order to help the displaced Christians people (Chaldean Syriac Assyrian) and other oppressed and displaced minorities, we went to the office of Mr. M. Arabo, one of the prominent figures of the Chaldean community, who always demand the right of asylum from the United State and the European Union for those who displaced in their homeland.
Mr. Arabo is a handsome young man hold inside him great love and nostalgia to his homeland and, in particular, to his people. He work seriously and got a big deal in his movements at the White House corridors, the American Congress and the United Nation building. Probably the result of his activities would have a significant impact in one of the roughest sessions experienced by our hearted Christian people.
Mr. Arabo welcomed us in his office and was excited to meet us in order to provide what he has to stand on civil mobility details in this regard. We have carried out the following conversation with him:
Q- Mr. Arabo, it seems clear that you have done great efforts in regards to the issue of our displaced Christian people (Chaldean Syriac Assyrian) who are living under the mercy of sky, what you are doing specifically for them?
We are working to achieve three basic demands in this regards:
First, we are rescue the displaced people who live in tents by providing the required living assistance.
Second, we are trying to find real solutions for those wishing to stay at homeland. This is the most complex problem we have and it seems that to find a radical solution for this dilemma is very difficult.
Third, we are trying to find countries accept asylum for those who wish to leave Iraq as soon as possible.
Q- It seems that what happened in Iraq recently from the invasions of ISIS drove you to move quickly. When did you start your movements and what you have achieved?
In fact these moves were not born for me at the moment. My doubt about the future of our Christian people in Iraq was started since the United State begun to limit its role and to withdraw the ground troops from Iraq. Therefore, I started first of all to let my voice reach the Congress and the American Government. My act was in 2011 when I met with President Obama and convoyed to him my fears. After that I repeated my demands to protect our Christian people in Iraq, but this time was through the meeting with members of the American Congress and repeated my visits.
What happened recently pushed me strongly and put me in front of a big responsibility, especially when many of the families contacted me personally asking for help to their relatives and friends who trapped in the camps and some of the Iraqi’s neighboring countries.
We started in cooperation with the Chaldean Church headed by Bishop Mar Sarhad Jammu, demanded financial assistance and collecting forms from families and individuals who wish the migration from Iraq. When the number of these requests became 70 thousand, we presented them to the American Government, the American Congress and the United Nation.
Q- Is there any green light?
Of course we were able to get 600 million dollars as an urgent aid for the displaced people who are living under the open sky in Iraq. Also, we were able to get 53 thousands visa so far, of which 33 thousands visa from the United State and the other 20 thousands are distributed between France, Sweden, Canada and Australia.
Q- Were you alone doing all the efforts to get all those demands?
Yes, we are who began of these demands and asked activists from the rest of the United State to come with us and support our demands.
Q- How and when people will be able and accepted to obtain these visas? Would it be for certain category?
To be frank with you, I would like to tell you that the measures will take a long time, may be 6 months or perhaps several years, because such action needs special committees sent by the host countries and deal with the international organization for migration. Therefore, they are looking now to open offices for them in Iraqi cities, such as Baghdad and Erbil. This is what we are also strongly working on. The important thing is that we have already got the visas from those countries.
In fact we presented our request for the protection of all displaced Iraqis within Iraq and neighboring countries, as well. In my opinion, the applications will be accepted at the United Nation Offices after they send them to the specialized committees by the countries agreed to receive them.
Q- Well, do you think that what you are applying for is not in harmony and with the aspirations of the Chaldean Church in Iraq, in particular, and the Catholic Church in general, where Patriarch Lewis Sako always refers for non-immigration and uphold the homeland, In addition, the concerns of the Pop seem always clear on the future of Christians in the Middle East?
I don’t think so, because we are dealing with a humanitarian case as there are tens of thousands of Christians and other minorities in a dire need for help and finding countries to accept them with decent living. Yes for countries do not consider them second-class citizens as they are considered in their country of origin, and also to keep them away from the risk or perdition. After all, we are not forcing anyone to leave Iraq, but what we want is to help those who wish to immigrate and get rid of the bitter reality in which they are living.
Q- It is true you do not forcibly anyone, but you are opening the way for mass migration. Do you think that this will lead in one way or another to evacuate Iraq from its Christians and the rest of the minorities?
First of all, we should not listen to one voice and leave tens of thousands of voices asking us for immigration. Secondly, more than a million Iraqi Christian emigrated from Iraq since 2003 and the rest of them remaining in Iraq, perhaps, not exceeding 400 thousands persons. Half of those remained in Iraq are children not exceeding 10 years of age, which mean that the mass exodus has already began and we are not the people who made that.
After all, we are working within a systematic plan which you can find its details with Bishop Mar Sarhad Jammu. In my opinion, impossible to evacuate Iraq from its Christians, surely there are those who wish to stay and endure the difficulties. Therefore, we will do as the Jews did in Russia and Germany and leave our country today and get back tomorrow after establishing security.
Q- Did you think about finding jobs for the newcomers as immigrants here languish from both alteration and unemployment, which they are subjects of utmost importance?
I said earlier that the bulk of our concern is to save human lives and then working to allow them get use to the new reality. We will do our best in this regard, but I think Bishop Jammu has more details about that.
Q- Are there any obstacles facing you?
Of course, the most important was to convince the US Government for fast move, and also putting the pressure on the United Nation to speed up the proceedings. These things are not trivial, in addition to the other problems we are facing with the Turkish Government because it does not consider Iraqis on Turkish soil as refugees, but consider them displaced people (IPD). Thus, we are trying to correct the situation to facilitate the admission procedures.
Q- Do you have any communications with the Christian (Chaldean Syriac Assyrian) parties and their political components? What about the role of the Iraqi Government about your movements?
There are no serious contacts with the Christian political components. The role of the Iraqi Government is non-critical attitude; the government could not protect the minorities there, but consider them second-class citizens. When I met Dr. Hameed Albayati, the permanent representative of Iraq to the United Nation, he said we want to keep them (Christians) in Iraq.
Q- Is there any last word?
I would like to say to all the displaced people, you are not alone; we are here every day to defend you, to find ways to meet your demands and will not forget you.
Thank you very much my dear sir.
Mr. Arabo, thank you for following and listening to this important topic.