The conference, convened by Lars Adaktusson, a Member of the European Parliament, in Brussels on the theme “The Future of Christians in Iraq,” issued a final statement and a political document on June 30th, despite opposition to the conference by key church institutions and political parties.
The final statement of the conference declared that a “consensus on a unified policy that represents the legitimate demands of our people to remain in our motherland,” was built. However, the conference did not touch on the situation of our people and their suffering and rights and political participation in all areas where we live and are indigenous in the homeland. Instead, the entire conference limited things to the Nineveh Plain, as though our people are in a comfortable condition in the rest of the country.
The Brussels Statement went on to downplay the status of the March 6 Joint Statement of political demands signed by ten of our people’s political parties, reducing it to a mere ‘working paper’. It also went in the opposite direction on one of the key demands of the March 6 Joint Statement, which calls for excluding and shielding the Nineveh Plain from the surrounding conflict. The Brussels Statement calls for a referendum on the future situation of the Nineveh Plain before the return of the people and normalization of their situation, which escalates the conflicts between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Federal Government and thus the continuation of instability which further impedes the return of displaced people.
Also, the March 6 Joint Statement seeks to enable the people of the Nineveh Plain to defend themselves and protect their property and to monitor the peace under the auspices and support of UNAMI in order to establish a basic foundation for the future. The Brussels Conference statement seeks to re-establish the failed status quo that prevailed before the control of Da’esh. The Brussels final statement calls for American and European intervention to promote negotiations with the Federal Government and the Kurdistan Region on the future of the Nineveh Plain and imposing a referendum to determine its future. It proposes the establishment of an Interim Nineveh Council consisting of parties, NGOs and informal local councils that possess no constitutional or legal basis. This is proposed despite the inputs by the Assyrian Democratic Movement before the conference, and the official notification of our collective positions and policies on the matter of the conference paper. However, our remarks were not taken on. Instead, there was insistence on passing the agenda of others that was pre-arranged and dictated to us.
All the parties were united with our movement before the Brussels Conference, but ultimately they backed down and participated in the Brussels Conference. In so doing, they violated what was collectively agreed upon in the March 6 Joint Statement. This is regrettable, alarming and raises concerns. Our movement confirms its commitment to the terms of the March 6 political agreement signed by the ten political parties and rejects any decision issued by the Brussels Conference or the so-called political document and all the contents of the final statement issued by the Conference. The Brussels Conference was boycotted by three political parties and deputies of our people in the federal parliament and in the region and members of the provincial councils who are officially considered representatives of our Chaldean Syriac Assyrian people Iraq. The conference was also boycotted the Chaldean Catholic and Mashreq Churches in Iraq and the Diaspora, as well as key civil society organizations from our people. This boycott pressured the Brussels Conference organizers and sponsors to refine the policy document that was distributed before the conference. The changes to the final communiqué, under the pressure of that boycott, were not sincere efforts to radically remedy it and failed to diminish our fears on the outcome of the Conference. At best, the changes made retained a dubious agenda.
While appreciating the EU’s position in supporting our people, standing by our side and supporting our causes and demands, we are very disappointed with MEP Adaktusson and his team, who sought to undermine the free political will of the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac people and seek to replace previously agreed policies with a foreign agenda. What was agreed in the March 6 Joint Statement by our ten political parties represented the demands of our people agreed to in our homeland and without any commands or dictates from outside our borders. We are stressing that what this one Member of the European Parliament has done is in some measure motivated by his current domestic political situation and need for support in the upcoming elections in Sweden. In our opinion, this does not confer the right to exploit the European Union to achieve personal interests that lead to the division and weakening of our policies and undermining of our positions. This Member’s actions violate the principles of the European Union. The Conference, which is merely a meeting which any MEP can organize, did not produce any binding outputs or positions and does not represent the EU or its foreign policy.
In conclusion, we affirm our commitment to the principles and demands of the political agreement signed by ten of our people’s parties on March 6, 2017. That Joint Statement affirms the free will of our people, and especially of our people in the Nineveh Plain in all aspects and attitudes. It also calls for extracting our regions from ongoing political conflicts in order to achieve genuine partnership at the Federal Government level and in the Kurdistan Region as a way to end the policies of marginalization and exclusion. The March 6 Joint Statement priorities the cessation of abuses against the villages and lands of our people in the Kurdistan Region, the restoration of stolen properties, and an end to the excesses in Baghdad and the rest of Iraq. We call upon the parties and organizations of our people to remain steadfast on the principles and demands agreed upon and to prepare for realizing the March 6 Joint Statement following the destruction of the terrorists. This starts with reconstruction and reversing the devastation caused by those who have done us severe harm. This will allow the return of our displaced people to their towns to live with dignity and achieving our legitimate demands and a rejection of those policies and practices that proved dangerous and disastrous for our people.
Assyrian Democratic Movement
18 July 2017