situation of our people and present the demands of our peoplerope, we continue to emphasize and expand our political, diploits administration and delegates. With our new team across Eumatic, and social relations with various actors to underline theFollowing our successful Congress during last year, ESU altered-to continue their existence in their ancestral homeland.
Nineveh Plains left deep trauma among our people. During the last three months, we continued our works, meetings, and forumsnihilation and exodus of Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people fromregarding our people in Iraq to support and assist them for safe return. During this period, we also had opportunity to be presentreturn back to their homes, villages, and towns. Destruction, an-Nineveh Plains, our beleaguered people had anew the hope toWith the liberation of Mosul and adjacent territories in Iraq alsovisiting Syriac military forces present in Raqqa with Syrian Democratic Forces, SDF.in Iraq and Syria with an European delegation to see the situation on the ground from Nineveh Plains to Northern Syria and also
now, we continue to work for the return of the properties to their owners.On the other hand, ongoing seizure of Syriac properties in Turabdin had been one of the priorities in ESU. From the first day until
European capital to meet our people and exchange them.our responsibility is also to meet our people and strengthen relations with our people. During last months, we visited almost allrences, meetings across European countries and also inside European Parliament to inform authorities. One of the core issues ofAs ESU, we will continue to focus on the situation of Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people in Iraq and Syria. We are planning confeWith the liberation of Nineveh Plain for terror organisation ISIS hundred of thousands Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people and fa-milies are returning back to their ancestral lands while great dilemmas are ahead as the reconstruction, security and bringingback daily social, cultural life. This is tremendous challenges which need also presence and assistance of international communityto stand with belligerent groups and minorities.
concern with our activities. This is why in the near future, we are organizing conferences, seminars and other events in order toIn this regard, as ESU, we are working with full efforts for our people and the need and demands of our people are primaryganized in the European Parliament.bring the plight of our people to the attention of international community. Based on this, an international conference will be or-
ESU Co-chairs Hulya Gabriel & Tony Vergili
Syriac Christian Properties in Turabdin
namely in Turabdin.also includes the issue of 50 Syriac Christian properties that had been seized by the state in the south-east region of Turkey,As reported this week in several media outlets in Turkey, a planned new bill will be presented to the Turkish Parliament which opinion, European authorities, different media outlets and necessary organisations in Turkey as well in Europe.From the start of the property issue since six months, ESU have been active regarding the Syriac properties by alerting public be returned include Mor Malke, Mor Ya’qub and Mor Dimet monastery. These three are very important.”Speaking to the media in Turkey, Mor Gabriel Monastery Foundation Rudi Sumer declared that, “The 30 properties that should
perties to the foundations of Syriac people in the region.the totality of Syriac properties which are around 50 properties includingmonasteries, churches among others. This is a fundamental right of allcitizens of Turkey including Syriac people to acquire their rights and proto the all concerned authorities to make necessary works to return backvaluable assets of Syriac Christian heritage of the region. By this, ESU callESU welcomes new initiative of returning back Syriac properties which-
question are historical, cultural, religious heritage of Syriac people andliving monuments of the whole region.rabdin in Turkey as well with European authorities. The properties in theESU will continue to work and follow the issue of Syriac properties in Tu-
We remember innocent souls and martyrs of Armenian Genocide
marches and women and children had been forcibly islamised.1the empire with other Christian groups as Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrians and Pontic Greeks. As the first genocide of the century,of international order and from the ongoing chaos, carried out its long planned annihilation of Armenian people in the border ofFollowing the beginning of World War I during the year of 1914, Ottoman-Turkish of the period beneficiated from the absence,500,000 Armenian civilians including women, children had been killed, hundred of thousands lost their lives during the death
The genocide of 1914-15 carried out as a systematic plan of execution by Ottoman-Turkish rule was the tipping point of violenceand destruction of native Christian groups in the Ottoman Empire and this genocide annihilated more than 3 millions of Christiansplaces in the Ottoman borders face similar tactics of killings, executions and death marches to the Syrian desert. At the first step,and their cultural, social, economic richness and assets change the hands. Armenian people who were populated across different intellectuals, writers, authors, artists, religious and local leaders and thinkers had been arrested and executed savagely and thisfollowed by the mass killings of civilian populations.
More than one century of the genocide, Armenian people and survivors of the genocide continue their existence and survivaljust society.and vulnerable groups in the Middle East region, it is of vital reality tore member the genocide of 1915, condemn it and call onand defying the wall of denial of Turkish state. Since then, dozen of countries recognised officially genocide of 1915 and othersTurkey to recognise it. Recognition of past atrocities and genocides will definitely help the construction of more peaceful andcontinue to follow this stand of truth and justice. In a perilous period in our world and in the face of horror trapped minorities
of these perilous days and stand with the demands of justice and truth for Armenian people and survivors of the genocide ofOn this this day of remembrance of Armenian genocide, European Syriac Union, ESU remember the innocent souls and martyrs1914-15.
“Nineveh is not a ‘disputed area’, it is our home”
tion in the Nineveh Plain and expectations for after the liberation of Mossul, IraqInterview with Metin Rhawi, Head of Foreign Affairs of European Syriac Union, about the situa-
possible for me because I have taken a stance against the regime in Syria. So I am well informed and I have seen with my ownSyria because they closed the border from Iraq, so we need to go through the regime controlled airports in Syria, and that is notI have been in Iraq four times in the past one and a half years, and once to Syria. Unfortunately I couldn’t make more trips toHow familiar are you with the situation in Iraq? Do you travel there frequently? military militias in Iraq.eyes and I have a network of political parties, NGOs, different associations and
the current situation, or at least how to solve the current situation, and as withinWhy is there so much division among Christians? I counted 12 political partiesand several militias?I don’t know if you could necessarily call this division, these are political views of this is due to the fact that you have the Baghdad regime on one side and the Kur-any country or nationality you have many political views, many parties, amongour community we have also many parties, at least 13 or 14 parties, so even morethan the ones you discovered, and five of them have their own militias. I think other. These local politics are benefiting from the situation when you have poli-distan Regional Government controlled by Kurdistan Democratic Party on the tical groups which are split, rather than joining forces.
parties, different members of the European Parliament, different political associations and foundations, and us, we have reachedan agreement between all of them among the community to have some common demands for the Nineveh Plain.It is, in one sense, if you don’t have a common strategy and agenda, of course it is. Today what we can see with these politicalhave so much political division?But you would agree that it is negative for the aspirations of the community to
community like ours, because from two million ten years ago, we are today close to 400 thousand. So we can understand thatFor instance, we are starting to have the same agenda in some very important and common issues, and that is the positive thingtoday that I would like to focus on. But of course it is quite frustrating that there are so many different factions within a small we should not be so divided, because we are losing the grip, while discussing among ourselves what to do as the next step.
Baghdad and Erbil many times tried to make it appear so, this is the land of our ancestors since many thousands of years back.Bartella city has been home to Syriacs since about 5,000 years before Christianity, so how can it be a disputed area?As for the “disputed areas”, that is their term, but we don’t agree with it… The Nineveh Plain is not a disputed area, even thoughAfter the liberation of Mosul, do you expect to see conflict between Baghdad and Kurdistan over the disputed areas? But, having said that, what is actually happening on the ground today is that you can see the regime trying to take the Northeas-tern part of the Nineveh plain, and the Peshmerga controlling the Southeastern part, so they have already, more or less, inpractice, split the region, so now for us as Christians it is very important to really make it obvious that the Nineveh Plain is notopen to be divided by these two political powers of Baghdad and Erbil.
will happen in the future is very difficult to say. But for us, at least, we know that they are interfering on the ground, in a regionwhich belongs to us and which they call a disputed area.As for the future, whether they are going to have an armed fight, I don’t know, that is difficult for us to say. Until now they havebeen quite good at talking, they respect each other, but you never know… They have had ISIS in their faces for two years, what
However, you can also say this is a totally disputed area, because even Turkey talks about being involved, so it is quite a difficultsituation.
decisions, there is empowerment of powers which are already quite strong and the local minorities are more or less powerless.nomous?The situation in all of Iraq and also in Kurdistan is a great lack of democratic process. It is still the strong people who makeSo can I gather that you would prefer to see the Nineveh Plains not directly under the control of Baghdad or Erbil, but auto-
dad or to Erbil… I think this is a question of what the law says in Iraq today. Obviously it should be closer to Baghdad, but within order to have this autonomous region together, with different provinces within it. Whether it is going to be connected to BaghSo what we need to do is work to empower the local minorities, like the Yezidis, like the Shabaks, the Turkmen and the Assyrians,very good relations with Erbil.
than talk. Erbil shows the same willingness: “If the community want their freedom and self-government in an autonomous regionNineveh Plain can be an autonomous region for the Chaldean/Assyrian/Syriac community, but we have not seen anything morethe rest is Iraq.and explain that this region can be an autonomous region. The ministers’ council of Baghdad, two years ago, declared that thein the Nineveh plain, we will help them”, but still we cannot see more than one autonomous region and that is Kurdistan, andIn our opinion we should have an open book with each other as a province or autonomous region both with Erbil and Baghdad
year from now, it is very difficult to say.of Baghdad. In the future, how it develops, I truly don’t know, because you never know, in this region, what is going to happen aParliament to support this region becoming an autonomous region, with the good help of Kurdistan and the very, very good helpSo we hope, really, that all this talk becomes real policy and for this we need the support of the United States and the European
in the more recent years the more severe persecution came from the Sunni majority, whether Islamic State or the local Arabs.people said that the ones who had taken their houses, were not IS, they were their Arabic neighbours. So it would seem thatdespite the fact that they fled to Kurdistan and the Kurds were the only ones who seemed determined to fight IS on the ground.Is this your feeling as well, is there a feeling of suspicion between the Christians and the Kurds, or is this something of theBut I have also spoken many Christians from the region, many of whom off the record, and I asked them if they trust the Kurds,The more recent waves of persecution of Christians in Iraq have come from the Islamic State, but I remember at the time theAnd many of them answered saying that they remember that the Kurds also persecuted them in the past, so they are cautious. past?
culate with the past and your accumulated knowledge of what happened.When you are looking forward to the future and to establish something you have trust in, and believe in for the future, you calto bring all those fears with us into the future, but at least we should know that this happened, not forget it, but we shouldOf course we have very, very bad experience from each other. Both Arabs, Sunni and Shia or Kurds. In the Ottoman Empire, whenIraq was part of it, there were also Kurds persecuting us, as well as Arab Sunnis and Arab Shia. So I don’t know today if we need from there, the majority living there are Arab Sunni or Arab Shia or Kurds, so what we have to do is reconciliation.forgive and continue to build a future together, along with the people living there, because obviously we cannot expel the people
is important to trust in the future, to trust in each other, what the Kurds and the Peshmerga did during the Islamic State invasionThis is really important and we are working with that as the European Syriac Union also, along with other communities there, itare many conspiracy theories to look into of course…could have given us weapons to defend ourselves along with them and probably, together, we could have fought ISIS before theybecame stronger, but to go into that issue of how and for what reason did ISIS become stronger and have the possibility tobecome stronger, as they have been for the past two years, that is a question which will take us too long to answer… And thereof the Nineveh Plain… Of course without them we would probably have lost everything, so we have to be thankful for that. Butat the same time we know that they could obviously have done more for us, they could be standing there in the frontline, they
gether and that can be done with respect and democracy. And that quality type of living today does not exist in Iraq, nor in Kur-but we need to trust in each other in some way, because we will be neighbours anyway, we need to build a common future toObviously people on the ground, whether Sunni or Shia, have also hurt us and whether Kurds or Arabs, they have also hurt us,feel that you are not a first rate citizen, because you are not Kurd, because you are Chaldean, Syriac or Assyrian.distan, really, because you can feel the tension, I have been in Kurdistan many times, and you can feel the tension, where you-