Iraqi Assyrians Protest Against A Newly Approved Provisional Election Law

016-1.jpg016-2.jpgDear Mr. Nouri Al Maliki
Prim Minister of the Republic of Iraq

We wish to bring to your attention the serious human rights issue of unlawful action taken by the Iraqi parliament on Wednesday, 24 Sept. 2008 by voting to abolish Article 50 of the Iraqi Provincial Election Law of councils for governorates, districts and sub-districts in order to remove the minority rights of the Electoral Act. This is a deliberate violation of the constitution of Iraq, which recognizes and guarantees the civil and political rights and freedoms of all citizens of Iraq regardless of gender, race, nationality, origin or religious belief. The justification provided for this action is under the pretext of the absence of accurate statistics about the Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs), the Yezidis and the Shabaks.

The systematic and forced displacement and subsequent exodus of Assyrians from our homeland, particularly after the liberation of Iraq, and the failure of the new Iraqi government to provide security and protection has reduced our numbers, thus causing us to be categorized as a minority in our own ancestral lands, rather than being rightfully recognized as the original and indigenous people of the region. Assyrians, once constituting 50% of the population, are now estimated to be about 3% of the total population.

Assyrians embrace democracy, but until democracy matures in Iraq the inherent friction and tensions therein will exact a heavy toll on Assyrians. What hope do Assyrians have in a democracy that deprives them of effectively participating in the election process? What hope do Assyrians have in a democracy where the major Iraqi political parties have banded together and voted to eliminate the Assyrian representation in the government?

We call upon the Iraqi government as a champion of democracy and human rights to defend those whose essential rights are violated and the ethnic minorities who are being oppressed. The Assyrian plea to the Iraqi government to uphold human rights is that the cry for an Assyrian autonomous region in Northern Iraq, the ancestral land of the Assyrians, will be heeded and that this autonomous region will be granted as an integrated state within the modern Federal Republic of Iraq. The establishment of such a region is crucial to the security and survival of the Assyrian nation and would be a testament to the commitment of the new Iraqi government to upholding democracy and human rights in Iraq and would serve as a story of freedom, democracy, rule of law and economic prosperity in the Middle East.

Your urgent intervention and action on behalf of the rights of Iraqi minorities are highly appreciated.


Yonathan Betkolia
Assyrian Representative in Iranian Parliament
Secretary General – Assyrian Universal Alliance