Iraqi official seeks local Chaldean support

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Parliment member meets with El Cajon Chaldeans about the genocide by Islamic State
By Paul Sisson
EL CAJON — Support and pressure were on the shortlist of Iraqi parliament member Yonadam Kanna, who visited with San Diego County’s Chaldean Christian community Saturday afternoon.
Kanna spoke, largely in Arabic, to a rapt audience at El Cajon’s Palms Banquet Hall about the ongoing genocide of the Chaldean and Assyrian people of Iraq and Syria who have been killed and left homeless by members of the radical Islamic State, often called ISIS or ISIL.

Contributions from Chaldeans living in the U.S. like those in and around El Cajon, which has the nation’s second-largest community after the Detroit area, have been critical as persecuted families lose their homes and livelihoods.

Kanna said it is important for the faithful to keep giving and also to put pressure on the American government to hold neighboring countries such as Turkey accountable for the arms, armor and manpower that help the Islamic State keep fighting.

“They have betrayed America, they have betrayed Europe,” Kanna said.

Asked whether he supported a bill in Congress that would make immigration to the United States easier for those under Islamic State persecution, Kanna said no, insisting that such legislation only facilitates the goal of making the region Christian-free.

“Those people are working against the rights of our people to stay in their own country,” Kanna said.

That statement drew applause from many in the audience.

Dr. Suhail Zavaro, a local cardiologist who came to America from Syria in 1982, said the message made sense, especially the part about pressuring neighboring countries to cut off the Islamic State supply train. Watching the heartbreaking news out of Northern Iraq and Syria, he said, he can’t help but notice that those supplies always seem to be abundant despite constant air assaults.

“Where do they get 1,000 brand-new Toyota trucks? Do they fall from the sky? No. They don’t. They come from the surrounding countries: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait,” Zavaro said. “I don’t think American troops should go, but America can put pressure. They can prevent the arming.”

Sam Kosa, a local software engineer who emigrated from Iraq in 1982, identified with the idea that the West should make it a goal to return displaced families to their homes if they want to stay, rather than helping them leave the region.

“They have a right to stay, and we have to support that,” Kosa said.