Kurdistan’s Christians support Kurdish independence

Shwan Barzinji BasNews, Erbil
In an exclusive interview with BasNews, the Secretary General of the Assyrian Democratic Bet Nahrin Movement in the Kurdistan Region, Romeo Hakkari said that integrating the disputed territories into the Kurdish region is in the Christians’ interest.

“We as Assyrians and Chaldeans have previously explained our stance and perspective. We believe the Kurdish presidency must take further steps [to solve the Baghdad-Erbil dispute] because the issues between Erbil and Baghdad are not being solved and the federal government is not following the Iraqi constitution, particularly Article 140,” said Hakkari.

According to him, Assyrians and Chaldeans support the referendum on the disputed areas put forward by Barzani as well as the one on independence. Because, according to Hakkari, an independent Kurdistan would improve Assyrian and Chaldean rights. He explained that following the takeover of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), thousands of Assyrians and Chaldeans relocated to the Kurdistan Region.

“Implementing Article 140 is in our interest, because we want autonomy for Nineveh province. Our rights depend on the areas linked to Article 140, if we lose those areas it will damage us as well as the people in the Kurdistan Region,” said Hakkari.

About the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the disputed areas, Hakkari mentioned that: “We support Peshmerga forces being there and they shouldn’t withdraw because their withdrawal would mean going back on what they promised to the Kurdish people.”

In regards to how far Baghdad has been able to protect Christians, Hakkari said: “the massacre of Christians started in 2003, late 2005, 2007 and now it continues. We are the only people that Baghdad government doesn’t protect. The best example is the massacre of Christians in 2010 when in 48 hours hundreds of Christians were killed in Mosul.”

“After 2004 onwards, more than 1,250,000 Christian citizens have allegedly left Iraq and fled abroad. If it wasn’t for the Kurdistan Region, the life condition of the Christians in Iraq would be worse than now,” added Hakkari.