The Iraqi Christians Demonstrate in Stockholm just before the world leaders arrive in Sweden to discuss the situation of Iraq.

22.jpgToday, 25th May, just four days left to the Iraqi Compact Review Meeting which will take place on Thursday and that will be attended by the leaders of 80 countries, including the Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, a large crowd of Iraqi Christians, namely Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrians held a demonstration in support of the persecuted Iraqi Christians.

The demonstration was attended by the leaders of the Iraqi Christians, including the Archbishop of Sweden and Scandinavia Mor Yuliyos Abdlahad Gallo Shabo, as well as the, the representatives of the Swedish Political Parties, including the Swedish Social Democrats leader Mona Sahlin, and the Swedish MP Yilmaz Kerimo.

In their speeches they drew the attention of the international community, to the ongoing atrocities that are targeting the defenseless Iraqi Christians, their churches that are being bombed, their church leaders that are being kidnapped and killed, their young girls and women that are being abducted assaulted and forced to veil themselves, by the fundamentalist terrorist groups in Iraq.

In their speeches, the representatives, also demanded an Autonomous Safe Region to be founded for the Christians of Iraq in their historical areas, in Northern Iraq, where they are mostly concentrated. They also stated that this is the only means of protection for the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian Christians of Iraq and must be supported by the UN, the US, the EU and all the democratic powers of the world.

The demonstrations organizing committee put the number of the demonstrators at around 1300 to 1500. The mainstream media was also present in the demonstration, including the AFP, the TT (the largest Swedish News Agency), Zaman (a Turkish newspaper), the Metro Newspaper, Suroyo TV (broadcasting from Sweden) and Ishtar TV (from Iraq).

Last month on 19th April, a similar demonstration was held in Brussels in support of the Iraqi Christians, in which more than 6 thousand people demonstrated outside the European Commission building in Brussels.

Some figures given by the representatives of the demonstration:
On 11th October 2006, the Syriac Orthodox Priest Rev. Paulus Iskander Behnam was beheaded and murdered brutally in Mosul. On 3rd June 2007, the Chaldean Priest Rev. Father Ragheed Ganni and three deacons were slaughtered in Mosul. On 29th February 2008, the Chaldean Archbishop Msgr. Boulus Faraj Rahho was kidnapped; his body was later found on 13th March 2008 in Mosul. On 5th April 2008 the Syriac Orthodox Priest Rev. Father Youssef Adel Aboudi was shot dead in Baghdad. In addition, many other clergymen have been kidnapped and some of them were released only after large ransom money was paid.

Since 2004, As a result of the systematic attacks carried out by the terrorist groups against the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian Christians, only from Baghdad, nearly 400 thousand Christians have been forced to flee. The attacks are mainly concentrated in the big cities such as Baghdad, Basra, Kerkuk and Mosul and are mainly targeting the churches and the church leaders in these places. The aim of these attacks is to carry out an ethnic cleansing as well as to turn Iraq into an Islamic state.

Moreover, between 2004 and 2008, more than 500 Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrians have been killed, hundreds of thousands of them have been forced to flee abroad and 44 churches have been bombed in Iraq.

Statement of Conclusions

On 25th May 2008, thousands of Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrians from many European countries organized a demonstration in Stockholm. The aim of the demonstration was to draw the attention of the USA, the European Union and the UN to the ongoing terror, violence and especially the killings of the clerics of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian Christians in Iraq.

Following the collapse of Saddam’s dictatorship regime, a systematic operation of ethnic cleansing against the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrians has begun. As a result of the persecution and acts of terror, between 2004 and 2008, one half of the population of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrians was forced to flee outside Iraq. The attacks are mainly targeting the churches, the clerics, the businesses and the young girls of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people. The aim of these attacks carried out against the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrians is to drive out from Iraq those who belong to the Christian faith and create a purely Islamic state of Iraq.

Accordingly, the acts of terror committed against the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrians are becoming more and more brutal. The terrorist groups, in order to accelerate the campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrians, have targeted their churches and their church representatives. As a result of these attacks, more than 40 churches have been attacked with explosive charges and many church leaders have been killed. Some of the murdered church leaders are: Archbishop Boulus Faraj Rahho, Priests Rev. Father Paulus Skander and Rev. Father Ragheed Ganni murdered in Mosul and Rev. Father Youssef Adel Aboudi murdered in Baghdad.

With these atrocities carried out against the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrians a new wave of ethnic cleansing is going on in Iraq. If these atrocities continue the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrians and the Christianity will be soon wiped out from Iraq altogether. And this will become a new tragedy for humanity. For the continuity of their existence and living in their homeland, the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrians who are the indigenous representatives of the Mesopotamian Culture, also known as the ‘Cradle of Civilization’ urgently need a protection by the International community.

Accordingly, the below mentioned organizations of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrians are kindly requesting from the USA, the EU and the UN to meet their following demands:

1- The recognition of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrians as indigenous people of Iraq under the Iraqi Constitution
2- The acceptance of an Autonomous Safe Zone in North Iraq in the areas where the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrians have a majority of the population
3- An official recognition of the Autonomous Status of this region to be requested from both the Iraqi Government and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG)
4- The security of the Autonomous region to be left to the responsibility of the UN and the international powers.
5- An international plan to be made for the re-settlement of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrians in the Autonomous region

ESU, The European Syriac Union
Chaldean Syriac Assyrian National Council (CSANC)
The Syriac Orthodox Archdiocese of Sweden and Scandinavia
The Chaldean Church
The Assyrian Church of the East, the Parish of St. Thomas
The Syriac/Assyrian Federation in Sweden