The status of minorities in Iraq

image001.gifThe Christian Yeizides Mandaean Kakaees and Jews are a part of the Iraq population . They are small, ethnic, religious minorities. These peaceful religions prohibit violence in any form. They emphasis coexistence with other groups; however, since 2003 these small minorities have become the target of a sustained and violent campaign of annihilation by extremists Islamic groups.
These groups are part of the indigenous people of Iraq. All articles of the UN’s declaration that apply to the protection of indigenous, ethnic and religious minorities are applicable to their situation and should be applied.
We have lost trust that the Iraqi government is capable or serious of protecting the minorities in Iraq. Most of the time the security forces fail to find the perpetrators or punish them. We believe that the violence against Minorities has several causes:
 First, political violence by certain powers targets minorities in order to discredit the democratic process.
 Second, the lack of a proper response by the government to violence against minorities encourages further attacks by extremists. Minorities have tried to express their concerns through the political process in Iraq; however, there is no direct solid contact with government agencies. The Minorities parliament members are still a small voice waiting to be heard.
Hundreds of thousands of these minorities have been exposed to murder, kidnapping, forced conversion, and rape—particularly of women and young girls. I will now speak about each particular group :
Christians used to live all over Iraq from north to south. But because of the many killings and kidnappings a large number have fled to the Kurdistan area in northern Iraq . Others are seeking to emigrate and leave Iraq.
As mentioned by the VATICAN – The number of Catholics in Iraq is falling rapidly in a “mortal exodus” that could be fatal for the community, the archbishop of Kirkuk warned a couple weeks ago on the sidelines of a conference of Catholic bishops on the Middle East. “The mortal exodus that is afflicting our churches cannot be avoided,” said Louis Sako, adding that people were emigrating to live in peace and freedom. The number of Catholics in Iraq has fallen from 378,000 in 1980, equivalent to 2.89 percent of the population, to 301,000 in 2008, or 0.94 percent of the population, according to figures from the Catholic Church.
According to Christian leaders in Iraq, 250,000 of the 800,000 Christians of all denominations who lived in Iraq before 2003 have now left the country amid a wave of attacks against them.
In recent months alone, seven mandaeans have been killed in different parts of Iraq including Basra, Baghdad and Sweerha in addition to dozens of kidnappings, robberies and threats. This is in addition to the 163 killed up to 2009 as reported by the Mandaean human Rights Group………………
This Ethnic Cleansing has led almost 90% of the mandaean community to flee Iraq and as a result to become refugees in neighbouring countries of Syria, Jordan and elsewhere.
60.000 Yezidis live in Iraqi Kurdistan. The rest of this minority (about 440.000) are living in Mosul Province .
The fanatic Arabs and extremists in Mosul use these Fatwas against every Yezidi. Yezidis from Sinjar have no access to Mosul. They are isolated in their villages, although they need to travel to the big cities. In the last two years we have recorded the killing of several hundred Yezidi civilians in the city of Mosul. The motivation for all these killing was because they were Yezidi. Many radical “Mullas” and “Imams” in the Arab cities are trying to create anti-Yezidi groups.
The following statistics documented the attack in Sinjar in October 2007:
1. Number of victims: 311
2. Number of missing people: 70
3. Number of wounded people 800
4. Number of orphans who lost their fathers or mothers: 195
 A suicide bomber in a truck has killed at least 20 people in a Kurdish village near Mosul, the northern Iraqi city in 2009 . killing a number of them in other attacks .
There are fewer than 10 Jews left in Iraq.
My suggested plan of action is for the Iraqi Government to acknowledge the problem and to form a special minority Security Council to hear the specific issues related to the minorities with representation from the international community as observers. This council should be the platform for minorities to voice their concerns and to put in place plans for their future security and to be monitored by the international observers
The Iraqi government should fight the extremist ideas with promotion of religious tolerance and punish those who issue Fatwas against other religions.
The Iraqi government should give equal opportunities in jobs and education to all minorities and to discourage practices of religious and political discrimination against minorities in appointments for government and other positions.
The Iraqi Government should establish a system that will guarantee the rights of refugees including a system to compensate victims and families of confiscated property , Rape , killing, looting and other forms of ethnic cleansing.
The Iraqi government response towards the refugees issues have been meager at least . The government should have provided for Iraqi refugee at least the basic humanitarian support through UN agencies by directly providing for their health and education. They are all Iraqi citizens who escaped their country due to failure of the government to provide them with protection .The Iraqi Government has a legal and moral obligation and responsibility to provide the Iraqi refugees with basic support.
The Legal system should be improved. Changes should be included to repeal the old laws that hinder the proper ability of religious minorities to practice their own way of life. The legal system has a long way to go to introduce laws that will guarantee the rights of all Iraqi citizens to live in peace and harmony.
 For those Minorities who are awaiting resettlement in countries of asylum, the Minorities have some very specific concerns. Taking into account their small number, dispersing the refugees over a large number of countries risks extinction of their culture, religion and ancient languages.
The international community, UNHCR and the United States of America should seriously look into having the majority resettled in one country on a priority bases to provide them with a chance to re-establish their identity until such time that they can return to their homeland.
More pressure should be brought on the Iraqi government by the international community to provide more protection and rights to its minority populations.
It is in our interest and in the interest of USA and EU Countries that this migration wave be stopped.
 We would like to start a campaign called “Iraqi religions working for peace”.
Such a project could educate the Iraqi people from all different religious backgrounds to have a culture of peace of “Living together”.
The minorities are in need of international protection in order to live peacefully in their country.
Dr. Katrin Michael