Saturday, June 24, 2017
Latest News & Information

Current Articles | Archives | Search

Chaldean Activism Once Again Proves Powerful
By Amer Hedow :: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 :: 34400 Views :: Article Rating :: Law & Order, Government & Society, World News & Odds 'N' Ends

Mosul, IRAQ – The outcry of Iraqi, American, and European Chaldeans for fair representation have given Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki pause.  The Iraqi Prime Minister openly announced on Sunday that he has sought safeguards for Christians and other minorities who have complained that they have lost guaranteed seats in provincial councils under a new election law.

Chaldeans who took the time to voice their concern may have helped the future of Iraq’s minority population.  “We are grateful to the Chaldeans across the world that sent e-mails, called their representatives, and sent letters to Iraq’s Prime Minister,” says Raad Abdel.  “God will forever bless these wonderful Chaldeans who spoke out against such injustice.”

After Iraqi legislators scrapped a clause known as article 50, that would have guaranteed seats for Christians and other minority sects, online news sites and e-mails quickly covered the expressed outrage.  However, the bill in its current form must be approved by a presidency council consisting of President Jalal Talabani and his two vice presidents before it becomes law. Christian leaders have expressed hope that it can still be amended to guarantee their seats.  “With the help of our Chaldean brothers and sisters reaching out to representatives this may still be possible,” adds Abdel.

Maliki released in a statement that, " hoped parliament would approve the draft submitted by the cabinet, which included protection of the representation for minorities according to the constitution.”

Maliki sent a message to parliamentary leaders calling on them and the electoral commission "to find a solution and remove the feeling of worry, a feeling of being oppressed or alienated, which has affected real communities who are proud to be Iraqis."

Hashim al-Taie, head of the regions committee in parliament, said blocs had decided to remove the clause because there was no census to show how many seats should be guaranteed to which group, but that guarantees of seats could be added later.

Iraq's Christian communities, as well as smaller minority sects such as Yazidis in northern Iraq, have tried to stay out of the fray during years of sectarian fighting. But churches have been routinely attacked and minority citizens have often been kidnapped, tortured, and killed with little or no justice. 

Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, leader of Iraq's Chaldean Catholics, called for the presidency council to intervene.

"I call on the presidency council not to approve the cancellation of article 50 of the provincial law, which is an oppression against our presence and representation in Iraqi society," he said in a television interview on Saturday. “Parliament is denying our representation," he said, adding that he was speaking on behalf of other Christian denominations as well as the Chaldeans.

Many of Iraq's Christians live in the north, especially around the city of Mosul, in areas where power is often divided between Arab and Kurdish Muslims.

Christians staged demonstrations in towns near Mosul on Sunday calling for their guaranteed seats to be restored.

"Deleting paragraph 50 is unfair and it will pour oil on the fire," Menas al-Yousifi, the head of the Iraqi Christian Democratic party told reporters in Mosul. "It would deepen the crisis of the Iraqi people."

Shamoun Bazzu, a Christian priest from a town east of Mosul, said: "We demand the Iraqi government and the parliament deviate from the decision and hold with paragraph 50, because this is oppression against the minority elements in Iraq."