Posts tagged ‘assyrians in iraq’

Empowering the Assyrians in the Homeland

It doesn’t take much to satisfy Assyrians living in Iraq, and in the middle east in general.  Shelter and food, security, jobs, guaranteed rights etc.  And if these can be provided or even upgraded,  you have doubled the chances of satisfying and convincing them to stay.  But when even these basic rights and necessities are not provided, who are we, those living in the comfort of western societies, to demand that Assyrians not leave our ancestral homelands?

Empowerment is the solution!

Empowering is to provide and create an ideal living environment for the Assyrians in the homeland to be able to stay and not have to leave or be refugees in other countries. What is an ideal living environment and what factors are to be present?Let us take them one by one, from the most necessary to those that can enhance and improve their lives.

Food and shelter

It starts with the most basic of all life requirements.  If Assyrians don’t even have a place to live in or food to feed themselves, chances are they will give up and either migrate or worse yet be exploited by others.  When you are hungry and homeless, you will accept almost any help that is provided to you and not think about the future consequences and what you have to give up in return.

How can this be achieved? Assyrians living in the West should never hesitate to donate to the Assyrian Aid Society and other Assyrian charities.  They are the best insurance if you want your money to empower Assyrians through feeding and housing.

Security

Our people in Iraq have become a minority, and with less and less security to make them feel safe, chances are, they will pack up and leave elsewhere.  All it takes is a murder or a death threat, to make them think twice about staying, let alone a terrorist bombing near where an Assyrian lives.  It is the reality, and we can’t deny it: our people have become very fragile, like the birds that fly away at the mere noise of someone walking by.  Assyrians just can’t trust the current security situation in Iraq, despite all the talked about security improvements.  After all, Security is a perception and a relative term.  We need to put pressure on the Iraqi government to spare no effort to provide the maximum security for our fragile community.

Jobs

Once you have provided them with food, shelter and some security, next you need to provide them with jobs and an economy where they can utilize their skills,  open up their own business, and even attract foreign investments.  Not only does the central and regional governments have a responsibility to make this happen, Assyrians in the West and the Diaspora can also contribute.  For example, an Assyrian from the USA, Canada or any other country, can invest some of their money to open a business in an area where there is a large concentration of the Assyrian population (i.e Alqosh, Hamdanya, Araden, Doureh etc.) This way, you are helping by providing them with jobs.  If more than a few Assyrians from the Diaspora did this, you could look at a very high rate of Assyrian employment, and this can go a long way in empowering our Assyrian community in Iraq.

National Rights

It is ironic that we have put this last, because to some, this is a matter of life and death.  In fact, a lot of our fallen martyrs and heroes gave up their lives for this very issue of nationalism and rights.  To empower Assyrians, is to help them live their lives in accordance with their national identity, historical heritage and most importantly, be able to use their language freely.  But when they are living under an oppressive regime like the KRG in the North, these basic national rights are being denied.  If an Assyrian internet cafe owner can’t name his store a national or historical Assyrian name, you know there is a problem.  Empowerment can only go as far as how democratic and open the system you are living in, is. And in the case of the Kurdish regional government in Northern Iraq, where a lot of Assyrians currently live, this is lacking big time.  The West should  pressure the Kurdish regional government in Northern Iraq to give Assyrians more freedom and not to oppress them and try to quash them to the last drop of their national blood.  This also applies to our religious rights as Christians and for all the threats and intimidation based on our faith, to stop!

If you have studied psychology, I am sure this article somehow reminds you of ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs‘ , doesn’t it? and that is the idea: Assyrians are humans first, before they are citizens of a certain region or natives of a certain land. If you can’t even provide them with the basic necesseities of life, then why bother with the rest?  But to empower the Assyrians, is to provide them with the ability to live a decent life, and if possible, enhance it and imrpove it even further.  And once you have empowered them, they will be less likely to leave the homeland, thus lessening the chance of Assyrians one day becoming an extinct ethnicity in Iraq, which was one day known as their native Assyria!

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Calling for Mar Dinkha to meet with an Iraqi Sunni Terrorist

“Harith Al Thari is a criminal mass murderer and a terrorist” is what a lot of Iraqis would refer to Al-Thari. He is no less of a terrorist than Al-Zarqawi was, or Bin Laden still is. So who is he? Al-Thari is the head of the influential Iraqi Sunni ‘Association of Muslim Scholars’, which was formed in 2003, following the liberation of Iraq from the former Ba’ath regime. Since its inception, the association, and despite its religious nature, has had very close ties with the Sunni insurgency in Iraq. Over the last few years, he has fired one controversial comment after another.

Iraqis, especially those against the insurgency, would have been very happy if someone could put a glue to his mouth, or if he was born speech-impaired. Al-Thari has been out of Iraq for over a year now, and is wanted by Iraqi authorities on charges of supporting the insurgency and terrorism in Iraq. Despite all of this, I think our Patriarch Mar Dinkha should seek an opportunity to meet with this evil man. Why? it is one of the few things we can do, to stop the violence against our people. Let me elaborate.

“Mar Dinkha should use the excuse of ‘finding common
solutions for the problems in Iraq’ as a means of initiating
something with this man”

It is a known fact that Al-Thari has close ties with the insurgency and even Al-Qaeda in Iraq. He has a high influence amongst the Sunnis, especially in Western Iraq, where insurgency runs high. Moreover, and despite being out of Iraq now, he still gets in touch with the local insurgent leaders in the country. But the key thing to emphasize here, is that he is outside of Iraq; currently in Egypt. That puts him under the spotlight little more than if he was in the lawlessness of Iraq. This is an opportunity for his holiness Mar Dinkha to seek to meet with him.

Basically, Mar Dinkha should use the excuse of ‘finding common solutions for the problems in Iraq’ as a means of initiating something with this man. Once the meeting is up, Mar Dinkha should deviate from the topic of violence in Iraq, to something more specific: the violence committed by Al-Thari’s groups against Mar Dinkha’s Assyrian and Christian communities in Baghdad. Once cornered, a condemnation or even a call to halt violence against Christians, is not an impossible task, despite the given hard and violent nature of this imam. Yes, he is an Imam, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Al-Thari is a religious figure, at least in the nature of his status and what he does. But lately, he has been more seen on the political scene than to be concerned with religion. In fact, he also uses politics to launch his religious Fatwa and other despicable acts against innocent Iraqi civilians. Mar Dinkha on the other hand, is a religious figure by nature and status (although many will disagree with this statement.) Nevertheless, Mar Dinkha has involved himself in politics too lately, be it voluntarily or given the situation our nation is going through. That makes him capable and suitable for a meeting with Al-Thari. But why Mar Dinkha, and not someone like Mr.Younadam Kanna, the secretary of Zowaa, and a member of Iraq’s parliament? Well for one thing, and despite his huge political experience, Mr. Kanna wouldn’t be allowed to meet with Harith Al-Thari, given the Iraqi government’s warrant against him. Mar Dinkha has no such restriction put on him.

Moreover, we would have more chances of success when Mar Dinkha is on the table than if another pure politician was on the table. Al-Thari, and much like other terrorists that he supports, is not a man that would deal in logic or negotiation. But given his religious status, he would have an easier time relating to Mar Dinkha than to a non-religious figure.

It is inevitable that the jaws of many people reading this, have already dropped, in disbelief for my call for our Patriarch to meet with a terrorist. It indeed is an odd thing to be calling for, but it will probably and possibly lead to some consensus. We could even hope that the meeting would lead to a denouncement by Al-Thari against the unfair criminal acts being committed against the innocent Assyrian Christians in Iraq. Mar Dinkha can use his warmth and influence to let Al-Thari know that Assyrians are innocent and shouldn’t be targeted by his groups. If the late Pope John Paul II was able to meet face to face, with his would-be killer, it should be a much easier task to see our patriarch meeting up with this violent imam. After all, why not use some bible-inspired peace, to solve one more piece of the big Iraqi puzzle.

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