IRAQI MINORITIES BEING HARASSED, KILLED AND DRIVEN FROM THE COUNTRY
by Michael Jansen
The Irish Times
February 28, 2007 Wednesday
IRAQ: Half the members of Iraq’s minority groups have been driven from
the country by persecution, kidnappings, murder and the widespread
violence which has gripped the country since the 2003 war.
The London-based Minority Rights Group has revealed in a report that
"the very existence of some of these groups in their ancient homeland
is now under threat."
The report, Assimilation, Exodus, Eradication: Iraq’s Minority
Communities since 2003, written by Preti Taneja, says that the
country’s minorities, 10 per cent of the total population before
the war, now make up 30 per cent of the 1.8 million refugees living
outside the country.
The minorities include Chaldean, Syriac and Armenian Christians;
Turkomen, ethnic Turks who are both Sunnis and Shias; Bahais;
Mandaeans, a pacifist faith whose prophet is John the Baptist;
Yazidis whose religion is an offshoot of Zoroastrianism; and Faili
or Shia Kurds; and Shabaks, a Farsi-speaking mainly Shia ethnic group.
The small Jewish community, which had a few hundred members before
the war, has dwindled to 15 indivi- duals in Baghdad.
Christians, most of whom are ethnic Assyrians, are being targeted
because fundamentalist Shias and Sunnis accuse them of co-operating
with the occupation.
This allegation is made because many Christians have close ties to
family members who live in the West and some Christians served as
interpreters for the foreign occupation forces.
The remnants of the small Jewish community, which arrived in
Iraq during the time of the Babylonian capitivity, are seen as US
collaborators and Israeli agents.
Places of worship are being bombed, clerics attacked, individuals
siezed and held for ransom, women abused and forced to don conservative
Christian shops selling alcohol are set alight and their owners
killed. Yazidis and Faili Kurds, who live in the north, are being
pressed by Kurdish parties to follow their agendas or claim Kurdish
Turkomen living in Kirkuk are being driven from their homes by Kurds
seeking to transform the city into a Kurdish domain and annex it to
the Kurdish region. Bahais, seen by Sunnis and Shias as heretics,
are denied citizenship.
The 2005 constitution was drafted without input from minorities who
are deprived of rights they enjoyed under earlier constitutions.
Minority groups were protected under Saddam Hussein in exchange for
backing for his regime.
Palestinian residents, who received privileged treatment under the
old regime, are also being harrassed, killed and driven from Iraq.
Hundreds have been trapped in squalid camps in no man’s land on the
The plight of Iraq’s minorities is "ignored and unaddressed inside
Iraq and in the international arena," the report says.
It calls upon the Iraqi government to protect minorities, create
an independent body to investigate human rights abuses, and promote
minority participation in public life.
Neighbouring states are asked to halt financial and other aid to
militias that persecute minorities and the international community,
particularly countries in North America and Europe, are called upon
to provide sanctuary for Iraqis, including entire communities.
The report says, Iraqis in danger of persecution and attack should
not be returned to their homeland.
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress