To the Conscience of the Iraqi Government: “The main goal of the current conflict in Nineveh Plain is, to whom it will be”
Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako
We are hearing recently a lot about the ongoing conflict related to the Nineveh Plain, which is the only place for Christians in Iraq. This happens concurrently with what I am hearing from Government Officials in personal meetings, that Christians are indigenous component of Iraqi population, and have contributed to the establishment of Iraq.
This led me to declare that the human, moral and national duties of Iraqi decision-makers and even citizens should evoke them to do whatever it takes to keep Christians in their land, as an essential part of the Iraqi fabric. This can be achieved by embracing Iraqi Christians; removing the injustice inflicted on them; and promoting their rights, since their existence is a historical, civilizational and contemporary wealth and their departure would be a big loss for Iraq. Knowing that Christians are not seeking privilege, but equality, according to the measurement of being citizens, giving and belonging to this land, rather than any other measurement.
I cannot deny that the suffering of Christians is part of all Iraqis misery that has been caused by religious extremism and terrorism. However, Christians were hurt more and have received their share of violence, as a result of the hatred speech and the failure of successive governments to have a clear and brave stance in imposing the authority of the state and respecting the law for building a sustainable peace. In addition to the interference of “external” agendas that are looking for their own interests and hence, reflecting negatively on Christians.
The number of Christians killed and displaced is large, compared to their total number, and the planned acquisition of their homes and properties. However, what worries them today and scares them more is the conflict about Nineveh Plain, aiming to uproot them from their homeland and historic areas, to take over their towns. Yet, the percentage of returned displace families to Telkeif and Batnaya did not exceed 1% and their areas need to be cleaned.
I would like to say it very clearly that Christians denounce this unjustifiable conflict for changing the demography of their territories and reject the idea of administering it on a sectarian or ethnic basis. Instead, they demand a shared management of all components living in the area, to work as “a team” in harmony for the common good. The history demonstrates a peaceful coexistence of Christians with the people of the region, based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and they hope that such relationships will last.
It is time to turn the suffering of Iraqis into lessons learnt for the sake of real change in managing diversity; establishing citizenship that embrace all Iraqis; enforcing the law; and respecting human dignity. Therefore, the only solution for our crises is to accept that we are all equal.
What is actually required:
- Being aware of such destructive plans from inside and outside Iraq in order to preserve the remaining of indigenous Iraqis.
- Executing the law and implementing the decision of the Iraqi Prime Minister concerning the withdraw of armed militias from the towns of Nineveh Plain, regardless of their affiliation, and limit the use of weapons to the state, as well as controlling whatever is driven by other forces outside the state legitimacy. otherwise we have to start again from scratch.
- Handing over the responsibility of security to the federal police by merging all the current local guards under its’ umbrella. This will open the door for the inhabitants of Nineveh Plain to be part of the federal police, since they understand the real situation of their areas and can relate to it.
- Financing development projects that might improve public services and provide job opportunities.
- Preventing the so-called “Christian sects”, foreign fundamentalist groups, aiming to change our national identity and ecclesiastic dogma.
Our hope is to see Nineveh Plain as a live and distinct example of peaceful coexistence and to be a role model for all Iraqis.