The systematic targeting which Iraqi Christians have been exposed to in different time periods since 2003 – the latest after the fall of Mosul on 10 June when it was expanded to the minorities’ regions in Nineveh plain and the collective migration of its residents – confirms that a process of ethnic cleansing is taking place against minorities in Iraq, which portends a humanitarian disaster and human tragedy resulting in migration and exodus of the indigenous inhabitants.

For more than four months, our nation has been uprooted from their historical homeland because political Islam does not want them there, and the world is silent, standing still, either because it approves or because it is incapable of acting.

This encourages ISIS to move forward with its ferocious war against culture and diversity and threatening the intellectual and social security. The suffering of the displaced Christians and other minorities is mounting: their needs are escalating and their fears of an unknown future of their shocked children, seized towns, and looted houses keep them sleepless. These people were living in their hometowns in prosperity, pride and dignity, but in the blink of an eye, they were ousted from their homes, terrified and fleeing on foot in search of shelter. It is a scene that takes us back to the dark centuries of the past although it has become a horrific reality of our present civilization.

All the areas in the plain of Nineveh have become deserted by their indigenous people for the first time in more than 1,700 years. The church bells of Nineveh went silent and were heard no more, For the first time in 7,000 years, Nineveh has been laid bare of its indigenous population, the Chaldo-Assyrians who built the Assyrian and Babylonian civilizations.

The area of Nineveh plain has witnes- sed some very serious developments after being under control of ISIS, events that have made the minorities living in the area lose confidence in the political process in the country.

The Chaldo-Assyrian Christians and other minorities call on the international community to intervene immediately, cleansing the area from ISIS and beginning to impose peace. The United States should take full responsibility, in coordination with the federal government in Baghdad and the regional government of Kurdistan, and liberate all the occupied regions by the militants of the Islamic State.

Further, the International community should provide a safe haven (protected zone) for the minorities in Iraq under international supervision for a certain transitional period until improvement in the security situation under United Nations Security Council decision. The Iraqi Parliament has demanded the same.

Otherwise, the minorities will have no other choice than to leave, which threatens to empty the whole area of its indigenous people, creating a negative impact on the neighbouring countries and Europe.

One way to empower the minorities to protect their areas is by forming inclusi- ve local protection units in coordination with the military forces that would hold the ground – especially the Peshmerga. This should happen according to the principles of true partnership.

Our people are able and ready to defend and secure their land. For instance, the Assyrian Democratic Movement have been receiving hundreds of volunteers to register in forming local forces with the rest of minorities in their regions and under the sponsorship of international protection, training, empowering and arming them into systematic forces that could hold on to their land and take over the security and safety of the region in the future.

It remains important for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government to have a real political will. They have to overlook their disputes, and take effective steps and measures for addressing the general conditions of all Iraqis and the vulnerable minorities in particular in terms of preserving their existence and protecting them from all acts of violence, killing, cleansing and displacement as well as guarantee their inclusion in the political, economic, and public life through real and effective partnership. They have to address the wretched conditions that prevail in the historical areas of these minorities in terms of building, reconstruction and the provision of services and job opportunities. Laws and regulations have to be passed to guarantee the rights of those communities against discrimination – for example, legislation concerned with preserving the rights of minorities.

While it is important for the interna- tional community to support the federal government in general and particularly the KRG in their fighting against the border-crossing terrorist groups that threaten not only the Kurdistan Region and Iraq alone, but also the regional and international peace and security, it is even more vital for those states is to support and push the federal and regional governments to protect the existence of the Christians in all the Middle East, and the Yazidi, and Mandaean communities that represent the oldest ethnicities and religions in the area.

Our people want to stay living in our homeland, to preserve our habits, culture, identity. The most important is to preserve our holy language (Aramaic), the language spoken by Jesus Christ. 

Kaldo Olghanna
is Central Commitee Member of Foreign Realtions, and Coordinator of Assyrian Democratic Movement in Iraq