Report Outlines Ethnic Cleansing Campaign Against Iraq's Assyrians

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12 June, 2007

(AINA) -- The Assyrian International News Agency has produced a deeply troubling Genocide report regarding the Assyrian (also known as Chaldean and Syriac) Christians of Iraq. The information compiled in Incipient Genocide: The Ethnic Cleansing of the Assyrians of Iraq  portrays a systematic campaign of massacre and destruction of this indigenous population of Iraq.

Through intimidation, forced conversions, murder, kidnapping, beheading of Church leaders, rape, and daily threats against their security and lives, the Assyrian Christian population in Baghdad and other major cities has dwindled from a once-thriving community to almost nothing. Those who have fled to Jordan and Syria face governments unwilling to recognize their refugee status (Jordan) and are living in dire poverty. Those who manage to flee to North Iraq face political and ethnic persecution at the hands of Kurdish authorities.

While all Iraqi civilians are victims of violence in Iraq, there is an organized agenda being carried out by Islamists and Kurdish authorities to either rid the country of their indigenous inhabitants, or to reduce them to nothing more than a religious minority with no grounds for asserting their ethnic identity. The Assyrian Christians are the only indigenous population of Iraq and comprise 95% the Christian population, and have lived in their lands for almost 7,000 years. Before the liberation of Iraq in 2003, Assyrians were an estimated 1.5 million (8%) of the population of Iraq. Reports indicate that up to 50% have fled the country since 2003. This report answers the question: If over the centuries, these Assyrians endured genocides, massacres, and a vicious Ba'athist regime, what has been causing a mass exodus of these people since 2003?

The Assyrians have suffered violence throughout central Iraq, with just over 60% of the murders taking place there. 35% of the Assyrians killed were in the purportedly "peaceful region" of Iraq, the Kurdish north. These systematic killings -- since 1996 and especially since 2003 -- are a clear signal that there is a methodical effort to rid Iraq of this ethnic and religious minority, for religiously and politically motivated ideological reasons.

The report shows that since 2003, 33 Assyrian Churches have been bombed. Assyrian priests and Bishops have been kidnapped, tortured to death, and beheaded. Assyrian women are coerced under the Islamic jihad, with constant threats of rape or murder. Assyrian children are kidnapped, killed, crucified, and transferred to non-Assyrian families. Assyrian families in Baghdad are forced to pay an Islamic "protection tax" (jizya) by al-Qaeda. Assyrian land and properties have been taken by Shi'ites in Baghdad and Kurds in North Iraq. With disturbing pictures, Incipient Genocide testifies to the nearly impossible conditions the Assyrian Christians are suffering in Iraq.