Christian CSAPC group in Iraqi Kurdistan:
We still want our own independent region
By Abdul-Khaleq Dosky | Duhok, Kurdistan region,
Shams al-Deen Gewargis Zaya (2nd from right), one of
the Council’s former heads.
July 6, 2012
DUHOK, Kurdistan region 'Iraq',— A leading
member of the Christian-based political group, the
CSAPC, talks about why his group still insists on
their own independent region, the impact of ongoing
violence on Iraqi Christians and his group’s
position on the current political crisis in Iraq.
While some sectarian and ethnic groups have started
to pull back on demands for a region of their own,
similar to the semi-autonomous state of Iraqi
Kurdistan, one Christian group continues to want
their own independent state.
The Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Popular Council (CSAPC)
was created in 2007 with a view to uniting Christian
discourse in Iraq; all of the groups represented are
variations of the Christian sect. Representatives
from each group rotate the chairperson’s position
Lawyer Shams al-Deen Gewargis Zaya, one of the
Council’s former heads, talked about why his group
still insists on their own independent region, the
impact of ongoing violence in Iraq on Christians
there and his group’s position on the current
political crisis in Iraq.
Q: What is your
group’s position on the current tensions –some would
say, crisis situation – between authorities in the
semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan and the
federal government, led by Nouri al-Maliki in
Shams al-Deen Gewargis:
We believe that solving this crisis requires all of
the parties involved meeting, without marginalizing
or excluding anyone, in some form of national
conference. The aim should be to reach agreements
that consider the interests of all Iraqis.
Q: The Chaldean
Syriac Assyrian Popular Council was created in 2007
– has the Council achieved its aims?
want to create a Christian province in the state of
Ninawa, together with other ethnic, religious and
sectarian components in the region. Until now, we
haven’t been able to do that but we are dedicated to
that aim. We are currently conducting an online
referendum on this topic.
Q: Why do you
want to do this? Doesn’t this kind of thing just
split Iraq up into conflicted regions?
don’t want to divide Iraq or split it into pieces.
The Christians of Iraq support a united Iraq. But we
do want to have our own identity and we want to
preserve that identity.
Like many other disputed areas in Iraq, this area
has been suffering because there are two different
administrative authorities, which has led to
marginalization and a lack of state services.
Because the majority of the people here are
we simply think that administrative independence
could ease these problems.
Q: Where would
this region be?
Hamdaniya and the Tal Keef districts in Ninawa.
Q: In fact
though, hundreds of Christian families have been
fleeing this area over the past few years, for fear
of persecution and targeting by extremist militias.
Surely this exodus has affected the latter goal?
it has. Mostly Christian villages in the
[semi-autonomous region of] Iraqi Kurdistan are
almost empty and the same is true of villages on the
Ninawa plain. The rapid decrease Christian numbers
has a negative impact on our political demands.
challenges have Christian Iraqis had in Iraqi
Gewargis: It is
true that living conditions in Iraqi Kurdistan are
better than in other Iraqi cities. But it is still
difficult for them to find jobs and there is also a
language barrier there – many cannot speak Kurdish.
Additionally Iraqi Kurdistan is becoming more
limited as a host – so many immigrants have sought
Q: Late last
year Christian-owned stores and businesses were
attacked during riots in the north of Iraqi
Kurdistan. What sort of impact have these had on
impact has been on the economic as well as
psychological level. But we still want to have a
state where there is religious pluralism, freedom of
opinion and where extremism is repudiated. We want a
state where there is rule of law to resolve
conflicts and citizens can live freely in the way
Q: What do you
want from the authorities in Iraqi Kurdistan then?
want the regional government to apply the rule of
law. In my opinion, if the attacks such as those in
Zakho – the arson in liquor stores and other
businesses including Chinese massage parlours –
happen again, they will have a negative impact on
the progress of Iraqi Kurdistan and on its
stability, as well as on any hopes the region may
have to become a country on its own in the future.
Some international organizations measure the levels
of democracy achieved by events such as these.
Copyright ©, respective author or news agency,
does not take credit for and is not responsible for the
content of news information on this page