ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on Wednesday said it refused to use the term “minorities” when referring to Christians and other ethnic groups in Kurdistan as they are an “integral part” of the Region.
“The components that live in the Kurdistan Region are not minorities, but are authentic components and have historical roots in this country,” KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said, referring to Christians and other non-Muslim religious groups, during a meeting with representatives of Christian political factions.
The term “minorities” has often become a common word for senior Iraqi executives in official documents, government communications, and press conferences, although they are not included in the Constitution.
The Christians in Iraq have been subjected to increased violence since 2003 when the former Iraqi regime—led by Saddam Hussein—collapsed, prompting many of them to flee to the Kurdistan Region or move abroad to Europe and America for security reasons.
The Christian population in Iraq was once as large as 1.5 million and is believed to have now reached less than half of that, according to recent government statistics.
Unlike Iraq, Kurdistan has been recognized as an oasis of calm and stability, earning a positive reputation as a haven for all components especially since the emergence of the Islamic State (IS).
When IS launched their blitzkrieg on the country in 2014, the militant group targeted ethnic and religious components in Sinjar (Shingal) and the Nineveh Plains, home to thousands of Christians.
“It is necessary to ensure the rights of Christians based on the law, and to ensure their presence is felt in all areas of the Region,” Prime Minister Barzani continued.
The KRG leader’s meeting with the Christian political factions coincides with reports of unrest in the Nineveh Plains, which is inhabited by Christians, Yezidis (Ezidis), Shabaks, and others.
The representatives of the Christian factions shared their concern with Prime Minister Barzani on the current situation in Nineveh, while also demanding the Iraqi government “reduce the military and security forces in these areas,” a KRG statement read.
Iraqi forces took control of most of the Nineveh Plains in late 2016 after Kurdish Peshmerga forces launched an offensive to liberate the area from IS.
Editing by Nadia Riva