Kurdistan's Christians call for dialogue between Erbil, Baghdad to solve disputes
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Christians in the Kurdistan Region on Sunday called on the international community to intervene and establish a dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to settle current political disputes.
At a conference in Erbil, Christians in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq called for dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to defuse tensions and address unresolved issues.
Christian officials and religious leaders present expressed their support for peaceful discussion and negotiations between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq.
“We hereby reject the decisions of the Iraqi government to punish all the people of the Kurdistan Region,” Wahida Yaqo, a Christian member of the Kurdistan Regional Parliament and member of the Kurdistan Region’s High Council for a referendum, said while speaking at the conference.
She called on the UN and the EU to respect the decision of the people in the Kurdistan Region, stating 89 percent of Christians in their hometowns voted ‘Yes’ in Sep. 25 referendum on independence.
She also praised the Kurdistan Region and the Peshmerga forces in protecting the minority group from the attacks of the Islamic State (IS).
During the conference, Christians leaders highlighted the persecution and atrocities the people of the Kurdistan Region, of all walks of life including Christians, have suffered at the hands of Baghdad throughout history.
“Christians, along with all the other minorities in the region, pay a grave price due to religious, sectarian, and political conflicts,” read the statement from the Head of Church of the Kurdistan Region.
The declaration avowed that Christians were the ‘biggest victims’ of Iraq's internal conflicts, despite the group not being directly involved in the disputes.
They noted should these conflicts continue, Christians would face yet another mass exodus, and finally, extinction in their homeland.
“Certainly, as Christians, we cannot forget how our Kurdish brothers, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the people welcomed us, and their support for the displaced, not only the Christians but all the components of Iraq,” the statement continued. “The Kurdistan Region became a haven for us when disaster strikes since 2003. It is very important that this region remains safe for its people and all its inhabitants.”
The Christian Head of Church of the Kurdistan Region also called on the international community and the major powers to intervene, calling it their “moral and humanitarian duty”r to protect Christians and their homeland.
The group asked the UN to establish a welcoming environment and dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to prevent the escalation of tensions. They also discouraged the use of threatening language which might lead to a protracted struggle in the future which would adversely affect all the people of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.
The statement also noted Christians were concerned about their future, with no political guarantees being offered for them to remain in their ancestral land. “We can no longer bear the loss of our people.”
They asked the international community to help rebuild liberated areas retaken from IS. The lack of services, infrastructure, and jobs has kept people away from their homes, and many have complained the Federal Government of Iraq has not put forward serious efforts to restore their areas.
The Christian community leaders called for the systematic demographics change in the Nineveh Plain to end, adding the area needs to be protected, not divided.
The Kurdistan Region is home to over 300,000 Christians, many of whom fled from the central and southern provinces of Iraq as the threat of IS emerged in mid-2014.
Editing by G.H. Renaud