Iraqi Christians living in Kurdistan have filed numerous complaints indicating Kurdish residents have been issuing attacks and taking land and property owned by them. Christian citizens also accused Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials of ignoring the situation, and failing to offer a resolution to this serious situation.
Although the KRG prohibits Christian residents from the villages from protesting the attacks and demanding a resolution at their headquarters, some residents were able to pass security and finally stage a protest with a banner that read, ‘’Our [Christian] people’s lands are encroached upon across the Kurdistan Region.” Unfortunately, that did little to help their situation, as KRG officials deny any wrongdoing.
A History of Suffering
Christians in Kurdistan have been harassed and vandalized by the Kurds since the 1980’s, when Saddam Hussein’s troops demolished their villages and displaced many Christian residents. Once Hussein’s troops left, the Kurds then seized Christian territory during the resident’s absence and took over.
Today, Iraqi Christians continue to suffer from genocide, kidnappings, murders and other serious crimes including those from ISIS, which has forced the remaining Christians from their homes. Their towns, churches, and houses were burned, so many Christians are forced to live in tents. Their population has decreased from over a million people to a mere 275 thousand, and there is fear that they are in danger of completely disappearing from Iraq altogether.
Now, U.S. representatives of Iraq’s Christian minority are standing up for the people and demanding that something be done to return them to their homes and give them back the land they own.
U.S. Representatives Take a Stand
Iraq’s Christian minority U.S. representatives are standing up for the abused and neglected refugees, and are discounting claims from the KRG that they are only refusing to let the refugees return home to protect them. Officials also claim that the ban is temporary, and expect them to be able to return to their homeland soon in the future.
This recent clash of power between the U.S. representatives and the KRG weakens a once solid alliance of Kurds and Assyrian Christians against ISIS. In fact, according to a recent report from “The Investigative Project on Terrorism”, Assyrians and the Yazidis have been prohibited by the KRG from returning to their home villages in the Nineveh Plain in Northern Iraq.
The KRG’s Washington representative denied the allegations in the report, and claimed them to be the views of a renegade group. He insisted that KRG actually seized control of land from ISIS, and were not forcing Christians out as indicated in the report. Officials also indicated there is a high security risk in the area that they are working to correct and are asking for support.
“We urgently need assistance with mine and bomb clearance,” Kurdistan Regional Government representative told U.S. new sources. “The scale of the problem in Sinjar and in most liberated areas is vast and beyond our capabilities alone. We would welcome any efforts among the Iraqi-Christian community to help us lobby for such assistance from the United States and other coalition partners.”
Meanwhile, Jeff Gardiner, the director of operations for Restore Nineveh, an active advocacy and relief foundation for the cause, is quite familiar with the region and indicates that there is no security risk of undetonated roadside bombs at all. This is a story fabricated by KRG to explain away the refusal to let the Christians return to their homes.
“It’s simply not true that the place is still littered with IEDs,” he said. “The Assyrians’ own military, known as Nineveh Protection Units (NPU), assisted in clearing them out. Their movements are still being impeded by Kurdish forces. The Assyrians and Yazidis are not being allowed to leave the camps to even assess the damage of their homes and villages.”
Furthermore, Gardiner said that the KRG wants the land to secure access for gas and oil in the Nineveh Plain area with hopes to become an independent nation. KRG officials deny the intent to steal the land from the Christians to become an independent nation, and claim that they support the Yazidi and Christian groups and insist that the people should be able to choose their own governance.
The unsettled contempt of the Kurds against the Christian refugees and the ongoing battle for their land seems far from being settled while Christians continue to suffer in refugee camps. U.S. representatives are finally taking a stand and are trying to help these people return home and regain the land unlawfully taken from them.
~ 1776 Christian