NINEVEH: Kurdish authorities arrest Syriac-Chaldean writer and poet Jamil al-Sa’our for drawing Iraqi flag

TELESQOF/TESQOPA, NINEVEH PLAINS – Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) policing forces on Wednesday arrested Syriac-Chaldean writer, and poet Jamil Francis al-Sa’our on charges of painting the Iraqi flag on a wall of an (abandoned) house in the Syriac-Chaldean town of Telesqof (Tesqopa) in the Nineveh Governate in Iraq. After his arrest, al-Sa`our was taken by the Kurdish authorities to the al-Qala prison in Alqosh where the Telesqof resident was held for 6 hours.

According to his Facebook page, al-Sa’our’s detention was accompanied by insults and intimidation, after which the writer was forced to sign a statement not to paint the Iraqi flag in public spaces, at risk of a more severe detention – although the Iraqi flag is displaced in public offices in Telesqof. Al-Sa’our is an activist and was active in the Chaldean Democratic Party.

Residents of Telesqof fled ISIS in 2014. After the liberation of the Syriac-Chaldean town a.o. by the Kurdish KDP Peshmerga, many residents returned. The KDP Peshmerga stayed.

The town was rebuild with the help of especially Hungary and the United States. US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller visited the town of Telesqof in July 2019 to meet former Mayor Basem Ballo to discuss U.S. efforts to preserve and protect the Syriac-Chaldeans for Telesqof and Iraq.

US Ambassador to Iraq Tueller visits former Telesqof Mayor Bassim Ballo, July 2019 (Image: US Embassy in Iraq). The U.S. has committed over $340 million to rebuild communities and protect minority groups.