Iraq: Joseph Sliwa holds election rally in Syriac town of Baghdede

BAGHDEDE (QARAQOSH), Nineveh Plains – After visiting the city of Bartella earlier this week, candidate in the Iraqi elections of October 8, candidate Joseph Sliwa (List 141) continued his campaign on Friday in the Syriac city of Baghdede. Together with President of the Beth Nahrain Patriotic Union Youssef Yacoub Matti, Sliwa presented his party program and answered questions from attendees in Nawfal Hall, Baghdede.

The rally was attended by Issam Behnam Matti, the Syriac mayor of the Hamdaniya District to which Baghdede city belongs. Baghdede has a predominantly Syriac population of 35 thousand. Also present was former Member of Iraqi Parliament (2010-2014) for the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian People’s Council Khalis Eshoa Barir, Nineveh Provincial Council member Saad Tanios, representatives of the Baghdede Notables Council, and representatives of the city’s cultural institutions.

Syriac Mayor of Baghdede Issam Behnam Matti (with microphone) and former MP Khalis Eshoa Barir (to Matti’s left)

Joseph Sliwa was previously active in the Iraqi Communist Party and Member of Iraqi Parliament from 2014-2018. Iraqi parliament has five quota seats reserved for Syriacs (Arameans-Assyrians-Chaldeans). The five seats are currently occupied by MPs Rehan Hanna (Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian Popular Council), Hoshyar Yalda (Chaldean Coalition), Yonadam Kanna (Rafidain), Aswan Salem and Baida Khidir (both Babylon Movement). Evan Faeq Jabro is Minister for Immigration and Displacement in the Iraqi government.

The party program of the Beth Nahrain Patriotic Union (Huyodo Bethnahrin Athroyo, HBA) and party candidate Joseph Sliwa revolves around reinvigorating the trampled national position and federal constitutional rights of the Syriac people in Iraq and creating an inclusive Iraqi society in which the constitutional rights of smaller communities are protected and guaranteed. To eliminate the influence of Iranian-backed and other militias in Iraq, they call for the limiting of weapons to the state only and to stabilize the security situation in all of Iraq.

The Syriac (Chaldean-Aramean-Assyrian) people and other non-Sunni Muslims have suffered tremendously since 2014 under the terrorist organization Islamic State and its aftermath.

HBA and candidate Sliwa hence stress the urgent necessity to redevelop, rebuild, and provide full public services to villages, towns, and cities in the ancient Syriac heartland of the Nineveh Plains, to end the ongoing deliberate demographic change by internal and external powers in Syriac (Chaldean-Aramean-Assyrian) regions, and to ensure the national, political, administrative, cultural, and educational rights of the Syriac people. Moreover, they struggle for this to be done through the creation of a Nineveh Plains Province under Article 119 of the Iraqi Constitution.

Also Read: A Future for Christians in Iraq: A Proposal from Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian Political Parties

The Syriac (Chaldean-Aramean-Assyrian) people are officially recognized as Chaldeans-Assyrians in the Iraqi constitution. Their language is officially acknowledged as Syriac, which was the only thing Syriacs (Chaldeans-Arameans-Assyrians) could agree upon in the 2005 constitution. It is taught in schools in places like Ankawa, Baghdad, Nohadra (Dohuk), and the Nineveh Plains, where Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians have a majority or large presence.

From the long list of names in their party program, it becomes clear that the HBA, an affiliate of the Beth Nahrin National Council, and Joseph Sliwa have a national unifying agenda for the Syriac (Chaldean-Aramean-Assyrian) people in Iraq.