Iraq: Joseph Sliwa holds election rally in Ankawa

ANKAWA, ERBIL, Iraq – Candidate in the upcoming October 10 Iraqi elections Joseph Sliwa (List 141) continued his campaign on Friday evening in Ankawa. Together with President of the Beth Nahrain Patriotic Union (Huyodo Bethnahrin Athroyo, HBA) Youssef Yacoub Matti, Sliwa presented the party’s program and answered questions from attendees in the Chaldean Cultural Society Hall in Ankawa.

The rally was attended by representatives of cultural and civil organizations and people from Ankawa, a predominantly Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian suburb of Erbil with a population of 40 thousand. This number excludes the large number of Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian IDPs from the Nineveh Plains – the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people and other non-Sunni Muslims have suffered tremendously since 2014 under the terrorist organization Islamic State and during its aftermath.

The election evening began with a welcoming speech by journalist Ramzi Hurmuz Yako and a minute of silence for the souls of the martyrs of Iraq and the martyrs of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people.

HBA President Yusuf Yacoub Matti then spoke about the importance of the upcoming elections for all Iraqi citizens and for the individual national components. Considering the current political situation, Iraq will not thrive without establishing sound national values and preserving Iraqi sovereignty away from regional and other external interventions of any form or type, Matti stressed. The HBA leader called for his people to be alert for Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian parties and leaders which serve their own interests instead of the interest of their people and constituency. Only sincere MPs can defend and advocate the rights of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people.

Party candidate Joseph Sliwa discussed his election manifesto and key achievements during his time in Iraqi parliament and afterwards, for Iraqis in general and for his people in particular. Sliwa was previously active in the Iraqi Communist Party and Member of Iraqi Parliament from 2014-2018.

The party program of HBA and Joseph Sliwa revolves around reinvigorating the trampled national position and federal constitutional rights of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian 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 limiting of weapons to the state only and to stabilize the security situation in all of Iraq.

HBA and candidate Sliwa stress the urgent need to redevelop, rebuild, and provide full public services to villages, towns, and cities in the ancient Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian heartland of the Nineveh Plains, to end the ongoing deliberate demographic change by internal and external powers in Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian regions, and to ensure their national, political, administrative, cultural, and educational rights. 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

Also Read: A Future for the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people in Iraq? Interview with Bethnahrain Patriotic Union President Yusuf Yahqub Matti

Poet Bashar al-Maqdisi recited three poems, the first dedicated to Iraq, the second to the Beth Nahrain Patriotic Union, and the third to candidate Joseph Sliwa. Writer and journalist Idris al-Ashuri, editor-in-chief of Ashur newspaper, then delivered a speech praising candidate Joseph Sliwa’s courage to address Iraqi issues and existing problems publicly and powerfully – even under threat to his own life.

The evening concluded with questions from the audience, mainly related to the political situation in Iraq, the role of the Christian “quota”, the unfulfilled demands of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people, as well as the challenges and obstacles facing Iraqis in general and the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people in particular, especially taking into account the ongoing massacres and suffering of this afflicted people since 1915 until now.

The Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people are officially recognized as Chaldeans-Assyrians in the Iraqi constitution. Their language is officially acknowledged as Syriac, which was the only thing Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians could agree a upon in the 2005 constitution. The Syriac language is taught in schools in Ankawa, Baghdad, Nohadra (Dohuk), and the Nineveh Plains, where Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians have a majority or large presence. From the inclusive list of denominational names of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people in their party program, it becomes clear that the Beth Nahrain Patriotic Union, an affiliate of the Beth Nahrin National Council, and Joseph Sliwa have a national unifying agenda for the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people in Iraq.

Iraqi parliament has five quota seats reserved for Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians. 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.