Iraq's Minorities Spurn Special Force, Seek Constitutional Protection
By: Bassem Francis Translated from Al-Hayat (Pan Arab).
Christian political figures refused the formation of forces to protect minorities based on their national or sectarian affiliation, and revealed that a committee had been formed to draft a law that would guarantee the administrative and cultural rights of minorities.
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Iraq’s Christians are rejecting an initiative that would see security forces formed to protect them and other minorities; instead, they want minority rights to get full protection under Iraq’s constitution and be respected throughout the country, Bassem Francis reports.Publisher: Al-Hayat (Pan Arab)
Iraqi Christians Refuse the Formation of Forces to Protect Minorities Outside of the National Framework
Author: Bassem Francis
First Published: October 15, 2012
Posted on: October 16 2012
Translated by: Joelle El-Khoury
Categories : Iraq
The head of the Christian Rafidain Bloc in Iraq's parliament, Yonadim Kana, told Al-Hayat that “a committee, which consists of representatives of the main political blocs and minorities, was formed more than a month ago, under Article 125 of the constitution and according to legal contexts. [It aims] to enforce the article and draft a law that would guarantee the rights of minorities, based on the experience of other pluralistic societies in achieving partnership and guaranteeing administrative and cultural rights, etc.”
Kana refused “to resort to security protection [for minorities], for [provision of security] is a general national issue.” He added: “If this issue is raised, I will oppose [a security] approach, because the law protects everyone and there is no state within the state. The lack of security that we witnessed was temporary and will hopefully end.”
Nineveh province announced that it has filed a lawsuit against the Ministry of Interior, due to it issuing an order to form a force comprised of Shabak Iraqis [a minority ethnic group from northern Iraq] and warned that this step would encourage “ethnic and religious division.”
The Shabak minority, which mostly consists of Shiites, is located in the villages of the Mosul district, in the areas disputed between the Kurdistan region and Baghdad. The group also includes Christians and Yazidis [a Kurdish ethnic group with Persian roots].
Kana said: “We were complaining about being excluded and marginalized, but we do not call for the formation of forces or areas based on any national or sectarian background. This would be a big and unconstitutional mistake. We refuse to divide society in this way. It is unjust that the Shabak minority is absent and doesn't have a place in the police force. However, forming a Kurdish, Shiite or Sunni force must be avoided. It would produce strife that would divide society.”
Diyaa Boutros, spokesman of a gathering that consists of Christian groups, told Al-Hayat that “Article 125 was supposed to be adopted a long time ago,” adding that “minorities have always been obsessed with how this should be done.”
He continued: “We hope that the committee members are up to the responsibility of finding the best formula to adopt this law and follow up on its implementation on the ground, particularly given the tremendous number of laws that were never adopted. The committee needs to call on the government to develop a mechanism that would provide protection for all [religious and ethnic] groups and address the reasons that push them to emigrate.”
As for the formation of special forces to protect minorities, Boutros said: “I think it's better that these forces consist of members from the ministries of interior or defense, in order to avoid any sensitivities among different groups, by either creating an opportunity for a specific group to recruit its own personnel, and denying that to others. This will create a crisis.
“Based on that, I see the need to define a specific number of people from each group and ensure that each party encourages its followers to join these forces in a just way,” Boutros said.
He noted: “The gathering has a vision regarding Article 125, and we support the first part that gives Christians their rights, but at the same time this has divided Christians into two different national groups. We asked on more than one occasion to insert the term ‘Chaldean Assyrian Syriac’ and we hope that the committee examines this proposal.”
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