By Walid Shoebat
Christians can only understand their walk, their cross and their destiny when they understand that the entire Bible is prophetic.
If we examine the biblical narrative where God told Pharaoh to “let my people go,” we would recognize that God first hardened Pharaoh’s heart forcing the Hebrews to get their own straw to bake their quota of bricks. That is what made the Hebrews open their eyes that Moses was right and that the immigration to the Promised Land was the only solution to their survival and their destiny. Had God not hardened Pharaoh’s heart, the Hebrews would remain in Egypt for the free welfare: “the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost–also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.” (Numbers 11:5)
Likewise today, the obstruction by Christian leaders of the Middle East to immigrate to western lands forced Christians to live in squally conditions in refugee camps is the fault of wolves; so-called bishops in sheep clothing. These adhere to the wishes of their Muslim lords who as well refuse to “let God’s people go” claiming that if the Christians leave to western lands, then the salt of Christianity in the Middle East will cease to exist.
They would rather do what the world did to the Palestinian refugees who were made to live in refugee camps in order to keep the situation as a sight for sore eyes just to raise funding and to condemn their Jewish brethren in Israel for their miserable condition.
And while the Palestinian hates the Jew, little does he know that the slave merchants direct their souls to utter destruction.
It is the same story for the American African community even in the promised land of the United States, they are continually told to hate the white man by the same slave merchants; the very leaders who claim they are anti-slavery like Barrack Hussein Obama, Jessy Jackson, Al Sharpton and Michael Eric Dyson …
These are no different than the tribal leaders who sold their ancestors to the Muslim who then sold them to the European who then shipped them to pick cotton. We also are dealing with this same narrative in Pakistan were Rescue Christians can only “let God’s people go” by all sorts of methods we can probably never disclose. In reality we too are in the slave-trade business. The only difference is that we free our slaves the moment we obtain them. As Oscar Schindler was a Nazi and so here we are and here you are, everyone who supports us are also in the slave-trade business and nothing ever changes.
This narrative never changed since biblical times. In the Levant, the Muslim Sunni slave-masters are mainly financed by Saudi Arabia, the Muslim Shiite slave-masters are supported by Iran, and the Muslim Kurd slave-masters (the pride of U.S. media and government) are supported by their own oil revenues and by Turkey, which also supports the Turkmen minority. The Assyrian parties have no support and are thus left to fend for themselves continually from all sorts of slave-masters.
In the U.S., the Muslim Kurds are hailed as the beacon for freedom and the friend of the West and the Christian. This is an absolute myth. Truth is, that in the Levant, Kurdish parties choose to compromise with Islamic parties more than with Christians. In the Nineveh Plain, in the former Assyria, neither the Muslim Arabs nor the Muslim Kurds want to lose this area because of the potential oil fields under the ground and throughout Syria, especially in the Northern region of Hasakah, the Christians have been suffering the process of the “Kurdification” of Syria which has been condemned by international groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
If one searches “kurds” on Google there is over eight million hits ranging from Kurdish rights for self-autonomy, how they have been betrayed, and how we should all work with them for the sake of bettering humanity, including destroying ISIS. But when on searches for the word “kurdification” in Google, it becomes surprising to find a miserable six thousand hits.
Try it. It will help wake you up on how narrow the road to truth really is.
Kurdification is a cultural change in which something ethnically non-Kurdish is forced to become Kurdish. It is sort of like when Germans started the process of Nazification of Germany, Kurdification is usually used in contexts of post-Saddam Iraq, particularly in relation to Assyrian Christians, Iraqi Turkmen and the Shabak people.
During this process of Kurdification, the militant Kurdish groups, like the YPG (the pride of the west) have been systematically driving Assyrians from their lands and villages. This process to end the Assyrian Christians can be viewed from the Assyrian Democratic Party of Syria exposing the case by which it issued a statement in which they condemned the process of a Kurdish land-grab, specifically an unjust and illegal law passed by the Legislative Council of Kurdish Self Governance which claims the right to take control of land owned by those who have been forced to flee the violence in Syria. (1)
The YPG (People’s Protection Units Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Gel) are the main armed service of the Kurdish Supreme Committee in the government of Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava). The YPG are primarily Kurdish, but also uses Arabs, Turks, and even Assyrian Christian units integrated into its command structure and is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States, the European Union and NATO.
Assyrian Institute in Stockholm (Sweden) Dr. Jamil Hanna complained that “arming [Muslim] Kurds was a mistake in the first place and their presence around 35 some Christian villages simply brought ISIS to their area. The U.S.-Coalition instead of arming the Assyrian Christians who are able to defend themselves armed the Kurds”. He added that “the U.S. coalition should not concentrate on arming Kurds while ignoring all the other sects of what makes up the Syrian society”.
Ten per cent of Iraq’s population is made up of minority communities. They include Armenian and Chaldo-Assyrian Christians, Bahá’ís, Faili Kurds, Jews, Mandaeans, Palestinians, Shabaks, Turkomans and Yazidis. Some of these groups have lived in Iraq for two millennia or more. There is now a real fear that they will not survive the current conflict and their unique culture and heritage in Iraq may be extinguished forever. (2)
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, minorities make up approximately 30 per cent of the 1.8m Iraqi refugees now seeking sanctuary in Jordan, Syria and across the world. Yet these minorities are ignored in the influx of refugee hordes gushing into Europe who are mostly Muslim while at times Christians were even thrown overboard.
To the Kurds, minorities are specifically targeted for eradication for their faith and ethnicity. Christians are at risk because their faith associates them with the West and with the MNF-I (Multi National Force in Iraq). The traditional trade of this community as alcohol-sellers also makes them a target. In 2011 many liquor stores, department stores and salons owned by Christians in Zakho were burned in broad daylight, without any reaction from the police or army.
All of Iraq’s minority communities have suffered violations since 2003 which include: 1) destruction and defacement of religious buildings 2) mass murder of congregations gathered in and around them 3) abduction 4) ransoming and murder of religious and civic leaders and individuals 5) children forced conversion to Islam using tactics such as death threats, rape and forced marriage.
So far Iraq’s fledgling democratic processes have presented problems for minorities. During the 2005 elections, members of minority groups reported violence, intimidation and lack of access to polling booths. The new Constitution – approved in a 2005 referendum – was drafted with little participation from minority groups. Though it is progressive in many respects, it is alarmingly vague on the role Islam will play in the future Iraqi state – placing a question-mark over issues of religious freedom. As a matter of urgency, the MNF-I and the Iraqi government must recognize that Iraq’s minority communities are being targeted for persecution.
According to the UNHCR, the Kurdish parties and their armed forces (YPG, Peshmerga) have carried out acts of violence committed in areas under their control against ethnic religious minorities. Kurdish parties have been actively seeking to incorporate these areas into the Region of Kurdistan. Many ethnic minorities have charged that Kurdish political parties and military forces have subjected them to violence, forced assimilation, discrimination, political marginalization, arbitrary arrests and detention. (see detailed reports here, here, here, here).
In the Region of Kurdistan, while “honour killings” are considered crimes under local law, yet they continue to occur in high numbers, often concealed as accidents, suicides or suicide attempts. Forced or early marriages are of concern and female genital mutilation (FGM) is prevalent in some areas.
In the Christian areas, the process of Kurdification can be seen everywhere. The Assyrian flag is not allowed to be used in towns and villages even where only Assyrians live. Inside and outside the Kurdish Regional Government area Assyrians may not use their own political symbols. During parades for the Assyrian New Year, Assyrian Christians are not allowed to use banners with slogans that Kurds consider politically sensitive. Everything has to sound as everyone lives in “peace” and “brotherhood” with permission in advance from the Kurdistan Democratic Party and everything is checked in advance. Most Assyrian villages must demonstrate loyalty to the Kurds by showing the Kurdish flag. In the past, Assyrian Christians fearing oppression had to have the pictures of Saddam Hussein displayed in church buildings to now simply be replaced with Masoud Barzani. Saddam has been swapped for Barzani and the Ba’ath party for the KDP.
According to the Assyrian International News Agency, when Mosul fell to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on June 11, Arab members of the Iraqi police stationed in Assyrian villages throughout north Iraq abandoned their positions, leaving only the Kurds and the few Assyrians to protect the villages against ISIS. The Kurds seized the opportunity to begin the Kurdification of all areas where minorities lived. They took control of Christian Assyrian villages, as well as the villages of Yezidis and Shabaks, raising Kurdish flags on government buildings and checkpoints in the Christian Assyrian villages of Alqosh, Qaraqosh, Bartella, Karemlesh, Baashiqa, Tel Keppeh, Telsqop, Batnaya, Baghdeda, Ainsifneh/Shekhan, Sharafya, Dashqutan, Karanjo and Pirozawa.
Kurdification is also a process of Islamization. In villages that where exclusively Christian, the Kurdification process included building mosques to encourage Muslim settlement in those areas while in the Assyrian district of ‘Ankawa are strategically funded by Islamic financiers so that Muslims would settle there and many large plots of Assyrian lands has been appropriated by the government for Kurdish projects. Even the Erbil Airport was part of ‘Ankawa, which was inhabited almost exclusively by Assyrian Christians. When Christian families want to escape from Mosul, real estate agents refused to sell their properties fearing for their own lives from the Kurdish militias that kept an eye and didn’t allow them to help Christians causing the homes to sell for 70% less than fair market value.
Assyrian Christians who were not complying with strict Islamic values and traditions have been subjected to discrimination, threats, kidnappings, mutilations and killings. Those who have been victimized include women who fail to dress appropriately, drive cars or work outside the home; men who shave their beards, wear shorts or have long hair or wear “inappropriate” clothing.
A number of Assyrian girls are forced by Kurdish criminal organizations to work in prostitution. If they refuse, they are threatened with death. Many of them are vulnerable refugees from the south with little family in the north. These criminal organizations have ties with political leaders. Therefore it is easy to quickly force these girls with passports, and to send them to EU countries to work there in the night districts.
The Kurdification process also includes direct attacks by the Kurdish Peshmerga against Christian villages. In June 2013, Rabatki, a village in the Iraqi Kurdistan region was attacked by General Aref al-Zebari using armed Peshmerga soldiers funded by the Iraqi national budget. Assyrian Christians are not allowed in these units to protect their people. The Dutch politician Joel Voordewind of the Christian Union has condemned the attack and the Swedish politician Yilmaz Kerimo of the Social Democrats also condemned this attack on Rabatki.
In the Assyrian town of Alqosh, the local council, which is under the control of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), voted to remove the Assyrian chairman, Faiz Abed Jahwareh, and replace him with a Kurdish man who is a member of the KDP. Mr. Jahwareh, who is a member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM), was widely supported by the town residents and was responsible for the administration of Alqosh and a number of smaller Assyrian and Yezidi villages in the surrounding area.
While welcoming the protection of the Kurdish forces, Assyrians have never-the-less expressed grave concern about Kurdish annexation of their villages.
The Kurdification process also includes the prohibition for Assyrians to buy government-built houses or to work as police or soldiers. Civil servants, journalist at major newspapers and TV stations, judges and senior positions within educational institutions cannot comprise of any Assyrians regardless of giving loyalty to the Kurdish parties. Assyrian history is not recognized, but is rather transformed as Kurdish history in museums, books and during memorial days and all excavations in northern Iraq are labeled by authorities as Kurdish even in textbooks while Kurdish militias regularly use important cultural heritage sites for target practice. (4)
Even the Assyrian newspapers and the Satellite channel “Ishtar TV” which existed prior to the process are absolutely not allowed to post political articles or broadcast politically-related programs. If a church is bombed, there are no images allowed of the bombing or anything allowed from broadcasting or victims expressing their emotions. People who do not feel safe, or lost their land in the Kurdish Regional Government area may not be interviewed under no circumstance.
According to one report (3), the Kurds have clear plans to control their regions officially in Nineveh’s environs in order to prepare for the annexation of those lands to the Kurdish occupation. Kurds have always sent their followers to international forums to interrupt international protection for Assyrians. The Kurds simply want to annex the Nineveh Valley, most of whose residents are Christians.
Kurdification also involves a labeling process. The Assyrians, regardless that they are internal refugees they are called displaced people (DP) in government offices and in schools. Entire families are made to feel discriminated and twice humiliated after leaving everything behind to escape from ISIS. In school students want to know why teachers do a roll call only for them by calling on displaced people to identify themselves.
80 per cent of the Assyrian nation in Syria and Iraq has been displaced and more than 60 churches have been demolished with cries of “Allahu Akbar”.
The Kurdification process includes entire regional occupation of the entire Assyrian Triangle (between Greater Zab and the River Tigris) which has been occupied by Kurdish intruders under the slogan “We are taking your lands and you can go to church as you wish”, thereby monitoring the ecclesiastical Assyrian mindset (Chaldees, Syriacs and Church of the East followers).
The Assyrian Christians fleeing do not even gain the support from the Church hierarchy who are also restricting their migration to other countries where they would be safe from ISIS and the process of Kurdification. One of the best examples of this is Bishop Louis Raphael I Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church. Although he presents himself as protecting the Chaldean community, Sako recently called for the international community to support “the Central Government and the Regional Government of Kurdistan towards the liberation of all Iraqi cities”. He also addressed the European nations that when accepting refugees that they should not prioritize Christians for aid. According to a Catholic report:
The leader of the Chaldean Catholic Church has advised European countries against letting sentiment guide their reactions to the crisis in the Middle East, and asked them not to prioritise Christians when accepting refugees.
Sako condemned organizations that work “to facilitate the exodus of Christians”, saying that “they work to push Christians to leave their countries and they openly admit to this, presenting it as something that benefits the persecuted”. Sako is referring to organizations like Rescue Christians.
Nothing has changed from biblical times of the Hebrew slaves and Sako would have told Moses to ‘Keep them in Egypt!’ Even St. Athanasius defended his flight in this treatise in which he provided a theological apologetic for fleeing from persecution. In it he wrote:
But Scripture itself directs us to flee: and those who persecute unto death, in attempting to violate the law, constrain us to have recourse to flight. (In Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, 3.8)
“David arose and fled that day from before Saul” (1 Samuel 21:10); and Elijah “arose and ran for his life” (1 Kings 19:3) when Jezebel wanted him dead; St. Joseph “took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt” (Matthew 2:14) when Herod wanted Christ dead. Even Jesus “he escaped out of their hand” (John 10:39).
The Kurdification process of minorities is similar to the Nazification of Germany prior to the Holocaust. With Turkey lurking at the horizon with its neo-Ottoman dream, these Christian minorities as we foresee will be eradicated in a repeat of what happened during the Ottoman dark and unconfessed history. While in Germany few foresaw it coming and fled before it all happened, we foresee the same scenario that men of good-will recognize it after it is too late. These need international protection. The Assyrians in Iraq are waiting steadfastly for the world’s conscience to awake, to prevent the annihilation of one of the most ancient nations on earth. The European Union and the United Nations should consult with minority representatives to put in place policies for protection and reassurance in taking immediate steps to honour their obligations to provide a safe haven not just for Muslim refugees guised as Syrian Refugees, but the real refugees fleeing heavy persecution. Europe and North America should become involved in voluntary resettlement programmes of vulnerable Iraqi and Syrian Christians to allow this ancient and diverse cultures to continue to exist and thrive and they must act now.
(1) Restore Nineveh Now stands with the Assyrian Democratic Party of Syria in opposition to this illegal and unjust attempt to push Assyrians off their land, especially in this time of war and distress.
(2) Preti Taneja is a journalist specializing in human rights. She is a regular contributor to a range of international print, web-based and audio media. As a filmmaker she has produced and directed a number of human rights documentaries. She holds a degree in Theology and Religious Studies from the University of Cambridge.
(3) Haaretz newspaper on 24 December 2010.
(4) See “Treasures of ancient civilization in North Iraq are threatened –Modification of historical landscape must stop,” Assyrian Council of Europe press release, 07 July 2012