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WikiLeaks: 2007-12-06: 07BAGHDAD3962: Baghdad 2 E-PRT: Assyrian Democratic Movement Spokesman Talks About Christian Issues

by WikiLeaks. 07BAGHDAD3962: December 06, 2007.

Posted: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 at 08:29 PM UT


Viewing cable 07BAGHDAD3962, BAGHDAD 2 E-PRT: ASSYRIAN DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07BAGHDAD3962 2007-12-06 10:39 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
VZCZCXRO5170
RR RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3962/01 3401039
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 061039Z DEC 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4687
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 003962 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/06/2017 
TAGS: PGOV SCUL SOCI IZ
SUBJECT: BAGHDAD 2 E-PRT:  ASSYRIAN DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT 
SPOKESMAN TALKS ABOUT CHRISTIAN ISSUES 
 
 
BAGHDAD 00003962  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
Classified By: E-PRT Team Leader Eric Whitaker, Reason:  Section 1.4 (b 
 
) and (d). 
 
1. (U) This is a Baghdad 2 Brigade E-PRT reporting cable. 
 
2. (C) Summary:  During a November 27 meeting, Assyrian 
Democratic Movement Public Relations Head Sargon Lazar Slewa 
told E-PRT Team Leader that the Christian community has 
minimal involvement in the Iraq central government.  He 
characterized Christians as remaining non-aligned but open to 
dialogue with all.  According to Sargon, Christians worship 
freely, their churches remain open, and they are not 
persecuted.  He complained, however, that Christians lacked 
special IDs and weapons permits to easily enter the IZ. 
Sargon claimed that the Christian community had once numbered 
nearly as many as one million in the 1990s in Baghdad, and 
that a large number had departed beginning in 2003 mainly to 
Syria, Jordan, and Turkey, as well as Kurdistan, Mosul, and 
Ninevah.  He discussed the current status of Christian 
churches, their NGOs, and their media outreach.  Although one 
Christian-run television station closed six months ago due to 
financial difficulties, a radio station and a newspaper 
remain in operation.  End Summary. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
Sargon:  Limited Christian Involvement in Politics 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
 
3. (C) On November 27, E-PRT Team Leader met with Sargon 
Lazar Slewa, Public Relations Head, Assyrian Democratic 
Movement, at FOB Loyalty.  The Assyrian Democratic Movement 
maintains a small office in the Zayuna neighborhood of 9 
Nissan district.  This was the first meeting with Sargon, 
whom E-PRT Team Leader had met at the QRF-funded iftar at a 
Sunni mosque in Zayuna in October; Sargon had been a guest of 
the Sunni mosque community as a representative of the 
Christian community. 
 
4. (C) Sargon said only two members of the Council of 
Representatives (CoR) - Unadem Yousef Kana, Al Rafdeen List 
(Secretary General of the Assyrian Democratic Movement) and 
Ablahad Ephraim Sawa, Kurdistan Coalition (Secretary General 
of the Democratic United Kildanian Party) - are Christian. 
He noted that Kana identifies more with the Kurdish community 
than the Christian community.  In PM Maliki's Cabinet, 
Minister of Industry Fawzi El-Hariri (Kurdistan Coalition) 
and Ms. Wijdan Mikhail, Minister of Human Rights (independent 
member from the Iraqi National list ) Ayad Alawi list) are 
Christian.  According to Sargon, El-Hariri is more closely 
aligned with the Kurdish community, and Mikhail associates 
closely with a Shia political faction.  He explained that 
Christians often avoid being identified too closely with any 
single political leaning to maintain good relations with all 
groups. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
Christians not Persecuted; but Community Depleted 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
5. (C) Sargon said Christians can worship freely in Baghdad 
and do not/not suffer from persecution by the GOI, Shias, or 
others.  Furthermore, all Christian churches remain open.  He 
said the largest Christian groups were the Chaldean 
Catholics, Syriac Catholics, Syriac Orthodox, Eastern Church, 
Old Eastern Church, Armenian Orthodox, and Protestants. 
There are very few Christian schools, however.  He complained 
that Christians lacked the proper IDs and weapons permits 
that would allow them to enter the IZ easily. 
 
6. (C) Sargon said that in the 1990s the Christian community 
in Baghdad reached roughly one million.  However, this number 
dropped significantly starting in 2003 due to the post-Saddam 
Hussein ethno-sectarian conflict.  In Mualameen, 9 Nissan, he 
said, there were 5,000 Christian families in 1991, which 
decreased to 4,000 in 2003 and 2,000 today.  Most fled to 
Syria, with a few in Kurdistan, Mosul, and Ninevah, as well 
as Jordan and Turkey. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
Christian TV Closed; Radio, and Newspaper Remain 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
7. (C) The Christian community formerly operated a television 
station, which closed six months ago due to funding 
shortfalls.  Sargon said that both the Christian-run radio 
station newspaper ) Bahra, meaning "light" ) are still 
operating.  He mentioned that the Christian community 
receives assistance from the U.S. Embassy, but complained 
that Coalition Forces no longer purchased advertising space, 
making it more difficult to generate revenue to cover 
operating expenses. 
 
BAGHDAD 00003962  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
 
8. (C) Sargon also said that his movement had founded an NGO 
and a women's center.  E-PRT Team Leader encouraged him to 
advise the E-PRT as to their activities and to consider 
applying for resources to strengthen their capacity. 
BUTENIS

 



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