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WikiLeaks: 2008-08-26: 08BAGHDAD2738: Christian Activist: Gratified the "U.S. is thinking about us"

by WikiLeaks. 08BAGHDAD2738: August 26, 2008.

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2013 at 05:19 PM UT


Viewing cable 08BAGHDAD2738, CHRISTIAN ACTIVIST: GRATIFIED THE "U.S. IS

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
08BAGHDAD2738 2008-08-26 06:20 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
VZCZCXRO8455
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #2738 2390620
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 260620Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9060
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 002738 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/26/2018 
TAGS: KIRF PGOV PHUM SOCI IZ
SUBJECT: CHRISTIAN ACTIVIST: GRATIFIED THE "U.S. IS 
THINKING ABOUT US" 
 
REF: BAGHDAD 1552 
 
Classified By: Special Advisor for Northern Iraq Affairs 
Thomas C. Krajeski for reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 
 
1.  (C)  SUMMARY:  Asserting that intra-Iraqi Christian 
discord is the result of political competition between 
church leaders, CoR Speaker Mashadani's human rights 
advisor urged the USG to engage with nonpolitical lay 
people.  She complained that the government was not 
providing adequate assistance to Christian refugee 
returnees in Dahuk, but praised the successful efforts to 
enroll Christian recruits in the Iraqi police.  She 
lamented that KRG PM Barzani has not responded to her offer 
to establish a "council of minorities," and welcomed S/I 
Krajeski's offer to raise the issue with Barzani during his 
upcoming visit to Erbil.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2.  (C)  Meeting with Senior Advisor for Northern Iraq 
Affairs (S/A) Krajeski and poloff on August 18, Assyrian 
Democratic 
Movement (ADM) member and human rights advisor to Council 
of Representatives (CoR) Speaker Mashadani Pascale Warda 
highlighted the difficulties of Christian refugees 
returning to Dahuk Province only to find that their 
property has been occupied by Kurds.  She claimed this was 
happening in a systematic fashion, and that the authorities 
are not providing adequate assistance to help the returnees 
regain their property.  She alleged incidences of Kurdish 
and Arab oppression of Christians in other areas, including 
the villages of Khabur and Chakalha in Dahuk, which she 
claimed had been "taken over" from Christian populations. 
Christians who have attempted to return, including a group 
who planted 800 apple trees to reestablish an orchard, have 
been refused the right to work the land, she said. 
 
3.  (C)  On a more positive note, Warda applauded the 
recent success in enrolling Christian recruits in the Iraqi 
Police (IP).  S/A Krajeski presented statistics indicating 
that some 800 Christians have applied for positions and 
that 250 Christian recruits are being trained.  (Note:  The 
IP have reported that many Christian applicants are not 
eligible due to their age or illiteracy, and that they are 
having difficulty finding more applicants for the positions 
that remain available.  End Note.) 
 
4.  (C)  Warda reiterated complaints she has previously 
made to Embassy officials that both KRG PM Nechrivan Barzani 
and 
the GOI are ignoring the plight of Iraqi Christians 
(reftel).  Specifically, Warda said Barzani has not 
responded to her letter, sent in November 2007 and resent 
five additional times since then, proposing formation of a 
"council of minorities" to address Christian issues in 
Iraq.  S/A Krajeski, noting that he planned to visit Erbil 
on August 24, offered to present Warda's letter to PM 
Barzani.  He also agreed with her on the importance of 
working closely with activists from Christian and other 
minority groups in Iraq to develop a more powerful base for 
advocacy. 
 
5.  (C)  Warda thanked S/A Krajeski for his assistance with 
PM Barzani, and for the Embassy's engagement with and 
assistance to Iraq's Christian and other minorities.  She 
underscored her desire to work with the Embassy on 
strategies to enhance the development of civil society and 
minority rights in Iraq.  "For the first time, the United 
States is thinking about others (Iraqi minorities)."  She 
noted that the apparent schisms between the various 
Christian sects in Iraq are caused by church leaders 
(ordained officials), and urged the USG to engage with 
lay-people, who do not have an interest in playing one sect 
off another for political advantage.  She also pointed out 
that she does not consider Christians to be a "minority," 
as they are "the original people of Iraq." 
 
6.  (C)  Responding to S/A Karjeski, Warda neither endorsed 
nor rejected the concept of an autonomous region for Iraqi 
Christians.  "There are issues bigger than that," she 
said. 
 
7.  (C)  COMMENT:  Warda's receptiveness to the suggestion 
that she and the leaders of other minority groups, 
including Yazidis, Mandeans and others, coalesce into an 
advocacy group that can pressure the Government of Iraq is 
good news. Our view is that the issue of minority rights 
can be best addressed collectively rather than focusing on 
the situation of specific groups.  We have put Warda in 
touch with the International Institute for Law and Human 
Rights, a State Department funded NGO operating in Baghdad, 
in order to facilitate such coordination. 
BUTENIS

 



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