The Fraternity of Assyrians, Arabs, Kurds and Turkomans
DOHUK, Iraq (ZINDA) -- On December 13, 1997, a group of Kurdish men near the village of Mingesheh, 5 km south of Dohuk, in the UN protected zone of northern Iraq massacred six Assyrian men and wounded an Assyrian woman. The only survivor, Wardia Oraha, is currently in a local hospital with severe leg injuries.
ZENDA European Desk was immediately informed that the perpetrator of this massacre was allegedly the Kurdish radical group-PKK. Only two days later, PKK released a statement blaming the other Kurdish group, KDP, and the Turkish government for carrying out the massacre and pointing their bloody fingers to the PKK "freedom fighters" in northern Bet-Nahrain. The statement explained that "It is not a secret that the Assyrian-Chaldean people are supporting the PKK and that this support is increasing. Turkey and the KDP aim at breaking this support and presenting the PKK as the 'guilty' party. This dirty provocation has taken place at a crucial time for the struggle in Kurdistan, because all resistance movements except the KDP have joined forces to hold a National Congress." To make matters even more ellusive the National Liberation Front of Kurdistan released a new statement in which the "Yonadim Act" after Yonadim Hanna, an Assyrian in northern Iraq, was declared as follows: "As Iraqis we, the Kurds, Assyrians, and Turkomans, have been oppressed under the policy of blind nationalism of the Baathist regime which came to power after 1961 when the Kurdistan Revolution began..." Yonadim was identified as a "leader of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa) based in KDP-controlled northern Iraq." To clarify some the state of confusion the Assyrian Democratic Movement in Northern Iraq released the following statement on January 2, 1998:
The international outrage to the massacre of six innocent men and the wounding of a woman from the Assyrian village of Mangesheh, North Iraq, December 13, 1997 by the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has led some quarters to point the finger of accusation towards others.
The Assyrian people of Iraq have no conflicts with any of the fraternal peoples that constitute the Iraqi people, be they Arab, Kurd, Turkoman, or other ethnic and religious groups. Our people have joined the Iraqi people and the peoples of the whole region in the struggles for peace, democracy and progress. Also, the struggles against persecution and repression by despotic local authorities or foreign power. There is absolutely no contradiction between our Assyria people and those that we share this blessed land with. Yet we have been victims of national and religious persecution due to narrow minded ethnic and religious chauvinism. In North Iraq, we have joined in all legitimate struggles to bring peace and democracy to the region. We have stayed out of the fratricide between various Kurdish parties. We reject this fighting. We are at the forefront of those who call the parties to desist and make peace. We are also principal members of the peace forces.
Victimizing the peacemakers has outraged all people of conscience, especially since it is not the first time. Our leaders have been murdered in front of their homes and in the streets, others have been dragged out of police custody and murdered by mobs, churches have been desecrated and the list goes on.
Those struggling for legitimate Kurdish rights know that our Assyrian people are not their enemies, and that the road to achieving those rights does not pass by persecuting Assyrians. Kurdish parties that control this region have the responsibility to punish the criminals and move resolutely to stop these crimes against our people. To-date none of the perpetrators of these murders has been brought to justice. It is time that those who victimize our Assyrian people be apprehended and brought to justice.
Long live the struggle for peace, democracy, and progress. Long live the fraternity of Arabs, Kurds, Assyrians and Turkomans in Iraq.
Assyrian Democratic Movement
Two weeks after the release of the above statement, Kurdistan-Rundbrief commented that The Society for Threatened Peoples (Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker) was once again "teaming up with the vengeful organizations in exile" and this time it was making "notorious incitements against the PKK" by claiming that The PKK had carried out the massacre against the Assyrians as it had once before in 1995 in the "Massacre of the Assyrian shepherds." The statement read: "At that time, it became apparent that in reality it was the Turkish army that had carried the massacre out. Furthermore, representatives of the Assyrians and the PKK have been working closely together for years in the Kurdish Parliament In Exile. The Parliament In Exile presently is, in our view, the only institution in the entire world that respects the Assyrian minority and insists on its defense. So why should the PKK attack shepherds?" On the same day that the Kurdistan-Rundbrief article was released Germany's top federal prosecutor announced that it no longer considers Turkey's separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) to be a terrorist organization. In other words, any legal action against the PKK would now be taken against it as a criminal organization rather than a terrorist association. In Germany, members of a terrorist organization can be sentenced between three and 10 years in jail, while members of a criminal organization face sentences of six months to five years. Since late 1996, 20 PKK militants have been sentenced to terms ranging from two and a half to 11 years in prison.
Did a "Zowaa leader" allegedly make references to the 1961 uprisings in northern Iraq as the "Kurdistan Revolution"? Are Assyrians in northern Iraq sleeping with the wrong enemy? Why wasn't the death of six Assyrians openly discussed with the foreign news agencies, U.S. State Department, and the Assyrian political movers and shakers in the U.S. Congress and the European parliaments? From reading Zowaa's conciliatory "statements of fraternity" with the historical enemies of Assyrians we can conclude that the only legitimate indigenous people of Bet-Nahrain (Mesopotamia), namely Assyrians, continue to assume a low-profile in shaping the future of a post-Saddam Iraq. Zowaa's cautious leaders in Iraq can only hope that the Western powers will pay greater attention to the complex ethnic and religious make up of northern Iraq - a strategic move already initiated by the government of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.
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