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2010 Iraqi Election: an Assyrian Perspective

Posted: Friday, October 08, 2010 at 06:46 PM CT

Assyrian National Council of Illinois - ANCI

CHICAGO, Illinois (AIM) — In December 2005, the first democratic parliamentary election took place in Iraq since Saddam Hussein's 30-year-old reign ended with the U.S. led "Iraqi Operation Freedom".

The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC - English | Arabic) implemented an Out-of-Country voting process to allow Iraqi citizens in the Diaspora to vote in this first historic election.

The Assyrian National Council of Illinois (ANCI) was selected as the Out-of-Country voting station in Illinois. There was a sense of pride and accomplishment as thousands of Assyrians and fellow Iraqis arrived at the Assyrian community center in Skokie, Illinois, and successfully cast their votes.

ANCI, as one of the most pioneering and successful Assyrian organizations under the guidance and leadership of president, Sheeba Mando, was instrumental in promoting the election and motivating Assyrians to vote in the elections.

In stark contrast to the 2005 election, the recent 2010 Iraqi Election held on March 7th, 8th, and 9th, 2010 was a dreadful experience to many Assyrians who waited in the chilly and windy 60-degree weather in a line that snaked around the voting station building and parking lot located at Pickwick Studios, 1919 A Pickwick Lane, Glenview, Illinois 60026 USA.

The new voting station was too small to accommodate the election and was located in a suburb far removed from the home of an estimated 100,000 Assyrians in Chicago and nearby suburbs. There was an eerie feeling upon arriving at the dead-end commercial cul-de-sac and learning that this building is actually a studio used at the time by an Asian-American martial arts group. The studio received the estimated $10,000 given by IHEC to a voting station to lease the premises for the weekend.

Smoke billowed from the cigarettes of Assyrian election observers as they periodically glanced at the long line throughout the afternoon and evening. Waiting outside an average of 1½ hours in the line, the elderly struggled with their weary knees to keep pace and anxious Assyrians aired their frustrations to fellow neighbors.

Without official explanation of this new voting station selection, rumors began circulating throughout the line. The rumors varied according to the individuals' tribal, political and church affiliations. However, there was not one compelling reason why Assyrians should not have been voting in our own available community center.

Independent observers would assume that Assyrians lacked the resources and facilities to host an election voting station. They observed humble and patriotic Assyrians, with elders and children, traveling a great distance to help support our people in Bet-Nahren.

In our every deliberation, a nation must study the implications of its decisions on its future generations.

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