Declaration of the Chaldean Bishops on the Role of Chaldeans in the new Iraq, 2003
Posted: Sunday, September 21, 2003 at 06:25 AM UT
This information is published here for informational and archival purposes only.
We support an academic viewpoint which defines Assyrians as the national title of our people, as referenced in the Assyrian History Timeline and other online projects and websites. For example:
“...the Assyrians, have been referred to as Ashuri, Ashureen, Ashuraya, Ashuroyo, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoyo, Suryoye, Jacobite, Aramaean, Aramaye, Oromoye, Chaldean, Chaldo, Kaldany, Kaldu, Kasdu and Telkeffee.”
We do not support the erroneous and separatist views of this declaration.
ROME, Italy (VATICAN) — The Chaldean bishops of Iraq have asked Paul Bremer, the U.S. administrator for the country, to help guarantee the rights of their faithful.
The 19 bishops who signed the statement asked Bremer to “guarantee the rights -- religious, civil, social and political -- of all Christians of Iraq, first among them our Chaldean people.”
The bishops recall that Christian Chaldeans are the descendants of the ancient inhabitants of Iraq. In recent decades thousands had to leave their land, willingly or forcefully, as their culture was suppressed.
Chaldeans are the third ethnic community in Iraq, after the Arabs and Kurds. Among the Christians, they constitute about three-quarters of the total.
In their statement the bishops affirmed: “We declare here our solidarity with all Iraqi citizens, Arabs, Kurds and Tremens, and all ethnic and religious groups living in peaceful brotherhood, especially with our Christian brethren: the Assyrians, the Syriacs, the Armenians and the Latins, for the purpose of building a new, democratic, free and prosperous Iraq.”
Bishop Shelmon Warduni of the patriarchate of Baghdad tells Fides:
“We ask only respect for our religious, political, social and ethnic rights - a new door is open for dialogue with Muslims.”
On September 17, 2003, Fides Service spoke with Bishop Shelmon Wardoni, apostolic administrator of the Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans in Baghdad:
In this statement you say your rights are neglected in the new administration. Why?
We sent this letter to Mr. Bremer asking why Chaldeans, who are the absolute majority of Christians in Iraq since the first century of Christianity, are not represented in the new government. We feel our rights are not respected, they are neglected. From the beginning we asked for respect for our rights, religious, political social and ethnic rights. We ask only for respect for our rights, nothing more. If we look back to when Iraq was still a monarchy, we see that our Patriarch was a senator in the government. Today we are the third largest group after Arabs and Kurds.
What role can Iraqi Christians play in the country today?
Iraqi Christians are citizens like all the others. They must be given a role in the rebuilding of the country, a task in which they must cooperate with all the other citizens. There is no difference from this point of view between Muslims and Christians. A true Iraqi will cooperate with others to build his country. As Christians we were afraid of fanatics: although there are some, the majority of Muslims want to cooperate and they want a democratic pluralist nation.
Iraq is often the centre of media attention. The media must report the truth and avoid creating problems. On behalf of all Iraqis I ask the media to tell the truth, not to enlarge problems and to tell also positive news not only negative news.
Tells us about Muslim/Christian relations since the war?
We cannot complain about relations and contact with our Muslim brothers. Indeed, today a new door for dialogue is open. On May 22 we Chaldean Bishops of Iraq had a meeting with Muslim leaders, Shiites and Sunni, at Najaf the Shiite holy city. We met Ayatollah Hakim, who was assassinated recently and Ayatollah Sistani: both men welcomed us warmly with great joy and they stressed that we must work together to build the new Democratic Iraq in which the rights of all citizens are guaranteed.
The following is the full English text of the Declaration.
September 3, 2003.
To Mr. Paul Bremer
Civil Administrator of Iraq
The Chaldean Patriarchate sees its duty to declare explicitly its stand in regard to the actual situation in our beloved country, especially in regard to the role of Chaldeans in the now Iraq and their participation in the formation of its institutions. We have already issued a declaration in the name of Patriarchs and Bishops of Iraq, dated 29 April 2, 2003, asking you to guarantee the rights of all Christians of Iraq -- religiously, civilly, socially, and politically -- first among them our Chaldean people.
The Chaldeans are the descendants of ancient inhabitants of Iraq; its land is their country from thousands of years. Their ancestors embraced Christianity since its dawn, an filled the plains and mountains of this country with their towns and villages, their monasteries and churches. In the last decade thousands of them had to leave their land. willingly or forcefully, due to the injustice committed against them; in fact. their towns and villages in the northern region were destroyed as were destroyed those of neighbors, heir schools were nationalized. their culture was supressed [sic], and their resisting children were pursuit [sic].
According to their number and their percentage to the general population. the Chaldeans represent the third ethnic community of Iraq, immediately after the Arabs and Kurds; their presence in the social, professional and administrative field, is evident all over Iraq, particularly in Baghdad and the North. Moreover, since the founding of the state of Iraq, Chaldeans played an active and prominent role in the formation of the State; the Chaldean Patriarch, in fact, has been a Senator in the Iraqi Senate, up to the establishment of the republic of Iraq. Among Christians, the Chaldeans are approximately 75-80% of the total, though their presence in the cultural life at large is much greater than their number.
Nevertheless, we were and still are mystified that, despite our appeals, your administration ignored, since the beginning up to the present day, these facts. Unfairly, the Temporary Council Government was formed without any Chaldean presence and the structure and members of the new government have been announced without any participation of Chaldeans in the name of Chaldeans, as well. That is an injustice committed against our people, for which we protest hereby explicitly and insistently.
We hereby, duly request your administration to respect ethnicity of the Chaldean people, and recognize its relevance among the ethnicity's [sic] of contemporary Iraq, and include its children to exercise the role that belongs to them in their land, particularly in the high institutions of the State, moreover to include them in the Commission entrusted with the drafting of the new Constitution, having clearly in mind to mentions the Chaldean ethnicity and its rights, in the due order, among the other ethnicities of the country.
We declare here our solidarity with all Iraqi citizens, Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens, and all ethnic and religious groups living in peaceful brotherhood, especially with our Christian brethren -- the Assyrians, the Syriacs, the Armenians, and the Latins, for the sake of building a new Democratic, free, and prosperous Iraq.
The following is the full Arabic text of the Declaration.