Iraq: Assyrian leader says Christian properties "encroached upon" amidst ongoing inequality
Yunadim Yusuf Kana, the leader of the Assyrian Democratic Movement in Iraq, said in an interview on Friday that a vast amount of land and buildings that belong to the Christian people have been "encroached" over the recent years by "mafias" in the country, not identifying precisely which parties he referred to.
Noting that the sectarian warfare following the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 prompted members of Iraq’s several Christian communities to flee, and attacks by the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014 hit those communities especially hard, he stressed that the mass migration of Christians out of the country was also due to the fact that they are not treated as equals in Iraq.
He told Rudaw:
“We have some primary demands, which is that this nation [Christians] is a partner in this country. We are not guests here in Iraq. We have been partners like brothers for hundreds of years, and our future is one."
He added that the visit of Pope Francis to Iraq a year earlier had no "positive impact" on the status of Iraqi Christians.
"It had no practical impact. Unfortunately, the Iraqi government, only through stories and media, highlighted the Pope's visit, but it had no positive impact. On the contrary it was exploited."
According to Erbil’s Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda, while there were more than one million Christians in Iraq before the 2003 invasion, fewer than 300,000 currently remain.