Reinstate the Christian Mayor from Alqosh!
Traditionally, no Kurds have lived in Alqosh, a small town on the edge of the Nineveh plain in northern Iraq. This small town in Iraq is the last well-known place, which is still inhabited exclusively by Christian Assyrians and Chaldeans.
It is, therefore, all the more surprising that, on 16 July, 2017, Alqosh's mayor, elected by the townspeople, was dismissed by a hasty trial - against the express will of the population.
This surprising measure was proposed by Bashar al Kiki, head of the Provincial Council of Nineveh and also a member of the PDK (or, KDP). The Assyrian/Chaldean population of Alqosh (the majority of the approximately 5,000 remaining "Alqoshnaye" belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church) assumes that his dismissal, in the course of this controversy is about "disputed areas".
The "disputed areas" are areas that the government of the autonomous region of Kurdistan in Northern Iraq would like to have permanently under their control, although they have always been inhabited by indigenous minorities (like the Christian minority, Alqoshnaye, in Alqosh).
Most of these areas are located in the province of Nineveh, which were overrun by the IS in the Summer of 2014, but have been liberated in recent months by the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga.
The Kurdish Regional Government has emphasized, again and again, that it will give the inhabitants of these areas the freedom to decide whether to belong to a possible independent Kurdistan, or to remain in Iraq.
Therefore, the surprising dismissal of the mayor of Alqosh, against the will of the population, has aroused fears that precisely this presumed freedom of local enfranchisement and governance will ultimately not be granted, but, rather, serve to forcibly "integrate" the town of Alqosh to the Kurdish regions.
The residents of Alqosh have protested in the past few days with demonstrations against the mayor's removal, and have called on the international community to show solidarity with them, under the slogan #StandWithAlqosh, which demonstrates their concern with returning the deposed mayor back into office.
Send a message to the representatives of the Kurdish Regional Government with the request that Masoud Barzani, Chairman of the PDK and President of the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan, ensure that the announcements of his government will respect the political decisions of the indigenous population of "disputed areas".
Mr. Barzani has the power to reverse the mayor's resignation. We urgently expect this step from him!
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