The Parliament of New South Wales, Australia, unanimously approved a motion to support the establishment of an autonomous Christian province in North Iraq. The motion was raised by Rev The Hon Fred Nile and focused on the Christian demand for the establishment of an autonomous province in the heart of the Christian ancestral lands in the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq.
Rev Nile’s motion was as follows:
That this House considers and supports a resolution by the Australian Iraqi-Christian that demands the Iraqi Government to accord the new proposed Nineveh Plains Province an autonomous status (self-administrated region) to the Christians on the land of their ancestors in the north of Iraq (the territory located between the greater Zab and the river Tigris) and that the newly created Christian region in the said territory shall be administrated and protected by the Christians, under the jurisdiction of the central national Government.
That this House considers it will be absolutely necessary to the security and survival of the Christians in Iraq and the establishment of such a region as promulgated under article 121 of the Iraqi constitution will allow greater local Christians control within the context of their integrated, sovereign Iraqi state, and furthermore, such a Christian area would allow for political, educational, linguistic, religious, and cultural protection.
That this House calls on the Federal Government to use our seat in the United Nations Security Council to adopt a similar motion supporting a new province for the Christians in Iraq at this critical time before the next Iraq national election.
After the motion was passed, Rev. Nile said “I am very pleased all Members of the NSW Legislative Council (The Upper House) voted in support of my historical Christian Homeland Motion which I moved on behalf of the Australian-Iraqi Christian Community. A Christian Homeland Province based in the Nineveh Plains, as an autonomous status (self-administrated region) would provide protection and security especially for the Christian population.”
Mr Bowen tabled a similar motion in the Federal Parliament.
On January 21 the Iraq Council of Ministers approved a plan to establish three new provinces in Iraq. One province would be in Fallujah, in central Iraq; a second would be in north Iraq, in Tuz Khormato; the third would also be in north Iraq, in the Nineveh Plain bordering the Kurdish areas. The Nineveh Plain has the largest population of Christians (also known as Chaldeans, Asyrrian, and Syriac)
In his remarks before the vote was taken, Rev. Nile said:
I draw to the attention of the House the proposed Nineveh Plain Christian Province in Iraq. Iraq’s Council of Ministers, led by the Hon. Nouri Al Maliki, Prime Minister of Iraq, on Tuesday 20 January 2014 decided in principle to create three new provinces from contested parts of the country. A statement said the Cabinet had “agreed in principle to turn the areas of Tuz, Fallujah and the Nineveh Plain into provinces and the Cabinet will decide after the fulfillment of the necessary requirements”. It did not give a reason for the decision. Assyrians have been demanding separate province status at Nineveh Plain for years. Today the Christian nation is struggling to impress upon the international community the importance of being distinctly recognised as a nation in need of significant protection and, more importantly, a nation in pursuit of autonomy within the territorial boundaries of a centrally governed Iraq.
More than 750,000 Indigenous Christians were slaughtered by the Young Turks during World War I. The injustice continued and in 1932, within 15 months of the enactment of the Declaration of the Kingdom of Iraq–a declaration that guaranteed the rights of persons belonging to national ethnic or religious minorities–Arabs and Kurds were armed by the Iraqi Government and offered one pound for every Christian head. Eleven villages were summoned under the pretext of police protection. Christians were disarmed after being assured of the “good intentions” of the Government; the population was indiscriminately murdered; priests were tortured and killed; girls were raped; 65 out of 95 Christian villages were destroyed or burnt to the ground; thousands of Christians were removed from their homes; thousands were killed, and their killing denied by the Government; the Christian religious leaders were deported; a camp was set up, and the Iraqi Government was charged with the task of looking after thousands of Christian refugees, but instead they were left destitute and penniless causing death by famine and disease.
As a result of these massacres hundreds of Christian families crossed the border into Syria on 21 July 1933, in hope of receiving asylum from the French Mandate of Syria. Some 35 villages were established on both banks of the Khabur River between Hassaka and Qamishli to settle the flood of refugees. Today these people are facing the same fate as Syria and 70 per cent have fled Syria, devastated by the recent rebel attacks on their villages and churches. In similar conditions, more than 200 Assyrian villages were destroyed and their Christian population forced into internal and external displacement during Iraq’s Saddam Hussein regime.
Today Christian Churches are still being bombed and Christians are still being killed, kidnapped or assaulted. Christians have survived the adversities of history for thousands of years, but their hope, faith and determination cannot continue to sustain them from extinction. Without international cooperation and pressure, having serious regard to this fundamental crisis, their ancient nation will not survive.
This will be absolutely necessary to the security and survival of the Assyrians in Iraq. The establishment of such a Christian region as promulgated under article 121 of the Iraqi constitution will allow greater local Christians control within the context of their integrated, sovereign Iraqi state. Furthermore, such a Christian area would allow for political, educational, linguistic, religious, and cultural protection.