Christians denied voting rights in Iraq. After all, what rights do dhimmis have to determine the fate of a Muslim state? From the Assyrian International News Agency, with thanks to the Center for Religious Freedom:
(AINA) — In a brazen and nearly unbelievable move, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) headed by warlord Masoud Barzani has prevented voting by Assyrian (also known as Chaldean and Syriac) Christians of the Nineveh Plain in northern Iraq. According to a series of reports from inside Iraq, the KDP effectively blocked the delivery of ballot boxes to six major Assyrian towns and villages in the Plains around Mosul including Baghdeda, Bartilla, Karemlesh, Shekhan, Ain Sifne and Bahzan.
Thousands of would be voters were left stranded outside polling places awaiting an opportunity to cast their ballots. Inquiries to voting authorities brought frequent promises that the ballot boxes were en route only to result in a series of disappointments throughout the day. Infuriated Assyrians filled the streets of Baghdeda- the largest Assyrian town in the Nineveh Plain-and demonstrated against the KDP’s overt disenfranchisement of Assyrians.
According to Iraq sources, the ballot boxes had been stored in Arbil, the stronghold of the KDP. The resulting unavailability of ballot boxes affected up to 100,000 Assyrian voters and tens of thousands of Yezidis, Shabak, and Turkman voters. The outright denial of voting rights to Assyrians and other non-Kurdish minorities culminates several months of intimidation, beatings, beheadings, burnings, and mutilations of Assyrian Christians in the Nineveh Plain. Just two weeks before the elections, Archbishop Basil George Casmusa of the Syriac Catholic church was also kidnapped. Although he was released one day later, his abduction and the series of escalating attacks were earlier reported by numerous sources (AINA, 09-13-2004, 08-07-2004, 06-20-2004) as an attempt to drive out Assyrians from their homes and to intimidate potential remaining voters into staying home on election day.
However, to the KDP’s dismay, thousands of Iraqi Assyrians defied the KDP’s terror tactics and ventured out to vote only to discover that ballot boxes never arrived. Assyrians in other areas of Iraq such as Mosul, Baghdad, and Karkuk were not expected to turn out in large numbers due to threats and a deteriorating security situation. The lack of voting in the Nineveh Plain has left Assyrians worldwide reeling. As one observer summarized “Not only was the in country vote prevented to a large extent by the KDP and the overall security situation, but the out of country voting was abysmal due to discriminatory placement of polling places by the IOM (International Organization for Migration) in areas favoring Kurds and others at the expense of Assyrians (AINA, 01-18-2005). In the US, less than 10% of eligible voters were registered by the IOM, a complete failure on their part.”