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http://framehosting.dowjonesnews.com/sample/samplestory.asp?StoryID=2003102617570000&Take=1 26 Oct 2003 17:57 GMT DJ Iraq Christian Assyrians Hold 1st Conference In Baghdad Copyright © 2003, Dow Jones Newswires DAMASCUS (AP)--Iraq's long-oppressed Christian Assyrian minority held its first ever conference in Baghdad, made possible by the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime, a statement issued at the end of the conference said. "The conference came under circumstances during which our (Chaldean-Assyrian) people are looking forward to a new dawn after the removal of (Saddam's) regime and to an era in which freedom, democracy, human dignity and the homeland's independence and sovereignty are achieved," said the statement, faxed to The Associated Press office in Damascus. More than 500 people, followers of Assyrian, Orthodox Syriac, Chaldean and Maronite churches from around the globe came to Baghdad to attend the Oct. 22-24 conference, held under the auspices of Ayad Allawi, the president of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, according to the statement. The conference, organized by the Iraqi Assyrian Democratic Movement and the Syrian Assyrian Democratic Organization, called on the international community and Iraq's neighbors to help Iraq achieve security, stability and restore its independence and sovereignty. The conference also called for building a pluralistic Iraqi regime that "respects all ethnic groups and religions" in the country, according to the statement. The statement stressed the need for Iraq's one million Chaldean-Assyrians to be given "an administrative region in the Nineveh plateau" - the place where the ancient Assyrian capital stood 3,000 years ago - and their "political, religious and cultural rights in the rest of Iraq." "The conference stressed that Chaldean-Assyrians be recognized as the indigenous people of Iraq on basis of equality with all other ethnic groups," the statement said. One member of the U.S.-appointed Governing Council in Iraq, Younadem Kana, is Assyrian Christian. The zenith of the Assyrian empire was between the 9th and 7th centuries B.C., when it stretched from the Gulf through modern-day Iraq, Syria and Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea. In 1933, the then Iraqi government massacred around 5000 Assyrians in Semele, a town in northern Iraq. Since the secular Iraqi Baath Party took power in Iraq in 1968, Chaldean-Assyrians were referred to as Arab Christians. The three-day conference called for including Syriac, a modern version of Aramaic - the language Jesus Christ is believed to have spoken, in any future Iraqi constitution. Participants, politicians and intellectuals, came from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and as far as Europe, the U.S., New Zealand, Canada and Australia, according to the statement. (END) Dow Jones Newswires October 26, 2003 12:57 ET (17:57 GMT) _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk