The Iraqi Armenians in the post-war era

Azad-Hye, United Arab Emirates
Feb 17 2005

We received the following article written by Ara S. Ashjian of Baghdad,
Iraq and would like to share the information with our readers:

Due to the war on Iraq in March-April 2003, the Armenian community in
Iraq, fortunately, had little casualties. Few Armenians lost their
lives during military operations, and a number of houses belonging
to Armenians were damaged.

In the aftermath of the war, the Armenian Club and the priest residence
at the northern city of Kirkuk, and the Armenian Club at the southern
city of Basra had been looted by the mob.

Armenians worldwide took role in aiding their brothers and sisters in
Iraq. For instance, a relief committee was established in California,
USA, which donated monetary assistance to aid Armenian families who
were facing distressing circumstances due to the war and to rebuild
damaged residences.

The Catholicos of All Armenians H.H. Karekin II issued an appeal to all
Armenian dioceses worldwide to aid Iraqi Armenians. Consequently, the
Community received from the Holy See of Echmiadzin all the donations
of the Armenian churches worldwide. Donations were also made by the
Karaghozian and other Armenian Relief Foundations, and the Armenians
Aid Fund, USA; the Committee to relief the Iraqi Armenians in the UK;
and the Armenian community in Germany.

Efforts to uphold the educational and the religious rights:

The Primate of the diocese H.E. Archbishop Avak Asadourian and the
community officials exerted considerable effort in the post-war
era to uphold the educational and the religious rights of the Iraqi
Armenians, in order that the forthcoming constitution will take into
consideration the Armenians' as well as other Iraqi minorities' rights.

The establishment of the Armenian National School of Baghdad was one
of the priorities. The Diocese formed a committee to achieve the aim
of reopening the National School that was nationalized 30 years ago.

The Primate had many contacts with the officials of the former Iraqi
Governing Council and the Ministry of Education to achieve this goal.
As a result of these efforts, and for the first time in the history
of Iraq, the right to teach Armenian along with other languages in
Iraq was stated in the country's transitional constitution.