Since the expulsion of ISIS from the Ninawa Plains of Iraq in 2017, local Christian residents of the area have sought to return to their homes. They have been subject to ongoing harassment, however, from militias aligned with the pro-Iran Hashd al-Shaabi, and specifically with the Badr Organization, the oldest and most established of the IRGC-aligned Shia militias in Iraq. This harassment takes many forms, including confiscation of lands, intimidation and extortion. As a result of this reality, many Christians are afraid to return to their homes, and have remained as refugees in the Kurdish Region of Iraq. The plight of these Iraqi Christians, from some of the oldest Christian communities in the world, has remained largely ignored by the global media. MECRA’s Iraq researcher recently carried out a series of interviews with Ninawa Christians and people involved in assisting them, in an effort to find greater detail on the situation. The interviews may be seen below.
Ammar Mosuli, 33, activist and minority consultant in Ninawa Plain
There is large-scale harassment toward Christians by the Hashd Al-Shaabi brigade 30th (Hashd Al-Shabaki – the Shabak are a majority Shia non-Arab ethnic group native to the Ninawa Plains area). There have been incidents of rape and confiscation of properties and lands in Ninawa Plain. They are taking Christian lands, and building houses on them. The Christians have not been ‘liberated’ – rather they are still under the control of the militias.
Hahsd Al-Shabaki claim they are assisting and protecting the Christians. This is a lie. Christian activists and journalists cannot work freely as they wish in Hamdania and Bartella. Bartella was a majority Christian town before the ISIS war, but if you go there now, you will see that only a few Christians have returned. The 30th brigade of Hashd Al-Shabaki is the main force that now controls most of Ninawa plain, Major General Abu Jafa Al-Qado is chief of staff of Hashd Al-Shabaki. He controls Bartella, a part of Hamdania(Qaraqosh), most of Tel-kaif, Sadabaawiza and the north and north west of Ninawa (Badosh).
They have occupied lands belonging to Christians who are outside of Iraq, and are prohibiting Sunnis, Christians and Kurds from rebuilding their houses or returning to their dwellings – only Shia Shabak are permitted to return. When people try to return to their former homes, they are told that because they belong to certain parties or areas, and tribes, they are not allowed…
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