I fought for my land [Interview with Majid]

Mar 20, 2020 | Featured, Stories of survivors, Video

In 1991, he joined the Iraqi army, where he served for 6 years. He is a journalist. In 2014, when ISIS took Mosul, he did not hesitate for a moment.

He joined a self-defense unit formed by the APP (Assyrian Patriotic Party), for which he was a spokesman. Majid is an example of a true patriot. A man who acts instead of talking. Thanks to his experience and charisma, he immediately became one of the leaders. His fortitude helped to boost the morale of all his subordinates. He likes strong Turkish coffee. He is a loving husband and father.

I met him in 2016. Fate let us cross our paths on the front near Mosul. Majid was commanding a unit which I joined to help the Christians in their fight against the ISIS terrorists.

I fought for my land [Interview with Majid]

Dawid Czyż: What do you currently do?

Majid Elia: I’m a journalist. I work as a spokesman for APP (Assyrian Patriotic Party) and in the main national newspaper Quyaman.

You served in the Iraqi army and you spent two years on the front fighting against ISIS. How did you get there?

In 1991, I joined the Iraqi army in the Nineveh Plain. I served six years in the army. In 2014, together with other people associated with APP, we formed a self-defense unit. When Daesh (the Islamic State) captured Mosul, I decided I could not sit at home with my family and watch on the TV people in Mosul needed me, needed the Assyrians, needed anyone who could help. Daesh was a huge problem. At the time, the Christians in Mosul needed help. I thought I couldn’t just sit and watch it all happen.

That is how the Dwekh Nawsha unit was created.

The name Dwekh Nawsha is derived from Aramaic [it means “The Future Martyrs” – note David Czyż]. We first stationed in the village of Sharafiya in the Nineveh Plain, then in Teleskoff, and then for two years in Baqofa. Something like that. Later we were in Batnaya near Mosul.

Who was supporting you? Where did you take the uniforms and the armament from? Who trained you?

We bought everything, the uniforms, the weapons, for our own money. Some friends helped too as well as APP. We received small financial support from the Assyrians living in other countries such as the US and Australia. We bought everything that was needed at the local bazaar. If I remember correctly, there were one hundred guys who went to the Nineveh Plain to fight. I was a soldier twenty years ago. I trained how to use the weapon. Many of my colleagues had never experienced a war, such a war. APP provided them with training in Teleskoff where we stationed at the time.

How did others react to the ISIS’ invasion?

You know, my duty as a Christian, as a human, is to help everyone who needs it. Not only Christians. Everyone. What do I see? In every village in the Nineveh Plain I see students learning in bad conditions. Many people have left the Nineveh Plain, have left the country. If you ask anyone why they leave – it is my land, it is your land – the answer will be, “I’m sorry, I’m tired.” Ok. But what will you do over there? “I will emigrate, I will become a refugee somewhere in Europe, in the US, in Australia. Maybe I’ll get rest. Me and my family will be safe.”

But you didn’t consider that. You didn’t want to emigrate. Did your family try to convince you to change your mind?

I have a family – a wife and three sons. During the fight against Daesh in the Nineveh Plain, my wife asked many times: “Majid, what are you doing? What are you doing? There is a war here, students have bad conditions, and you have a family, kids. What are you doing? Why are you going [to fight]?” I answered, “This is my land and these are my people. If I say that I don’t care, my brother will say the same. Ok, who is going to help these people? My people in the Nineveh Plain need me, my brother, my cousin, everyone. I can’t sit at home and look at what is happening. No, no. I am a human being, I need to help them. My land is my duty. My service. I believe in God. I believe in the land, in my land. Not someone else’s. This is my land. I need to fight for it.

Luckily, you [the Assyrians] were not left alone in that fight.

Sometimes I look at what is happening in my homeland and ask God: why? Many people from Europe, from the US sometimes ask: “My God, why there is always a war in Iraq?” Foreigners saw what was happening with the Christians in the Nineveh Plains. Around two hundred TV stations visited us on the front line. Many volunteers came to Dwekh Nawsha offering help. Maybe they thought: today there is a war in northern Iraq, in the Nineveh Plain, between the Christians and the Muslims. No. It is a war between the Iraqis people, namely the Muslims, the Christians, the Yazidis, the Sabians against Daesh. Daesh are terrorists. We can’t say it is a war only between the Christians and the Muslims. We had [in Dwekh Nawsha – note] many volunteers from many countries: Poland, the US, France, Belgium, Sweden, Canada, Australia. From many countries. Many people came to support Dwekh Nawsha, the Christians and the Kurds on the front line.

You visited several European countries. Didn’t you wish to stay?

In 2017, I spent around eight months in Europe. I visited seven countries. Europe is beautiful. You’ve got everything there. But my land is here. If you think I’m not good enough for my own land, am I good enough for another? That is the question. I returned to my family. I told them that Europe is interesting, but I want to live here. This is my ancestors’ land. The history of my land is thousands of years old. I love this land.

Do you think that the situation will ever get better? Will there ever be peace in Iraq?

Not now. There has been a war in my homeland for the last fifty years. I think peace will not visit here anytime soon. I hope it will. Me, my family, my children, everyone hopes the same. I wish myself that peace comes to my land, to my children, to my family. I hope for it, but I think it won’t come in the nearest future.

We have been friends with Majid ever since I first came to Iraq. Many times we shared a cup of black like a tar coffee the bitterness of which I remember to this day. But it was not about the coffee, it was about the company. I spent more than four months on the front line near Mosul. Me, a volunteer from Poland. I came, I did what I went there for and I went back. He has been witnessing the martyrdom of his ancestral land his entire life. Like everyone, he fears for his children’s future. But he doesn’t want to leave. He knows that the future of this land depends on how many people will stay. It is not about everyday life anymore, it’s about survival.

The last weeks have been showing us as well that sometimes survival is the only goal.

Autor: Dawid Czyż

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