Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Assyrian Martyrs Day Commemorated Worldwide

"Christians have inhabited what is modern day Iraq for about 2,000 yearsAssyrians, most of whom are adherents of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church and the Assyrian Church of the East account for most of the Christian population, along with Armenians belonging to the Armenian Apostolic Church." In the mid-twentieth century, CSA Christians made up perhaps 8-10% of the population. (Source.)

The Simele Massacre was yet another deliberate targeting of a Christian minority by a much larger Muslim majority.

Assyrian Martyrs Day Commemorated Worldwide
AINA — 8/7/2013

August 7th is Assyrian Martyrs day.

Today we remember one of the darkest moments in the history of humanity. On this day, hundreds of innocent Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people were massacred under the rule of newly established Kingdom of Iraq. The Simele Massacre of Assyrians took place in August 1933 in Iraq.

Following Iraqi independence and the establishment of its political, social and economic system, the Simele Massacre was committed against Assyrians in the Northern Iraq with the sole objective of ethnic cleansing. In August 1933 Iraqi forces massacred civilians in Simele and at the villages of Dohuk and Mosul. Nearly 3000 civilians were killed and residential areas were destroyed. 
During the massacre men, women, children and elders were victims without any distinction. The survivors of the 1915 Genocide under Ottoman-Turkish rule had once again been the victims of genocide. Well known lawyer Raphael Lemkin was inspired by these two events to coin the term "genocide" (AINA 3-9-2012, 1-16-2007).

Assyrians are the indigenous people of the Middle East, they are not a folk who settled in the Middle East and Mesopotamia by wave of migration or as invaders. They are autochthones in the Levant and they have preserved their presence for millennia despite immense difficulties. They are the most ancient and deeply rooted people among the Middle Eastern nations. They have been present in different parts of Mesopotamia and in the Middle East for nearly 7000 years. They have been persecuted by all hegemonic powers which have ruled the Middle East.

Following the overthrow of Saddam in 2003, Assyrians became targets of attacks, killings and kidnappings (report). Hundreds of Assyrians were killed, churches were attacked and bombed, religious leaders and well known personalities were abducted and killed. The forced exodus of Assyrians diminished their presence in their homeland. In Iraq, we are still witnessing the attempts of demographic changes from different powers. The presence of Assyrians in Iraq and more broadly in Middle East region is fundamental. Assyrians had been a key factor in the establishment of social, cultural and educational structures and they are a very important element of the social fabric. Granting the fundamental rights and preserving the identity of Assyrians is vital for future generations.

We believe the Iraqi government has to enshrine the Simele Massacre in the Iraqi Constitution and make necessary arrangements and efforts in order to commemorate this painful and tragic event. Iraqi authorities, regional actors and the international community have the moral obligation to follow closely the situation of and support minorities and vulnerable groups in the Middle East during the current transitional process.

Edited by AINA.