The Assyrians are the native inhabitants and original dwellers of Iraq.
They have survived for centuries.
Yet, they live in their own land without any say in the government.
Their human rights are denied.
The government strongly suppresses their attempts to open schools
to teach their own language, to promote their own culture and preserve
their heritage. They have no
official representation in the government to protect their basic rights.
They are not recognized as the indigenous people of the country,
and no provisions are made to guarantee their rights in the interim
Assyrians have suffered terribly at the hands of the past and present
Iraqi regimes. The current
despotic regime has broken every civil code and has denied the Assyrians
their human right to exist as a people.
They have dragged them from their homes in the middle of the night
and drafted them forcibly into the army.
They have denied them equal employment opportunity and freedom of
expression by suppression and closing their schools and all their cultural
Many Assyrians have at times been harassed, beaten, imprisoned and
driven to near starvation. With
little prospect of improving
their lot and of survival under such harsh treatment, the Assyrian's
only hope is to either resist, fight and die on their soil, or escape the
bleak future and emigrate to a western county.
During the Iraq-Iran war of the 80s over forty thousand Assyrians
were killed or lost in action. This
number of casualties for such a small nation is high indeed.
One of the main objectives of the government of Iraq is to Arabise the
indigenous Assyrians. Its aim
is to rid Iraq of the "Assyrian problem" and omit their name from the
forthcoming permanent constitution without resistance.
The regime's feverish attempt is to Arabise the Assyrians before
its barbaric rule ends to gain credence among its radical advocates.
Being subjected to continuous oppression and humiliation, the Assyrians
live in total anxiety. They
are in constant fear of losing their jobs, their properties and their
lives. They live in
discomfort, seeing their culture and identity being gradually eroded by
the domineering rulers.
Such repressive measures and inhumane actions have played havoc with the
Assyrian way of life and have led to the dislodgment and disintegration of
the Assyrian family. Thousands
have already lost their jobs, their properties and parted from their loved
ones and live in destitution. And
thousands more are stranded all around the neighboring countries, and in
more than twenty other
countries throughout the world, extending from Iran to Thailand; from
Turkey to Balkan states; from Syria to Armenia and Russia, and from Cyprus
and Lebanon to Greece and many other European countries.
In Jordan alone there are over thirty thousand Assyrians.
They have gathered there, seeking a way out of their affliction.
Many have been trapped in world bureaucratic entanglements, uncertain of
their future. Many depend on
donations from their overseas relatives and friends. They are stuck there, awaiting the result of their
applications for an entry visa to a western country.
Have any of the charity organizations made an effort to visit them to
show some concern? Have any
of the relief agencies of the United Nations checked to see how they are
coping to extend to them a hand of assistance as a gesture of goodwill?
Are they not entitled to be rescued as any other minority and
individual human being? And
if not, why not? Or is it
that the Assyrian issue is somewhat foreign to them - out of their daily
routine task. Though the name
strikes a chord occasionally, they seem to dismiss it, since the world
community has not yet seriously looked at the Assyrian issue to sponsor it
While the Assyrian tragedy remains unresolved, the international
community, as an onlooker, watches passively.
It is a tragedy and
what a tragedy of human conduct to the upholders of morality.
Several small nations such as Cyprus and East Timor, and minority groups
like the Basques in France and Spain, and natives of South America,
including the Assyrians in the Middle East, who have been wronged and
oppressed for so long, have lost confidence in the international
community. They are
dismayed with them because their sufferings have been dragging on for
decades, while the aggressor is consolidating his hold and ignoring the
international community without any fear of reprisal.
Since the Assyrians have no official representation in their own usurped
country or in world bodies, their individual appeals to the international
community seem to fall on deaf ears. The unrelenting effort of certain small Assyrian groups,
though impressive in exposing the atrocities of the aggressor, is not
enough to draw the attention of the world media and the right agencies to
gain their support and condemn the atrocious
acts of such a belligerent.
While the world is in turmoil, the Assyrian case is buried under a pile
of unresolved problems of the world.
Sitting there at the bottom of the tray, or shelved somewhere in
the archives accumulating dust since the days of the defunct League of
Nations, the Assyrian file is forgotten under an ever increasing number of
new cases. Most of them are
marked High Priority with little chance of the Assyrian legal documents
ever being located and the Assyrian issue raised, offered for discussion
and given a fair hearing. When
will the turn of the Assyrian issue ever come up?
Some western countries such as the United States of America, Canada,
Australia and New Zealand have recognized several aboriginal groups and
indigenous people, restored to them part of their native land, extended
official apologies to them for the atrocities committed against them and
compensated them for their sufferings.
What has the belligerent state of Iraq done other than suppress the
native Assyrians and deny their existence as an indigenous people?
The rights of the Assyrians have been ignored by the world community for
decades - since the outbreak
of the First World War. It is
high time that the free world turned its attention towards the forgotten
people - the Assyrian people - the smallest ally of the free world.
The Assyrians have, like the rest of the nations, contributed
effectively to the war effort in World War II and paid their share in
blood to free the world from fascism so that democracy may live and
thrive. The Assyrian war
effort, though small, is likened to the Sling of David.
It was effective. With
the timely operation of convoying materiel to Russia through the Iraqi
Seaport of Basrah, and the Persian Seaport of Bandar Abbas in the south,
the tide turned against fascism and the giant enemy was crippled.
Strategically, it was the turning point that led to the defeat of
the Axis. The Russian counter
attack against the invading troops that followed later was the decisive
turning point in the ultimate victory of World War II.
Being Christians and of good endurance, and having survived for
centuries, does not mean that the Assyrians should accept being
dispossessed of their homes and be denied of their human rights cruelly
They shall strive and continue unwaveringly in their struggle to
resurrect their demand for the rehabilitation of their Assyrian people
under the Charter of the United Nations.
They will continue to demand the restitution of their human rights
relentlessly and unabated. It
is their legitimate right.
May the pleas of this
suffering nation reach the ears of the world community leaders,
prick their conscience and touch their hearts that they may care
and rescue the Assyrian people and ease their chronic plight.