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The Plight of Assyrians in The Middle East

YOWUSA.COM, 20-December-02
Hermiz Shahen

Frorewod by Marshall Masters

The Plight of Assyrians in The Middle EastThe power of angry propaganda is that it rewrites history through the victimization of peace-loving peoples.  Such is the case of Christian Assyrians now living in the Middle East.  They have and continue to endure butchery and abuse at the hands of Arab despots.  Consequently, they now live in a perpetual diaspora such as the Jewish people suffered for hundreds of years before the formation of the State of Israel in 1948.  While the pro-Arab Western media largely ignores their voices and ancient heritage, it is the belief of Christian Assyrians that "Israelis have a superior claim to Jerusalem" over that of Yasser Arafat's Palestinians.

The plight of the Assyrians came to the attention of YOWUSA through an odd set of circumstances.  On August 23, 2000, YOWUSA published an article titled New "Assyrian" Coalition Can Nuke America.  The article predicted the use of a nuclear device by a new "Assyrian" coalition (PLO, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq) against Western forces.  Sadly enough, the article fits with much of present day events.  The context of the article centered on the Islamist and Arab co-opting of an ancient Assyrian victory over the Israelites in 722 B.C. by Assyrian king Shalmaneser V and his son, Sargon II. 

The article was never intended to be reflection on modern day Christian Assyrians who are getting the short end of the stick from Arab despots and the pro-Arab Western media. Still the same, we began to receive a several letters from outraged Assyrians, who were angry about any linkage, albeit a historical co-opting of their history, with the very people who have and continue to do them harm. 

The most compelling letter came from Hermiz Shahen of the Assyrian National Centre Inc., in Sydney, Australia.  We were impressed with Hermiz's letter and posted it, in its entirety, in an update of the original New "Assyrian" Coalition Can Nuke America article. At that time, we also asked Hermiz to contribute an article to our site.  Hermiz responded with the following article, and it is our great pleasure to publish it for the benefit of our readership.  We have also created a topic on the YOWUSA Message Board titled "The Plight of Assyrians in The Middle East."  We invite our readers to visit our message board to discuss this article and related issues with Hermiz.

A last thought: keep this article in mind the next time an Arab spokesman tries to justify a homicide bombing or other despicable act of Islamist terror such as 9-11 as a legitimate response to their perceived sufferings.  This is because the Christian Assyrians have suffered much worse, by several orders of magnitude, and yet they remain peaceful in the eyes of God and the world. 

We at YOWUSA wish the Christian Assyrians a just peace and a rightful return to their own homeland. 

Marshall Masters, Publisher

The Plight of Assyrians
in The Middle East

Hermiz Shahen
Assyrian National Centre, Inc.

Assyrian Children"Assyrian " is a genuine nationality of Mesopotamian ancestry. Since the fall of their capital, Nineveh, 25 centuries ago, they have survived oppression and massacre by oppressors in the Middle East. Assyrians are extant. Though their racial identity has been suppressed, their political status annulled, and their social standing derogated to that of a minority. The Assyrians are neither Arab nor Kurd; they are not Moslems, never were, and shall never be. In addition, the modern nomenclature, "Chaldean" refers to another Mesopotamian ancestry derived of the Assyrian dynasty. The distinction of Chaldeans today is their affiliation of Assyrians to the Papal Church, while the rest of our people continue our adherence to the mother church, the Assyrian Church of the East.

Today, oppression hangs like a plague over the Assyrian people in their ancestors' homeland. A large part of our population has fled, scattering in every corner of the world for its survival. The bitter facts and crimes of genocide committed against the Assyrian nation, particularly during WWI and continuing since that time, have left deep marks and painful memories. One cannot find a single Assyrian, whether from Turkey, Iran, Syria or Iraq, who was left unscathed by this uncivilized behavior and rampant barbarity. World governments have long ignored the agony of Assyrians and their plea for help. In a way similar to the fate of the Armenians and the Pontic Greeks, the genocide against the Assyrians has not been universally recognized, which only adds to the continuing pain of our people. The passage of time has done nothing to ameliorate this rank injustice, and Assyrians can no longer remain silent. Our people particularly in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey, are not allowed to complain about their inhumane and unjust treatment. If those of us in the free world do not speak on their behalf, no one else will.

Assyrian ProtestersRightly or wrongly, Assyrians in the West are not given to loud and noisy public demonstrations regarding their national tragedy. They have demonstrated for centuries that their culture strongly favors peace and industry. They have always pursued their goals in civilized dialogue, not through violence.


Assyrian VictimAssyrian communities throughout the world commemorate the Assyrian Genocide and Martyrs day, on 7th August each year. This is to respect those in our community who lost their lives to save their nation. Last August 7 marked the eighty-eighth commemoration day of the Genocide committed by the Turks (with the assistance of several Kurdish tribes). This campaign of mass extermination was launched against the Christian Assyrians, under the slogan of Holy War (Jihad). As a reward, Turkey helped the Kurds to settle in the Assyrian territory of Northern Mesopotamia (entailing, of course, the expulsion of the Assyrians). Northern Mesopotamia is now unlawfully known as "Kurdistan". This barbarous genocide led to the deracination of about 750,000 Assyrians. Thousands of villages and towns were lost to the Turks and Kurds in the region of Van, Turkey, as well as the region of Urmia, Iran. All the Churches, holy books and finery were looted, burned and destroyed. Children and young women that escaped the sword were taken prisoners while thousands more fell into the trap of forced conversion to Islam. Their choice was between the sword and Islam; many martyred.

In the month of August 1933, a massacre of Assyrians took place in the district of Simel in the State of Nineveh/Iraq. This slaughter too was committed in the name of the Jihad, and it was no less horrific than the previous ones. It brought death and destruction to over three thousand innocents. The perpetrators in this case were members of Kurdish and Arab tribes, under the direct supervision of the Iraqi Armed forces.


9-11 Terror Attack Assyrians, all over the world stand resolutely against terrorism. The September 11, 2001 catastrophe in the USA, followed by the October 2002 Bali bombing, has deeply shocked this nation. Assyrian organizations from all over the world extended their heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the people of the United States and of Australia, and especially to all those families, whose loved ones were victimized by such heinous crimes. Assyrians stand in solidarity with all peace loving people around the world against terrorism, incursion, war, poverty and exploitation.

Since the barbarous attack of September 11 on the USA, the Western media have pointed their fingers at Moslem fanatics of Middle Eastern origin. As a consequence, this has fueled more hatred towards Christians in that part of the world. We receive a stream of reports indicating that our brothers and sisters over there are confronted, harassed, interrogated and treated as suspects more than ever before. Because we are associated with the West and against Islam, many of our Middle East churches have been torched, and several priests and nuns have been imprisoned or murdered.

The horror that hit the U.S. and Bali, the graphic display of death and indiscriminate killing has dented humanity's confidence in itself. Terror of this magnitude inevitably affects everyone on our small planet; no one can escape the fallout. Yet, we should remember that such violence is almost an everyday occurrence in the Middle East, in countries such as Iraq, Turkey and Israel.

Terrorist For years, Western countries have deluded themselves into thinking that they could appease these extremist movements or perhaps simply ignore them. It is very sad to say, but the tragic loss of so many thousands of lives has forced the West to take stock and to consider the fallacy of previous assumptions.

The inescapable fact is that the homeland Assyrian Christians are at the mercy of radical groups or governments with the same mindset as the perpetrators of the recent attacks.  Under the name of Allah or Jihad, there is a continuing effort to inflict the worst acts of genocide against both the Jewish and Christian people. In the latter category, this includes Assyrians, Copts, and Maronites, who continue to experience savage treatment, which has resulted in their children remaining scattered throughout the world in diaspora.


The world should be made aware that there are only three Semitic identities in the Middle East, chronologically as follows: Assyrians, Jews and Arabs. They differ in their language, their religion, and their culture. As they did in the past, we believe that each of these people should live within its own borders, but in peace.

In Islamic countries in the Middle East, the people and governments have ceaselessly tried to eliminate our Assyrian nation with the long-term objective of seizing the land of our forefathers, hijacking our culture, and crediting Islam for our achievements that are actually Assyrian. The Jewish people are facing -- and will do so for a long time -- the same fate, until Middle East lands are returned to their original people.

AbrahamAssyrians consider Jews as their nephews with a common forefather: Abraham. Abraham left Ur of Chaldae in 2000 B.C. and relocated in southern Mesopotamia (near Basra in Southern Iraq). He migrated to the land of Israel and originated its 12 tribes. The five million Jews in Israel and the two million Assyrians, mainly in Iraq, share a common fate and common destiny. They are two besieged ethnic Semitic minorities, their existence and national identities threatened by 160 million Semitic Arabs. The language of Assyrians and Jews has a common origin. Aramaic and Hebrew are cognate languages with common vocabularies. A few cognate words include Shalom= Shlama (peace); Shabbat= Shabta (Saturday); Alohim= Alaha (God); Rabbi= Rabi (teachers, priest); Nisan= Nisan (April); Tamus= Tmas (July); Tishirn= Tishirn (October); Tahneen= Taneena (alligator)" (From The Assyrian Guardian, September 1992).

Assyria was a major power thousands of years ago; then, it was annihilated and vanished from geographical maps, when they were conquered by the Medes and the Persians in 612 B.C. Jerusalem also fell the same year. In order to understand Biblical prophecy and God's plan for the end of times, one must understand the history of the people of Israel and Assyria. Israel was restored to official statehood in May 1948. Likewise God has an end-time plan for Assyrians. God actually calls Assyria "the work of my hands" (Isaiah 19:25). God's handiwork has not vanished from God's maps! The Assyrians will once again be given their own homeland by God's will. Isaiah (19:24) says, " In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land ". Today, while some 2 million Assyrians are living in the Middle East mainly in the heart of their homeland (Iraq of today), a comparable number is scattered around the globe.

In order to find a permanent solution to the Israeli and PLO conflict, Assyrians believe in the power of forgiveness and reconciliation. The hope is that the Israeli government will take some important initiatives and approaches to resolve their internal problems. These solutions can only come from an inner struggle of liberation from hate, fear, revenge and the longstanding history of violence and killings. Without a hopeful solution, innocent people will continue to be victimized, while the perpetrator will be miserable and far worse off.

Gandhi Unfortunately, the use of violence and revenge is becoming very common in resolving conflicts all over the world. But for once we should remember Gandhi, the towering figure of this century: 'the idea of an eye-for-an-eye will one day make the whole world blind.' This paradigm must be destroyed before it destroys the world. Human beings should take greater pride in having taken the first step toward peace at heart than to have thrown the first stone. One day, perhaps, even the media will focus on the world's peacemakers and not only on warlords.

Based on historical and Biblical facts, Assyrians believes that Israelis have a superior claim to Jerusalem. But this holy city is an important place of worship for the three major global religions. We believe that the Israeli government should seriously consider a neutral status for this holy city, assuring not only its importance for worship, but as a magnet for international tourism. Such a solution would also put an end to the Islamic dream of reoccupying this Holy City.

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