By: Ashur Sada
I am well aware of what has been happening to our Assyrian people in Iraq and Syria at the hands of ISIS. It is pretty horrible. But sometimes you go through life, get distracted and tend to forget some of it.
And then it hit me, literally like a light bulb that pops into your head! Assyrians are going through one of the toughest stretches in their existence. They are living a terrible nightmare and I hope everyone else comes to this sudden realization, in case you too got distracted by other things.
Just think about it: their two most popular regions in Iraq and Syria respectively have been completely and forcefully emptied of their native Assyrian inhabitants. In both cases, at the hands of ruthless and barbaric Islamic State terrorists (ISIS)
If you can’t grasp the magnitude of this historical tragedy, let me put it in a relative and somewhat similar context: imagine an area almost the size of the cities of New York and New Jersey combined. Now imagine every single resident being forcefully evicted from their homes, if not an outright rape, murder or even both.
Hundreds of thousands of Assyrians not only lost their homes, they lost their very villages, cities and towns that they have continuously lived in for thousands of years. It is one thing to have your house or property taken away from you, and quiet another to have your city and region taken away from you. That is exactly what ISIS did to the Assyrian Christians in their historical regions in Iraq and Syria. And I won’t even go into talking about ISIS’ destruction of priceless Assyrian archaeological sites and treasures.
That, and even worse is happening to our people since June of last year when ISIS swept through Mosul and later taking over the Nineveh plain region and in the process forcing some 100,000 Assyrians away from their home, city and historical homeland. The same with would later happen to Assyrians in the Khabour region of Syria. And in fact, the plight of Assyrians in Syria is a bit worse. Not only did they lose their homes and the entire Khabour region, over 200 Assyrians, including women and children, remain captive to ISIS till this day.
If you thought what happened to Assyrians at the hands of ISIS is bad, you are wrong. Bad is not the right word to describe a situation in which more than a third of an entire ethnic population is forced out from their historical lands-in the 21st century- and not be able to return a year later. It is beyond words. In fact, failure to put into words what has happened to Assyrians in the last 12 months is the only successful way to demonstrate just how horrible it has been. Because it is beyond words to describe.
Humans have this amazing and handy ability to take things for granted with the passage of time or adopt to changes. Please do me a favor and don’t get used to these changes for Assyrians. The status quo is not something we should ever get used to or accept. The Khabour region in Syria and the Nineveh Plain region in Iraq are the heart of Assyrianism in these two countries and always have been. And we hope they always will be.We remain optimistic that Assyrians will be able to go back and this nightmare will come to an end soon. This is more than just a survival of a 6,000 year old civilization. This is much more basic than that. It is about human dignity, rights and basic survival.
Please rethink just how bad it is. It is even worse than your worse nightmare. Did I say the word ‘nightmare’ enough times to drive the point home?