By: Ashur Sada, Nov 1, 2010
The Simele Massacre of August 7, 1933, is such a powerful and immortal reminder of the losses Assyrians gave up, that it has been designated as the ‘Assyrian Martyr’s Day’
That was the Simele Massacre. Although not the first massacre or genocide committed against our people, it was the first of its kind to be turned into a national day and have an entire historical literature dedicated to it.
It is unfortunate, but looks like we have Simele 2.0! This of course is the Sunday “Baghdad Church Massacre“, an attack that left hundreds of our innocent people dead and injured at the “Our Lady of Salvation” Syriac Catholic Church. Worse yet, it has left an emotional hole that will be very hard to patch, for years and decades to come. Not to mention all the destruction caused to the church itself. For more information, updates and photos from this horrific attack, visit our Assyrian Forums.
The attack was horrific, terrifying and crushing of the very basic and fundamental human rights, that even animals take for granted at times. Not so much for our innocent and peaceful brothers and sisters in Iraq who saw the worst of humanity’s worst, and couldn’t do anything about it, and neither could the pathetic and helpless Iraqi government and security forces.
We here at Assyrian Voice , are at a loss for words as to how express our deep sorrow, sadness and frustration at what happened. Using these adjectives is still not enough to really express how we feel. We don’t think the English, or even the Assyrian dictionary have the words that are powerful enough to express how we all feel, collectively and individually. What happened is extreme even for middle ages or ancient times ruthlessness.
Our people in Iraq are an ever dwindling minority and we can’t afford to lose more of them. Something dramatic and fundamental has to happen, even if it means putting a wall around us, and partitioning us from the rest of the Iraqi people. We have nothing against the rest of the Iraqi people, as most of them are against terrorism too, but we just don’t know who to trust anymore. You don’t know who is the sheep and who is the wolf. The good citizen may be mistaken for a wolf while a terrorist may be smart enough to disguise as a peaceful sheep. As we have seen from this incident and many other deadly incidents, trust doesn’t always work in our favor in this world of terrorism.
So where do we go from here? first and foremost, and despite sounding like a broken record, the Iraqi government has to take full responsibility for what happened. For one, it has been 8 months since elections were held, and we are yet to see an agreement on who the next prime minister will be. The terrorists are exploiting this virtual vacuum in power to cause more destruction, death and division. By striking at the powerless Christian community, the terrorists are able to embarrass the government and put it under the world spotlight.
Second, and despite the insistence by a lot of our political and religious leaders to the contrary, we do need our own administrative and semi-autonomous region in the north. Even if this is a temporary measure, so be it. Having virtually nothing to defend themselves with, our people need to have a choice as to where to live, work and worship safely and freely. We don’t need to have an entire army guarding our churches. That defeats the purpose. Rather, we need an area that is safe enough, not to need any protection for our churches.
Third, the government has to make it a top priority to protect our churches and community in Baghdad and all the other danger zones in Iraq. This includes some sort of ‘Fatwa’ to forbid anyone or any group from taking over our churches or homes, especially if they have been vacated for safety reasons. This will prevent certain interest groups from pushing an agenda to empty Iraq of its native Assyrian Christians. Our churches should be given a special status, more than a religious status. They should be declared something like a ‘Heritage Site’ and any damage done to it is to be repaired at the expense of the government.
Our people have suffered enough, and enough is enough. For us in the diaspora, this is the time to unite and come under one Assyrian Voice. Enough divisions and splits. If the killing of so many of our people and destroying our church will not unite us, God himself will not come down to do it for us.
May God bless those who lost their lives, and give strength to their families and loved ones. And may God protect our nation and people in Iraq. We have survived in our land for thousands of years and endured worse and tougher times than these. We can only overcome these bloody and hard times if we unite and come together.
There is no UN or international chart that specifies that Assyrians must constantly face genocides and massacres at the hands of others. But then again, these same nations that make up the United Nations should do much more to protect us and save us from an extinction.
Christians are the light and salt of Iraq. Without them, the country is not the same and loses its true identity and mosaic!