Assyrians and the Elections in Iran

The bleeding and migration of the Assyrian population to the west is not exclusive to Iraq. Assyrians in neighbouring Iran have also suffered from this, with tens of thousands leaving since the Islamic revolution brought radical and sweeping changes to the country. It is estimated that there was around 200,000 Assyrians in Iran at the close of the 20th century to a modern low of some 10,000 to 15,000 (this out of Iran’s total population of some 68,017,860).

Thirty years later and following the recent much contested elections, there is hope of some changes coming to Iran. A hope that is becoming and getting closer and closer to reality. Although the incumbent president Ahmadinajad was declared the winner, the opposition claimed widespread fraud and has demanded a recount. Their supporters have been staging massive public demostrations for close to two weeks now and their mementum doesn’t seem to be slowing down, even after the election committee has concluded that the results are official and final.

Whether the results stay or change, the situation in Iran will never be the same again. The current demonstrations and protests are all hallmarks of something bigger to come. They are all little pieces in an upcoming and forming revolution that will undo the current 30 year Islamic revolution. The Iranian people are fed up and and will continue to push for reform and changes until they see them.

And with Assyrians having a relatively big presense in Iran, albeit a dwindling one, they too will be a big part of the new force for change. While Christians and Assyrians haven’t systematically been targeted for their religious and national ideology, like is the case in Iraq, they haven’t been made to feel very great either. In the last few years, we keep hearing about churches being shut down, and other evangelical institutions being forced to go underground, fearing a government crackdown.

A change and a more open Iranian regime would surely help to quell the migration bleeding of Assyrian Iranians to the west. Of course, with a regime change also come better relations with the west and a removal of the economic sanctions, which will help to improve their financial well-being, giving them yet another incentive to stay in the new Iran.

It is our hope that things in Iran will change without any or much bloodshed. Iraq has undergone a major change and would be nice if Iran was next. The two countries will be the new beacon of hope and democracy for the entire Middle East. A place where the native people of the land are treated the same as everyone else. Given the rich history and culture of both Iraq and Iran, and with Assyrians being a very essential component of this rich cultural mosaic, a change for the better in Iran is certainly welcome.

If Iran was to undergo a real change toward more freedom and democracy, you can bet a lot of Assyrians from Iran who migrated to the west, would make their way back. More than that, Assyrians from Iraq would find it easier to visit and communicate with the Assyrian communities in Iran.

I may sound very hopeful in my predictions, but one thing is certain: what seemed impossible not too long ago is looking a little more possible and even inevitable now. Assyrians and the people of Iran deserve better than what they have gotten in the last thirty years. The green revolution marches on…

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