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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Assyrians “the Native Americans of Iraq”

By: Ramiz G. Mirza

Assyrians also known as Chaldeans, ChaldoAssyrians, and Syriacs are the indigenous people of Iraq . Assyrians are not to be confused with Syrians which are from the country Syria . Assyrians are actually a people with a history that dates back to Mesopotamia , also known as “the cradle of civilization” and have existed as a nation for 6758 years. Some contributions that the Assyrians have made to the world include the first writing system, numeric system, and the code of law. In addition, Assyrians were among the first people to adopt Christianity and sent missionaries as far as China , and India . Today, the war in Iraq has damaged the lives, and future of the Assyrians which do not retaliate when confronted with violence, but chose to walk away instead. Three negative impacts on the Assyrians since the latest war with Iraq include bombed Churches, Assyrians forced to leave their homeland, and lack of financial help.

It is sad to say that up to this point over forty Churches have been bombed, and little has been done to resolve this problem. This statistic proves that in regards to places of worship, Assyrians have obviously been hit hardest. Unfortunately, these atrocities have been taken place without any real counteractions. In today’s Iraq , Assyrians are being faced with terrorist threats i.e. “leave, convert, or die”. Several Christian leaders have also been slain which can be looked at as a form of ethnic cleansing. Iraq ’s Constitution clearly states that all Iraqis have the right to worship as they choose; up to now unfortunately this law is not being enforced.

Another problem Assyrians are facing in the “New Iraq” is the fact that Assyrians make up 40% of the fleeing refugees. It is also worth noting that before the war the Assyrians made up approximately 3% of the total Iraq population. Using a simple formula, at this rate seven years from now Iraq ’s indigenous Assyrians which have lived there in their homeland for almost seven thousand years will be completely depleted. Today the Assyrians are refugees in Syria , Jordan , and Egypt and suffer form lack of rights, job opportunities, and basic necessities. It is obvious that something needs to be done about the terrible misfortune that has fell upon the Assyrian people.

One other fact worth noting is that Assyrians are not receiving appropriate funding in order to survive during this critical time in Iraq . Assyrians which once were secure in life with job opportunities, religious freedom, and a reasonable living standard today do not have any of these luxuries. One question still remains to be answered. Why haven’t the Assyrians received any financial help that can make a difference thus far? Today, the main help the Assyrians receive is from the Assyrian Aid Society, a non- profit organization run by Assyrians for Assyrians. A.A.S. works through the donation process, and this is simply not enough for a nation of over one million. Financing for this dwindling population is essential at this time, and can not be further delayed.

In conclusion, when a country gets liberated, all the people who reside in the country should get equal attention, regardless of what percent of the country they make. Furthermore, the Assyrians being the indigenous people of Iraq should get looked at with a higher respect as a nation, and be labeled as Assyrian, and not an artificial title such as Iraqi Christians which is much more often used. Speaking about the subject of a democratic Iraq , it would only be a true democracy when the refugees can return without worrying about the consequences. This is just a taste of one Assyrians thoughts who is far from his homeland but feels the pain and suffering of the ones who are still in Iraq on a spiritual level.

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