Remember the Assyrian martyrs of 1933, and today

Between August 7 and 11, 1933, the Iraqi Army and Kurdish and Arab irregulars conducted a massacre of 3,000 Assyrian men, women and children in the town of Simmele and its surroundings. A detailed account of the massacre was given by Colonel R.S. Stafford of the British Army in his 1935 book, The Tragedy of the Assyrians.
 
Because of the Simmele Massacre, August 7 was later chosen by Assyrian Christians as the official Assyrian Martyrs Day, a day to remember Assyrians killed not only in that massacre, but all massacres and genocides against the Assyrian nation, including the Turkish Genocide of Assyrians in World War 1, which claimed 75% of the Assyrian population, including 750,000 Assyrians, as well as 1.5 million Armenians and 500,000 Pontic Greeks.
 

(Video of ISIS execution of prisoners. VIEWER DISCRETION IS STRONGLY ADVISED)
 
In much the same way, Iraq's millenial Jewish community was scoured from the country and ejected by Nazi sympathizers during World War 2 in what became known as the 'farhud.' Later, in 1948, any remaining Jews were deported after having been violently dispossessed of their property. Many were killed.
 
(Assyrian martyrs of 1933)
 
The term 'genocide' was coined by Raphael Lemkin, who was directly influenced by the story of the Assyrian Massacre and the Armenian Genocide.
 
There have been 33 genocides since 339 A.D., all but three committed by Muslims. This averages to one every 50 years. In other words, for the past 1675 years there has been genocide in the living memory of every Assyrian generation.
 
Here follow some historical coincidences:
 
* In 2014 the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) is committing genocide against the Assyrians of North Iraq and Syria. It began by IS issuing new Sharia rules for Mosul's residents.
 
* In 1933 the Simmele massacre began with a fiery speech in the Iraqi Parliament by an Arab member of the Iraqi parliament, Sayed Thabit, in which he vilified the Assyrians, denied their identity, called them "wretched and corrupt people" and said they are a "poisonous germ in the head of the government."
 
* In 2014 IS sent a letter to Assyrians in Mosul, ordering them to convert, pay the jizya (a "protection" fee) or die. All of Mosul's Assyrians fled the city.
 
* In 1933 The Iraqi government orders the Assyrians to turn in their weapons, promising them safety.
 
* In 2014 the Islamic State shells Assyrian towns, killing 4, causing the Nineveh Plain to be nearly emptied of its indigenous and autochthonous Assyrian population.
 
* In 1933 Assyrians are massacred in Simmele after they surrender their weapons, since the Iraqi government did not honor its promise of safety.
 
History is repeating itself. In 1933 Assyrians were targeted because they were Christians. In 2014 IS is targeting them for the same reason.
 
Today, Assyrians throughout the world commemorate Assyrian Martyrs Day. This year it will be especially difficult as they witness the very probable end of the Assyrian presence in their ancestral homeland, which they have lived in since 4750 B.C..


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only, not of Spero News.

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