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Assyrians - The Forgotten People, Part II

Assyrians - The Forgotten People, Part II

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Published by: bgeller4936 on Jan 17, 2010
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10-01-15 11:42 PMAssyrians - the Forgotten People, Part IIPage 1 of 5http://www.atour.com/government/docs/20000626a.html
Assyrian Government Network
Assyrians - the Forgotten People, Part II
by Frederick P. Isaac
Posted: Monday, June 26, 2000 at 12:23 PM CT
Under the strict rule of the Islamic ‘millet’ provision, theAssyrian nation was fragmented into a false mix of multitudesand robbed of its true national identity. None of the AssyrianChristian denominations were allowed to declare themselvesAssyrian in nationality. The word “Assyrian” was a taboo. Other than freedom of worship, the ‘millets’ were categorized by theIslamic state as aliens in their traditional homeland. There was noroom for dialogue. Retribution was swift and harsh for anyonethat declared himself Assyrian or manifested disloyalty, especiallychurch leaders. Execution was the norm in reprisal for dissension.In the aftermath of the Bolshevik Revolution of 17 October 1917,Russia drew back from the war. It withdrew its forces to withinits borders and revoked the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement towhich it was a party. Following its withdrawal, Turkish and Persian governments, in thename of Jihad (holy war) stirred up the Kurds against the Assyrians. The Kurdish hordes,descended on the Assyrian villages and towns, killing and pillaging in the name of Allah.They expelled thousands of families from Hakkari, Van. They were chased away, never allowed to return to their homes. About 25 thousand Assyrian families from Iran fled toRussia under protection of the Russian withdrawing troops. Wave after wave of other Assyrian families that could not reach the retreating Russian forces, fled in a south-westerlydirection from Urmia, Iran to Mesopotamia to seek French and British protection. In theexodus, they met with their Assyrian brethren, who had been ejected from Hakkari, Turkey.The Assyrians regrouped, forming two flanks, to protect their families, continued with their march southwest. The Assyrians were received by the British forces and escorted to safety.Some stayed in refugee camps in Baquba and Hanaidi. Others stayed with relatives and their kinfolk in villages and towns in the northern province of Mosul. There they sought refuge ina bid to settle and make it their home. The Province of Mosul then still being part of SouthEast of Ottoman Turkey, the dislodged ‘Nestorian’ Assyrians considered it part of their Assyrian territory. The British recruited Assyrian troops and formed the Assyrian Levy, as anauxiliary force, to guard and protect British military installations; and help maintain law andorder. Some Assyrian tribesmen, of the Hakkari, now in Mosul, were unhappy with the waythe British were treating the Assyrians in general, and decided to return home after the 1918Armistice in defiance of the British orders. The Assyrian leaders felt that the British were notgenuinely concerned about their people’s future and that they were falling from favour. Theywere being used as mercenaries to promote British and Arab interest. The group went back toHakkari and spent the winter months in their villages. But come Spring 1919, and the Turkishtroops ejected them again and pushed them back beyond the newly drawn Turkish borderlineinto northern Iraq. During the mass exodus of 1914-1918 over 73 thousand Assyrian men,women and children perished from savagery of the Muslims, starvation, kidnapping andepidemic.
On the Assyrian issue, Great Britain, in consultation with the Iraqi government, wanted the 
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‘Nestorian’ Assyrians to integrate and become part of the Iraqi population mix, withoutchange to the millet rule. The Assyrians disagreed. They expressed firm desire for self-rule,in the Mosul district, under the protection and supervision of the League of Nations. TheAssyrians explained that Iraq, as an Islamic state, regardless of its form of government, treatsits minorities in accordance with the Islamic harsh millet provision. The Assyrians had beenthrough some terrible experiences under the theocratic millet provision during the period of the Islamic occupation. They refused to become subjects of the newly created ArabHashemite Kingdom of Iraq, whose monarch claimed lineal descent from the ProphetMohammed. The millet provision was an old Islamic tradition, part of its governing system,growing in popularity, and very rewarding to Islam in increasing the landmass of the IslamicUmma. The Iraqi government denied the allegations and described them as a grossexaggeration and untrue. Yet, neither Britain and France, nor the central government of Iraqwould give any guarantees to discontinue its use and adopt democratic reforms. TheAssyrians refused to remain under Islamic rule and rejected the proposal outright. The Britishsided with the Iraqi central government against the Assyrians. Britain, being the mandatory power, persisted in its demand. It pressured the Assyrian leadership to accept its decision andabide by the law of the land.. True, the millet provision is not stipulated in the constitution,yet as a hidden agenda, being part of the Islamic Shari’a law, is still being pursued as amatter of fact. Britain’s adamant stance was interpreted by the overwhelming majority of theAssyrian people as betrayal and a prelude to encountering more trouble from the Anglo-Iraqiside. Britain’s hard attitude gave the impression that the League of Nations was broughtunder its thumb, and would not hold her accountable for her actions. The Assyrians wanted peace. They wanted to be free. They just wanted to live on their soil, free from outsideinterference, as any other small nation. Being Christians and of good endurance, and havingsurvived for centuries, did not mean that the Assyrians should accept being dispossessed of their homes and be denied of their human rights, yet according to the hidden agenda of Britain and France, they had no share in their plan. The Sykes-Picot Agreement left theAssyrians out in the cold.In 1925, Great Britain annexed the Mosul Province to the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq. Thedeal was concluded by the Treaty of Ankara, signed in 1926 by Turkey, Iraq and GreatBritain. The Assyrians were again left in the cold. Britain and France, failed to live up to themorality of the League of Nations and the objectives it was set for. They acted irresponsiblytowards the Assyrian nation, with disrespect for human rights. They played the role of realestate agent, using the League of Nations as a brokerage, to maximize their profit from thesale of the Mosul Province, the last bastion of the Assyrian nation. The deal awarded themandate’s two new partners in business, Turkey and Iraq, additional bonus. Iraq was awardedMosul Province (which should have been reserved for the Assyrians), and Turkey gained twoand a half decades of supply of oil from the rich oil fields of Iraq. All three parties profiteered at the expense of the Assyrian disinherited and aggrieved people.The British succeeded in their ploy in keeping the Assyrian people fragmented by resorting tosectarian bigotry. It widened the chasm between the united Assyrians of Urmia and Hakkarion the one hand and those of Iraq and Syria on the other. They reminded the Chaldean andJacobite Assyrians of Iraq of their separation from the anathematized ‘Nestorian’ AssyrianChurch of the East. They warned them not to join hands and refrain from any politicalengagement with them. They reminded them how in 1551 they united with Rome and termedthemselves
to distinguish themselves from the ex-communicated Assyrian Churchof the East now branded Nestorian - a misnomer labeled by the Councils of Ephesus(431AD). And later in 1559, how the Assyrian
Chaldean Church
split again and about half of its membership allied itself with the Syrian Jacobite Assyrians. The British scheme succeededin keeping the Assyrian nation fragmented under deceitful specious names. Thus, the schism between the Assyrian Church of the East and other split church groups widened and remaineddivided. The Assyrian Church of the East had tried unsuccessfully, since the end of World 
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War One, to reunite the splintered groups, in order that the Assyrians, as a whole, might gainmore support for their cause. The Islamic ‘millet’ policy was keen to see that the ChristianChurches, regardless of their origin, affiliation and denomination, remained in alienation fromone another. The object of the ‘millet’ provision was and still is to control the politicalactivity of the indigenous people and keep them at bay. The Armenian Church, being outsidethe direct sphere of influence of Arab Islamic rule, escaped fragmentation, although it toosuffered terribly at the hands of the Turks. In Egypt, the Christian Copts, have already beenchoked and forced to abandon their native language and use the Arabic language instead.Except for liturgy in church, the Coptic language is disallowed. Copts have already lost their national identity. They are enumerated on the tally sheets of the population census as Arabs.The ultimate aim of the ‘millet’ provision is to Arabise/Islamise the non-Muslimcommunities.The Iraqi government dismissed the Assyrian demand, and saw it as a threat. On the adviceof the British, Iraq stalled. In the summer of 1933, the rejection developed into an openconfrontation that led to the Semaili massacre. The Assyrians had placed their hope in theLeague of Nations, advocates of Human Rights and U.S. President Wilson’s Fourteen (14)Points.
Article 12 stipulated "... other nationalities ...under Turkish rule should beassured undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development..."
According to the League, the Council recognized claims of smaller nationalities.
The Assyrian people failed to understand the British motive behind their adamant rejection. Little they had known that the ill-fated Sykes-Picot Agreement had alreadyrobbed them of their home and denied them a share in the spoils of the First World War. TheAnglo-French administration blamed the Assyrians for disobeying orders and accused theIraqi army for being overly enthusiastic and trigger-happy. The British administration at thetime seemed to lack the courage to make a roundabout
face, admit its mistake and free theAssyrians from bondage.All three parties profiteered from the deal at the expense of the Assyrian disinherited nation.Restoring Assyria in Mosul was against the Anglo-French interest. Instead of neutralizing theArabs from Mosul, settling the displaced Assyrians in their traditional northern portion of Assyria, by order and under protection of the League of Nations, the British HighCommission, covered up the Mandate’s sinister deed, by alleging that the Assyrians were nomore than a handful minority that hardly exceeded a few thousands, and would have had no bearing on the outcome of the decision. Britain’s injudicious act constituted breach of trust inthe League’s laws of human rights. Britain and France, relied on the low population census of the ‘Nestorian’ Assyrians, based on the millet policy, to convince the League Council not to press for self-rule for the Assyrians.
Only the Nestorians were designated as Assyrians bythe British mandate. The rest of the Assyrian sects, forming a sizeable majority, werediscounted when the Assyrian case was deliberated at the Council of the League of  Nations.
The aim of the mandates was to allow the League Council to assume the other Assyrian Christian sects were of different ethnic backgrounds. There was nothing farther fromthe truth. The mandates didn’t want their folly to be exposed. Had honest population census been conducted for all the Assyrian sects of the various millet communities, scattered all over the Middle East, the overall number enumerated on the tally sheets would have exposed thefallacy of their dirty game. The Assyrians were warned to either toe the line or suffer direconsequence. Those who resisted were discredited, accused of subversion and dealt withseverely. The mandatory powers denied them the right to appeal to the League of Nations.Iraq, being under the British Mandate, refused the Assyrians compensation for the loss of their Hakkari and Urmia territories. Although the northern highlands of Assyria wereswarming with Kurds, there was still plenty of good grazing and arable land for the Kurds to be accommodated within that region. The redrawn map of Mesopotamia by Sykes-Picot hadalready been ratified by the League of Nations.
Why the international community did not allot a portion of the dissolved Mesopotamia to the indigenous Assyrian displaced nation, is 

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