Opinion Editorial
The Genocide of Assyrians and Yazidis and the Next American President
By Nahren Anweya
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St. Barbara Assyrian church in Karemlis, Iraq was bombed by ISIS on Sunday, October 10.
(AINA) -- In November Americans will head to the polls to vote for his or her preferred presidential candidate. Meanwhile, the persecuted Assyrian Christians and Yazidis both here and in Iraq will be trembling at the mere thought of another four years of a silent administration allowing a modern day holocaust to continue. This election will determine the fate of the Assyrians, who have lived in Iraq for 6766 years, and for the Yazidis, who have lived in Iraq for 1000 years.

If the next president simply continues the current administration's foreign policy, these stateless people continue to suffer atrocities of ISIS. When will the international community stand with the Assyrians to end the genocide?

Assyrians are the only indigenous people of Iraq. They are the people who originated civilization and most of the things we take for granted now, such as libraries, postal service, paved roads, the wheel, iron, lenses, batteries, plumbing, and dozens of other incredible inventions.

As of now, the world is quietly watching a modern day Assyrian Christian holocaust take place and its victims are asking why is this world doing nothing?

Personally, I have lived under Sharia Law and have watched my people live as second class citizens. I was a child, but I still remember it and it was unbearable. In first grade, I was slapped by my teacher simply because I was an Assyrian Christian, and she demanded that I stop identifying myself as an Assyrian Christian. I refused and ran out of the school, because I knew even at such a young age that she had violated both my ethnic and religious rights. These are the most basic of human rights. Having been raised by parents who are both devout believers in God and our Assyrian nation, I was motivated to make the cry of our most vulnerable heard across the world. I had always known that the situation for the native Assyrians was a ticking bomb. Especially, since the Assyrian Christians were living on lands worth trillions of dollars in oil, gold and uranium.

Related: Church Bombings in Iraq Since 2004
Related: Timeline of ISIS in Iraq
Related: Attacks on Assyrians in Syria By ISIS

The Assyrian people are the indigenous people of Iraq. We are the descendants of Assyrians. In 2003, the population of Assyrians in Iraq was 1.5 million. Today, we are less than 300,000. The instability of the region has given a green light to radical Islamic groups to commit genocide against our people because we are the natives of those lands, ethnically, linguistically and religious distinct. Political persecution by both the Iraqi and Kurdish governments have also fueled the current mass exodus.

The threat of AQI (Al-Qaeda in Iraq) was practically eliminated in 2011. Then President Obama took office and his decisions paved the way for ISIS in 2014. ISIS gave the indigenous Assyrians the option to convert, pay the jizya, or die. The jizya was so high, that the real option was to either convert or die. Overnight, in Mosul alone nearly 100,000 Assyrians fled for safety; many were not so lucky and faced the sword of radical Islamists. It should be noted that just two weeks prior to the ISIS invasion Kurdistan's Regional Government had disarmed both the Assyrian Christians and the Yazidis of the Nineveh Plain and Sinjar (AINA 2014-08-14). With no means to defend themselves, over 200,000 Christians fled the Nineveh Plain. Numerous more are still missing and many were executed by ISIS.

We are living through a modern day Assyrian genocide or as some have labeled it -- a Christian holocaust. This is a genocide in which five-year-old boys are being chopped in half by ISIS. When the genocide began at the hands of ISIS, I was determined to expose it. I remember the day in which my relatives from Iraq had called my family in the United States. They asked why isn't anyone stopping these horrible terrorists? Shortly thereafter, our community came together and we decided to descend upon both the White House and Congress in order to protest. And protest we did. We protested until we lost our ability to speak. I remember the tears rolling down my face as I dropped to my knees front of the White House in order to write my first sign. It simply read, "Christian Holocaust." This is where I was determined to speak to the media to expose the genocide on national media for the first time. Numerous national and international media outlets invited me to speak about the story of my people at the hands of ISIS. Fox News was the first national media outlet who took our desperate cries for help and allowed for us expose the detailed atrocities of ISIS. It is hard to comprehend that ISIS still has yet to be destroyed.

This particular genocide began in June of 2014. However, we have suffered another two horrendous genocides just in the last 100 years, the Turkish genocide of 1915-1918, in which 750,000 Assyrians were killed (75%) and the Simmele genocide of 1933, in which 3,000 Assyrians were killed. These two genocides alone nearly wiped out our population. It has not stopped. The latest genocide, which is ongoing, began in June, 2004, when an Assyrian church was bombed.

Related: Turkish Genocide of Assyrians
Related: The 1933 Massacre of Assyrians in Simmele, Iraq

Despites protests and lobbying, the genocide has not been brought to an end by the international leaders. This mysterious creation known as ISIS have targeted us through strategies of economic, religious, archaeological and ethnic attacks. Why is this being allowed? This is a question that people are asking throughout the world and especially by the victims. Remember when the Jews were being wiped out by the Nazis and so many people claimed that they did not know that there was a holocaust occurring? What is the excuse today? The genocide of both Assyrian Christians and Yazidis has been covered by national and international media outlets.

Yet, ISIS is still roaming free on the streets of Iraq. They continue to behead women and children. They continue to destroy our priceless artifacts. They destroyed the Assyrian artifacts at Mosul's museum. They have destroyed the Tomb of Jonah, the Walls of Nineveh, the city of Nimrod, the churches in Khabour, Mar Elian Monastery, Dura-Europos, Mari, Nimrud, Khorsabad, the Mar Behnam Monastery and hundreds of other churches and religious/historical sites that trace their origins to the beginnings of Christianity and civilization. And that's not all of it. Once again, this modern day Christian holocaust began in 2004 and is yet to be taken seriously by our government. ISIS was initially labeled as a "junior varsity team" by Obama.

It is a horrible fate to become a refugee within one's own homeland. Every invader and non indigenous person are claiming our native lands as their new "Islamic lands" while slowly purging and annihilating us. These are the same people that many nations are supporting by continuing to purchase oil from them and allowing them to expand their caliphate.

The world is populated by more than 1,600 stateless nations. Many of these stateless nations are in one way or another engaged in national movements in order to help preserve their endangered historic identities. Many of these stateless nations have been persecuted and continue to be persecuted at the hands of their host countries.

A perfect example of a stateless nation that has suffered, but that eventually regained its historical homeland, is the Jewish people. They suffered from the lack of a homeland until 1948. It was made possible by them people unifying and setting aside its differences. It was also made possible by the relentless lobbying of the world's superpowers. Both the Assyrian Christians and the Yazidis need to also be helped in a similar fashion.

You may be thinking what can be done? The only solution for the indigenous Assyrians is to establish an internationally protected safe haven in the Nineveh Plains in north Iraq, until stability and security has been restored. Article 125 of the Iraqi constitution explicitly guarantees the administrative, political, cultural, and educational rights of the native Assyrians. The Iraqi constitution also enables us to have our very own province. The Nineveh Plains is the preferred area to implement this solution. Why? Because, the Nineveh Plains is the home to a significant portion of the Assyrian people and it is historically our native homeland.

The United States needs to also support the right people within the region, such as the Assyrians and their security forces. Many of the countries that the U.S. currently believes to be its allies cannot be trusted. But we the Assyrian people in fact can be trusted. We are peace loving and our principles and interests are fully compatible and conducive to the principles and goals of the United States of America. Together, we would forge a long lasting relationship that would not only help shape the future of Iraq for the better, but the entire Middle East as a whole.

Assyrians and Yazidis cannot withstand another genocide as it would extinguish them. A young Assyrian girl from Iraq asked me why have we not stopped ISIS yet and why is God not stopping this from happening? I said, God tests his strongest soldiers and our American brothers and sisters will rescue you soon. I hope the American people understand that true stability can only be achieved with a new strategy and firm leadership. Empowering the wrong people as we continue to do is will only create new Muslim groups. It is time to empower the Assyrian and Yazidis, who simply cannot be infiltrated by Islam.

As many have warned, the prime target for ISIS, at least for now, is the United States of America. Looking at the current 2016 presidential contenders, it appears that Mrs. Hillary Clinton will continue the status quo of blindly supporting countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, who propagate terrorism. Mrs. Clinton, through the Clinton Foundation, has received millions from such nations as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Time is running out. Both Secretary of State John Kerry and the Pope have labeled what ISIS is doing as genocide. What are we waiting for?

Nahren Anweya is an Assyrian American activist who was born in Dohuk, Iraq. She travels nationally and internationally to spread awareness of the persecution of Assyrians and Yazidis. She has been interviewed by Fox News, NBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, International Business Times, Time, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and numerous other media outlets.

Views and opinions expressed in guest editorials do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of AINA.
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