4138 - 6747
(612 B.C. - 1999 A.D.)
Introduction | Frequency of Massacres | Please help
The 7th of August has been designated as a Memorial Day for Assyrian Martyrs. Although this observance is of a comparatively recent date, it has gained widespread acceptance among the Assyrian people. And this is justly so. Every nation needs to have a day set aside for the remembrance of those who gave their lives for the preservation of their cultural and ethnic identity. This is especially important for the Assyrian Nation; for no other people (as the following pages will show) have given so many martyrs in the defense of their national and ethnic rights.
Throughout our long history, each time an Assyrian man, woman, or child stood up against their oppressors and refused to give up their religion, language, or national existence, our nation as a whole was pulled one step back from the abyss of extinction! Yes! This is true, even if the immediate consequences of such actions were destruction and death. Our martyrs form the core of our history. They are the one who bravely and selflessly defended our existence, even to the point of giving up their own lives, so that we could continuously have before us examples of self-sacrifice which would serve to encourage us to preserve ourselves and our culture for future generations.
The legacy of our martyrs is a sacred obligation for each and every one of us, their children, to defend and protect our cultural national existence, even as they have done. But now we are faced with a difficult question: have we Assyrians at the present time lived up to this obligation? We do not raise this question here to give an authoritative yes or no answer. It is clear that some Assyrians do indeed live up to this obligation, while others do not. It is also true that some Assyrians fulfill this obligation more thoroughly than others. Our purpose here is to point out some problems and issues the solutions and understandings of which will help all Assyrians in fulfilling their obligation.
Martyrs Day was originally meant to commemorate the massacres of Assyrians in Iraq in 1933. Gradually, we Assyrians have realized that there have been many instances in our history of massacres and persecutions which equaled or surpassed Simel in importance. Consequently, there is a greater emphasis in current observations on commemorating all the martyrs of our history. The development of the 7th of August into a Memorial Day for all Assyrian martyrs is important and beneficial. Such a development will lead to greater unity within our nation. Each of our churches, villages, and tribes have memorials for their own particular saints and martyrs. We must develop the 7th of August into a Memorial Day for all of these martyrs, so that we can bring the children of this nation together as a single entity to commemorate these people and events.
To this end, we have brought together in this booklet as many accounts of the persecutions and martyrdoms of our people as we could find. We are very aware of the fact that these accounts are but a pale shadow of the reality of our history. Unfortunately, our sources are limited and we make no claim to have treated these subjects in an original and exhaustive manner. Our aim is to bring together in one small booklet a variety of accounts so that those who have never known of them will now be informed, and others who are aware of them may be encouraged to search out and discover more information about our martyrs for the benefit of the present and future generations.
When we think of martyrs and retell their stories, it is often customary to mourn them and the events of their lives. We are saddened and overcome with grief, bitterness, and despair at their sufferings. This type of commemoration is one of passive mourning. While it fulfills an important human need, it also brings with it the danger of adopting a passive and indifferent attitude. But our martyrs were rarely passive or indifferent! It is necessary for us to turn away from a passive commemoration of our dead to an active celebration of their triumphs. In the light of their sacrifices, we must make a firm commitment to understanding, developing, and preserving the cultural and national values for which our martyrs gave their lives. This is the only fitting way to commemorate our martyrs. Instead of weeping over the loss of their lives, we must become determined to preserve the very things for which they gave up their lives.
Finally, it may be thought by some that the greatest threat to the preservation of our nation and culture is the loss of our lives and our property. The lesson of our martyrs is that this is simply not true. The swords and guns of our oppressors cannot kill our culture or our love of our nation. Rather, persecutions tend to strengthen our attachment to these. Killing, raping, and plundering can weaken these things, but they can never completely destroy them. There is only one thing which can destroy our cultural and national existence, and that is the indifference of our own people. Nothing an outsider can do will ever permanently harm us, but the attitude of indifference and neglect on the part of many of our own people to our culture and national life will surely be the cause of its extinction.
On this Assyrian Martyrs Day, and on every one to come, let us dedicate ourselves to the struggle of preserving our culture, our language, and our nationhood in unity and harmony with our fellow Assyrians. Let us be worthy of the example of our martyrs. Let us honor their memory in this most suitable way by preserving the very ideas and values for which they died.
Glory and honor to our Assyrian martyrs and their beloved nation now and for all time.
The Ashurbanipal Library Committee, 1989
Frequency of Massacres Against Assyrians
From the data in this document, we can cite the following years in which massacres of Assyrians have occurred:
If one averages these figures, (1992-339) / 33, we see that every fifty years there is a massacre of Assyrians.
A combined force of Medes, Scythians, and Babylonian sieged Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, and felled the city within three months. It is unknown how many Assyrians died in this final battle of the Assyrian Empire, but the losses must have been considerable.
The Parthian king Xosroes murders the second bishop of Arbela (modern Arbil) in the buffer state of Adiabene. The state was invaded soon after by the Romans in 115 A.D. and named "Assyria". (The chronicle of Arbela, translation by Mingana 1907)
Friday, 339 A.D.
The persecution under king Shapur lasted for forty years, and it was very severe. The following is a description of the massacres that took place on Good Friday, A.D. 339:
". . .The first 'Firman' of persecution was issued, ordering all Christians [Assyrians] to pay double taxes, expressly as a contribution to the cost of a war in which they were taking no share, the Catholicos being ordered to collect the same. The special order may have been a kind of test for Mar Shimun, but there was nothing unusual in the government thus dealing with the melet through its recognized head. In any case, Shimun refused to obey the order, on the double ground that his people were too poor, and that tax collecting was no part of a bishop's business. On this it was easy to raise the cry, 'he is a traitor and wishes to rebel'; and a second Firman was issued, ordering his arrest and the general destruction of all Christian churches. Shimun was arrested at Seleucia, the Court being then at Karka d'Lidan (i.e., Susa), and in the leisurely fashion characteristic of Eastern justice, was allowed to collect his flock and to take a last farewell of them, before being conducted, with several colleagues, to what all foresaw would be his death. All gathered to receive the solemn blessing which a contemporary writer has preserved for us: 'May the Cross of our Lord be the protection of the people of Jesus; the peace of God be with the servants of God, and establish your hearts in the faith of Christ, in tribulation and in ease, in life and in death, now and forever more." The story of his martyrdom has been told by able writers, to whom we may refer for the moving tale of Shimun's interviews with the king; of the fall, penitence and triumph of Gushtazad the eunuch; of the offer of freedom, both for himself and for his melet, made to the Catholicos, if he would consent to adore the sun but once; and of the personal appeal of the King to him to yield, by memory of their friendship. The last scene took place outside Susa, on the morning of Good Friday, 339; when the Catholicos, five bishops, and about one hundred clergy sealed their testimony together, Shimun being last to die. To him it was given to die for both of the two noblest causes for which a man may lay down his life -- for his faith in God, and for his duty to his people." (An Introduction to the History of the Assyrian Church, P. 64)
The Greek historian Sozomen says of the above incident:
"When, in course of time, the Christians increased in number, assembled as churches, and appointed priests and deacons, the Magi became deeply incensed against them. The Jews were likewise offended. They therefore brought accusations before Shapur, the reigning King, against Shimun, who was then metropolitan of Seleusa and Ctesiphon, the royal cities of Persia, and charged him with being friends of the Caesar of the Romans, and with communicating the affairs of the Persians to him. Shapur believed these accusations, and at first imposed intolerably oppressive taxes upon the Christians. He appointed cruel men to exact these taxes, hoping that by being deprived of the necessities of life, and by the atrocity of the tax-gatherers, they might be compelled to abjure their religion-for this was his aim. Afterwards, however, he commanded that the priests and ministers of God should be slain with the sword. The churches were demolished, their vessels were deposited in the Treasury, and Shimun was arrested as a traitor to The Kingdom and religion of the Persians. In this way the Magi, with the cooperation of the Jews quickly destroyed the house of prayer. Shimun was arrested, bound with chains, and brought before the King. There he showed clearly the excellence and firmness of his character; for when Shapur commanded that he should be led away to the torture, he did not fear, and refused to prostrate himself. The King, greatly exasperated, asked why he did not prostrate himself, as he had done formerly. Shimun replied that he had not formerly been led away bound, in order that he might abjure the truth of God. When he had finished speaking, the King commanded him to worship the sun. He promised, as an inducement, that he would bestow gifts upon him, and raise him to honor; but on the other hand he threatened that, if he did not comply, he would destroy him and the whole body of the Christians as a punishment. When the King found that promises and menaces were alike unavailing he remanded him in prison. The following day, which happened to be the sixth day of the week, and likewise the day on which, because it came immediately before The festival of the resurrection, the annual memorial of the Passion of the savior is celebrated, The King issued orders for the decapitation of Shimun; for he had been again brought to the palace from the prison, and he had reasoned most boldly with Shapur on points of doctrine, and had expressed a determination never to worship either the King or the sun. On the same day, a hundred other prisoners were ordered to be slain. Shimun saw their execution, and last of all he was put to death. Among the victims were bishops, presbyters, and other clergy of different grades." (Patriarch, Shah, and Caliph, pp. 25.)
When Shapur died, in 379, the persecutions, for the most part, died with him. The forty years of terror saw 16,000 Assyrians, whose names were known and recorded, killed, and an immense number of Assyrians whose martyrdom was unrecorded
One of the most horrifying massacres occurred in the year 448, in modern day Kirkuk. The King Yasdegerd II began a wave of persecution of Assyrians (and Armenians, in Azerbaijan) throughout Persia. A massacre of ten bishops and 153,000 clergy and laity took place, ". in several consecutive days of slaughter on the mound of Karka d'Bait Sluk (Kirkuk). Local tradition still asserts that the red gravel of the hillock was stained that color by the martyrs' blood, and the martyrium built over the bodies remains to this day." (Introduction to the History of the Assyrian Church, pp. 138). The place where this massacre occurred, to this day, bears the name of the Persian executioner, who was led by the sight of the endurance and faith of the people he was butchering to believe that their faith must truly be from God, and who joined them in their confession, and fate -- Tamasgerd was baptized in his own blood (ibid, pp. 139).
Early in the sixth century a young Jewish king rose to power in the Kingdom of Himyar (present day Yemen). This king, Yusuf As'ar, began a brutal massacre of the Assyrians who were living in that kingdom. These massacres did not escape the attention of the rest of the Assyrians; the martyrdoms in one town, Najran, particularly caught the attention of the public. Here are some descriptions:
Burning of the Church
"The Jews amassed all the martyrs' bones and brought them into the church, where they heaped them up. They then brought in the priests, deacons, subdeacons, readers, and "sons and daughters of the covenant", and laymen and women as well -- whose names we shall give at the end of our letter. They filled the church up from wall to wall, some 2000 persons according to the men who came from Najran; then they piled up wood all around the outside of the church and set alight to it, thus burning the church along with everyone inside it. Some other women who had not been seized at the time, on seeing the church in flames with priests and "members of the covenant" inside, rushed to the church calling out to one another, "Come, friends, that we may take pleasure in the fragrant offering of the priests." Thus they rushed into the fire themselves and were burnt alive.
The sister of the holy bishop and martyr Paul was a deaconess named Elizabeth. She was in hiding in a house where the Christians had forcibly concealed her. On learning that the church was in flames, with the "members of the covenant" and the bones of her brother inside it, she dashed out of the house where the Christians had hidden her and went straight to the church, crying out, "I shall go to Christ with you, my brother, with you my brother and with all the rest of you." This was what she was crying out as she reached the courtyard of the church, and when the Jews saw her, they seized her, saying, "Adonay, Adonay, Adonay, Adonay! She has escaped from the fire, she has vanquished the fire by sorcery and got out!" But she assured them, "I haven't left the church-far bet it; rather, I have come from outside in order to enter it and to be burnt along with the bones of my brother and with the priests his companions. I want to be burnt in the church where I have ministered, together with my brother's bones." She was about forty-seven years old. The Jews grabbed her and produced thin cords; they bent down her head and bent her knees like a camel's and her arms as well, and threw the cords around them. They put in wooden pegs below the cords and turned -them so as to tighten the cords until they sank into her flesh. They did the same with her chest and the temples of her head. Then they produced some hay and fashioned something resembling a crown; this they placed on her head, saying to her in mockery, "receive your crown, servant of the carpenter's son!" Next they modeled the hay into the shape of a basin on top and heated up some oil in a pan; this they poured onto the top of her head when it was on the boil. When her entire head was scalded, the Jews said to her, "Perhaps it is too cool for you? Would you like us to heat it up again?" The blessed woman was unable to speak for pain, but she did manage to make a sign to them, softly indicating to them, "Yes, I would." While there was still some life in her, they took her outside the town and stripped her naked. There they tied ropes to her feet and brought along a wild camel, which they took out into the desert, tying the ropes to the camel and attaching wooden knockers that would dash against each other and agitate the camel. They then let the camel go into the desert, and it jerked her along violently behind it. This is how blessed Elizabeth was crowned." (Holy Women of the Syrian Orient, pp.105.)
Ummah. and Hudayyah
"Another woman named Tahna, hearing that the church was burning, seized her daughter's hand (her name was Ummah, and she was a "daughter of the covenant") and they went off to the church to be burnt. When her maidservant (whose name was Hudayyah) saw her, she said, "My lady, my lady, where are you off to? The church is on fire and the `members of the covenant are being burnt in the fire". Her mistress replied, "I too am going along to be burnt up with the priests, both I and my daughter here, who is a `member of the covenant.'" The maid said, "I adjure you by Christ, my lady, take me with you so that I too may enjoy the fragrance of the priests." So her mistress took her by the hand, and thus the three of them entered the church and were burnt to death along with the priests. This blessed lady's younger daughter, who was also called Hudayyah, did not go into the church along with her mother and sister but stayed in the house. The Jews, however, caught her, set fire to the house, and threw her into the tire. Then, when she had been scorched a little, they extracted her, rekindled the fire, and threw her in a second time; then they repeated this a third time, and so the blessed girl was crowned." (Ibid. p.107.)
Parviz destruction, 615-628 A.D.
Because of suspicions that the Monophysite Assyrians living under the Persian reign of Khusraw Pavriz may be communicating with the Syrian orhtodox church of the west, Pavriz maintained a persecution campaign which lasted till his death in 628 A.D. During this campaign, many monasteries near the royal court were destroyed.(Nau, "Ahoudemmeh," p.54, 75.)
In his thirtieth year (620), thirteen Christians were imprisoned in Adiabene (Modern Arbil and surroundings) for five years and then in 625, crucified at the bridge marking the border of Beth Garme. At about the same time, a bishop by the name of Nathaniel was crucified for writing a polemic against the Magians.
(Chabot, "Chastete,," p.37, 39-40,256,258. Also Hoffmann, "Persiscer Martyrer" , p. 119,121.)
Many monks and ascetics were killed by the army of Sa'd along the Byzentine border, especially in the monastery called "The daughters of Five Churches" at Ra's Ayn (in modern Syria). (Michael G. Morony, Iraq after the Moslem Conquest, 1984, P. 379, Also J.B. Chabot, CSCO, Scr. Syri 56, Louvain, 1937)
During the Patriarchate of Mar Gewargis I, the Ummayad Caliph Muawiyyah demanded gold from the Patriarch. The Patriarch refused and was imprisoned. The Christians were persecuted and their churches were destroyed.
During the Patriarchate of Mar Khnanishu I, the Caliph Abd al-Malik imprisons and tortures the Patriarch and places another bishop in his place. Abd al-Malik was the first to insist on the collection of the poll tax from the Christians.
The Caliph Mahdi decrees that all churches built since the Muslim conquest be destroyed. Over 5000 Christians from Halab were forced to accept Islam or death.
During the Patriarchate of Mar Theodosius, the caliph Mutawakkil persecuted the Christians. He imprisoned the Patriarch on the false suspicion of spying for the Byzantines, and he decreed that the Christians should wear special badges as a sign of degradation.
The famous Assyrian physician and translator, Hunayn Bar Iskhaq, was executed by the order of Caliph Mutawakkil.
During the Patriarchate of Mar Youhannan III a mob of Arabs attacked and plundered the monastery of Dakil Ishu.
During the Patriarchate of Mar Mari, the Arabs of Baghdad rioted against the Christians and destroyed the church of Mart Maryam and the monastery of Dakil Ishu.
During the reign of Caliph Qadir, the Muslims sacked the houses of the Christians in Baghdad, and destroyed and burned down many of their churches. The Caliph, at the same time, destroyed the church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem, and other churches in the same city. The Caliph ordered the town criers or heralds in each place to announce that, according to the will of the ruler, all his subjects should embrace his religion. The Christians and the Jews who did so should be rewarded; if they resisted, and did not change their religion, they should be punished. They were not allowed to have rings on their right hand, nor ride on a horse (only on donkeys). If they disregarded the order, their whole property was forfeited to the state, and they were expelled from the country. Many Christians emigrated to the Roman territory, others embraced Islam, but a great number remained and defied the ordinance. They wore crosses of gold and silver around their neck to show their religion. The Caliph ordered that every Christian who wore a cross of gold or silver should have it exchanged for a wooden one, weighing 4 pounds. If they resisted, they should be put to death.
During the Patriarchate of Mar Ishuyabh IV, Kurds attacked Edessa and carried of 3000 captives.
During the Patriarchate of Mar Abdisho II, the soldiers of Sultan Toghrel Beg sacked the monastery of Kamul and killed 20 monks.
Mar denosios Saliba II murdered during a Kurdish attack in Tur Abdin, Turkey. Mar Denosios preached the Syriac orthodox theology in Bartilla, Iraq untill he was above 80 years old. (Habib Hanona, The Church of the East in the Nineveh Plain, 1991, P. 130)
Although Hulaku Khan spared the Christians of Baghdad when he sacked the city, he was persuaded by some Arabs that the Assyrians of Tikreet were disloyal. Consequently, one of every twenty men was put to death and his children were taken prisoner.
A.D.: The coming of the Kurds
Thousands of Assyrians flee the Nineveh plains villages of Bartillah, Bakhdida (Qaraqosh), Badna, Basihra, Karmlis towards Arbil to escape the overwhelming numbers of Kurds who were ordered by King Salih Isma'il to emigrate from the mountains of Turkey to the Nineveh plains. The villages were looted and thousands who did not reach Arbil were butchered by the newcomers. The nuns' monastery in Bakhdida (Qarqosh) was invaded and it's inhabitants were brutally massacered. (Bar Hebraius, Summary of the History of the lands, Arabic edition P. 492-497)
The sultan of Egypt seized Antioch, in Syria, in the month of June. All men were killed, churches torn down and many children carried into captivity. Mar Khnanishu, bishop of Gazarta, was sent to prison and condemned to death. He was stoned to death and his body was hanged on the gates of the city.
Arabs and Kurds attack Arbela, killing, looting and destroying the houses of the Assyrian inhabitants. Isa Bar Mokates (an Assyrian), the governor of Arbela, is hung by his feet and burned alive.
According to the 12th century Bar Hibraius, a battle took place among the Kurds and Tatars near the village of Bakhdida (Qaraqosh). At its end, the kurds chose 12 of the bravest and best looking young men from the village and killed them to show their strength and secure their presence. (Bar Hebraius, Syriac Civic History, Arabic edition P. 516)
Kurds attack over 70 Assyrian towns. Over 500 men are killed and 1000 children are carried away into captivity.
Kazan Khan, a mongol ruler, orders the demolition of churches in Mesopotamia. Mar Yabhalaha, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church, is imprisoned and tortured by Arabs; the church of Mar Shalita is destroyed. Here is a description of how the Holy Patriarch was treated: The Catholicos [Patriarch] was buffeted the whole night long by those who had seized him. And in respect of the venerable men who were with him, the Arabs tied some of them up naked with ropes; others cast aside their apparel and took to flight, and others cast themselves down from high places and perished. And they suspended the Catholicos by a rope, head downwards, and they took a cloth used for cleaning and they put ashes in it, and tied it over his mouth, and one prodded him in the breast with a skewer, saying, 'abandon this faith of yours so that you will not die; become a Muslim and you shall be saved'. And then a great tumult took place, and the peoples of the Arabs came with a great rush to destroy the great church of Mar Shalita, the holy martyr, and they destroyed it.
Ala Al-Din, son of Jaja, a mongol, marches against the city of Amedia in Assyria and conducts massacres, burns churches, and carries away over 12,000 Assyrians into captivity.
Arabs, with the help of the Mongols, capture Arbela and massacre all of the inhabitants that could not be sold as slaves. Here is a description of the event:"'And they [Assyrians] went out at daybreak on the Sabbath, with their sons, and daughters, and wives, without any weapon, and without a sword, and without a knife, and when the wicked people of the Arabs saw that they had come down, they were filled with a fierce passion, and they drew their swords, and they slew them from the greatest of them to the least, without pity and without fear". Of those who held out in the fortress: "Famine vanquished them completely! Widows stretched out their hands and wept, and there was none to bind up what was broken. And there was absolutely no one to bury the dead. Who was there who had strength enough to dig a grave? Orphans died on the dung heaps. Others fell down dead in their houses and dried up, and others hurled themselves down from the wall, and those [Arabs] who were below received them on their swords, and hacked them to pieces. Their visages are blacker than ashes, and they cannot be recognized. Their skins have shrunk on their bones, and have dried up, and become like wood. Far happier are those who have been slain by the sword than those who have been slain by hunger".
The Bakhdida (Qaraqosh) village is attacked Many homes as well as, 4 churches were burnt. (Habib Hanona, The Church of the East in the Nineveh Plain, 1992, P. 139)
Mar Gregorios Bit Qinaya who was exiled from Bartillah, Iraq moves to Baghdad where he was killed. (Isaac Armalah, Abna' Al-Zamaan, Lebanon, 1924, P. 43)
A.D.: The Coming of Timurlane
The origins of the Assyrian mountaineers in the inaccessible Hakkari region, as well as the disappearance of the Christians of Central and Northern Asia can be attributed to the coming of that scourge of humanity, Timur, known in the West as Timurlane, a corruption of "Timur
lenk" (Timur the Lame). He "was a fanatical Muhammadan," says John Stewart, "who was bitterly opposed to everything Christian. . .he pitilessly harassed Christians who would not renounce their faith."
A Turkish tribal leader who claimed decent from Genghis Khan, Timur established his power in 1369 by usurping Chagatni Khan in Samarkand. By 1380, he had directed his armies to Persia. Thirteen years later, he established his reign over Mesopotamia and Persia. After taking the city of Isfahan he ordered the construction of pyramids of over 70,000 human heads, and on the ruins of Baghdad his army built a pyramid of 90,000 heads. The Assyrian Christian city of Tikrit was besieged for weeks by an army of 72,000. As soon as it fell to Timur's army the entire city was devastated with its inhabitants killed.
Timur continued to march north and plundered and murdered thousands of Christians on the way. When all was done, the Assyrian Christian empire was left in ruins, with their Church of the East pushed back to Assyria and its mountains. "Christianity received no support from the feeble Il-Khans of the 14th century, and though details are wanting, it is quite certain that the Christians were cruelly persecuted; the goods of their merchants were confiscated, their churches were destroyed, and those who refused to accept Islam and could not escape were slain. . .Before the end of the 14th century Christians had practically ceased to exist in Persia, Central Asia, and China. In 1392-93, Timurlane captured Baghdad, and nameless atrocities were committed by his soldiers in the city; the Christians who managed to escape fled for their lives to the mountains of Kurdistan and the districts near Mosul." (The Monks of Kublai Khan, pp. 91-92)
A kurdish force of 10,000 attacked the Assyrian city of Urmi [in Iran], and killed, looted and carried off over 1000 Assyrian prisoners. Soon after this, the Turkish Pasha of Rawandoz sacked the villages of Alqosh and Tel Kepe, and pillaged the monastery of Rabban Hormizd, killing many monks and one bishop.
A kurdish force under the leadership of Tahmaz Nadr Shah attacks of the Christians in the region. Many monks were murdered and monasteries damaged such as the famous Assyrian Dair Mar Behnam (located 4 miles away from the ancient city Nimrod), Dair Mar Elia, Dair Mar Oraha, and Dair Mar Mikhael (all are a few miles from the ancient Nineveh). (F.. John Feye, Assyrien Christien, Part 2, P. 591)
The Kurdish leader, Rwandez, made an alliance with mayor Sifdeen against the Assyrians. He did not harm the Assyrians of Alqush and pursued those of the Syriac Orthodox Church. After crossing the Tigris, they assaulted every church and neighboring village. Among the well-known victims are:
The prince of Rawandoz (almirgur) attacked the Rabban Hurmiz monastery on the 25th of March, 1832. The Mardin born Monk Gibrael Danbo was brutally murdered. ( Father Dr. Yosif Habbi, 'Dair Rabban hurmiz', Baghdad, 1977, pp. 27).
Badr Khan Bey, A Hakkari Kurdish Amir, combined with other Kurdish forces led by Nurallah, attacked the Assyrians, intending to burn, kill, destroy, and, if possible, exterminate the Assyrians race from the mountains. The fierce Kurds destroyed and burned whatever came within their reach. An indiscriminate massacre took place. The women were brought before the Amir and murdered in cold blood. The following incident illustrates the revolting barbarity: the aged mother of Mar Shimun, the Patriarch of the Church of the East, was seized by them, and after having practiced on her the most abominable atrocities, they cut her body into two parts and threw it into the river Zab, exclaiming, "go and carry to your accursed son the intelligence that the same fate awaits him." 50,000 thousand Assyrians were massacred, and as large a number of woman and children were taken captive, most of whom were sent to Jezirah to be sold as slaves, to be bestowed as presents upon the influential Muslims. (Death of a Nation, pp. 111-112).
"In Asheetha, Zinger Beg with a force of 400 Kurds practiced the most barbarous cruelties upon the villagers of Tyari. The Assyrians bore his tyranny patiently for some time, but finally decided to put an end to it and decided to attack the garrison. They slew twenty of their numbers and besieged the remainder for the space of six days. On promising that they would immediately surrender and evacuate the fortress they were supplied with water by the Assyrians, when suddenly defying their besiegers a fresh conflict succeeded. In the midst of these renewed hostilities a company of 200 cavalry arrived from Badr Khan Beg, and turned the fortunes of the day. The Assyrians, taken by surprise, were completely routed, no quarter was given, and men, women, and children fell in one common massacre. The village was set on fire, and three bags of ears were cut off from the wounded, the dying, and the dead. And sent as trophy to Badr Khan Beg. All the chiefs of Tyari were killed in the massacre, besides thirty priests, and sixty deacons, Mar Shimoons's brother Kasha Sadok, and his nephew Jesse, and many of his relatives. In the month of October 1846, a united force of Badr Khan Beg and Noorallah Beg entered the Tkhooma district, and committed ravages too horrible to be related. During the invasion 300 hundred women and as many children were brutally put to the sword in one indiscriminate slaughter; only two girls who were left for dead on the field escaped to relate the sad tale of this horrible tragedy.
The Kurds then attacked the men, who had taken up a most disadvantageous position in a valley, where they were soon surrounded by their enemies, and after fighting bravely for two hours gave up the contest. Numbers were killed in attempting to escape, and as many as one hundred prisoners, mostly women and children, were afterwards taken from the houses, which were then fired by the Kurds, as were the trees and other cultivation in the neighborhood. These unfortunate victims were then brought before Noorallah Beg and the lieutenant governor of Jezeerah, as they sat near one of the churches, and heard their doom pronounced by those blood-thirsty barbarians: Make an end of them', said they. A few of the girls, remarkable for their beauty, were spared, the rest were immediately seized and put to death" (Nestorians and Their Rituals, pp. 370)
Estimated Property Values in Tyari:
|Places||Sheep||Oxen||Muskets||Church and House properties (in Tcerkhies)|
|Four villages of Walto||9000||1000||400||15000|
|Five villages of Lagippa||18000||200||550||27000|
|Matha d'Kasra, Leezan, Zerni||16000||220||560||30000|
|Salabeken and Be-Alatha||330||260||600||31500|
 Besides the property of Sheeno, the head of this village, valued
at 5000 Tcerkhies.
 Besides 16 mules belonging to this village, as also the property of Malek Ismaeel, valued at 100,000 Tcerkhies, and that of Chief Auraham at 7000, and that of Samano at 4000.
 Besides the property of Khiyyo, valued at 50,000 Tcerkhies; also the property of Audisho, valued at 5000 Tcerkhies.
 Also the property of Malek Deelo, and of the chief Zarwanda, valued severally at 4000 and 2000 Tcerkhies.
 Also the property of Sulmo and Shimmon, valued at 7000 Tcerkhies.
 Besides the property of Maleks Barkho, Chico, Hasaddo, and of the priest Jindo, valued at 8500 Tcerkhies.
The above table does not include the property of Mar Shimoon, valued at 50000 Tcerkhies.
After the attack upon Tyari, Noorallah exacted from the mountain
the following sums:
|From the province of Jeelu||30000 Tcerkhies|
|From the province of Baz||15000 Tcerkhies|
|From the province of Tkhoma||10000 Tcerkhies|
Estimated Property Values in Diz:
|Places||Sheep||Oxen||Muskets||Church and House properties (in Tcerkhies)|
Number of person killed in Dez: 850
 Besides the property of Malek Neesan, valued at 2500 Tcerkhies.
 Besides the property of Malek Oda, valued at 5000 Tcerkhies.
 Besides the property of the chief of Nakhwashu, valued at 3500 Tcerkhies.
In Lebanon, from April to July, more than sixty villages of Al-Matn and Al-Shuf were burned to ashes by the Druze and Kurdish forces. The big towns then followed. The Ottoman garrison commander again offered the Maronite population asylum, as he had offered to the small villages, asking for the surrender of their arms and then slaughtering them in the local serai. Such was the fate of Dayr al-Qamar, which lost 2600 men; Jazzin and environs, where 1500 were slaughtered; Hasbayya, where 1000 of 6000 were cold bloodedly killed; Rashayya, where 800 perished. The orders for Hasbayya were that no male between seven and seventy years of age should be spared. Malicious eyes feasted on mangled, intermingled bodies of old and young in the courtyard of the Shihabi palace. Zahla, largest among the towns with 12000 inhabitants, held out for a short time and then succumbed under an attack by a host including fighters from Harwan and Bedouins from the desert. The town lay snugly in a deep ravine carved by the Bardawni flowing from the Mount Sannin. Hardly a house escaped the flames. The total loss of life within the span of three months and a space of a few miles was estimated at 12000. From Lebanon the spark of hate flew to Damascus and ignited a reservoir of Muslim ill-feeling generated by the policy of Ibrahim Pasha and the egalitarian provisions of Khatti Humayun. The Assyrian quarter was sent on fire and some 11000 of its inhabitants were put to the sword.
Monday, January 1, 1895
Kurdish soldiers attack and butcher 13,000 men and women in the city of Urfa (i.e., Ancient Urhai). This time the attackers were indiscriminate, slaughtering Assyrians of various churches. One soldier, Sheik Hassan, boasted that he alone killed 40 Assyrians during that day. The Kurdish soldiers besieged the city to prevent Christians from escaping, and slowly entered the village and murdered every Assyrian in site.
Assyrian population centers were attacked in the following order:
November 3,1895 Tel Mozilt (3000 Assyrian
On the morning of November 3, the neighboring Kurdish tribes pillaged and looted the city. Abrahim Pasha, the Turkish authority in the region, immediately dispatched a force to stop the attackers. On November 4th 4, the Kurds repeated the attack, which was again arrested by the Turkish leader. This time, however, many casualties met their fate
which took Place in the Assyrian Villages in 1915
The following villages were attacked and their Assyrian inhabitants killed. The number of the casualties is unknown.
Turkish troops and Kurdish tribesmen invade and plunder the villages of Urmia.
Plundering and destruction of seventy of Urmia's villages, massacres in the plains. Unknown number casualties. "There was absolutely no human power to protect these unhappy people from the savage onslaught of the invading hostile forces. It was an awful situation. At midnight the terrible exodus began; a concourse of 25,000 men, women, and children, Assyrians and Armenians, leaving cattle in the stables, all their household hoods and all the supply of food for winter, hurried, panic-stricken, on a long and painful journey to the Russian border, enduring the intense privations of a foot journey in the snow and mud, without any kind of preparation...It was a dreadful sight,...many of the old people and children died along the way." (The Death of a Nation, pp. 119-120)
Statement of German Missionaries
"The latest news is that four thousand Assyrians and one hundred Armenians have died of disease alone, at the mission, within the last five months. All villages in the surrounding district with two or three exceptions have been plundered and burnt; twenty thousand Christians have been slaughtered in Armenia and its environs. In Haftewan, a village of Salmas, 750 corpses without heads have been recovered from the wells and cisterns alone. Why? Because the commanding officer had put a price on every Christina head.... In Dilman crowds of Christians were thrown into prison and driven to accept Islam." (The Death of a Nation, pp. 126-127)
Twenty years after the harsh memories of the New Years massacres, the new Assyrian inhabitants relived history when they were ordered to surrender their weapons to the Ottomans and Kurds. Cognizant of their recent history, they refused to comply with the Ottoman demand. The Ottoman army, under the leadership of two German officers and armed with heavy artillery, attacked and destroyed the fort (Qalaa) and its Assyrian and Armenian inhabitants. Fortunately, few did survive when the attack ceased at the government's behest to pardon the Christians.
More than sixty Assyrian notables were taken from the French mission and shot by Turkish troops. Among these was Mar Dinkha, a bishop of the Assyrian Church. "Here, then, in the ancient city of Tebarma, the scene of many previous martyrdoms, an Assyrian bishop is being led to be executed. He was not alone. He had a large company of his Christian brethren with him. What Mar Shimun Bar Sabaee, the first Assyrian Patriarch had done, during the persecution of Shapur the Magi, in the fourth century, was now to be gloriously repeated by another bishop of his church in the twentieth century. The Moslems had established a rule in asking of their victims to deny Christ and embrace Islam in order to save their lives. But weaker men and women than this body of prisoners had already chosen to be burned alive, and to be cut to pieces with aces, then deny their Redeemer! 'Be brave, take courage, be patient, falter not, be firm and look up. In a few moments we will be with Christ!' With such words he encouraged his companions in bonds, till they reached the end of their fatal journey, where they were all shot to death." (The Flickering Light of Asia, pp.49-51.)
Turkish and Kurdish troops attacked the village of Gulpashan, one of the most prosperous villages of Urmia. Almost all of the men ware shot, and most of the women were violated. March 5, 1915 About 800 Assyrians who remained in Salamas, most of whom were old people, with some of the poorer and younger women, were gathered together and killed. April, 1915 Massacre in Gawar and other districts in Turkey. The number of martyrs is unknown.
Twenty years later, the Turkish saviors of 1895 were now the attackers of the 600 Assyrian homes in cooperation with neighboring Kurdish tribes. After capturing the city, they took all the men they found between the ages of 12 and 70, a total of 475, and imprisoned them.
The next morning, the prisoners were taken out in rows of four and shot. After some arguments between the Kurds and the Turkish officials on what to do with the young boys and girls left behind, the army decided to slay them as well. Approximately 1,500 children, among them Reverend Gabrial (the red-bearded priest), were murdered. Agha Ayoob Hamzah personally butchered the Priest. (Gorgis, Deacon Asman Alkass, Jirah Fi Tarikh Al-syrian, Trans. Subhi Younan. 1980. pp. 24).
Turkish and Kurdish troops attacked their village of Gulpashan, one of the most prosperous villages of Urmia. Almost all of the men were shot, and most of the women were violated.
Massacre in Gawar and other districts in Turkey. The number of martyrs is unknown.
The Vali of Mosul begins attacks on the highlanders and destroys lower Tyari. The number of martyrs is unknown.
Djeudet Bey, Military Governor of Van, upon entering Sairt with 8,000 soldiers whom he himself called the "The Butchers' Battalion" (Kassab Tabouri), gave orders for the massacre of the Assyrians. "The Chaldean-Assyrian diocese of Sairt comprises, exclusive of the Chaldean-Assyrians of the town, more than thirty villages, not to count a large number of other villages inhabited by Jacobite-Assyrians, of whose number we are ignorant. All these prosperous villages were pillaged, looted and burned, those who dwelt therein being put the sword." The following is an almost complete list with the number of Chaldean-Assyrians inhabitants who were massacred:
(Shall This Nation Die? pp. 122-123)
Eye-witness account of the Massacres: "A certain Youssouf, son of Kas Chaya, during this time had concealed himself in the Chaldean Cathedral. Driven out by hunger, the unfortunate man left his hiding place one night and came to a house, where his sister Marian was. That very night band of persecutors arrived. We all fled to the roof in terror. Youssouf, fearing for his life, hid himself under a mattress. One of the brigands, who was following us upstairs, discovered Youssouf. He pulled him from under the mattress, threatening him with death. Youssouf bravely make the sign of the cross and cried aloud: "Jesus, into you hands I commit my soul." He asked to see his little nephew, an only son among seven sisters, kissed him tearfully and bade us farewell. With us there was also a boy of twelve, called Fardjalla, who had escaped death on the first day, and whom we had hidden with our men. Worn out by the excessive heat he had come out and joined us. He. too, was seized and began to cry, screaming: "Oh, they are going to kill me." His sister called out to him: " Do not be frightened, dear, you will be happy in Heaven." The scoundrels then took the two poor Assyrian boys outside the house, and shot them before its very door." (Shall This Nation Die? pp. 133).
It is estimated that during the winter of 1915, 4,000 Assyrians died from disease, hunger, and exposure, and about 1000 were killed in Urmia.
3, 1918: The Assassination of Mar Benyamin Shimun
"On the 3rd day of March, 1918, the Patriarch sat in his carriage, and with a bodyguard of one hundred and fifty horseman started for the headquarters of the Kurdish chieftain, Simkoo. He went to assure the notorious brigands that he could remain absolutely certain of the peaceful attitude of the Assyrians, provided his own men indulged no longer in deeds of violence and lawlessness. But was not this noble, brave and Christian attitude of a great Patriarch equivalent to the giving of bread to the dogs and the casting of pearls before the swine? The news of Mar Shimon's departure preceded him; and before his arrival, the great assassin, who could hardly believe the report, stationed seven hundred of his best marksmen in concealed and commanding positions, with the order to shoot simultaneously at the sight of the Patriarch, when he emerged from the house of their chieftain after the visit. No servant could have received his master with a great honor. The Patriarch was escorted into the house. Two of his bodyguard accompanied him within. The others remained outside. The apparent absence of the Kurds from environs of their chieftain's residence took the Assyrians off their guard. In the course of the friendly interview between the Patriarch and The Kurdish chief, one of the men who had accompanied Mar Shimon into the house, noticed from the window the presence of the concealed Kurds on the surrounding roofs. Realizing the full import of the situation, the attendant said to the Patriarch, in Assyrian: " My Lord, our end is certain, permit me to kill this dog (Simkoo) just to avenge The blood that will surely be shed." The Patriarch, with an incredulous smile, bade his attendant be calm. "My Lord," repeated the Assyrian guard, "they will surely kill us all, let me kill this dog, perhaps we can save your life!" The Patriarch restrained his attendant again. He arose to depart, accompanied By Simko to the door. The later shook the hand of his guest, and went back into the house. And just as Mar Shimon was seated in his carriage, surrounded by his bodyguard, the seven hundred Kurds fired, all simultaneously, into the group of their unsuspecting victims. Only six of these men escaped, with wounds in their bodies, to give the news of the tragedy, and tell the story of the Patriarch's assassination. " (The Flickering Light of Asia. pp. 123-125).
Malik Khoshaba led an attack against the Turks. During the attack, some 30 were killed and wounded. (the Flickering Light of Asia. p.154).
The Massacre of the Assyrians in Khoi, Persia
" In order to accommodate the mountaineer Assyrian refugees, who had fled into Persia, the Fate Mar Shimon Benyamin had arranged for some thirty five hundred Assyrians, mostly Thorn Tkhooma, to reside in the district of Khoi, These Assyrians were attacked and massacred by Kurds. Here is a description of this Moslem barbarism given by the Rev John Eshoo, who himself was one of those few that escaped in a most miraculous way from the wrath of Islam He Writes; `You have undoubtedly heard of the Assyrian massacre of Khoi, but I am certain you do not know the details Here had migrated a part of our people, and on~fourth of or refugees were stationed in Sardavar (Khoi). These Assyrians were assembled into one caravansary, and all shot to death by guns and revolvers. Blood literally flowed in little streams, and the entire open space within the caravansary became a pool of crimson liquid~ The place was too small to hold all the living victims for the work of execution. They were brought in groups, and each new group compelled to stand up over the heap of the still bleeding bodies, and was shot to death in the same manner The fearful place became literally a human slaughter house, receiving its speechless victims, in groups of ten and twenty at a time, for execution. At the same time, the Assyrians, who were residing in the suburb of the city, were brought together and driven into the spacious courtyard of a house. . .The Assyrian refugees were kept under guard for eight days, without anything to eat except a handful of popcorn served daily to each individual, This consideration was by no means intended as a humanitarian act, but merely to keep the victims alive for the infliction upon them of the most revolting tortures at a convenient time set for their execution. At last they were removed from their place of confinement and taken to a spot prepared for their brutal killing. These helpless Assyrians marched like lambs to their slaughter, and they opened not their mouth, save by sayings "Lord, into thy hands we commit our spirits~= The procession of the victims was led by two green turbaned Sayids (the highest religious order in Islam), one with an open book in his hand, reading from it aloud the passages pertaining to the holy war, and the other carrying a large bladed knife, the emblem of execution When the procession arrived at the place appointed, the executioners began by cutting first the fingers of their victims, join by joint, till the two hands were entirely amputated~ Then they were stretched on the ground, after the manner of the animals that are slain in the Fast, but these with their faces turned upward, and their heads resting upon the stones or blocks of wood Then their throats were half cut, so as to prolong their torture of dying, and while struggling in the agony of death, the victims were kicked and clubbed by heavy poles the murderers carried Many of them, while still laboring under the pain of death, were thrown into ditches and buried before their souls had expired- The young men and the able-bodied men were separated from among the very young and the old They were taken some distance from the city and used as targets by the shooters They all fell: a few not mortally wounded One of the leaders went close to the heaps of the fallen and shouted aloud, swearing by the names of Islam's prophets that those who had not received mortal wounds should rise and depart, as they would not be harmed any more. A few.- thus deceived. stood up, but only to tall this time dead by another volley from the guns of the murderers. Some of the younger and goodly looking women, together with a few little girls of attractive appearance, who pleaded to be killed. against their will were forced into lslam's harems. Others were subjected to such fiendish insults that I cannot possibly describe. Death. however, came to their rescue. and saved them from the vile passions of the demons.' The Assyrian victims of this massacre totaled twenty-seven hundred and seventy men, women and children," (The Flickering Light of Asia, pp. 156-58)
The Battles of Urmia and the Final Exodus of the Assyrians
The Assyrians, within the space of six weeks, fought fourteen victorious baffles with the Turks. Number of martyrs is unknown. (The Flickering light of Asia, pp. 165)
The Massacre of the Assyrian Soldiers at the Port of Sharabkhana
"Assyrians took a chance by sending a boat with one hundred and sixty men to attempt the bringing of the much-needed ammunition left n the port. The captain of the boat was a Russian who betrayed them. They arrived at the port. It was observed by the Turks and the Moslems of Tabriz The Assyrians landed. As they began to move toward the storehouse they saw the enemy coming. They fought their way back to reach the boat, but the boat was gone! It was driven Farther out into the lake by the Bolshevik Russian captain. The Assyrians were captured and their bodies were literally mutilated. The fragments of their bones and skulls were later gathered [and]. . . were buried in the Christian cemetery." (The Flickering Light of Asia, pp. 16).
Exodus From Sayen Kala to Hamadan
"The sufferings of the Assyrians throughout the long, tedious and hazardous journey from Urmia to Hamadan, are simply indescribable. In their haste for flight, many of these people failed to take provisions with them for the journey. And those who managed to do so, took only a supply that would last them a day or two, or possible three, the longest, as they fully expected that they would meet some where on the road, and not very far from Urmia, the returning Assyrian general (the late Agha Petros) and his men, together with the British expediationary force. The county through which the caravan of the refugees passed was exclusively Moslem in population. The entire land had already become more than once a regular campground for the heterogeneous forces of Turkey, who had left it almost desolate and barren. There was, therefore, very little, if any, left to have been commandeered by the Assyrian forces. Consequently, when the small rations were exhausted, and the journey continued to become longer, the refugees tried to subsist on vegetation only. Diseases broke out among the multitude, and was followed by the ravages of cholera. And as the fleeing Assyrians were now being pursued by the enemy they had no time to bury their dead. or to carry with them those who were held in the agonies of the dreaded contagion. It was perhaps a merciful sword, even though appl~ed with the vengeance of demons, that came in time to shorten the fearful sufferings of the dying. Before Hamadan was reached, more than fifteen thousand bodies had been left behind unburied, and their bones have since transformed the narrow valley, in which they tell or were killed, into one of these melancholy scenes beheld by Ezekial the Prophet. Naturally the progress of the refugees with th aged and the little children was very slow. The moslems of Urmia headed by a Persian general, by the name of Majidel- Saftana, had started on the pursuit. During the night, as the Assyrians were resting near Sayen Kala, and as they fell asleep from fatigue and exhaustion, the pursuers stationed themselves over the hills that commanded the narrow road that followed the course of the river which runs zigzag through the valley. As the morning broke, and the weary pilgrims began to rub their eyes, a most murderous fire was opened into the dense crowd. Before Azaria Khan could scale the hills with a body of his men to drive the enemy away, some five thousand more Assyrians had fallen dead! The crowds were so dense that the victims fell like leafs as from autumn trees. The Persian General, after this heartless slaughter of women and children, sent a telegram to his superiors, in Tabriz; the telegram Read: `I have sent a few more thousand dogs into hell.'" (The Flickering Light of Asia, pp. 176-77)
The Massacre of the Assyrians in the French mission
"The French mission buildings were sheltering more than six thousand Assyrian refugees. The murderers, led by Arshad el Hemayoon, entered with every conceivable weapon, from a long sword to a wooden mallet. They commenced with little children and infants. The latter were held by their tiny feet and their heads dashed against the walls and the stone pavements. The older ones were held up by the hair of the head, hanging, while their bodies were severed by one stroke of the sword. The little girls were publicly assaulted and then cut in twain. Women had their breasts first cut off, and then pierced by daggers. Others were taken to the roofs of the buildings, and from there dashed to their death into the streets below. Others had their hands and their limbs amputated by sickles and axes, and then had their skulls crushed by wooden mallets.The spacious courtyard became impassable from the still bleeding fragments of the victims' mutilated bodies while blood literally leaked from the floor of each building to the one below. Of the entire number of the Assyrians, estimated at more than six thousand, in the French mission buildings alone, not more than sixty souls remained who escaped in a miraculous way; and all the rest were put to death in less than forty-eight hours, the official time for the application of the mandate of the Jehad." (The Flickering Light of Asia, pp. 184)
Assyrian Exodus From Persia to Baquba
Many thousands perished in this exodus through starvation, diseases and massacre; others were taken in captivity. As a result of this terrible journey which lasted 25 days, 7000 more Assyrians died after their arrival in the British camp at Ba'quba.
1923 Dair Al-Salib
The Kurdish Shaikh Saeed and his armed soldiers attacked many Turkish and Assyrian villages After conducting a country-wide search for the criminal, the Turkish government received a fake letter stating that he had sought refuge in the monastery of Dair Al-Salib. The government immediately sent a large army and demolished the monastery, massacring the innocent inhabitants and other visiting Assyrian villagers. (Gorgis, Deacon Asman Alkass, Jirah Fi Tarikh Al-syrian, Trans. Subhi Younan. 1980. pp. 111).
Nineteen Assyrians men were killed in a battle against the Sheik of Barazan (The British Betrayal of the Assyrians, pp. 121).
An Assyrian Ashita priest from the village of Sarsang was killed (The British Betrayal of the Assyrians, pp. 169).
- 1923 The Kirkuk Incident
Assyrian women who had gone shopping were suddenly attacked by Arak Turkmen butchers with their knives. Several women and men were wounded in addition two Assyrian children who were killed. (The Tragedy of the Assyrians. p. 166).
At the village of Kouba near Bab Chikchik, four Assyrians were attacked. Two were killed and two were wounded. (The British Betrayal of the Assyrians, pp. 166)
Eight Assyrian soldiers were killed, during the fight with the Iraqi army on the Syrian-Iraqi borders. (The Assyrian Tragedy, pp. 49)
The Iraqi army returned to Mosul and right through its way began a systematic massacre. At the same time the Qaimaqam of Zakho, ahmed al-Dibuni tortured 46 Assyrians to death (The Assyrian Tragedy, pp. 52)
11 - 16 1933: The Simele Massacre
"The Assyrian population of the village of Simel was indiscriminately massacred; men women, and children alike. In one room alone, 81 Assyrians from Baz were barbarously massacred. Priests were tortured and their bodies mutilated. Girls were raped and women violated and made to march naked before the Arab army commanders. Holy books were used as fuel for burning girls. Children were run over by military cars. Pregnant women were bayonetted. Children were flung in the air and pierced on to the points of bayonets. In Dohuk 600 Assyrians were killed." (The Assyran Tragedy, pp. 53-54)
of the Massacre
"Suddenly and without the least warning the troops opened fire upon the defenseless Assyrians. Many fell, including women and children, and the rest ran into the houses to take cover... A coId blooded and methodical massacre of all the men in the village followed... This took some time. Not that there was any hurry, for the troops had the whole day ahead of them. Their opponents were helpless and there was no chance of any interference from any quarter whatsoever. Machine gunners set up their guns outside the windows of the houses in which the Assyrians had taken refuge, and having trained them on the terror- stricken wretches in the crowded rooms, fired among them until not a man was left standing in the shambles. In some other instances the blood lust of the troops took a slightly more active form and men were dragged out and shot or bludgeoned to death and their bodies thrown on a pile of dead. (The Tragedy of the Assyrians, pp. 172)
It is estimated that 3000 Assyrians were massacred during august of 1933 however, the following lists only give the names of the Assyrian martyrs that could be accounted for and verified (British Betrayal of the Assyrians).
showing names of Assyrians massacred between 11th and 16th August 1933,
in the Mosul Liwa
|Names of Persons Killed||Tribe||Remarks|
|Priest Assani||Lawan||Strangled with a cord|
|Priest Adam||Tkhuma||Burned alive|
|Rais Goriyil Shimun||Baz|
|Rais Mushi ilaron||Baz|
|Rais Shima isa||Baz|
|Rais Taitu David||Baz|
|Dr. Hakim Barkhu||Baz|
|Shimun Qasha Zia||Baz|
|Rais Jindu||Barwar Qudchanis|
|Rais Yacub||Barwar Qudchanis|
|Rais Hawel||Barwar Qudchanis|
|Rais Odishu||Barwar Qudchanis|
|Rais Bakus||Barwar Qudchanis|
N. B The above persons whose bodies could not be identified, were killed in Dohuk and Simele. Lists of two thousand others are under preparation.
Statement showing names of Assyrians brutally assassinated
to the "official massacre" and referred to in Mar Shimun's radiogramme
of September 16th, 1933, sent from Nicosia to Geneva.
|Names of Persons Killed||District|
|Dinkha Samano||Barwari Jairi|
|Khoshaha Adam||Barwari Jairi|
|Yokhannan Yonan||Barwari Jairi|
|Odishu Pithyti||Barwari Jairi|
|Shimun Iyyar||Barwari Jairi|
|Tamar Alaroguil||Barwari Jairi|
|Shimun Maicko||Barwari Jairi|
|Yaku Alakko||Barwari Jairi|
|Benyamin Mamo||Barwari Jairi|
|Jiwo Yaqu||Barwari Jairi|
|Elia Adam||Barwari Jairi|
|Shaba Shlaimun||Barwari Jairi|
|Shaba Yokhannan||Barwari Jairi|
|Yokhannan Giwargis||Barwari Jairi|
|Shimun Odishu||Barwari Jairi|
|Sliwu Majji||Barwari Jairi|
|Dinkha Hormizd||Barwari Jairi|
|Zia Qawila||Barwari Jairi|
|Yokhanna Yonan||Barwari Jairi|
|Giwargis Kinkha||Barwari Jairi|
|Chikku Dadishu||Barwari Jairi|
|Chaya Ruwal||Barwari Jairi|
|Lawandu Yonathan||Barwari Jairi|
|Qasha Mansur||Barwari Jairi|
|Guzi, wife of Shmiwal Majji||Aqra|
|Bibi, wife of Dinkha Hormizd||Aqra|
|Wife of Qasha Toma||Dohuk|
of Assyrian Villages Looted During the Time of the Massacre.
|Names of Villages||Qadhas|
N. B. The greater part of the above villages were burnt down after they were looted.
The Assyrian Tragedy, (see p. 68), that remarkable document, shows that property and cash to the value of 1,776.400 rupees was looted by the Iraqi army, the police and the civil official -- Qaimaqams included.
Thousands of Assyrians suffered after the massacre through poverty and famine, and if only the booty was recovered and refunded to its rightful owners, hundreds of babies and old men and women would not have perished under the British eyes as they have been.
Attack on Habbaniyah
Assyrian Levies totaling less than 1500 soldiers defended Habbaniyah from 14,000 Iraqi regular troops and over 50,000 Arab tribesmen. They fought valiantly, but the losses of the Assyrian defenders were also considerable. (The Assyrian National Question, pp. 153).
and 1946: Massacres in Azerbaijan and Other Northern Regions of Iran
During these disturbances hundreds of innocent and peaceful Assyrians were massacred in cold blood, deported and imprisoned by the Iranian military. According to the petition sent by the late Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII on behalf of the Assyrians in Iran to the Secretary General of the United Nations, 24 villages were wholly or partially looted and burned. "In the town Of Adda, both of the arms of one Assyrian, named Charles, were cut publicly; he was then burned to death by means of kerosene. In the town of Mushawa, Eramyah's eyes were dug out while alive, and he was then tortured to death. In town of Khananisha, Abrahams's fingers (both hands) were cut off and he was then forced to eat them in the presence of his parents. In the town of Salamas, Father Giwargis was cut to pieces in the church (Mart Maryam). In the same Church, many women and little girls were raped and numerous men tortured to death. In the city of Rezaieh, a parade of nude Assyrian women and little girls put to shame even the ruthless Moslem criminals." (Petition in Behalf of the Assyrians in Iran, pp.2)
- Barwar, Iraq
Thirty-three Assyrians were killed by the forces of the Kurdish chief Mustafa Barazani. The Following is the list for the names of those who were killed:
Esho Jajou Belathi Sliwo Aprim Choushino Belathi Jajou Mandou Youkhana Belathi Loqou Hanou Sliwo Odisho Belathi Bobou Shamizden Youkhana Belathi Kasha JaIlou Parto Belathi Shamasha Gewargis Markos Odisho Belathi Pityou lather of Zadouq Jajou Sliwo Bolathi Youkhana Toman Ishac Belathi Gewargis Londo Yonan Yousip Zaya Daoud Sawa Chokhaya KashaWarda Marcus Bet Hanou Chobou Bet Qashisha Warda Gisou Baba Dishbata Dinkha Qisrani Hasdo from Daraah Hasdou Hasdou's brother from Sardashi Baba brother of Eshaya
Two Martyrs could not be identified (History of Mar Youalaha of Barwar, pp. 42-43).
Margaret Giwargis "The Assyrian Lioness" was killed by Kurds in Aqare Sorya.
The Labanon civil war
During the Labenese civil war, Assyrians fought side by side with their Syriac Maronite brethren against the fundamentalist muslem forces. Many gave their life in combat or as victims to civilian bombing. Below is a partial list of the heros who died in combat defending the Christian communities:
(Al-harb fi Lebannon, By Esho Mandu
1989, pp. 21).
1980 to 1988 - Saadam Husayn's Invasion and War Against Iran
Prior to the outbreak of hostilities, the Iraqi regime exiled thousands of Iraqi citizens to Iran on the charges that they were of Persian ancestry. Many Assyrians were induded in this illegal and barbarous act. During this bloody war, it is estimated that up to 10,000 Assyrian men from Iraq were killed. The most disturbing aspect of this tragedy is that many of these Assyrians, who were fighting for a regime that has continuously persecuted them, were killed in cold blood by their own Arab countrymen, iust for being Assyrians. Many eyewitnesses to this betrayal have confirmed this fact. Furthermore, the Assyrians have suffered from the fad that the war caused there to be thousands of Assyrian prisoners of war in Iran and further exile of Assyrians to Iran where thousands of Assyrian non-combatants are housed in refugee camps. The number of civilian Assyrian casualties in the cities and villages of Iran and Iraq also remains unknown.
Three Assyrians were executed by the Ba'ath facist regime 6f Iraq for distributing literature against the Arabization policies of the government. The martyrs were Yousip Zaibari, Youbert Shlemon, and Youkhanna Jajjo. Recently, the Ba'ath regime of Iraq has killed an Assyrian family of the city of Ein- Kawa. The names of this unfortunate family are; Polous Aziz Sheba (Father), Meska Wardina Sheba (Mother), Hamama Polous (Daughter), Sabiha Polous (Daughter). An Assyrian man, Mr. Hirmiz Nicola of Kirkuk (born in 1964), upon his return to Iraq from Greece, was promptly arrested and brutally executed. (Ashur International, July 1989, pp. 2).
The fate of the Assyrians in the anfal campaign Barely two weeks after the arrival of the first deportees at Baharka, the official lowdspeakers announced that some of the camp's inmates should present themselves at the police station without delay. Those singled out were either Assyrian and Chaldean Christians or members of the ezidi sect. What happened to these two groups remains one fo the great unexplained mysteries of Anfal: a brutal sideshow , as it were, to the Kurdish genocide. A few days later, a single khaki-colored military bus arrived, accompanied by an army officer and nine or ten soldirs, to pick up twenty-six people from the Assyrian Christian village of Gund Kosa. ... None of those who was bussed from the camps ever reached their homes, and noe was ever seen in the camps, such as Mansuriya (Masirik) and Khaneq, that were set aside for relocated Christians and Yeszidis. The inescapable conclusion is that they were all murdered. An Assyrian priest interviewed by HRW/Middle East said that he had assembled a list of 250 Christians who disappeared during Anfal and its immediate aftermath. (Iraq's Crime of Genocide, 1995, Human rights watch, pp. 209)
|Shlemon Youkhana||Helaneh Dawood||5||Bash||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Hormiz ShmooYousif||Sherenh Khoshaba Audisho||6||Bash||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Shabo Shmoel Yousif||Khinzada Youkhana||-||Bash||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Narsa Warda Shlemon||Yasmeh Youkhana||7||Bash||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Eshaya Warda Shlemon||Melo Sada Mikhae||2||Bash||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Goriel Youkhana Kasha||Warda Badreh Khnano||1||Bash||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Esho Oraha Shela||Chebeh David Yousif||3||Bash||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Hormiz Kena Giliana||Bash||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Youkhana David Youkana||Khawa Sawa||8||Karo||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Marbina David Youkhana||Julia Leon||5||Karo||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Ismail David Yoykhana||Nazeh Youkhana||1||Karo||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Eskharia Aziz Yacoub||Karo||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Daniel Juna Juna||Karo||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Goriel Aziz Abdal||Karo||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Hamaneh Mikhael||(elderly women)||Karo||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Baito Yousif Mikhael||Karo||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Farida Esa Oraha||4||Wela||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Warda Esho Warda||Monera Marogel Mesho||1||Derekne||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Warda Ismaeil Zaka||Melo Marogel Mesho||7||Derekne||Deralok||Dohouk|
|Nimrod Dinkha Gewargis||Moska||Kanamaseh||Dohouk|
|Beplo Warda Daniel||Kanebalas||Kanamaseh||Dohouk|
|Nabil Yousif Youkhana||Kanebalas||Kanamaseh||Dohouk|
|Napleon Yousif Youkhana||Kanebalas||Kanamaseh||Dohouk|
|Anwar Shahen Dawwod||Dawoodeya||Kirkuk|
|Moner Elia Yousif||Dawoodeya||Baghdad|
|Amir Eshaq Oraha||Tel-Kep||Nineveh|
Five Assyrians were shot and butchered by Kurdish Turks in the village of Mzezakh.
(Furkono Magazine, Vol. 1, Issue 3, October 1997, pp. 43)
Francis Shabo (a member of the Northern Iraqi Parliament and a member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement) assassinated in Dohuk. Many believe that the Assassination was caused by his activism in promoting unity among the various Assyrian religious groups (eg. Chaldean, Nestorean, and Syriac) as well as his active participation in the Investigative committee on resolving Assyrian land and village expropriation.
Ninos Samir murdered in Zakho by Kurds.
Zaya Yonadam murdered in Arbel by Kurds.
Mr. Edward Khoshaba of Aqla was tending his sheep last year when he came across 3 Kurds who had killed and butchered some of his livestock. When confronted, the Kurds attempted to kill Mr. Khoshaba. Mr. Khoshaba was able to kill two of the attackers before the third fled to his home village. Reportedly, when the Kurd returned to his home village, a celebration had ensued as the Kurdish villagers had assumed that the Kurdish intruders had successfully killed Mr. Khoshaba in addition to his livestock. When they learned that 2 of the Kurdish intruders had died instead, the entire village mobilized to exact revenge.
Mr. Khoshaba likewise fled to an area controlled by his Assyrian compatriots. A standoff ensued for some time until Mr. Khoshaba's parents (fearing a wholesale escalation in violence) convinced Mr. Khoshaba to turn himself in to the local authorities for an investigation and trial. Needless to say, the Kurdish authorities released Mr. Khoshaba to the relatives of the Kurdish intruders. He was tied up in their village and eventually butchered into hundreds of pieces on March 6, 1995. Prior to his death, he was reportedly struck in the head repeatedly by an axe by one of the elder women of the village. NONE of his murderers have been brought to justice. There has been no investigation of these crimes. There has been no investigation of the authorities who evaded their responsibilities.
The Kurdish leader who reportedly heads this village is Qaem QamFarzanda Zbeer. Mr.Zbeer has now extended his threats, persecutions, and vast land expropriations to the Assyrian village of Hzarjat.
On January 13, 1996 Wassan Mishael, a sixteen year old girl from Simel was kidnapped by armed Kurds. She was threatened and forced to renounce her Christian faith. Then she was forced to marry one of the Kurdish kidnappers. The attackers have been found and identified. The information has been brought to the attention of the local governmental officials. There has been no investigation. None of the attackers have been brought to justice, there has been no trial.
On January 20, 1996 Janet Oshanna, a 13 year old girl from Mal-Urab near Zakho was kidnapped by an armed man named Khorsheed Uthman Galash. The kidnapper has subsequently been identified and all information has been provided to the authorities. No investigation has been carried out. The attacker has not been brought to justice. The young girl has not yet been returned to her family
In Ankawa, a militia group affiliated with the Kurdish Student coalition attacked an Assyrian Student gathering and killed Peris Merza, the assistant director of the Assyrian Democratic movement headquarters in Arbel, and Samir Moshi, a guard at the Ashur Television Station. These two Assyrians tried to peacefully stop the attack by the Kurdish mob on the Assyrian youths gathered at the Assyrian student club.
An Assyrian priest, Benyamin Hurmiz, 39, and his uncle Sargees, a deacon, were killed by a shell while standing in the priest's garden, in the village of Diana.
On April 27, 1997, an unarmed Assyrian from Shaqlawa, Mr. Sabri Odo Sowrish (58 years old) was assassinated while he worked in his store in Sedara, Arbil. He was struck by three bullets fired from a silencer. Shortly thereafter, another assassination attempt by means of a silencer was directed against another Assyrian from Ankawa while he was working in his store in the center of Arbil. The Assyrian defended himself and was lucky to survive the attack. The assailant escaped.
Iskandar Araz and his wife were attacked at their home in the village of Mzezakh in Southern Turkey by Turkish Kurds. (Syrian Orthodox Resources, 1997)
On 13/12/97 a group of militants belonging to the Kurdish Labour Party (PKK) attacked six Assyrians through in the district of Mangeesh-Duhok, Northern Iraq. Two of the Assyrians were killed immediately and the others were wounded; the armed group killed the four wounded. Wardia Yousif, the wife of one of the victims, Naji Mikho, survived and was wounded in her leg. The victims were:
On Wednesday, December 9th, 1998 Mrs. Nasreen Hana Shaba born in 1963 and her young daughter Larsa born in 1995 were killed when a bomb exploded in their home. The bomb was planted by unknown assailants in the home of Mr. Najat Toma, located in the district of Terawa in Arbil. Mrs. Nasreen Hana Shaba and her daughter Larsa were killed when they opened the door to their home, which triggered the bomb.
Assyrians visiting from Iraq have reported that bombings of such technical sophistication must be engineered by these same major Kurdish organizations or the Iraqi regime. Since the Kurdish groups are in control of the area, have remained silent, and have refused to mount any investigation into the attacks, it is generally believed that these Kurdish groups are responsible for the attacks.
(AINA and Bahra [magazine of the Assyrian Democratic Movement] reports).
According to press releases by the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) on January 7, 1999, the Assyrian Patriotic Party (APP) on January 9, 1999, have documented an increasing spiral of violence directed at the Assyrian community in northern Iraq. According to the press releases and independent visitors from northern Iraq an explosion targeted an Assyrian convent in the Al Mal’ab district of Arbil in December 1998. The most recent explosion being on January 6 in the 7th of Nisan area of Arbil. This most recent bomb was planted at the front doorsteps of Fr. Zomaya Yousip. Fortunately, no casualties were reported but the home sustained extensive damage.
In another incident, a Kurdish assailant using a shotgun shot Mr. Rimon Emmanuel in the back as he returned home from work in Bebad, Iraq. Mr. Emmanuel sustained several buckshot to his back and head but survived with severe injuries. Local Kurdish authorities dismissed the case against the assailant after "influential" Kurds in the area intimidated Mr. Emmanuel into dropping charges.
|Helena Sawa, 21 year old Assyrian woman murdered in North Iraq|
Ms. Sawa was a twenty-one year old Assyrian from the village of Bash in the Nerwa o Rakan region of Dohuk province. Ms. Sawa was the daughter of Mr. Aloun Sawa, an Assyrian member of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Mr. Sawa died in 1991 and was formally recognized by the KDP as a martyr and, as is customary for fallen fighters of the KDP, the party had promised a pension to the Sawa family in recognition of the sacrifice made by Mr. Sawa. After only two monthly stipends, however, the pension was inexplicably denied to the Sawa family while other Kurdish families continued to receive their pensions.
When the Sawa family appealed to the KDP for reinstatement of the pension, the KDP instead suggested that the Sawa's turn over their young daughter Helena to work as a housekeeper for a senior KDP leader in order to continue the monthly payments. Thus, out of desperation the Sawa's were obliged to ask their daughter to work for a pension that other Kurdish families were provided outright. Consequently, Ms. Sawa came to work in the home of Mr. Azet Al Din Al Barwari, a higher echelon KDP operative and a leading member of the political bureau of the KDP. Ms. Sawa lived and worked in the Al Barwari home and was allowed to return to her family's home only once monthly.
Most recently, Ms. Sawa was expected home for her monthly furlough from work on May 5, 1999. When she did not arrive at her family home, the concerned Sawa family inquired regarding Helena's whereabouts. The Sawa family had already been deeply troubled about Helena's well being since she had appeared agitated and distraught on her previous visits home. Mr. Al Barwari and the KDP denied any knowledge about Ms. Sawa's whereabouts since she was alleged by the Kurds to have left the Al Barwari home on May 3. The KDP offered no assistance in searching for Ms. Sawa. Mr. Al Barwari has used his authority within the KDP to intimidate the Sawa family into not pursuing an investigation of the crime. Once again, the KDP’s reluctance to launch an investigation and Mr. Al Barwari’s intimidation has led many Assyrians to suspect KDP and Al Barwari complicity in the murder of Ms. Sawa.
More than four weeks after her disappearance,
Ms. Sawa’s shallow grave was discovered by a shepherd tending his
The decomposed body was partially exposed and appeared to have been
eaten by scavenging wild animals. The Sawa family was brought to the
site in order to provide a positive identification of the remains of
body. Following identification, the body was exhumed and taken to a
hospital for examination. Because of the mysterious circumstances of
Sawa’s murder and the family’s belief that she may have been raped, an
autopsy was requested. However, because of Kurdish intimidation, the
report has been delayed and is not expected to be scientifically
Compiled by the Staff of the Ashurbanipal Library: Robert DeKelaita, Marina Eshoo, Pauline Jasim, Peter BetBasoo, Robert Karoukian, David Malick, Raymond Malko, Lazar Marcus, Sargis Sangari. Updated in 1997 and onward by members of the Assyrian Academic Society: Peter BetBasoo, Firas Jatou, Mark Yowanes and Raman Michael.