(AINA) -- Seventy one years ago, on August 11th, 1933, the new Iraqi state, having gained nation status with the ending of the British mandate, decided to usher in its new found independence with a wholesale massacre of 3000 Assyrians in the village of Simmele and its surroundings, in North Iraq. On August 8, 1933 General Bekir Sidqi, a Kurd, led Iraq's new army, along with Kurdish irregulars, to the village of Simmele, where he promised that no one would be hurt if the Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) surrendered their arms. Believing themselves to be citizens of Iraq, and having done nothing to provoke a military action, the villagers surrendered their arms on August 10th and were then massacred in a three day blood orgy (account of the massacre).
It was Iraq's "final solution" to the Assyrian "problem." General Sidqi was declared a hero, and was greeted with fanfare and jubilation in the streets of Baghdad upon his "victorious" return. The Simmele Massacre was significant in that, unlike the religiously motivated Turkish Genocide of Assyrians (and Greeks and Armenians) in World War One -- a genocide named Sayfo (the sword) by Assyrians -- it was for the first time an action directed against the Assyrians as a nation rather than as a religious group, though religion certainly played a large part in it.
Assyrians commemorate the Simmele Massacre on August 7th every year, a date which has become the Assyrian National Memorial Day. It is a day for Assyrians to pause to reflect on, pray for and ponder on their martyrs. Since the coming of Islam there have been 33 genocides large and small against Assyrians, at an average of once every fifty years, with the largest one occurring in World War One at the hands of Turks and Kurds, which claimed 750,000 Assyrians (75% of the population).
The following is a brief list of Assyrian Memorial Day activities through out the world:
The Assyrian American National Federation, which was founded in 1933 in response to the Simmele Massacre, will hold a memorial service at The Assyrian Martyrs Monument at Montrose Cemetery, followed by a dinner offered by Mar Odisho Church in the church basement. There are 90,000 Assyrians in Chicago.
The Assyrian Democratic Movement and the Chaldean Federation of America will commemorate Chaldo-Assyrian Martyr's Day, with speeches and poetry readings. Detroit is home to 120,000 predominantly Roman Catholic Assyrians (Chaldeans).
New Britain, USA
Commemoration services will be held at the Assyrian National Association of Connecticut.
San Jose, USA
The Assyrian Democratic Movement, Mar Yosip Assyrian Church of the East, St. Mary's Assyrian Chaldean Catholic Church, Assyrian Presbyterian Church of San Jose, Assyrian Evangelical Church of San Jose, Bet-Eil Assyrian Church and the Assyrian Universal Alliance will hold Memorial Day commemorations at Mar Yosip Assyrian Church of the East.
A commemoration program will be presented by the Assyrian Youth Federation of Sweden (AUF) in cooperation with Bethnahrin Association of Culture in Botkyrka. This program is part of the 3 day Asharidu Festival presented by AUF.
The Assyrian Society of United Kingdom will hold a commemoration service at the Assyrian House. The society has produced a video of Assyrian martyrs.
The Council for Assyrian Research and Development will hold Assyrian Genocide Awareness Day. The activities include a demonstration at Queens Park and a political Rally at Humber College, with lectures by Assyrian scholars.
A church service will be followed by an opening of a war memorial dedicated to the Fallen Victims of Genocide and War, at Saint Hurmizd's Cathedral.
The Assyrian Assembly of Lebanon will commemorate Martyr's day. A church mass will be followed by an official renaming of the Bosherieh neighborhood square to "The Assyrian Martyrs Square", and the predominantly Assyrian neighborhood of Bosherieh will be renamed "The Assyrian Quarter". A rally will follow in the church club hall, with four speakers.