Tehran (AINA) -- Hundreds of Assyrians held a demonstration in Tehran against the continuing genocide of Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) in Iraq. The latest attack against the Christian Assyrian community was the massacre of 58 Syriac Catholic Assyrians at Our Lady of Deliverance church in Baghdad on October 31.
Protestors called attention to the systematic campaign of violence targeting Assyrians since June 26, 2004, when the first church was bombed. Since that time, 66 churches have been bombed, 15 priests and bishops and hundreds of Assyrians have been killed and nearly half have fled to Syria and Jordan.
In April, 2003 Assyrians were 8% of Iraq's population, today they are 4%. Of the 2 million Iraqi refugees in Jordan and Syria, 40% are Assyrian. Of Iraq's three main ethnic groups, the Assyrians are the only indigenous group. Kurds are from Iran, Arabs are from Saudi Arabia. Assyrians are the only people that are native to Iraq.
According to Assyrian community leaders, Assyrians deserve protection and special consideration as the only indigenous people of Iraq. They are unarmed and cannot defend themselves. If Iraq cannot protect them, they should be allowed to protect themselves. Assyrians must be given an autonomous region in north Iraq, where they can govern themselves, setup their own police force, and protect themselves from radical Islamists. Attempts to do this have been blocked by the Kurds (AINA 6-24-2006).
Assyrians are calling for a special commission, under the auspices of the UN or an independent Iraqi prosecutor, to investigate the Baghdad church massacre and recommend steps to insure the safety of Assyrians.