Washington (AINA) -- Nearly one hundred demonstrators rallied in Washington on Saturday for the Christian Assyrians of Iraq, calling for an end to the continuing ethnic cleansing campaign against Assyrians. The rally was prompted by the October 31 church massacre in Our Lady of Deliverance Syriac Catholic church in Baghdad, in which 58 Catholic Assyrians were massacred by members of the Islamic State of Iraq, an Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Click here for full coverage of the Baghdad Church Massacre.
A systematic A genocide has been ongoing in Iraq since June 26, 2004, when the first church was bombed. 66 churches have been bombed since then, and thousands of Assyrians killed. Nearly 50% of Assyrians have fled to Syria and Jordan (report).
The rally was attended by Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs), Iranian Christians, Copts, Armenians, Mandaeans and various Muslim groups. Speakers included
- William J. Murray, Chairman of Religious Freedom Coalition
- Reverend Patrick J. Mahoney, Christian Defense Coalition
- Kenneth Timmerman, internationally renowned journalist
- Faith MacDonnell, Institute on Religion and Democracy
- David Lazar, American Mesopotamian Organization
- Juliana Taimoorazy, Iraqi Christian Relief Council
- Lawrence Mansoor, student
Statements were issued by the Mandaean Organization, Council of American Islamic Relations, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, and the Iraqi Embassy.
58 flowers, representing the deceased from the Church massacre, were placed by the White House. The first flower was placed by a young child, Adam Enwiya, as a symbol of new birth. A young woman knelt for 45 minutes in prayer as speeches were given.
The majority of speakers focused on the rights of the Christians in Iraq and demanded the American and the Iraqi governments support Iraq's Assyrians in obtaining an autonomous region within Iraq, which is allowed under Article 125 of the Iraqi Constitution, which guarantees the administrative, political, cultural, and educational rights of Assyrians and other minorities in Nineveh and other areas where they are concentrated. Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, has expressed support for establishing an Assyrian autonomous region (AINA 11-19-20).
After the rally a meeting was held with Reverend Patrick Mahoney to discuss a plan of action to help the Assyrians, Iraq's only indigenous people. The meeting was held at the offices of Faith and Action.