Phoenix (AINA) -- Nearly 30 Assyrians marked the 40th day anniversary of the Baghdad church massacre at Our Lady of Deliverance Syriac Catholic Church on October 31, when 58 Catholic Assyrians were killed while attending Sunday mass. The Islamic State of Iraq, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The 40th day is a special day in Assyrian culture. Funeral commemorations for a deceased are held on the 3rd, 7th and 40th days, as well as on the one year anniversary.
Prayers were offered at the vigil and the names of the victims of the Baghdad church massacre were read. The mood was solemn.
A 40th day prayer service was also held in Baghdad today, at Our Lady of Deliverance church where the massacre occurred (AINA 12-10-2010).
Click here for full coverage of the Baghdad church massacre.
The prayer vigil in Phoenix was organized by Organization for National Existence (ONE), a group founded on November 11 in response to the Baghdad church massacre. ONE organized the November 8 protest in Phoenix which was part of simultaneous protests by Assyrians in 20 cities around the world (AINA 11-10-20).
According to Ronda Younan, director of public relations for ONE, the group was founded by Steven Darmo and already has 75 members, mostly Assyrians but including Muslims and Jews, and is growing steadily.
"We are working to establish an Assyrian autonomous region in north Iraq," said Ronda Yonan, "as stipulated in Article 125 of the Iraqi constitution. We feel this is the only viable solution for Assyrians in Iraq."
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).