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Turkey: Assyria

The Assyrian genocide took place alongside the Armenian and Greek genocides and is more widely known as part of the Armenian genocide. In 2007 the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) formally recognized that Assyrians were part of the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the empire which constituted genocide. In 1914 the Ottoman Empire began to deporting and massacring the Assyrians. Their villages were destroyed, thousands died from famine and disease as well as from forced marches. There was also kidnapping, sexual slavery, and pillaging of property. An estimated 250,000 - 400,000 Assyrians died during that time period.


In August 1933 Assyrians were again victims of genocide known as the Simele massacre. The Iraqi soldiers and Kurdish militia killed an estimated 3,000 men, women, and children. Women and girls were raped and children were run over by military cars. Youkhanna Biro was only six months old at the time and recalls the story his mother told him. His mother fled Simele carrying him in her arms but his crying was a risk for her and the others in the group. She had to decide to leave him behind or leave the group; she chose to save him. Like many other displaced Assyrians, he still faces persecution and oppression and hopes that one day he'll able to return home.

YouTube - Assur History

Assyrians have repeatedly been discriminated against for centuries. Since 2003 hundreds of thousands have been forced out of their homes. Many have fled their homeland or have been displaced in other countries. Those who choose to stay have been victims of, kidnappings, torture, and harassment. To this day their health and safety is still at risk.


In June 2014 the Assyrians along with the Yazidis and other minorities in Mosul and the Nineveh Plains were forced out of their homes. This ten-minute documentary reveals the humanitarian crisis in Iraq and was filmed in September 2014. Many families that were displaced are living in unsanitary conditions with no bathroom or anywhere to shower. Some wonder what they did to deserve this; their lives stolen from them and everything in their homes down to their dishes. One woman recalls seeing a father with three children throw one of them off a cliff to save the rest of his family. Another mentions that she would rather commit suicide. One lady asks what's the point of talking and being filmed; people come and record them then leave and feels as if they've become a joke. People there and in other are scared to return to home because they have no protection.

Vimeo - The Last Plight

The population of Assyrians in Turkey has has downsized drastically to about 25,000. The Assyrians in Turkey are fighting for property rights for Mor Gabriel, a Syriac monastery that is sacred to them. Different lawsuits have been filed against the monastery and they see it as a form of harassment. To this day the Assyrians in Turkey are still facing threats and discrimination.


A few Assyrians living in California due to the diaspora share their experiences of how oppression has affected them and their community. One man mentions that because of the ongoing persecution Assyrians face, some of them are not against President Trump's travel ban on majority-Muslim countries but it's also problematic because it keeps the refugees trying to survive out. In Iraq and Syria there are Assyrians in refugee camps waiting on their paperwork so they can leave and come to a safe environment. One refugee family who made it here after 5 years of waiting are thankful; the mother no longer has to worry if her son's school is getting bombed and they can practice their religion freely.


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