Assyrian National Petition
Assyrian National Petition presented to the World Security
Conference in San Francisco, California USA on May 7, 1945 by His
Holiness, Mar Eshai Shimun.
Printed by Kimball Press, New Jersey - USA on March 25, 1946.
PETITION IN BEHALF OF THE ASSYRIAN NATION*
THE PATRIARCHATE OF THE EAST
6346 N. Sheridan Road
To the Hon. Alger Hiss
San Francisco, California
THE ASSYRIAN NATION of
today is the remnant of the once great Assyrian Empire, and the greatest
missionary Church the world has ever known. Their status as a
millet, "nation", under the leadership of their Patriarch, known as the
Patriarch of the East, was recognized and tolerated under the Parthians,
the Sassanides, the Arab Khalifs, the Mogul Kahns, and the Ottoman
Until World War I,
the Assyrian nation lived in the mountains of Kurdistan to the North
of Beth-Nahreen (Mesopotamia) and around Lake Urumia, in Persia,
under the spiritual and temporal leadership of their Patriarchs.
The Assyrians in
Kurdistan, although nominally subjects to the Turkish Government,
enjoyed a great measure of autonomy. The Turkish Government
satisfied itself with a tribute paid through the agency of the
Patriarch, His Holiness the Mar Shimun, a title used by the successive
Patriarchs to signify the foundation of the Church of the East by Saint
ASSYRIAN NATION IN WORLD WAR I
This was the state in
which the Assyrian nation lived prior to the outbreak of the First World
War. The respective European powers — England, Russia, and France
— had for many years been interested in the Assyrian nation in view of
the strategic position which they held, and their undeniable quality as
soldiers. The representatives of these Powers made regular tours
among the Assyrians, disseminating the propaganda of their respective
governments — an act which the Assyrians were unable to avoid and the
Turkish Government (equally) powerless to prevent.
increased the suspicions of the old Turkish Regime against the
Assyrians, suspicions which were for the most part unwarranted and
grossly exaggerated; but the fact is that these suspicions did exist, and when
the tragic hour struck in 1914, the small Assyrian Nation was among the
first to suffer the tragic consequences over which it had no control.
In a document such as this, it is not possible to go into detail of the
series of happenings which have already been documented by various
whether with the knowledge of the central government or through
instigation of local Turkish officials, the Mohammedan Kurds carried out
a wholesale massacre of the Assyrians of the district of Albaq Gawar;
men, women, and children alike were slaughtered, only young women being
spared to suffer the worst fate of Harem life. The then Patriarch,
Shimun, alarmed by the tragedy, called a general meeting of all the
leaders of the nation, composed of both the bishops and the Maliks who
met in Diz on the 18th of April, 1915.
lengthy deliberations it was unanimously decided that — in view of the
fact that the Turkish Government had failed to observe its solemn
obligation to safeguard the lives and property of the Assyrians — the
Assyrian nation accept the invitation of the Allies and particularly
that of England, France, and Russia to join the common cause and to
fight to the victorious end as their
reply to the ultimatum of the Assyrian nation, the Turkish Government
informed the Patriarch Mar Benyamin Shimun that if the Assyrians
joined the Allies, his brother Hormizd, then a student at Constantinople
(and held as hostage) would be put to death. The Patriarch who had
hitherto exhorted his people to be patient in suffering, remained
unmoved by the threat. Hormizd was accordingly put to death most
the meantime, the Patriarch made a personal contact with Chernosoboff,
Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Eastern armies, who was then in Salmas
in Northwest Persia and who informed him that due to pressure on the
Western front, the Russian armies were then actually withdrawing from
Persia, and therefore, the help promised to the Assyrians was not
forthcoming. It was at this time that the Assyrians around Lake
Urumia suffered a terrible fate at the hands of the incoming Turkish
armies and the Kurdish and Persian irregulars. The Assyrians in
Kurdistan, in the meantime, had set a line of resistance west to the
Vilayet of Mosul and northwest on the Persian border. They were
attacked incessantly by powerful units of the Turkish army and swarms of
Kurdish irregulars, yet they held on tenaciously for about four months,
but being vastly outnumbered both in men and material, they finally had
to retreat, and join the Russian Forces who had by now returned to
Salmas and Urumia. Here they were organized into regular units and
armed by the Russians, and they distinguished themselves in many an
engagement against the common foe.
However, the Russian
Revolution of October, 1917, left the Assyrian nation stranded, and had
from now on to fight alone against the Turks, the Persians, and the
Kurds. In fourteen major battles the Assyrians were victorious,
but the incessant pressure of the Turkish Regulars and the Kurdish
irregulars necessitated a shortening of the line.
This action on the part
of the Turkish army was motivated by the fact that the Assyrian army was
threatening seriously the northern flank of their armies that were
engaged in a deadly combat with the British armies in Mesopotamia and
In the meantime, our
supplies were getting exhausted; the Assyrians were being persistently
attacked from the north by Ali Ehsan Pasha's 5th and 7th divisions, from
the south by the 6th division under Haji Ebrahim Beg, from the west by
the 12th division under Haidar Beg, while in the east we had our backs
to Lake Urumia. Indeed, the situation was growing desperate.
It was at this juncture
that the British Government through the agency of Captain George F.
Gracey (D.S.O.), who was acting under the orders of the
Intelligence Service, came especially for the purpose from
Van — his headquarters — to encourage the Assyrians to organize their
resistance against the Turks. At a conference held in
December, 1917, or early January, 1918, in the name of England, Capt. Gracey undertook to furnish immediately the funds necessary for the
payment of the troops and non-commissioned officers. For the
future he promised, the proclamation of
the independence of the Assyrian nation.
Colonel Nikitine, the Russian Vice Consul, and Monsieur Paul Coujole, a
French Medical Officer, Chef De L'Ambulance Francaise du Caucase, were
present on the occasion and have testified to the fact.
was also on this occasion that, on the advise of Captain Gracey, the
Patriarch Mar Shimun Benyamin, accepted an invitation to a meeting with Simko Agha, a Kurdish Chief, at which the Patriarch, along with about a
hundred leaders who accompanied him, were murdered treacherously.
This was the greatest blow the nation could have suffered.
Soon after this, K. M. Pennington, a British Flight Officer, who, at a great
risk to his life, landed on a grazing ground with a message from the
British General in Hamadan, urging us to make contact in Sainkala with
the British unit under the command of J. J. McCarthy, one hundred miles
south of Tabriz and about half way between Urumia and Hamadan.
At the command of the
Patriarch, Polos Mar Shimun XXII, who succeeded the Patriarch Mar
Benyamin, an Assyrian force under the leadership of General Petros Elia
(one of the Assyrian Commanders) along with the bishop Mar Yosip1
effected a junction with McCarthy's unit.
However, the help thus
promised and which was sorely needed never reached the Assyrians, now
concentrated in the Urumia district. The Turkish
forces in the meantime increased the pressure, and then it was found
that the British Forces, which were already locked in a deadly combat
with the Turks and harassed by swarms of Arab irregulars, would not be
able to help the Assyrians effectively.
it was decided to make contact with the British forces in Hamadan.
A general retreat took place; forcing their way through a hostile
territory, the Assyrians finally reached the British Forces in Hamadan.
It was during this — the worst Odyssey in the history of the nation —
that thousands of men, women, and children alike died of starvation and
disease. Thus ended the first Assyrian chapter of the horrors of
World War I, little revealing that a worse fate was yet in store for
this gallant remnant of the most ancient Christian church and nation.
ASSYRIAN NATION UNDER THE BRITISH
IN THE MEANTIME,
thousands of Assyrian refugees were moved to Baquba, near Baghdad, where
the British military authorities had established a great camp for their
reception, and very good care was taken of them. Their
able-bodied men at the same time, however, were formed into a military
force, or otherwise employed for other useful purposes connected with
The first Assyrian
force under the British command — and headed by Rab Khaila David d'Mar
Shimun, father of the present Patriarch — were from now on employed
with telling effect against the successive Kurdish and Arab uprisings.
Under the command of
General Knightingale, the Assyrian Army went into action in July, 1918,
against the Kurds of Amadia district, who had murdered a number of
British officers. The revolt was broken, and thereafter the
Assyrians were used by the British to police Mesopotamia and Kurdistan
in order to smash the successive rebellions by the Arabs and the Kurds.
By the admission of the then Civil Commissioner2 in Iraq:
the Assyrian force that saved the swamping of our rule in the Arab
revolt and it was they who (as the C.O. in the field, Colonel Cameron,
declared) rolled back the Turkish invasion of Iraq in 1922 and 1923 at a
time when the Iraqi troops were utterly unfit to take the field
following letter was received by the present Patriarch from Colonel
J. J. McCarthy, who headed the British military Mission to Persia
during the World War I:
I have sent a copy of a memorandum I have written on the Assyrian
question from the time your people joined forces with us against the
Turks in 1918 up till six months after the Armistice was signed.
I have made a strong point of the fact that your people were
definitely promised by me (acting under orders from headquarters, of
course) that they would have their country restored to them, and
that my orders and only reason for raising the Assyrian contingent
in Hamadan in 1918 was to drive the Turk out and reoccupy the
I do hope the
Foreign Officer will do something and do it now and before it is too
late. No good can come out of delaying matters and the British
Government should face the position and do the right thing.
It is all very
difficult I know, but surely not impossible. After all,
England is a big nation and we did, I suppose win the war?
However, we didn't lose it, and if we had, there would have been a
different story to tell.
It is clearly our
duty to fulfill promises made to people who stood by us when we were
in urgent need of all the help forthcoming. We did not
have too many staunch and loyal friends in the East in 1918.
Few people realize what your unfortunate people suffered and are
still suffering in return for their loyalty to England. I will
do my best to make known the terrible hardships they suffered under
my own eyes. Never shall I forget that retreat from Urumia
when I met the panic stricken people on Bidjar Road and never do I
want to see anything like it again.
One thing is now
certain and that is they cannot be left to the tender mercies of the
Arabs, whose one ambition in life appears to be to destroy them.
This of course, was very obvious to anyone who cared to think long
before the last trouble.
Arnold, dealing with the services rendered by the Assyrians, states:3
"They gave their services freely, not to the Arab, but to the
British Government, in the hope that a measure of justice would
some day be vouchsafed to them. We had used them so freely
against Turks, Arabs, and Kurds alike."
Baquba camps were closed, and the Assyrians for all
practical purposes were let loose by the British to seek a solution
to their own problems. About half the Assyrians made their way
back to their ancient home in the Hakkiari Mountains in Kurdistan,
which was now no man's land. The rest were dispersed
throughout Iraq to eke such existence as they could; some were
settled as tenants to Arab and Kurdish land owners, and others found
such employment as were available.
The majority of the
Assyrians from Urumia also found their way back as subjects to the
Persian Government, but a considerable number of them, apprehensive of
the future, remained in Iraq.
Early in 1921, a
conference was held in Cairo, Egypt, and a definite plan for the
formation of the future Assyrian Levies4 was now decided upon by His
Britannic Majesty's Government, which was as follows:
Assyrian Levies are to
relieve the British and Indian troops in Iraq, take over the outposts in
Mosul district and Kurdistan, previously held by Imperial garrisons and
fill the gap until such time as the Iraqi national army is trained to
undertake these duties.
British officers such
as Captain MacNarny and Captain Renton embarked on an intensive campaign
persuading the Assyrians to join the Levies; they traveled into Hakkiari
and reached the remotest Assyrian villages in Kurdistan.
The Assyrians believing
that the British Government meant to observe the promise of a national
home (made to them) responded unanimously.
An Assyrian Force of
6,000 strong, known as the
Assyrian Levies under the British command and led by Rab
Khaila, General David d'Mar Shimun5, along with Assyrian officers, was
trained and equipped during the year of 1922. In 1923, the
Assyrian Levies were placed under the command of the Royal Air Force and
commanded by Colonel Commander H. T. Dobbins (D.S.O.),
1922-1926. The Turkish threat to the Mosul Vilayet was imminent;
they stirred up the Kurds to rebellion against the British.
The Assyrian Levies were used successively both against the Turkish
regulars and the Kurds, who inflicted defeat upon the latter in numerous
engagements, and thus saved Iraq from total disaster.
however, increased the hatred of all the
Moslem elements against the Assyrian Christians, which were
now looked upon as an effective instrument in the imperialistic policy
of the British Government. Thus depleted of their man power (all
the able-bodied men having enlisted in the Levies), the Assyrians in
Hakkiari were now suddenly attacked by the Turkish Forces and for the
second time since 1915, they were again ousted from their homes.
It must be said that on
this occasion, the British once more, despite the timely S.O.S., failed
to give any assistance to the Assyrians in defending their homeland.
In the meantime, the British and the Turks were disputing the ownership
of the Mosul Vilayet, and the strongest argument presented by the
British in their claim was that since the Assyrian nation had been
dispossessed of their homeland by the Turks, they must be recompensed by
a similar settlement within the Mosul Vilayet.
It was upon this understanding that the League of Nations awarded the Mosul Vilayet to
Iraq rather than to Turkey, acting on the advice of the League of
Nations 1925 Inquiry Commission, which had stated:6
"It is not our duty to enumerate all the conditions that would
have to be imposed on the sovereign state for the protection of
these minorities. We feel it our duty, however, to point
out that the Assyrians should be guaranteed the re-establishment
of the ancient privileges which they possessed in practice, if
not officially, before the War."
"Whichever may be the sovereign state, it ought to grant these
Assyrians certain local autonomy, recognizing their rights to
appoint their own officials and contenting itself with a tribute
from them, paid through the agency of their Patriarch."
recommendations, however, remained a dead letter, and no serious
attempt was ever made to honor them.
In the meantime, the
Assyrians in Iraq continued to suffer untold hardships, mental,
physical, and spiritual alike -- disappointed and disheartened in the
extreme by the failure of the British Government to fulfill its promises
towards them -- and looked upon with great suspicions by the Iraqi
Government and constantly attacked by the Iraqi press as a foreign and
unwelcome element -- they felt uneasy of the dark future facing them.
The Iraqi army was
jealous of the achievements of the Assyrian Levies as a military force
and looked upon them as an instrument in the hands of the Mandatory
Power, rather than an asset to Iraq.
Individual cases of
injustice against the Assyrians were piling up, and they could expect no
justice from the Iraqi Government or the Iraqi courts.
majority of those settled as agriculturists were settled in malarious
places, all of whom became afflicted with malaria resulting in a very
high rate of mortality, approximating in the case of adults 30% while in
the case of infants it exceeded 50%.
ASSYRIAN CASE BEFORE THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS
THE ASSYRIAN NATION, apprehensive of its future, petitioned to the League of Nations to find
a solution of its problem before the
mandate over Iraq was lifted.
1932 the ASSYRIAN LEVIES, fearful of the future of their families in
accordance with the terms of their contract, gave the British
authorities one month's notice, at the end of which period they were to
lay down their arms. A national meeting was called at which the
representatives of the Assyrian Levies were also present and on June 17,
1932, a national petition was sent to the
League of Nations
and to the British Government in which a number of specific requests
were made to insure the integrity and safety of the Assyrians.
On a definite promise
given by the British High Commissioner, Sir Francis Humphreys, to
support certain specific claims contained in the national petition, I
was requested to use my influence with the Assyrian Levies and urge them
to continue in service. This I did successfully. The
Assyrian Levies did continue in service. However the promises made
by Sir Francis Humphreys were not kept -- and I returned from Geneva
Iraq was in the
meantime admitted into the League of Nations on a specific undertaking
given by the British Government, which stated:
King George V
Majesty's Government fully realized its responsibility in
recommending that Iraq should be admitted to the League of Nations
which was in its view the only logical way of terminating the
Should Iraq prove
herself unworthy of the confidence which had been place in her the moral
responsibility must rest on His Majesty's Government, which would not
attempt to transfer it to the Mandates Commission.
the meantime, the Iraqi press embarked on a violent campaign of
suspicion and hatred against the Assyrians with the full knowledge and
encouragement of the Iraqi Government.
April, 1933, I was invited to Baghdad by the Iraqi Government to discuss
the settlement and a few days later was informed that I was under
detention. The agitation against the Assyrians, in the meantime,
took even a more violent and threatening aspect -- it was now directed
on religious issue. At the same time the Assyrian leaders with
whom I was not permitted to communicate, were subjected to all sorts of
ill-treatment, the plain object of which was to drive them into despair.
The climax came during
a meeting held in Mosul on the 10th day of July, 1933, when the
Mutasarif (Governor) and his British adviser, Col. R. F. Stafford, told
the Assyrian leaders to either submit to the policy which the government
had decided for them — which was contrary to the letter and spirit of
the homogeneous settlement recommended by the League of Nations —
or else leave Iraq. The Assyrians did leave Iraq.
On July 14th and 15th,
1933, an Assyrian group of a few hundred men, carrying their rifles
which they had legally acquired on the termination of their service in
the Levies, left Iraq for Syria. The rifles were carried only as a
means of protection while passing through hostile territory and upon
arrival in Syria were handed to the French.
On reaching Fesh Khabur
on the Syrian frontier, they wrote informing the Iraqi authorities of
their action and assuring them of their peaceful intention and begging
that their families and the rest of their compatriots, who may wish to
join them, be permitted to do so.
In the meantime the
wires between London, Paris, Iraq, and Syria clicked incessantly, and
the Assyrians were told by the French authorities that they must return
to Iraq. Their arms were given back to them.
full force of the Iraqi army and a few thousand gendarmes and the Iraqi
Air Force which had been in the meantime rushed up to the border, fully
armed and prepared for a day such as this, were waiting on the other
side of the River Khabour. The Assyrians were assured of the good
intentions of the Iraqi government, their only intention being to reach
their families; they accepted the assurances and forded the river.
But instead they were fired on from every side by the Iraqi army with
every weapon at their disposal. A battle ensued in which about
three hundred Assyrians engaged the whole of the Iraqi army. Those
Assyrians that were able to break through the Iraqi lines reached their
villages, and about half of them re-crossed into Syria and were interned
by the French. Losses on both sides were light and it was hoped
that this would be the end of it and the incident would close.
However, the fanatic Iraqi army, led by the notorious Bakir Sidqi, and
the equally ruthless Yasin Pash Al Hashimi (the Prime Minister) and
Hikmat Sulaiman (the Minister of Interior) a wholesale massacre of
unarmed Assyrians, men women, and children alike followed — it was
conducted by the Iraqi army in uniform.
massacre has passed into history as one of the ghastliest scenes of
all times. To quote a British officer7 in the service of the
"I saw and heard many terrible things in the great war, but what
I saw in
Simele is beyond human imagination."
this was not all -- the perpetrators of the massacre were decorated;
Bakir Sidqi was elevated to the rank of Pasha, and each of the
others, responsible for the horror committed on the defenseless
Assyrians, was rewarded in some way or another.
On August 18th, 1933, I
without trial and deported from Iraq to the Island of Cyprus in the
Mediterranean. After great efforts I was able to secure a permit
from the British Government, which enabled me to proceed to Geneva, and
plead the Assyrian case before the League of Nations.8 My earnest
plea for an inquiry commission to be sent to Iraq to investigate the
facts leading to the massacre and the existing situation of the
Assyrians was ignored.
John Simon, the British Foreign Minister, speaking at Geneva on
October 14th, 1933, on the Assyrian massacre stated:
"... At the same time, those facts could not possibly be regarded
as justifying the excesses which had been committed. The
apportionment of blame, however, was a somewhat barren
the meantime, efforts were made by the League of Nations to find a home
for the Assyrians outside Iraq, but with no result. Finally the
French Government offered a settlement in the region of the Ghab in
Syria. However, owing to circumstances unknown to the petitioner,
the French later declared that the scheme could not be carried through.
Thus the question
remained unsolved and the Assyrians were left in a worse plight than
before. Those in Iraq were left in the same condition as prior to
the massacre, in addition to the fact that they were now hated and
despised more than ever.
eleven thousand or so, victims of the massacre, who had been settled
temporarily on the River Khabur in Syria, were told that they had to
remain there. This was the situation of the Assyrians in Syria and
Iraq in 1937. All these years I have not been permitted to visit
Nevertheless, we all
hoped and prayed that time -- the great healer -- might in due course
effect a cure; and the Assyrians may at last find peace and rest.
In the meantime, however, the dark clouds of strife and war were growing
daily more ominous, and it was clear that the nations of the world would
soon find themselves locked in the deadliest combat of all times.
ASSYRIAN NATION AND WORLD WAR II
THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT,
fully realizing the seriousness of the situation, had once again
embarked on an intensive campaign of recruiting every able-bodied
Assyrian, and thus bring the Levy force to required strength.
The Assyrians again
responded unanimously, so that by 1940 (when the war was declared) every
Assyrian between the ages of 17 and 45 had volunteered in the Levies.
It was the Allied cause again — the cause of democracy — which had
failed them badly in the last war; nevertheless, they believed again
that the Allies would this time do justice to their cause.
Therefore, when the
well organized Axis-fomented rebellion broke out in Iraq in 1941, led by
Rashid Ali Al Gailani, the Assyrian troops numbering a few thousand
strong, were the only Force on which the British could rely to save this
vital route of communication and supply for the Allied Nations.
It must be remembered that in 1941 Great Britain was fighting with her
back to the wall against all the Fascist hordes.
She needed every friend
and such friends in the Middle East were sadly lacking.
May 2, 1941, the Iraqi Army marched against, and attacked, the Royal Air
Force base at Habbaniyah near Baghdad. It was stated that
the Iraqi strength around Habbaniyah was estimated at about 15,000
regulars and about 45,000 irregulars composed of Arab Tribesmen, and
they were assisted by the Iraqi and the German Air Force, which was now
operating from Baghdad, Mosul, and elsewhere in Iraq. The
Assyrians fought valiantly — assisted only by certain units of the
King's own regiment which was flown from Egypt and a small number of
Royal Air Force fighter planes — and finally defeated the enemy
inflicting heavy losses upon them. The losses, on the part of the
Assyrian defenders, were also considerable. They followed the
enemy to Fellujah where it tried to make a last stand, but they finally
defeated and destroyed him completely.
The value of the
services thus rendered by the Assyrian troops at this juncture lies in
the fact that they not only defeated a rebellion of considerable
proportion and thereby put an end to similar uprising which might have
been in the making; but its special significance for Allied strategy as
a whole lies in the fact that:
- By saving Iraq from the
Axis, the Assyrians saved the Iraqi oil which was vital to the
maintenance of the Allied fleet, as well as the air and ground forces in
the Mediterranean theatre of war.
- They saved the only
overland route by which the Allies — the United States of America, and
Great Britain — were able to help the Great Russian Ally.
- The occupation of Iraq
by the Germans would have laid open the back door to Palestine, Egypt,
and indeed the whole of the Middle East countries.
- They contributed to the
defense of the whole of the Middle East — they have been employed in
Iraq, Palestine, and Cyprus. Strong Forces of Assyrian
troops have also been employed in Dalmatia, who have distinguished
themselves against crack German divisions.
These are only some of
the major exploits of the Assyrian troops. Thus, the Assyrian nation,
the smallest ally, has proved itself to be of the greatest value to the
cause of all the Allied Nations, and of which they are justly proud.
Air Commander J. L. Vachell, a British Officer, writing in an English
magazine, THE QUEEN, states:9
"The period between the two wars they, the Assyrians, were
primarily responsible for safeguarding our air fields in Iraq
and for providing the ground forces which are an essential
complement to air control. Not only did air control in
Iraq save this country many millions of pounds, but is served as
a model which was extended to several parts of the Empire.
What is not generally appreciated is that, after severe
disillusionment during that period, the services of the
Assyrians during the present war have exceeded anything they did
before. Had it not been for their loyalty at the time of
Rashid Ali's German-inspired revolution in Iraq in May 1941, our
position in the Middle East might have become most precarious.”
On the other side of the picture, however, lies a gloomy future,
one that is based on the most bitter experience of the past.
They have again been used to crush a rebellion by the Arabs of
Iraq — one that was equivalent to a holy war. In the
struggle, though much against their desire, they had to kill
many a Moslem — a fact which no good Moslem can forget.10
It is a
repetition of the events that brought about the savage massacre of
1933 upon them, and they are fearful of the future. The
Iraqi Government has already proved itself unworthy of the
confidence placed in it, and the British Government has been unable
to protect their life and property. The Iraqi Government itself
has been subject to one Coup d' Etat after another, many of its
high ranking officials have died a violent death or fled into exile.
Therefore, it is clear that even if there were some favorably
inclined officials in Iraq, they would never have the ability to give
protection to the Assyrians.
Air Commander J. L. Vachell in his foregoing article in The Queen,
referring to the services rendered by the Assyrians covering the present
conflict (World War II), stated further:
"They were unpopular with the people of Iraq before
Rashid Ali's revolt, and the large part which they played in the
discomforture of the Iraqi army at that time will no doubt
rankle for years.
Sir, with these facts in view, I as the Patriarch and legal
representative of the Assyrian nation, have the honor to bring to your
attention the plight of this ancient Christian nation, which now stands
at the cross-roads which spell total extermination — or survival.
Along with its disappearance would also disappear the most ancient
Christian Church in Christendom — one of the richest cultures the world
has ever known — and the Aramaic
language, the language of Christ, which is the language of the Assyrian
church and people.
What is more, the thousands of Assyrians who have died for the cause
of freedom and justice along with the millions of those of United
Nations, would have died in vain. It is the principle that matters
and not the quantity; justice is indivisible. It is small nations
such as the Assyrians that need protection, and not vice versa.
With firm faith in the guarantees of the Atlantic Charter and the
subsequent declarations pertaining to freedom, justice, and equality for
all peoples, both large and small, and relying upon justice of our cause
and above all in the Almighty God, Author of all justice, I submit to
your Honor this petition for the consideration of the proper
The Assyrians are a people who existed in the Middle East from the
dawn of history. Assyria is
their home, and by reasons of history they have an undisputed right to
their survival as a people in that home.
In consequence of the last War (World War I), they are now settled in
many countries, viz.: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Russia, United States of
America, and other countries. If such a home were granted them
under an international organization that is to be set up, they would
congregate in that home, which would enable them to live free from want
and fear, and to preserve their Christian faith, their language, and
their ancient culture. The Assyrians are a peaceful people and
anxious to live with all their neighbors in peace and amity, and to
cooperate with them to the fullest extent, irrespective of religion or
creed. With this end in view, I offer my prayers to the Lord God
of Hosts for an early termination of the present conflict (World War
II), the success of the conference of Allied Nations, and the
international organization that is to evolve therefrom.
I have the honor to be, Excellency,
Catholicos Patriarch of the Church
of the East and the Assyrian Nation
Dated May 7, 1945
* But for few minor typographical corrections and other slight
matters, the text of the original petition has been kept intact.
The footnotes were no part of that Petition.
They are added to this edition only for elucidation and corroboration of
the text of the Petition.
1. And Zaya d'Beth Mar Shimun, brother of the
2. Lt. Col. Sir Arnold Wilson (K.C.I.E., C.M.G., D.S.O., M.P.),
Mesopotamia: A Clash of Loyalties. London: Oxford University Press, 1929, p. 291.
3. Lt. Col. Sir Arnold Wilson's article “The Crisis
in Iraq”, in the Nineteenth Century Magazine, October, 1933, p. 415.
4. “The Assyrians saved the British Army from
utter disaster in 1920.” — Lt. Col. Sir Arnold Wilson's
Mesopotamia: A Clash of Loyalties. London: Oxford University
Press, 1929, p. 291.
5. Father of the present
6. League of Nations Document, C 400 M. 147, 1925,
VII, p. 490.
7. “The Crisis in Iraq,” p. 412.
8. This was given only after the British authorities
had exacted a written statement from the Petitioner pledging him to
remain silent while in England. Thus it was that he was unable to
place before the British public the true facts of the Assyrian case, or
to defend himself against the many false accusations lodged against him
by those antagonistic to the just cause of the Assyrians.
9. March 9, 1944, “Our Smallest Ally”, p. 10-11.
10. Capt. Somerset Struben De Chair stated with
resounding accent: “The Iraqi coup had failed by so little and the
Iraqis hate the Assyrians; more than they hate the British, did they
hate the Assyrians . . . and once more the British Empire owed so much
to few . . . ” — The
London: Faber & Faber. 1944. p. 48.
State of Assyria
after Assyria |
Identity in Ancient Times and Today
Assyrian Statehood: Yesterday’s Denial and Today’s Moral Obligation
Assyrian Christians' Dilemma in Iraq: Outlook and Solution
The Assyrians: A Debt of Honour
League of Nations — The Settlement of the Assyrians, a Work of
Humanity and Appeasement
ANNEMASSE: The Assyrian Tragedy |
Assyrian National Petition
Agha Petros and the Lausanne Telegraphs
The Deportation of the Assyrians in Ottoman Documents
1831-1937 — Sayfo
Genocide, in Arabic)
Villages and Monasteries