from 1915 to the 1958 Iraqi Revolution detailing the plight and suffering of the Assyrians
The Assyrians of today
are the indigenous Aramaic-speaking descendants of the ancient Assyrian people, one of the earliest
civilizations emerging in the Middle East, and have a history spanning
over 6750 years.
Assyrians are not Arabian, we are not Kurdish,
our religion is not Islam. The Assyrians are Christian, with our
own unique language, culture and heritage.
Although the Assyrian empire ended in 612 B.C., history is replete with
recorded details of the
presence of the Assyrian people until the present time.
Assyria, the land of the indigenous Assyrians ["Our
Smallest Ally"], was partitioned after World War I by the victorious Allies, and is currently under occupation by Kurds, Turks, Arabs and Persians.
The Assyrians are a stateless people and continue to be religiously and ethnically persecuted in the Middle East due to Islamic fundamentalism, Arabization and Kurdification
policies, leading to land expropriations and forced emigration to the West.
“There is no class of Mohammedans that can be exempted from blame.
The villagers joined in the looting and shared in the crimes of
violence, and Persians of the higher class acquiesced in the outrages
and shared in the plunders.
“The Kurds were in their natural element. The Turks not only
gave occasion for all that happened, but were direct participants in the
worst of the crimes.
“... there were various causes; jealousy of the greater prosperity
of the Christian population was one, and political animosity, race
hatred and religious fanaticism all had a part. There was also a
definite and determined purpose and malice in the conduct of Turkish
“It is certainly safe to say that part of this outrage and ruin
was directly due to the Turks, and that none of it would have taken
place except for them.”
— Arnold Toynbee Papers and Documents on the Treatment
of Armenians and Assyrian Christians by the Turks, 1915-1916, in the
Ottoman Empire and North-West Persia.
Published as a Parliamentary British
Blue Book in 1916 titled:
“Miscellaneous No. 31: The Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman
Assyrian Information: Chapter IV Azerbaijan and Hakkari |
Documents No. 27-45, pages 99-192 | Documents No. 147 and 148, pages
Currently available and titled:
The Treatment of
Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915–1916
Treatment of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, 1915-1916
(1916, PDF version, 25 MB file)
The Pitiful Plight of the Assyrian Christians
Plundering, massacres and destruction of seventy of Urmia's villages in the plains.
“There was absolutely no human power to protect these unhappy
people from the savage onslaught of the invading hostile forces.
It was an awful situation. At midnight the terrible exodus began;
a concourse of 25,000 men, women, and children, Assyrians and Armenians,
leaving cattle in the stables, all their household hoods and all the
supply of food for winter, hurried, panic-stricken, on a long and
painful journey to the Russian border, enduring the intense privations
of a foot journey in the snow and mud, without any kind of
preparation... it was a dreadful sight... many of the old people and
children died along the way.”
a Nation (PDF version, 11 MB file, pp.
Statement of the German Missionaries
“The latest news is
that four thousand Assyrians and one hundred Armenians have died of
disease alone, at the mission, within the last five months. All
villages in the surrounding district with two or three exceptions have
been plundered and burnt; twenty thousand (20,000) Christians have been
slaughtered in Armenia and its environs. In Haftewan, a village of
Salmas, 750 corpses without heads have been recovered from the wells and
cisterns alone. Why? Because the commanding officer had put a
price on every Christine head... In Dilman, crowds of Christians
were thrown into prison and driven to accept Islam.”
Death of a Nation (PDF version, 11 MB file, pp. 126-127)
The Pitiful Plight of the Assyrian Christians
Please visit the
Assyrian Holocaust and
Assyrian History Timeline: 1900's sections for eyewitness
World War I, the powerful countries of Great Britain, France and Russia
met to decide on the Partition of the Ottoman Empire’s territories after
the war had ended. In what was called,
"The Sykes - Picot Agreement", April 26th - October
23rd, 1916, in which Mosul (Nineveh) was decided to
be zoned as a territory under France’s control.
This secret agreement was made public by the new Bolshevik Government of
Russia after the revolution (this agreement was to remain top secret and
Assyrian groups were scheduled to participate in the Peace Conference in
Paris, France; Assyrian delegates from the United States, Iraq and Iran.
The Assyrian group from
Iran arrived first, included S. Ganja, L. George and L. Yacoboff, and
since Great Britain feared the presence of a group which she can not
control, not having much authority in Iran, the British forced the
Assyrian delegate of Iran to leave Paris and not participate.
Then the Assyrian
delegate from the USA arrived which included: S. Raji, M. Shakour,
A. Barsoom, B. Bakous, A. Ablahad, A. K. Yousuf, R. Najeeb, G. Zabouni,
S. A. Namiq and Rev. J. E. Werda.
Their demands were
basically to establish an Assyrian independent territory including
northern Bet Nahren beginning from the lower Zab River, Diyar Bakir and
extending to the Armenian mountains and under the protection of the
Rev. Joel Werda in his petition concluded;
have the most conclusive proofs to show that the Assyrians were urged by
the official representatives of Great Britain, France and Russia, to
enter into the war on the side of the Allies, and were induced into a
state of belligerency with the most solemn promises of being given a
free state. The Assyrians, therefore, having risked the very
existence of their nation, and having made such appalling sacrifices
upon the altar of freedom, demand that these promises of the Allied
governments now be honorably redeemed.”
Great Britain and the
US delegates denied the petition explaining that the US president F.
Wilson is having strong reserves from any plans to divide Turkey.
The Assyrians from the USA returned empty handed.
The Assyrian delegate
from Iraq after too many delays by the British authorities was approved
to travel on July 21st, but on one condition, to pass by London, England
first. There, Surma Khanim, the head of the delegate was kept in
London until the conference of France finished its deliberations.
Surma's demands were
very realistic which were to allow the Assyrians to return to Hakkarri,
basic freedoms, the release of all prisoners and the punishment of the
criminals responsible for the atrocities committed against the
This treaty, signed on August
10, 1920, put the foundations for the new Turkish frontier post World
War I. Assyrians were not permitted by Great Britian to
participate in these deliberations under the ground rule that the
Assyrians were not an equal power with the rest of the participants.
But the Assyrian issue was discussed and the scheme was to contain full
safeguards for the protection of the Assyro-Chaldeans and other racial
or religious minorities under articles 62, 63, 140, 141, 142, 147, 148,
149, and 150 and as a result of this treaty, Mosul (Nineveh, Assyria)
was given to Iraq while France was guaranteed 25% of Mosul's
Article 62 of the Treaty states:
"... this plan must
provide complete guarantees as to the protection of the Assyro-Chaldeans
and other ethnic or religious minorities in this area. To this
end, a commission made up of British, French, Italian, Persian and
Kurdish representatives will visit the area so as to determine what
adjustments, if any, should be made to the Turkish frontier wherever it
coincides with Persian frontier as laid down in this treaty."
The Treaty of Lausanne, signed
on July 24, 1923, took place after Turkey requested that the issue of
Mosul (Nineveh) needed to be re-examined again. Assyrians once
again were not allowed to participate as Great Britian stood in their
way, but again they were promised that their rights will be protected,
worth mentioning that Agha Petros, General of the Assyrian Army,
attended the opening ceremonies. The United States stood beside
Great Britian in these deliberations as the latter promised 20% of the
oil industry business to be awarded to American companies. Turkey
lost its appeal to win Mosul (Nineveh) back based on Great Britian's
claims that this region will be saved for the future settlement of the
Kurdish and Assyrian people, and no final agreement was reached.
Article 39 of the treaty states:
"There will be no
official restriction on any Turkish citizen’s right to use any language
he wishes, whether in private, in commercial dealings, in matter of
religion, in print or at a public gathering. Regardless of
the existence of an official language, appropriate facilities will be
provided for any non-Turkish-speaking citizen of Turkey to use his own
language before the court."
Assyrians were told that Britain is fighting their case for them and
that there is no need for them to attend. A letter on behalf of
the Assyrians and their settlement was written under the direction of
Sir Henry Conway Dobbs, the British High Commissioner in Iraq, under
"Statement of Proposals for the Settlement of the Assyrian People in
Iraq", in that regard.
The government of
Turkey, claimed that Mosul (Nineveh) is part of Turkey and Fet’hi Beg
declared that the Assyrians, who he referred to them as Nestorians, are
welcomed to live in their previous lands in Turkey where they will find
freedom. Sir Percy Cox, stated that Mosul (Nineveh) belongs to
Iraq and that the Christian Assyrians need protection from Turkey.
This was part of his
Government has decided to endeavor to secure a good treaty frontier,
which will at the same time admit of the establishment of the Assyrians
in a compact community within the limits of the territory in respect of
which His Majesty’s Government hold a mandate under the authority of the
League of Nations, if not in every case in their ancestral habitation,
at all events in suitable adjacent districts. This policy for the
settlement of the Assyrians has the full sympathy and support of the
Iraqi Government, which is prepared for its part, to give the necessary
cooperation for giving effect thereto.”
No agreement was
reached at the end. Turkey then massed its troops on the border to
occupy the Mosul (Nineveh) Province by force. The Assyrian Levy
Force of 2000 were sent north to protect Iraq, since the Iraqi army at
this time was unfit to undertake such task. The Assyrian force was
largely responsible for the annexation of Mosul (Nineveh) to Iraq rather
than to Turkey, as an official of the League of Nations stated.
Britian's Request to League of Nations
requested from the League of Nations to look into the issue of the
borders between Iraq and Turkey. And a Frontiers Commission was
established to look into the matter on Oct. 21, 1924.
Recommendation of League of Nations
Commission presented its findings and suggested the importance of
protecting the Assyrians if they were to return to Turkey, their
freedom, reimbursements for all their loses during the Great War and the
full authority of the Patriarch, Mar Eshai Shimun, over his people.
not approved upon. And it was finally recommended that the issue
should be referred to the Permanent Court of International Justice in
The Hague, an integral part of the charter of the League of
Nations which was later replaced by the International Court of Justice
after the birth of the United Nations.
Took over the disputed
border line issue and inDecember 1925, adopted a resolution which
refused the idea of the Assyrians return to Hakkarri and gave that
region to Turkey, while giving Mosul (Nineveh) to Iraq and settling on a
border line almost matching the same status quo line which was called
the Brussel Line and recommended the continuation of the British mandate
on Iraq another 25 years to safeguard the Assyrian interests.
Treaty between Britian and Turkey
between Britain and Turkey was signed settling the issue of the borders
and Mosul (Nineveh) province. Hence Britain gained possession of
Mosul's (Nineveh) rich oil fields and set out to deny the rights of the
In July 1927, Captain
Fowraker, a Levy officer who spoke Assyrian fluently, became in charge of
the settlement issue. He noticed that Assyrians were scattered all
over north of Iraq, in contradiction to the League of Nation’s decision
to settle the Assyrians in a “Homogeneous Enclave”.
Assyrians continued to protest about their mistreatment and continued to
send letters to the League of Nations which requested a report from both
of the governments of Britain and Iraq about the situation. The
Permanent Court of International Justice in The Hague,
did not accept the reports of Britain and Iraq and requested from both
countries to fulfill their obligations towards the Assyrians.
British Treaties and Assyrian Petitions
dropped the earlier established recommendations by the Mandate
Commission and declared that those recommendations should be directed to
the Turkish Government and not the Iraqi government, since Hakkarri is
the original homeland of the Assyrians and those who escaped have no
intentions to return to Turkey. Hence, they should occupy whatever
land the Iraqi government has provided for them.
Meanwhile, the Turkish
Council-General in Baghdad stated earlier on June 25, 1928;
Turkish Amnesty Law did not cover the Assyrians, who would not be
permitted in any circumstances to enter Turkey; And that any Assyrian
who attempted to enter Turkey would be punished."
treaties were signed and ratified between Britain and Iraq in the next
two years in what seemed to be Britain’s preparations to clear the way
for Iraq to enter the League of Nations.
petitions were received by the Mandate Commission stressing the fears of
the Assyrians regarding the termination of the Mandate; they were dated
in September 1931, October 20, 1931
and October 23, 1931. One of these was rejected by
Sir Francis Humphrys on the grounds that it was submitted by Captain
Rassam (Hermiz Rassam’s son) who was not qualified to represent the
Assyrians even though it was given to him by the Assyrian Patriarch but
he, Humphrys, still pledged the ‘moral responsibility’ of Great Britain
to the future attitude of the Iraqi government.
The Oct. 23, 1931 petition
was submitted by His Holiness Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII, in Mosul
(Nineveh), asking for permission to allow the Assyrians to leave Iraq
before the end of the Mandate since it would be impossible for the
Assyrians to live in Iraq. This decision was reached at with the
agreement of all the Assyrian leaders and when responses to this
petition were delayed, the Assyrians decided to take action and planned
for a general ‘cessation of service’ by all the Assyrian Levies.
Mandate Commission reviewed the Assyrian petition and was still not
satisfied with Britain and Iraq’s assurances of protection of
Minorities. Worth mentioning here that Sir Humphrys was accused by
his own fellow British officials to fabricate lies in regards to the
Iraqi government’s sentiments about the Assyrians.
The Mandate Commission
gave its recommendations, stating that they are concerned about the
Christians, and accordingly, average people were given the right to
submit any petitions to the League of Nations, directly, in the future.
partial compliance with requests of the petition, the Iraqi government
set up a further land-finding committee. It discovered but
little land both cultivable and available. In fact, they found
malaria-ridden, swampy lands, and in their usual obnoxious style,
recommended expenditure on an irrigation scheme to produce more.
Hundreds upon hundreds of Assyrians died with malaria in those lands.
Council of the League of Nations accepted the recommendations and Iraq
issued a declaration guaranteeing the protection of minorities on May
Accordingly, Iraq was
accepted in the League of Nations on October 3, 1932.
Assyrian national question was taken to Geneva by the Assyrian
Patriarch, His Holiness Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII again when he addressed
the Permanent Mandate Commission meeting and urged the Council to
fulfill its obligations toward the Assyrian Nation. The League yet
again granted the Assyrians their rights of homogenous community
in Iraq with a local autonomy.
This was discussed again on December 15th, 1932.
The Assyrians are Massacred
The New York Times
August 19, 1933
Nestorian Patriarch Mar Eshai Shimun, Patriarch of the Assyrians,
who has been under detention for some time for having declined to
sign a declaration of loyalty to King Faisal and agree not to thwart
the scheme of the League of Nations for the settlement of the
Assyrians, was deported by the order of the government today (August
18, 1933) and deprived of Iraqi nationality.
The British air officer
commanding in Iraq was present at the Hinaidi airdrome when Mar
Shimun left in a British machine for Jerusalem en route to
The Argus Newspaper
(published in Melbourne, Australia)
August 21, 1933
“In accordance with the Iraq government's deportation order, the
Patriarch Mar Shimun left today (August 19, 1933) in a Royal
Air Force airplane, by way of Palestine, for Cyprus, where his
father and brother have also been given asylum...”
The Sydney Morning Herald
August 21, 1933
reports quoted above say that His Holiness left Hinaidi airdrome in
a British aircraft for Cyprus by way of Palestine. But, did
the British Royal Air Force plane fly His Holiness (and those with
Him) direct to Cyprus after stopping in Palestine? Material
dug up by Romeo Hanna tells us it did not. It tells that His
Holiness disembarked in Palestine and was flown to Cyprus in another
British RAF machine several days later. What we Assyrians of
Australia find interesting about the material is that this second
British RAF machine was piloted by an Australian pilot who at the
time was stationed in Basra.”
1918: The Assyrians of Shamizdin, Turkey
The Assyrians of Khabur, Syria
August - 1933
At the village of Kouba near Bab
Chikchik, four Assyrians were attacked. Two were killed and
two were wounded.
(The British Betrayal of the Assyrians, p. 166)
August 4-5, 1933
soldiers were killed, during the fight with the Iraqi army on the
(The Assyrian Tragedy, p. 49)
August 7, 1933
The Iraqi army returned to Mosul (Nineveh) and right through its way began a
systematic massacre. At the same time the Qaimaqam of Zakho,
Ahmed al-Dibuni tortured 46 Assyrians to death.
(The Assyrian Tragedy, p. 52)
August 11-16, 1933:
The Simele Genocide
The Assyrian population of the village of Simel was indiscriminately massacred;
men women, and children alike. In one room alone, 81 Assyrians
from Baz were barbarously massacred. Priests were tortured and
their bodies mutilated. Girls were raped and women violated
and made to march naked before the Arab army commanders. Holy
books were used as fuel for burning girls. Children were run
over by military cars. Pregnant women were bayonetted.
Children were flung in the air and pierced on to the points of
bayonets. In Dohuk 600 Assyrians were killed."
(The Assyrian Tragedy, p. 53-54)
Description of the Massacre
without the least warning the troops opened fire upon the
defenseless Assyrians. Many fell, including women and children, and
the rest ran into the houses to take cover... A coId blooded and
methodical massacre of all the men in the village followed... This
took some time. Not that there was any hurry, for the troops
had the whole day ahead of them. Their opponents were helpless
and there was no chance of any interference from any quarter
whatsoever. Machine gunners set up their guns outside the
windows of the houses in which the Assyrians had taken refuge, and
having trained them on the terror-stricken wretches in the crowded
rooms, fired among them until not a man was left standing in the
shambles. In some other instances the blood lust of the troops
took a slightly more active form and men were dragged out and shot
or bludgeoned to death and their bodies thrown on a pile of dead.”
(The Tragedy of the Assyrians, p. 172)
It is estimated that 3,000 Assyrians were massacred during the August of 1933.
(British Betrayal of the Assyrians.)
Mar Eshai Shimun in Geneva with Yousuf Malik
Genocide, the Council of the League of Nations was absolutely
sure that the Assyrian issue was still an unsolved problem.
The Assyrian Patriarch requested the League to form an Assyrian and
Kurdish enclave in the north of the province of Mosul (Nineveh) under a
The Patriarch reminded the Council about such plan which was originally
suggested by Lord Curzon, the British Foreign Minister, on Dec. 17,
In Iraq, Rashid Ali Al-Gailani, the Iraqi Prime Minister, announced that
the Assyrians should find a new home outside Iraq and promised that the
Iraqi government is willing to make very generous contributions to cover
any expenses of such settlement. On Oct. 13, 1933, the
League of Nations appointed a committee of six of its members to look
into this possibility. On Oct. 24, the Assyrians submitted another
petition by Yousuf Malik, an Assyrian Nationalist from Iraq who was
exiled to Lebanon and who moved between Cypress, Beirut and Damascus
exposing what was going on inside Iraq and the British games. This
petition gives details to a lot of cases of oppression against the
Assyrians in Iraq and details on hardships from government officials and
the facts about the Simele
From October 1933 to
June of 1935 the committee of six looked into many options, they covered
Brazil, British Guiana, Niger (in Africa) and they all failed. A
further suggestion that the British Red Cross might send a relief party
to Mosul (Nineveh) was also objected to, apparently on the grounds that
this would discourage the activities of the Iraqi Crescent, which has
not carried out any relief work among the Assyrians. In Sept. 1935, the
plan of settling of some of the Assyrians in the Khabour / Ghab areas in
Syria was approved. History shows that the plan was never followed
up with and it had failed.
Things did not change
for the Assyrians in Iraq until the outbreak of World War II, when the
Iraqis revolted under Rashid Ali Al-Gailani who sided himself with
Germany and wanted to force the British out of Iraq completely.
The faith of the British existence in Iraq hanged in the hands of the
1,500 Assyrian Levis ability to hold the British Air Force Base in Habbaniya against the Rebels of over 60,000 Arab tribesmen and regular
troops who surrounded the base.
The Battle of Habbaniya is well described in the book, "The Golden Carpet" by Somerset De Chair,
a British intelligence officer served in Iraq during W.W.II.
The Assyrians have saved Iraq from falling in Germany’s hands.
United Nations was created in San Francisco, California USA (replacing the League of
The Assyrian Patriarch, Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII, was there to present the
National Petition to the new world body of peace and was accompanied by two members of the
Assyrian National Federation. In this petition the
Assyrian tragedy was explained from World War I until the end of World War II.
Several petitions from the Patriarch in 1945 and 1946 were sent to the Secretary General of the
United Nations to look into the Assyrian National Question. A
letter from the UN General Secretary # 1100-1-4/MEJ dated Oct. 7, 1946
was received by Mar Shimun stating that he has referred the Patriarch’s
petition to the Commission on Human Rights.
petition concerning the Assyrian Massacres in Iran was filed again by
Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII, Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East.
He struggled for over a half century at the League of Nations, then the
United Nations, all in vain. The Allies were embarrassed to consider that such a small nation-church had
been their “Smallest Ally”.
Assyria, the land of the indigenous Assyrians, was partitioned after
World War I by the victorious
is currently under occupation by Kurds, Turks, Arabs and Persians.
The Assyrians continue to be religiously and ethnically persecuted in the Middle
East due to Islamic fundamentalism, Arabization and Kurdification
leading to land expropriations and forced emigration to the West.
Our Smallest Ally (Wigram)
The Tragedy of the Assyrians (Stafford)
The Golden Carpet (Struben De Chair)
The Flickering Light of Asia (Werda)
The Assyrians and the Assyrian Question (Matfiev)
The Death of a Nation (Yohannan)
The Assyrian Tragedy
The Assyrian Question
The First Civilization (Alexander)
Yousif Malik (Nathir)
Assyrian National Petition
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