In 2003, prior to the U.S. invasion, Iraq was home to 800,000 - 1.2 million of its indigenous people. Over time 500,000 of these Christians in Iraq sought refuge in Syria, a country consisting of nearly 2.5 million fellow Christians. In 2012, there are now merely 300,000 indigenous people living in their homeland of Iraq, with their presumed sanctuary in Syria now caught in the midst of a regime collapse and facing a dire ethnic cleanse.
Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) have had an extensive history of religious persecution. They too are Christians, but unlike the Christians that live safely and openly in North America, the Christians residing in Syria, including Assyrians, are at risk of losing yet another homeland.
“After the U.S. invasion, Christians in Iraq were viciously slaughtered by various factions. The ancient communities there — which had survived for almost 2,000 years — are now almost gone. In fact, according to most estimates, the population of Christians in Iraq has declined by two thirds or more. And many of those who successfully fled went to Syria, where they now face an uncertain fate once again.”
Assyrians, the indigenous people of Iraq, had originally disseminated to nearby havens such as Syria, Iran, Lebanon and Turkey. As Christians in a Muslim-dominated Middle East, it is evidently and undeniably difficult as Assyrians have endured countless successions of persecution throughout history. Consequently, millions of Assyrians have fled, creating a substantial diaspora all over the world while never having a nation-state as a homeland. “We Christians want to stay in Syria and live peacefully and with everybody and continue our presence serving our country and our people” says a feared bishop who chose to remain anonymous for security reasons.
Christian families are trapped in villages with little access to food and water, terrified of stepping out of their shelters and in despairing need of urgent assistance. On behalf of ACSSU, a student union dedicated to promoting culture, raising awareness and educating minds, we will not stand for such injustice. Assyrians, the indigenous people of Iraq, are seeking sanctuary in other countries in fear of facing an ethnic cleanse. The Christians residing in Syria make up 10% of the country’s population but if these violent acts of terrorism and mass murder do not seize that number will undoubtedly diminished.
A few weeks ago we were contacted by a student from a local University asking for our opinion and what we were planning on doing in regards to the political unsettlement currently taking place in Syria. When we informed them that we are trying our best to raise awareness and help our people currently living in the country who are at risk of extinction, they were confounded. Many do not know of the Assyrians nevertheless what is happening to them. While the world is raising concerns over the political upheaval in Syria; they are ignoring key facts such as the banishment of the majority of Christians by militant Islamists from cities such as Homs.
ACSSU promotes education and according to its mission we want everyone to be educated on what is happening to our people. We are the indigenous people of Iraq and we have endured a genocide, been forced out of our homeland, experienced countless rounds of persecution, and here we are, the year 2012, face to face with an ethnic cleansing. When can we say enough is enough? When can our people finally be able to live in peace?
For more information on the dire events happening in Syria:
Armed Islamist rebel groups in Syria supported by the Obama administration and Western governments seeking to oust “President” Bashir al-Assad are engaged in “ethnic cleansing” of Christians
Islamists nearly wipe out Christians In Syrian City
Christians Consider Fleeing Syria Amid Fears of Intolerence
Syrian Christians Fear Genocide if al-Assad Falls to Muslim Extremists
Syria's Christians Fear Persecution, Being Forced Out If Assad Is Removed