On Monday the House will be voting on Congressman Fortenberry’s ISIS Genocide Resolution. H. Con. Res. 75, which will be voted on in the full United States House of Representatives, names and describes ISIS violence against Christians, Yezidis, and other ethnic and religious minorities as genocide. The bill has excluded the name Assyrian from the ethnical catagory and has lumped them in a category with other Christian denominations to include the Chaldean denomination (followers of the Roman Catholic Church in Iraq).
It should be noted that only in Iraq catholics are referred to by their religious denomination of Chaldean rather than by their ethnical linage as they know themselves in Iran. This separation was an effective tool used by Saddam to ensure divisions existed in the communities of the Iraq regardless of their ethnical ties. This is the main reason why the catholics of Iran are proud to call themselves Assyrians and why the catholics in Iraq call themselves Chaldeans.
On 1 MAR 16 NEC-SE posted the article: How and why the U.S. Congress and their backers are destroying the cradle of civilization and eradicating the root of Christianity (the Assyrians).
In the article we discussed the recommendations which NEC-SE staff was asked to make to the current House Concurrent Resolution 75 draft.
Below are our recommendations and the problems which still are contained in the H.Con.Res.75.
The U.S Senate has now drafted its “mirrored” version of the resolution. Senate Resolution 340 has problems similar to those of H.Con.Res.75.
NEC-SE recommendation efforts behind HR 75
On 26 OCT 15, the NEC-SE team was asked to provide its input on the HR75 draft. Below are the three simple language changes we proposed and our reasons for proposing them:
1. We recommended that the word “Assyrians” be added to the Preamble and Paragraphs 1 & 2 in the bill. Reason: the Assyrian ethnicity needs to be referenced like other ethnic group. Not all Christians in the Middle East are Assyrians. The Assyria Nineveh Plain has been the heartland of the Assyrian nation for the past 7,000 years.
2. We recommended that the word “Assyrian Christian” be added to page six, line no. 9. Reason: because the HR75 is speaking about both ethnicities and religious groups.
3. We recommended adding the following paragraph to the bill:
“Whereas the Assyrians and the Yezidis have been documented as having undergone violent persecutions at 50 year intervals for the past 2,000 years, and the Assyrians and the Yezidis have over the past century suffered mass killings, persecutions, and forced deportation from their historical lands in 1915 1918, 1922, 1933, 1940-1945, 2010, and as recently as 2014 in the Khabour River Valley, the Assyria Nineveh Plain, and Mount Sinjar. The Assyrians and Yezidis continue to experience the silent cultural genocide to eradicate the Assyrian nation and the Yezidi people; etc.”
This paragraph was recommended as an addition to the bill to unscore the extent and duration of the genodical crimes committed against the Assyrian nation and the Yezidi people. We also noticed that the language for the 1933 Simele massacre was removed from a previous version of the bill. The dates in the proposed new paragraph specify the years in the twentieth and twenty-first century in which the genocide of Assyrians Yazidis took place.
Problem with the Current HR 75 Bill Language
Last year House Concurrent Resolution 75 was tabled to get violence against the Assyrians and others designated as genocide. [https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-concurrent-resolution/75/text]
Obviously, Assyrians world wide support genocide recognition. Unfortunately, there are deep problems with the current resolution which is now ready to go up for mark up as of 24 FEB 16. As it stands now, if the current bill language is not amended, it does nothing more than advance a Kurdish ethno-nationalist push to establish a larger Kurdistan which will mean the seizure of the Heart of the Assyrian Christian homeland (Assyria Nineveh Plain). The language also indirectly forgives the historical atrocities which the Shia, Sunni, Kurds, Turks, and other non-Christian groups have conducted against this minority since WWI.
This resolution must be amended if the Assyrian Christians are going to survive in the region.
Bad legislation has harmed the Assyrian Christians in the past and will do so again if this bill is passed.
What follows are specific amendments that should be made to the resolution. Unfortunately, given Lobby money they probably will not be accepted as were our previous recommendations in OCT.
As it stands now the Bill seem to be advancing a Kurdish ethno-nationalist and Shia led govenement agendas at the expense of the Assyrian people in the Middle East.
Currently, this is what Congress intends to do because they have not heard the whole truth of the Assyrian Christians’ victimization.
Section 5(b) requires elaboration: to specify the measures to prevent further war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Simply, these measures include providing aid and relief directly to the vulnerable minorities through legitimate and independent local partners without using governmental intermediaries. This will help eliminate a pattern of disempowerment used by governing authorities by reinforcing Assyrian dependency and vulnerability in order to facilitate the persecution of Assyrians and Yezidis, and achieve political gains at the expense of their suffering. Measures to help meaningfully must also explicitly state the need to directly support independent and legitimate local forces drawn from the Assyrians, Yezidis and other persecuted minorities.
Section 6 is unacceptable on several grounds. First, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) is praised for sheltering and protecting those IDPs arriving in the KRI. Such praise falls on deaf ears for those inhabitants of the Assyria Nineveh Plain who were systematically, programmatically disarmed by the KRI‟s Peshmerga exactly 2 weeks before the ISIS assault on the Assyria Nineveh Plain, 2 days prior to the ISIS clearing operations of the approximately 70,000 Assyrians of the city of Qaraqoush, who witnessed the Peshmerga‟s instantaneous retreat from the Assyria Nineveh Plain with their seized weapons as ISIS advanced. This also falls short given every single Assyrian and Yezidi captives-among them raped women and children-were all abducted from either KRG or Kurdish administered areas in both Syria and Iraq while at the same time no Kurdish women were taken captive.
Contrary to the depiction of the KRI as a source of protection, empirical evidence from the Assyria Nineveh Plain in August of 2014 strongly suggests Peshmerga facilitation of the cleansing of the region‟s indigenous, Christian Assyrian inhabitants. Second, the statement „until they can safely return to their homes in Iraq‟ suggests that those IDPs in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq are somehow not in Iraq. They are in Iraq as the KRI is part of Iraq. The third concern flows from the two preceding issues, which is that the entire Resolution as framed appears to exploit the Christian Assyrian crisis as a means to promote „Kurdistan‟ and to place the Kurdistan Region of Iraq on the level of nation states. This is a grave concern for Assyrian Christians because it is in the pursuit of this policy that Kurdistan nationalists of the Kurdistan Regional Government have marginalized, victimized and all but destroyed our independent, legitimate and venerable political, security and humanitarian organizations.
The resolution should acknowledge these realities as a means of identifying truly efficacious solutions that will safeguard the existence and dignity of the Assyrian Christians and Yezidi people and will prevent further demographic and territorial disfigurations across northern Iraq and into Syria Khabour River Valley. It is essential for these solutions to take into account the long-established need for Assyrian and Yezidi local security and administration. The consequences of the failure to provide for these needs were made graphically clear by the collapse of central government commanded forces as well as the Peshmerga withdrawal which abandoned these indigenous peoples to the genocide described in this resolution.
Constant reference to Kurds as sharing in the suffering and victimhood of the Assyrian people ignores two stark realities: i) hundreds of ethnic Kurds are members of ISIS, a fact that is widely reported in mainstream Kurdish news/media and attested to by numerous reports of KRG arrests; ii) What distinguishes the targeting of Assyrians, Yezidis, Shabaks and other „vulnerable‟ minorities from that of Kurds and Arabs (who are also victims of ISIS violence) is that the former are at risk of complete annihilation from their ancestral land whereas, thankfully, there is no conversation today about the imminent risk of a Middle East without Kurds or Arabs residing there.
The resolution makes repeated reference to other ethnic groups, namely Turkmen, Kaka‟e and Kurds but Assyrians are limited only to a religious designation, as Christian. The Assyrians have been a largely Christian people since the time of the Apostles but they have been Assyrians for no less than four millennia of history before Christ. When ISIS was destroying the ancient archaeological heritage sites in the Nineveh Plain and Mosul (where the ancient capital Nineveh exists), they were not destroying Christian heritage sites, but ancient Assyrian architecture, sculpture, texts, and related contributions to human civilization. Media reports did not say ancient Christian archaeological sites were being destroyed, but accurately identified these as „Assyrian‟, a name which not only defines ethnic identity but links the Assyrian Christians to the land that they have continuously inhabited for thousands of years.
NEC-SE goal in writing this article is to empower our readers with the whole truth and complete picture so that your intention of helping the Assyrian Christian community can be realized and that American lawmakers do not unwittingly harm the Assyrians of the Bible and give their lands to non-Christians in an effort to win hearts and minds for only self-promotion, despite the U.S. Congress‟ best intentions.
As it stands now, unless the language of both H.CON.RES.75 and S.Res.340 is changed to include the name “Assyrian” in the resolutions—thus identifying the ongoing genocide of Middle Eastern Christians as specifically targeting Assyrians for annihilation—the long-term prospects for their survivial in the region are virtually nil. The reality, then, is that an emerging congressional bill penned by the hand of the representatives of the American people will effectively bury the Assyrian name for forever while ensuring the death of a 7,000- year-old nation for the short-term benefit of lobbying interests.
NEC-SE has not written this article to change the minds of congressional representatives because we know that it is extremely difficult for them to cut off lobbing influence. We have written it as an act of historical accountability. We want to go on record as saying that we warned congressional respresentatives what would happen if they chose not to heed our advice concerning the wording of the resolutions.
The story of the Assyrian Army is about to be made public soon given they are being eradicated through political military influences targeted at them by lobby interests in D.C. through regional “partners” of the United States.
We recommend that our readers share this article with their representatives in the Senate and House. It is our hope that the members of both houses of Congress understand that to exclude the word Assyrian from the resolutions and the bill will do irreversible damage to the reputation of the United States while destroying the ability of Middle Eastern Assyrians to secure their homeland. Policy should not be won or written by monied interests and their lobbyists but by people who believe in the rights of all to have a say in their own future in a unified federalized Iraq and Syria.
If the U.S. Congress can not even include the name of the ethnicity that is being eradicated by ISIS in Iraq and Syria it might be time for the United States to cast aside the mantle of world leadership.