Thursday, November 6, 2008
Dear President-elect Obama,
On behalf of the Syriac Universal Alliance and the Aramean people, I offer you my heartfelt congratulations upon your election as the next President of the United States of America.
The entire world has witnessed how hard you have fought for this well-deserved, historic victory. I am confident that you are the right person in the right place at the right time to guide the American people, who had lost faith in their leadership until November 4th.
I believe that you will be able to restore the distinguished image of your great nation outside its national borders. Your message of change, unity and hope is resonating deeply in the USA as much as in the rest of the world â€“ with (nation-)states and stateless people alike.
The largely unknown Arameans/Syriacs (numbering a couple of million around the world), who have become a diasporic people, are a case in point. We have watched and listened to many of your hopeful, inspirational speeches during the campaign. In addition, we have read many of your written statements and articles. For instance, in your acceptance speech as President-elect you declared: â€œTo those who seek peace and security â€“ we support you.â€ Your Excellency, we are responding to this call and ask you for urgent help, because our Biblical people and ancient civilization are literally on the verge of extinction.
We, Semitic Arameans (not to be confused with Indo-European Armenians from Armenia), are about to lose everything our ancestors have built up in the past 3,500 years. We have endured persecutions and assimilation politics in our homeland. As natives of the Near East, we have been decimated in and driven from the land of our forefathers. We are scattered, and our collective survival as well as our cultural heritage are seriously endangered today.
Thus we are most grateful for your letter (September 9, 2007) to Secretary C. Rice, when you wrote her â€œout of concern forâ€ our people in Iraq. The Syriacs, Chaldeans, Assyrians and Mandeans mentioned by you, are all the primary heirs to the antique Aramaic heritage. This is equally true of the dispersed Maronite and Melkite Christian denominations.
Patriarch Emmanuel III Delly of the Chaldean Church noted less than a week ago from Rome, which he visited, that Iraqâ€™s ethnic mosaic must be preserved: â€œwe in the church do not ask for anything, except our peopleâ€™s rights. But I would like to state that we, the Chaldeans, Assyrians and Syriacs are one people that is known as the Aramean people. Let Iraq continue to live with all its ethnic groups: Arabs, Kurds, Arameans, Yazidiâ€™s, Mandeans and Shabaks.â€
We will send The Hidden Pearl: The Syrian Orthodox Church and Its Ancient Aramaic Heritage (Rome, 2001) to your postal address and to your new office. Through these three illustrated books and the three DVDâ€™s, you can learn more about the Aramean communities. This masterpiece was sponsored by the Syriac Universal Alliance, the worldwide umbrella organization of the national federations of the Aramean/Syriac people, whose interests and needs it faithfully aims to serve, defend and promote. It was authored by Sebastian P. Brock, Professor Emeritus at Oxford University and well-known Dean of Aramaic/Syriac Studies.
We are further hopeful that you will fulfill your promise to the Armenian Americans when you avowed on January 19, 2008: â€œas President I will recognize the Armenian Genocideâ€ (www.barackobama.com/2008/01/19/barack_obama_on_the_importance.php).
The description, however, is most unfortunate, since it ignores the hundreds of thousands of innocent Arameans and Greeks who also fell victim to this very same Ottoman Genocide. This name is much more appropriate, as it accentuates the masterminds and perpetrators of the same systematic massacres, so that none of the victims who still strive for international recognition of these horrible events as ‘Genocide’ will be either forgotten or neglected.
In order to inform you about the Aramean account of this Ottoman Genocide, we are also sending you, as a humble gift, this recent academic book that treats our story fairly well: SÃ©bastien de Courtois, The Forgotten Genocide: Eastern Christians, the Last Arameans (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2004; translated from the French by Vincent Aurora).
Finally, we pray that you will include our people in your vision for the Middle East, more specifically in your plan for Iraq and Turkey. As you can appreciate, we have already suffered too much in the past decades and our plight has hitherto been ignored by the world leaders.
We are eager to cooperate with your administration on matters pertaining to our people, whether in America, Europe or the Middle East. We are also most willing to provide you with reliable information on the Aramean/Syriac people in their homeland and the diaspora.
Again, my wholehearted congratulations and every success with your administration.
May our Lord God, Jesus Christ, continue to bless you and your great nation.
Â Syriac Universal Alliance