On 14 August 2012, Mr. Guy Zangari MP, State member for Fairfield of the Labor Party of Australia, in private members’ statements cited the harassment and the violence perpetrated against the Assyrian population of Iraq due to their ethnic and religious differences from. The following is an extract from a speech delivered by Mr. Zangari MP in the Parliament:
One of the largest cultural groups in my electorate of Fairfield is the Assyrian community. Since the early 1970s the Assyrian community has made a significant cultural and spiritual contribution in Fairfield. This year I was bestowed the honour of being elected as the co-deputy chairman of the Assyria Parliamentary Friendship Group alongside, David Clark, member of the Legislative Council. The chairman of the Assyria Parliamentary Friendship Group is Mr Andrew Rohan the member for Smithfield.
On 7 August 2012 the Assyrian Universal Alliance Australian Chapter, in co-operation with the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, held a commemorative seminar in the theatrette room of New South Wales Parliament House. The Assyrian Universal Alliance, with the assistance of Mr Andrew Rohan, MP, hosted the commemoration ceremony and the screening of the Defying Deletion documentary. Present on the evening was Mr Hermiz Shahen, deputy secretary general of Assyrian Universal Alliance; Mr David David, president of the Assyrian Australian National Federation, and many committee members. The night was well attended by members of the New South Wales Assyrian community, as well as representatives from the Armenian and Greek communities. A large number of State and Federal members of Parliament were present.
Attendees were presented with two very powerful talks by distinguished researchers on the Assyrian Genocide, Dr Racho Donef and Stavros T. Stavridis. Dr Racho Donef is a leading researcher on the ethnic minorities of the Republic of Turkey. He discussed the aspects of the Assyrian genocide from the early 1900s to mid 1930s. His talk was titled, “Assyrian Genocide: Denialism and One Century of Struggle for Recognition”. The second presentation was by Stavros T. Stavridis, a historical researcher, on the Greek-Turkish war 1919 to 1923 and minorities in the Ottoman Empire and the Middle East. He presented a very informative talk about Assyrian issues from 1914 to 1935 covering Australian documents and press accounts.
The main presentation for the evening came from Mr Andre Anton with his multi award winning short film Defying Deletion, the fight over Iraq’s Nineveh Plains.
Mr Andre Anton, producer, director and writer, was accompanied by the documentary executive producer Dr Elmer Abbo. Mr Anton and Dr Abbo have been in the country promoting the documentary to State and Federal parliaments. A special screening of the documentary was held at Hoyts at Wetherill Park last Sunday. Mr Anton is an American filmmaker who seeks to raise awareness of the plight of the Assyrians in modern Iraq. Overall, the documentary describes the persecution recently experienced by the Assyrians after the liberation of Iraq. What is clearly evident from the documentary is that the failure to acknowledge the Assyrian genocide over the past century has in effect perpetuated the crimes of humanity against the Assyrian people in northern Iraq today.
As always, it was great to see the Assyrian, Armenian and Greek communities come together in solidarity to honour the victims of the horrendous genocides of the early to mid-1900s. Each year 7 August is known worldwide in the Assyrian community as the Assyrians’ Martyrs Day. The annual commemoration honours the innocent souls of the people of Simile; some 6,000 innocent Assyrians were massacred in Simile at the hands of the Iraqi army in 1933. Martyrs in the Christian sense are those who die in the name of Christ or for the cause. To this day millions of people still die for their belief in Christianity, primarily in the Middle East and in Africa. Crimes against humanity continue in this world because past atrocities are not acknowledged. As brothers and sisters in humanity we must all seek justice and fairness for all.