The delegates invited were Mr. Hermiz Shahen, Secretary of the Assyrian Universal Alliance – Australian Chapter, Mr. David M. David, Vice President of the Assyrian Australian National Federation and Chairman of AUA Executive Committee in Sydney, and Mr. Paul Azzo, an active member in the Assyrian community and adviser to the Assyrian Universal Alliance on foreign affairs.
Guest speaker at the ceremony was The Hon. Alexander Downer MP., Minister for Foreign Affairs. Mr. Downerâ€™s theme was â€˜Making progress on religious freedomsâ€™ in which he described the Australian Governmentâ€™s efforts to alleviate religious persecution in the international arena. Mr. Downer spoke about the difficulties and suffering faced by Christians in some countries, especially the Middle East (Assyrians).
After the ceremony, members of the delegation met with numerous political figures and described the persecution and suffering that the Assyrian people in Iraq and our refugees in the Middle East were facing, with the hope that they would support our cause.
Our delegates distributed our newsletter â€˜Assyriaâ€™ which was a special issue covering the violence against our people in Iraq, hardship and the denial of rights under the current democratic government. The newsletter is also posted to most members of the Australian Parliament.
The delegation then visited the new centre for the Tears of the Oppressed organisation where Mr. James Scott, National Director and other staff were congratulated for their accomplishments, their continued support for the Christian people of Iraq and for their continued appeal to the officials in the Australian government and to the Heads of State and Governments in the world to advance the cause of the oppressed Assyrian people in Iraq.
The delegation then headed to Federal Parliament to meet with several government figures and most notably, the Hon. Bronwyn Bishop MP., the Chairman of House of Representative, Standing Committee on Family and Human Services. The delegation described the difficult conditions facing the Assyrians after liberation in most major cities which are under the management of the central authority in Baghdad. Ms. Bishop was informed of the murders, abductions, raping, and threats of violence that occur on a daily basis, and the oppression that forced Iraqi Christian Assyrians to flee with their families. The delegates asked Ms. Bishop to intervene with government officials to get support for the AUA appeal. AUA have asked the Government to take immediate action to address this colossal humanitarian crisis by providing emergency assistance to the Iraqi Christians in order to improve their living conditions at home and in neighbouring countries, specifically in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey and Lebanon. They have also asked the Australian Government to support the demands of the Assyrians by granting them autonomy in their respective geographical regions in northern Iraq. The delegates thanked Ms. Bishop for her time and support of our cause.
Finally, the delegates met with Mr. James Wallace AM, Executive Chairman of the Australian Christian lobby group. The group is one of the premier political lobby groups in the country that has effective political relationships within both State and Federal Governments. Mr. Wallace was one of many that sympathized with the persecution of our people in the Middle East and supported our cause. The delegates held a series of talks where important steps and directions that AUA should take in order to gain attention to the cause of Assyrian persecution issue more broadly were discussed- the results of which we hope will appear in the near future.
Assyrian Universal Alliance- Australian Chapter
PO Box 34, Fairfield NSW 1860 Australia.
Fax: (02) 9610 2499.Â Mobile: 0407 235349