Assyrian Universal Alliance speech during the Assyrian New Year Festival -Sydney


Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of my colleagues, the Board members of the Assyrian Universal Alliance – Australia chapter, it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this annual celebration.

We congratulate the Assyrian Australian National Federation for their hard work in organizing this wonderful event for the fourth successive year.

I am thankful for the presence of representatives from all three levels of Federal, State and Local Governments in particular Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Mrs. Louise Markus MP, and all other Federal members who, due to other commitments, were unable to join us today We appreciate the support you have given the Assyrian Universal Alliance and the time you spent over the past six years conveying the needs of the Assyrians to the Liberal Government.

I would also like to thank other honourable members of the Legislative Council in New South Wales Parliament for making representations in support of our Assyrian community, particularly The Honourable David Clarke MLC; the Honourable Charlie Lynn MLC, Rev the Hon. Fred Nile MLC, and to all friends of the Assyrians, I applaud your great determination and sincerity in supporting the rights of the indigenous Assyrians in Iraq.

We are extremely thankful to The Hon Laurie Ferguson MP and Mr Joe Tripodi MP for their presence and we congratulate Mr. Ninos Khoshaba MP, for being the first Assyrian elected in the State Parliament of NSW. We extend our appreciation to Mr Paul Azzo for his dedication and tireless efforts in bringing the Assyrian community closer to the State and Federal Government for the last six years.

I also take this opportunity to extend our most sincere thanks to all our invited guests, representing various Assyrian Organisations, for their support & cooperation.

All over the world, Assyrian people welcome the New Year as one of the oldest celebrations. The beginning of spring is a logical time to start a new year, after all, it is the season of rebirth, the renewal of nature that offers us together the opportunity to recommit ourselves to work towards a better future.

For the Assyrians, the New Year makes us reflect on the past and envisige the future; during this celebration, we remember our nation Assyria and history. It was from Assyria that the first civilization emerged and generated a nourishing intellectual thought that helped build scientific as well as a religious basis for all cultures. it was their search for answers about the interpretation of the creator, the meaning of life, death and the destiny of man, that led to the religious beliefs. In their attempt to find God they searched the heavens, tracking the movements of stars and the planets to learn the secrets of the universe. Assyria is the nation of God. Our language is the language of God and Assyrians created the first Holy Apostolic Church in Christianity in the First Century AD and spread the Gospel to faraway lands.

Today our people are struggling for survival, they are frustrated and disheartened by a lack of focus given to their plea. Following the March 2003 liberation of Iraq and since the commencement of the war, hundreds of Assyrians have been killed, and hundreds of thousands have fled Iraq. Today out of the 1.7 million Iraqi refugees in Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Lebanon, approximately half are Christians. About 45 churches have been bombed since the US invasion without a proper media coverage. Imagine the media rage if one mosque was bombed in any Christian country.

It is time for the world to address centuries of Assyrian suffering from religious oppression and ethnic cleansing and to recognize their plight and immediately take the necessary steps to secure this ancient people in their ancestral homeland in Assyria.

To us, the Assyrians, we see the world government silence for what happened to our people after the liberation of Iraq as an injustice. Assyrians are excluded from the freedom that others enjoy in Iraq, they can not participate in Government without compromising their Assyrian identity and values. Today, in what should be a liberated Iraq, the Kurds and Arabs still choose our representatives for us who happen to fall in line with Kurdish and Arab policies of suppressing Assyrian rights. We still cannot promote our ethnic identity nor have our lands secured.

Simply, what the Assyrian Universal Alliance wants is for the friendship of the Australian government with the Assyrian community to move to a new level; one that can bring about a political and humanitarian change for our kin in Iraq. The Assyrian future in Iraq is dependent on Western countries taking effective measures today, to resolve our case at an international level and to support the Assyrian demands to establish an Assyrian Autonomous region in Northern Iraq. We have already paid the price as a nation to free Iraq, so please support plans to protect Assyrians, and all other ethnic minorities, by helping them secure their rights and in turn their future.

In conclusion, I take this opportunity to thank every one for attending this New Year’s celebration, and wish you all a happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Hermiz Shahen

Secretary, Assyrian universal Alliance- Australia Chapter