Once again the Assyrian Australian National Federation (AANF) together with the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) hosted one of the most successful Assyrian New Year Festivals in the last nine years since moving the festival to Fairfield Showground. Thousands of people were in attendance to celebrate this historical event. The Festival started at 10:00 am and celebrations continued till 10:00 pm.
The formal proceedings began with the Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells officially opening the Dr. Donny George Exhibit at 2:00 pm. The customary New Year Program commenced at 2:30 pm, with the Australian and Assyrian national anthems performed by Miss Jessica Ablahad, followed by prayer by Rev. Father Ninos Eliya of the Assyrian Church of the East.
After welcoming the attendees, the Master of ceremonies Mr. Ninos Aaron, Chairman of Young Assyrians invited Mr. David M. David, President of the Assyrian Australia National Federation to formally welcome the attendees. Mr David was followed by Clr. Frank Carbone, Mayor of Fairfield City Council who gave a speech highlighting the contributions of Assyrians in Fairfield and in Australia as a whole.
Mr. Hermiz Shahen, Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, in his address thanked representatives of the Local, State and Federal Government for their attendance and support over the years. Mr. Shahen spoke about the bitter situation of the Assyrians in Iraq and Syria and threat of violence and subjugation they faced on a daily basis. He talked about how the current political climate in both countries is making it near impossible to prevent the intimidation and killings perpetrated against the Assyrians and other Christian minorities. He continued that “ On 20th January 2014, Iraq’s Council of Ministers led by the Honorable Nuri Al-Maliki, Prime Minister of Iraq, decided in principle to create three new provinces including the Nineveh Plain province which Assyrians have been demanding for years.”
Mr. Shahen appealed to the Australian government to endorse and support the Nineveh Plains Province solution, which entails the creation of a self-governed Assyrian province in the Nineveh Plains under the jurisdiction of the central government of the Federal Republic of Iraq.
Mr. George Dadisho Deputy Chairman of The Young Assyrians, a subsidiary of the Assyrian Universal Alliance – Australian Chapter, spoke about their recent activities and gave a brief about the historic background of the Assyrian New Year.
Other guest speakers were Senator Fierravanti-Wells, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Services, representing Prime Minister of Australia the Hon Tony Abbott MP, Senator Wells read a message from the Prime Minister. The senator was followed by the Hon. Chris Bowen MP, Federal member for McMahon representing the Hon Bill Shorten MP, Leader of the opposition.; Mr. Craig Kelly MP; Federal member for Hughes, Mr. Chris Hayes MP, Federal member for Fowler, Chief Opposition Whip ; The Hon. David Clarke MLC, Parliamentary Secretary for Justice, representing the Hon. Barry O’Farrell MP, Premier of New South Wales; Mr Guy Zangari, MP, State Member for Fairfield, Shadow Minister for Citizenship & Communities; Mr Kruno Kukoc, State Director NSW & Global Manager Refugee & Humanitarian Visas & Global Manager Family Visas and Mrs. Karen Bos and Mr Kerry Bos of Christian Faith And Freedom .
In attendance were also The Hon. Paul Green, MLC, Temporary Chair of Committees; Mr. Nick Lalich, MP, State member for Cabramatta; Mrs Tanya Davies, MP, Member for Mulgoa; Mr Glenn Brookes, MP, State Member for East Hills; Superintendent Peter Lennon, Fairfield Local Area Commander; Mr and Mrs Yair Miller, President , NSW Jewish Board of Deputies; Dr. Eman Sharobeem, Manager, Immigrant Women’s Health Service and Ms. Maria Hatzistergos, NSW Settlement and Multicultural Affairs, Department of Social Services.
All members praised in their speeches the role of the Assyrian Universal Alliance in its continued deliberations and meetings with the Australian government. They talked about the inevitability of the Assyrian people obtaining their full rights and freedom in Iraq. They blessed this great occasion, showed their admiration of the Dr Donny George Exhibit and expressed pride in the Assyrian civilization.
The official opening was attended by representative of many Assyrian organisations, prominent people and representatives of the Armenian, Greeks and Coptic communities.
This year the Australian Assyrian of the year award was presented to Maestro Alexander (Shoora) Michailian, In recognition of decades of selfless devotion and priceless contribution in the field of Assyrian music as a composer, educator and conductor. The Friend of Assyria award was presented to Reverend The Hon. Fred Nile MLC, in recognition of his substantial contribution, advice and support for the rights of indigenous Assyrians in Iraq including his unwavering endorsement for the establishment of an autonomous Assyrian province in Northern Iraq along with his extensive efforts in the recognition of the Assyrian, Armenian and Greek genocide.
At 6:00 pm, a dramatic arts piece was performed by a collaboration of Assyrian youth groups. The theatrical piece simulated the arrival of King and Queen of Assyria from the remote past to bless the festivity.
The Festival ended with a beautiful display of Fireworks at 9:00 pm accompanied with live music.
A special thanks to the organisers, the Fairfield police and all attendees who made this festival such a success.
Assyrian Universal Alliance