Commemorating Assyrian Martyrs and Genocide Day in

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Sydney’s South West
11th August 2016
On Sunday August 7th 2016 hundreds of people came together to commemorate Assyrian Martyrs Day in Sydney, Australia. The day’s events were organised by the Assyrian Universal AllianceAustralian Chapter in cooperation with the Assyrian Australian National Federation.
The order of events began with a wreath laying ceremony at the Assyrian Genocide Monument in Bonnyrigg, with those in attendance gathered to lay flowers and pay their respects. Amongst the many friends and guests in attendance was The Hon Fred Nile MLC who paid special tribute to the Assyrian Martyrs. Beautiful wreaths laid at the base of the genocide monument; the vibrant image of colour and life was a stark contrast to the bleak death faced by those whose memory is honoured by the elaborate monument.
The commemorative ceremony, hosted at Nineveh Reception, saw a number of distinguished speakers address the audience including key note presenters Mr. Stavros Stavridis, a historical researcher on the Greek-Turkish war 1919-23 and minorities in the Ottoman Empire and Middle East and Dr Panayiotis Diamadis, Director of the Australian Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, at the University of Technology, Sydney.
Distinguished guests included His Beatitude Mar Meelis Zaia, Metropolitan of the Holy and
Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East Diocese of Australia, New Zealand & Lebanon and His Beatitude Mar Yacoub Daniel, Metropolitan of The Ancient Church of the East, St Zaia
Cathedral. The Hon Chris Bowen MP, Shadow Treasurer, Mr Craig Kelly MP, Mr Guy Zangari MP , Dr Hugh McDermott MP, Rev The Hon. Fred Nile MLC, Professor Frank Zumbo, Ms. Karen Bos; Board from Christian Faith and Freedom, Mr.Vic Alhadeff; Chief Executive of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, Mrs Niki Panagiotou; Vice Consul General of Greece in Sydney, Mrs Kirralie Smith; Australian Liberal Alliance, Mr. Kaylar Michaelian; Honorary Consul of Karabagh in Australia as well as strong representation from the Assyrian , Armenian, Greek , Jewish and Mandaean organisations.
The Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, Mr Hermiz Shahen gave a heartfelt address noting the atrocities of the past, but also bringing attention to the persecution the Assyrian Christian population is facing today in Iraq and Syria. He renewed calls for Australian parliamentarians to petition for the recognition of the Assyrian, Armenian and Greek Genocides by the Ottoman Empire in the Federal Parliament.
The keynote speaker Mr Stavros T. Stavridis’s presentation focused on the denial of genocide highlighting the Assyrian Case from 1933-2016. Mr Stravidis covered the establishment of the Kingdom of Iraq in 1932 and the events that followed in Assyrian towns and villages, including Simele, on the 7th August of 1933 which saw the new Iraqi government unleash its army on Assyrian communities. His presentation ended with the current genocide facing the Assyrian people in Iraq and Syria today, drawing similarities between the nearly century divided events.
In his closing remarks Dr. Diamadis highlighted the unique role of Australians as eyewitnesses of the Assyrian Genocide. He brought to light the heroic and benevolent stories of the Australian servicemen who rescued an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 Assyrians in 1918. Dr. Diamadis showed irrefutable facts of genocide against the Assyrian people recorded meticulously and precisely in the National Archives of Australia. He encouraged the members of Parliament to follow the lead of the International Association of Genocide Scholars and the New South Wales and South Australian Parliaments to recognise the Assyrian, Armenian and Hellenic genocide.
Throughout the night a number of speakers paid their respects to the Martyrs of the Assyrian Nation. A focal point of all addresses was the rights of the indigenous Assyrian people and the necessity of an autonomous Assyrian region within Iraq.
The Honourable Chris Bowne MP acknowledged the devastation facing the Assyrians in his address. Chris made it clear that the displacement facing Christians in the Middle East was of the same magnitude suffered in the past genocide. He declared, “I don’t want to see a Middle East where Christians cannot walk where Christ walked.”
Mr Craig Kelly MP spoke with passion, stating that he hoped “in the coming parliamnent Australia can join over 20 countries in the world that already recognises the Assyrian , Armenian and Greek genocide , I believe it is now a time .”
A highlight of the conference was a speech delivered by 12 year old Miss Breteil Tigris David which was met with resounding applause.
Along with the very powerful messages of the day the event also saw a heartrending musical performance of ‘Hal Libba MarYAH’, the notable Assyrian Church hymn performed by Ms Marlin Shukur accompanied by Dc. Ninos Babisha and Maria Isaac who earlier performed the national anthems of Australia and Assyria.
The Assyrian community has designated the 7th of August ‘Assyrian Martyrs Day’ and remembers the millions of Assyrians who have perished in the numerous genocides that were committed against their people.
Further information can be found:
Assyrian Universal Alliance – Australian Chapter
PO Box 34, Fairfield NSW 1860 Australia.