Iraqi Christian Martyrs Commemorated

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Worthy News / Christian Persecution, Christian Persecution – Middle East, Iraq
By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
(Worthy News) – The Assyrian community commemorated the 1933 massacre of an estimated 3,000 Christian martyrs in the town of Semele in Iraq’s Mosul district on Aug. 7.

According to Barnabas Aid, many Christians fled from Turkey to Mosul after the Ottoman Empire issued a fatwa against all non-Muslims in 1915.

When Iraq gained independence in 1932, the leader of the Assyrian Church requested autonomy for his Christian community. Iraqi forces responded by raiding Assyrian towns and killing all the Christian males while looting homes and livestock.

Semele was the last place of refuge, but it too was attacked on Aug. 11.

“The soldiers then proceeded methodically to massacre all the men,” according to a report by Lieutenant-Colonel R. S. Stafford, the British Administrative Inspector for Mosul. “In some cases machine guns were fired through windows into the crowded rooms. In others the men were dragged out, shot, and their bodies thrown on to the pile of dead. A few men hid among the women, but these too were hunted out.

“All or practically all the killed were peaceful citizens who had committed no offence whatever against the Government. They had come into [Semele] to be under the protection of the Iraqi flag which flew over the Police Post. They had no arms and no means of resistance.”

A third of Iraq’s Assyrian population later fled to north-eastern Syria where they settled along the Khabur river, ironically the same region where their descendants were again forced out of their homes after Islamic State jihadists raided the region in early 2015.