Sydney – 20 March, 2014
From left Hermiz Shahen, Rev. The Hon Fred Nile MLC and David David
Thursday, 20 March, 2014, marked another historic day for the Assyrians in Australia. Rev The Hon Fred Nile MLC raised a motion that was tabled on Tuesday 18 March 2014, in the Legislative Council of New South Wales Parliament, focusing on the Assyrian demand for the establishment of an autonomous province in the heart of the Assyrian ancestral lands in the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq.
We are pleased to announce that the motion was successfully seconded and endorsed by all parties in the house.

Rev Nile’s motion was as follows:

1. That this House considers and supports a resolution by the Australian Assyrians that demands the Iraqi Government to accord the new proposed Nineveh Plains Province an autonomous status (self-administrated region) to the Assyrians and other Christian minorities on the land of their ancestors in the north of Iraq (the territory located between the greater Zab and the river Tigris) and that the newly created Assyrian region in the said territory shall be administrated and protected by the Assyrians, under the jurisdiction of the central national Government.

2. That this House considers it will be absolutely necessary to the security and survival of the Assyrians in Iraq and the establishment of such an Assyrian region as promulgated under article 121 of the Iraqi constitution will allow greater local Assyrian control within the context of their integrated, sovereign Iraqi state, and furthermore, such an Assyrian area would allow for political, educational, linguistic, religious, and cultural protection.

3. That this House calls on the Federal Government to use our seat in the United Nations Security Council to adopt a similar motion supporting a new province for the Assyrians in Iraq at this critical time before the next Iraq national election.

Mr Hermiz Shahen, Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA), and Mr David David, President of the Assyrian Australian National Federation were present at the House during the debate.

In his opening remarks, Reverend the Hon. FRED NILE said: I draw to the attention of the House the proposed Nineveh Plain Assyrian Province in Iraq. Iraq’s Council of Ministers, led by the Hon. Nouri Al Maliki, Prime Minister of Iraq, on Tuesday 20 January 2014 decided in principle to create three new provinces from contested parts of the country. A statement said the Cabinet had “agreed in principle to turn the areas of Tuz, Fallujah and the Nineveh Plain into provinces and the Cabinet will decide after the fulfilment of the necessary requirements”. It did not give a reason for the decision. Assyrians have been demanding separate province status at Nineveh Plain for years. Today the Assyrian Christian nation is struggling to impress upon the international community the importance of being distinctly recognised as a nation in need of significant protection and, more importantly, a nation in pursuit of autonomy within the territorial boundaries of a centrally governed Iraq.

More than 750,000 Indigenous Assyrians were slaughtered by the Young Turks during World War I. The injustice continued and in 1932, within 15 months of the enactment of the Declaration of the Kingdom of Iraq—a declaration that guaranteed the rights of persons belonging to national ethnic or religious minorities—Arabs and Kurds were armed by the Iraqi Government and offered one pound for every Assyrian head. Eleven villages were summoned under the pretext of police protection. Assyrians were disarmed after being assured of the “good intentions” of the Government; the population was indiscriminately murdered; priests were tortured and killed; girls were raped; 65 out of 95 Assyrian villages were destroyed or burnt to the ground; thousands of Assyrians were removed from their homes; thousands were killed, and their killing denied by the Government; the Assyrian religious leaders were deported; a camp was set up, and the Iraqi Government was charged with the task of looking after thousands of Assyrian refugees, but instead they were left destitute and penniless causing death by famine and disease.

As a result of these massacres hundreds of Assyrian families crossed the border into Syria on 21 July 1933, in hope of receiving asylum from the French Mandate of Syria. Some 35 villages were established on both banks of the Khabur River between Hassaka and Qamishli to settle the flood of refugees. Today these people are facing the same fate as Syria and 70 per cent have fled Syria, devastated by the recent rebel attacks on their villages and churches. In similar conditions, more than 200 Assyrian villages were destroyed and their Assyrian population forced into internal and external displacement during Iraq’s Saddam Hussein regime.

Today Assyrian Churches are still being bombed and Assyrians are still being killed, kidnapped or assaulted. Assyrians have survived the adversities of history for thousands of years, but their hope, faith and determination cannot continue to sustain them from extinction. Without international cooperation and pressure, having serious regard to this fundamental crisis, their ancient nation will not survive.

The Assyrian Universal Alliance in Australia (AUA) has lobbied the Australian Federal Government for years to endorse and support the Nineveh Plain province. Many members of the Federal Government spoke in support of this issue including Mr Chris Hayes, MP, Mr. Craig Kelly, MP, and the Hon. Chris Bowen, MP. Mr Bowen tabled a motion in the Federal Parliament focusing on the Assyrian demand for the establishment of an autonomous province in the heart of the Assyrian ancestral lands in the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq. I propose to move the same motion in this House

The Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) thanks The Hon. Rev Nile, for accepting to raise the AUA motion to support the demand for an autonomous province for the Assyrians and all Historical Christians in the Nineveh Plains. The AUA also thanks all members of Parliament, all sides of politics; Christian Democrats, Labor, Liberal, Shooters, Greens and Nationals for supporting this motion. Furthermore, the AUA thanks Mr Nouri al-Maliki, Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Iraq, for his rightful decision to create the Nineveh Plain province, this will help in securing the rights and the future of the Assyrians in Iraq .

Although this has been a much-welcomed beginning, the debate is far from over and the Assyrian community in Australia is encouraged to lobby their local Federal Member of Parliament to ensure support for this worthy and necessary cause on a federal level. The AUA is cautiously optimistic and hopeful that both Liberal and Labor Members will unite to unequivocally protect the indigenous Assyrian Christians of Iraq.

Assyrian Universal Alliance
PO Box 34, Fairfield NSW 1860 Australia.