NSW Parliament Seminar Explores Assyrian Self-Determination in Iraq

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Sydney – 5 May 2016
On the evening of Wednesday May 4, the Parliament of New South Wales, Australia hosted an important Evening Seminar entitled ‘The Current Genocide Perpetrated by ISIS against Assyrians and Other Christian Minorities in Iraq & Syria’.

The Seminar was jointly hosted by the Assyria Parliamentary Friendship Group of the NSW Parliament and the Assyrian Universal Alliance – Australian Chapter (AUA).

After welcoming the attendees, the Master of ceremonies Mr. Ninos Aaron, Chairman of The Young Assyrians, invited Mr. Hermiz Shahen, Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, to officially welcome the guests, followed by Mrs Tanya Davies MP, State Member for Mulgoa, the current Chairperson of the Parliamentary friendship of Assyria.

Guest speakers Dr Nicholas Al-Jeloo and Mr Joseph Haweil delivered insightful presentations. Dr Al-Jeloo provided a thematic analysis of the concept of ‘genocide’ and its applicability to the Assyrians of Iraq and Syria in light of recent events. Dr Al-Jeloo referred to a number of important textual sources including the seminal works of Raphael Lemkin a Polish-Jew who coined the term ‘genocide’. Mr Haweil explored the unfilled Assyrian quest for a homeland in the Middle East and charted a series of policy proposals in an Australian political context.

The Seminar was attended by Ms Tanya Davies MP (Sate Member for Mulgoa), Mr Guy Zangari MP (State Member for Fairfield), Dr Hugh McDermott MP (State Member for Prospect) and Reverent The Honourable Fred Nile MLC (Assistant President of the Legislative Council). Displaying the strength of their commitment to the Assyrian-Australian community all the parliamentarians in attendance expressed their passionate belief in Assyrian self-determination in Iraq, reiterating their call for the establishment of Assyrian homeland in the Nineveh Plains, northern Iraq.

The event was well attended by members of the Assyrian-Australian community and representatives of the Jewish, Armenian and Greek communities amongst others.

The mentioned parliamentarians and others not able to be in attendance have been longstanding allies of the Assyrian-Australian community, raising and passing numerous motions in the NSW Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council on the human rights of Iraq’s indigenous Assyrians.
Both main speakers were presented with awards by the AUA In recognition of their selfless devotion and tireless efforts in promoting recognition of the crimes of genocide against Assyrians and dedication in conveying the needs of the Assyrians to the Australian Government.

The event capped a historic week for Assyrian political activism in Australia. During the evening, footage was screened showing Monday’s unprecedented motion in the Australian House of Representatives in which the House recognized that crimes committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) against Assyrians are ‘genocide’. The motion, introduced by The Hon Chris Bowen MP, Shadow Treasurer and seconded by The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, contained strong language on the indigeneity of the Assyrians and was passed unanimously.

This important Seminar builds on the ongoing and tireless political advocacy of the Assyrian Universal Alliance in Australia which has seen Assyrian matters raised at the highest levels of Australia’s Federal Government and state Parliaments.

Assyrian Universal Alliance – Australian Chapter
PO Box 34, Fairfield NSW 1860 Australia.
E-mail: auaaustralia@bigpond.com