Syria: Assyrians ask for historical and political recognition

university34000-200×1501.jpgDamascus, 10 Dec. (AKI) – An Assyrian group in Syria has sent an open letter to President Bashar al-Assad to recognise the Assyrian people as an “indigenous population” and to consider Syriac a “national language of Syria”.

It is also seeking the addition of a symbol of their community to the Syrian flag.

The Assyrians, one of Syria’s largest ethnic minorities, are making these demands in light of the 69th anniversary for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, signed in 1948.

The group has also asked the Syrian parliament to help promote the Syriac literature in Syrian universities, the teaching of Assyrian history in schools, and permission for organisations and folklore groups to exercise their rights and preserve their cultural heritage.

The letter says that recognition from the Syrian government as an indigenous population and their exercise of national and democratic rights would have “positive repercussions” and would “greatly reduce emigration of Assyrians and Christians from Syria.”

There are estimated to be over 800,000 Assyrians in Iraq and 500,000 in Syria, as well as smaller communities in the region and in Germany, Sweden and the United States.

The letter also stresses the importance of Syria as the “cradle of civilisation and religions” and how important it is not to attribute this fact solely to one specific national group.

The group also praises Syria for giving it religious freedom and being “better than in many other countries in the region.”

Assyrians adopted Christianity during the first century A.D. and the entire community became Christian at around the third century A.D.

Moreover, the letter says it is the “duty and responsibility of the Syrian state to guarantee Assyrians the right to citizenship and the other prerogatives offered by the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

There are still some laws in Syria restricting Assyrians from certain positions in government and the imposition of certain Islamic laws, which according to them “contradicts the elementary principles of human liberties and rights.”