Syria: Language and culture of Assyrian Aramaic Christians under pressure

 Syria increases pressure on language and culture of the Assyrian
 Aramaic Christians – Performance of the musician Habib Mousa forbidden
Syria is according to information received by the Society for
 Threatened Peoples -STP (Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker GfbV)
 increasing pressure on the Assyrian Aramaic language and culture. The
 international human rights organisation with its centre in Göttingen
 stated on Tuesday that the Syrian secret service has forbidden a
 performance of the popular Assyrian Aramaic musician, Habib Mousa, at
 a concert of another artist in the city of Kamishli in the north-east
 of the country. For the Assyrian Aramaic Christians this ban is a sign
 that the totalitarian Baath Party, which has ruled since 1963, is
 still pursuing its goal of forcible Arabicisation of the Assyrian
 Chaldaic and Kurdish ethnic groups”, criticised the chair of the
 German section of the STP, Tilman Zülch. “The intention is to ensure
 that the Christians give up among other things their New Aramaic
 language in favour of Arabic.” The opposition Assyrian Democratic
 Organisation ADO also sharply condemned the ban on the performance by the Syrian authorities.

As the STP from reliable sources in Syria learned, the concert was
 planned for 15th April in connection with the Easter holiday and the
 Ha B ‘Nison, this year’s Assyrian Aramaic New Year’s holiday. One day
 before the performance however the secret service summoned the
 proprietor of the concert hall “Taj Almalek”. He was required to
cancel in writing the performance of the singer, the reason given
 being that he had not been registered in time. For fear of further
 complications the proprietor cancelled the whole concert.

In Syria genuine and surmised opposition personages are threatened
with torture and other forms of mishandling. For this reason the STP
 calls for the cancellation of the German-Syrian agreement on the return of refugees.
 This allows for the deportation of the approximately 7,000 Syrians
 living in Germany who belong to the opposition, some of these being
 Christian Assyrian Aramaeans, but mostly Kurds and Yezidi.

The approximately 21 million citizens of Syria, who often define their
 ethnic affiliation through their mother-tongue and religion, are
 according to the official doctrine of the Arab Republic “Syrian
 Arabs”. About 83 percent of the population of Syria are Arabs, who are
 in the main Sunni Moslems. Like the members of the minorities they are
 not allowed to vote freely nor may they influence the form of
 government of their country. The Christian Assyrian Aramaeans, above
 all in the north-eastern province of Al Hasakeh, but also in the large
 cities of Aleppo and Damascus, speak New Aramaic. Among the Syrian
 Christians, who make up about 15 percent of the population, they are
 the largest ethnic group. Rights of language and culture are also withheld from the more than two million Syrian Kurds.