Unfortunately, we often receive bad news from our homeland. Assyrians are killed almost every day in Iraq. Many of them are forced to leave their homes in fear of their safety thus leaving their homeland under very difficult circumstances. Those who have to leave their country continue living in refugee camps.
Currently Turkey, Syria, Iran and especially Iraq do not recognize national rights for the Assyrians. Particularly, the constitutions of some of these countries do not recognise the national rights of the Assyrian people. Therefore Assyrians are either forced or encouraged to leave their own countries in which they have lived for millennia upon millennia.
The persecution of the Assyrians in the Middle East is a known fact and bad news is received in newspapers and on the internet on a daily basis. In order to gain publicity towards Assyrian-related issues, the Assyrian Genocide Research Centre, namely the Seyfo Center together with the Assyrian Youth Federations (of Europe), have organised marathons in the past years in Netherlands and other European states. This year we ran in the heart of Europe; Brussels. The marathon took place yesterday amongst thousands of runners and drew large crowds of spectators. A large number of people who ran the marathon were Assyrians.
The marathon was a vigorous and a vibrant one. It was followed by adults and children wearing colourful t-shirts, waving Assyrian flags and other festivities accompanied by Assyrian music.
This year we ran for the future of the Assyrian people. One of the messages we intended to give was an awakening to our own people.
Unfortunately, a large number of our people remain onlookers with regard to our ethnic and human rights issues and do not want assume any responsibility. That’s why only a handful of us in a respected manner take on the responsibility. Every individual is accountable to the society s/he lives in. They are not accountable to others but to themselves. This account is to live in honour!
Today we live in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Europe as well as in our homeland. We have great opportunities to solve our issues and challenges ahead of us if we unite our strength. The onlookers need to assume responsibility. In this way we can overcome a difficult struggle. Only as Assyrians can we nurture our future with our own hands. There is no point in talking with pride about our past if we do not realise who we are today and how we can move ahead!
In brief our message for our people is this: where ever you may be in the world or which ever part of the world you may live, you should stand up against racism, fascism or any kind of national and human oppression! Our place is there. The path of history’s greats like Dr. Fraydon Atouraya is our way also.
The one who dares to fight may lose … but the one who does not has already lost!
Sabri Atman – Seyfo Center