Enlightening Conference

Sabri Atman discussed the 100-year commemoration of the Assyrian Genocide in 1915 and the historical overview of the Assyrian genocide from a gender perspective. He shared photographs taken in the first genocide and compared them to photos taken more recently in the terrors happening in Iraq and discussed similarities between the two. Atman spoke about the atrocities happening now in Iraq, more closely Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq. Mosul had been deemed a sanctuary for Christian minorities, and now after 4,000 years, the city has been cleansed of any traces of Assyrians. Atman called this brutality, “ethnic cleansing” and a certain “crime against humanity”. 
Sexual abuse was held of upmost importance of all topics conversed in Sabri Atmans discussion. Rape was, and still is, used as a regular weapon of war. Atman spoke of a man who had committed suicide after watching his wife and daughter being brutally raped in their home. Yade Sade, a woman born in a small Christian village in Turkey, was taken from her home and forced to marry a Muslim man. To which she bore a child named Hassan, and became incredibly ashamed for having a child with a Muslim. Hassan had lived his life under the constant harassment of his community, deeming him an infidel, for having a Christian mother.
Rabi Sabri Atman proceeded to talk about the lack of recognition of the Assyrian genocide in 1915 by the country of Turkey. “Silence is not an option,” he stated and acknowledged the shortage of scholars we have in our communities that could make a difference if the proper steps are taken. We thank Atman for his enlightening presentation. 
Ramsen Sheeno presented a series of photographs taken by his camera and camera crew from his recent trip to northern Iraq. The photos showed children suffering and crying, sleeping on tattered rags on the grass or cement that framed what is the Mar Yosip Church in Iraq. Sheeno estimated about 150,000 Assyrian refugees are now left to fend for their own food and water after leaving the only home they’ve known to save their families. 
“How many years have we been preaching about helping our people? It’s not enough, because everyone works on their own agenda, because of this, we won’t change,” he stated. The money that is being sent through Assyrian Aid Society and ACERO is being delivered as promised, Sheeno confirmed. He also urged the conference attendees to keep donating, “Think about the kids that don’t have the luxuries that we have,” he finished. 
Arizona State Senator, Nancy Barto also stood up to say a few words about her excitement for the future in building a monument to memorialize Seyfo. Barto said she was adamant about raising awareness in the capitol, “It’s important to memorialize the past so we don’t forget our history,” she repeated. She later thanked our Assyrian leaders for the work they’ve put in to help our communities in Iraq. We hope to see more of Barto in the near future. 
We want to extend a warm thank you to our community leaders the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ZOWAA), Assyrian Aid Society, Assyrian Medical Association of Arizona, Assyrian Artists of Arizona and the Power of Three. A special thanks to the Arizona Republic and from the Iraqi Shi’ite community, Diaah Al Mayhea, for being in presence and for Assyrian National Broadcast (ANB) for recording this event. 
By Sara David
October 5th, 2014
Phoenix, Ariz.

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