A day to remember in Arizona!

This year on March 3rd, 2020 the Arizona House of Representatives in a unanimous vote passed the HCR 2006 Assyrian Genocide: Remembrance Day. This resolution was introduced by Representative Nancy Barto and brought to fruition by The Assyrian Genocide Research Center (Seyfo Center). It was also co-sponsored by Representatives Jennifer Jermaine

(D) and Frank Carroll (R). The Assyrian community in Arizona is forever thankful to these amazing representatives for their courage and compassion!

Guests of honor were Representatives Nancy Barto, Frank Carroll and Jennifer Jermaine (by Skype). Mr. Sabri Atman accepted the proclamation on behalf of the community. Several organization leaders and media representatives were in attendance and many expressed their support in COVID-related absentia. The guests were welcomed by Ms. Ninorta Kasso who gave a short speech about the history of Assyrian Genocide and why the Proclamation is important to our community.

In her short introduction, Ninorta said she is a descendant of survivors of the Assyrian Genocide. “My great grandmother survived the Assyrian genocide but had to witness the horrendous murder of her husband by the Ottoman Turks who cut him into pieces in front of her eyes. She managed to protect her four sons by sitting down and hiding her young children under her dress while being beaten continuously to get up. However, she never gave in and was one of the few women who were spared. She lived on to share her story and eye witness account of the Assyrian Genocide. My great grandfather was pulled out from his village and along with other Assyrian men was lined up in front of a ditch to be assassinated by the Ottoman Turks. The gun shots started firing, using the Assyrian men as targets. My great grandfather was shot but managed to survive and flee to share his story as eye witness to the account of the Assyrian Genocide. 

We are gathered today to honor the memory of the hundreds of thousands of Assyrians who were murdered during the Assyrian Genocide and accept the proclamation which states August 7th as Assyrian Genocide Remembrance Day in the state of Arizona. This was all thanks to Rep. Nancy Barto, Rep. Jennifer Jermaine, and Rep. Frank Carroll who sponsored and cosponsored the bill. We would also like to thank the organization and church leaders and everyone in the Assyrian community here in Arizona and abroad that helped bring this proclamation to fruition.

This proclamation being passed in the House of Representatives is a very historic moment in our time. We’ve heard of the Assyrian Genocide, the Semele massacre in 1933, but we’ve also seen it first hand today in the news when ISIS invaded Assyrian villages which left them with two choices; remain and be killed or flea with nothing.”

After Ninorta’s introduction all representatives were invited to give their speeches who

each after another said how glad they were for their contribution to this proclamation. Mr. Atman was delighted and proud to receive this proclamation on behalf of the Assyrian community. In his speech he said: “Turkey has not learned from it’s past. It is governed by Mr. Erdogan, a President who has become a dictator. A Dictator who just last month created an official government task force to specifically work on the continued denial of the Genocide. A Dictator and a Government who do not want to hear our voices. A Dictator and a Government who do not want to understand. They are poisoned with the blind ideology of denial. And they refuse to face their history in a way that any civilized country would. In fact, only a few days ago, Turkey with the leadership of Erdogan has converted Hagia Sophia, a Christian Orthodox Cathedral in Istanbul, from a museum into a mosque.

This is continuation of Turkification and Islamization in Anatolia, that requires the international

community to act against. But Turkey should know that there are politicians like Nancy Barto, Jennifer Jermaine, and Frank Carroll who do not compromise on human rights and do not tolerate crimes against humanity.”

Finally, Dr. Ramina Jajoo, Chairwoman and Strategic Consultant for Seyfo Center, AZ Chapter was invited to give her speech. Dr. Jajoo thanked all the representatives, clergy members and Assyrian organization representatives for their support. “We couldn’t have done it without you! You have truly been pioneers in serving our community here, nationally and internationally in various fields. It would have been most befitting for you to be standing here and addressing this audience. And yet, in the interest of time, you all graciously offered Seyfo Center to speak on your behalf! We are humbled with gratitude.

Last but not least, to the great Assyrian Community here in Phoenix and broad, a sincerest thanks for seeing this through with us! You are the descendants of a magnificent nation, the cradle of civilization, and you have so much to offer! While our country seems much divided, it was your quest for justice that compelled the entire house of representatives to unanimously proclaim August 7th, as the Assyrian Genocide Remembrance Day. This proclamation serves as a reminder of past mistakes to vulnerable populations.”

In conclusion, despite the circumstances, the program on July 12th, was an unforgettable event for the Assyrian community in Arizona.

Assyrian Genocide Research Center

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