Ladies and gentleman,
It is so heartwarming to see so many of our fellow Assyrian gathered here today. On behalf of Seyfo Center, I would to thank you all for coming to the awareness walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.
On August 7, 1933, the Iraqi military killed more than 3,000 Assyrians in Semele and many other villages in Iraq. Assyrians were indiscriminately slaughtered on that day.
Furthermore, many Assyrian families lost their homes and were forced to exile. The Assyrian people in Iraq, Turkey, Syria, and Iran have been subjected to systematic ethnic cleansing for over a century now. The largest number of human losses suffered by the Assyrian nation happened between the years 1915 and 1933—this period of atrocities and oppression against the Assyrian people is commemorated every year on August 7th, and is know as “Assyrian Martyrs’ Day”.
Modern Turkey and Iraq have been found guilty of the Assyrian genocide; however, both governments have failed to acknowledge their crimes. As the two governments continuously deny their actions and they campaign to erase the Assyrian Genocide from history, the Assyrian people around the world push on and demand for justice.
Some people think the past is the past and it is meaningless to speak about it. They say it is better to forget about it. However, we will not remain silent!
As you know Turkey denies the crimes they committed against our people and they spend almost 300 million US dollars per year pursuing this policy of denial. Despite our lack of financial resources, we have achieved more than Turkey has. Yes, they are strong but we are stronger than them! Despite Iraq and Turkey denied their crimes and they are powerful, but I want you to believe me, we are here today in Gold Gate, Russia, Nonveh, Toronto, Netherlands, Switzerland, Los Angeles, San Jose, Turlock, Chicago, Modesto but we are stronger than them. We will hold them responsible for their crimes.
All these years we have worked hard to raise awareness of the genocide and now we have more awareness than anytime in history. In fact, the Assyrian genocide is today recognized by the International Association of Genocide Scholars, Sweden, Armenia, the Netherlands, the Vatican, Austria, Germany, and by the Check Republic. Additionally three states in the United States also recognize the genocide: Iowa, Indiana, and California.
Past genocides have to be known and condemned in order to prevent future genocides. And this is precisely why the Assyrian genocide should be recognized. Hundreds of thousands of lives were stolen in 1843, 1894-1896, 1909, 1915 by Ottoman Turks, and in 1933 by Iraqi army and the most recent 2014-still happening today in Iraq and Syria. These are all dark pages in our history and we carry these with us as our identity. Do you want this to be forgotten?
The last bullet of the Assyrian genocide is the assimilation. The assimilation is the continuity of the genocide that our people, Assyrians, went through and to this day experience it. Unfortunately, these crimes are ignored by some people and denied by others. We will not let this last bullet kill us. We will resist and we will continue to speak our language, practice our culture, and we will continue to sing our songs. We will continue to be in solidarity with our people in our homeland Assyria. And we will never forget about these genocides or stop talking about it.
It is a big mistake to think that what happened in 2014, 1933, and 1915 lies in the past and should be forgotten. History is not about oblivion. It is about knowledge. It is about education. It is about the future, and we will hold our future in our hands. We will continue to seek justice for the Assyrian people.