I would like to thank the Assyrian Aid Society for inviting me here tonight and for attending.
Ladies and gentleman,
Three years ago, Assyrians and other Christians living in Mosul, Iraq, were sent a message by the brutal organization, ISIS. The message was; either converts to Islam and pay high taxes or leave. This brutal order was not only limited to Mosul, but also to the Christians living in Syria. As results, thousands of people including men, women, and children were forced to leave their homes. They had only their clothes on their back while being in desperate need of basic food, shelter, and medical care.
Can you imagine what could’ve happened if No one had cared about the Assyrians in that region? But the good thing is; yes, there were many good people like YOU, who genuinely cared. The Assyrian Aid Society is one of the organizations that always goes out of its way to help the people in need. This is the reason why we have gathered here tonight. Our people in the Middle East and particularly in Iraq and Syria need our support.
We depend on each other for our survival. Without each other, we cannot do much, and we will not have a future. Our dreams only will come true when we are at peace with ourselves, and in solidarity with our people.
Thank you all for coming to the Assyrian Aid Society’s Gala, and for standing in solidarity with our people in Assyria.
I have Assyrian friends that think the past is the past and it is meaningless to speak about it. They say it is better to forget about it. Therefore, today I would like to tell you why do we speak about the past genocides.
As you know Turkey denies the crime 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!
We worked hard and awareness of the genocide is now much higher than before. 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 Check Republics.
April 24th activities are over for this year but our work for the recognition of the Assyrian genocide is not!
The Forty-Six States of the United States have already recognized the Armenian genocide but none of them have mentioned anything about the Assyrian Genocide. However, we currently have a very good working relationship with the Armenians and Greeks. We believe we will be successful in bringing awareness to our cause.
Armenians have strong organizations, politicians, writers, scholars, and business people who support their cause. Based on my understanding, they do not have any financial problems when it comes to raising awareness. You may now wonder, how about us? I will tell you, Seyfo Center is doing certain activities such as lobbying, publishing articles all year around. Last month we send an email and posted YouTube videos explaining our most recent activities as well as our goals. We have asked our people for financial support. As results; we’ve received $10, which was a gentleman in Germany.
Dear friends, in order to make a change or see better results, we need real help!
We will not be able to do much without you and your contributions! We need you on board with us! Yes, some people wonder why we continue to discuss the painful event from the past. Some even ask; is it not better to leave it behind and move forward? My answer is; Of course, none of us want to stick in the past. We all want to move on and look for a better future for our nation. However, if we do not learn our lesson from these past genocides and help each other, we will not be able to move on. As they say, history tends to repeat itself, and we’ve all been a witness to this as our nation has gone through so many different genocides and sadly it still is in Iraq and Syria.
We talk about past genocides in order to prevent future genocides. For many of us, it is a moral obligation to ensure that past genocides are not forgotten. In addition to that, Seyfo is an open wound because the perpetrator denies what they did against our people.
We should keep in mind that in 1915 the perpetrator did not only kill our people; they did not only take our Diyarbekir, Hakkari, Urhoy, Urmiya, Tur Abdin and many other places from us! In 2014 they didn’t only take Mousal and Xabur from us.
They did not only destroy our language, our national identity but they also destroyed our future to be a nation in our ancient homeland.
They caused us to live all around the world separated from each other. They caused us go through a very painful assimilation process in the diaspora. What I want to say is that many of our contemporary societal problems can be deduced from the genocide. As such, how can we forget it?
Past genocides have to be known and condemned in order to prevent future genocides. And this is precisely why the Assyrian genocide should be known and considered.
Hundreds of thousands of lives were stolen in1843, 1894-1896, 1909, 1915 by Ottoman Turks, 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. This all is about 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, Assyrian went through and to this day still go through it. Unfortunately, these crimes are ignored by some people and denied by others. We will not let this last bullet to kill us. We will resist and we will continue to speak our language, have our culture alive 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.
Thank you for your attention.
Sabri Atman, June 10, 2017