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FOR HILL STAFF
The Assyrian Policy Institute makes resources available to Members of Congress and their staff to broaden their understanding on issues impacting Assyrians and our advocacy priorities.
On Assyrian Identity
Due to the ethnopolitical conflict in the Middle East, Assyrians are often referred to by their religious designations. Assyrians have founded five Eastern Churches at different points during their long history: Ancient Church of the East, Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church, Syriac Catholic Church, and the Syriac Orthodox Church. Some ethnic Assyrians self-identify as Chaldeans or Syriacs, depending on church denomination.
Apart from enduring genocide over the course of the past century, the Assyrians have also suffered a cultural genocide that has undermined their identity, questioning its origins and unity as a people. The various governments that rule over their ancestral homeland use sectarian identities, referring to them by their denomination or merely as Christians. Reducing the Assyrian identity to Christian is harmful to the ancient community, as it erases their distinct culture and history, lessens their ties to the lands they inhabit, and exacerbates existing divisions.
It is a matter of survival and continuity for the Assyrians to bridge denominational divisions that prevent full national unity and healing. Actions which undermine this process and actively entrench and facilitate further denominational division of the one, ethnic identity of these people is an act of cultural genocide.
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