August 7 annually is an important day for Assyrians worldwide. Known as Assyrian Martyrs Day, it is a day of remembrance affording the Assyrian people the opportunity to reflect on their past and honor the lives lost to genocide and persecution.
Today marks 85 years since Iraq’s first genocidal campaign targeting its Assyrian citizens, known as the Simele Massacre. As many as 6,000 Assyrian civilians were systematically targeted and massacred on the orders of the Iraqi Army and tens of thousands of Assyrians were externally-displaced.
Historical injustices against the Assyrian people in their traditional homeland have lasting consequences that threaten their future. The Simele Massacre stands as an important reminder that crimes against humanity must not go without recognition, condemnation, and resolution. Read our joint letter to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi calling for justice.
When Raphael Lemkin coined the term genocide in 1944, he cited the Iraqi campaign against Assyrians in 1933 as one of the defining examples of what he meant by genocide. Stopping the cycle of genocide begins by confronting the past and speaking truthfully about past crimes and genocides.
Although Assyrian Martyrs Day is recognized each year on the anniversary of the Simele Massacre, the holiday was established to honor the victims of all genocides committed against the Assyrian people.
We see all around us the scarring consequences of genocide and violence targeting Assyrians in their homeland, decade after decade, from the Assyrian Genocide of 1915 to Islamic State (ISIS) occupation in recent years, as well as those lost to history.
As we commemorate this solemn holiday, we join in solidarity with the Assyrians who continue to suffer as a result of ISIS terrorism—both those forced into external displacement struggling to survive as refugees far from home and those who have returned with the hopes of rebuilding their lives.
There are no words that can quite capture how difficult a period this is for Assyrians. We are all painfully aware of the ongoing challenges facing Assyrians in the homeland. It is the awareness of the spirit of Assyrian perseverance that has made it possible for our team, as well as many others, not to be discouraged by the many difficulties that we encounter as a people.
On this occasion, the Assyrian Policy Institute calls on the United States and Member States of the European Union to formally recognize the Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian Genocide of 1915 as well as the Simele Massacre of 1933, and to urge Turkey and Iraq, respectively, to take responsibility for their crimes and offer just reparations to their Assyrian communities.
Learn more about ways you can do justice to the victims of the Simele Massacre of 1933 here.