Every year on August 7, Assyrians worldwide pay tribute to the memory of the Assyrians lost to genocide and persecution. The date marks the anniversary of the Simele Massacre of 1933, during which the Iraqi state systematically targeted and killed as many as 6,000 Assyrians. It was officially proclaimed Assyrian Martyrs Day (or Assyrian Remembrance Day) in 1970.
While observed on the anniversary of the Simele Massacre, the day is used to honor the victims of all genocidal campaigns and persecution targeting the Assyrian people in modern history, including the Assyrian Genocide (1914-1923). The holiday also underlines the shared responsibility to protect and preserve the rights of Assyrians to their cultural identity and the lands which they have inhabited for thousands of years, but also to seek justice for the atrocities committed against them.
This responsibility entails educating about the causes, consequences and dynamics of crimes against Assyrians so as to raise awareness and promote accountability. 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, yet there remains a concerning lack of knowledge and awareness about these events.
This year, we are proud to partner with the Assyrian American Association of Southern California, the Assyrian American Cultural Organization, and the Centre for Canadian-Assyrian Relations to commemorate this day through education with the release of "Assyrian Genocide in Modern History."
This document provides a summary of five major events in modern history during which Assyrians were subjected to genocide and ethnic cleansing: The Massacre of Assyrians at Hakkari (1843); the Assyrian Genocide (1914-1923); the Simele Massacre (1933); the Soriya Massacre (1969); and the more recent genocide and ethnic cleansing campaigns at the hands of ISIS (2014-2015). It also contains recommendations for further reading on these events.
Stopping the cycle of genocide begins by confronting the past and speaking truthfully about past crimes and genocides. Today and always, we join in solidarity with the Assyrian people around the world and continue to pledge our action towards education, recognition, and accountability.
Click here to download "Assyrian Genocide in Modern History."