Eight years ago today, the Assyrian people in Iraq suffered an unforgettable act of terror as terrorists armed with assault rifles and explosives stormed Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic Church in Baghdad. Fifty-eight men, women and children were killed and 78 were wounded. October 31 will always be a day of remembrance, reflection, and mourning as we struggle to comprehend the incomprehensible—the senseless act of evil that caused such a tragic loss of life, along with the suffering that continues today.
On this day, we remember and honor the innocent victims and express our solidarity with the survivors. We share the sorrow of those who mourn and give thanks to those who found remarkable strength and bravery amidst unspeakable violence.
We commemorate the October 31 massacre each year because of its enduring impact on the Assyrian people and because there has yet to be any meaningful change in how Iraq's indigenous Christian Assyrian population is viewed and treated. In the years since this tragic massacre, Assyrians in Iraq have faced threats to their existence in the emergence of ISIS in 2014 and the scuppering of any hope to fair representation in both the Iraqi and Kurdistan Region Parliaments.
The difficult task of building trust to allow for full reconciliation in Iraq lies with the people of the country’s various communities. In order to build a better and common future, the tragedies of the past must be recognized by those communities. The Assyrian Policy Institute is fully committed to supporting efforts towards reconciliation with the aim of achieving sustainable peace, justice, and dignity for Iraqis of all ethnic and religious backgrounds.
To help prevent future atrocities, we must reflect honestly on the past, acknowledge the systematic targeting of the Assyrian people in Iraq, and assess the conditions that have allowed them to occur again and again. The Iraqi Government must accept its share of responsibility and take concrete actions to demonstrate it has learned from its failures.
Since 2003, the Nineveh Plain in northern Iraq has been the area in which an effort to form a new administrative entity has been concentrated. Assyrians have long believed that without the establishment of a Nineveh Plain Governorate, the indigenous Assyrian presence in Iraq will disappear.
Despite the vast challenges facing the Assyrian community in Iraq, we will continue to press for measures to ensure that violence against Assyrians and other minorities is eliminated and advocate for policies that enable them to achieve full equality in their homeland.