European Syriac Union calls for official recognition by Kurdish regional and Iraqi federal governments of Simele Massacre

BRUSSELS – The European Syriac Union, a non-governmental Syriac representative body based in Brussels, issued a written statement calling for the regional and federal Iraqi governments to take their responsibility and officially recognize the Simele massacre.

On 7 August 1933, Iraqi state military forces and local allied Kurds and Arabs massacred Suraye in the village of Simele. During that whole month of August more than 60 Suraye villages in Amadiya, Zakho, Nohadra (Dohuk), Sheikhan and Mosul, northern Iraq, were destroyed and burned.

In its statement, the European Syriac Union (ESU) outlines the bloody history in the past extended century in which the Suraye were victims of brutal atrocities: the Sayfo Genocide of 1915 by the hands of Ottoman Turks and Kurds in the latter decades of the Ottoman Empire, the expulsion of Eastern Syriacs from their traditional Hakkari homeland, the Simele massacre of 1933, the Sorya massacre of 1969, and “the latest wave of ISIS’s genocidal campaign in Iraq against ethnic and religious minority groups.”

The Suraye were never given a safe place in Iraq and were constantly subjected to forced displacement. The latest forced displacement was when the Islamic State overran Mosul and the Nineveh Plains in 2014, forcing more than 100 thousand people to flee the area, leaving their homes, towns, villages, churches and monasteries behind. Under Islamic State rule, women and children were kidnapped, Syriac villages and towns in the Nineveh plains destroyed, and churches and monasteries desecrated or razed to the ground.

Because of all this bloody and cruel history, “the existential presence of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people is in a critical stage and it demands rapid recognition and a solutions,” the ESU statement states. The European Syriac Union calls on the (Kurdish) regional and federal Iraqi governments to take their responsibility and officially recognize the Simele massacre of 1933.

Official recognition would fulfill the moral and constitutional obligation of the Iraqi state to its own people, its own role in the Simele massacre and would also create an inclination to provide a safe place for the threatened Suraye people in Iraq. Recognition would send a clear message that indigenous components, such as the Suraye and the Yezidis, which have suffered greatly and whose existence and future in Iraq is under serious threat, need full protection and that repression, discrimination, and killing of indigenous components and vulnerable groups in the country needs to stop immediately.