On this day, exactly 100 years ago, on September 20, 1920, Dr. Abraham K. Yoosuf completed his unique report to the Assyrian National Association in America. Dr. A.K. Yoosuf was one of the Assyrian delegates at the Paris Peace Conference. He describes the day-to-day efforts the delegation made to get the Assyrian voice heard.
Below are some excerpts from the report:
March 27th 1919
I had an interview with Mr. Toynbee, the head of the British Delegation. I told him the Assyrians’ demand and showed to him the boundaries of the territories we are demanding. He agreed with me in all the claims, also asking a state or a province for an independent Assyria, but he suggested not to define the boundaries as it would be in the hands of the Peace Conference to decide this matter. While I was interviewing the American experts on Asia Turkey, Prof. McGee, Prof. Wiseman and Mr. Montgomery asked me for a preparatory or a preliminary memorandum, so that they would know the Assyrians’ claims. I complied with their demand and prepared a short memorandum stating our claims and boundaries under the three headings:
(1) Freedom from Turkish and Persian yoke.
(2) Reparation of Indemnities.
(3) Establishment of an independent Assyrian state under one mandate.
I delivered these preliminary memoranda to the Allied delegates. I entered in this brief memorandum the Assyrian boundaries according to the wishes of American experts.
November 5th 1919
I thought of my poor Assyrian nation. They have suffered, they have been massacred and fought with the Allies, but we have no one championing our cause. Jews have money, Armenians have American people and the Armenian English Committee and untiring Noubar Pacha and the Greeks her Venizelos. I feel sorry when I see my inability to perform great things, then, on the other hand, when I notice among Assyrians denominational and personal feelings, my heart bleeds. I wish that I was able to show to the world and to the Allies that the Assyro-Chaldeans are the descendants of a great historic nation and still possess the qualities of that great nation, if given freedom and opportunity. For the achievement of such a result, we must have a well organized bureau. Unfortunately, we are lacking good, honest and sacrificing men. Assyrians must unite, casting aside the religious prejudices and join under one national flag.
December 26th 1919
I sent a telegram to the Prime Minister of Great Britain and Lord Curzon, French Foreign Office, signed by Mr. Radji, the Metropole and myself. The telegram read as follows:
“The Turkish question is near its solution. Assyrian-Chaldeans have suffered under misrule of Turkish Government before the war and during the war. Assyrians have fought for the cause of the Allies. Therefore, we beg for the consideration of Assyrian claims during the discussion of the Turkish question. We demand justice, freedom and reparations for our sufferings and ask an Assyrian free state under one mandatory power.”
March 6th 1920
With the Metropole, I visited Lord James Bryce, 3 Buckingham Gate. He was very cordial indeed and interested, knowing everything of Mesopotamia, the geography of Turkey. He sympathized with the Assyro-Chaldeans’ sufferings and their fighting for the cause of democracy. He said, “I am sure Turkey will not pass this side of the Taurus Mountains.” He promised to help our cause and speak at the Parliament.
WHAT WE NEED AT PRESENT AND WHAT WILL BE OUR WORK FOR THE FUTURE
1. A well organized Assyro-Chaldean national union whose purpose will be purely national, no religious or secterianism must enter into this union.
2. The immediate need of a press bureau.
A central Assyro-Chaldean committee somewhere in Turkey…
3. A national treasury for present and future use:
(a) to look after educational work.
(b) to furnish necessary funds for agricultural impliments for homes, etc.
(c) to help the people for establishing business corporation, etc.
(d) for propaganda work.
4. To interest the capitalists in this part of the country.
5. To organize relief work.
6. A newspaper (national organ).
7. If possible, to organize a congress from different parts in Turkey, in Persia, Russia, India, America and in a neutral country like Switzerland.
Sept. 10 – 10.30 AM
Visited Foreign Office once more to give my respects to Mr. Bergeton. He answered me that the French Government will fulfill his promise, that is not very far – as things are going on very well in Asia and Syria. Take the messages to your people that the French Government will give autonomy to Assyro-Chaldeans. He said, within a short time, he will give that authorized letter to Mr. Namik and a copy to you.
Sept. 20 – 1920
Captain A. K. Yoosuf
Rep. of Assyrians in [Paris]106
Read all of Dr. Abraham K. Yoosuf’s report and other writings (articles, letters) in “Assyria and the Paris Peace Conference“. Above excerpts are from pages 91, 106–107, 111, 137–138.
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