NORTH AND EAST SYRIA — U.S.-based Al-Hurra TV recently interviewed member of the Executive Body of the Bethnahrin National Council (Mawtbo Umthoyo D’Bethnahrin, MUB) Elizabeth Gawriye about the historic struggle of the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) people in Syria.
Gawriye touched on the coexistence of the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) people with other ethnic groups for many years in Syria, in addition to some customs and traditions that were limiting the freedom of the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) people.
Speaking about the suffering of the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) people, Gawriye said that they were subjected to displacement, injustice, and persecution by various ruling regimes and were prevented from speaking their mother tongue. Not to mention the attempts of some regimes to undermine ethnic and religious coexistence for political gain, going so far as to create rifts within Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) community itself.
Gawriye pointed out that in the years preceding the Syrian uprising, the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) people used to secretly celebrate their national holidays and festivals, such as the Akitu, for fear of persecution by the ruling regime. The regimes also prevented Syriacs (Arameans–Assyrians–Chaldeans), Kurds, and other groups from holding important positions in government if they were not affiliated with the ruling Baath Party.
Regarding her experience in political work, Gawriye stated that she decided to go into this field based on the injustice and persecution she was subjected to and witnessed during her time as a teacher in government schools. Syriacs (Arameans–Assyrians–Chaldeans) and Kurds were prevented from speaking their mother tongues or even wearing the Holy Cross.
Gawriye noted that she was one of the founders of the Syriac Cultural Association in Syria, which was established in 2008.
“After the outbreak of the uprising in Syria in 2011, political work focused on holding meetings with various ethnic groups which ultimately resulted in the formation of the Democratic Autonomous Administration (DAA) in North and East Syria in 2014,” she stated, adding that several institutions specifically for the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) people were formed later, including the Syriac Cross for Relief and Development, the Syriac Progressive Youth Union, and the Syriac Military Council (Mawtbo Fulḥoyo Suryoyo, MFS), which played an important role in defending all ethnic groups of the region and defeating terrorism in the region.