European Syriac Union recalls Simele massacre and ISIS occupation of Nineveh Plains

BRUSSELS — On the eight years after the occupation of Nineveh Plains and the villages of the Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian  people by the Islamic State (ISIS) and the 89th anniversary of the Simele massacre, the European Syriac Union (ESU) issued a statement commemorating those killed in both atrocities.

Recalling those tragedies, the ESU stated that ISIS took control of Nineveh Plains and its villages on 6 August 2014. They perpetrated the most horrendous crimes, displacing the population, destroying churches and monasteries.

The ESU added that after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq, jihadist organizations exploited the political, social, and security vacuum in the country, fertile ground for them to spread their destructive ideologies and commit the most heinous crimes against minorities and vulnerable groups. The chaos and conflict of the past two decades have seen the existence of the Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian in their historical land threatened, with large numbers emigrating.

The statement noted that, although eight years have passed since the occupation of ISIS, the return of the Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian people to their homes remains a major challenge, despite politicians in the country claiming the issue is a priority.

Sadly, massacres and genocides targeting vulnerable communities is not a new phenomenon in Iraqi history. On 7 August 1933, the Iraqi Army and its local allies killed more than 4,000 Chaldeans–Syriacs–Assyrians in Simele. Well-known lawyer Rafael Lemkin used the Simele massacre and the Sayfo Genocide in developing the concept of genocide. Unfortunately, many prominent Iraqi officials continue in their refusal to recognize the Simele massacre.

The ESU stressed that the Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian people in Iraq, as the heirs to a culture  and history spanning thousands of years, are an essential part of the societal fabric of the country and contribute to its stability.

The statement concluded with a call for Iraqi and regional authorities to recognize the massacre and secure a decent life for the Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian people, the original inhabitants of Nineveh Plains, and prevent any interference in their affairs.