August 7th, 2013
Mr. Masoud Barazani
Kurdish Regional Government
Arbil- Northern Iraq
We offer you a noble challenge to issue a formal apology to the Armenian and Assyrian descendants of the survivors of the genocides committed by the Kurdish allies of the Ottoman Turks against the indigenous Christian populations of the region, during and subsequent to WWI.
In the past several months, your regional government has been successful in convincing several European governments to formally recognize the “Kurdish genocide” committed by Saddam’s regime. We can certainly empathize with and affirm the suffering of the Kurdish people of Iraq, particularly since the Assyrian Christians, too, suffered loss of life and property during the same period. This provided a missed opportunity for you to make an attempt to amend the troubled and strained relations between our two nations by including the sufferings of the Assyrians within your efforts to seek recognition of the “Kurdish Genocide”.
The last few hundred years of Assyrian-Kurdish relations have been mired with massacres, forced deportations and the deforcement of land and personal possessions of Assyrians by Kurds. As a direct result of these heinous acts, the Assyrian presence has dwindled significantly in Northern Iraq, South Eastern Turkey, and North Western Iran. Additional adverse consequences of these atrocities have been the marginalization of the political and human rights of the indigenous Assyrians by the Kurds. Today’s expansion of the Kurdish population is a direct benefactor of the massacres perpetrated by their not so distant ancestors. This rise in population has not only resulted in the renaming of historical Assyria as Western, Eastern, Northern and Southern “Kurdistan”, but it has also resulted in the renaming of the Assyrian regions and cities and replacing them with Kurdish names, i.e., Hawler for Arbil and Duhok for Nohadra. At the same time, you have claimed all the natural resources of the region as Kurdish property, with the ultimate goal of seceding from Iraq and declaring an independent “Southern Kurdistan”.
In the 60’s and 70’s, Assyrians supported Kurdish insurgency, and many gave the ultimate sacrifice for the Kurdish cause, while several Kurdish tribes including, among others, the Zebaris, Surjis, Hirkis and Doskis forged alliance with the repressive government in Baghdad, killing fellow Kurds and Assyrians alike. These very tribes cooperated with the notorious criminal, “Chemical Ali”, during the infamous Al-Anfal military campaign, wherein they were permitted to loot and pillage Kurdish villages. Perhaps, an official apology to Kurds and Assyrians from the leaders of these tribes and the Iraqi government is in order. In exchange for their sacrifices and support of the Kurdish cause, the KRG has rewarded the Assyrians by confiscating what little remains of their lands and the continuation of Saddam’s policies of demographic change in their ancestral lands.
In light of your ambitious efforts for the world to consider you as a legitimate, duly elected representative government of all Kurds in Iraq; hence, as their spokesperson, we request you to issue apologies for past atrocities committed by Kurdish tribes and warlords against the indigenous Christian populations of the region, including Assyrians and Armenians, while allied with the Ottoman Turks.As you are no doubt aware, there is clear and convincing evidence, consisting of extensive corpus of academic research, documents, and archival material, which prove Genocide, was perpetrated against the entire Christian population of the former Ottoman Empire during and following the First World War. The nascent, Young-Turk government systematically executed a policy of extermination against its own Christian citizens through massacres, death marches and forced deportations. As a consequence of these barbaric acts, several millions of Assyrians, Armenians and Greeks lost their lives and those that survived lost everything they owned from personal belongings to their homes and agricultural lands.
In addition to archival materials, countless books, studies, doctoral thesis and articles attest to the irrefutable fact that this genocide, one of the first genocides of the 20th century, did indeed take place. In December 2007, the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), recognized both the Assyrian and Greek genocides (in addition to its 1997 recognition of the Armenian Genocide), announcing the following: “It is the conviction of the International Association of Genocide Scholars that the Ottoman campaign against Christian minorities of the Empire between 1914 and 1923 constituted genocide against Armenians, Assyrian and Pontic and Anatolian Greeks”.
Intimidation of the remainder of the ethnic Christian minorities in Turkey continues and persists to the present day. A prime example of this is the case of the St. Gabriel Assyrian Monastery in Midyat, which was established in the 4th century.The Turkish denials of Assyrian, Armenian and Greek genocides are analogous to conducts of the KRG and its policies as follows:
- Similar policies of demographic change: Turkey accomplished its goals in early 20th Century; KRG is still a “work in progress”.
- Erasing the ethnic historical names of the indigenous oppressed Christian population: Turkey refers to Assyrians and Armenians minorities within its borders as Christian Turks; KRG refers to Assyrians as Christian Kurds.
- Denial: Turkey denies the massacres even took place; KRG ignores the Assyrian genocide completely.
To reiterate, we are challenging you to issue a formal announcement, apologizing for the suffering and genocide of the Assyrians and Armenians, and acknowledging the direct involvement and active participation of the Kurdish tribes. Although it would behoove you to rise to the occasion, you will simply ignore our challenge and demand for justice. Be reminded that you must stand on the very high moral grounds you expect and demand of your oppressors. Take responsibility for the past atrocities as you expect the same of the Iraqi government.