Assyrian Democratic Movement
[Bet-Nahren, Northern Iraq] "Zowaa"
The Assyrian Democratic Movement ("Zowaa") was established on April 12, 1979 to satisfy the political objectives of the Assyrian people in Iraq, in response to the oppressive brutality of the regime in Baghdad, and its attempts to liquidate our national existence in our ancestral homeland of Bet-Nahren.
The nationalistic uprising of our people in Iraq in 1933, and the subsequent massacres that claimed thousands of lives and forced tens of thousands to flee their villages and homes, left our people demoralized and politically quiescent. The authorities falsified and distorted our legitimate national cause, further isolating our people from the political life of the country.
During this painful period, our people continued their cultural and social activities, as the only expression of their national existence. Lacking access to national political expression, large numbers of our people joined the ranks of the Iraqi national movement, sustaining tremendous losses and sacrifices in the process.
Nevertheless, all the political activities of our people were within political parties that did not address our nationalistic needs. In the late 60s, this situation changed as political groups were formed under Assyrian nationalist banners. These groups grew and intensified their activities in the 70s, which coincided with the general nationalist fervor of all peoples in Iraq. Official recognition of our cultural rights, along with recognition of rights of other nationalities in Iraq further encouraged these nationalist feelings.
However, in 1975, the ruthless regime in Baghdad unleashed a bloody campaign against all non-Arab nationalities in Iraq. This brutal repression led many in the Assyrian nationalist movement to abandon the struggle, leaving behind only the most resolute and committed to continue in complex and dangerous conditions.
As the official terror intensified, it became clear that unity of the remaining groups was necessary to continue the struggle, and in 1976 contacts and meetings began to unify the ranks of the Assyrian national movement in Iraq. In 1977, the Iraqi regime intensified its efforts to liquidate our national existence in the land of our forebears, as exemplified by its decision to ban our people from registering themselves as Assyrians in the 1977 census. Instead, they were forced to register as Arabs or Kurds. This was the first time that such a blatant attempt had been made at denying our national existence in modern Iraqi history. This action further confined the need for a unified Assyrian democratic political organization.
Despite increasing repression and the imprisonment of many who were known to bold Assyrian nationalist feelings, the committed and the steeled nationalist organizations and individuals continued their secret dialogue, until on April 12, 1979, when the constituent congress of the Assyrian Democratic Movement was held in Bet- Nahrain. There they selected this name and adopted a democratic political platform based on Assyrian nationalistic and patriotic ideas.