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Help Our Friends in the Assyrian American Community

Posted: Sunday, February 17, 2002 at 04:06 PM CT


HELP OUR FRIENDS IN THE ASSYRIAN AMERICAN COMMUNITY
Urge your Members of Congress to Ask the President to Defend the Assyrian Community in the Middle East

Current Status

Our friends in the Assyrian American community are urging members of the U.S. House to co-sign a Congressional letter urging President Bush to defend the right of Assyrians in Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

Your support, as an Armenian American, for this worthwhile initiative will help protect Assyrian lives and will further strengthen the ancient and enduring bonds between our two nations.

What You Can Do

Contact your U.S. Representative:

  1. Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 225-3121
  2. If you don’t know who represents you in Congress, visit the ANCA Congressional Outreach secton. Scroll down and enter your ZIP Code in the section on "Elected Officials."

Step 1: Call and introduce yourself to the receptionist

"Hello, this is [YOUR NAME]. I'm calling from the Armenian American community."

"As an Armenian American, I'm calling about a Dear Colleague that is circulating regarding Assyrian human rights in the Middle East, specifically Iraq. We are hoping to get Congress[MAN/WOMAN] [NAME OF LAWMAKER] to support the letter, which has been signed by Frank Wolf, co-chairman of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus. Could you please tell me whom I may speak with regarding this issue?"


Step 2: If you are directed to another staff member

Read Step 1 again. Then say:

"Assyrians are a Christian minority in the Middle East with a long history of persecution. The Dear Colleague letter currently has 10 signatures and we are hoping to get your congress[MAN/WOMAN]'s support for the letter."

If they wish to support, get their name, position and number, and tell them they will be contacted by Rod Blagojevich's office. The contact in Blagojevich's office is Tammy Mayberry.


Step 3: If you get a voice mail

Read Step 1 into the voice mail, and leave your contact information.


Step 4: Report back

If you spoke with someone, send us the name, position and number of the person you spoke with. If you have left a voice mail, wait three days for a response. If a response comes, perform Step 2. If no response comes, tell us so we can try other things.

Send reports to: iraqletter@aina.org
anca@anca.org


Background:

  1. Rep. Blagojevich's Dear Colleague Letter:

SUPPORT CONSTITUTIONAL RECOGNITION FOR ASSYRIANS IN IRAQ

December 11, 2001

Dear Colleague:

The Assyrian community, including Chaldeans and Syriacs, are the indigenous Christian people of Mesopotamia. The approximately 1.5 to 2 million Assyrians residing in Iraq constitute the third largest demographic population in the country. However, the Assyrians in Iraq are not officially recognized as a people. The Iraqi constitution only recognizes Arabs and Kurds, and, consequently, Assyrians are referred to as "Christian Arabs."

Furthermore, Assyrians pushing for greater recognition are persecuted by the government and are restricted from free cultural, linguistic and religious expression in Iraq in particular, and the region in general. The Assyrian community has faced systematic terror campaigns in Iraq and Assyrian political leaders have been assassinated. Since the Gulf War, Kurdish tribes tied to the ruling parliamentary parties have illegally occupied most of the Assyrian villages razed by the government.

The current War on Terrorism should serve as a reminder of the need for strategic allies worldwide. The United States will benefit by maintaining a supportive relationship with the Assyrian community in Iraq, as well as the Assyrian coalition, who have made great sacrifices to oppose the regime of Saddam Hussein and will continue to work for a unified, democratic, and secular government.

On the reverse is a copy of the letter to President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell urging official constitutional recognition for the Assyrian community as a distinct, indigenous people in any future Iraqi reforms.

If you have any questions or need further information on this issue, please feel free to contact David Stricklin at x54061 or via e-mail at david.stricklin@mail.house.gov. Thank you for you consideration.

Sincerely,

Rod R. Blagojevich Member of Congress


2) Proposed Letter to President Bush

President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Bush:

We are writing to address the need for official constitutional recognition for the Assyrian community as a distinct, indigenous people in any future Iraqi reforms. The Assyrian community, including Chaldeans and Syriacs, are the indigenous Christian people of Mesopotamia. The approximately 1.5 to 2 million Assyrians residing in Iraq constitute the third largest demographic population in the country. However, their government does not officially recognize the Assyrians as a people. The constitution only recognizes Arabs and Kurds, referring to Assyrians as "Christian Arabs."

The current War on Terrorism should serve as a reminder of the need for strategic allies worldwide. The United States will benefit by maintaining a supportive relationship with the Assyrian community in Iraq, as well as the Assyrian Coalition, who have made great sacrifices to oppose the regime of Saddam Hussein and will continue to work for a unified, democratic, and secular government.

Assyrians have long suffered from violence at the hands of their neighbors. In recent years, reports of attacks have increased, fitting a pattern of greater violence against Assyrians with intent to drive them from their ancestral home. Furthermore, Assyrians pushing for greater recognition are persecuted by the government and are restricted from free cultural, linguistic and religious expression in Iraq in particular, and the region in general. The Assyrian community has faced systematic terror campaigns in Iraq and Assyrian political leaders have been assassinated. Since the Gulf War, Kurdish tribes tied to the ruling parliamentary parties have illegally occupied most of the Assyrian villages razed by the government.

We believe that the United States Government must send a clear and forceful message that it will not tolerate such abuses. Official constitutional recognition for the Assyrian community would be an important catalyst for an improvement in human rights.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We hope this effort will lead to an improvement in conditions for the Assyrians in Iraq, and we look forward to hearing from you on this issue.

Sincerely,

Rod R. Blagojevich
Member of Congress



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