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How Many Assyrians were killed in the Assyrian Genocide?

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Sabri Atmanteam

 
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How Many Assyrians were killed in the Assyrian Genocide?

May-14-2020 at 07:33 PM (UTC+3 Nineveh, Assyria)

Before trying to give an answer to the above question or a number I hope the reader will pause and ask, which genocide do we mean? It is obvious to many people that the Assyrian nation went through several genocides in their history. Therefore, we need to be very specific when there is a question concerning this topic. Otherwise, the answer we give can appear to be the wrong answer.

The Assyrians were persecuted from the fall of Nineveh and from the rise of Islam. Timurlane Mongolians persecuted and converted hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of Assyrians to Islam. In addition, the massacres of Bedir Khan Beg 1843, the genocide of 1914-18, the Simele Genocide of 1933, the ISIS genocide in 2014, are some other very painful and dark pages on the Assyrian history. These pages are continuing until today because the genocide is going on. The question that frequently is asked; how many Assyrians have lost their life? Before answering this question we should always ask: When?

It is not an easy task to give the exact numbers or statistics about what happened a hundred or hundreds of years ago and especially when we speak about events that have occurred in the Middle East. We also should keep in mind that the victim groups in general exaggerate with their numbers. However, to see other victims' groups doing this doesn’t justify us to do the same thing because of a simple reason; two wrongs don’t make a right. More importantly, the number for itself doesn’t make genocide more important than other genocide. Whether ten thousand or a hundred thousand, genocide is genocide and all genocides are evil. It is not clear how they come to the number but the Assyrian delegations presented statistics to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, on the number of the Assyrian victims during the genocide of 1914-1918. First, we need to be careful about if we present any other number that contradicts the Assyrian delegations. Importantly, we don’t want to give denialists any reason to question our credibility. However, if we present any other number then the Assyrian delegations to the Paris Peace Conference this number should be well explained and strengthened with sources. One of the questions I receive often when I give a presentation on the Assyrian genocide, by the non-Assyrian audience is; how many Assyrians used to live before the First World War?

Genocide is a crime against humanity and refers to the destruction of a group, in whole or in a significant part an ethnic, religious, racial, economic, political, or national one. Raphael Lemkin coined the term and he was forced to compromise with several actors on the concept in order for this to be ratified by the United Nations in 1948. Nowadays, there is not only one definition on this concept and many scholars include forced assimilation on this concept as well. We Assyrians lost two-thirds of our population during the First World War and go through a very painful assimilation process. We know what we are talking about.

We Assyrians talk about past genocides because it shapes our future. But more importantly, in order to prevent future genocides, we need to speak about the past genocide and draw lessons from them. Furthermore, for many of us, it is a moral obligation to ensure that past genocides are not forgotten. In addition to that, the Assyrian Genocide is an open wound because the perpetrator denies what they did against our people.

We should keep in mind that in 1915 the perpetrator did not only kill our people; they did not only take our Diyarbekir, Hakkari, Urhoy, Urmiya, Tur Abdin, and many other places from us! In 2014 they didn’t only take Mosul and Xabur from us.
They did not only destroy our language and national identity, but they also destroyed our future to be a nation in our ancient homeland. Despite all suffering; Jews, Armenians, and Greeks have their own countries. But Assyrians have nothing!
They caused us to live all around the world separated from each other. They caused us to go through a very painful assimilation process in the Diaspora. What I want to say is that many of our contemporary societal problems can be deduced from the genocide. As such, how can we forget it? Past genocides have to be known and condemned in order to prevent future genocides. And this is precisely why the Assyrian Genocide should be known and considered.

To go back to my question: When Assyrians present their case on the genocide they use different numbers. This is partly because they do not specify and reveal which genocide and from which period they are talking about. There is no general agreement about it among Assyrians, but most organizations use the number of 750,000, some others use more than 600,000. During World War I, the Assyrian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference presented the number 250,000 to the League of Nations. All these numbers are correct based on the time period. I was fortunate to discuss this matter with the late Assyrian scholar Hirmis Aboona that I met many years ago in London. He said, “it depends on which time period you are talking about. If we speak about the Assyrian victims from Timurlane to today then we should speak about millions of victims, millions that were assimilated and forced to convert to Islam.”

According to historical archives, from 1843 to 1945, the Turks, Kurds, Arabs, and Persians committed genocides against the Assyrian nation and other Christian peoples in Asia Minor . In these genocides, 750,000 indigenous Christian Assyrians living in their ancestral homelands (known today as the republics of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran) were burned, slaughtered, and killed systematically. Defenseless men, women, children, and the elderly became victims of these genocides.

In summary, activists and scholars agree that there were numerous genocides that make up the Assyrian Genocide.

Sabri Atman
Assyrian Genocide and Research Center
https://www.seyfocenter.com

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Assyria \ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)   1:  an ancient empire of Ashur   2:  a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)   3:  a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender   4:  a democratic state that believes in the freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the principles of the United Nations Charter — Atour synonym

Ethnicity, Religion, Language
» Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
» Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
» Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
Assyrian \ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)   1:  descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur   2:  the Assyrians, although representing but one single nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.  These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the Christian Era.  No one can coherently understand the Assyrians as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control, religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a criterion of nationality.   3:  the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya, Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean, Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu, Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye, Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. — Assyrianism verb

Aramaic \ar-é-'máik\ n (1998)   1:  a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.   2:  has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.

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