20 June 2019
Senator the Hon Marise Payne
Minister for Foreign Affairs
PO Box 1420
Parramatta, NSW, 2150
Dear Honourable Minister,
Re: Kurdish Aggression Against Assyrians
The Assyrians in Australia and the world are deeply troubled by the ominous news from Assyrians living in the city of Nohadra ( Dohuk) province, Northern Iraq.
The Kurdistan Regional Government and the Kurdish Democratic Party are continuing their inhuman policy in controlling the will of our Assyrian people by imposing a policy of violence and terrorism and denying their history, culture, civilization, language and their ancient historical sites, which are deliberately subjected to neglect, misrepresentation and deliberate sabotage in an attempt to force the indigenous Assyrians from their Homeland.
On Monday, June 17, 2019, Kurdish intelligence forces (Asayish) detained Assyrian journalist Hormuz Mushi in the city of Dohuk without any legitimate charges against him.
Mushi has been detained for his reportage of the discovery and neglect of an Assyrian heritage site on May 11, 2019. The arrest came more than a month after Mushi published a video of an Assyrian heritage site near Fayda sub-district in Nineveh Governorate, calling for the protection of Assyrian heritage.
We strongly condemn this inhuman action and seek the Australian government intervention for the immediate release of the Assyrian journalist.
The Kurdish regional government has used the emergence of ISIS to significantly expand its territory, and declared that all of these territories are now “Kurdish” and will be annexed to the KRG. The KRG to justify its occupation of the Plain declared that the Peshmerga was the security force most willing and able to defend its inhabitants. This claim was unmasked in appalling fashion during ISIS’ invasion of the area in August 2014. Having disarmed Assyrian residents of the Nineveh Plain prior to the ISIS invasion, the Peshmerga fled under the cover of night without firing a shot to protect Assyrian civilians, after reassuring them that they would be protected and that there was no need to flee. This pattern was echoed in the Yezidi stronghold of Sinjar, and has led to a deep and lasting sense of mistrust among Yezidis and Assyrians towards the Peshmerga. The same scenario was repeated in the Assyrian districts in the Khabour Region of North East Syria, in which 35 Assyrian villages stretching 80 kilometres west from Hassaka province on the Khabour River in the Northeast Syria, were attacked and totally destroyed by ISIS in February 2015.
The solution for Christian Assyrians, Yezidis, and other minorities in the face of continued persecution can neither be to emigrate to the West, nor to stay and suffer. In order to help preserve a lasting presence of targeted Christians and Yezidis, Assyrians strongly urge Australia to lay out a comprehensive strategy assisting the Assyrian nation’s needs for the establishment of a self- governed protected region in the Assyrian heartland in Northern Iraq (between the Upper Zap and Tigris Rivers). This self-governed region will be a safe haven for the Assyrian Christians, Yeziedies and other persecuted minorities, so that they can live in peace and security, where they can practice their religion, culture and language in freedom and with human dignity and to safeguard their ancient heritage, history, architecture, churches and sacred land. This strategy does not necessarily need to include Australian boots on the ground but could be accomplished by Australia’s leadership using its influence in the United Nations to bring attention to the importance of establishing a protected region for Assyrians and other persecuted minorities in Northern Iraq. Additionally, we ask the Australian government for its assistance in training and funding existing Assyrian Christian militias to protect their lands themselves.
On behalf of the Australian Assyrian community, we thank you sincerely for your consideration and support.
Deputy Secretary General
Assyrian Universal Alliance