Sub Commission on Prevention of
Discrimination and Protection Of Minorities Working Group on Indigenous Populations
Intervention for Agenda Item 7:
World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, Including the Second Preparatory Meeting in May 2001
Thank you for the opportunity to address the Working Group on this agenda item. At the outset may I state that the Assyrian Universal Alliance endorses the World Conference on Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.
History has proven that racism can at its extreme become the cause of more serious outcomes and even lead to genocide. One such example is the genocide that occurred in the first quarter of the twentieth century, in which Assyrians, Greeks and Armenians were massacred with the intent of cleansing Turkey of all those three races. During this genocide, the Ottoman Turks wiped out two-thirds of the Assyrian population. Hundreds of Assyrian villages were confiscated and its indigenous Assyrian inhabitants either mercilessly killed or forcefully removed from their indigenous lands in which they had lived for thousands of years. Most of those that did escape were unable to complete their journey to a safe destination and perished along the way. The survivors, to this day, remain traumatised, and decades later continue to tell of the horror stories and of the loved ones they lost before their very eyes. They also lost their connection to their indigenous lands, the traditions they had preserved for thousands of years, their history and identity.
Today there may be but a few thousand Assyrians living in Turkey, albeit in lands, to which they are not indigenous. They do not identify themselves as Assyrians for fear of persecution and discrimination. They have been forced to assimilate, by name, culture and even religion, in order to survive the ongoing racism. Reports of such racism and racial discriminations in Turkey are well within your knowledge, Mr. Chairman and I will not take your time in providing specific details of same.
Incidences such as the Assyrian Genocide must be learnt about. It is through education that we as human beings can appreciate the severity of such acts. It is through education that we can ensure that future generations will not attempt such human atrocities. The seed of racism and xenophobia can only be destroyed if we realise their extremely destructive and dangerous outcomes. Genocidal events must not be denied. Their denial can lead to their repetition.
To this end, Mr. Chairman, I make the following modest recommendations:
· That the World Conference should encourage all states, to set up and implement educational programs designed at teaching the history of genocide so as to deter future generations from such behaviour;
· That the World Conference should encourage all countries in which genocide has occurred to admit to that history, as a genuine expression of that country’s
resent towards such genocidal acts. To that end those countries should also carry out research on the effect that such acts have had upon survivors of the genocide and their families, particularly those who have been stripped of their indigenous rights;
· That the World Conference encourage all states not to grant impunity to those guilty of genocidal acts and war crimes and indeed to take the positive initiative of enacting criminal laws against those guilty of same.
Only if we learn about a subject will we be able to realise its impact. What more a significant subject than human destruction? Only by admitting to violence, do we express regret. What more significant regret than that of destroying innocent human lives?
Thank you Mr. Chairman.
Assyrian Universal Alliance