FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 05, 2013
Representatives from Assyrian Universal Alliance Americas Chapter (AUA Americas), Miss. Jennifer Babaie and Mr. Alen Mirza, recently took part in discussions at the United Nations 6th Session of the Forum on Minority Issues in Geneva, Switzerland, on the 26 and 27 of November. The Forum on Minority Issues is a special procedure of the UN Human Rights Council aimed at identifying positive practices and enduring challenges in promoting the rights of national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities worldwide. This year's Forum focused on "Guaranteeing the rights of religious minorities" and was organized by Rita Itzhák, the UN's Independent Expert on Minority Issues.
In an effort to increase awareness about the human rights challenges facing Assyrians at the international level, the AUA Americas sponsored and facilitated the participation of other Assyrian political and human rights organizations from Iraq and Syria. Those in attendance included Mr. Louis Khno from the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization (HHRO) in Iraq, Mr. Mikhael Benjamin and Ms. Rinya Hanna from the Nineveh Center for Research and Development (NCRD) in Iraq and Mr. George Stifo from the Assyrian Democratic Organization (ADO) in Syria.
Representatives from the aforementioned organizations also met with various UN officials and human rights experts to examine specific issues affecting Assyrians in the Middle East and identify opportunities for increased support. Concerns regarding massive displacement and lack of humanitarian assistance to Assyrians in Syria and Iraq were raised with representatives from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Challenges surrounding unjust personal status laws and violations of indigenous rights were discussed with officials from the UN's Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief and the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, respectively.
Additional information, including statements delivered by the participants during the Forum, will be accessible on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in the coming weeks. The AUA Americas would like to extend its gratitude to the Assyrian Universal Alliance Foundation for sponsoring the participation of those Assyrian organizations in attendance.
10 September, 2013
Throughout Syria's two and half year civil war, the people of Syria have suffered immensely. Over a hundred thousand people have lost their lives, millions have been displaced, and the country now faces near devastation.
The Indigenous Assyrian and other Christian Communities of Syria, with a history of more than 6000 years and constituting approximately 10% of the population, have faced conditions that are considered genocidal. Churches have been destroyed and people have been killed and kidnapped because of their religion belief.
With the recent chemical attacks targeting Syrian civilians and President Obama's decision to seek military intervention pending Congressional authorization, the fate of Syria's indigenous Christians stands in jeopardy.
In the coming days, the U.S. Congress will decide on whether to support the President's call for military action in Syria. Although we recognize that the primary responsibility for the safety of Syria's population is in the hands of the Syrian Government, Syria's opposition groups and the international community, we plead that the United States prioritizes the security of Syria's vulnerable groups, including the Indigenous Assyrian & Christian Community, in formulating its policies and course of action. We oppose any military action and believe that if such action is taken, it will destroy the delicate social mosaic Syrians have enjoyed for centuries.
This strife is just one of many in recent history that highlights the dire situation of the Middle East's ethno religious minorities, which necessitate even greater attention and support than has been realized. We hope that world will appreciate this real threat and undertakes to help such vulnerable group so that they do not face the same fate as their brethren in Iraq.
Assyrian Universal Alliance
Sydney – 4 June, 2013
Monday, 3 June, 2013, marked a historic day for the Assyrians in Australia. In less than ten hours after a motion was raised by The Hon. Philip Ruddock MP, Member for Berowra, in the Federation Chamber concerning the Human Rights violations committed against Assyrians in Iraq, another historical debate took place in the Federal Parliament for a motion raised by The Hon. Chris Bowen MP, Member for McMahon, focusing on the Assyrian demand for the establishment of an autonomous province in the heart of the Assyrian ancestral lands in the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq.
We are pleased to announce that both motions were successfully seconded and endorsed by the speakers of the house. The entire debate lasted about 30 minutes.
Mr. Bowen’s motion was as follows:
That this House:
(1) notes that:
(a) the Assyrian population of Iraq continues to suffer persecution 10 years after the fall of Saddam Hussein; and
(b) since 2003, 600,000 Christian Assyrians have left Iraq, including many thousands to Australia; and
(2) being aware of the Assyrian aspirations for the establishment of an autonomous province, calls on the Government of Iraq to take all appropriate steps to protect the rights of minorities, including the Assyrian Christian people, and to support the continuation of their linguistic, cultural and religious traditions.
A delegation led by Mr. Hermiz Shahen, Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA), was at the House during both debates. The delegation included Mr. David David, President of the Assyrian Australian National Federation, members of the AUA and representatives from the Assyrian media, NinevehRadio.com.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Bowen mentioned the first motion that was raised and passed by the House in 2005, highlighting the plight of the Assyrian people of Iraq. It calls on the Federal Government to make direct representation to the newly elected Iraqi Government to ensure their ethnic minorities are constitutionally guaranteed the right to freely exercise their customs, religion, language and traditions, given protection by law enforcement and international security forces and given equal representation and participation in all levels of government.
“It pains me to say that all these years later the situation for the Assyrian people has worsened. Working for many years with the Australian government and successive Foreign Ministers on this issue, I reached the view that the only sustainable solution is the autonomous region for the Assyrians and Chaldeans within Iraq. In the northwest of Iraq lies the Nineveh Plains, a 4000 square kilometre area which is the traditional heartland for the Assyrian people. There have been calls for the establishment of an autonomous region in the Nineveh plains for the Assyrian people, and I support this call. This will help in establishing there on place and defence forces such as the other groups have been able to do,” Mr. Bowen said.
During his speech Mr. Bowen acknowledged the presence of the Assyrian Universal Alliance and for being the driving force in bringing this issue to the Parliament.
Mr. Craig Kelly MP, member for Hughes, made a remarkable speech in support of this motion. He started his speech by giving recognition to the AUA and other delegation in the gallery. “Today, in Iraq there is an ethnic cleansing. Assyrians are being killed in a deliberate and strategic way. It is aimed to derive this ethnic minority from Iraq. Among the chaos and the lack of security, the new Iraqi authorities are unable to protect their Christian minorities, so the only way forward is what is known as the Nineveh Plain solution, the establishment of an autonomous province in the Nineveh plain region, at the centre of the Assyrian ancestral heartland to provide a safe haven for Assyrians and all other historical Christian people. This solution is also in consistence with the United Nations’ declaration for the rights of the indigenous people.”
“Speaker, we now have a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council, one that came at great expense of the Australian tax payers, and we only hold that for two short years. This shouldn’t be a trophy that sits on a metal plate gathering dust. We must use our voice to promote freedom, democracy, Human Rights and religious liberty and to raise significantly these Human Rights concerns of the Christian Assyrians with the Iraqi government. There is no other alternative,” Mr. Kelly said. Other speakers in support of the above motion were: Mr. Chris Hayes MP, member for Fowler; Mr. Scott Morrison MP, Member for Cook; Mr Rob Mitchell MP, Member for McEwen, Victoria and Mr. Luke Simpkins MP, Member for Cowan, Western Australia.
The Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) thanks The Hon. Chris Bowen MP, for accepting to raise the AUA motion to support the demand for an autonomous province for the Assyrians and all Historical Christians in the Nineveh Plains. The AUA also thanks all members of the Parliament, both Labor and Liberal, for supporting this motion. Furthermore, we thank Mr. Nouri al-Maliki, Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Iraq, and Mr. Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq, for supporting the establishment of the Assyrian province.
Although this has been a much-welcomed beginning, the debate is far from over and the Assyrian community in Australia is encouraged to lobby their local Member of Parliament to ensure support for this worthy and necessary cause. The AUA is cautiously optimistic and hopeful that both Liberal and Labor Members will unite to unequivocally protect the indigenous Assyrian Christians of Iraq.
You may view a transcript of the debate by following the internet links listed below.
The Hon. Chris Bowen’s presentation:
All other speakers:
Assyrian Universal Alliance
PO Box 34, Fairfield NSW 1860 Australia.
On Friday 10 May 2013, four leaders in the Assyrian community were presented with Community Service Awards.
The event was organised by Mr Chris Hayes MP, Federal Member for Fowler at Canley Height RSL, to acknowledge the efforts of different community leaders.
Mr. Hayes mentioned during his welcoming speech “as a local Member of Parliament, I am constantly amazed by the achievements of various individuals in our local community. These people go well beyond what is ordinarily expected of them. They are the unsung heroes of the community but sadly, so many never seem to get the appropriate recognition. My electoral is multicultural and I have great pride in the way we stand and work together to build this country. My position is to go out and recognise all the groups in our community and work with them.”
Mr Hermiz Shahen, Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance said that “the Award Presentation Ceremony was a valuable opportunity for us to meet these exceptional individuals, from different communities to hear their personal stories, and honour their inspirational achievements. I am privileged and humbled to receive the award, and to be part of this wonderful display of talents. This recognition is extremely encouraging in helping me to keep moving forward in doing more for the community. My warm congratulations to all the award recipients of today, including my colleges; David David , President of the Assyrian Australian National Federation; Simon Essavian, president of the Assyrian Charity and Educational Community and Ninos Aaron, Chairman of Young Assyrians of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, who worked hard, each in his own field, for so many years providing services to the Assyrian community in Australia”.
The four Assyrian leaders thanked Mr Hayes for such great honour and for his sincerity and continued support over the past four years in raising the Assyrian issue in the Australian Federal Parliament.
Assyrian Universal Alliance-Australian Chapter
PO Box 34, Fairfield NSW 1860 Australia.
Sydney - 15 April 2013
Hundreds of protestors gathered at Martin Place in Sydney on Sunday 14 April 2013, to protest the continuous persecution of Egypt’s indigenous Christians. The rally was attended by political leaders from Federal, State and Local Government, to support calls by the Australian Coptic Movement and the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church in Australia to condemn the violation of basic human rights of the Christian Copts of Egypt.
Mr Hermiz Shahen, The Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance and Mr. David David, president of the Assyrian Australian National Federation joined this protest. Mr. Shahen addressed the gathering in a show of support for the Copts of Egypt. He delivered the following in his speech:
Greetings from the Assyrians of Australia,
We, the representatives from the Assyrian community in Australia, have gathered here to show our support for the Copts of Egypt. An integral part of the ancient Egyptian Society, Copts are another indigenous group which is facing organized oppression and forced emigration in different regions of their historical country because they have chosen not to succumb to Islam. The fundamentalist Islamist terrorists, left unchecked by the Egyptian government, raid Copts’ homes and churches, and threaten the lives of these defenceless Christians.
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