Assyrian International News Agency AINA
Feb 27 2015

By Peter BetBasoo
Posted 2015-02-27 09:19 GMT

(AINA) -- On Tuesday, February 23 ISIS attacked 35 Assyrian villages
on the Khabur river in the Hassaka province in northeast Syria (AINA
2015-02-23). At least 9 Assyrians fighters were killed defending their
villages. Up to 373 Assyrians were captured. 3000 Assyrians fled from
their villages and are now in shelters in Hasaka and Qamishli.

None of the Assyrians want to return. This is what they have told
their bishops.

Three weeks earlier, ISIS ordered Assyrians in the region of Hasaka
to remove the crosses from their churches and to pay jizya (Christian
poll tax), warning residents that if they failed to pay they would
have to leave or else be killed (AINA 2015-02-03).

The list of atrocities against Assyrians in Syria is very long;
it includes murders, kidnappings and the destruction of cultural
resources, including churches and ancient Assyrian historical

In Iraq it has been the same. With the first church bombing on June
24, 2004 there began a relentless, low grade genocide (report) which
culminated in the displacement of 200,000 Assyrians from the Nineveh
Plain by ISIS (report). Where the population of Assyrians in Iraq was
at 1.4 million in 2004, it has dwindled to 300,000 in 2015. Most fled
to Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey --and now these same refugees
will be forced to flee from Syria, along with the Assyrians of Syria.

ISIS has not only killed and displaced Assyrians in Syria and Iraq,
it has destroyed the Assyrian cultural heritage. It has destroyed 118
churches in Iraq (report) and 6 in Syria. It has destroyed Assyrian
archaeological sites and historical artifacts in Iraq and Syria
(see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).

This is genocide -- there is no other word for it. This is the erasure
of a nation from the land which it has inhabited for 6764 years.

Article 2 of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of
the Crime of Genocide lays down the meaning of genocide:

In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts
committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national,
ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

Killing members of the group; Causing serious bodily or mental harm to
members of the group; Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions
of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole
or in part; Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the
group; Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

To this we can add the destruction of the cultural heritage of a
nation, including the destruction of secular and religious institutions
and historical and archaeological artifacts.

All of these acts have been committed against Assyrians in Syria and
Iraq in the last ten years.

It is ironic that the ISIS attacks on Assyrians in Syria is occurring
in 2015, the centennial anniversary of the 1915 Turkish genocide of
Assyrians, Greeks and Armenians, in which 750,000 Assyrians were killed
(75%), 500,000 Pontic Greeks and 1.5 million Armenians.

This is not a coincidence. ISIS is pretty savvy and is historically
informed. When ISIS pushed into the Nineveh Plain in Iraq last year,
forcing 200,000 Assyrians to flee their homes, they began their
invasion on August 7, which is the official Assyrian Martyrs Day,
a day on which each year Assyrians remember their fallen.

How should the civilized world react to this? When a group destroys a
nation it destroys the cultural heritage of the civilized world. When
the Taliban destroyed the 2,500 year-old Buddhist statues in
Afghanistan, the civilized world lost. When ISIS destroyed the walls
of Nineveh, the civilized world lost. When ISIS killed Yazidis, the
civilized world lost. When ISIS killed Shiites the civilized world
lost. When ISIS killed Assyrians the civilized world lost.

And now ISIS is destroying the very foundations of world civilization.

It is in Mesopotamia where civilization as we know it began.

Destroying Assyrian artifacts is ISIS's message to the world, that
it aims to eradicate the very basis of its civilization because it
is not Islamic.

There is no moral ambiguity in what is occurring -- ISIS is evil and
the source of this evil is Islam.

The civilized world must find the courage to accept the force of its
moral superiority and act on it. If it does not, the world will fall
into shadow.

There is a dark veil falling on the world and it is Islam as embodied
by ISIS. Who has the courage to lift this veil?

From: Baghdasarian