Assyrians the Indigenous People of Iraq
United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues
New York, 16-27 May 2005
Date: 18 May
By Sen. John J. Nimrod, Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance
The issue of who are the indigenous peoples of Iraq has become very important today. A new permanent Constitution will be voted for acceptance in August 2005. It will be followed by another general election of the members of Parliament prior to the end of the year. If there is going to be any recognition and special provisions for the indigenous peoples of Iraq, it must be provided for in the Permanent Constitution, which is to be adopted this year.
Special provisions or rights for the indigenous peoples have been acknowledged and provided for in a number of countries. We know the Aborigines of Australia, the indigenous people of that country, have special rights. The Japanese has also special rights and privileges for their indigenous people, the Ainu. We know that the Native Americans or American Indians also enjoy their right to special privileges. These are only a few examples of what has been done in some of the major countries of the world. Several more examples can be found among the members of the United Nations.
How do we know that the Assyrians, who are also known as Chaldeans and Syriac, are the indigenous people of Iraq? One only has to take a shovel and dig it into the ground and the only history found will be that of the Assyrians. There is no evidence of any other people or nation having lived in the land known today as Iraq. The museums of Iraq are jam-packed with artifacts and remains of the Assyrian civilizations. The Louvre in France, the British Museum, the Berlin Museum as well as the Oriental Institute of Chicago are the evidence of the history of the Assyrian civilization, which were found in Iraq. One needs to look no further to learn of the major contributions of the Assyrians to our modern world.
In light of these historical facts and the overwhelming proofs that the Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriac of Iraq and surrounding territories are beyond any doubts the indigenous people of Iraq.
It is therefore demanded that the Assyrians be provided an area in the Nineveh Plains and extending northwards around Dohouk to the Kabour area at Dohouk. This area borders the countries of Syria and Turkey. The Assyrians should be allowed constitutionally to elect their own officials, which would directly participate within and under the government of Iraq.
The Assyrians must be able to preserve their customs, traditions, religion and language. There must be a secular government with no state-religion if the people of Iraq are to live in peace. We have seen what happens with killings, destruction of religious sites, discrimination and persecution if a state-religion becomes the law of the land.
Freedom must be available to all citizens of Iraq. Democracy
does not happen over night and freedom can only prevail in a country if there
is law and order and equality for all citizens. This is the only way that there
can be respect for the rights of all citizens of a country, including the rights
of the indigenous Assyrians of Iraq.