SUA Message to the Aramean People on Iraq

5 November 2010

SUA Message to the Aramean People on Iraq

New York, USA – The Syriac Universal Alliance (SUA), the recognized United Nations NGO representing the Aramean (Syriac) people, sends it heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims murdered in the bloody massacre of Arameans in the Syriac Catholic Church in Iraq on 31 October 2010.

Together with our people, we mourn the deaths of all our martyrs in Iraq and condemn the increasing violence against Christians in the name of Islam. This horrific act is nothing less than a crime against humanity. It is completely unacceptable and inconceivable that the Christian Arameans continue to be targeted.

The Christian Aramean communities, including the Chaldeans, Syriac Orthodox, Nestorians (sometimes called Assyrians) and Syriac Catholics,1 are angry and have become mobilized worldwide. The SUA and its member federations ask the Aramean people to use their anger and channel it in an effective manner for the greater good of our people.

We have to remind ourselves of the fact that the Arameans are a great people with an ancient history who have survived many attempts of mass murder in the past. Our great people have always found ways to survive and flourish during and after extreme hardships. We will do the same today.

The SUA and its member federations have consistently and effectively fought against human rights violations of the Aramean people in Turkey. One of the many historic achievements is the Resolution 1704 adopted by the General Assembly of the Council of Europe in January 2010. Particularly in the last few years, the SUA has successfully defended and promoted the interests of the Aramean people at the United Nations and has established a worldwide network among many government officials.

As the only voice that represents the Aramean people at the United Nations, the SUA holds a very privileged position which must be utilized for the benefit of our people. We can assure our people that the SUA and its federations are closely monitoring the situation in Iraq and are taking the deteriorating situation in this country very seriously. As we has proved with our significant and meaningful work in relation to the Tur Abdin situation, Iraq will be handled with equal vigour, professionalism and diplomacy.

The SUA and its global federations have decided that they will focus purely on long-term strategies and solutions rather than short-term emotional responses, such as demonstrations and petitions. While we morally support such activities, we firmly believe that long-term strategies, when implemented in a professional manner, will lead to tangible results.

We all know that Iraq is an extremely volatile and chaotic country with geo-political and sectarian issues. The violence in Iraq has become a systemic and inherent part of society for decades. The violence affects all its ethnic and religious groups. The Christian communities, however, can be distinguished because (1) they are innocent victims of crime instead of perpetrators, and (2) they continue to suffer disproportionally among all the ethno-religious groups in the country (whether it be by violence or mass immigration). The Iraqi police and the American forces are clearly no longer able or willing to stem this spate of violence.

The native Christian Aramean people in Iraq, once numbering over 1.5 million in 2003, now number approximately 600,000. Mass immigration, intimidation, threats, rape, killings, kidnappings and forced conversions to Islam are all part of the horrific story that explains why the Christian Aramean people urgently need protection. The attacks against our Aramean people cannot be allowed to continue. Given the above, the SUA will propose long-term solutions in due course.

The SUA reiterates its condemnation of violence in Iraq and stresses that it will fight to defend the fundamental human rights, safety and dignity of the indigenous Aramean people of Iraq. We ask our people to remain patient and have faith in the forthcoming strategies and solutions of the SUA.

God bless the Aramean people.
Johny Messo
Syriac Universal Alliance

Syriac Universal Alliance and its Member Federations:

Syriac Federation of Sweden
Aramean (Syriac) Federation of Germany
Aramean (Syriac) Federation of Holland
Aramean (Syriac) Federation of Switzerland
Aramean Federation of Belgium
Syriac Association of Vienna, Austria
Aramaic Association of America (New York & California)
Aramean Association of the United Kingdom
Syriac Association of Australia



1. See, for example, Patriarch Ignatius Zakka I Iwas of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch in his The Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch At A Glance (1983), p. 12: “The Syriac language is the Aramaic language itself, and the Arameans are the Syrians themselves. He who has made a distinction between them has erred.”
Patriarch Emmanuel Delly III of the Chaldean Church of Babylon (Interview to Ankawa in October, 2008): “I would like to state that we, the Chaldeans, Assyrians and Syriacs are one people that is known as the Aramean people.”



APPENDIX: Background information on the SUA and Aramean (Syriac) people

About Syriac Universal Alliance (SUA)

Established in 1983, the Syriac Universal Alliance (SUA) is a global umbrella organization representing the various Syriac (Aramaic) national federations, associations and people in the continents of Europe, America, Australia and the Middle East. The SUA is the widely acknowledged voice of the Aramean (Syriac) people whose interests and needs it aims to serve, defend and promote.

Since 1999, the SUA is the only Aramaic‐speaking Non‐Governmental Organization in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and the Social Council of the United Nations. The SUA is a socio-political and cultural organization that works independently, transparently and on a democratic basis.
Among others, the SUA seeks close cooperation with national governments, the UN, the EU and the Council of Europe.

The SUA is dedicated to answer the call to protect and secure the rights, liberty and equality of the Aramean people, safeguard and promote the cultural heritage of its ancestors, ensuring justice, and uniting all its people as a self‐determined and internationally recognized Aramean nation.
About Aramean (Syriac) people

Scholars note that ‘Aramean/Aramaic’ is the original self-designation of the Arameans and the equivalent of the Greek name ‘Syrian/Syriac’ which they adopted since the early fifth century AD. In order to avoid the recurring confusion with the largely Muslim Arab citizens of the Syrian Arab Republic of Syria, this people at present either prefers the use of the artificial term ‘Syriacs’ or their ancient self‐designation ‘Arameans’ in Western languages.
The early Arameans were pastoralists who were an inherent and integral part of the Near East in 1550-1200 BC. In pre‐Christian times, notably between 1150‐700, they played a crucial role in the socio‐political arena of the ancient world. As native inhabitants of Upper Mesopotamia (southeast Turkey, north-eastern Syria and northern Iraq), they were ubiquitous in this area as well as in Lebanon and South‐Mesopotamia (South-Iraq).
Their Aramaic mother tongue enjoyed the status of international language of the Near East between ca. 700 BC and ca. 700 AD. Aramaic also features in the Old and New Testaments, was the mother tongue of Jesus Christ and his apostles, and left indelible traces in the Jewish and Muslim literatures (including the Qur’an).

Aramaic has for the most part been the main carrier of the identity of the Arameans, who were one of the first nations to adopt the Gospel in the early centuries of the Christian era. Besides the Syriac (Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant) community, the Chaldeans, Nestorians (sometimes called Assyrians) and Maronites are also the heirs of the Aramaic heritage. For many centuries, their ancient monasteries and churches functioned as intellectual centers and schools. Many intellectuals have also expressed the importance of the Aramean people and Aramaic language:

Prof. S. Moscati: “The Greeks and Romans knew the Near East mainly through the Arameans, for it was they who united and canalized the sources of its culture, bringing together Babylonian, Persian and Hebrew elements and transmitting them to Christianity, and with Christianity to the West. From the West, at a later date, the Arameans [sc. Syriac Orthodox & Nestorians] were to bring to the East Greek culture, especially philosophy, which became known to the Arabs through the medium of Aramaic.”

Prof. E. Kraeling: Without the Aramaic language, “the expansion of Christianity in the Orient would have been unthinkable.” This is inter alia “the historical debt which the world owes the Arameans.”

Today the Christian Arameans are a stateless and largely forgotten people who, as a result of ethnic cleansing, land theft, occupation and recurring persecutions, were forced to flee from the land of their ancestors. In Southeast Turkey, for example, only 2.500 Arameans remain and in the entire country approximately 25,000; in fact, the number of Arameans in Europe substantially exceeds the number of Arameans left in their homelands with hundreds of thousands in exile in countries like USA, Netherlands, Germany, France, Belgium, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Syria, India, Lebanon and Sweden.

This people and its ancient language are in serious danger of extinction today. Therefore, their future survival remains contingent on international recognition as an indigenous people and as one of the ethno‐linguistic and religious minorities of Turkey and Iraq. In order to achieve this, the Aramean (Syriac) people need your support.




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