Human Rights Council: Create UN Fund for Threatened Indigenous Peoples of Middle East

On 22 September 2015, the 30th Session of the Human Rights Council continued its session with a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. After addressing the UN Commission on Inquiry on Syria the day before, the WCA called specific attention for the neglected question of the Middle East’s most ancient indigenous people, the Arameans and their dying Aramaic language.

In her statement, the WCA’s Main Delegate to the UN, emphasized the urgent need for a UN Fund for Threatened Indigenous Peoples of the Middle East. This can guarantee the survival of the region’s native inhabitants who are not on the agenda of the UN Indigenous Peoples mechanisms.


Thank you, Mr. Vice-President.

Syria’s indigenous Aramean Christians face complete annihilation. Jihadists have seized thousands of their homes. Since last month, another 255 Arameans from Homs were kidnapped and others fear the constant attacks by militant Islamists.

This is nothing new. Just last year, 160,000 Arameans from Mosul in Iraq fled their homeland when the Islamic State captured it. Since then, they live scattered across the region with little support or humanitarian aid.

Mr. Vice-President, we ask the UN Member States to help ensure the existence of the Aramean people by allocating a special UN Fund for Threatened Indigenous Peoples of the Middle East. This will enable the Arameans to save their dying Aramaic language and identity.

The ongoing crimes against humanity in Iraq and Syria amount to ethnic cleansing and genocide. And yet, the resulting refugee crisis was long ignored until a young refugee boy tragically washed ashore. Is it right that when one person dies, it’s a tragedy; but when thousands of people die, it’s a statistic?

The Qur’an (5:32) teaches that “if anyone killed a person, it would be as if he killed all mankind; and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” Therefore, we call upon all nations and in particular the Muslim nations, leaders and organizations: if anyone protected the Aramean people and its cultural heritage, it would be as if he saved humanity and world heritage!

Although the Arameans are not recognized and have no legal status in their homelands, they are the indigenous people of Southeast Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. They played a major role in teaching the Muslim world philosophy, medicine and other sciences. Their Aramaic language was the lingua franca of the Middle East and known as the language of Jesus Christ. In the last centuries, however, especially under Turkish rule, they have been decimated and turned into an ever dwindling minority.

Mr. Vice-President, we must act now and create this special UN Fund. By preventing the near death of Aramean Christianity, the ethno-religious mosaic, cultural diversity and pluralistic coexistence of the New Middle East will be guaranteed.

I thank you.

Click here to download the statement in PDF | Click here to view the recording on UN WebTV (under no. 44)


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Ms. Bakir gave an interview with Pax Press Agency about ithe mportance of recognizing the Arameans as native people of Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, and helping them survive in their ancestral homeland





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