Assyriska Demkratiska Organisationens tal i Genéve konferensen.

Human Rights Council Sixth Session Forum on Minority Issues 26-27 November 2013 The Christian minorities in the Middle East are indigenous to the countries in which they reside. They have been living in their respective countries for thousands of years. As an example, Assyrians are believed to be the first converts to Christianity, and to this day they still speak a dialect of ancient Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus Christ. In Syria, Assyrian Christians are indigenous to the land of Syria and the country of Syria has taken its name from Assyrians. However, since the arrival of the Baath Party to power in Syria, it has continued to oppress the Assyrian Christians as well as all Syrian people.

From the start of the Syrian revolution in 2011, the Assad Regime continued to manipulate the international community by using the Christian community as well as other minorities in Syria in order to maintain its power. It has been promoting itself as the protector of minorities, but the reality is that, the Assad Regime is using minorities, mainly Christians, to protect itself. In the last 3 years, many Christians were arrested, tortured and killed in the prisons of the Assad regime. Despite living in Syria for millennia, today, Assyrian Christians as well as other Christian minorities face extermination. The total number of Christians in Syria is unknown, but it is estimated to be 10% of the Syrian population. Today, the number of external and internal Christian refugees is estimated at 400,000 – 500,000. Some of the reasons as to why Assyrians and other Christians in Syria are fleeing their homes are:
– Christians in Syria have suffered from the Assad regime since the 1970s. The Syrian legal system contains many forms of discrimination against Christians, such as in the country’s personal status laws. The most recent constitution treats Christians as second class citizens.
– The shelling and attacks on cities and towns, has caused millions of Syrians to flee their homes, thus becoming either refugees in neighboring countries or Internally Displaced.
– All the ethnic and religious groups in Syria are protected by their own militias or the government forces, not to mention the funding and political backing these groups are receiving from regional and international powers. However, Syrian Christians are not armed and do not have their own militias, which leads them to be a Vulnerable Minority in Syria.
– After its inability to defeat the peaceful Syrian revolution, the Assad regime released al-Qaeda linked terrorists from Syrian prisons and began to use the terrorist groups that the Syrian government had created in the past and used in Iraq and Lebanon. However, this time, these groups are being used against the Syrian people in order to cause chaos and give the regime the legitimacy of fighting terrorism. One of these released terrorists is Abu Mussaab al Suri who is associated with the London 7/7 bombings. The majority of these Jihadist groups are believed to be acting in close collaboration with the Assad regime.
– The constant shelling of cities and towns by the government has led to the destruction and burning of several Churches. Other Churches have also been attacked and torched by terrorist groups. An estimated 40-57 Churches and Monasteries have been destroyed in Syria in the past 2 years. Some of these Churches are ancient historical Churches that date to the early days of Christianity. One of them is the Assyrian Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Homs, Syria, which is believed to be holding the belt of Virgin Mary’s robe.
– The Syrian Government continues to use Christian neighborhoods and towns as a military base to attack surrounding Muslims. This leads to retaliations and adverse shelling of Christian towns, where the civilians are being killed. Recently, the government began to place its tanks next to Monasteries using them as shields while attacking surround Muslim towns.
– The Syrian Government attacks Christian neighborhoods and towns, and blames the attack and victims on the opposition forces. This same tactic is also being copied and employed by terrorist groups.
– In the case of Assyrian Christians, due to their ethnic and religious differences, they were subjected to systematic ethnic cleansing campaigns by the Syrian Government. Assyrian lands were confiscated and by the government, where they would resettle Arabs from other provinces in order to cause a demographic change in Assyrian areas. Assyrian Christian villages were subjected to a campaign of drying up the water of the Khabour River causing a large number of Assyrian Christians to migrate from Syria. The current conflict has added to the suffering of the Christian minority in Syria.
– The Syrian regime’s commitment to Arabism, as it is evident through the Constitution, has affected the cultural rights of non-Arab religious minorities such as Assyrians.
– The nearly non-existent Assyrian and Christian representation in the government. Only those who are absolutely loyal to the Syrian Government are allowed to be a part of the Syrian government. Before the arrival of this regime, the political participation of Christians was more than satisfying. In the forties and fifties, Mr. Fares Al-Khouri a Syrian Christian had served several times as Prime Minister in Syria.
– The constant abductions and killings of Christians in Syria. Despite, their small numbers, yet, the majority of the people kidnapped for ransom in Syria today are Christians. These kidnappings have been linked to Jihadist groups as well as government-backed militias.

The following are some suggestions of what could be done to help protect the existence of the Assyrian and Christian minorities in Syria, and prevent violence against them:
– Formation of a democratic civil state, with a constitution that guarantees and protects the rights of all citizens where all Syrians are treated as equal regardless of faith or ethnicity, and recognizing the multi-ethnic and multi-religious diversity in Syria.
– The UN and its affiliated organizations must use their power to pressure the Syrian government to stop using Christian towns and neighborhoods as a military base to launch its attacks on surrounding areas.
– The UN and its affiliated organizations must do all that is in their power to help protect the Vulnerable Assyrian and Christian Minority as well as all Syrian citizens. This could be done by creating safe havens for minorities or by placing peace keeping forces in minority areas to help protect the religious minorities and Syrian citizens. We must stop the bloodshed.
– Correcting the Personal Status Laws in Syria to treat Christians as equals to Muslims
– Ensuring proper government representation for Assyrians and Christian Minorities.
– Protecting places of worship and not making them part of the conflict


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