Monday, November 19, 2007


By Rosie Malek-Yonan

Assyrian International News Agency
Nov 12 2007

Like an umbilical chord still connected to its bitter past, the
Assyrians cannot detach from the events perpetrated against their
nation by the Ottoman Turks, Kurds and Persians in the shadows of
WWI. The past looms unsettled. The past waits patiently and stubbornly
to be made right so that the Assyrian nation can finally be at
peace. The Assyrian nation has been mourning its dead for 92 years. It
is time to lay them to rest with honor. It is our human right.

Assyrian nationalists and educators such as Mr. Sabri Atman are
doing their part to educate and create worldwide awareness of the
recognition of the Assyrian Genocide.

This week, Assyrians of America welcome Mr. Atman in their midst. His
arrival in the U.S. is indeed a bittersweet encounter for the Assyrians
of this region. We are reminded of the importance of remaining vigilant
today in safe guarding our history and our past to ensure our nation's
future so that it may be free from oppression and persecution.

Mr. Sabri Atman, founder and director of the Assyrian Seyfo Center in
Europe, is presenting a lecture on the topic of the Assyrian Genocide
entitled "Genocide, Denial, and the Right of Recognition." The
five-city American tour that began in Los Angeles on November 9th
at the Assyrian American Association of Southern California, will
continue on to San Jose (November 10th), Turlock (November 11th),
Detroit (November 16th), and end in Chicago (November 17th) before
he heads for Armenia with the same powerful message.

I had the honor of attending Mr. Atman's lecture in Los Angeles. He
presented the facts clearly and succinctly. But what was most striking
about his presentation was his unshakable conviction to demand justice
for his Assyrian nation from the Turkish government.

"Today we are not blaming every Turk or Kurd for the past events. But
this was done to us in their name," said Mr. Atman.

Indeed, the silence of the majority and the opposition of many today
to recognize the Genocide of the Assyrians, Armenian and Greeks,
only emphasizes the support of the denial of these Genocides.

Mr. Atman carried with him a palm size reddish stone from his homeland
in Southeast Turkey where he is banned from ever visiting.

The stone is a constant reminder of the bitter memories of not just
his family's past but also the past of the Assyrian nation that is
perpetually battling 92 years of defiance by the Turks.

Like most Assyrian families, the death of his grand parents at the
hands of the Ottoman Turks, is a memory that follows him daily. "The
Assyrian nation has inherited incredible scars."

"We Assyrians live in many different countries, but our existence is
not recognized. Our fundamental rights are not recognized," said Mr.

Atman. According to him, the year 1915 was one of the dirtiest pages
of Turkish history and consequently, "the Assyrian people did not
just suffer a tragedy. They suffered a genocide!"

It is true that as children, we Assyrians grew up learning and hearing
about the atrocities committed against our nation during WWI.

"We shed tears of blood," resonated Mr. Atman. A statement I know
only too well when I remember the eyes of my own grandmother, who was
a survivor of the Assyrian Genocide. She was one of the lucky ones,
unlike the rest of her family.

"We are the grandchildren of the Genocide. They owe us an apology."

An apology that is long overdue.

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