AINA – Abdulmesih BarAbraham – 7/8/2020
(AINA) — On the 87th anniversary of the massacre of Simmele, where the Iraqi Army systematically massacred the inhabitants of more than one hundred Assyrian villages in northern Iraq, Joseph Yacoub, honorary Professor of political science at the Catholic University of Lyon, published an article in French titled Le drame des Assyro-Chaldéens ne commence pas aujourd’hui (the Drama of the Assyro-Chaldeans Does Not Begin Today). The article appeared in the online edition of the French newspaper Le Figaro, reminding of the less-known massacre of Simmele in the year 1933 in Iraq. According to various sources, as many as 6,000 innocent Assyrians were killed, and tens of thousands displaced.
This massacre marks a tragic milestone in the history of the Assyrians and resulted in the exodus of tens of thousands Assyrians into Syria, which at the time was under the French mandate. The Assyrians originated from the Hakkari mountains, in southeast Turkey, and were expelled by the Turkish state during the genocide of 1915 and pushed south into Iraq, which would become a British mandate.
Professor Yacoub reports that the integration of the Assyrian from Hakkari into Iraq under the protection of the British mandate, which was granted by the League of Nations in 1920, “encountered difficulties, especially with respect to maintaining their traditional status to which they owed the sustainability of their existence.” The issue became more complicated in September 1929 when the British government announced its intent to prematurely end the mandate in 1932. “This rapid development gave rise to strong concerns among the Assyrians,” said Professor Yacoub, “who sent several petitions to the League of Nations, fearing for their safety, and worried about equal treatment and freedom of belief as Christians.”
Despite a declaration signed before the League of Nations on May 30, 1932, Baghdad refused to grant Assyrians any autonomy as a minority and opposed their reunification as a homogeneous ethnic group. “In reality, the Assyrians were perceived as foreigners and the new Iraq, which wrongly regarded them a danger to its national cohesion,” said Professor Yacoub.
Related: The Assyrian Genocide
After the formal end of the British mandate, the Kingdom of Iraq became independent on October 3, 1932, and was admitted to the League of Nations.
Professor Yacoub goes on and reports on the chain of critical events, culminating in the Simmele Massacre of August 7, 1933. He cites several British and French reports about the massacre.
The London correspondent of the French newspaper Le Temps, Robert Cru, wrote on August 8, 1933: “Grim revelations have just been added to what we already knew about the atrocities which took place in the north of Iraq. A British official on tour found 315 Assyrians slaughtered.”