The Syriac People and the Treaty of Lausanne

The European Syriac Union held a conference in Zurich on the 27th of October 2023, regarding the effects of the Treaty of Lausanne on the Syriac people. This Treaty of 1923 is part of the British/French colonial framework of Treaties that defined Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel. All the mentioned countries were affected as a result of the treaty which drew the borders of much of the Middle-East.

The effects of the treaty of Lausanne were profound and drove the native people out of their own homelands. Through the means of persecution, oppression and genocide. This is certainly true for the Syriac-Assyrian people who are the indigenous people of the region who have inhabited the lands for thousands of years.

The Sayfo genocide of 1915 - 1924 by the Ottoman Empire and the subsequent genocides by Turkey, Iraq (1933) and ISIS are proof of the fact that continuously the Syriac- Assyrian people are being specifically targeted. This is reflected in our diminishing population within the homeland. As-well as the ongoing destruction of our ancient artefacts and churches. In the attempt to wipe our culture completely for future generations to come. It is important to note that both the freedom of speech and religion is not something that the Assyrian-Syriac people can practice which is deemed to be ‘basic human rights’.

There is no EU policy at present that aligns itself with granting us any rights or even support. We note that this is also true for our Kurdish neighbours and other stateless peoples in the Middle-East who all became victims of the same colonial borders that were created by these Treaties. However, the persecution of Christians within the region have reached alarming levels and the actuality of our people becoming extinct within our ancestral homelands is becoming ever closer with each coming year.

It is evident that the EU does have a ‘two-state policy’ for the Palestinians. We are not questioning that policy. We do however state that there are no fundamental differences between us and other stateless peoples. Many groups of different ethnic backgrounds have been affected by the result of the same Treaties and colonial borders. However, we must look forward and not forget the Assyrian-Syriac population which has been overlooked for hundreds of years.  It is vital that the European Union and international law uphold their values. Why does one minority group get granted more than another?

We need recognition from the EU for the need of our Syriac-Assyrian people for self-governance of the Nineveh Plain in Iraq. Which is entirely possible within the constitution of Iraq. Additionally, we need recognition and cooperation from the EU for the Autonomous Administration of North-East Syria that we created together with our Kurdish and Arab neighbours. In AANES we defeated ISIS together and brought freedom of religion and equal treatment of women for a period of time. We urge the Christians in Europe and in the western world to demand that EU Member States and Parliaments of EU Member States put this on their EU foreign policy agenda. We need the EU to treat us equal to the Palestinians. Upsettingly this is the only way to ensure our continued existence in the Middle-East.

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