One of the smallest nations in the world is fighting for its liberty and security. It contains only 2,000,000 inhabitants; 250,000 lost their lives on the battlefields and in Moslem massacres in the Near East during the war. Compared with this nation, the Jewish people of 16,000,000 may be regarded as a great power. This small nation are the Assyrian-Chaldeans, a sect of Christians who are sometimes known as Nestorians or Jacobites or Syrian-Catholics, who inhabit the territory of Mosul, which was annexed from Turkey to Iraq under the Lausanne Treaty.
Last year the world was shocked to learn that this minority in Northern Iraq had been the victims of massacre, rape and pillage by an Iraqian army corps composed of regular and irregular troops, the latter mainly armed Moslem tribesmen who joined the campaign because of the loot promised. Men were shot down in cold blood, women were violated and killed, defenseless children mown down.
The Iraqians were given a grand ovation when they marched through the streets of Baghdad after having “suppressed the murderous Assyrian revolt.” Only now, over a year later, have the details come to light.
TALKS TO PRINCE
I recently interviewed in Jerusalem Prince Gambar, head of the Djilo tribe, one of the most important clans of his nation. He speaks good English and perfect French; he was an officer with the French Army of the Levant during and after the war. Since 1922 this tall, grizzled-hair lean man, who is painfully eager to impress the justice of his people’s cause upon his listener, has been the president of the Assyrian-Chaldean delegation to European capitals. London, Paris, Geneva, Romeâ€”he and his followers have been everywhere, trying to awaken the conscience of Christendom to their plightâ€”the plight of a Christian minority in a great Moslem vicinity.
It is almost as pathetic as the Jewish wanderings. It is a warning as to what might happen to the Jewish minority in Baghdad and Basra; perhaps their economic annihilation.
“We shall refuse to go to Brazil or South America or anywhere else,” Prince Gambar told me. “We refuse Cyprus. Mosul has been our home for many generations; our saints and martyrs are buried there; our property is located there. We lost 250,000 lives and millions of pounds of property during the savagery of the Great War. Despite our knowledge of the Moslem revenge that would ensue, we joined the Allied Powers in driving the Turk out of Asia Minor. We believed in Allied, and particularly British, protection.
PUT UP BATTLE
“When Iraq was being granted independence by the League of Nations, we fought this tooth and nail, pointing out that we should be the sacrifices of Moslem blood, lust and Holy War. We were laughed at then; it was seen that we were serious, and we were next assured that Great Britain would not allow any massacres of Christians.
“Last August and September, our worst fears were realized. Under the pretense of suppressing a revoltâ€”a strange revolt, to be sure, when all our arms and ammunitions had been takenâ€”Moslem soldiers and tribesmen looted villages and killed inhabitants, driving them off in batches to be shot down.”
Autonomy in Mosul is what these people ask for. Their religious leader, Mar Rahai Shimun, the young patriarch in his early twenties, is trying to get a square deal for his people. Prince Gambar has come to Jerusalem to enlist the sympathy of the Jewish peopleâ€””another #ppressed nation,” he describes themâ€”for his own cause.
“We and the Jews have much in common,” he told me. “We both want our own country and the freedom to pursue our own national life. We are both, in a sense, carrying out the same historical mission; and, pray God, we shall both ultimately win.”