By Dan Wooding
7/8/07 DORA, IRAQ (ANS) — Hours after his wife Laila Yacoub Hermis, 68, passed away, an acute psychological trauma killed George Yousif Jajjo, aged 74. The Assyrian couple were living alone besieged in their home due to the imposed blockade on Christians by terrorist groups.
This news has been released by the Assyrian International News Agency (www.aina.org).
The story said, The Assyrian couple lived in al-Hadar district between al-Mechanic and al-Sahha areas in Dora. They had consumed what food, water and medicine they had. George risked his life and left home seeking help when his wife fell unconscious; arriving at his sister in law’s place they called the police, but by the time help arrived George’s wife was already dead.
This tragic incident took place June 26, 2007 and it is part of the calamities befalling the Assyrian Christians with their different denominations due to terrorist acts, and jizya [a per capita tax imposed on able bodied non-Muslim men of military age] and forced conversion to Islam.
The AINA story continued: George and Laila’s story is part of the vicious campaign by terrorist groups against the citizens in the area but in particular the Assyrian Christians, while both the government and occupation forces have failed to protect them.
Assyrians are the only autochthonous [the original inhabitants or indigenous peoples of Iraq], having lived in their ancestral lands in north Iraq since 5000 B.C. Assyrians are Christians, belonging to three main denominations: The Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East, the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Chaldean Church of Babylon. The native language of Assyrians is neo-Syriac (neo-Aramaic). This distinct identity of Assyrians, especially their Christian faith, sets them apart from the rest of the population.
Assyrians comprised 8% (1.5 million) of the Iraqi population in April of 2003. Since then 50% have fled the country. Of the 750,000 Iraqi refugees in Jordan up to 150,000 are Assyrians. Of the 1.2 million Iraqi refugees in Syria, 70,000 to 500,000 are Assyrians.
From 1995 to 2007 287 Assyrians were killed. For the years 1995-2002 there were 19 murders, averaging 2.37 per year. After the liberation of Iraq in 2003, the average number of murders for the years 2003-2007 was 67, 2827% higher than for the years 1995-2002. The geographic distribution of the murders was 35.54% in north Iraq, 61.67% in central Iraq and 2.79% in south Iraq. Kurds, Sunnis, Shiites and al-Qaeda engaged in murdering Assyrians. Examples included:
- A 2 month old infant kidnapped, beheaded, roasted and returned to its parents on a bed of rice
- 14 year old Ayad Tariq decapitated because he was said to be a “dirty Christian sinner”
- A 14 year old boy crucified in his own village in Mosul
- Fr. Paulos Iskander (Paul Alexander) kidnapped, beheaded and dismembered
- 5 priests were kidnapped and released after ransom was paid. 3 priests and 3 deacons were murdered, for a total of 11. 5 of these occurred in Baghdad, 6 in Mosul.
- 33 churches were attacked or bombed since June, 2004: 23 in Baghdad, 6 in Mosul, 3 in Kirkuk and 1 in Ramadi.
- At least 13 young women were abducted and raped, causing some of them to commit suicide.
AINA added, Female students were targeted in Basra and Mosul for not wearing veils; some had nitric acid squirted on their faces. Elders of a village in Mosul were warned not to send females to universities.
Mahdi Army personnel circulated a letter warning all Christian women to veil themselves.
Al-Qaeda moved into an Assyrian neighborhood and began collecting the jizya and demanding that females be sent to the mosque to be married off to Muslims. Assyrian businesses were targeted. 500 Assyrian shops in a Dora market were burned in one night.
Note: The Christian Assyrians Iraq are pressing for the establishment of an administrative area in the Nineveh plains in north western Iraq. They say that they do not wish for the Iraqi state to be divided and will remain loyal citizens to the Iraqi government. The intended administrative area, they say, will function as a safe haven from the religious violence that ravage in today’s Iraq.