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ICC Note: The Assyrian Christians are facing a second genocide in the last 100 years. Being the same victims of the Ottoman Empire’s systematic extermination in the early 1920s, these people are now again under attack by ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Juliana Taimoorazy is the granddaughter of a genocide victim and an advocate on behalf of her Assyrian people facing modern day persecution and extermination. She, along with the Iraqi Christian Relief Council explain their desire for an Iraqi Christian homeland where Assyrian language and culture may survive.

06/13/2016 Iraq (NC Register): Can a genocide happen twice to the same people in 100 years? Just ask the Assyrians of the Middle East.

In the late 1910s and early 1920s, U.S. readers opened their newspapers to read of the Ottoman Empire’s systematic extermination of these ancient Christians in their homelands, which stretched from modern-day Turkey across the northern swathes of modern-day Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Today, few U.S. readers even realize the Assyrians still exist. But this ancient Christian and biblical people of the Middle East faces the prospect that the second genocide started by the Islamic State group (ISIS) — combined with assimilation in the West — will finish their religious and ethnic extermination set in motion nearly 100 years ago.

More than 150,000 Assyrian Christians — many of whom are part of the Chaldean Catholic and Syriac Catholic Churches — were driven from their homes in Mosul by ISIS in June 2014, to seek refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan. In neighboring Syria, thousands of Assyrians in villages along the Khabur River, a Euphrates tributary in the northeast, are fighting for their survival, caught on one side between ISIS and on the other side by Kurdish YPG separatists.

In this interview with the Register, Juliana Taimoorazy, founder and president of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council and a fellow at the Philos Project, speaks about her work as a Catholic and Assyrian descendent of genocide survivors in trying to save her Assyrian people from extermination by ISIS and create secure homeland on the ancestral Nineveh Plain. For both the Church and the world, what is at stake is the survival of the living witnesses to the Bible’s ancient history and the Church’s apostolic age, when the Assyrians received the Gospel directly from St. Thomas and literally took it as far as China, the known ends of the earth.

Juliana, can you tell us about your own experience of religious persecution as a Catholic Assyrian in Iran and why you had to leave and seek asylum in the United States?

I was born in Tehran, where my parents were living. Then, in 1979, the Iranian Revolution erupted and changed our lives completely. My siblings, who were much older than me, really had a good life in Iran under the shah. Minorities were respected then; we had religious freedom — but then, when it came to me [after the revolution], I was mocked for my Catholic faith. I was told repeatedly that I would burn in hell for my Catholic name. I was thrown out of class quite a few times, because I would defend the Trinity. And they would try to convert me to Islam by reciting the Shahada, the [conversion] verse in the Quran, and I would refuse to do that. Eventually, my father decided that he had to smuggle me out.

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