Assyrian Christian Rally
Tuesday 7th August 2007 -
On a freezing and misty
morning, over 500 members of the Australian Assyrian Sydney and Melbourne
communities braved the weather and set up camp on the lawns of the
Australian Parliament House in Canberra, home to the nation’s federal
politicians and key decision makers.
“We are here today to
encourage our government to take a more active role in safeguarding the
Assyrian nation,” said Gaby Kiwarkis, President of the Australian Assyrian
Christian Association. The Association organised the rally at the request of
Assyrian mothers who where distressed with the continuing persecution of
Christians in Iraq and the constant rejection of applications for migration
of their refugee families.
Present on the day were
representatives of Assyrian organisations, politicians and human rights
campaigners as well as ministers of God from Assyrian and Australian
churches. Songs of worship were sung by all and prayers were committed to
our Lord Jesus Christ.
The opening prayer was
delivered by Rev. Genard Lazar of the Assyrian Church of the East, and later
in the day conducted a service after giving a short sermon on Matthew 5:44,
saying “Only God has the might to cause us to feel beyond the immediate
searing pain of persecution and struggle, and to desire a transformation of
the heart of the abuser.” Rev. Lazar emphases that love must be for all “the
people of Iraq, regardless of who they are, must be true and of the quality
that helps to bring about a change for the better of all in that country”.
The Saints Peter and Paul Parish of the Assyrian Church of the East
organised the prayer program, where Deacon Denis Mirza also preached on the
need to match Faith with Deeds and called on Christians in Australia to
support the Assyrian Christians of Iraq.
Amongst the many speakers was
Ravina Jouda of the Assyrian Sports and Culture Club, highlighting that 7th
of August was the Assyrian Martyr’s Day, a most fitting occasion to stand
before Parliament House to lobby for a tangible solution to the crisis faced
today by Assyrians of all Christian denominations in Iraq. In his speech,
the President of the same Culture Club, Ashur Yacoub, gave a similar message
in Assyrian emphasising that our people have had enough of the inattention
from the world community. Rev. Yousip Yousip of the Ancient Church of the
East spoke of the deep pain Christians face on a daily basis in Iraq and as
refugees in the surrounding countries.
The sky was ablaze with
Assyrian and Australian flags gently touched by the light breeze forming a
beautiful picture of white and blue against the backdrop of a cloudless sky.
Towards the rear of the group, large banners were raised, all with different
messages in support of the Assyrians of Iraq and their situation, including
“Assyrian Homeland Isaiah 19:23-25” and “Stop Genocide against the Christian
Assyrians of Iraq”.
However, the most significant
observation by all was the vision of large wooden crosses held up by the
Assyrian youth. This highlighted the importance of Christians, especially
the Assyrian people, coming together and speaking as one.
As the day progressed, God’s
sun shined down on his people, making the ambience stronger. Human Rights
campaigner Michael Darby gave a powerful and uplifting speech, calling the
current situation of Assyrians intolerable and leading a loud chant of “A
homeland for Assyrians” and “Save the Assyrians, We want Assyria”. Rev.
Gregor Henderson, President of the Uniting Church of Australia and John
Henderson, President of the National Council of Churches of Australia gave
speeches decrying the persecution of Assyrian Christians and the need for
effective policies by governments to alleviate their dire condition. Pastor
Paul Green, candidate of the Christian Democratic Party and the Hon. Chris
Bowen Member for Prospect were also present to speak on the occasion. Mr
Chris Bowen received a petition from Gaby Kiwarkis signed by the people who
attended on the day.
The central message touched on
by all the speakers was the need to solve the severe humanitarian crisis
Assyrians are in by providing migration for their refugees as a temporary
measure and a permanent solution through the establishment of a
self-administered Assyrian Regional Government in Iraq. The Australian
Assyrian Christian Association’s website (click
here) provides a detailed account of the petition made to the
May God bless all who showed
their support by attending this milestone event in support of the Christians
of Iraq. In the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, may God touch the
hearts of all peoples and governments to act responsibly to end the
suffering of the Assyrian nation. Amen.
Article courtesy of
Assyrian Church of the East (Australian & New Zealand