(AINA) -- Assyrians held a rally in Chicago yesterday to call attention to the plight of Assyrians in Syria and Iraq. In Iraq ISIS destroyed a third Assyrian archaeological site, the city of Khorsabad, more than 2700 years old. This comes on the heels of ISIS destroying the city of Nimrud, the Museum of Mosul, and the walls of the city of Nineveh.
In Syria, ISIS is still holding over 300 Assyrians who were captured in the first attacks on the Assyrian villages on February 23, which drove 3,000 Assyrians away, never to return. 6 months before that ISIS drove 200,000 Assyrians out of their homes in the Nineveh Plain in north Iraq, and they still have not returned, and most likely never will.
As they were being released, ISIS told the Assyrians from Syria to never return to their villages, else they would be killed. They are in Hasaka with only the clothes on their backs, all of their possessions lost forever, unreachable in their ISIS occupied village.
But the destruction of ancient Assyrian cities and artifacts in Iraq and Syria is the most devastating -- because of its symbolism. In destroying Assyrian archaeological and historical sites, ISIS is striking at the very root of Assyrian civilization, erasing all traces of their heritage and extirpating them from their lands.
Reine Hanna, an Assyrian college student in Chicago, penned the following letter to President Obama:
Dear Mr. President:
I woke this morning to find that your appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" was trending on every major social media platform. I watched the clip of the "Mean Tweets" segment - something I have seen previously featuring the likes of Snooki, Lil Wayne, and Justin Bieber. My initial reaction to the clip was in distaste, simply because I find it odd that the President of the United States would level himself with such celebrities. But I get it, I do: Mr. Kimmel even prefaced the clip by reminding us you are human, after all. With this in mind, I don't see any issues with you as our President golfing, submitting an NCAA bracket, or visiting late-night TV shows. I can also see why many Americans may have found your appearance last night so funny.
But you should know, Mr. President, that there are Americans that haven't laughed in weeks. Not since the attacks launched on the Assyrian towns in Syria on February 23, 2015. Actually, we haven't really had the heart to laugh since ISIL invaded the Nineveh Plain in the summer of 2014. After all, how can we? How can we laugh without knowing the fate of the nearly three-hundred innocent Assyrian men, women, and children that were taken hostage? After watching our ancient reliefs reduced to dust? How can we laugh after seeing that terrible image released just yesterday of a woman hanging dead from a log, dangling alongside her two young sons?
Mr. Kimmel is right, Mr. President - you are human. But as a human, how can you laugh, sir? While girls as young as your beautiful daughters are taken captive and sold as slaves? As a husband and a father, how can you allow such atrocities to occur to innocent women and children knowing you have the power to stop them?
During your interview, the recent events in Ferguson were addressed, at which point you stated, "What had been happening in Ferguson was oppressive and objectionable and was worthy of protest..." As an American of Assyrian background, I - like many others - feel that what has been happening to Assyrians in Iraq and Syria is beyond oppressive, undoubtedly objectionable, and most certainly worthy of protest. Even so, you have yet to make a direct statement related to the ongoing plight of Assyrians in the Middle East, and instead, have chosen to mask it, which consequently belittles our suffering. Please understand why we would be insulted by your inaction, capped with your appearance on Mr. Kimmel's show last night.
I understand that your sense of responsibility is tied to the American people, and that what happens within our borders is your priority. But these people - they are the family and friends of American citizens. The United States, for a number of reasons, has an obligation to the innocent people of Iraq and Syria. We look to you the same way they do - as our only hope. We ask that you acknowledge our tweets, our phone calls, our emails, our petitions - our pleas. As Americans, but more importantly, as humans - we ask for your immediate attention and action. And as a law-abiding, tax-paying, voting citizen - I ask that you, as my president, consider us during this difficult time.
We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there "is" such a thing as being too late. -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
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