Transcript of Uzay Bulut's presentation on Assyrians at the Organization for Security and Cooperation Conference, held in Warsaw, Poland from September 10 to 21, 2018.
The indigenous Assyrian community in Turkey have for decades been exposed to systematic discrimination, intolerance and annihilationist policies at the hands of multiple Turkish governments.
Gatestone Institute recommends that the OSCE should raise awareness about the Assyrian plight in Turkey, and the rest of the Middle East. It should also urge the Turkish government to respect the Assyrian right to property, recognize the Assyrian language, and grant Assyrians the right to open their schools where they could be educated in their native language.
For Assyrian Christians, otherwise known as Syriacs, still do not have a single primary school in Turkey. Assyrian activists in the country have said that they are waiting for the government to grant them some financial support so that they could open a primary school in Istanbul.
Moreover, Assyrian properties and lands are still illegally seized by both the government and some local Muslims in southeast Turkey.
Today a stateless and persecuted people, Assyrians have been targeted and murdered over the centuries for their religion and ethnicity. According to the Assyrian International News Agency, every fifty years, an Assyrian massacre took place.
The 1914-1923 Christian genocide in Ottoman Turkey resulted in the systematic extermination of around 750,000 Assyrians -- nearly three-quarters of their prewar population.
However, the Assyrian plight did not end with that genocide. During the 1990s, for instance, human rights organizations documented the ongoing persecution of Assyrians in Turkey including abductions (including of priests,) forced conversions to Islam through rape and forced marriage, and murders, among other crimes.
Since its founding in 1923, the Turkish republic has not recognized Assyrians as an ethnic community and has not given them any cultural rights. The OSCE chairmanship should make the Assyrian survival a priority in its efforts of cultural heritage protection.