The Syriac Assyrian Component
The presence of Assyrians (Syriac/Chaldean) in Syria is ancient, as ancient as Syria itself. The group forms a cultural and historical depth to Syria where Assyrians are an essential part of native national fabric of Syrian society. They are the descendants of the Assyrians and the Aramean people of early Mesopotamia and the Levant ; the name Syria itself is derived from the word "Assyrian" (In Assyrian, Syria means country of force). The Assyrians are considered the closest to the Arab peoples in race and culture. This as well as that the Assyrians participated in all their activities social, cultural, economic and political while state-building and strengthening national unity of Syria.
There are no official statistics about their numbers in Syria but they are estimated to be 500,000 and distributed in Eastern Syria, Aleppo, Homs and Damascus.
After Syrian independence and the stability of the political situation Assyrian established cultural, social and educational institutions which were allowed in the framework of religious freedoms, such as schools, sports clubs and scouts.
The Assyrian institutions played an important role in the political life of the Eastern cities – because of the high population of Assyrians – especially Al Qamishli. This was the case to the point that the parties and political powers and social institutions worked to secure support from the Assyrian organizations for municipal and parliamentary elections. The formation of these organizations with its large number of membership and supporters gave the Assyrians political weight in political equations.
After World War II revolutionary ideas began to spread and principles of socialism, national liberation movements grew in the region. The Assyrian people in Syria and the rest of the region were not far from these intellectual transformations, but it was a race against others to receive these ideas and embrace them because the Assyrians saw a way to lift the injustice against them the protect their national existence. From here, and against the backdrop of the cultural renaissance, the educated Assyrians were poised to join the ranks of political parties and revolutionary movements as well as the national and democratic forces.
With the crystallization of nationalist thought and the growth of political consciousness, Assyrian organizations and parties began to spring up in Syria. In 1957 the "Assyrian Democratic Organization” was founded as the first Assyrian political Syrian faction in the modern era. Today it constitutes one of the main factions of the Assyrian movement in Syria along with some other Assyrian bodies and organizations.
There is no doubt that the birth of the Assyrian movement in Syria coincided with the growth of national consciousness as well as for the Assyrian individual and his national consciousness. This is why it adopted such a lonely peaceful diplomatic and political struggle from the beginning of its inception. The Assyrian movement emphasizes the national approach in Syria and is aware of the relationship and interdependence between the issue of minorities and national issues. It also has the belief that the security of the citizen is the security of the nation. Also there is not a solution to the minority issue, except in a national framework based on democracy in a society that recognizes pluralism, nationalism, politics and safeguards human rights.
The Assyrian movement in Syria has passed through difficult stages that forced them to retreat to move cautiously on the national scene. For this reason they arrested and investigated some of the members of the Assyrian Democratic Organization in 1987. They were released early in a political turning point and significant point in the life and history of the Assyrian movement in Syria. A public declaration was imposed on the Assyrian movement and its emergence to the surface of Syrian politics resulted at what seemed as an inconvenient time for it. However, the movement was able to adjust to the new political situation and direct have direct involvement in the political life of the country, as it fought parliamentary elections publicly for the first time in its history in 1990 and achieved a big political victory, considering the conditions of the party, by getting a parliamentary seat for the Assyrian Democratic Organization”. This was a chance to politically open up to all the parties and political forces in Syria, and to the ruling power as well.. This marked by the political position of the Assyrian movement in Syria since the beginning of the positive opposition that demanded from the political system the recognition of the Assyrian people and their national rights in Syria.
The social and cultural presence of Assyrians in Syria today is unique. They speak their own national language (Syriac) and practice their customs and traditions, and conduct many annual arts, literary and cultural festivals celebrating their holidays and national pride (such as holiday Assyrian New Year) in the first of April. They enjoy the full rights of religious practice and to teach their own language in their own Syriac schools as church environment language, and not as a national language for a people of culture and heritage. This language is an essential component of a native element of the culture and civilization of ancient Syria.
The Assyrian presence in Syria is a historical fact and the reality is that any image of Syria without the Assyrians would not be complete; their presence completes Syria’s historical and national identity. It is through the Assyrians, modern Syrian is connected with its cultural past and its unique history. The admittance of the Assyrian national presence is necessity as much as it is an Assyrian need. This is a national democratic option as well as the humane and civilized approach.
The representative of the Assyrian Syriacs in the Coaliton is Mr. Senharib Merza.
Webste of the Assyrian Democratic Organization: