Simele (Syriac: Šhem'ēl ܫܡܐܝܠ, Kurdish: سێمێل,Sêmêl, Arabic: سميل) is a town located in the Dohuk province of Iraqi Kurdistan. The town is on the main road that connects Iraq to its neighbour Turkey. It is 14 km (8.7 mi) west of the city of Dohuk. The town in inhabited by Kurds with minorities of Arabs, Assyrians, Yazidis and Armenians.
Simele in 2012
Location in Iraq
The town was mentioned by Yaqut al-Hamawi as "Simwel" which is thought to be a corruption of the Syriac Simmālā (ܣܡܠܐ) meaning "left". Another possible origin could be the Syriac Shemʻēl (ܫܡܥ ܐܝܠ), which means "the name of God".
Historically, the region in which Simele was a part of Assyria during its existence as a nation and then province from the 24th century BCE until the 7th century AD. The town was converted to Christianity in the 2nd century and was later famous for its Syriac manuscripts. Its Assyrian inhabitants belonged to both the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. Its Assyrians inhabitants were joined by Yazidis who settled the town in 1800. Both were in turn massacred by Mir Muhammad of Rowanduz. Later on, Arab tribes also started settling the area.
Simele, in the early 20th century, was turned into a very small Kurdish village due to colonisation. A significant Assyrian community reformed in the town during World War I in the wake of the mass migration from the Hakkari region of Turkey, due to the Assyrian Genocide by the Ottoman Empire with help from Kurdish tribes against native Armenians and Assyrians.
The Assyrian people, who resided in Simele and its neighbouring area, were subjected to a massacre on August 7, 1933, implemented by the Iraqi government. The massacre was the first state-sponsored massacre in Iraq's young history after the establishment of Iraq in 1921. An estimated 3000 Assyrians died during the 1933 massacre, most of them in the village of Simele. Thousands were forced to flee to Syria where they currently live in 33 villages of the Khabur plains, in the Al Jazeera region.
The number of families in Simele — Kurdish and Assyrian — increased due to the geographical importance of the city and due to the destruction of smaller, nearby villages. Families were forced to migrate and to live in the larger cities and towns of the region.
Having migrated from the neighbouring villages, most Simeleian families depend on agriculture for their income. Many villages in that area have plenty of seasonal water plants, tomatoes, and other vegetables. Many other people of Simele depend on trade as their source of income.
Around 170 Assyrian families currently live in the center of Simele. They are adherents of the two main denominations in the region: the Chaldean Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. The Chaldean Catholic church is named Mart Maryam (St. Mary the Virgin), while the Assyrian Church of the East church is named Umra d'Sahdeh (Church of Martyrs) in the honor of the martyrs of the 1933 Simele Massacre. Around a dozen Armenian families live in the town as well.
The Assyrian independence movement is a political movement and an ethno-nationialist desire of the Assyrian People to live in their traditional Assyrian homeland under the self-governance of an Assyrian State.The tumultuous history of the traditional Assyrian Homeland and surrounding regions, and the creation of modern nation states out of the previous Ottoman Empire, led to the emergence of Assyrian nationalism.To this respect, Assyrian independence movement is a "catch-all" term of the collective efforts of proponents of Assyrian nationalism in the context of the modern nation state. Due to genocide and war they are a minority population in their traditional homelands thus political autonomy has been unattainable due to the security risks, and explains why a movement for Assyrian independence exists today.The areas that form the Assyrian homeland are parts of present-day northern Iraq, southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran and, more recently, northeastern Syria. The efforts are specifically in the regions where larger concentrations still exist, and not the Assyrian homeland in its entirety, those regions with large concentrations being Erbil, and the Dohuk Governorate in Iraq, the latter 2 being located in the Iraqi Kurdistan region and the Al-Hasakah Governorate in Syria. Mosul and the Nineveh Governorate had a sizable Assyrian presence prior to the takeover and forced expulsion of the Assyrian population by the Islamic State in 2014.The assassination of Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII in 1975 was a demoralizing moment to Assyrians as he was their spiritual and temporal leader. During his 53 years as Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII petitioned the League of Nations, and then the United Nations for an Assyrian Homeland before stepping down as Patriarch in 1973.The independence movement is active both within the homeland and throughout the global diaspora, with much resistance from the local Middle Eastern states and regions, as well as the Kurds. The movement has spanned centuries, with the initial conceptualization of modern Assyrian statehood occurring in the 19th century with the waning of the Ottoman Empire and rise of European control of the region, notably by the British and Russian Empires, as well as the French Republic.
There have been many hindrances to the movement, including events such as the Assyrian genocide, Simele massacre, internal conflicts over naming disputes and Assyrian churches, portrayals in media, and Arabization, Kurdification, and Turkification policies. Most recently, the primary problem for them has been ISIS, which took over and expelled a massive portion of the population from the Nineveh Plains in Northern Iraq. The Assyrian Aid Society of America has requested that the U.S. government designate these actions as a genocide against Assyrians in these regions.Austen Henry Layard, the British Empire's ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century, stated that the Assyrians had survived the Arab, Mongol, and Kurdish conquests in the mountains of Hakkari and northern Mesopotamia, where they had fought to maintain their independence in the nineteenth century.In 2016, the Iraqi Parliament voted against a new Christian province in Nineveh Plains, which was a stated political objective of all major Assyrian political groups and institutions. Assyrians, including the leader of the Assyrian Christian party Bet al-Nahrain, Romio Hakkari, protested the Iraqi parliament's decision and stated "We do not want to be part of the possible Sunni (Arab) autonomous region in Iraq".Assyrian people
Assyrian people (Classical Syriac: ܐܬܘܪܝܐ Atūrayĕ or ܣܘܪܝܐ Sūrayĕ), are a Semitic ethnic group indigenous to Assyria, a region in the Middle East. Some self-identify as Syriacs, Arameans, and Chaldeans. Speakers of Neo-Aramaic languages as well as the primary languages in their countries of residence, modern Assyrians are Syriac Christians who claim descent from Assyria, one of the oldest civilizations in the world, dating back to 2500 BC in ancient Mesopotamia.The tribal areas that form the Assyrian homeland are parts of present-day northern Iraq (Nineveh Plains and Dohuk Governorate), southeastern Turkey (Hakkari and Tur Abdin), northwestern Iran (Urmia) and, more recently, northeastern Syria (Al-Hasakah Governorate). The majority have migrated to other regions of the world, including North America, the Levant, Australia, Europe, Russia and the Caucasus during the past century. Emigration was triggered by events such as the Massacres of Diyarbakır, the Assyrian Genocide (concurrent with the Armenian and Greek Genocides) during World War I by the Ottoman Empire and allied Kurdish tribes, the Simele Massacre in Iraq in 1933, the Iranian Revolution of 1979, Arab Nationalist Ba'athist policies in Iraq and Syria, the rise of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and its takeover of most of the Nineveh plains.Assyrians are predominantly Christian, mostly adhering to the East and West Syrian liturgical rites of Christianity. The churches that constitute the East Syrian rite include the Assyrian Church of the East, Ancient Church of the East, and Chaldean Catholic Church, whereas the churches of the West Syrian rite are the Syriac Orthodox Church and Syriac Catholic Church. Both rites use Classical Syriac as their liturgical language.
Most recently, the post-2003 Iraq War and the Syrian Civil War, which began in 2011, have displaced much of the remaining Assyrian community from their homeland as a result of ethnic and religious persecution at the hands of Islamic extremists. Of the one million or more Iraqis reported by the United Nations to have fled Iraq since the occupation, nearly 40% were Assyrians even though Assyrians accounted for only around 3% of the pre-war Iraqi demography. According to a 2013 report by a Chaldean Syriac Assyrian Popular Council official, it is estimated that only 300,000 Assyrians remain in Iraq.Because of the emergence of ISIL and the taking over of much of the Assyrian homeland by the terror group, another major wave of Assyrian displacement has taken place. ISIL was driven out from the Assyrian villages in the Khabour River Valley and the areas surrounding the city of Al-Hasakah in Syria by 2015, and from the Nineveh plains in Iraq by 2017. In northern Syria, Assyrian groups have been taking part both politically and militarily in the Kurdish-dominated but multiethnic Syrian Democratic Forces and Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.Assyrians in Jordan
Assyrians in Jordan include migrants of Assyrian origin residing in Jordan, as well as their descendants. As of May 2007, the Assyrians in Jordan number approximately 1,000 people and most of them came as refugees from northern Iraq, one of the four locations of the indigenous Assyrian homeland areas which are part of today's northern Iraq, southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran and, more recently, northeastern Syria". They mostly live within the capital city of Amman. Most adhere to the Assyrian Church of the East and the Syriac Orthodox Church.Assyrian–Chaldean–Syriac diaspora
The Assyrian diaspora (Syriac: ܓܠܘܬܐ, Galuta, "exile") refers to Assyrians living in communities outside their ancestral homeland. The Eastern Aramaic-speaking Assyrians are descendants of the ancient Assyrians, and are one of the few ancient Semitic ethnicities in the Near East who resisted Arabisation, Turkification and Islamisation during and after the Arab conquest of Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran.
The indigenous Assyrian homeland is within the borders of northern Iraq, southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran, and more recently, northeastern Syria, a region roughly corresponding with Assyria from the 25th century BC to the seventh century AD. Assyrians are predominantly Christians; most are members of the Assyrian Church of the East, the Ancient Church of the East, the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Assyrian Pentecostal Church or the Assyrian Evangelical Church. The terms "Syriac", "Chaldean" and "Chaldo-Assyrian" can be used to describe ethnic Assyrians by their religious affiliation, and indeed the terms "Syriac" and "Syrian" are much later derivatives of the original "Assyrian", and historically, geographically and ethnically originally meant Assyrian (see Etymology of Syria).
Before the Assyrian genocide, the Assyrian people were largely unmoved from their native lands which they had occupied for about 5,000 years. Although a handful of Assyrians had migrated to the United Kingdom during the Victorian era, the Assyrian diaspora began in earnest during World War I (1914-1918) as the Ottoman Empire conducted both large scale genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Assyrian people with the aid of local Kurdish, Iranian and Arab tribes. This genocide was coordinated alongside the Armenian genocide, Greek genocide and Great Famine of Mount Lebanon.
Further atrocities such as the Simele Massacres of the 1930's also stimulated migration.
Additional emigration occurred in the 1980s, as Assyrian communities fled the violence of the Kurdish–Turkish conflict and the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran. During the 1990s and 2000s, Assyrians left the Middle East to evade persecution in Ba'athist Iraq and from Sunni and Shia fundamentalists. The exodus continues, as Assyrians flee Iraq and northeast Syria due to genocide by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and other Sunni Islamist groups.Bakr Sidqi
Bakr Sidqi al-Askari (Arabic: بكر صدقي العسكري) was an Iraqi general of Kurdish origin, born in 1890 in Kirkuk and assassinated on August 12, 1937, at Mosul.Ghazi of Iraq
Ghazi bin Faisal (Arabic: غازي ابن فيصل Ġāzī bin Fayṣal) (21 March 1912 – 4 April 1939) was the King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq from 1933 to 1939 having been briefly Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Syria in 1920. He was born in Mecca, the only son of Faisal I, the first King of Iraq.Human rights in pre-Saddam Iraq
Human rights in pre-Saddam Iraq were often lacking to various degrees among the various regimes that ruled the country. Human rights abuses in the country predated the rule of Saddam Hussein.Iraqi-Assyrians
Assyrians in Iraq (Syriac: ܐܬܘܪܝܐ ܕܥܝܪܩ, Arabic: الآشوريون في العراق) are an ethnic and linguistic minority that are indigenous to Northern Mesopotamia. Assyrians in Iraq are those Assyrians still residing in the country of Iraq, and those in the Assyrian diaspora who are of Iraqi-Assyrian heritage.Ivan Kakovitch
Ivan Kakovitch (December 9, 1933 in Kiev, USSR – December 22, 2006 in Paris, France) was an Assyrian author, journalist, professor, and a nationalist leader. He wrote the Assyrian manifesto and the novel Mount Semele.
An ethnic Assyrian, Ivan's family fled the Assyrian homeland in Iraq, during the Simele massacre of August 1933. The massacre would be a topic that Ivan would be obsessed with all his life.
In 1938, at the age of 5, Ivan’s family moved to Kazakhstan, where he began primary school. In 1944, the family moved again, but this time back to an Assyrian community in Tehran, Iran. In Iran, he attended San Louis French Parochial school, with his two brothers, Thoma and Shurik. In 1956, at the age of 23, Ivan traveled to France and studied classical literature. A few years later, he moved to Strasburg, to further his education in the classics. In 1959, at the age of 26, Ivan moved to Washington, D.C., and obtained work at the Berlitz School of Languages. He taught Russian, French, and Persian. He also worked at the Voice of America simultaneously, interpreting and translating in Russian, French, and Persian. Ivan was also unique within the Assyrian community for his atheist belief system. As he expressed in his famous novel, Mount Semele, Ivan could never conceive the fact that there was yet another life after this one.
Ivan became well known in the late 1970s, when he wrote the Assyrian Manifesto; a blue print for the formation of an Assyrian interim government. Ivan presented the manifesto at the yearly Assyrian congress gathering in Chicago. Political groups such as the Assyrian Universal Alliance and the Bet Nahrain Democratic Party were enthusiastic and supportive of Ivan's blueprint. It was decided at that meeting that Ivan would be sent back to Washington to set up an office for the International Confederation of Assyrian Nation (ICAN). Many of the Assyrian political organizations did support the ICAN office financially, but after just a few short months, Ivan was told that they could not support the project financially anymore.
Residing in Cypress, California, Ivan finally finished writing the story he was obsessed with from birth, writing the novel Mount Semele in 2001. The Simele Massacre of the Assyrian people, impacted not only Ivan’s family, who were forced to flee their village in Iraq, moving from country to country, but affected Ivan’s own personal life, as well.
On December 21, 2006, while vacationing in France, Ivan died surprisingly, despite not having too many health problems throughout his life. He was interred on Tuesday, January 9, 2007, at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles.Khanke
Khanke (also written Khanik or Khanek, Arabic: خانك, Kurmanji: Xankê) is a Yazidi town located in the Simele District of the Dohuk Governorate in northern Iraq. The town is located ca. 20 kilometres (12 mi) southwest of Dohuk.Khanke has mainly Yazidi population.List of Assyrian settlements
The following is a list of Assyrian settlements in the Middle East subsequent to the Assyrian genocide in 1914. This list includes settlement of Assyrians from Southeastern Turkey who left their ancient tribes in Hakkari (or the historical Hakkari region), Sirnak and Mardin province due to torment, violence and displacement by the Ottomans in the First World War. Many Assyrians from Urmia, Iran were also affected and as such have emigrated and settled in other towns. Resettling again occurred during the Simele massacre in northern Iraq, perpetrated by the Iraqi military coup in the 1930s, with many fleeing to northeastern Syria.Most modern resettlement is located in Iraq, Syria and Iran in the cities of Baghdad, Habbaniyah, Kirkuk, Duhok, Al-Hasakah, Tehran and Damascus. Few Assyrian settlements exist in Turkey today and also in the Caucasus. The exodus to the cities or towns of these aforementioned countries occurred between late 1910s and 1930s. After the Iraq War in 2003, a number of Assyrians in Baghdad relocated to Northern Iraq, repopulating parts of Iraqi Kurdistan, in what they now call the "Assyrian homeland". Many others have immigrated to North America, Europe and Australia, especially in the late 20th century and 21st century. Currently, there are a number of settlements on this list that have been abandoned due to persecution, conflict, and other causes.Mardin Province
Mardin Province (Classical Syriac: ܡܪܕܐ, Turkish: Mardin ili, Kurdish: Parêzgeha Mêrdînê, Arabic: ماردين,), is a province of Turkey with a population of 809,719 in 2017. The population was 835,173 in 2000. The capital of the Mardin Province is Mardin (Classical Syriac: ܡܶܪܕܺܝܢ "Mardin" Arabic: ماردين, Mardīn). Located near the traditional boundary of Anatolia and Mesopotamia, it has a diverse population, composed of Kurdish, Arab and Assyrian people, with Kurds forming the majority of the province's population.Sharya (Iraq)
Sharya (also written Shariya, Arabic: شاريا, Kurmanji: Şarya) is a Yazidi town located in the Simele District of the Dohuk Governorate in northern Iraq. The town is located ca. 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) south of Dohuk.Sharya has mainly Yazidi population.Simele District
Simele District (Arabic: قضاء سميل, romanized: qaḍāʾ Sumail; Sorani Kurdish: قەزای سێمێل, romanized: qezayê Sêmêl ; Syriac: ܪܘ݂ܣܬܵܩܵܐ ܕܣܹܝܡܹܝܠܹܐ ) is a district in western Dohuk Governorate in northern Iraq. The administrative center is the city of Simele.Simele massacre
The Simele massacre (Syriac: ܦܪܡܬܐ ܕܣܡܠܐ pramta d-Simele, Arabic: مذبحة سميل maḏbaḥat Summayl) was a massacre committed by the armed forces of the Kingdom of Iraq led by Bakr Sidqi during a campaign systematically targeting the Assyrians of northern Iraq in August 1933. The term is used to describe not only the massacre in Simele, but also the killing spree that took place among 63 Assyrian villages in the Dohuk and Mosul districts that led to the deaths of between 600 and 3,000 Assyrians.
During the Assyrian genocide during and after World War I, more than half of Turkey's Assyrian population was massacred under the Ottoman Empire. The term 'genocide' was coined by Raphael Lemkin, who was directly influenced by the story of this massacre and the Armenian Genocide.Syrian-Assyrians
Assyrians in Syria (Syriac: ܐܬܘܪܝܐ ܕܣܘܪܝܐ, Arabic: الآشوريين في سوريا) are an ethnic and linguistic minority that are indigenous to northeast Syria (known in Syriac as Gozarto). Syrian-Assyrians are people of Assyrian descent living in Syria, and those in the Assyrian diaspora who are of Syrian-Assyrian heritage. They constituted 4% of the pre-Civil War population of Syria of 23 million They live primarily in Al-Hasakah Governorate, with a significant presence in the provincial capital and the cities of Qamishli, Malikiyah, Ras al-Ayn, and Qahtaniyah, as well as in Tell Tamer and nearby villages, although some have migrated to Damascus and other western cities.In 2018 Professor John Shoup said that the Assyrian population in Syria formed 4% of the country's total population, making them the fourth largest ethnic group in the country.Tkhuma Tribe
Prior to World War I, the Tkhuma were one of five principal Assyrian Tribes subject to the spiritual and temporal jurisdiction of the Assyrian Patriarch with the title Mar Shimun.
The Assyrians claimed the status of a firman of protection from the Arab Caliphate and of an Ottoman millet to preserve their customs and traditions along with the tribes of Jelu, Baz, Tyari, and Deez/Diz, "forming the highest authority under His Holiness Mar Shimun, the patriarch." The Tkhuma Tribe is a tribe of Assyrians that lived in upper Mesopotamia until 1915, when they were dispersed into Persia, Iraq, and Syria during the Assyrian Genocide. In 1915, the representative of the Assyrian Patriarch Mar Shimun XX Paulos wrote that the Tkhuma of "many Christian villages" had "been entirely destroyed." A journalist of Ottoman Turkey wrote that: "The people of Tkhuma put up a great defense on September 27th and 28th . But while they were building trenches for themselves the Kurds were destroying them with guns. The Turks destroyed ... Inner Tkhuma and many other places.". In 1933, Malik Loco, the chief of the Tkhuma Tribe, went with the chief of the Tiyari tribe and 700 armed Assyrians into Syria, at the outset of the Simele Massacre. The League of Nations took responsibility for the resettlement of the Tkhuma Assyrians, reporting in 1937 that 2,350 Tkhuma had been settled in three villages in Syria.Yemeni–Adenese clan violence
Yemeni–Adenese clan violence refers to sectarian violence in Yemen and Aden during 1956-60, resulting in some 1,000 deaths.Zawita
Zawita (Kurdish: Zawîte,Arabic: زاويتة, Syriac: ܙܘܝܬܐ), is an historically Assyrian town of about 5,000 people in the Dohuk Governorate.
The name of the village is thought to come from Syriac ܙܘܝܬܐ meaning "corner."The village is inhabited mainly by Kurds and the second biggest group being the Assyrians. At one point it was home to mostly Assyrians, prior to the Simele massacre.A number of Assyrian Christian-owned businesses in the village were looted and burned downed during the 2011 Dohuk riots.
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