UK Assyrians Honour British MP

6/30/2006 10:23:00 AM
Mr. Stephen Pound

For some time now, the Rt. Hon. Stephen Pound MP has been a friend of the UK Assyrians community.

He has worked tirelessly and diligently for the Assyrian cause and time and time again, has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Assyrians and fought for our cause.

It is no surprise then that the Assyrian community held a dinner in his honour, as well as paying tribute to the hard work of Councillor Michael Elliot, who was also in attendance. The night’s proceedings were organised by the Firodil Institute and ASUK. The Firodil Institute has been working towards the recognition of ‘Seyfo’, the Assyrian genocide of 1915. In our attempts to achieve this aim, our paths have crossed with Mr. Pound, who has shown great willingness to help out and support our demand for an apology from Turkey. Only last month, he held an adjournment debate at the House of Commons, where he outlined and lobbied the government to accept that the appalling events of 1915 were in fact genocide.

Although the response from the government was less than pleasing, he made his intentions clear, he wouldn’t stop working and fighting until the government acknowledge the genocide of 1915.

The night began with a speech from Nineb Lamassu, who addressed the community and the presence of the night’s special guests. He went on to raise the need for a lobbying group to be created that would raise the pertinent issues for the Assyrians to the British government. In addition, he also made the MP and the Councillor aware of Firodil’s plan to erect a monument for the genocide of 1915, and that Ealing Council also officially recognize the genocide.

We were now privileged to have Mr. Pound stand up on stage and address the Assyrian community. He began in his amazement at the age of Ninos Warda, an Assyrian from London, who has written the book titled ‘Seyfo; The Assyrian Genocide in International Law’. He had assumed that the writer of this book must have been over 50 years of age, but said it was a joy to realise that someone this young should be able to write a book that is respected and quoted from all around the world.

If there was any uncertainty as to his passion and loyalty to the Assyrians, he left the audience in no doubt as to where he stood. He said it was “not your honour to have me here today, but it is mine, that I should stand here in front of you, the Assyrians. For you have given this world so much, with all your inventions and the cradle of civilisation.” Furthermore, he asked for forgiveness for the way that the Assyrians have been treated by the British government over the last century, and made a point of the special relationship they had with the Assyrian Levies during the world wars. It was a passionate and brotherly speech, which heartened those present. This man was on our side, there was a beacon of light shining for our rights in the British government. He rightly pointed out that the Assyrians were a forgotten nation, that they were a quiet people, their rights ignored and their voices not heard. But not anymore, he was going to change this, he was going to speak on our behalf and make sure that this minority had some weight behind it.

Mr. Pound then agreed that a lobby group should be set up in the UK, and offered his help in doing so. He also supported the need to erect a monument for the Assyrians to visit each year and pay their respects to those that died in 1915. He would work along side Councillor Michael Elliot in order to achieve this.

Mr. Elliot also spoke shortly about his relationship with the Assyrians, and he too would fight for our rights, and would petition to Ealing Council to officially recognize the genocide and to have a monument erected somewhere in Ealing.

At this point, we were honoured again to have in our presence Prof. Ashur Yousouf’s great grandson, Mr. Tigran Hovsepyan. Mr. Hovsepyan talked a little about his great grandfather, and the struggles he lived through. It was also an opportunity to publicise the books written by Prof. Ashur Yousouf and the attempts by the Firodil Institute to publish these and make them available to the Assyrian community.

At this point the guests of honour were presented with plaques from the community for their support of this nation, a small gesture of thanks for the work that they have both done, and will continue to do.

As the night progressed the Assyrian Human Rights Project ‘Marem Reshakh’ now presented us with a play, beautifully written and directed by Mrs. Shoshan Lamassu. This play highlighted the pain and suffering our people have experienced during those atrocious times. It particularly emphasized the relationship of a mother and its child, and how much suffering must have been bestowed upon us in 1915.

It was moving and thought provoking, and hit home the reality faced by our brothers and sisters under the Ottoman Empire. Much credit and appreciation must go to ‘Marem Reshakh’ for the hard work and dedication for putting this play together, and for the actors involved.

Our guests were now invited to sample a selection of our delicious Assyrian food, which had been prepared by members of the community.

And so the night ended and the community was left with a positive frame of mind. It had seen and heard from a man who genuinely wanted to help the Assyrians, and felt proud to be called a friend of our nation. It was a pleasure to see a member of the British government greet and hug many members of the community, to pound his chest at the brotherly relations, and to show a willingness to do even more for our nation. It is due to people like him and the unshakable resolve of our people, that one day we will have recognition of the genocide of 1915, and that Turkey will be asked to apologise. Let us hope that one day the Assyrian plight will be over.

We encourage the Assyrian community worldwide to write and thank Mr. Stephen Pound at stevenpoundmp@parliament.uk