Lesko Reintroduces Resolution to Commemorate the Semele Massacre
Washington, February 22, 2021 | Rachel Harris (202-417-0746)
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Lesko (AZ-08) reintroduced a bipartisan resolution to commemorate the Semele Massacre of 1933 when the Iraqi armed forces brutally massacred an estimated 3,000 unarmed Assyrian men, women, and children; and looted and destroyed over 60 Assyrian villages.
“It is my honor to once again introduce this important legislation to commemorate the Semele Massacre,” said Congresswoman Lesko. “The Assyrian community has suffered immense hardship throughout history, including the horrific Semele Massacre, and it is my hope that this resolution will bring attention to the atrocities that occurred in 1933, so that we can avoid them in the future.”
In 1916, Great Britain and France signed the Sykes-Picot Agreement detailing how the Ottoman Empire was to be split. The agreement led to the division of land into Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and others. However, the Assyrian people were not addressed in the agreement and were left as refugees in the newly formed Iraq.
Over the years, the Iraqi government became increasingly hostile toward the Assyrian people. In 1933, Iraq exiled the Assyrians’ leader to Cyprus and the Iraq-Assyrian relationship deteriorated further. Over 600 Assyrians attempted to seek asylum in Syria but were turned away. The Iraqi government encouraged the spread of false rumors of Assyrians revolting, burning bridges, and poisoning water sources, which triggered the massacre by the Iraqi armed forces in August 1933. Semele is a town where much of the massacre took place. The Assyrians were disarmed by the Iraqi government just before the massacre.
Lesko was joined by Representatives Anna Eshoo (D-CA-18), Josh Harder (D-CA-10), Scott Perry (R-PA-10), David Schweikert (R-AZ-06), and Brad Sherman (D-CA-30) in introducing this resolution.