Concetta Wells

An Australian Senator has highlighted the plight of the Assyrian community in Iraq in the Senate this week.

Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells condemned the actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), calling on a strong voice of condemnation from Australia and the international community. She said,

It is important that the plight of the religious minorities in Iraq, including the Assyrian Christians, be raised and continue to be raised at international forums such as the United Nations.

Assyrians, a mainly orthodox Christian ethnic group from present-day Iraq, have long face persecution for their faith and their ethnicity. The situation has recently deteriorated, with the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the north of Iraq. ISIS has slaughtered many Iraqi defence personal, as well as civilians.

The Assyrians face an additional threat. As ISIS has taken control of some areas, another group, the Kurds, have gained control of a number of Assyrian villages. While Kurdish forces are protecting the villages against ISIS for the time being, the Assyrians remain opposed to Kurdish occupation.

Last week the Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop announced $5 million in assistance for those fleeing the violence. 

ACL commends Senator Fierravanti-Wells for raising this issue in Parliament.

Read Senator Fierravanti-Wells’ speech here. Read also Minister Bishop’s comments in Parliament last week here.