Earlier today, Lord Alton of Liverpool, Patron of the Coalition for Genocide Response, visited Simile in Northern Iraq. This is how he describes his visit:
I was in Simile today – a place where ancestors of ISIS cut the throats of up to 3,000 men, women, and children. No memorial has ever been erected to these Assyrian Christians and the site of their bloody end is shamefully littered with garbage and rubbish. Historians are uncertain whether corpses were taken away to a mass grave but you can still see evidence of fragments of bone protruding from broken walls of what was once a police station. Dindar William of the Assyrian Democratic Movement accompanied me on my visit and said that “the desecration of the site is deliberate, adding insult to injury.”
At the time, the British authorities rejected calls for an international inquiry into the killings, cravenly arguing that it might lead to further massacres against Christians. They did not support calls to punish the offenders as they had become national heroes.
The Simile Genocide of 1933 was preceded by demonstrations in the city of Mosul where frenzied mobs decorated the city with melons pierced with daggers, symbolising the heads of murdered Assyrians. Even Iraq’s Crown Prince came to encourage the bloodletting.
Fast forward 81 years to Mosul 2014. This is when ISIS took Mosul, daubed in red the homes of Christians with N (Nazarene) and the homes of Shia Muslims with R (Rafidah – Reject). Refusal to convert or to yield to extortion led to confiscation, forced conversion, exile or worse.
I met two men whose families fled from Mosul and another whose home was burnt down in Sinjar. No one from the international community or the Governments in Baghdad or Erbil has ever asked to meet them or to take their statements. Yet we are endlessly told we are “collecting evidence” and that perpetrators will “be brought to justice.”
Standing in the ruins of Simile, and listening later to the heirs of those silenced victims, is a challenging rebuke to our generation who have done little better than the British authorities of 1933. Little wonder that never again happens all over again.