League of Nations assigned the Hakkari region in 1925 to Turkey.49 With the withdrawal of the British administration from Iraq in 1931 Mar Shim'un lost his only ally. Suspicious of the guarantees made by Iraq to its minorities, he protested about the treatment of his people to the government in Baghdad, only to find himself under arrest, deprived of his Iraqi nationality and, in August 1933, deported to Cyprus. Meanwhile the governor of Mosul ordered the Assyrians to lay down their arms. Some refused and sought refuge in Syria, but were ordered back by the French military. Under attack from regular and irregular forces, they and other groups of Assyrians underwent severe and bloody repression in July-August 1933. Their case was submitted to the League of Nations.50
Mar Shim'un left for the United States in 1940, where he spent most of the remainder of his life, which ended in assassination at San Jose on 6 November i975. With his death, hereditary succession to the patriarchate came to an end. On 17 October 1976 five Assyrian bishops, two Italian bishops who had been consecrated by Mar Shimon, and representatives of the church in Iraq gathered at Alton Abbey in Hampshire51 to elect Mar Dinkha Khnanaya as the new patriarch and i20th successor to the seat of Seleukeia-Ctesiphon. At the age of thirty-three, Mar Dinkha had been appointed metropolitan of Teheran and Iran by Mar Shimon - thus becoming the nineteenth bishop in his family. Until the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), Mar Dinkha had his see in Teheran; thereafter he transferred it to Chicago. The two wars in the Persian Gulf region brought renewed hardship to the Christian minority. In Iraq Saddam Hussein sought to institute a plan of arabisation, affecting in particular the Kurds and the Christians of northern Iraq, who were violently expelled. In 1988, as part of his policy of repression, Saddam Hussein had many Christian villages, churches and monasteries in northern Iraq destroyed, and a wave of Kurdish and Christian refugees fled to Turkey, Iran, Jordan and Syria.52
Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV sought to lead the Assyrians out of their isolation and neglect by focusing on ecumenical engagement; and by consolidating the
49 J. Yacoub, 'La question assyro-chaldeenne, les puissances europeennes et la Societe des Nations', Guerres Mondiales et Conflits Contemporains 38 (1988), 104-20.
50 Khaldun S. Husry, 'The Assyrian affair of 1933', International Journal of Middle East Studies 5 (i974), 161-76, 344-60, but his version of events has been challenged by J. Joseph, 'The Assyrian affair: a historical perspective', ibid. 6 (1975), 115-17. Large numbers of Assyrians joined the British military and became a feared fighting force, see David Omissi, 'Britain, Assyrians and the Iraq levies, 1919-32', Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 27 (i989), 30i-22.
52 A. O'Mahony, 'Eastern Christianity in modern Iraq', in Eastern Christianity, 11-43; O'Mahony, 'Christianity in modern Iraq', InternationalJournal for the Study of the Christian Church 4 (2004), 121-42.
Was this article helpful?