Enschede: Boycott Johny Messo & End Assyrophobia, Racism, Xenophobia!

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The Enschede Municipality Council in the Netherlands plans to endorse and finance the Dutch translation and publication of Johny Messo’s 2017 book Arameans: The Making of Assyrians. The controversy surrounding the work is due to various claims made by the author with respect to the ethnic identity of the Assyrians. The author fails to treat Assyrians as political equals and denies them the right to be guarantors of their very existence. Messo has tapped into selective passages from antiquity in an effort to persuade the academic community that the modern Assyrian identity is artificial and that this community should be regarded as "Arameans"— a nomenclature rejected by the community itself. Furthermore, Messo has exhausted every effort to dispossess Assyrians of their right to an identity and has exposed them to racial discrimination, vilification, cyber-bullying and dangers by portraying this ethnic minority as tools of western missionaries, diplomats and colonial powers.

We call upon the Enschede Municipality Council to formally withdraw its support and send a clear and direct message- Assyrophobia is not welcome in modern society. Those signing this petition aim to spread awareness that prejudices against Assyrians will not be tolerated. The outright denial of the Assyrian identity is contributing and amounting to cultural genocide (ethnocide) and a violation to international law. Furthermore, misrepresentation of indigenous Assyrians under the misnomer “Aramean” is to be ceased indefinitely as it is in the highest degree deplorable, discreditable, and disadvantageous to the Assyrian identity. Having endured the ravages of terror organisations such as Islamic State (IS) in 2014, the world will not stand idle and tolerate historical revisionists attempting to erase the identity of this ancient people from the pages of history.

In 2007, the Netherlands, being a member state of the United Nations General Assembly voted in favour of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (=UNDRIP). The declaration addresses both individual and collective rights emphasising on and is not limited to; culture, identity, education, health, employment, and language. Furthermore, the declaration outlaws discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them. Article 33.1 guarantees “indigenous peoples have the right to determine their own identity.” Earlier this year, Dutch politician Sigrid Kaag argued that human rights are under pressure around the world and that respect for human rights and the rule of law is a prerequisite for stability and security. Whilst in Geneva, the foreign minister expressed her wishes that the Netherlands would re-join the United Nations Human Rights Council during the 2020-22 term.

We encourage the Netherlands Government to adhere to its commitment in combating human rights violations and instil an environment that is welcoming, where people are treated with dignity and respect.

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