HR2002 - 551R - I Ver




REFERENCE TITLE: Semele massacre; Assyrian martyrs day





State of Arizona

House of Representatives

Fifty-fifth Legislature

First Regular Session




HR 2002


Introduced by

Representative Blackman





Honoring the victims of the Semele Assyrian massacre and proclaiming august 7, 2021 as assyrian martyrs day in Arizona.





Whereas, Assyrians, an ethnic minority group, are the indigenous people of Mesopotamia who have lived in the Middle East since ancient times, including in what is today Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria; and

Whereas, the United States has a history of recognizing and condemning atrocities experienced by vulnerable and native minorities; and

Whereas, World War I brought untold suffering to the world, and particularly to the Assyrian people, who lost two-thirds of their numbers as victims of violence, famine and disease inflicted on them by hostile forces and faced a difficult predicament as new nation-states formed around them; and

Whereas, because the Assyrians were not included in the Sykes-Picot agreement between the British and French governments after World War I, they were left vulnerable as refugees with no clear future in the newly   formed kingdom of Iraq; and

Whereas, the government of Iraq became increasingly hostile toward the Assyrians and exiled their leader, the Patriarch Mar Eshai Shimun XXIII, to Cyprus with the full authorization of the British government, despite the Assyrians being recognized as Britain's and the West's "smallest ally" in the Middle East; and

Whereas, the British government, having drawn the Assyrian people into the service of the British empire, knew that such an association would endanger the already-defenseless Assyrians.    Nevertheless, they disregarded the growing animosities being fostered against the Assyrians by various officials of the Iraqi government; and

Whereas, in August 1933, after surrendering and pledging loyalty to the Iraqi government in the interest of peace, Assyrians were targeted for a calculated annihilation that came to be known as the Semele Massacre; and

Whereas, on August 7, 1933, thousands of unarmed men, women and children were slaughtered using machine guns and bayonets.    Over 60 Assyrian villages were looted and destroyed by various populations that intended to destroy the Assyrian people; and

Whereas, the entire world and, in particular, the British government were horrified at the indiscriminate slaughter of Assyrian people, both young and old; and

Whereas, the Elie Wiesel Genocide and Atrocities Prevention Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-441) established that atrocities prevention represents a United States national interest and affirms a government-wide strategy to identify, prevent and respond to the risk of atrocities by "strengthening diplomatic response and the effective use of foreign assistance to support appropriate transitional justice measures, including criminal accountability, for past atrocities"; and

Whereas, the State of Arizona is a global leader of human rights, including recognizing and repudiating crimes against humanity. It is fitting that the people of this state honor the victims of the Semele Assyrian Massacre of 1933.


Be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona:

1.    That the Members of the House of Representatives recognize the Semele Assyrian Massacre of 1933 as a crime against humanity.

2.    That the Members of the House of Representatives honor the memory of the thousands of unarmed men, women and children who were murdered during the Semele Assyrian Massacre of 1933.

3.    That the Members of the House of Representatives proclaim August 7, 2021 as Assyrian Martyrs Day in the State of Arizona.