History of The Assyrian Universal Alliance
THE FOUNDING OF THE ASSYRIAN UNIVERSAL ALLIANCE
By : Stefan Bezantiya
The year 1968 can easily be summed up in two words: revolutionary & turbulent. The Czech liberation movement lead by Dubcek, the civil rights movement in the U.S., the first manned landing on the moon, Flower Power, the Sexual Revolution, Woodstock, and the Beatles redefined our concept of freedom and individuality. Meanwhile, the war in Vietnam, the Kennedy and King assassinations, the Soviet troops invasion of Czechoslovakia brought us back to the realities of the human intolerance and the Cold War. In the Middle East, a year earlier, the catastrophe of the Six-Day War had affected the psyche of the Arabs like no other event in their Islamic history.
A few hundreds of miles away in the city of Tehran a small group of enthusiastic Assyrians looked upon these events as harbingers of a new chapter in the history of the world's Syriac-speaking Christians, particularly those in the Middle East. It was time that they were united under a unique name and a single political leadership and lived in their own ancestral homeland. With the support of the Assyrian activists in the U.S., France, Australia, Canada, Central Europe, and the Middle East a new political organization under the name of the Assyrian Universal Alliance had formed in 1967. On 10 April 1968 the First Congress of the A.U.A. was held in the French city of Pau.
No meeting held in this century had given greater promise of political resurgence and international recognition than the meeting at Pau. Some twenty Assyrian delegates attended this meeting. They were welcomed by Louis Sallonavo, the Mayor of Pau, at l'Hotel de l'Europe where this momentous meeting took place. One attendee, an old man who had served in the Assyrian army of Agha Petros and Malik Ismail d'Malik Yacou, arrived at the town hall wearing an Assyrian tribal custom. Tears of joy and the deafening sound of hand clapping were mercilessly but quickly shattering two thousand years of silence. The French newspaper, Eclair-Pyrenees, wrote: "Their rights have to be recognized and their sovereignty of the past restored, which can only be proclaimed by regaining a territory." Professor Erhaud of the Strasbourg University said that this "nationality cannot be saved except by constituting a sovereign nation." La Depeche Du Midi in a lengthy article on Friday 12 April wrote "They are taking a great march toward a universal alliance and perhaps toward a sovereign nation." La Republique noted that "They are small in number, but their morale stands high among the Near Eastern Christians and their heroic determination is to survive. They are proud to be called the true descendants of the Ancient Assyrians." Professor Pierre Pomdot of the Institute of Political Sciences of Paris commented: "All the friends of the Assyrian people, all those who believe in their cause and have faith in their prospect, joyfully greet this realization which should be the first act in a magnificent renaissance."
The meeting was chaired by Demitri Elloff, a son of General Agha Petros. After four days of meeting the following twenty points, poorly written but rich in their scope and vision, were drafted in what later became known as the Report of the First World Congress:
1. There will no longer be a variety of names as previously called, Nestorians, Chaldeans, Jacobites, Maronites etc. to divide the Assyrian people, but all factions will be referred to as Assyrians.
2. There should be two officially recognized Assyrian languages: the Modern Assyrian (Swadaya) and Literary Assyrian (Sapraya).
3. To establish an academy to construct a uniform alphabet to simplify the structure of each Assyrian letter for the common use of all.
4. The protection of the right of our people to live with dignity and freedom as provided for the United Nations "Charter of Human Rights", or any other proper channels.
5. Providing schools and scholarships for our youth in order to raise the standard of education.
6. Through all known means of communication to introduce and expand the Assyrian culture in the world.
7. April 1st shall be designated the "Assyrian National Day" throughout the world.
8. The establishment of 3 separate chapters, one in Asia, one in Europe, and one in the United States of America, for the purpose of gathering all the vital information regarding the needs of our people, for the
9. To arrange for a second meeting to be held in London as requested by the delegates from Great Britain delegates.
10. The organization of a National Assyrian political body.
11. All these decisions to be presented to the affiliates and the people by their respective representatives.
12. To request the Patriarchs of the various churches and denominations to come together for the purpose of uniting the Assyrian people, also recommending that all religious services and sermons to be conducted only in the Assyrian language.
13. The Assyrian World Congress wishes to express its gratitude to all nations and governments that have given the Assyrian people the freedom to teach our language in their countries.
14. The Assyrian World Congress expresses its deep appreciation to the French Government and the officials of the City of Pau for their sincere assistance in insuring the success of this Congress, and we gratefully acknowledge the expressions of good wishes for success from individual Assyrians, Assyrian organizations and our many other friends in high places.
15. We recommend one flag for all the affiliates.
16. To purchase land and establish a home that shall be an Assyrian national Home, in one of the free countries.
17. By extending economic aid to our people in the Middle East we will stop Assyrian immigration to the other parts of the world.