|Re: THE TRAGEDY OF THE ASSYRIANS-1933|
- Monday, September 27 2004, 0:09:29 (CEST)|
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Shortly before the war a new Mar Shimun, Benjamin, had succeeded to the Patriarchal chair. Though young, still in the early twenties, he was a man of great courage and energy, and had the times been more favourable, would no doubt have done much for his people. His predecessor, who had held the position for many years, had been weak. Living as he did at Qudshanis, a village in the valleys, he was much under the thumb of the Turkish official at Julamerk and had little real influence over the mountain tribes. Even then he was the only possible leader of the Assyrian mountaineers. Others might raise factions, but no one but he could ever hope to influence the whole people.
The numbers of the Assyrians in the mountains just before the war appear to have been about forty thousand. Others, perhaps fifteen thousand or twenty thousand in number, lived in the plains to the west of Lake Urmiyeh in Persia. To them the Orthodox Church of Russia had sent a Mission, as had the American Presbyterians. The Dominicans, too, maintained a Mission there as well as in Mosul, but in the Urimyah they do not appear to have made many converts. At this time, as will be related later, the influence of Russia in North Persia was very great. The Russian religious Mission in consequence met with some success. A further attempt was made in 1913 to convert the Hakkiari mountaineers to the Orthodox faith, but the war intervened before much progress could be made.
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