Friday, May 7, 2010

Transient: A story of Assyrian Iraqi refugees

Just days ago, three buses in a convey transporting Christian students to the University of Mosul were targeted in a bomb attack. Nearly 160 people, at least 50 of them Christian students, were injured in the blasts. Radeef Hashim Mahrook, the owner of a car repair shop, was killed as he tried to help the students.

According to AFP, thousands of Christians protested in northern Iraq on Monday. "We are not a minority, we are an authentic part of the Iraqi people," said a banner at the demonstration. "We ask the prime minister (Nuri al-Maliki) to stop the tragedy of the Christians," it added.

As a recent graduate from university myself, the bomb attack on these students especially impacted me. When I walked the short distance from my residence to my classes, I didn't fear for my life or for the lives of my loved ones. I wasn't dealing with the fact that many from my community had fled the country, leaving everything behind. As I think of the students – some of them recovering in hospital, others now possibly planning their own exit voyage from Iraq – my heart aches that they have had to endure such violence instead of attending classes, going out with friends, and looking forward in anticipation for the future.

After reading about this latest attack on the Christian community in Iraq, I again watched a short online film called Transient that features interviews with Assyrian Iraqis who have fled for Syria. In this beautiful and haunting film, the Christians share the struggles they've faced, the new lives they are trying to build, and the future they envision for themselves and their country.

For me, one of the most devastating parts in the film is when a Christian man, sitting with his wife and two daughters, explains how they will eventually move away to another country. “We'll live there, far from our home, far from our history, far from our family, far from our history of 7,000 years,” he says. “And we'll die there as strangers.”

Hear their stories in their own words. You can watch Transient here.

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