I'm the current chairman of the American Mesopotamian Organization, a grassroots non-profit political organization which is dedicated to advancing the rights of Assyrians around the world. I have been an Assyrian activist since my college days, and I have held numerous leadership positions with several Assyrian American organizations. In 1991 I co-founded Assyrian Aid Society, the largest Assyrian humanitarian organization in the world, with offices and operations globally. Since ISIS invaded northern Iraq's Nineveh plain, I have been in daily contact with people on the ground there, monitoring and directing humanitarian aid operations and logistics.


Comments: 50 • Responses: 15  • Date: 

cvillemade13 karma

Do you ever feel like just giving up? You're doing real good in the world, but Iraq is just not a safe place for much of anyone, especially non-Muslims.

DavidWLazar11 karma

It takes a lot of work and must stay focused on our ultimate goal. Iraq after June 10th, when ISIS occupied the Ninawa Province is different than Iraq before that date. Non-Muslim minorities. Iraq without its ethno-religious minorities will be an even more horrible place than it is now.

cvillemade4 karma

As a follow-up, if you don't mind, what would the problems in a monocultural Iraq entail?

DavidWLazar9 karma

It's not possible to have a monocultural Iraq. The country is made of a mosaic of people with different langauge, ethnic backgorounds and religious sects. Iraq will never be like the US a "melting pot" but more like Switzerland where different ethnicities live in peace with each others by ruling themselves on a local level and in true partnership in ruling the country.

Qusqus732 karma

I am a Shiite Muslim and I really think it's horrible how much discrimination and hate there is against a lot of minorities. I really do appreciate people like you that help, or at least work hard to help, them.

DavidWLazar2 karma

Thank you for your kind comments.

mistertext7 karma

Hello. Do you ever wonder what the Middle East nations would be more turmoil or less, if the western "powers" would not meddle in foreign affairs? Would it make your quest easier?

DavidWLazar8 karma

Western nations will always meddle in the affairs of the Middle East and other places in the world, this is becuuse what they perceive as national interests. Some of the meddling is positive, most of the time however, it's negative. The west didn't create the annymosity between Shiites and Sunnis, it has been there for centuries, the west simply plays these differences for its own national interests, it's up to the people of the ME and their leaders to be wise enough to know they're being used to further outside agends.

Lolaa246 karma

On the website it says that you're trying to establish a new province in Northern Iraq where Assyrians and other ethnic and religious minorities can govern themselves. How is that being put into practice or is that something for te long term?

DavidWLazar5 karma

The new province was approved by the Maliki government back in March of this year. This was one of five new provinces to be established and the only one that is not based on a sect or ethnicity, but rather on geography. The proposed Nineveh plain Province is home to Assyrian Chrsitians, Shiite Shabaks as well as Yezidis.

window56 karma

Are the ethnic and religious minorities of Iraq and Syria weakened by the ready availability of emigration options to those people? That is, those who leave might be the capable and accomplished ones, leaving their community weaker by their departure.

DavidWLazar5 karma

An excellent question. We're not against people wanting to leave their ancestral lands, but encouraging them to leave by offering more visas than the existing numbers is not a solution. Please keep in mind that the west is mainly "importing" Christians, there are others that are being persecuted such as the Yezidis, Shabaks, Shiaa Turkomen, they should be given visas as well, otherwise European countries, the US, Canada and Australia would be discriminating against non-christian ethno-religious minorities.

piff1214 karma

How significant a role do you think the Chaldean identity - especially as strengthened and exported back to Iraq by American Chaldeans and their benefactors - has had in contributing to our present plight?

DavidWLazar6 karma

We're Chaldean, Assyrian and Syriac. We use the Assyrian name because our ancestral lands are in Historical Assyria. Our national struggle for the last 150 years or so has been unde the Assyrian name. I'm also proud of the Chaldean name and if people ask me if I was a Chaldean, my answer is yes; I'm Chaldean, Assyrian and Syriac.

piff1213 karma

Do you think Assyrians have done enough to try and reach out and cooperate with Yazidis and Yazidi leaders in order to obtain self-governance and security rights in Nineveh? (I say this specifically with reference to Kurdish attempts to 'annex' the Yazidi identity as well as their lands.)

DavidWLazar3 karma

No, I don't think we have done enough and the main reason there is more cooperation between the two ethnicities is because ISIS invasion and persecution of both communities was a wake up call that we need to unite and work closely with each other to save both people. We share common ancestry with our Yezidi brother and sisters we have neven fought each other and throughout the centruries we have been together on the receiving end of genocide from Ottoman Turks and their Kurdish allies.

window53 karma

Are Christians willing to fight and defend themselves? Shouldn't that be the focus in terms of aid to those people?

DavidWLazar5 karma

Christian Assyrians have formed a defence force already and we're working on expanding it to be able to protect our areas in the proposend Nineveh Plain Province.

assyria12 karma

I have heard the ADM has deployed 500 troops in the Nineveh plains, but has also recruited 2,000 more. Are they currently training those 2,000 troops?

DavidWLazar2 karma

There are now 3500 registered volunteers, it's not only training but funding these units and also having the political will from others to allow this force to grow, that's what is needed at this time.

assyria12 karma

How is that looking at the moment, does the Iraqi government want the volunteers to grow?

DavidWLazar5 karma

ADM has asked for support from the Iraqi Federal government and they have agress to help but that was over 45 days ago and they haven't done anything as of this date. The arming and funding of this force will come from private donors and friendly governments outside Iraq.

hoodyupload2 karma

Do you think the yezidis will ever go back to their land considering the role their muslims neighbour played . from you encounter with yezidis are they peaceful people ?

DavidWLazar2 karma

Yezidis must go back to their lands and their Arab and Kurdish neighbors that sided with ISIS against them must be punished. Yezidis are very peaceful people and it's truly a great honor for me personally and the organization I lead to be working closely with them

piff1211 karma

The Assyrian Universal Alliance represents Assyrians at the UNPO. Can you talk about the perils of basing such a significant organisation for Assyrians in the Islamic Republic of Iran?

DavidWLazar1 karma

We American Mesopotamian Organization are agianst the policies of the Iranian regime and we're agianst the concept or idea of the Wilayat-Al- Faqih. Having Mr. Yonadam Bet-Kolia who is a member of the Iranian Parliamet and at the samre time the Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance is a big problem in our opinion as far as the credibility of such an organization.

assyria11 karma

What about those 600 Australian troops going into Iraq, will they train a new nineveh plains security force?

DavidWLazar1 karma

I haven't heard of them going there to train an Assyrian force, perhaps the Assyrian activists in Australia can change that.

DavidWLazar1 karma

Thank you everyone for all your questions and comments, I will be back on Reddit in few weeks from now. Good Bye for now and God bless