Assyrians hail new year

FAIRFIELD Showground was a hive of activity on March 30 as thousands gathered to celebrate the Assyrian New Year.

Organisers deemed the event one of the most successful in recent years, with many dignitaries and revellers in attendance.

It ran from 10am to 10pm and was hosted by the Assyrian Australian National Federation and the Assyrian Universal Alliance.

Formal proceedings started with the unveiling of the Dr Donny George exhibit, followed by the Australian and Assyrian national anthems and speeches from several officials including AANF president David David and Fairfield mayor Frank Carbone.

Alliance deputy secretary-general Hermiz Shahen spoke of the plight of Assyrians living in Iraq and Syria and progress towards the creation of the new Nineveh Plain province which if created would be self-governed by Assyrians under the jurisdiction of the central government of the Federal Republic of Iraq.

Mr Shahen called on the Australian government to endorse and support its creation.

The festival also included the naming of Australian Assyrian of the year.

Alexander Michailian was given this accolade for his contribution to Assyrian music as a composer, educator and conductor.

Reverend Fred Nile received a Friend of Assyria award during the event for his ongoing advice and support for the rights of indigenous Assyrians in Iraq.

Entertainment included a dramatic arts piece performed by several youth groups and the event ended with fireworks.

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