Forum för Levande Historia Lecture on Sayfo Genocide of 1915

Sweden’s Forum för Levande Historia, a pro-democracy and pro-human rights NGO funded by the Swedish Ministry of Culture, organized a day of lectures on the Genocide of 1915 on Armenians, Syriacs and Pontus-Greeks.

In the morning session Turkish historian at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, Ümit Kurt explained the attendees that preparations for the Sayfo-Genocide of 1915 already started in 1895 in his home town of Gaziantep. The population of Gaziantep in the 1890’s was half Turkish and half Christian. Going through the series of massacres on the Christian population of the Ottoman empire, which only ended in 1924, he showed how by the hands of the Turks and Kurds (the Ottomans used Kurdish factions in the co-perpetrated genocide), with the passing of time, the wealthy Christian population of Gaziantep decreased. There are big similarities between what happened in the past in Gaziantep and the whole region in the run-up to and during the genocide of 1915, with the Turkish offensive in northeaster Syria today. Kurt compared Turkey’s today use of controversial Syrian-Arab factions against the unity of the peoples in Syria.

Researcher Maria Kar told the personal story of Alma Johansson (1880-1974), a Swedish missionary who worked with survivors of the Armenian, Syriac and Pontus-Greek Genocide of 1915, and how Johansson experienced the genocide of 1915 while working in a hospital. Johansson’s writings and stories are clear testimonies that genocide against Christians was going on.

Swedish MP Robert Khalaf (Christian Democrats), European Syriac Union foreign affairs representative Metin Rhawi and representatives of the Assyrian Women Union and the Assyrian Union of Södertälje participated in the workshop annex lectures that took place in Stockholm.

In the evening session under the title “Abuse and genocide during the Ottoman Empire in 1915”, moderator and Genocide historian professor David Gaunt introduced the speakers on the issues “what is the knowledge of this genocide in Sweden? What are the similarities between denial of this genocide compared to the denial of the Holocaust?” To see the evening lecture (in English) go to video here on the facebook site of Forum för Levande Historia