Swedish Christian Democratic MP Lars Adaktusson: when will the Swedish government recognize the Sayfo Genocide of 1915?

STOCKHOLM – “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” Member of Parliament Lars Adaktusson quotes the words (1939) on the Armenian genocide by Adolf Hitler. The stance of the KristDemokraterna foreign affairs spokesperson is outspoken and clear. In an op-ed published in Swedish newspapers Expressen, Adaktusson urges for full recognition of the Sayfo Genocide of 1915 by the Swedish government, and to do so before Sayfo Genocide Memorial Day.

“Recognizing the Sayfo Genocide of 1915 is to honor the memory of the people who were deprived of their lives, but it is also a reminder of the persecution of Christians today.”

Adaktusson calls on his government to stop being silent about past genocides against Christians. When we remain silent about past atrocities, we also are silent about the fact that Christians are the world’s most persecuted religious group. Silence and appeasement are bad decency. “Silence is one of the ways how the international community betrayed the people when the Islamic State murdered, raped, and enslaved the Christians in Iraq.” Adaktusson says that when ISIS terror and genocide raged in Iraq and the Nineveh Plain, the Swedish government did not once mention in its official foreign affairs reports from 2014-2018 that Christians were raped and executed.

Also read: Syriac-Aramaic Youth Federation calls on Swedish government to include Sayfo Genocide of 1915 in school curriculum

Silence and appeasement-politics by the international community enabled the planning and implementation of the Holocaust. The genocide against Armenians, Syriacs, and Pontic Greeks is one of the worst mass murder campaigns of the 20th century. In Turkey it is still a criminal offense to recognize the genocide and Turkey’s role and responsibility in what happened in those dark years. This official denial of genocide should have been replaced long ago by a genuine process of reconciliation in which the historical archives had been opened and the crimes acknowledged.

“The ultimate tragedy is not the oppression and cruelty by the bad people but the silence over that by the good people.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

Turkey has failed to its obligations under international law to protect the Christian Syriac cultural heritage. In Turkey, Christians today are under severe pressure from growing Islamic nationalism and extremism. The international NGO Open Doors has raised the alarm bells to the widespread discrimination, to the growing number of incidents of violence against Syriacs, and to “strong oppression and hostility”, mainly in southeastern Turkey. “Recognizing the Sayfo Genocide of 1915 is to honor the memory of the people who were deprived of their lives, but it is also a reminder of the persecution of Christians today,” concludes the Christian Democrat in his op-ed.

In Syriac, “Sayfo” means “[Year of the] Sword”. Sayfo stands for the genocide perpetrated by the Ottomans Turks and allied Kurdish tribes in the years before and during World War I. Annually, on the 15th of June, Syriacs commemorate the hundreds of thousands of victims of the Sayfo Genocide of 1915. A terrible fate the Syriacs share with the Armenians. 1.5 million Armenians were killed. They are commemorated annually on the 24th of April. More than 300,000 Pontic Greeks were also killed. They are commemorated on the 19th of May.

Also Read: Swedish MP Lars Adaktusson & Metin Rhawi of the European Syriac Union & visit the Nineveh Plain in Iraq