MPs Abraham Halef and Ingela Nylund Watz call for inclusion of Sayfo in Swedish curriculum

STOCKHOLM — Abraham Halef and Ingela Nylund Watz, Members of Parliament in Sweden for the Social Democratic Party, called for the adoption of a law requiring the inclusion of the Sayfo in the Swedish educational curricula and textbooks. Sayfo is the term Syriacs (Arameans–Assyrians–Chaldeans) use for the Ottoman genocide of 1915 targeting them which occurred concurrently with the genocides of the Armenian, Greek, and Yezidi peoples.

Halef and Watz stated that the Swedish Parliament recognized the Sayfo in 2010 and the events of 1915 must be taught in schools for that recognition to be meaningful, especially since the children and grandchildren of the martyrs of these massacres are waiting for recognition and clarification of history. The two deputies cited the promise made by former Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström to seek recognition of the Sayfo case when she met with the grandchildren of survivors.

Halef called on the Swedish government to work through the European Union to preserve the churches, monasteries, and historic buildings of the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) people in Turkey.

Disclaimer: SyriacPress translation of the Swedish motion.

Riksdag Motion 2020/21:2427 by Abraham Halef and Ingela Nylund Watz (Socialdemokraterna)

Inclusion of the Seyfo Genocide of 1915 in the school curriculum

Proposal for a parliamentary resolution
The Riksdag supports what is stated in the motion about the importance of teaching about the Seyfo Genocide of 1915 and to consider including it in the curriculum and announces this to the government.

During the years 1915-1918, more than 1.5 million Christian inhabitants, including Syriacs, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Armenians and Pontic Greeks, were killed in present-day Turkey. The purpose of this genocide was to create a homogeneous country with one language and one religion, and therefore there was no place for the Christian indigenous peoples.

Much has been written about these events and the subject has been the subject of much research. The genocide may have happened over a 100 years ago, but the stories and history told by eyewitnesses live on for generations. However, Turkey still chooses not to acknowledge nor to deal with the past. Sweden’s Riksdag decided on a recognition of the Seyfo in 2010, like several other countries.

Grandchildren and descendants of the affected generation are still waiting for restoration and recognition. Such a restoration would be that the Seyfo Genocide becomes a natural part of teaching, which is made possible if it is included in the school curriculum.

The then Minister of Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström said during her visit to Södertälje in 2018 the following to descendants of the genocide:

“We must – today – take a long list of measures – for example, that we commission Forum för levande historia institute to do a itinerant exhibition about the genocide in 1915.”

The then Foreign Minister also presented other initiatives, such as educational materials on the subject for the country’s schools and a conference on the Genocide Convention.

This issue is important for the descendants who have been affected but also for the whole of society. This will also be a reminder of the future.

Incumbent Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Ann Linde has been heavily criticized after speaking about the “massacres” of 1915 on 24 April, Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, avoiding labeling this “massacre” as Genocide. On her Twitter Ann Linde wrote: “April 24 is a day of remembrance for the massacres of 1915 in the then Ottoman Empire. Descriptions [testimonies] from 1915 testify to great human suffering and ruthless cruelty that must never be forgotten or repeated.”

Local Syriac politician Aday BethKinne (Kristdemokraterna) in Botkyrka, Sweden, replied to FM Linde, “it’s called GENOCIDE and not massacre… You and several in your government are genocide deniers. You deny # seyfo1915. History will not forget you.”