Political officials in Tel Tamr call on international community to recognize Sayfo as genocide

TEL TAMR, Syria — On the eve of the 106th anniversary of Sayfo Genocide of 1915, a member of our newsdesk spoke with several party leaders and political figures in the Khabur River Valley town of Tel Tamr district, all of which expressed their condemnation of the massacres and called on the international community to recognize it as genocide.

The Sayfo Genocide was committed by the Ottoman Empire and allied Kurdish, Arab, and Circassian forces in the early 20th century against the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) people and occurred parallel to the genocides of Armenians and Greeks. An estimated 1.5 million Armenians, more than 300,000 Greeks, and upwards of 300,000 of the regions estimated 700,000 Syriacs (Arameans–Assyrians–Chaldeans) were massacred. More than 200,000 were forcefully displaced or deported south.

Among the political figures interviewed by our correspondent was Shimoun Kako, an official of the Assyrian Democratic Office in Tel Tamr, who noted that the Sayfo was the largest massacre committed against the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) people by the Ottoman Empire who intended to end the presence of their from the regions under their control. Kako called on the international community to recognize the Sayfo as genocide.

“If the international community had recognized these massacres, the Turkish occupation state would not have sent Islamic State ISIS terrorists to the villages of Khabur and Ras al-Ayn and the Turkish occupation army would not have a presence in our areas,” Kako said.

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Idris Younis, Co-Chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Tel Tamr, said history is repeating itself as the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan is pursuing the same policies — and committing the same massacres — of the Ottoman Empire. Erdogan is doing so in full view of the international community and human rights organizations who have done little to stop him.

Younis also pointed out that there are 33 Assyrian villages that have existed for generations in Tel Tamr, all of which are subjected to shelling by Turkey and the Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA). He wondered where human rights organizations and the International Red Cross are and why they remain silent on Turkey’s violations.

Younis called on human rights and legal organizations concerned in these matters to recognize the Sayfo as genocide and work to stop the current attempts to erase the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) identity from the Middle East.