BAGHDEDE, NINEVEH PLAINS, Iraq – On Sayfo Genocide Remembrance Day, June 15, the Bethnahrain Patriotic Union (Huyodo Bethnahrin Athroyo, HBA) held a commemoration on the occasion of the 106th anniversary of Sayfo. The commemoration was held in the Syriac city of Baghdede and was attended by the Syriac mayor of Baghdede Cissam Behnam Matti, Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Mor Timothius Musa Shamani of the Mar Mattai monastery, and Syriacs from Baghdede and the whole Nineveh Plains.
After a moment of silence in memory of the Sayfo martyrs, the evening began with the playing of the Iraqi national anthem and a speech by HBA President Yusuf Jacoub Matti who addressed the historical impact, totality, and scope of the massacres. He called on the international community and the Iraqi government to recognize the Sayfo as it has been recognized by dozens of governments around the world
Poems were read on Sayfo, and the heroisms shown by the martyrs of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people. Poet Ramzi Hirmiz Yako recited a poem in the (Eastern) Syriac language. Poets Karim Ina and Abdullah Nuri followed Yako in praising the martyrs’ heroism. At the end of the evening, a prayer for the souls of the martyrs was offered to a number of deacons for the spirits of the massacre. The evening was moderated by Salah Sarkis and Ronak Elias Hanna.
Related: Former Syriac MP of Iraqi parliament and HBA candidate in the upcoming October 10 Iraqi elections Joseph Sliwa stated on the occasion of Sayfo Remembrance Day that “on this anniversary of the Sayfo Genocide our wounds are still open. More than 100 years have passed. How could we forget? The genocide emerged for the cruel and criminal mentality of the Ottoman Empire. And some parties want to revive this mentality, as it is one of the pillars of the Islamic State,” he said. ISIS cells are still active and kill innocent children, elderly, and women.
“All Syriac (Arameans-Assyrians-Chaldeans), families had painful memories about Sayfo Genocide. I hope that the Sayfo anniversary will be one of our most powerful motives to make us hold on to the land of our ancestors,” said Sliwa.
“I invite all of you to not leave our homeland as our enemies so desire. Remain steadfast in your homeland because since the dawn of history, it has been the land of the indigenous Syriac (Arameans-Assyrians-Chaldeans) people. It is our precious Beth Nahrin, and it must remain our precious homeland. Glory and immortality to the martyrs of the Sayfo Genocide.”