Chained Syriacs

Gazete Sabro editorial

In just one summer season, Turkish society has suffered severe trauma with fires, floods, and anti-democratic practices. The problems and tragic events that the peoples of Turkey are experiencing today began for the Syriac people some 150 years ago.

The ruling powers in Mesopotamia and the Middle East started putting into action plans to halt the process of awakening and self-development of the Christian peoples, including the Syriac people. With the massacres perpetrated within a span of 60 years, from Hakkâri to Sivas, their wings were broken. Like a wounded bird, the Christian peoples were paralyzed and rendered ineffective and inactive.

With the Genocide of 1915, they tore apart all their dynamics, historical and cultural values, and their social structure. First the hands and feet of the Syriac people were chained, followed by chains which blinded the minds of the Syriacs by creating ignorance, division, fear, and flight. This is how the demographic change, statelessness, insecurity, and disorganization began, and these tactics of chaining were also used to perpetuate it. Chains of segregation were imposed on every community. It tore their social fabric apart, and the communities became estranged from each other under different names.

While the peoples in many parts of the world were institutionalized on the basis of national unity, the Syriac people were divided into small groups on the basis of religious congregation. They were therefore always subject to assimilation and alienation because they showed no will to protect themselves in any aspect of life. The chains of assimilation are the edict of death and destruction of every nation. Because assimilation policies are implemented through cunning long-term plans, people do not realize this danger until very late in the process. The struggle through a delayed national awakening will therefore always be more difficult and rough.

The physical slaughter and captivity of a people undeniably leads to great disasters and social trauma. The greatest danger, however, is the mental and spiritual surrender of a people. Mental surrender is the most intractable obstacle to overcome for ideologies of resistance and free-life philosophies. Surrender is like a ticking time bomb that destroys a people’s hopes, self-confidence, and trust. Moreover, surrender feeds selfishness, individualism, and self-interest where socialization, solidarity, and self-sacrifice are needed in the national struggle.

Every individual detached from his social reality becomes a slave in the service of sovereign powers. You cannot expect an honorable national struggle from people with a submissive mentality because they are always on the side of power, the powerful, the sovereigns. They consider it folly to oppose injustice and inequality. Individuals and groups who surrender physically and spiritually lose their language, beliefs, historical and cultural values, ethical principles and respect for people and humanity. They lag behind social developments within their own people and are the source for obscurantism expressed in reactionary attitudes.

Falling behind is the result of this obscurantism. It is like a virus that gnaws at the mind and social ties of a person or society. Therefore, it is backwardness that most segregates and consumes Syriacs in political, national, economic, and cultural matters and most divides the social fabric of the Syriac people. This obscurantism traps the Syriac people in a mindset and national perspective based on denominational names and sectarian patterns and holds them back. The outdated beliefs feed and deepen division, hatred, resentment, and discrimination. They also block the paths to liberation.

For the righteous cause of the Syriac people to succeed, every Syriac must be freed from the chains and obscure bonds in which they are held captive, and adopt the principles of the modern world, the democratic culture, and the responsibilities of national freedom. When despair and social paralysis are the source of the obscure ideology of Syriac institutions, they cannot properly lead Syriac society. For this reason, and only to the extent that political, social, and cultural institutions develop social theories that have modern democratic and scientific principles underlying them do they eliminate the source of obscurantism and submissive and reactionary attitudes.

In this modern period, the Syriac people have and continue to face many dangers, threats, and disasters. Assimilation, as a social fire, is devouring the Syriac people all over the world. Therefore, it is time to give the highest importance and greatest support to pluralist, democratic, libertarian, and national unity struggles in order to eliminate and avoid the complete disintegration and social disasters caused by obscurantism.

The biggest enemy of the peoples of the Middle East and the different religious communities is this backwardness and obscurantism. In this time when backwardness and obscurantism are being fought in every way, it is time to tear down the walls, break the chains, stop disasters, eliminate hostilities, and achieve peace.

Originally published in Turkish on September 12, 2021, by Gazete Sabro. You can follow Gazete Sabro @gazetesabro

The views expressed in this op-ed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of SyriacPress.