ANKARA / MARDIN, Turkey – Independent Syriac member of Turkish parliament Tuma Çelik refuted writer Hulusi Şenel’s recent claim that the number of Syriacs living in the time of the Sayfo Genocide of 1915 was only 50,000. Çelik said in a post on Twitter that, “people lie, but a writer should not spread such big lies.”
The independent MP for Mardin further stated that, “according to our (church) figures, the Syriac population was around 700,000.”
Çelik’s refutation of Şenel’s claim comes after an article published in Haber Hurriyeti in which the Turkish writer asks when Turkey will finally be rid of the Armenian genocide lies that have become a “plague” for the country. Hulusi Şenel stated that in addition to what he refered to as “the so-called Armenian genocide”, the Turks are now also being accused of having massacred Syriacs and Pontic Greeks. “Allegedly, in addition to one and a half million Armenians, we also murdered 750 thousand Syriacs-Assyrians and thousands of Pontus-Greeks(!. )”
Şenel claims that this is an impossibility because according to official records, the number of Armenians living in Anatolia at that time was well below one million, and the number of Syriacs-Assyrians was around 50,000.
“Wake up people! Why should we not erect a genocide monument for the Turks who were massacred by the Armenians in Anatolia and by the Greeks in Cyprus?” Şenel added.
With this last remark, the Turkish writer refers to the official Turkish position that Armenians, Syriacs, and Pontic Greeks indeed died, but that this happened at a time of war when the peoples within the Ottoman Empire revolted and sided with foreign powers. Turkey denies any genocide.
The official Turkish position stands in defiance against the international academic consensus. It also ignores the fact that many genocides happen during times of war. Furthermore, in a historic statement on 24 April 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden recognized the massacres of Armenians in 1915 by Ottoman and allied forces as genocide (Biden did not recognize the massacres on Syriacs and Pontic Greeks).