Co-Chief of Syrian Democratic Council’s U.S. Mission Ishak: We demand recognition of rights for all Syria’s diverse ethnic groups

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a statement, Co-Chief of the Syrian Democratic Council’s U.S. Mission in Washington, D.C. Bassam Said Ishak commemorated and remarked on the 1915 Sayfo 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, Greeks, and Yezidis. Upwards of 300,000 of the region’s estimated 700,000 Syriacs (Arameans–Assyrians–Chaldeans) were massacred. More than 200,000 were forcefully displaced or deported south.

Ishak stated that, given the ongoing persecution of the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) people over the last century, an evaluation of their current situation in Beth Nahrin (Mesopotamia) should be taken into consideration.

“How we can continue our mission as an authentic Syriac people with a civilization, history and political and cultural influence should also be considered,” he said.

Ishak explained that the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) people in Syria are facing great challenges, including past attacks by the Islamic State (ISIS) — and current Turkish attacks — in the Khabur River Valley of North and East Syria. Despite the hardship, the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) people have maintained their focus on coexistence and good relations with all ethnic groups in the region — Arabs, Kurds, and others.

Ishak stated that he seeks to ensure there is a “Syriac voice” in a future democratic Syria. He also demanded a recognition of Syria’s diversity, various identities, and cultural rights of all ethnic groups, in addition to achieving unity between the political parties of the Syriac people, in which great steps were achieved through the signing of a document of understanding on Akitu.

Ishak called on the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) people, whether institutions or churches, to unite in order to preserve Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) identity, culture, and civilization, because they, with all their denominations, belong to the same people.

“May the Lord have mercy on the Sayfo martyrs and martyrs of the homeland,” Ishak declared, calling on the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) people to remain in their historical lands.