Suryoyo MP in Swedish parliament Yusuf Aydin: Swedish government should officially recognize Sayfo Genocide of 1915

STOCKHOLM — Syriac member of Sweden’s parliament Yusuf Aydin has submitted a motion calling on the Swedish government to officially recognize the atrocities of 1915 committed against the Syriacs (Arameans–Assyrians–Chaldeans), Armenians, and Greeks in the Ottoman Empire as genocide. In the motion, which Aydin submitted together with his Christian Democratic (Kristdemokraterna, KD) colleague Magnus Oscarsson on 23 November, the two call on Swedish parliament to urgently make the government take action and recognize the Sayfo as genocide.

Sayfo means “Sword” in the Syriac language and is the term used by Syriacs (Arameans–Assyrians–Chaldeans) for the Ottoman genocide of 1915 targeting them concurrently with the genocides of the Armenian and Greek peoples. The submitted motion states that the mass murders were carried out on orders from the ruling Young Turks and were carried out through forced deportations, executions, massacres, and induced famine. Most of the victims were killed in the years 1915–1916, but the persecutions continued until 1923.

Official recognition would help to give victims and their next of kin and descendants a chance for redress, Aydin and Oscarsson argue. Recognition is critical because, “experience and research show, that the likelihood of recurrence increases if serious violations of international law are concealed from the outside world.” Just as the Swedish parliament has previously recognized the genocide of 1915, the Swedish government should follow the country’s legislative body and recognize the Sayfo as genocide, conclude the KD representatives.

Earlier this year, local Stockholm politician Aday Bethkinne (KD) called on the Swedish government to follow the general consensus in the academic world and finally show the audacity to call the mass slaughter and deportations in 1915 of Suryoye (Syriacs–Arameans–Assyrians–Chaldeans), Armenians, and Greeks by its bloody name: genocide. “With every country that gives recognition, we come closer to justice and redress for all victims. The fight will continue until Turkey acknowledges and atones for its crimes,” Bethkinne wrote.

In April 2022, Abraham Halef, a Syriac former MP for Sweden’s Social Democratic Party and currently a member of the municipal council of Södertälje (a city with more 35,000 Syriac–Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean residents), called for the adoption of a law requiring the inclusion of the Sayfo Genocide in the Swedish educational curricula and textbooks. The children and grandchildren of the martyrs of these massacres are waiting for recognition and clarification of their history, Halef said.