Member of Syriac Studies Office Joseph Lahdo: By committing Sayfo Genocide, the Ottomans achieved their goal of displacing Syriac people, uprooting them and confiscating their property

BETH NAHRIN — In an interview with our news desk, member of the Syriac Studies Office Joseph Lahdo talked about the heinous Sayfo Genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire against the Syriac (Aramean-Chaldean-Assyrian) and other peoples in 1915.

“The Sayfo Genocide aimed at annihilating Syriac people and uprooting them from their historical land. This was planned by the Union and Progress Party of the Ottoman Empire, which was fanatic and sought Turkification and killing the different other,” Lahdo stated, indicating that the Ottoman Sultan ordered to exterminate Christians, including Syriacs and Armenians throughout the Ottoman Empire, not only in Tur Abdin.

They were brutally killed, their women were captivated and their property were confiscated.

He added that some Kurdish clans were pressured to participate in the Christians extermination and displacement, while other clans did not implement those orders.

Lahdo declared that the Sayfo negative effects remained engraved in the memory of Syriac people and left scars that years could not erase.

“Entire families were exterminated, and the survivors lost their loved ones before their eyes, in the most heinous ways. They killed them with the Sayfo (sword), ripped open the stomachs of pregnant women, and crucified women naked, in addition to many other atrocities,” Lahdo continued.

With regard to the Sayfo recognition, Lahdo indicated that the great powers that controlled the international community were silent about the Genocide at the time. Germany in particular had participated in the Genocide through its silence about what happened.

They were accompanying the Turkish officers during the Genocide, for political interests, ignoring what was committed against humanity.

However, after a long struggle of Syriac people and its institutions across the world, especially the struggle of the Bethnahrain National Council (Mawtbo Umthoyo D’Bethnahrin, MUB), as well as the MUB institutions and political parties, to demand international recognition, some countries have recognized the brutality of the Sayfo Genocide, while others have not yet recognized it because of their political interests.

Lahdo pointed out that the Genocide statistics indicate the martyrdom of about one and a half million Armenians, and about 750,000 Syriacs. These are approximate numbers because many martyrs’ bodies could not be found or their identities were not known.

Lahdo concluded that, by committing the Sayfo Genocide, the Ottomans achieved their goal of displacing Syriac people, uprooting them and confiscating their property.

Furthermore, those who survived the Genocide were pressured politically, socially and economically by successive Turkish governments, so they were forced to migrate to Syria, Iraq and some European countries. Thus, the Syriac people villages in Turkey were evacuated of their original inhabitants.