Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal

Genocide of Armenian and Syriac Christians - 100 Years

Volume 5 No. 282 April 24, 2015

If the Journal is not displayed properly, please click on the link below (or copy and paste) to read from web
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/MWJ_282.htm

Archives: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Newsletter/Default.htm

SAYFO - SYRIAC CHRIASTIN GENOCIDE REMEMBERED, Kerala, India Jan 2015
A Breathtaking Commemoration of Sayfo and Armenian Genocides

On January 2015 at Kottayam, Kerala, India During the first Apostolic Visit of HH Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II, thousands of Faithful held Lighted Candles/Lanterns to pay tribute to the Christian martyrs of the Sayfo and Armenian Genocides.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
If you are not receiving your own copy of Malankara World by email, please add your name to our subscription list. It is free. click here.

1. Foreword

We truly celebrate Jesus' Resurrection through the power of the Spirit. As on the first Easter, the Spirit will send us forth to evangelize, make God's Word come alive in our hearts, open our eyes to recognize the risen Christ, especially through the Mass, and call us to repentance and Confession. If we follow the Spirit's lead in these ways (see Gal 5:25), we will truly celebrate Easter. ...

This Sunday in Church

2. Bible Readings for This Sunday (April 26)

Bible Reading for 2nd Sunday After New Sunday
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Lectionary/Lec_2nd-sunday-after-new-sunday.htm

3. Sermons for This Sunday (April 26)

Sermons for the 2nd Sunday After New Sunday
http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Sermons/Sermon-of-the-week_2nd-sunday-after-new-sunday.htm

4. What Does Jesus' Resurrection Have to Do with Me?

God accomplished redemption in Christ's victory over sin and death, but the effects of that victory have yet to be fully realized. So while the ultimate outcome has been assured (Rom. 8:18-21; 1 Cor. 15:51-57; Revelation 21), the struggle between life and death, good and evil, continues. However, the shalom (i.e. peace in its fullest sense), freedom, and rest of redemption will one day be fully realized when Jesus returns. ...

5. His Resurrection Destiny

When our Lord rose from the dead, He rose to an absolutely new life - a life He had never lived before He was God Incarnate. He rose to a life that had never been before. And what His resurrection means for us is that we are raised to His risen life, not to our old life. One day we will have a body like His glorious body, but we can know here and now the power and effectiveness of His resurrection and can "walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). Paul's determined purpose was to "know Him and the power of His resurrection" (Philippians 3:10). ...

This Week's Features: Armenian and Sayfo Genocides

6. Sayfo - Suffering of Christians Continues in Middle East After 100 Years

His Holiness explained that the name Sayfo comes from the Syriac word 'Sayfo' which means 'Sword' and reflects the horrible way with which our people were put to death. He illustrated this with the example of a mother whose legs and arms were amputated and she was forced to feed her baby holding him with her teeth. ...

7. HH Patriarch Aphrem II Calls on Germany to Recognize Assyrian, Greek, Armenian Genocide

In an open letter to the German government, Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II, the Supreme Head of the Syriac Orthodox Church, has called on Germany to recognize the genocide of Armenians, Syriacs and Greeks perpetrated by Ottoman Turks during World War One. ...

Important Update: German President Recognizes Syriac, Greek, and Armenian Genocide

In a speech given at an ecumenical Church service of the Catholic and Evangelical Churches at the Cathedral in Berlin on April 23, 2015, German President Joachim Gauck described the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago as genocide, marking a shift in his country's stance that so far avoided the term....

8. 100 Years of Turkish Genocide

On April 24, 1915 the Turkish genocide of Assyrians, Greeks and Armenians began very simply, without pomp and circumstance. "We have made a clean sweep of the Armenians and Assyrians of Azerbaijan." Those were the words of Djevdet Bey, the governor of Van Province in Ottoman Turkey, who on April 24, 1915 lead 20,000 Turkish soldiers and 10,000 Kurdish irregulars in the opening act of the genocide of Assyrians, Armenians and Pontic Greeks. In three short years, 750,000 Assyrians (75%) would be killed, 1.5 million Armenians and 500,000 Greeks. ...

9. The Assyrian Genocide: Turkey's Wholesale Slaughter and Extermination

The Assyrian Genocide was a premeditated and systematic extermination campaign, characterized by forced relocation and massacre of ethnic Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) within the Ottoman and Persian Empires and later the Republic of Turkey. This was carried out largely by the Ottoman army, together with other allied Muslim peoples, including Kurds. Furthermore, it occurred simultaneously with the Genocides perpetrated against other indigenous Christian populations of the Ottoman Empire, such as the Armenians and Greeks. ...

10. The Armenian Genocide: A Brief Historical Overview

The Armenian Genocide of 1915 to 1923 was the culmination of the increasing oppression Armenians had suffered in Ottoman Turkey throughout the 19th century. Natives of Asia Minor for several thousand years, Armenians had been incorporated into the Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries, but remained ethnically and religiously distinct from the majority population of ethnic Turks and other Muslim Ottomans. As non-Muslims, Armenians were burdened with an inferior status in Ottoman society. ...

11. Patriarch Aphrem II Participated in the Opening Ceremony of 'Against the Crime of Genocide' Global Forum

His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II asked the audience to pause in silence and prayer for the return of their Eminences Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, especially since today marks exactly 2 years since their abduction. He then spoke about the link between what happened 100 years ago during the Armenian Genocide and the Syriac Genocide Sayfo to the abduction of the archbishops, as the same will to exterminate a people whose only sin is being 'courageous Christians'. ...

12. Common Declaration - Against The Crime Of Genocide

By the mercy of God and in glorification to the All Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we, the leaders, the representatives of the Christian Churches and ecumenical organizations, participating in the Ecumenical Session of the Forum in the land of Biblical Mount Ararat, Armenia, on the occasion of the commemoration of the 100th Anniversary and the Canonization of the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide, solemnly declare...

13. Midwest Regional Con-celebration of the Holy Qurbano in Cleveland, OH on April 25

A con-celebrated Holy Qurbana with the Acting Patriarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Church as the Chief Celebrant and assisted by 11 Priests belonging to the Oriental Orthodox Churches that are members of the Standing Conference of the Oriental Orthodox Churches will be the highlight of the event. It will be followed by a Conference, the main theme of which will be the persecution of Orthodox Christians during the Armenian-Sayfo Genocide (1915 – 1925) to the present massacre in Syria. Within this time period, the persecution of the Eritrean Orthodox Church will also be discussed. Two guest speakers will lecture on these topics and will answer questions from the audience. This conference will give a rare glimpse of persecution from the perspective of the communities most impacted. ...
 

14. About Malankara World

Foreword
This is the second Sunday after New Sunday (or 3rd Sunday after Easter.) What Easter means is something new. Resurrection means that we will get a new body - the body that is cleansed off all our sins and wickedness that keep us away from God making us to be eligible to being His sons and daughters and to inherit eternal life.

Let Us Celebrate The Truth

"Let us celebrate the feast not with the old yeast, that of corruption and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
 - 1 Corinthians 5:8

The Corinthians were struggling to celebrate the Passover in the spirit of sincerity and truth. We also are struggling to celebrate the new Passover, Easter. To recover the true celebration of Easter, we should look at the first Easter day.

On the first Easter morning, Jesus told Mary Magdalene and Mary, the mother of James, to go and tell the Good News to His disciples (Mt 28:10). On the first Easter afternoon, Jesus walked about seven miles with two of His disciples and interpreted every passage of Scripture which referred to Him (Lk 24:27). As He did this, the disciples' hearts burned within them (Lk 24:32). At the end of the afternoon, they recognized the risen Jesus in the breaking of the bread, that is, in Holy Communion (Lk 24:35). On the first Easter evening, Jesus opened the apostles' minds to the understanding of the Scriptures (Lk 24:45). He also commanded them to receive the Holy Spirit and gave them the power to absolve sins in His name (Jn 20:22-23).

We truly celebrate Jesus' Resurrection through the power of the Spirit. As on the first Easter, the Spirit will send us forth to evangelize, make God's Word come alive in our hearts, open our eyes to recognize the risen Christ, especially through the Mass, and call us to repentance and Confession. If we follow the Spirit's lead in these ways (see Gal 5:25), we will truly celebrate Easter.

Source: One Bread, One Body

100th anniversary of the Armenian and Syriac (Sayfo) Genocides

On April 24, 2015, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian, Syriac and Greek Genocides perpetrated by the Ottoman Dynasty during World War I. Our Patriarch Moran Mor Aphrem II had been a big proponent of remembering this Genocide. During Holy Father's first apostolic trip to India, the Genocide commemoration was formally inaugurated in a breathtaking fashion. All the lights on the Stadium in Kottayam was turned off and the faithful held lighted candles and lanterns - thousands of them like the stars in the sky.

During the past few weeks, Cleveland, Ohio was selected as the venue for the regional Con-celebration of Qurbana by the clergy of the Oriental Orthodox Church that are in communion with Syriac Orthodox Church. The plan is to remember the genocides and to educate the people about it. Frankly, I did not know much about the genocide or very little about the other churches. As part of the organizing team, as we discussed various aspects, I got a first hand knowledge about the other churches that share our faith. It is really amazing. We had to produce a small booklet to give to the attendees and I was doing research into Sayfo, the genocide of Syriac Christians. It is clear that Sayfo was very similar to what is happening in Iraq and Syria. Instead of Ottoman Empire and the "Young Turks", the genocide is perpetrated by ISIS. But the amazing thing is that as Christians are tormented more and more, instead of losing faith, their faith is strengthened. I keep reading about our Christian brothers and sisters who vouch that ISIS can take away everything; but they cannot take away their faith! It is truly amazing.

This issue of Malankara World Journal provides a brief glimpse into what happened during that genocide. Just enough to wet your appetite. I am sure, once your attention is drawn to the subject, you will learn and study more.

Please pray for the Ethiopian Christians who were murdered in Libya. Please also remember our abducted Bishops in our prayers. Let us pray for the safe return of their Eminences Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji. August 23rd marks exactly 2 years since their abduction.

As this issue is already jam-packed, we do not have the regular features like Health, Recipes, and Family in this issue. They will return next week.

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World

This Sunday in Church
Bible Readings for This Sunday (April 26)
Sermons for This Sunday (April 26)
What Does Jesus' Resurrection Have to Do with Me?

by Justin Holcomb

The cross is God's gracious response to our own sinful and willful irresponsibility, choices, and actions. We sin. We are perpetrators of evil - and this separates us from God. It is this aspect of sin that has been dealt with by the vicarious sacrifice of the atonement.

But we are also victims of sin. We have enemies who harm us. We are victims who have been sinned against in numerous ways. Because of sins done to us, we are also captive, held in bondage by powers in some sense external to us and greater than we are. Or we may be held in bondage to our own desires or fears, our self-centeredness or despair. Sometimes the Bible describes the human problem as suffering, being in bondage, slavery, or captivity, each and all of which separate us from God.

What we need in this regard is for God to fight on our behalf, against our enemy, for our freedom from bondage. This is what God did in the Exodus for his people. The clearest and most powerful manifestation of God doing this for us is Christ's victory over death in the resurrection (Eph. 1:19-20). In this victory over principalities, powers, and death, the Son reclaims creation for the Father and freedom for you. "He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him" (Col. 2:15)

"How does Christ's resurrection benefit us?"

"First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, so that he might make us share in the righteousness he won for us by his death.

Second, by his power we too are already now resurrected to a new life.

Third, Christ's resurrection is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection."

God accomplished redemption in Christ's victory over sin and death, but the effects of that victory have yet to be fully realized. So while the ultimate outcome has been assured (Rom. 8:18-21; 1 Cor. 15:51-57; Revelation 21), the struggle between life and death, good and evil, continues. However, the shalom (i.e. peace in its fullest sense), freedom, and rest of redemption will one day be fully realized when Jesus returns.

Jesus was physically raised from death as "the firstborn from the dead" (Col. 1:18), securing a future resurrection like his own for all those who are united to him through faith. Through his triumphant resurrection, Jesus opened the way for us to experience resurrection and eternal life in the new earth when he returns instead of the death we deserve.

Christ's victory gives us back our identity and restores our meaning. We recognize, and may truly know for the first time, that we have a future that ends in peace, as well as a past that can be healed and forgiven, and now live in the hope of the gospel. Christ opens up for us a new identity because he himself remained always true to his identity, a share of which he offers to us.

In Christ's victory, fear and shame are banished, to be replaced by profound joy that we are no longer strangers to God and to one another, that we are no longer so utterly isolated and alone.

Adapted from On the Grace of God

About The Author:

Justin Holcomb is the Adjunct Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary. Justin and his wife, Lindsey, are the authors of 'Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault'. He is also the editor of Christian Theologies of Scripture. ...

His Resurrection Destiny

by Oswald Chambers

"Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?"
- Luke 24:26

Our Lord's Cross is the gateway into His life. His resurrection means that He has the power to convey His life to me. When I was born again, I received the very life of the risen Lord from Jesus Himself.

Christ's resurrection destiny - His foreordained purpose - was to bring "many sons to glory" (Hebrews 2:10). The fulfilling of His destiny gives Him the right to make us sons and daughters of God. We never have exactly the same relationship to God that the Son of God has, but we are brought by the Son into the relation of sonship. When our Lord rose from the dead, He rose to an absolutely new life - a life He had never lived before He was God Incarnate. He rose to a life that had never been before. And what His resurrection means for us is that we are raised to His risen life, not to our old life. One day we will have a body like His glorious body, but we can know here and now the power and effectiveness of His resurrection and can "walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4). Paul's determined purpose was to "know Him and the power of His resurrection" (Philippians 3:10).

Jesus prayed, ". . . as You have given Him authority over all flesh that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him" (John 17:2 . The term Holy Spirit is actually another name for the experience of eternal life working in human beings here and now. The Holy Spirit is the deity of God who continues to apply the power of the atonement by the Cross of Christ to our lives. Thank God for the glorious and majestic truth that His Spirit can work the very nature of Jesus into us, if we will only obey Him.

Source: My Utmost for His Highest (The Golden Book of Oswald Chambers)

This Week's Features: Armenian and Sayfo Genocides

Sayfo - Suffering of Christians Continues in Middle East After 100 Years

by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Chief Editor, Malankara World

Patriarch Aphrem II lighting a candle at the Sayfo Centennial
Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II lights a candle at the Sayfo Centenary Memorial

Sayfo is the Syriac name of the Genocide of the Syriac Christians during the Ottoman Empire at the beginning of the twentieth century. About half a million Syriac speaking people were killed during this tragedy. The Ottoman authorities slaughtered the Syriacs as well as Armenians, Greeks and other Christians; they confiscated their properties and violated their women. They turned churches into farms or restaurants in order to obliterate all signs of Christianity in the East.

The Turkish Genocide occurred in the modern territory of Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. The victims were predominately large Christian communities located in the lands near Hakkari Mountains of province of Van, such as the provinces of Diarbekir, Erzerum, Kharberd and Bitlis, also the regions of Urmia in Iran, Mosul - in Iraq, and the north - western regions of Syria.

During the massacre, the Christian villages and towns were ransacked by organized mobs. Tens of thousands were driven from their homes. About 100,000 victims were forcibly converted to Islam. Their property was seized. Thousands of women and girls were forced into Turkish and Kurdish harems. The barbaric massacres were perpetrated regardless of gender or age.

HH Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, Patriarch of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church, opening the year of the centennial commemoration of Sayfo in Damascus Syria on January 11, 2015 said: "The 1915 genocide resulted in 500,000 Syriac-speaking people losing their lives as martyrs of their faith. ... The genocide avouches two reasons: a religious cleansing of Christians from the cradle of Christianity, and the Syriac people never felt belonging to an ethnicity different than theirs, or spoke a language other than Syriac or Arabic. In this way, they stood against the policy that supporting only the Turkish identity on the Ottoman territory."

His Holiness explained that the name Sayfo comes from the Syriac word 'Sayfo' which means 'Sword' and reflects the horrible way with which our people were put to death. He illustrated this with the example of a mother whose legs and arms were amputated and she was forced to feed her baby holding him with her teeth.

As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Sayfo and Armenian Genocide in 2015, the persecution of Christians in the cradle of Christianity continues.

The Patriarch Aphrem II says that today is yesterday's image: "One hundred years after Sayfo, we are confronting a new genocide. New persecutors have emerged and are killing all those who refuse injustice or to change their religion. It seems they are trying to accomplish what was not completed a hundred years ago. Their tools may have changed a little, but the goal is one, to kill those who refuse to be deprived of their liberties."

"Some of the oldest Christian communities in the world are disappearing in the very lands where their faith was born and first took root," the Center for American Progress wrote. "Christians have migrated from the region in increasing numbers, which is part of a longer-term exodus related to violence, persecution, and lack of economic opportunities stretching back decades."

Newsweek reported that as many as 4 million Syrian refugees of all religious backgrounds have fled to Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. The Christian population in Syria was estimated to be around 1.1 million back in 2011; a European Parliament resolution indicated that 700,000 Syrian Christians fled the region. More than 200,000 people have died in Syria's four years of civil war.

In Syria, Christian holy places are being erased from the face of the Earth. According to specialists, over 60 churches and monasteries have already been destroyed, many of which had had a history of almost two thousand years and had been unique monuments of world culture. Patriarch Kirill , the Head of Russian Orthodox Church of Moscow and All Russia, stated that 400 churches in Syria were destroyed. He is very concerned of the threat of Christian extinction in the Mideast. He continued:

I regularly get reports of horrible crimes that are committed there against Christians, especially in northern Iraq. I have visited those places and I remember that there were many churches and monasteries there. The city of Mosul alone had 45 churches. Now there is not a single one. The buildings have been destroyed. Four hundred churches have been destroyed in Syria… The presence of the Christian minority was a factor that, in a good sense, brought tolerance and good relations between Christians and Muslims… Now Christianity is the most persecuted religion. The same is happening in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Northern Africa. In some countries of Europe, too, people are prohibited from wearing crosses at work, citing the need for tolerance, do not use the word 'Christmas', do not call Easter - Easter, saying just winter holiday or spring holiday instead.

Heads of all Christian churches of the world are now actively urging for stopping the genocide of Christians in the Middle East and saving the Christian culture.

The unparalleled brutality and violence against Christian communities include crucifixion, beheading, torture and rape. Radicalized Islamists are not only exterminating Christians in countries where Christianity predate Islam by hundreds of years, they are also obliterating Christian heritage by destroying churches, monasteries and Christian artifacts including timeless ancient manuscripts. Ninety percent of the region's Christians have fled or died since WWII. As a result of al Qaeda and ISIS in recent years, Christians have been reduced to 1 percent or less of the general population. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom declared the flight of Christians from the region "unprecedented."

In Syria, much of the ancient town of Maaloula still lies in ruins after months of fierce fighting in 2013.

The Syrian city of Homs, the third in the country in terms of population, has almost completely lost its Christian population. Thousands have been killed and about a million have fled. The situation is similar in Damascus, Aleppo, Hama, Latakia and other cities.

In early March, 33 Khabour River villages in Syria of Christians were attacked by Islamic State. The 5,000 defenseless residents were driven into exile, abducted, or killed.

Boulos Yazigi, Archbishop of Greek Orthodox Church, and Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, Archbishop of Syriac Orthodox Church in Aleppo, were abdicated in Syria near the Turkish border in April 2013. They were on a humanitarian mission to secure the release of two priests who had themselves been kidnapped two months earlier. Their driver was murdered in the attack. To-date no one knows what happened to them or whether they are still alive. Many priests and nuns were abdicated, tortured and/or murdered in Syria.

The situation in Iraq is even worse. It is estimated that in 1990, at the time of Saddam Hussein, there were between 1.2 and 1.4 million Christians in Iraq. Today, fewer than 500,000 remain. They are trying to migrate to neighboring countries in Middle East or to Europe. More than 125,000 Christians have been forced from their homes over the last 10 months alone. In four to five years, many experts feel that very few Christians will be left in Iraq.

Christian churches, businesses and homes throughout Iraq are becoming the target of coordinated attacks. Kidnappings, as well as verbal and written threats to convert to Islam, pay jizyah (an extortion tax imposed upon non-Muslims), leave the country or else suffer death, have also been commonplace. In February 2008, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Mar Paulus Faraj Rahho, was abducted and killed. Other priests and religious figures have also been murdered or kidnapped. In total, more than 413 Christians were killed between April 2003 and March 2012, and 46 churches were attacked or bombed, leaving 95 dead.

In Nineveh Plains in Iraq, the fourth Century monastery of St Matthew had 7,000 monks worshipping there during the times of the Roman empire. Now there are only six monks remaining in the monastery. Valuable manuscripts, some dating to first century AD, were destroyed or lost.

ISIS militants are destroying Christian symbols in an attempt to erase Christianity in Iraq; one of them included a mosque that was the burial site of the prophet Jonah, which is important to both Christians and Muslims.

In 2014, ISIS captured the Yazidi towns of Sinjar, Zummar, Wana and the Mosul Dam, killing 2,000 Yazidis and causing 200,000 to flee for their lives into the nearby mountains without food and water. In the first two days of their ordeal, more than 50 Yazidi children and 50 of the elderly died from dehydration and illness. Some families were compelled to throw their children from the mountaintops so as not to see them die from hunger or thirst, or so that they would not be taken by the ISIS.

It was estimated that upwards of 500,000 people were displaced in total, when Mosul was initially seized by ISIS. To this figure must be added at least 200,000 refugees from the Nineveh Plain, along with another 200,000 Yazidis and Turkmen from Sinjar, Zummar and Tel-A'far, that have been driven out in the last two months. The total figure is over 900,000. Of this number, Christians account for up to 25%, Yazidis comprising another 25%, and the remainder including Shabak, Turkmen, Arabs and other small groups.

The attacks on Christians are not confined to Iraq and Syria, but is spreading to the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. The recent beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya have provoked international outcry. This was followed by the massacre of Ethiopian Christians in Libya. From church burnings in Egypt to pastors sentenced to death in Iran, attacks against Christians and other religious minorities are escalating across the Islamic Middle East. Christians are being persecuted for their religion in numbers exceeding those martyred during the Roman Empire.

Here are some examples:

  • Up to 150 people were murdered by masked al-Shabaab terrorists who stormed Garissa University College, a Kenyan university, and shot and beheaded Christians.
  • In March, al-Shabaab released a video showing the brutal execution of six young Christians.
  • In March, targeted suicide bomb attacks in Pakistan by Jamaal-ul-Ahrar near two churches left 15 worshippers dead.
  •  In February, 21 Coptic Christians in Libya were murdered in the mass "beachfront" decapitation by Jihadists.
  • Twenty-one Christians were abducted by Islamists, forced to their knees and then beheaded in Libya.
  • Fulani terrorists massacred nearly 100 Christian villagers, mostly women and children in Nigeria.
  • Fifteen Christians, taken hostage earlier in the week were executed, including a woman who was beheaded.
  • ISIS fighters attacked a series of Christian villages and kidnapped ninety women and children.
  • April 14 marks one year since the kidnapping and disappearance of 219 Nigerian schoolgirls by Boko Haram. The overwhelming majority of these girls were Christian. Boko Haram has deliberately destroyed hundreds of churches in northern Nigeria and forces Christian men to convert at gunpoint.
  • On March 15, in Punjab, Pakistan, the Taliban blew up a Catholic and a Protestant church, both filled with Sunday worshipers, killing 14.
  • In Egypt, large numbers of Coptic Christians have moved abroad in response to a tide of discrimination and outright oppression. About 600,000 Copts have left their homeland since the early 1980s.

HH Patriach Aphrem II asked:

"We cry out loud with St. Paul saying: what shall separate us from the love of Christ - and our country - Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"

"May our Lord pour His mercy on the souls of the martyrs of Sayfo and the martyrs of Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria especially in Sadad, Aleppo, Al-Jazeerah and everywhere in this beloved country".

LL HH Ignatius Zakka I Iwas, Patriarch of Antioch and East, Syriac Orthodox Church, expressed the agony and pain experienced by Christians in Iraq and Syria the best:

"We are unable to express the pain in our heart for the innocent victims of terrorism and violence. Pray with humility and confidence that they may find solace in the Living Lord. Also beseech the intercession of all the martyrs and saints especially our Holy mother, who is ever-virgin, pure and spotless.

We, with pain in our heart for the wounded and with joy in Holy Spirit, extend our Apostolic Blessings to you. May the Grace of God be with you all."

HH Patriarch Aphrem II Calls on Germany to Recognize Assyrian, Greek, Armenian Genocide
In an open letter to the German government, Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II, the Supreme Head of the Syriac Orthodox Church, has called on Germany to recognize the genocide of Armenians, Syriacs and Greeks perpetrated by Ottoman Turks during World War One. The letter was addressed to German President Joachim Gauck, Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Parliament President Norbert Lammert.

Here is the full text of the letter:

It is with great interest that we follow the ongoing debate in Germany concerning the Genocide that occurred in the Ottoman Empire starting from the year 1915. However, we are greatly astonished to hear that the word "Genocide" is being avoided due to political reasons.

During these dark years, our church lost the majority of its faithful. The wound caused by this Genocide which we call in our Syriac-Aramaic language "Sayfo", was never healed due to the persistent denial of the very fact of the Genocide by the Turkish state until today.

The result of this first Genocide of the 20th century was the loss of 1.5 million Armenians, about 500.000 Syriac speaking Christians and thousands of Christians of different ethnicities and denominations. Our monasteries, churches, villages and houses fell prey to the systematic attempt to erase Christian life from its cradle. Today only few thousand Christians remain in Turkey, while many monasteries and churches are destroyed or confiscated.

We are writing to you because Germany, like no other state and society in the world, faced the sad truths of its history paving the way for reconciliation between peoples. When we ask for recognition, we ask for the beginning of a reconciliation process. To us, as well as to our Armenian brothers and sisters, this chapter of our history has become part of our identity. By denying this genocide, one contributes to the fulfillment of the evil plan of those who executed this genocide. Our people did not pose any threat to the Ottoman Empire. They were victimized based on racist policies and a political will to exterminate Christianity in the former Ottoman Empire in what amounts to a religio-ethnic cleansing of our people.

Today, as the Head of the Syriac Orthodox Church, we call upon the living consciousness of the German people not to turn a blind eye on truth, but to open their hearts to the suffering of an entire people. We also call upon you as the highest representatives of this people to show that values of democracy have to be defended and promoted globally and not selectively.

May the spirit of truth and courage guide you in your decision.

Ignatius Aphrem II
Patriarch of Antioch and All the East
Supreme Head of the Universal Syrian Orthodox Church

Update: German President Recognizes Syriac, Greek, and Armenian Genocide

As we were about to go to Press, Malankara World learned that German President Recognized Syriac (Sayfo), Greek, and Armenian Genocides as our Holy Father pleaded them to do. Germany was allied with Turkey during World War I when this atrocities happened.

In a speech given at an ecumenical Church service of the Catholic and Evangelical Churches at the Cathedral in Berlin on April 23, 2015, German president Joachim Gauck described the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago as genocide, marking a shift in his country's stance that so far avoided the term.

President Gauck said:

We commemorate in this hour the hundreds of thousands members of the Armenian people, who have become victims of planned and systematic killings a century ago. Indiscriminately, men and women, children and old men were deported, sent on death marches, exposed to the desert without any protection and without any food, burned alive, hounded, beaten and shot to death. This planned and calculated criminal act faced the Armenians for one reason: because they were Armenians. Similarly, it hit her fellow sufferers, the Assyrians or Syriacs and the Pontic Greeks. ...

100 Years of Turkish Genocide

Victoms of Seyfa

On April 24, 1915 the Turkish genocide of Assyrians, Greeks and Armenians began very simply, without pomp and circumstance. "We have made a clean sweep of the Armenians and Assyrians of Azerbaijan." Those were the words of Djevdet Bey, the governor of Van Province in Ottoman Turkey, who on April 24, 1915 lead 20,000 Turkish soldiers and 10,000 Kurdish irregulars in the opening act of the genocide of Assyrians, Armenians and Pontic Greeks. In three short years, 750,000 Assyrians (75%) would be killed, 1.5 million Armenians and 500,000 Greeks.

On April 24 Assyrians, Greeks and Armenians will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the genocide with vigils, church services, lectures, demonstrations and personal reflection.

Much progress in recognizing the genocide has been made throughout the world since 1915:

But recognition for the genocide by the most important country has not been made. Turkey has not only denied the genocide, but has actively worked to block its recognition throughout the world. In February, 2013 the Turkish EU minister Egemen Bagis compared the Assyrian genocide with the act of masturbation (AINA 2013-02-26).

That the genocide occurred is beyond dispute. The evidence comes from multiple sources. The genocide was recorded by Arnold Toynbee, famed British historian, as well as countless American and German missionaries. Toynbee's document runs for more than 600 pages and is entitled, "Arnold Toynbee Papers and Documents on the Treatment of Armenians and Assyrian Christians by the Turks, 1915-1916, in the Ottoman Empire and North-West Persia." The national archives of the British, French and American states contain a large collection of documents related to the genocide. The Diplomatic French archives, for example, included 45 volumes on the Assyrian question from 1915 to 1940.

There is also the testimony of thousands of Assyrian, Greek and Armenian survivors.

Joseph Zaya

Joseph Zaya (1906-2006) survived the genocide. He was born in a village in the Hakkary mountains (presently South-Eastern Turkey). The Ottoman Empire was something he lived in until the age of nine, when, in the face of genocide, he and his family was forced to flee. He remembered it vividly: long marches, hunger, starvation, butchery, impalement, burning.

"I lost my brother and his wife and four kids right in front of my eyes. Three Kurds and two Turks dragged my brother out and cut off his arms, right in front of me and his wife and kids. They then proceeded to rape his wife and eleven year old daughter, all the while looking at him and taunting him. After which they shot all of them. But they spared me. I don't know why."

"During our escape through the mountains," he continued, "I remember the bodies strewn on both sides of the path. Most women and children were crying but would not dare stop to care for the sick and dead because they knew the Turkish and Kurdish armies were behind them. I remember a child on the side of the road suckling on his already dead mother who had died with her arms around him. That image has haunted me all my life. This is something that we Assyrians should never forget, and the world should not forget it, either."

No objective inquisitor can deny this horrific genocide occurred, the first of the twentieth century. Yet Turkey's official policy, which it pursues zealously, is to do exactly that. For Turkey, the genocide did not occur, what occurred was "civil strife." Turkey even goes as far as claim the Armenians mounted an insurrection and hence it was war and they were only casualties of war. This is not true, but even if it were, how would that explain the massacres of Assyrians and Greeks? They never rose against the Ottoman state. They remained loyal subjects until at last they realized their fate, and only then started literally defending their lives.

One hundred years later, most of the world has come to accept that genocide was perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks. Even the Kurds, who did most of the actual killing during the genocide, have admitted it. On April 23, 1995 the Parliament of Kurdistan in Exile issued a statement saying "Let history note that we at the Parliament of Kurdistan in Exile share the pain of the survivors and their relations. We unequivocally denounce the act and condemn the perpetrators of this inhumanity, the Ottomans and their collaborators of the Kurdish auxiliary forces. We urge you all to do the same" (AINA 4-23-1995).

But Turkey still refuses to come to terms with its past. In November of 2000, an Assyrian priest from St. Mary's Syrian Orthodox Church in Diyarbakir, Turkey was arrested for affirming the Assyrian genocide of 1915. Fr. Yusuf was interviewed by reporters from the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet during deliberations in the U.S. Congress regarding HR 596, the Armenian Genocide Resolution. The reporters apparently had hoped to quote a Christian priest denying the validity of the Assyrian-Armenian-Greek Holocaust of 1915, but instead were angrily surprised by Fr. Yusuf's defiant affirmation. Fr. Yusuf's defiance has itself surprised those who have described him as an otherwise gentle and amicable man of faith. Following the interview, the Hurriyet reporters printed an inflammatory article with a photograph of Fr. Yusuf holding a cross under the headline "A Traitor Amongst Us" (AINA 11-23-2000).

For Assyrians, Greeks and Armenians, the genocide has not ended, it cannot end so long as Turkey denies the genocide. The psychological wounds cannot be healed if the crime is not acknowledged by the perpetrator.

The genocide did not end in 1918, it continues to this day. It has been 100 years of genocide.

The Assyrian Genocide: Turkey's Wholesale Slaughter and Extermination

By Nicholas Al-Jeloo

The Assyrian Genocide was a premeditated and systematic extermination campaign, characterized by forced relocation and massacre of ethnic Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) within the Ottoman and Persian Empires and later the Republic of Turkey. This was carried out largely by the Ottoman army, together with other allied Muslim peoples, including Kurds. Furthermore, it occurred simultaneously with the Genocides perpetrated against other indigenous Christian populations of the Ottoman Empire, such as the Armenians and Greeks. On the eve of the First World War, the Assyrian population numbered about one million and was largely concentrated in upper Mesopotamia. It is estimated that between August 1914 and September 1925, the Assyrians lost over two thirds of their population -- roughly 750,000 people -- to acts of Genocide. This resulted in the emptying out of entire regions that had previously been populated, in the majority, by indigenous Assyrians and the erasing of much of their material culture and tangible heritage.

The Plan

The Young Turks came to power in the Ottoman Empire in a coup d'tat on 24 July 1908, effectively deposing Sultan Abdul-Hamid II. Once they seized power, they proceeded to systematically replace old Ottoman bureaucrats with young Muslims, fired with the passion to create Turan -- a Turkic state stretching from the Adriatic to the Great Wall of China.

At the Annual Congress of the Young Turks' Committee for Union and Progress (CUP) in Thessaloniki in 1910, the Congress' President remarked that, "no reliance could be placed" upon Christians, and "... as Europe always regarded the affairs of Turkey through Christian spectacles every effort must be made to crush the propaganda of the Empire's Christian nationalities, which might attract the attention of European politicians... Musulmans generally should retain their arms, and where they are in a minority arms should be distributed to them by the authorities... Emigration [of Muslims] from the Caucasus and Turkestan must be encouraged, land provided for the immigrants, and the Christians prevented from purchasing property... Sooner or later the complete Ottomanization of all Turkish subjects must be effected, but it was becoming clear that this could never be achieved by persuasion, and recourse must be had to force of arms."

At the following year's Congress, again held in Thessaloniki, chaired by Talaat Pasha, Ottoman Interior Minister, one of their chief ideologues, Dr. Bahaettin Sakir, told the assembly, "The nations that remain from the old times in our empire are akin to foreign and harmful weeds that must be uprooted. To clear our land..." So, the indigenous Christian peoples of Asia Minor, including the Assyrians, became "foreign and harmful weeds that must be uprooted" from their own homelands. By 1914, the extreme wing of the CUP was in complete control of the Ottoman bureaucracy and military.

The Opportunity

The opportunity to execute this plan came in the form of World War I, which began in late July 1914. On August 1, the Ottoman Empire signed a secret alliance treaty with Germany, which declared war on Russia that same day. On November 1, the Ottoman Empire officially entered the First World War, with Russia's declaration of war against them, at the same time declaring a Holy War (Jihad) against the Christian powers. Even before the War had begun, however, the Ottoman Government was planning and ordering the uprooting and destruction of its Christian population.

On August 3rd, Tahsin Pasha, the Ottoman governor of Van, arranged a meeting with the Assyrian Church of the East patriarch Mar Binyamen Shim'on, where a number of promises were made to keep the Assyrians of that province neutral and loyal to the Ottoman State. In exchange for the establishment of schools, roads and infrastructure in their areas, the Church's prelates were entrusted with the collection of aid for the Ottoman military's mobilization (Seferberlik). At the same time, soldiers were being conscripted from amongst the Assyrians around Van, whose homes were being plundered in the name of collecting aid for the army. From that month onwards, Assyrians in districts bordering Iran were began to flee from violent raids by the Ottoman military, which was reportedly arming Kurdish tribesmen while confiscating weapons from Assyrians. As the survivors attempted to flee their attackers, they were captured, tortured and brutally slain. Wholesale massacres of unarmed Assyrian villagers by Ottoman troops were also being reported.

Wholesale Slaughter

The Ottoman policy of destruction soon extended into the neighboring Persian Empire (modern-day Iran). On 24 December 1914, Ottoman War Minister Enver Pasha implemented a plan to encircle and destroy the Russian Army at Sarikamis in order to regain territories formerly lost to them. Enver's forces were routed in the battle, and almost completely destroyed, with the blame laid on Armenians fighting for the Russians. As a result, retreating troops under Jevdet Bey embarked on a military incursion into the Assyrian districts of Urmia and Salamas in Iranian Azerbaijan at the beginning of 1915. Unarmed Assyrians were massacred, died of hunger or disease, thousands of girls as young as seven were raped or forcibly converted to Islam, and 200 Christian villages were destroyed, with three quarters of them burned to the ground. Jevdet is reported to have held a meeting in February 1915 at which he said, "We have cleansed the Armenians and Syrians from Azerbaijan, and we will do the same in Van."

On 29 May 1915, the Temporary Law of Deportation was passed, giving the Ottoman government and military authorization to deport anyone it "sensed" as a threat to national security. With its implementation, the confiscation of Christian property and widespread slaughter ensued. Armed resistance to forced conscription and deportation were subsequently labeled as "revolts" by the government. The killings and mass starvation were thus "systematic," "authorized" and "organized by the government." From statements by Talaat Pasha, it is clear that officials were aware that the deportation order was genocidal.

In mid-1915, Jevdet Bey entered the towns of Bitlis and Siirt with 8,000 soldiers whom he named "The Butchers' Battalion," ordering the massacre of Armenians and almost 20,000 Assyrian civilians in at least 30 villages. Eyewitness accounts describe the systematic process used. First, the community leaders were imprisoned and tortured to death, followed by the arrest of all young and able-bodied men, who were taken some distance from the city and shot. This was followed by the rounding up of male children, who were taken to a nearby cliff and thrown into the valley below. Finally, women, girls and the elderly were deported, only to be attacked by Kurdish tribes who robbed and murdered them.

German Ambassador Hans Freiherr von Wangenheim reported that the Ottoman Empire was being "clear[ed]" of its indigenous Christians by "eliminat[ion]." In July 1915, he confirmed that the Assyrians of Midyat, Nisibis, and Jazirah were also slain. Assyrian survivors, from many villages in the Tur-'Abdin region, flocked to centres such as 'Ayn-Wardo, Azakh and Binebil, where they put up fierce resistance to attacks by Ottoman troops. The Assyrians of Tur-'Abdin still refer to 1915 as the year of Sayfo, or the sword.

Deportation and Expropriation

A number of Assyrians, alongside Armenians, were marched out to the Syrian town of Deir ez-Zor and its surrounding desert. There is no evidence that the Ottoman government provided the facilities and supplies that would have been necessary to sustain the life of the hundreds of thousands of deportees during or after their forced marches. Henry Morgenthau wrote that, "When the Turkish authorities gave the orders for these deportations, they were merely giving the death warrant to a whole race; they understood this well, and, in their conversations with me, they made no particular attempt to conceal the fact ..." By August 1915, The New York Times reported that the roads and the Euphrates River were strewn with corpses of exiles, and those who survived were doomed to certain death. Talaat Pasha and Jemal Pasha were completely aware that by abandoning the deportees in the desert they were condemning them to certain death.

The deportations were accompanied by other heinous crimes. Civil populations of Assyrians were shut up in churches and burned -- the first gas chambers -- or tortured to death. Assyrians and Armenians from Diyarbakir were also taken on rafts down the Tigris River, which were then capsized, drowning them. The shortest method, however, for disposing of the deportee women and children was to burn them. On 13 September 1915, the new "Temporary Law of Expropriation and Confiscation" was passed, stating that all properties and assets, including land, livestock, and homes left behind by deported Armenians, was to be confiscated by the authorities. Through this, the Ottoman government took possession of all "abandoned" Christian goods and properties, even selling them in many cases.

Ethnic Cleansing and Extermination

The Assyrians of the Hakkari highlands also resisted Ottoman forces and allied Kurdish tribesmen. They were not going to be an easy group to deport, as they had always been armed, and were just as ferocious as their Kurdish neighbours. On 12 April 1915, an assembly of Assyrian tribal leaders, under the leadership of Patriarch Mar Benyamen Shim'on, decided to enter an understanding with Russia, owing to the needless attacks on Assyrian villages and the oppressive environment that their inhabitants continued to live in. On 23 June 1915, the Ottoman Governor of Mosul advanced his forces, along with Kurdish irregulars, and attacked the southernmost of the Assyrian tribes, forcing them further into the mountains. They were often cut off in small pockets, vastly outnumbered and surrounded, however, with unarmed villagers making easy targets for Ottoman and Kurdish forces. They were finally defeated on 15 September, and the surviving refugees flooded across the border into Persia.

It was the assassination of Mar Benyamin Shim'on on 3 March 1918 by Kurdish chieftain Simko that eventually led, on 3 July, to the epic exodus of 90,000 Assyrians and Armenians. Travelling some 800 kilometres over 6 weeks in helter-skelter panic, with their families, livestock and possessions, they were decimated by unremitting attacks on all flanks by Turks, Kurds and Persians. None of those captured were spared. Persian commander Majd-ul-Saltane on two occasions cut off the retreat of the refugees, and telegraphed that he had that day, "sent 2,000 infidels to hell." Scorched by the heat of summer, and ravaged by Typhus, dysentery, smallpox and cholera, children and elderly alike, fully spent by fatigue and fever were abandoned along the route. It is estimated that the Assyrians alone lost over 25,000 people on this march, and fewer than 50,000 survivors reached the Ba'quba refugee camp in British-administered Mesopotamia (now Iraq).

Some 17,000 Assyrians remained stranded at Urmia when it was re-occupied by Ottoman forces, unable to flee in time. Most found refuge in mission compounds, with over 6,000 crowding the French Catholic mission and thousands more in the American mission compound. After the mass-wave of killing in the first week had subsided, it was found that roughly 1,100 Assyrians managed to escape being murdered, including 60 who had survived from the French mission and 800 that remained at the American mission. Many of these were later killed and dispersed.

Aftermath and Conclusion

The First World War formally ended with the Armistice on 11 November 1918. The Ottoman Empire had surrendered to the Allies twelve days earlier. The end of the "Great War," however did not mean the end of the Genocide. The policy of extermination was continued by the heirs of the Ottoman Empire between 1919 and 1923, during the Turkish War of Independence, as well as between 1924 and 1925, after the formal establishment of the modern Republic of Turkey.

The 1920 Treaty of S'vres called the Ottoman regime "terrorist" and contained provisions "to repair so far as possible the wrongs inflicted on individuals in the course of the massacres perpetrated in Turkey during the war." It also provided for the full protection of Assyro-Chaldeans. This treaty, however, was never ratified and was ultimately replaced by that of Lausanne in 1923, which finally brought peace to Asia Minor. It was accompanied by a "Declaration of Amnesty," without containing any provision in respect to punishment of war crimes. It also did not include the Assyrians as an official minority and, as a result, the Turkish State has since ignored their rights.

About The Author:

Dr. Nicholas Al-Jeloo is currently a lecturer at the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne, specializing in Syriac Studies. He is additionally affiliated with the Syriac Language Research Centre at the University of Divinity. Dr. Al-Jeloo is a socio-cultural historian with expertise in indigenous Middle Eastern Minorities, Eastern Christianity, the history of the Middle East and Islamic World, as well as interfaith and intercultural relations.

© 2015, Assyrian International News Agency. All Rights Reserved.

The Armenian Genocide: A Brief Historical Overview

Armenian Genocide - 100 years - banner

Genocide: "Any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, such as:

(a) killing members of the group,
(b) causing serious bodily harm to members of the group,
(c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part,
(d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group, and
(e) forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

The United Nations formulated this definition of genocide in 1948, in response to the still fresh and horrifying revelations of the Nazi attempt to wipe out Europe's Jewish population. What has come to be known as the Holocaust of World War II remains the most widely known example of genocide: an archetype of evil in the popular mind. But the use of genocide as a policy of state has roots reaching even further back in the 20th century: to the genocide of the Armenians perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire, ancestor of today's Republic of Turkey.

The Armenian Genocide of 1915 to 1923 was the culmination of the increasing oppression Armenians had suffered in Ottoman Turkey throughout the 19th century. Natives of Asia Minor for several thousand years, Armenians had been incorporated into the Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries, but remained ethnically and religiously distinct from the majority population of ethnic Turks and other Muslim Ottomans. As non-Muslims, Armenians were burdened with an inferior status in Ottoman society. Their testimony in court was given less weight than that of Muslims. They paid extra taxes. They had to wear distinguishing clothing, and were restricted in building new churches and using church bells. They were not allowed to bear arms.

As the 19th century wore on, and the Ottoman Empire watched its influence and territory recede, it increasingly placed its hopes for survival on the eastern provinces of Turkey - the region largely inhabited by Armenians. At the same time, Armenians were becoming more conscious of their own national identity, and as Christians felt religiously and culturally close to Europe. Politically, too, Armenians advocated governmental reforms in the empire based on European models, and their involvement in trade made Armenians appear, in distant Ottoman provinces, as symbols of European capitalism. The European powers were not unresponsive to such ties, and were motivated by them - along with their own political and economic interests - to intervene in the affairs of the Ottoman Empire. This added fuel to the anti-Armenian resentment already at work in the empire. Armenians were seen by some Ottomans as avatars of an ever-encroaching West (the hated "Other" of Muslim societies down to the present day) seeking to alter or end the Ottoman Muslim social order.

The backlash against Armenians was intense. From 1894 to 1896, several hundred thousand Armenians were massacred throughout the empire; another twenty to thirty thousand fell in Cilicia (today part of southeastern Turkey) in 1909. Such violent outbursts succeeded in weakening Armenians politically and economically, and there is some evidence that the Ottoman government was itself involved in these massacres. Some understand the massacres of the 1890s as a deliberate warning to Armenians, to avoid any further political action that would invite the attention of the European states.

Beginning in 1908, a group of Ottoman politicians known as the "Young Turks" made an attempt at constitutional reform, modeling their efforts on European ideas which (at least in theory) would have alleviated some of the social and administrative biases against Armenians. Taking their cue from European conceptions of the nation state, some Young Turks wanted to encourage the middle class to play a more prominent role in society. But that very middle class was mainly composed of Armenians, Greeks, Jews, and other non-Muslim, non-Turkic peoples, and attempts to change this - through boycotts of non-Muslim merchants, and special Muslim cooperative organizations - were dismal failures. One clique of Young Turk dictators envisioned an imperial future built around "Pan-Turkism": the uniting of Ottoman Turks with the Turkic peoples in Central Asia, who lay beyond the Caucasus. But once again, Armenians were an obstacle - this time a geographic one, as their ancestral homeland lay in a direct path to Central Asia. In general, the Ottomans came to resent such reforms, viewing them as European interference in internal affairs implemented on behalf of the Armenians, and as scarcely disguised steps towards the dismemberment of Ottoman territories.

By the eve of World War I, it was clear that the Young Turks' effort had failed to stem the disintegration of the empire; and this failure exacerbated popular fears that the Armenians, like other Christian peoples in the empire before them, would eventually attain their own independence. A grim solution to the "Armenian problem" began to dawn on the Ottoman leadership, for which the encroaching war would provide both opportunity and cover: the physical annihilation of the Armenians. The full resources of the Ottoman bureaucratic state would be employed to this end, augmented by the "high-tech" advances of the day, such as the telegraph and railroads.

As a prelude, the autumn of 1914 saw small-scale killings of Armenians throughout the Ottoman Empire, and Armenians appear to have been subjected to greater requisitions and forced labor than their Muslim neighbors. By the spring and summer of 1915, the Ottoman army was directly massacring entire populations in Armenian villages near the Russian border. The majority of Armenians, however, were targeted for elimination in a more elaborate manner. Vigorous adult males were killed first, so that popular resistance would be extremely difficult. Young Armenians drafted into the Ottoman army at the onset of World War I were disarmed by January of 1915, and joined with Armenians already serving in labor battalions; over a period of months, these men were either worked to death or killed in small groups.

Then, in the spring of 1915, notable Armenians and leaders of their local communities were arrested under various pretexts, rounded up, and killed shortly thereafter - usually in secret. The most infamous example of this elimination of the Armenian leadership is the arrest of the Armenian intellectuals of Constantinople, which began on the night of April 24, 1915. Today, Armenians around the world have consecrated that date for their yearly commemoration of the sorrowful, tragic fate of their ancestors.

With their communities effectively decapitated, the remaining Armenian populations were easy targets for a state intent on organized murder. Armenians of a given locality would be given a brief notice of two or three days - sometimes only a few hours - in which to prepare for a journey. They were grouped into caravans, and if there were any adult males left, they were separated from the main group and executed immediately. Women, children, and the elderly formed the bulk of the caravans, which wound their way tortuously without shelter, proper nutrition, or water, until they reached camps in the Syrian and Mesopotamian deserts. Along the way bands of released convicts, Kurdish, Circassian, and Turkic tribesmen, and local Muslims attacked the defenseless people, usually with the encouragement and participation of the gendarmes supposedly appointed by the state to protect the deportees. Rape, torture, murder, and enslavement were daily occurrences. Famine and disease ran rampant. Human tragedy attained indescribable proportions.

Those who survived the initial deportations were placed in concentration camps, only to face another set of brutal massacres in late 1915 and 1916, when the Young Turk leaders realized that too many Armenians had survived. In 1918, the Turkish army intensified its massacring of civilian Armenians on the Caucasian front. Only the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I saved the Armenians from utter destruction.

Even after the fall of the Young Turks, however, their policy of destroying Armenians continued, on a lesser scale, at the hands of the Turkish Nationalist movement, which in 1923 established the Republic of Turkey under the leadership of Kemal Ataturk. The destruction of port city of Smyrna (Izmir), massacres in Marash and elsewhere in Cilicia, the killing of thousands in territory taken from the Republic of Armenia in 1920, and isolated killings throughout Anatolia of Armenian captives and repatriates after World War I, made the desolation of Ottoman Armenia final. In the end, between one million and one and a-half million Armenians - over half of the Ottoman Armenian population - had been killed or driven to their deaths.

As with most crimes, denial of culpability - denial even that a crime itself had been committed - began almost immediately. This denial, orchestrated by the government of the Republic of Turkey, the successor state of the Ottoman Empire, continues to this very day. In the 1930s, Turkish political influence halted the production of an MGM film dealing with the Armenian Genocide, based on Austrian-Jewish writer Franz Werfel's novel, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh. Similar lobbying efforts have attempted to halt the erection of monuments to the Genocide in the United States, France, and other countries. The Turkish government has underwritten a series of publications sent to American and European libraries and politicians, purporting to "prove" that no genocide occurred, and Turkey still sponsors lobbying in the U.S. Congress against resolutions to commemorate this Genocide; at times the U.S. State Department, bowing to NATO-member Turkey, has joined forces with the Turkish ambassador to squelch such Congressional resolutions. Even the state of Israel, despite its sensitivity to the implications of genocide denial, has periodically collaborated in Turkey's efforts for reasons of realpolitik.

And yet - despite incredible resources devoted to this denial effort, the vast majority of scholars in comparative genocide studies, as well as many scholars in related fields, continue to acknowledge the historical importance of the Armenian Genocide - not only as a watershed event in history, but also as a paradigm for later genocides. In recent years, efforts of the now independent Republic of Armenia and a resurgent Armenian diaspora - in fortuitous conjunction with changes in world dynamics associated with the end of the Cold War, the expansion of the European Union, and the start of a new conflict between the West and the Muslim Middle East - have led to greater international awareness of the Armenian Genocide. The number of governments officially recognizing the Genocide has dramatically increased, though issues of justice and compensation remain unresolved. New creative works - novels, films, and works of art by Armenians and non-Armenians alike - have received critical acclaim, and new information technologies have made the history of the Armenian Genocide accessible to a vast, global audience.

(Adapted from "Remember the Armenian Genocide": a pamphlet to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide of 1915. By Aram Arkun; ed. Chris Zakian. Diocese of the Armenian Church of America, New York, 2005.)

Source: Armenian Church - Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (Eastern)

Patriarch Aphrem II Participated in the Opening Ceremony of 'Against the Crime of Genocide' Global Forum
His Holiness Patriarch Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II participated in the Opening Ceremony of 'Against the Crime of Genocide' Global Forum. His Holiness Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, the President of Armenia Mr. Serzh Sarkissian, Mr. Thornborn Jagland, Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, and Prof. Daniel Feierstein, President of the International Association of Genocide Scholars spoke in the High Level Segment of the Opening Ceremony. The Opening Ceremony was also attended by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Coptic Patriarch and Pope of Alexandria, His Beatitude Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Raii and many representatives of Churches particularly from Russia, England, Jerusalem, Egypt, Zimbabwe, and Cyprus.

In the first panel consecrated for the religious leaders and dealing with the subject of the Genocide, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II opened the session with a prayers for the Coptic and Ethiopian martyrs of the massacres in Libya.

His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II spoke about the effects of a genocide and how the holy shrines, churches, monasteries, and cultural centers are destroyed in an attempt to eliminate any trace of the persecuted people or their culture.

He called the international community and people of good will to recognize the genocide, comparing it to the confession of sins, with its stages of confession, repentance and redemption. He emphasized that the condemnation of such crimes is essential for prevention of the like in the future. He also expressed his worries of the rise of new similar crimes especially in the Middle East, referring to the recent Coptic and Ethiopian massacres in Libya.

In his talk, Pope Tawadros II spoke about remembering the martyrs and explained the meaning of martyrdom in the Church.

His Holiness Patriarch Mor Ignatius Aphrem II asked the audience to pause in silence and prayer for the return of their Eminences Mor Gregorius Youhanna Ibrahim and Boulos Yaziji, especially since today marks exactly 2 years since their abduction. He then spoke about the link between what happened 100 years ago during the Armenian Genocide and the Syriac Genocide Sayfo to the abduction of the archbishops, as the same will to exterminate a people whose only sin is being 'courageous Christians'. His Holiness also condemned the killings of Coptics and Ethiopians in Libya and the killing and abduction of Syriac-speaking Christians in Khabour, Syria. He concluded with the hope that the risen Lord gives us and an affirmation to stay in our homeland despite all persecutions.

His Beatitude Cardinal Mar Bechara Boutros Al-Rai spoke about the difference between a legal and theologica debate about the Genocide. He called all to remember to restart anew, recognize that this is a genocide in order to avoid the like and confess the sin of killing in order to reach total repentance.

Common Declaration - Against The Crime Of Genocide

Global Forum Against The Crime Of Genocide - Ecumenical Session

Under The Auspices Of The Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin
'Churches Against Genocides' - Human Life As a Gift of God

April 21-22, 2015

Yerevan, Armenia

By the mercy of God and in glorification to the All Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we, the leaders, the representatives of the Christian Churches and ecumenical organizations, participating in the Ecumenical Session of the Forum in the land of Biblical Mount Ararat, Armenia, which has been evangelized by the apostles Sts. Thaddeus and Bartholomew under the stewardship of the Armenian Holy Apostolic Church, on the occasion of the commemoration of the 100th Anniversary and the Canonization of the Martyrs of the Armenian Genocide, solemnly declare:

Guided by the Christian truth and God-given commandments on the sacredness and inviolability of life that it is created by and belongs to God; (Genesis.1:27; Exodus 20:13, John 1:4);

Believing in the sacred mission of the Church of Christ aimed at establishing peace in the world and solidarity amongst people;

Bearing witness that the Church is called to the salvation of souls and to the mission of protecting life on earth;

1. we reaffirm that the violence and killings based on national, religious, ethnic and racial discrimination have no justification and statute of limitations;

2. we condemn the genocides and all crimes, which endanger peace and human security, being the manifestation of evil and sin against humanity;

3. we condemn the ongoing ethnic and religious violence in the world, especially in the Middle East, which cause painful human losses and irreversible destruction of spiritual and cultural values and heritage;

4. we are convinced that to prevent the similar crimes in the future is of utmost importance to recognize and condemn all crimes of genocide, absolutely reject the denial and to pursuit the claim for reparation;

5. we offer our support to nations who have been subjected to genocide and are committed to stand for defending human dignity and peace among the nations;

6. we call upon the leaders of the nations, individuals and the people of good will to join forces in creating a just and harmonious world free from suffering and violence;

7. we pray for the souls of the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide and all victims of crimes against humanity and ask the Almighty God to strengthen us in our pursuit for establishing peace and justice in the world.

Midwest Regional Con-celebration of the Holy Qurbano in Cleveland, OH on April 25

THE STANDING CONFERENCE OF ORIENTAL ORTHODOX CHURCHES PRESENTS:

THE FIRST EVER MIDWEST REGIONAL CONCELEBRATION OF THE DIVINE LITURGY

To be followed by the conference:

"A Call for Orthodox Solidarity in The Face of Persecution"
100th Anniversary of the Armenian and Sayfo Genocide and the Current Crisis in Middle East

Cleveland, OH – The Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches is proud to present the first concelebrated Divine Liturgy in the Midwest.

The following local Oriental Orthodox Churches will participate in the Concelebration of the Divine Liturgy (Qurbano)

1. Coptic Orthodox Church
2. Syrian Orthodox Church
3. Armenian Orthodox Church
4. Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church
5. Malankara Syrian Knanaya Orthodox Church
6. Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
7. Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church

H.G. Abune Makarios, Locum Tenens of H.H. Patriarch Antonios I, Hierarch of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church Archdiocese of North America, Europe and the Middle East, and General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of North America and Member of the Coptic Orthodox Holy Synod and SCOOCH will be the main celebrant. HG will be assisted by 11 Priests from all Oriental Orthodox Churches Participating in the event. The following are the confirmed Priests and their church affiliations:

Coptic Orthodox Church

  • V. Rev. Fr. Mikhail E. Mikhail, D. Min., St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church, Cleveland, OH.
  • V. Rev. Fr. Marcos Gali, M.A., PC, St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church, Cleveland, OH.

Armenian Orthodox Church

  • Rev. Fr. Hratch Sargsyan, St. Gregory of Narek Armenian Apostolic Church, Cleveland, OH.

Syriac Orthodox Church (Including Malankara Churches)

  • V. Rev. Fr. Geevarghese Kunnath, MD, St. Basil's Syriac Orthodox Church, Cleveland, OH.
  • Rev. Fr. Binoy Thattankunnel, Ph.D, St. Basil's Syriac Orthodox Church, Cleveland, OH and St. Ephraim Knanaya Orthodox Church, Madison Heights, MI.

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

  • V. Rev. Lique Maemran Mussie Haregowan, Ph.D, General Manager for the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Archdiocese of New York, the Northeast, Southeast and Central United States.
  • V. Rev. Fr. Melake Ganet Philipos Zegene, Debre Ganet Kidus Teklahaimanot Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Detroit, MI.
  • Rev. Fr. Melake Selam Yared Gebremedhin, Debre Selam Kidus Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Columbus, OH.
  • Rev. Fr. Solomon Bogale, Debre Ganet Kidus Teklahaimanot Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Detroit, MI.

Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church

  • V. Rev. Fr. Merigeta Tesfaldet Kidane, Holy Trinity Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church, Cincinnati, OH.
  • Rev. Fr. Athanasius Ghebre-Ab, Ph.D., Holy Trinity Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church, Cincinnati, OH. (Professor at Univ of Cincinnati)

The Liturgy will be followed by a conference, the main theme of which will be the persecution of Orthodox Christians during the Armenian-Sayfo Genocide (1915 – 1925) to the present massacre in Syria. Within this time period, the persecution of the Eritrean Orthodox Church, the only Oriental Orthodox Church whose patriarch currently is under house arrest will also be discussed.

Dr. Douglas S. Kerr, MD, PhD Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center will discuss the Armenian and Sayfo Genocide and the current Syrian crisis. Dr. Kerr was born in Beirut, Lebanon. His parents came from the US to the Middle East after World War I to work for the Near East Relief in Aleppo, Marash, Turkey, and later Lebanon running an orphanage for Armenian boys. So, he is intimately familiar with the conditions in the Middle East.

Fr. (Professor) Athanasius Ghebre Ab., Professor of history/political science, University of Cincinnati, will discuss the persecution in Eritrea, Africa. He is the Liaison of External Affairs, Eritrean Orthodox Church, North America Diocese.

This conference will give a rare glimpse of the Persecution of Christians from the perspective of the communities most impacted. A panel discussion and an open Question and Answer session will follow the talks. Dr. Jacob Mathew of St. Basil's Syriac Orthodox Church, and Chief Editor of Malankara World and a member of the organizing committee of the event, will serve as the MC.

Come join us to reaffirm our unity as Oriental Orthodox Christians through the Eucharist, ask the intercession of our new martyrs & confessors and stand in solidarity with one another.

The event will take place on Saturday April 25, 2015 from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm at:

St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church
2100 East Pleasant Valley Road
Seven Hills (Cleveland), Ohio, 44131

For more information call: 513-550-0858 or email: info@scooch.org
or Dr. Jacob Mathew, St. Basil's Syriac Orthodox Church, Cleveland, Ohio 330-656-3264 or email: mail@baselios.org

About Malankara World
With over 6000 articles and hundreds of links to outside resources covering all aspects of Syriac Orthodoxy that are of interest to Family, Malankara World is the premier source for information for Malankara Diaspora. In addition to articles on spirituality, faith, sacraments, sermons, devotionals, etc., Malankara World also has many general interest articles, health tips, Food and Cooking, Virtual Travel, and Family Specific articles. Please visit Malankara World by clicking here or cut and paste the link on your browser: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/default.htm

Malankara World Journal Subscription

If you are not receiving Malankara World Journal directly, you may sign up to receive it via email free of cost. Please click here: http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/Library/Register/news_regn.asp

Malankara World Journal Archives

Previous Issues of Malankara World Journal can be read from the archives here.

Malankara World Journal is published by MalankaraWorld.com http://www.MalankaraWorld.com/
Copyright © 2011-2015 Malankara World. All Rights Reserved.