Apigian-Kessel: Forgotten Genocide: Let

I will try to vindicate myself by concentrating on my benign neglect of including the Assyrian and Pontic Greeks in my tirade against the post-Ottoman Turks for denying the Genocide of 1915-1923.

It is reported that 750,000 Assyrians and thousands of Greeks were massacred in Turkey at that time too. My question is if we know the Turks were bent on destroying the Christian minority, why do we not include them in the large numbers killed? Why have all of us not joined forces as one voice in protest this situation?

Quite a while ago I promised Sabri Atman—an Assyrian author, academic and activist whose Seyfo Center has its headquarters in the Netherlands—that I would address the Assyrian and Pontic Greek genocide of 1915 in my column.

There are three Assyrian words used for the Assyrian Genocide of 1914-1918. The Seyfo, Ferman, and Kafle. Sayfo means sword. The sword of Islam and the way people got killed by the Turkish army and Kurdish troops. Ferman means order. Order of the government. And Kafle means deportation. Armenians can apply these words to their own situation at that time.

I had an Assyrian sister-in-law Esther Esaak when I was very young and I regret never being aware of their plight. I would have interviewed her survivor mother Warda Esaak and uncle Davit had it not been a case of unaware youthfulness.

Coincidentally while reading more about that genocide I came upon a mountain of information that before now I was unaware of and all of us should know that at least 750,000 Assyrians were slaughtered along with thousands of Pontic Greeks in that time period. It is safe to say the Turks murderous rampage destroyed the lives of over three and half million innocent souls in the quest to make Turkey for Turks. Convert or perish. One flag, one belief, one nation and one language. That’s a lot of bloodshed even by Turkey’s standards. If nothing else, the Assyrians and Greeks should be considered our brothers and sisters in the war against Turkish denial. Strength in numbers.

I am not aware of one event in which all of us were organized under one banner to voice protest against the Turks in our demand for justice on a local or national level. The Assyrians and Pontic Greeks deserve justice just as much as Armenians.

There are many Assyrian and Greek organizations fighting the same cause as we. It is the responsibility of Armenian, Assyrian and Greek leadership to join forces for the purpose of strength and recognition against the 70 million denying Turks and lobbyists who continually stymie genocide recognition. What are we waiting for, another 95 years?

I also discovered Sabri Atman is presently on a lecture tour of cities with large Assyrian populations such as Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Detroit to raise awareness. Why has he not been invited to address the Armenian community at large? The Assyrians wonder why the Armenians concentrate only on their plight in the 1915 genocide.

Sabri Atman says, “Nobody who has researched the genocide who is genuine and sincere, can deny and ignore the fact that we all: Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks shared the same terrible fate.”

August 7 is designated as the day the Assyrians commemorate their genocide. Seyfo 1915 is considered one of the most important years in the history of the Assyrian Nation when during the First World War hundreds of thousands of Christian Assyrians in the Ottoman Empire were murdered during the rule of the extremist Young Turks.

The Seyfo Center states, “We the Assyrians, demand attention for all the sufferings our people have undergone, and demand that the world, including Turkey, also recognize the events that occurred during the First World War. Their excuses against the recognition of the genocide should prevent Turkey to become a full menber of the European Union.”

The Assyrians have been successful in having genocide monuments erected in various cities such as Cardiff, Wales, and Sydney, Australia.

More on this next week.

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