According to international law, the Aramean (Syriac) people and their endangered Aramaic (Syriac) language are indigenous to Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, where they are still struggling hard for survival and for appreciation and official recognition as an ancient Semitic people with their distinct (read: non-Arab, non-Turkish, non-Kurdish, non-Muslim) identity, language, literature and religion.

The Aramean people currently request the international community, governments and media alike, to pay urgent attention to the following two critical yet internationally underreported issues:

  1. To increase all efforts in the case of the two kidnapped Archbishops since 22 April 2013; cf. http://wca-ngo.org/our-work/234-upcoming-events/431-we-will-not-rest-until-you-are-back-home-abducted-on-monday-22-april-2013. In our view, this abduction has nothing to do with pecuniary ransom or prisoners exchange. Rather, it is a politically motivated case to terrorize Syria’s native Aramean Christians and drive them out of their ancient homeland.
  2. To help the stateless, highly vulnerable and forgotten Aramean Christians stay in Syria and not leave their ancient homeland en masse, as has been the case with their fellow people from Southeast Turkey and Iraq in the recent decades. We ask the international community to not repeat the same mistakes, such as remaining silent on their enduring neglected plight. Instead, this time we expect the world to act preemptively in order to truly defend human rights and safeguard the threatened presence of indigenous Aramaic Christianity in Syria.

In the last century, the basic human rights of the Arameans were persistently violated in front of the eyes of the world in these countries, where they have a well-documented history of more than 3,000 years. Hence the majority has fled their original homelands to West-Europe, the USA and Australia.

If no immediate action will be taken, it will inevitably lead to the dramatic decline of Syria’s native Aramean people. A phenomenon which, again, is not unlike the one we have seen in the last decade in Iraq and where the international community did not act timely and adequately. Hence this conscientious question must inevitably be answered by UN & EU Member States: Since nobody has been held accountable yet for the devastation of the Iraqi nation and the decimation of its ancient indigenous vulnerable groups such as the Aramean Christians and their 3,000-year-old Aramaic language, who can and will be held responsible for the same crimes and destruction in Syria? 

World Council of Arameans (Syriacs)
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After an Aramean delegation met with Ms. Joëlle Milquet, Belgium's Deputy Prime Minister as well as the Minister of Interior Affairs and for Equalities, on Monday 15 July 2013, the below letter was composed and shared with a number of politicians. The purpose was to reach the Foreign Ministers of the EU who were set to meet on 22 July in Brussels. The Aramean Delegation consisted of the President of the WCA (Johny Messo), the Chairmen of the Federations of the Arameans in Sweden (Kenan Anter), Germany (Daniyel Demir) and Belgium (Georges Cimen) and the local Aramean politician Ibrahim Erkan.


Attachment: Background information on the WCA and Aramean (Syriac) people

World Council of Arameans (Syriacs)
Established in 1983, the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) (“WCA”), formerly known as the Syriac Universal Alliance, is a global umbrella organization representing the various Aramaic (Syriac) national federations in the continents of Europe, America, Australia and the Middle East. The WCA is the widely acknowledged voice of the Aramean people whose interests and needs it aims to serve, defend and promote.

Since 1999, the WCA is an Aramaic-speaking Non-Governmental Organization in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and the Social Council of the United Nations. The WCA is a socio-political and cultural organization that works independently, transparently and on a democratic basis. Among others, the WCA seeks close cooperation with national governments, the UN, the EU and the Council of Europe.

The WCA is dedicated to answer the call to protect and secure the rights, liberty and equality of the Aramean (Syriac) people, safeguard and promote the cultural heritage of its ancestors, ensuring justice, and uniting all its people as a self-determined and internationally recognized Aramean nation.

Aramean (Syriac) people
‘Aramean/Aramaic’ is the original self-designation of the Arameans and the equivalent of the Greek name ‘Syrian/Syriac’ which they adopted since the fifth century AD. In order to avoid the recurring confusion with the largely Muslim Arab citizens of the Syrian Arab Republic (i.e. Syria), this people either prefers the use of the artificial term ‘Syriacs’ or their ancient self-designation ‘Arameans’ in Western languages.

The early Arameans were pastoralists who were an inherent and integral part of the Near East in 1550-1200 BC. In pre-Christian times, notably between 1150-700, they played a crucial role in the socio-political arena of the ancient world. As native inhabitants of Southeast Turkey, north-eastern Syria and northern Iraq, they were ubiquitous in this area as well as in Lebanon and South Iraq.

Their Aramaic mother tongue enjoyed the status of international language of the Near East between ca. 700 BC and ca. 700 AD. Aramaic also features in the Old and New Testaments, was the mother tongue of Jesus Christ and his apostles, and left indelible traces in the Jewish and Muslim literatures (including the Qur’an).

Aramaic has largely been the main carrier of the identity of the Arameans, who were one of the first nations to adopt the Gospel in the early centuries of the Christian era. Besides the Syriac (Orthodox, Catholic or Protestant) community, the Chaldeans, Nestorians and Maronites are also the heirs of the Aramaic heritage. For many centuries, their ancient monasteries and churches functioned as intellectual centers and schools.

Professor Sabatino Moscati stated: “The Greeks and Romans knew the Near East mainly through the Arameans, for it was they who united and canalized the sources of its culture, bringing together Babylonian, Persian and Hebrew elements and transmitting them to Christianity, and with Christianity to the West. From the West, at a later date, the Arameans were to bring to the East Greek culture, especially philosophy, which became known to the Arabs through the medium of Aramaic.”

Today, the Christian Arameans are a stateless and forgotten people who, as a result of ethnic cleansing, land theft and recurring persecutions, have been forced to flee from the lands of their ancestors. This people and its ancient language are in serious danger of extinction today. Therefore, their future survival remains contingent on international recognition as an indigenous people of the Near East.

Click here to download the letter in PDF format  




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