WCA Letter to UNSC Members: Plea to address still kidnapped archbishops and seek political solution to war in Syria (25 July 2013)
To the Honorable Permanent and Non-Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC): China, France, Russia, UK, US, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Australia, Guatemala, Luxemburg, Morocco, Pakistan, Korea, Rwanda, Togo
Stockholm, 25 July 2013
Re: Plea to address still kidnapped archbishops and seek political solution to war in Syria
In reference to tomorrow’s briefing of the UNSC in New York City by the Syrian Coalition President Mr. Ahmad Al-Assi Al-Jarba and a senior delegation of Coalition representatives on the ongoing war in Syria, we request your immediate attention and assistance in relation to the next two critical issues:
- On 26 April, we first addressed the distinguished UNSC concerning the abhorrent abduction of the Greek and Syriac Orthodox Metropolitans of Aleppo, Msgr. Boulos Yazigi, and Msgr. Yuhanon Ibrahim, respectively. More than three months have passed since they were abducted, while they were engaged in a humanitarian mission near the Syrian-Turkish border.
On 29 April, we met the interim president of the Syrian Coalition Mr. George Sabra in Istanbul. Significantly, he stated unambiguously that (a) he knew where the kidnappers were and with whom they were still negotiating, and that (b) they were neither Chechen or foreigners nor were the abductors related to the Syrian Government, but they were in fact a local Syrian rebel group.
As of yet, none of the efforts for the release of the bishops have proven fruitful. We denounce the unconfirmed and demoralizing news which has been spread two days ago by Turkish TV channels and newspapers, stating that they were killed and three kidnappers arrested and sent back to Syria, Chechnya (sic) and Russia. This occurred just a few days after Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mr. Ahmet Davutoglu had received an Aramean delegation to which he ensured that the bishops were still alive, which implies that Turkey knows more about their whereabouts.
This abduction case sends out a twofold message. On the one hand, the Aramean Christians feel once again abandoned by the international community and interpret this case as a politically motivated act of terror, aimed at driving Syria’s native people out of their ancestral homeland. On the other hand, it signals to the fundamentalists, first and foremost to those who intend to transform secular Syria into a sharia-based state, that threats, kidnappings and killings can be done with complete impunity before the eyes of a lethargic international community.
Against this backdrop, we believe that the responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of the two bishops lies primarily with the Syrian opposition, which claims to be in military and civil control in the area where the abduction took place. Thus we ask the Members of the UNSC to address and prioritize this case in order to prevent yet another mass exodus of the Christians from the Near East, as we have witnessed before, especially in the last decades in Turkey and Iraq.
- On behalf of the affected, vulnerable and defenseless minority groups in Syria, we emphatically appeal to the UN Security Council, as we previously requested the distinguished representatives at the EU Foreign Affairs Council, to do all that is in its power to prevent the influx of more weapons into Syria, which will only lead to more violence and bloodshed of innocent civilians.
The World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) still believes in the noble US-Russian led initiative to bring together the warring parties in order to seek a political rather than a military solution. Hence we urge the Members of the UNSC to resolve this unprecedented humanitarian disaster in a non-violent way through dialogue, showing the deepest respect for human lives and dignity.
Until this hour, nobody has been held accountable yet for the devastation of the Iraqi nation and the decimation of its ancient native vulnerable groups such as the Aramean Christians and their 3,000 year old Aramaic language. With this horrible experience still fresh in our minds, we urge the UNSC to not repeat the same mistakes, but this time to act prudently and preemptively in the case of Syria. Let us now make the next generation proud rather than ashamed of us.
The blood of the Aramean (Syriac) martyrs shed in the past decades in Turkey and Iraq, and nowadays in Syria, cries out to the international community and the UNSC for justice, peace and reconciliation.
We thank you kindly in advance for your urgent consideration and support, and remain yours sincerely,
World Council of Arameans (Syriacs),
Formerly “Syriac Universal Alliance”