100 DAYS ABDUCTED: NO SIGN OF LIFE YET FROM ARCHBISHOPS IN SYRIA!
After 100 days, the Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan of Aleppo, H.E. Gregorius Hanna Ibrahim, and H.E. Boulos al-Yazigi, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Aleppo and Iskenderun are still missing.
Despite contradicting reports, rumors and vague claims that have been circulating since their abduction, particularly by Turkish media, the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) (“WCA”) affirms that there is as yet no clear information about the identity of the kidnappers, their motivation and demands, their whereabouts, the health condition of the Archbishops, and more.
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) these were neither Chechen or foreigners nor were the abductors related to the Syrian Government, but they were in fact a local Syrian rebel group.
Among others, this given fact shows 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. Daniel Gabriel, the WCA Human Rights and UN NGO Director, notes in this regard: “Therefore we ask the global community to address and prioritize this case, especially with the rebel groups, in order to prevent yet another mass exodus of the Christians from the Near East, as we have witnessed before in the last decades in Turkey and Iraq.”
“This abduction case,” declares the WCA President Johny Messo, “sends out a twofold message. On the one hand, the Aramean Christians feel again abandoned by the world 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 perpetrated with complete impunity before the eyes of a lethargic international community.”
The WCA and its Member Federations have contacted many Ministers, UN Ambassadors and other high-ranking officials. We are doing all we can to get the church leaders released from the hands of the terrorists. We will persistently ask the international community and rebel forces to step up their efforts to intervene in this case until the spiritual fathers have returned home safe and well.