13December2017

NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION IN SPECIAL CONSULTATIVE STATUS WITH THE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL OF THE UNITED NATIONS

Sweden to recognize Aramean (Syriac) Genocide

  Stockholm

The Swedish parliament passed on Thursday a historic resolution recognizing the 1915 mass killings of 2,5 million Armenians, Pontian Greeks and Arameans (Syriacs) as genocide. Sweden is the first and only nation that has officially accepted the Aramean genocide. 

This recognition comes shortly after resolution 252 recently passed by the United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs in another unanticipated vote of 23-22. In fact, 42 U.S. States, the EU and more than 20 countries have acknowledged the 1915 mass killings as “Armenian Genocide.”

On 30 April 2009, the South Australian lower house condemned, among others, “the genocide of the Armenians, Pontian Greeks, Syrian Orthodox and other Christian minorities” by the Ottoman state between 1915-1923. Sweden is the first country to mention besides the Armenians and Greeks, the Aramean victims, who are dubbed religiously “Assyrians [‘Nestorians’]/Syriacs/Chaldeans.”

The outcome of the Swedish vote comes entirely unexpectedly as a 2008 vote pertaining to this topic yielded negative results of 245 to 35. As a result of the recently changed position of the Social Democrats, in addition to the Christian Democrats, Liberals, Leftists, the Center and the Green Party, this time the decision was taken in a narrow 131-130 vote in the 349-seat assembly, as 88 parliamentarians were not present.

The nearly six-hour debate was followed live in the parliament by nearly 250 Arameans, 50 Turks, and thousands via the internet. The reactions were emotional on both sides.

Turkey immediately recalled its ambassador to Sweden, Ms. Zergün Korutürk, who said she was “very, very disappointed” by the vote. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan canceled the Turkey-Sweden summit of March 17. He stated: “We strongly condemn this resolution, which is made for political calculations. It does not correspond to the close friendship of our two nations.”

For the Arameans, however, Thursday 11 March, 2010, marks a historic day.

Robert Halef, the group leader of the Christian Democrats in Södertälje, a suburb of Stockholm, noted: “We, Arameans, have always been peaceful and loyal to our rulers, we never deserved it to be killed and uprooted from our homeland. One cannot escape from this historical truth and Turkey should realize that. If we do not learn from past mistakes, they may be repeated. So finally justice has been served today by recognizing this traumatic part of our history and we are pleased by that.”

“It is a historic decision in which the Aramean people all over the world rejoice, especially in Sweden. Together with politicians and dedicated individuals, we have worked hard on this for many years. We are happy that our history is accepted. Now it can be included in the schoolbooks and the truth be taught to the next generations. In particular, to the Aramean youth who deserve to know what has happened to their great-grandfathers and why they left their ancient soil for Western countries,” commented Gabriel Melki, the President of the Syriac Federation of Sweden.

Daniel Gabriel, the Human Rights and United Nations NGO Director for the Syriac Universal Alliance, stated: “It was only a matter of time that this joyful day would come. We are hopeful that other countries will follow the example of Sweden by recognizing the abrupt decimation of the Aramean people, the extensive destruction of our Aramaic cultural heritage and the mass exodus of our people from the ancient homeland. Despite its efforts, Turkey can no longer pressure democratic nations to remain silent on what their own historical, diplomatic and media archives are clear about.”

Regardless of the struggle for Turkish recognition of the Aramean people as the native people in Southeast-Turkey, including their history, the Syriac Universal Alliance continues to invite the Turkish Government to discuss these and related issues that pertain to the future of the Aramean people in their ancestral soil in southeastern Turkey.

“Turkey,” in the words of Johny Messo, the President of the Syriac Universal Alliance, “must prove to the world that it is genuinely transforming into a democratic nation, that it is sincere in resolving the Aramean questions. Thus far, we have not seen or experienced serious efforts in this direction.”

 

 

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