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Arameans reflect on dire position in Turkey in wake of the Ottoman Genocide centennial

After the UPR outcome on Turkey, on Friday 26 June 2015, the WCA held a side-event at the UN Office in Geneva, titled “The Arameans of Turkey: The Disappearance of a People.” Emphasizing the struggle for survival of Turkey's native Aramean people, the event was well received by the attending UN Member States and NGOs. Click here or on the photos below for a short video compilation. 

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Summary of speeches during Turkey event at United Nations in Geneva

On Monday, 26 January 2015, the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) (“WCA”) held a side event at the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG) about “Turkey’s Native Aramean People: The Case of an Unrecognized Minority.” It took place one day before the Universal Periodic Review of Turkey, which is held every four years and which the WCA attended again. Below is a summary of the contributions by the distinguished guest speakers.

As the moderator of this event, the WCA President, Mr. Johny Messo, welcomed the missions, NGOs and media. He stressed that “the Arameans are more than merely a religious group. In fact, they are a people with a distinct identity of more than 3,000 years in Southeast Turkey, where their presence is currently threatened with extinction. They face a number of problems, but the million dollar question is: “Is there a future for the Arameans in Tur-Abdin who, unlike the Arameans from Israel since September 2013, are still not recognized as a distinct ethno-religious group?”

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UN Geneva | The Arameans of Turkey: The Disappearance of a People

This Friday, 26 June 2015, the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) ("WCA") will host a critical side-event at the United Nations Office in Geneva on the day of Turkey’s UPR outcome. The event is open for everyone and details are provided below.

In light of the 100 year remembrance of the Ottoman Genocide against the Armenian, Greek and Aramean (Syriac) populations, a new, unique and professional documentary called “Sayfo: A Forgotten Genocide” will premiere at the UN.

The film is a joint project by the Dutch Evangelical Broadcasting (EO) channel and the WCA and has been shown on National TV. Join us after Friday's Turkey UPR to watch this highly acclaimed film to see and feel the struggle for survival by the Aramean people who, from 1915 until 2015, have suffered an ongoing genocide in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

After the film, there will be room for discussion and questions regarding human rights, minority issues and religious freedom seen from the perspective of a disappearing people and culture in Turkey. Your presence will be appreciated and your voice is much needed!


Should you wish to attend this event or need additional information,
please feel free to contact Ms. Sarah Bakir at sarah.bakir [at] wca-ngo.org.




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WCA submits key document to Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister at United Nations in Geneva

On Tuesday, 27 January 2015, the WCA met with Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Bülent Arınç, at the United Nations Office in Geneva immediately after the Universal Periodic Review of Turkey by the UN Member States, which takes place every four years. On behalf of the six-headed WCA Delegation, Mr. Johny Messo (WCA President) and Mr. Melki Toprak (Chairman Federation of Arameans in Switzerland) presented this important document to him and his high-level delegation.

Click here to download the recommendations in PDF

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Arameans interact again with UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues

On Wednesday, 18 March 2015, the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) (“WCA”) participated again in the Interactive Dialogue with the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, Ms. Rita Izsák, during the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council at the UN Office in Geneva. After the UN Member States gave their statement, the WCA was again allowed to speak as number 1 on the list of NGOs. Mr. Jacob Harman, the WCA Delegate from Sweden, presented our statement that reads: 

Click here to download the PDF version. The video of this statement will be posted soon. 

Thank you, Mr. President!

We thank and commend the Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues for her balanced report and for her tireless efforts to ensure the recognition, protection and equality of minorities.

Distinguished members of the Human Rights Council, we appeal to you with growing concern as the original population of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Throughout the past centuries, the Aramean (otherwise known as Syriac) people have been decimated, oppressed and marginalized in their homeland, where they were reduced from a substantial majority to a small minority.

Then, in the past century and again during this past decade, they have suffered from ethnic cleansing and genocides in their increasingly islamized native countries from which they have been uprooted.

Today, the last Aramean Christian populations of Turkey, Syria and Iraq are a threatened minority, where they are fighting for survival in the lands that have been built up for more than 3,000 years by the blood, sweat and tears of their own forefathers.

The Arameans are not appreciated, recognized, protected or supported in their native countries. In fact, they are still pressured or expected to give up their distinct identity.

Therefore we must concede that international law has not been able to protect minorities with a distinct ethnic, religious and linguistic background, despite all the existing international charters, conventions, covenants, treaties and mechanisms that otherwise guarantee the “equal rights and self-determination of peoples,” as the Charter of the United Nations stipulates.

To conclude, our NGO recommends three points to be considered and implemented as the inevitable solution for the critical survival of the Aramean people in the Middle East:

1. All UN Member States should recognize the existence and legal status of the Aramean people. First and foremost, we ask recognition from Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. This begins with inclusion in their constitutions and by sponsoring the Arameans to protect their ethno-religious identity. We are pleased to acknowledge that in September 2014 the State of Israel was the first UN Member State to grant official recognition and support to its Aramean minority.

2. By virtue of the legal right of self-determination, UN Member States are called upon to support the Arameans in freely pursueing their economic, social and cultural development.

3. UN Member States should seriously consider the establishment of a home for the persecuted Christians of the Middle East, that is a Christian State, where they can protect themselves and preserve their ethnic, religious and linguistic identity in the land of their forefathers.

Thank you, Mr. President! 

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We have the pleasure of inviting you to yet another significant side event at the UN Office in Geneva this Monday, 26 January 2015, one day before Turkey’s Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations:

Turkey’s Native Aramean People: The Case of an Unrecognised Minority
Monday 26 January 2015
12:00 – 14:00 hours 
Room XXII, Palais des Nations 
United Nations Office in Geneva

The event, which has attracted the attention of a number of UN Missions, NGOs and media, will highlight why the recognition of the Aramean people is of critical importance for their survival in Turkey (and the broader Middle East). Thus, the WCA and our prominent guest speakers will offer recommendations to the UN regarding the recognition of the Aramean people. This ancient Semitic people is native to Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, where their presence is currently endangered.

For further information, you can contact Sarah Bakir, the WCA’s Main Delegate to the UN Office Geneva (UNOG), at sarah.bakir [at] wca-ngo.org.

see below for the program

12:00 – 12:10 Opening by Moderator Johny Messo, President World Council of Arameans (Syriacs)

12:10 – 12:15 Video clip: 3,000-year-old Aramean Cultural Heritage

12:15 – 12:45 Guest speakers

  • Ms. Susanne Güsten, Foreign correspondent in Turkey & Mercator-IPC Fellow at Istanbul Policy Center
  • Mr. Gregor Puppinck, General Director of European Centre for Law and Justice
  • Ms. Nurcan Kaya, Turkey coordinator of Minority Rights Group

12:45 – 13:00 Interventions by UN Member States

13:00 – 13:45 Q & A

13:45 – 14:00 Closing remarks Moderator Johny Messo, President World Council of Arameans (Syriacs)


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Aramean Christians again address UN Commission on Syria in Geneva

On Tuesday, 17 March 2015, the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) (“WCA”) addressed the Commission of Inquiry on Syria under Agenda Item 4 of the Human Rights Council 28th Session at the United Nations Office in Geneva. After a number of UN Member States delivered their speeches, the WCA was honorably placed as number 1 on the list of oral statements given by NGOs. Jacob Harman, the WCA Delegate from Sweden, read aloud our intervention which reads: 

 Click here to download the PDF version. The video of this statement will be posted soon. 

Thank you, Mr. President!

The Report of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria documents some of the horrors of this proxy war that continues to be fought in Syria, the indigenous land of the Aramean Christians.

But the report does not go far enough in describing what is really taking place in Syria. Nor does it provide the names of the UN Member States who, as the COI has acknowledged, are covertly supporting terrorist groups such as Jubhat al-Nusra and ISIS.

Recently, U.S. Vice-President, Joe Biden, admitted that the U.S. allies provided billions of dollars to these terrorist organizations and their members. All this, while the civilian population of Syria is in desperate need of water, food, medicine and shelter.

In the past four years, our NGO has frequently warned the Human Rights Council about the ethnic cleansing and genocide suffered by the Aramean people. Just last month, more than 30 vulnerable Christian villages in north-eastern Syria were again attacked by militant Islamists, who continue to kill and kidnap Aramean Christians.

Our question to the United Nations is: Can you ensure that there will not be another attack on the defenseless Christians of Syria, and can you stop the silence that permeates through this institution?

We are now witnessing the near death of Christianity in Syria, Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries. It is astonishing that the COI report is once again silent about this fact and about our two kidnapped bishops from Aleppo, who will be missing for two years on the 22nd of April.

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Syria’s indigenous Christians recommend a diplomatic solution of the conflict. We applaud U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, who called for direct talks with the Syrian Government. We applaud Russia for hosting peace talks in Moscow scheduled in April. We applaud the Holy See, Russia and Lebanon for their joint declaration on the persecution of the Middle Eastern Christians. And we applaud France for calling for a U.N. Security Council meeting on March 27 to discuss the plight of minorities in the Middle East.

The COI must urge the Human Rights Council and the Security Council to immediately stop this proxy war, and to take the necessary actions to achieve peace, security, stability and reconciliation in Syria. To conclude, we offer these three recommendations to the COI:

  1. Demand that UN Member States pay their dues for humanitarian aid and that it also reaches the Christian population of Syria in order for them to stay and survive in their homeland.
  2. Name and shame those States who support terrorists and the flow of weapons for non-State actors into Syria. Only peaceful measures will resolve this conflict.
  3. Commence the debate on creating a Christian Nation in the New Middle East that can protect the threatened Christians in their ancestral land. Given the horrific circumstances in which the Arameans Christians find themselves, such a state would be historically and legally justifiable.

Thank you, Mr. President!

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Historic Statement: Arameans Seek Statehood at UN Forum in Geneva

The World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) (“WCA”) invited one of the first registered Arameans from Israel to present the momentous statement below on behalf of the Arameans worldwide at the United Nations Office in Geneva. On Wednesday, 26 November, the WCA addressed the Seventh Session of the Forum on Minority Issues on “Preventing and addressing violence and atrocity crimes targeted against minorities.” The video will be uploaded soon. 

Click here to download the statement in PDF | Click here to watch the video.

My name is Shadi Khaloul, I am an Aramean Christian from Israel.

I am a member of the Syriac Maronite Church, but the Aramean people also consist of the Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholic, Chaldean, ‘Nestorian’ and Melkite churches.

On behalf of the Aramean people, who are the natives of Southeast Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, our NGO comes once again to this distinguished forum to ask the United Nations and its Member States for recognition in three significant ways.

1. Recognition of violence and crimes of the last 100 years
Allow me to remind the world of some chilling facts regarding the Aramean Christians:

  • In Turkey, more than half a million were murdered and expelled since 1895.
  • From Lebanon, more than 1,5 million were killed and expelled since 1860.
  • In Iraq, more than 1 million were forced to leave since 2003.
  • In Syria, almost a million have escaped their homeland since 2011.

All this happened largely at the hands of Turkish, Kurdish and Arab armed forces. This resulted in the near total destruction of the Aramean people and its rich cultural heritage.

2. Recognition and action in relation to ongoing crimes
History is repeating itself and it appears that it never really stopped.

In Syria and Iraq, we see a continuation of the crimes by Muslim militants against the Aramean Christians such as killings, tortures, beheadings, crucifixions and kidnappings.

The barbarism of these terrorist groups, who receive major funding from certain UN Member States, has caused a new mass exodus.

3. Recognition of our people by Israel and beyond
Mr. President, my own democratic country of Israel recently recognized the Arameans as an ethnic minority. This has enabled me and my children to correct our identity cards and to register ourselves as “Aramean Christians,” because until recently we were incorrectly identified as “Arab Christians.”

Not only is this historic decision by Israel and the Jewish people in accord with international law, we are also delighted that finally a state has heard our plea.
Now we expect other UN Members and NGOs to equally recognize our people and thus ensure our human rights, especially Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority.

In conclusion: three recommendations
Mr. President, we are re-living the nightmares of the Ottoman Genocide of 1915.

As we are struggling for survival, we ask the international community to guarantee UN charters and international law by recognizing:

  1. the ongoing atrocity crimes suffered by the Arameans;
  2. the Arameans as a distinct people; and
  3. the need for a debate about self-determination of the Aramean people.

In light of the inability or unwillingness of the governments in our home countries to protect the Arameans from total annihilation and to help them preserve their endangered cultural heritage, we appeal to the conscience of this distinguished forum and stress:

It is about time to grant the native Aramean people also their own democratic state in the land of their ancestors.

Thank you Mr. President.


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Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs receives historic letter regarding Aramean survival in the Middle East

Geneva, 2 March 2015

During the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council, the International Conference on the Situation of Christians in the Middle East took place. The conference was convened by the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society and UN Member States Russia, Lebanon and Armenia.



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