ISIS Destroys Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Der Zor.
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Posted 23 September 2014 - 10:55 AM
14:47 23/09/2014 » SOCIETY
Catholicos Aram I condemns terrorist act against Holy Martyrs Armenian Church
Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia Aram I strongly condemned the blowup of the Holy Martyrs Armenian Church in Deir ez-Zor, the Armenian Church Catholicosate of Cilicia reports.
“We view it as a barbaric crime committed on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and on the day of the 23rd anniversary of Armenia’s independence. Those behind this crime should know that Deir ez-Zor, as a sacred place symbolizing the memory of our martyrs and our people’s struggle for justice, will never be wiped out from the collective memory of our nation,” Aram I said in a statement.
Posted 23 September 2014 - 11:11 AM
ARMENIA CONDEMNS THE DESTRUCTION OF THE SAINT MARTYRS CHURCH IN DEIR EL-ZOR
Armenia has strongly condemned the destruction of the Armenian Church
in Deir el-Zor.
"We strongly condemn the explosion by terrorists of the Saint
Martyrs Armenian Church in Deir el-Zor, dedicated to the memory of
the Armenian Genocide, which housed the remains of its many victims,"
Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian said in a statement.
"This horrible barbarity against a holy site yet again demonstrates
the savage nature of the so called "Islamic state" terrorist group,"
teh Minister said.
"The international community should immediately stop, eradicate
this plague, which threatens to civilized world and should uproot
the channels of its financing, support and sponsorship," Minister
Terrorists from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) blew up the
Shuhadaa al-Arman (Armenians Martyrs) Church, located in al-Rashidyeh
Neighborhood in Deir el-Zor city.
The church was built in 1989-1990, and consecrated a year later. A
genocide memorial and a museum housing remains of the victims of the
genocide was also built in the church compound.
Thousands of Armenians from Syria and neighboring countries gathered
at the memorial every year on April 24 to commemorate the genocide.
Posted 24 September 2014 - 05:58 AM
12:59 24/09/2014 » SOCIETY
Members of Congress express outrage over Der Zor destruction
Members of Congress have begun a string of condemnation and expressions of outrage over the destruction of the Armenian Genocide memorial church in Der Zor over the weekend by Islamic State forces, Asbarez reported.
Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) issued statements or took to social media to express their outrage over the barbaric act committed by rebels affiliated with the Islamic State, also known as Islamic State for Iraq and Syria—ISIS.
“This toxic act of intolerance, aimed at erasing a sacred site of remembrance of the Armenian Genocide on the eve of its centennial, has Turkey’s finger prints all over it,” said Armenian National Committee of America Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Armenian Americans join with people of faith worldwide in voicing our outrage over the desecration and destruction of the Armenian Holy Martyr’s Church and the sacred Armenian Genocide Memorial at Deir Zor, Syria.”
“I am deeply saddened and outraged by the destruction of the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Deir ez-Zor. This church stood to commemorate and honor the hundreds of thousands of Armenians who died on the march to Deir ez-Zor. At the order of the Ottoman Turks, Armenian refugees were sent to die in Deir ez-Zor as part of the 20th century’s first genocide. The destruction of the church memorializing this terrible point in history must be met with a strong international response,” said Pallone in a statement issued Tuesday.
“The United States government and other international partners in the region must work to protect religious minorities and to ensure that Armenian Christians are not targeted for such appalling acts. As the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide approaches, we must remember that it is our duty to stand against the targeting of Armenians all around the world and to prevent any further targeted violence,” added Pallone.
“I strongly condemn the reported desecration of an Armenian Genocide memorial in Syria by the Islamic State,” said Costa in a Twitter post.
“The reported destruction by ISIL of the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Der Zor, Syria is yet another example of the sickening barbarity that has terrorized millions across Iraq and Syria. The fact that the church was dedicated to those lost in the genocide is both especially poignant, and a chilling foreshadowing of how ISIL would treat Syria’s Christians if it were to further expand their territorial gains. We need to support the international coalition that is currently engaging in strikes to help the people of Syria and Iraq rid themselves of this cancer,” said Schiff in a statement issued Tuesday.
“I strongly condemn the reported desecration of an Armenian Genocide memorial in Syria by ISIL,” Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) tweeted on Tuesday.
Fighters from the Islamic State desecrated an Armenian Genocide memorial complex in the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, near the site where vast numbers of Armenian refugees were forced to march to their deaths in the early 20th century.
The Der Zor Memorial Church contains the remains of victims of the Armenian Genocide and is often compared to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland.
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian condemned the destruction of the church and called on the international community to combat the Islamic State.
The Armenian Genocide Memorial Church served as a pilgrimage site for Armenians in Syria, and every year, on April 24, special commemoration ceremonies attended by thousands of people would be held at the site.
The complex housed, in addition to the church, a museum, monument and archive.
Posted 24 September 2014 - 06:00 AM
10:51 24/09/2014 » SOCIETY
U.S. Embassy strongly condemns destruction of Armenian Church in Syria
The U.S. Embassy in Armenia has issued the following statement on the destruction of the Armenian Church in Syria.
“U.S. Embassy Yerevan joins the government and people of Armenia in strongly condemning the destruction of the Armenian Church in Deir Ez-zor, Syria.
This senseless act of destruction demonstrates yet again the utter disregard the terrorist organization ISIL has for the rich religious and cultural heritage of the Middle East.
As Secretary Kerry has stated, ISIL has systematically committed abuses of human rights and international law and presents a global terrorist threat. Faced with this threat, the United States urges the international community to strengthen our united effort to degrade and destroy ISIL.”
Related: Armenian MFA strongly condemns terrorists’ destruction of Armenian Genocide Memorial Church
Vigen Sargsyan: Turkey must condemn terrorist act against Holy Martyrs Armenian Church
Posted 24 September 2014 - 06:08 AM
TURKEY STANDS BEHIND THE DESTRUCTION OF THE ARMENIAN CHURCH IN SYRIA, EXPERTS SAY
Public Radio of Armenia
Experts are confident Turkey stands behind the destruction of the
Armenian Church in Deir ez-Zor.
Armen Petrosyan and Andranik Ispiryan, experts in Arabic and Turkish
studies respectively, are confident there is an active cooperation
between the Islamic State and Turkey, and what happened in Deir ez-Zor
was the product of this interaction.
According to Armen Petrosyan, the blowup of the Armenian Church
pursued several goals. "Islamists want to appear in the focus of
attention of world media, to become a symbol of heroism for young
Muslims to encourage them to join the group," he said.
Andranik Ispiryan said, in turn, that through cooperation with the
Islamic State, Turkey is trying to overthrow Assad's regime and bring
Suni Muslims to power, to neutralize the Kurdish element in Syria,
destroy the large Armenian community formed in Syria after the Armenian
Genocide and erase its cultural heritage.
Armen Petrosyan calls attention to the fact that Turkey was the first
state to start talks with Islamists, as a result of which 49 Turkish
citizens were set free. Videos on the web show Islamists freely
walking in the streets of Istanbul in their uniform. According to
the experts, these are evidences of Turkey's internal cooperation
with the Islamists.
While authorities in Armenia have severely condemned the attack
on the Saint Martyrs Church, Turkey stubbornly keeps silent on the
issue. So does the Turkish press. According to Andranik Ispiryan,
the Armenian Agos daily was the only paper to cover the destruction
of the Church and two Turkish-language websites have re-posted the
news with reference to Agos.
Posted 24 September 2014 - 06:17 AM
ISLAMIC STATE DESTROYS MEMORIAL OF ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
Sept 23 2014
by Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.
Islamic State jihadists, also known as ISIS, have destroyed an Armenian
church in Deir ez-Zor, Syria, a memorial to the martyrs of the Armenian
Genocide of 1915.
The sixth-largest city in Syria, Deir ez-Zor has a Kurdish majority
and was conquered by ISIS insurgents in past days.
Armenia's Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian issued a statement
condemning the desecration of the church, calling it a "horrible
Nalbandian further called upon the international community to cut the
sources of supply, support, and financing to ISIS and eradicate what
he referred to as a disease that "threatens civilized mankind."
The Holy Martyrs Church contains the remains of victims of the
Armenian Genocide and is often compared to the Auschwitz death camp
in Poland. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians were said to have
died during the march to Deir ez-Zor, which was ordered by Ottoman
The Holy Martyrs Church served as a pilgrimage site for Armenians
living in Syria and neighboring countries. Every year, on April 24,
special commemoration ceremonies attended by thousands of people have
been held at the site.
The reports of the descration surfaced just as Armenia was celebrating
the 23rd anniversary of its independence on September 21.
U.S. Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) has denounced the destruction of the
Church. "I strongly condemn the reported desecration of an Armenian
Genocide memorial in Syria by the Islamic State," Rep. Costa said in
a Twitter post.
The church was consecrated in 1991 as a memorial of the genocide of
Armenian Christians in which some 1.5 million people were killed.
Armenians mark April 24, 1915, when several hundred Armenian
intellectuals were rounded up, arrested, and later executed, as the
start of the Armenian Genocide, which is generally understood to have
extended to 1917.
Figures compiled by the University of Minnesota's Center for Holocaust
and Genocide Studies show that there were 2,133,190 Armenians in the
empire in 1914 and only about 387,800 by 1922.
Armenia has been planning an international event dedicated to the
memory of the Armenian Genocide victims, which will be organized in
April 2015, the centennial of the genocide.
This past August, ISIS jihadists killed hundreds of members of local
tribal clans in Deir ez-Zor and in recent months have also fought
with militiamen of the rival Islamist faction al-Nusra for control
of the area.
Posted 24 September 2014 - 06:18 AM
ISLAMIC STATE DESTROYS ARMENIAN GENOCIDE MEMORIAL CHURCH
Sept 23 2014
Catholic World News - September 23, 2014
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has destroyed the Armenian
Genocide memorial church in Deir ez-Zor, Syria's 6th-largest city,
according to Armenian media reports.
Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandyan called the act a "horrific
Ottoman Turkish officials forced many Armenians to march through the
desert to Deir ez-Zor during the 1915 genocide.
Posted 25 September 2014 - 06:00 AM
10:26 25/09/2014 » SOCIETY
Canada deplores destruction of Armenian church and Genocide memorial by ISIL
Andrew Bennett, Canada’s Ambassador for Religious Freedom, issued the following statement on Wednesday:
“Canada deplores ISIL’s destruction of the Armenian Holy Martyrs church in Deir ez-Zor, Syria, and the adjacent Museum of the Holy Martyrs, a memorial to the victims of the Armenian genocide that housed the remains of many of those killed in 1915.
“The deliberate and barbarous destruction of another holy site again reveals the true nature of ISIL and its agenda, which is driven by hate and intolerance. ISIL’s actions continue to demonstrate a gross contempt for human dignity and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion.
“ISIL attacks are indiscriminate, targeting Christians, Yazidis, Shia and Sunni Muslims and their places of worship.
“Canada continues to condemn this terrorist group, which has distorted and warped the message of Islam and murdered thousands of innocents.”
Posted 26 September 2014 - 11:14 AM
ITALIAN SENATOR CONDEMNS THE DESTRUCTION FO THE ARMENIAN CHURCH IN DEIR EZ-ZOR
President of the Parliamentary Group of the Italian-Armenian
friendship, Sen. Emilia Grace De Biasi has denounced the destruction
of the Armenian Saint Martyrs Church in Deir ez-Zor by Islamists. The
Senator made the statement at the scientific conference on "Armenians:
Genocide and Italian 20th century" organized at the Italian Senate.
Armenian Ambassador to Italy Sargis Ghazaryan noted that the current
events in the Middle East prove that we should not stop speaking
about genocides, including the Armenian Genocide. He stressed the
importance of maintaining the memory of genocides, and struggling
against their denial.
The Ambassador spoke about the destruction of the Armenian Church in
Deir-ez-Zor and the state of minorities in the Middle East, noting that
the barbarities and the threat of genocide is still there nowadays.
The Ambassador expressed gratitude to the organizers and participants
of the conference, among them students and teachers of a school in
Roma, who prepared a film about the Armenian genocide in 2013-2014.
Posted 27 September 2014 - 07:12 AM
12:48 27/09/2014 » SOCIETY
Canada’s Liberal Party deplores destruction of Armenian Genocide Memorial Church by ISIL
The Liberal Party of Canada expressed outrage at the news of the destruction of the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church by ISIL fighters, the party says in a statement.
The church, located in Eastern Syria, was dedicated to the victims of the Armenian Genocide and contained the remains of many its victims.
“ISIL’s destruction of the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church is utterly deplorable,” said Liberal Foreign Affairs critic Marc Garneau. “In addition to this latest crime, ISIL has destroyed many other churches, mosques, shrines and culturally significant sites. These are holy sites that had been protected – in many cases for centuries – by adherents of many different faiths. ISIL continues to show that they have no respect for international norms or for cultures and religions different than their own narrow, twisted ideology.”
“The loss of this site will not only be felt by the Armenian people but by the entire world,” said Liberal Critic for Multiculturalism Hon. John McCallum. “It is shameful that ISIL would target a site that was dedicated to remembrance and reconciliation.”
The Armenian Genocide Memorial Church was a focal point for the remembrance of the Armenian Genocide. Located in the Deir ez-zor region, which is the final resting place of hundreds of thousands of the approximately 1.5 million victims of the Armenian Genocide, the church received pilgrims from around the world and held commemoration ceremonies every year on April 24th that were attended by thousands of people.
“The Liberal Party stands in solidarity with the Armenian people and condemns this horrid attack on this holy site,” said Liberal MP Arnold Chan. “The world has been shocked by the continuing brutality of ISIL and this is just the latest in the long list of shocking horrors committed by this group.”
Posted 02 October 2014 - 10:34 AM
TEN DAYS SINCE DESTRUCTION OF HOLY MARTYRS CHURCH: STANDARD RESPONSE
21:46 * 01.10.14
Ten days have passed since the destruction of the Church of the Holy
Martyrs in Deir Ez Zor by the Islamic State terrorists, and Turkish
press has hardly responded to the event.
In an interview with Tert.am, experts in Turkic studies Ruben Melkonyan
and Levon Hovsepyan, as well as Arabist Armen Petrosyan commented on
the response on the part of Turkey and the international community.
Mr Melkonyan said that due to the efforts of Armenian mass media,
political authorities, NGOs and individuals the incident evoked
international response - coming into focus of high-level bodies and
grabbing the headlines.
"However, all the responses were standard ones, without being followed
by concrete steps on the part of international media or organizations,
particularly by a step we have been waiting for, namely, exposing
Turkey's links with Islamists, condemning one more cultural genocide
by Turkey," Mr Melkonyan said.
"As regards Turkish media, we have seen the policy Turkey has been
pursuing for a long period, namely, a policy of no response," he added.
In the course of time, one makes sure that this is a
government-sponsored order not to respond to scandalous news
involving Armenia or Armenians or to facts revealing Turkey's obvious
"Turkish press gave a standard response to the destruction of the
church, mainly citing the Armenian mass media or the Agos newspaper.
However, other discussions, particularly of Turkey being behind that,
Armenian FM Edward Nalbandian's statement and so on, have not received
any response on Turkey's part. This policy plays into their hands. By
not responding to such facts, to the Armenian President's invitation
to attend the events marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian
Genocide, they avoid responsibility for a while and finding themselves
in a rather difficult situation," Mr Melkonyan said.
Even at the UN General Assembly, Turkish President Recep Erdogan will
not condemn the vandalism. Rather, he is trying to justify it.
"After all this, it would be naive to hope that Turkey will ever
condemn atrocities against humanity," Mr Melkonyan said.
Arabist Armen Petrosyan singled out a response by the Agos newspaper.
"In reading the Armenian news we see criticism of the destruction of
the Church of the Holy Martyrs by diplomatic or government circles
or by individual international agencies," he said.
Expert in Turkic studies Levon Hovsepyan said that the international
press vigorously responded to the destruction of the Church of the
Holy Martyrs. The chief of the Armenian presidential staff responded
as well. However, strangely enough, Turkey did not respond in any way.
"When the Armenian side pointed out to Turkeys involvement in all that,
Turkey did not respond in any way," he said.
Moreover, despite the criticism in the international press, Turkish
mass media remained utterly silent.
Posted 03 October 2014 - 09:57 AM
THE REMAINS OF THE REMAINS
Oct 2 2014
As Armenia celebrated the anniversary of its independence last week,
Islamic State militants attacked the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church
in the Syrian city of Deir Al-Zor, writes Nora Koloyan-Keuhnelian
When I was a child I used to hear about Deir Al-Zor and the connection
this Syrian city had with the Armenian Genocide committed by the
Ottoman Turks in 1915. As the years passed and I was taught my nation's
history at school, I started to discover more about the city in my
readings, especially the poems written to commemorate the genocide. One
day I recited a poem entitled Der Zor by heart and was able to live
and feel the kind of brutality the city witnessed a century ago.
Some years later in 2010 I had the chance to visit Deir Al-Zor
when the Armenian Red Cross in Egypt organised a pilgrimage to
commemorate the genocide's 95th anniversary. We were a small group
of friends who believed the trip would be a memorable one - and we
were right. It was. At the time of the genocide when millions of
Armenians were slaughtered, some were able to escape the tragedy to
various countries. Some chose to settle in Egypt, while others went to
Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, the United States, Europe and Australia.
Our Armenian heritage never allowed us to forget that Egypt was
one of the countries that opened its arms out wide to receive our
grandparents. As a result, whenever Egyptian Armenians leave Egypt,
even to look for their roots in Armenia or elsewhere, they are
impatient to come back home to Egypt, the country in which they were
born, raised and educated.
We knew the trip to Deir Al-Zor would be a tough one, as we had heard
about what we might find in that city. Historically, Deir Al-Zor was
the final destination of the Armenian refugees who were deported from
their land and forced onto a long march in the Syrian Desert. The
city bore witness to the death marches organised by the Ottoman Turks.
However, this didn't really come home to us until we saw the city
with our own eyes. This was the desert our ancestors were forced to
march to, with thousands dying of hunger on the way and others killed
with their bodies sometimes being left to rot in the open air.
The bus transferring us to various destinations in the city stopped
at the village of Margadeh some 80 km from Deir Al-Zor. A few of
us went into the desert and started to dig to find the remains of
our ancestors. At first we couldn't differentiate between the small
white stones mixed with the sand and the remains of human bodies,
but eventually we found fragments of human bone. This piece of land
was once an epicentre of death where thousands of bodies were buried
and human bones now lay close to the surface.
Whose bones could these be, we asked ourselves. My
great-grandfather's? Whose teeth could these be? Could they belong to
the great-grandmother of the friend standing right next to me? Each
one of us took turns to excavate. It was like a one-sided conversation
with a skull, a skeleton, a tooth from a dead, unbreathing mouth
that would never reply to our many questions. Some of us collected
human remains to take away and keep close to our hearts. "Please let
these people rest, let them rest in peace..." we heard, as we stood
in silence and tears.
On our way back to Deir Al-Zor city we passed by the Euphrates River
where a suspension bridge crosses the river. The bridge was built by
the French government in 1927 and was destroyed by the Free Syrian
Army in May 2013. That river brought back many sad stories we read
in history. We, Armenians call it the Red Run River, where during
the deportation process Armenians were thrown into the water and
watched: if they did not drown they were shot as they struggled to
swim to safety. The corpses are said to have floated down the river
for months. We stopped at its banks and approached to feel the water
with our hands. It smelled bloody, unclear. In fact, everything was
sad around us as it tells the story of a suffered nation.
Armenians worldwide commemorate the genocide on 24 April, and on
this day the city is crowded with Armenian pilgrims from all over the
world. On the eve of the day, a candle-lit march takes place in the
streets to the St Martyr's Armenian Genocide Memorial Church dedicated
to the memory of the victims. Whilst next morning is the Mass service
dedicated to their souls. The construction of the church started in
December 1989 and was completed one year later. It was consecrated
in May 1991 as a memorial to the genocide, and it includes a museum
telling the stories of the victims of the massacres carried out a
century ago by the Ottoman Turks.
The complex also serves as an archive and exhibition centre, and it
is under the direct administration of the Armenian Prelacy in the
Diocese of Aleppo. The land on which the complex was built was also a
death-march site where thousands of Armenians were killed and buried,
and thus it stands on another mass grave of human remains. Thanks to
the efforts of the Armenian community in Deir Al-Zor a small chapel
named after St HripsimÃ© was built on the land, which later was
replaced by the genocide church-complex.
The St Martyrs complex was bombed last week by militants belonging
to the Islamic State (IS) movement in Iraq and Syria. When I visited
in 2010, the complex consisted of a main entrance leading to a higher
courtyard containing evidence of the terrible suffering of the Armenian
nation. The facade of the main entrance was decorated with pigeons and
crosses, and on the right there was the Wall of Friendship decorated
with Arabesque and Armenian motifs as symbolic expressions of the
close ties between the two nations.
Opposite the main entrance stood a huge monument constructed in memory
of the martyrs. On the monument there was a cross-stone (khatchkar),
a gift the church had received from Armenia on its opening. There
was also an eternal flame in front of the monument in memory of the
martyrs. The main structures of the complex, the church and museum,
were on the left-hand side of the courtyard. In the church itself there
was a circular glass case in which victims' remains were displayed,
many of them found in the Syrian Desert. A huge column referred to the
struggle and revival of the Armenian nation, coming out of the glass
case, in the middle of the church and passed up through two storeys.
The hall, now a small museum, contained genocide documents,
photographs, personal belongings, maps and books about the Armenian
nation. The photographs displayed in the museum were taken by
the German soldier, author and human rights activist Armin Wegner
(1886-1978). Wegner was a witness to the death marches of the Armenians
during their deportation, and the photographs he took documenting their
plight today make up important sources for the genocide. At the time,
the photographer gathered information on the massacres, collected
documents, notes and letters, and took hundreds of photographs of
the Armenian deportation camps in Deir Al-Zor which later served
as evidence of the extent of the atrocities to which the Ottoman
Armenians were subjected.
At the Ottoman military command's request, Wegner was eventually
arrested by the Germans and recalled to Germany. While some of his
photographs were destroyed, he succeeded in smuggling out many images
of the genocide by hiding the negatives in his belt.
The Deir Al-Zor Church Memorial is the work of Syrian architects Sarkis
Balmanougian and Garbis Tovmassian, and it was bombed by IS militants
the day before the US and its Arab allies expanded their strikes on
IS targets into eastern and northern Syria. Deir Al-Zor was among the
IS-controlled parts of the country targeted by the US-led coalition.
Childhood memories: "When I was a child I used to help the workers
constructing the church complex by moving stones and wood," said
Berj Kassabian, 31, a physician who left the city to go to Aleppo at
the start of the uprising against the regime led by Syrian President
"The old chapel that was replaced by the St Martyr's Church also had
a school I used to go to for Armenian language lessons and lessons in
history and religion. When the new church was built, I was the only
boy who regularly went to Sunday prayers along with six women. I also
used to take part in the choir service. The church used to receive
many visitors, and every April Armenians from around the world would
come to commemorate the genocide," recalled Kassabian.
Deir Al-Zor today, once a city of 700,000 with 30-40 families of
Armenian origin, is now deserted. "We were respected by the Syrian
Arabs, because at the time of the massacres Syrian men married
Armenian women to save them from the barbarism of the Ottoman Turks,
fully integrating the Armenian population among them," Kassabian told
Al-Ahram Weekly. At the time of the annual pilgrimage, when hotels
in the city were fully booked, Muslim families who lived around the
St Martyr's Church would also receive Armenian pilgrims in their
own homes, he remembers. His own grandfather had escaped from Urfa
to Deir Al-Zor after the genocide and his father had served on the
committee in charge of the church for more than 15 years.
When he grew up, Kassabian was keen to invite his Syrian friends
to visit the St Martyr's Church and tell them the story of a nation
that had suffered throughout the century. He studied medicine at Cairo
University and later went back to Deir Al-Zor. "My father wanted me to
come back to serve my country. During the Syrian uprising I served in
the Euphrates Hospital. One day, when the city was surrounded by the
Armed Forces I was all alone in the hospital with the patients as the
rest of the staff had fled the bombardments. Later, when I was able
to arrange the evacuation of the patients and locked the doors for the
last time I left the building with tears in my eyes," Kassabian said.
"I walked along the Euphrates River watching the sunrise and remembered
the way my ancestors had been deported from their land and marched
through the desert to Deir Al-Zor." Kassabian's family moved to
Aleppo in 2012 due to the unstable situation in the city. "We were
forced to leave Deir Al-Zor, but we believe one day we will go back
to where we were born," he added.
International condemnation: Following the attacks on the church by
IS militants, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian condemned
the destruction and described it as "horrific barbarity". The remains
of the victims of the Armenian Genocide were resting there, he said,
and he called on the international community to act against a "disease
that threatens all mankind," referring to IS.
The Catholicos of the House of Cilicia, Aram I, also condemned the
destruction. "Those who are behind this crime should be aware that
they cannot erase the memories of our martyrs and that Deir Al-Zor
symbolises the struggle of our people for justice, being a shrine
for the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide," he said. Aris NalcÄ±,
an Armenian journalist working for IMC TV in Turkey, described the
destruction as "terrible. There's no peace for the human bones,
no respect for these people's deaths."
US congressman Adam Schiff condemned the destruction of the church.
"The fact that the church was dedicated to those lost in the genocide
is both especially poignant and a chilling foreshadowing of how
IS would treat Syria's Christians if it were to further expand its
territorial gains. We need to support the international coalition
that is currently engaging in strikes to help the people of Syria
and Iraq rid themselves of this cancer," he said.
The US embassy in Armenia also condemned the bombing of the Armenian
Church and Genocide Memorial in Deir Al-Zor, "strongly condemning the
destruction of the church," according to an embassy statement. "This
senseless act of destruction demonstrates yet again the utter disregard
the terrorist organisation IS has for the rich religious and cultural
heritage of the Middle East."
Nevertheless, the Executive Director of the Armenian National Congress
of America (ANCA), Aram Hamparian, has stated that the embassy "very
conspicuously, and clearly under instruction from the White House,
failed to mention the very reason for this holy site's existence,
the Armenian Genocide, or to challenge the deadly threat that those
who destroyed it (and their allies in Ankara) are sending to the
Turkish involvement: Ever since the Syrian civil war erupted three
years ago, Armenians have been targeted by the Al-Nusra Front and the
Ansar Al-Sham, militant organisations fighting against the Al-Assad
regime. The mostly Armenian town of Kessab was brutally attacked
in March for three days, and an estimated 2,000 Armenians fled
to Latakia, their homes and stores being occupied and looted. Many
Armenian churches and establishments in Syria have also been attacked
elsewhere over the past three years.
Turkey has not condemned the IS's attack on the Deir Al-Zor Genocide
Memorial, and it is believed that similar attacks were sponsored
by Turks tied to IS. "This toxic act of intolerance has Turkey's
fingerprints all over it," Hamparian said after the Deir Al-Zor
attacks. "Turkey clearly has the motive, the opportunity and the means
to obliterate the Deir Al-Zor memorial, a global site of remembrance
for its still unpunished crime against the Armenian nation," he told
The media in both Turkey and the United States has revealed that the
government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, formerly Turkish prime minister
and now the country's president, has sent aid to radical Islamist
groups active in Syria and radical jihadis affiliated with Al-Qaeda.
Turkey by channelling this aid has thus made a conscious choice
to strengthen the most extreme of the groups, contributing to IS's
emergence. The release on 20 September of 49 Turkish hostages held
by IS since the group's capture of Mosul in June may also reflect
this unstated relationship.
"The connection between IS and Turkey is obvious. Of course there will
be no concrete proof, but remembering what happened in Kessab and how
Turkey was keeping its borders open to IS groups destroying the town,
one can think that there's a strong link also to the bombing of the
Deir Al-Zor Armenian church," Aris NalcÄ± told the Weekly.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly last Wednesday, the President
of Armenia Serj Sarkissian hinted that his country was considering
cancelling the Turkey-Armenia protocols signed between the two
countries since Turkey was continuing to insist on the resolution of
the Karabakh conflict in favour of Azerbaijan as a precondition for
ratifying the documents. "In Armenia and Artsakh, ordinary people
often just retort to such preconditions by saying 'to hell with your
ratification'. This phrase concentrates the age-old struggle of the
entire nation, and it unequivocally explains to those who attempt to
bargain with the homeland that it is sacrosanct and that bargaining
cannot be countenanced," Sarkissian said.
In his speech, Sarkissian explained the significance that the year
2015 will bear for Armenians around the globe as they commemorate the
centennial of the genocide. He went on to thank the 20 countries that
had recognised the Armenian Genocide and had officially condemned it.
Of the terrorist attacks by IS, Sarkissian said that "the tragic events
in Syria and Iraq that we are currently witnessing demonstrate how
groups whose creed is hatred are targeting religious and national
minorities. Two days ago, on the Independence Day of the Republic
of Armenia, the Church of All Saint Martyrs in Deir Al-Zor, Syria,
dedicated to the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide and
where their remains were housed was mined and blown up by terrorists.
Such barbarity is criminal godlessness and is in no shape or form
related to any faith."
Egypt has accused the Turkish president of supporting terrorists and
seeking to provoke mayhem in the Middle East after Erdogan questioned
the legitimacy of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi in a speech at
the UN General Assembly. "There is no doubt that the fabrication
of such lies is not something new from the Turkish president, who
has been keen to provoke chaos and to sow divisions in the Middle
East through his country's support for terrorist organisations,"
the Egyptian Foreign Ministry stated.
"The statements delivered by a country president like Turkey are
irresponsible and shocking. It's a great violation of all diplomatic
customs, principles and norms," professor of International Law Ayman
Salama told the Weekly.
"If I were an Egyptian official, I would make use of this opportunity
of political disagreement and remind Turkey of the most heinous
genocide that occurred against the Armenians in 1915, and on several
other incidents. Erdogan shouldn't forget that he is a grandson of
the Ottoman sultans who committed such a crime against humanity,
not only the Armenian nation."
"The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs should have reminded Erdogan
that he is the last person who could talk about democracy and God's
governance," commented Salama. "The European Union is still refusing
the admission of Turkey to such a coalition, the same reasons that
made the European Kingdoms and Principalities two centuries ago refuse
to join the Ottoman Empire to their union, describing the Ottomans
Erdogan has damaged relations between Turkey and other countries in the
Middle East. Last year, Egypt's interim president Adli Mansour pledged
to recognise the Armenian Genocide in response to statements made by
Erdogan condemning the "coup d'Ã©tat" in Egypt that had removed former
president Mohamed Morsi. "The document will be formally submitted to
the UN on Monday, August 19," Mansour tweeted. "Our representative in
the UN will sign an international document recognising the Armenian
Genocide in Ottoman Turkey which led to the deaths of millions,"
Asked if Egypt should take more concrete action against Turkey
especially after Erdogan's continuous attacks on Egypt, Wahid
Abdel-Meguid, editor-in-chief of Al-Siyassa Al-Dawliya quarterly
magazine published by Al-Ahram, said that "Egypt should not engage
itself in a meaningless verbal war, our country has a lot of fronts
to deal with at the time being, dealing with them is more important."
Abdel-Meguid told the Weekly that Turkey has better economic conditions
than Egypt and has to fight its own battles."
Over recent months, and with the increasing dissatisfaction of
the international community with Erdogan's autocratic policies and
belligerent statements, it has become increasingly obvious that no one
knows the true face of Turkey better than the Armenians, Assyrians,
Greeks and Kurds who have suffered countless brutalities and even
genocide under Turkish rule. Yet, Turkey is a country that is both
economically successful and increasingly important on the international
scene. It has every reason to be confident about facing its past and
acknowledging some uncomfortable truths.
Its apparent refusal to do so is rooted in the history of which the
Armenian Genocide is a part. "I don't believe that the world is going
to take action regarding Turkey. The only armed power on the ground
that is still fighting against IS are the Kurds although there is no
religious or sectarian problem between the Kurds and IS. The latter
wants to destroy every minority, whether Armenians, Yazidis, or Kurds,
who represent a danger to it," commented NalcÄ±.
Posted 10 October 2014 - 10:03 AM
NDP CONDEMNS DESTRUCTION OF ARMENIAN MEMORIAL AND CHURCH IN SYRIA
Canadian Government News
October 3, 2014 Friday
Office of the MP Tom Mulcair, Canadian Government has issued the
following news release:
NDP Foreign Affairs Critic Paul Dewar (Ottawa Centre) issued the
following statement regarding the destruction of the Holy Martyrs
Church in Deir ez-Zor, Syria:
The desecration of the Armenian Holy Martyrs church, also known as
the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church, and the adjacent Museum of
the Holy Martyrs by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
is an appalling assault on religious freedom and the cultural heritage
of the Syrian and Armenian people.
This attack is only the latest in a series of deplorable attacks by
ISIL on sacred, historic, and culturally significant sites. These
devastating attacks are among the egregious human rights abuses
perpetrated by ISIL forces, which also include mass killing of
civilians, rape and other sexual violence, and forced recruitment
Ethnic and religious minority groups in Syria, including the Armenian
population, have been repeatedly and deliberately targeted by ISIL.
The forced evacuation of the ancient community of Kessab earlier this
year is yet another example of ISIL's repressive brutality.
The NDP reiterates its condemnation of ISIL's attacks on civilians
in Syria and Iraq. We continue to call on the Government of Canada
to significantly increase its humanitarian aid for the millions of
people in need of international assistance.
For further information please visit: http://www.ndp.ca
Posted 22 October 2014 - 09:02 AM
CZECH MP CONDEMNS THE DESTRICTION OF THE ARMENIAN CHURCH IN DEIR ZOR
16:11, 21 Oct 2014
Robin BÅ'hnisch, Chairman of the Czech-Republic-Armenia
Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group at the Czech Chamber of Deputies,
has strongly condemned the destruction of the Saint Martyrs Armenian
Genocide Memorial Church in Deir Zor.
In a letter to the Chairman of the Armenian National Assembly's
Standing Committee on Foreign Relations Artak Zakaryan, the Czech
lawmaker said he was shocked by such actions of intolerance against
the Church complex dedicated to the memory of the Armenian Genocide
Robin BÅ'hnisch expressed his sympathy to the Armenian people and
voiced hope that the international community would manage to prevent
the activity of the "Islamic State" terrorist organization as soon
Posted 07 November 2014 - 11:10 AM
REFLECTIONS ON THE DESTRUCTION OF THE ARMENIAN CHURCH IN DEIR ZOR
World Council of Churches
November 5, 2014 Wednesday 9:19 PM EST
Amid the ongoing offensive by the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and
Syria (ISIS), which recently caused the destruction of the Armenian
church and genocide memorial in Deir Zor, Syria - an incident condemned
by the World Council of Churches (WCC) - staff members of the council
reflect on what such incidents may mean for Christians and other
faith communities in the region.
The Armenian church attacked by the ISIS on 21 September was built
in the late 1980s to house a memorial and a museum containing remains
of the victims of the Armenian genocide. The memorial was visited by
Armenians each year to commemorate the genocide.
WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit condemned the ISIS
attack on the Armenian church in his letter addressed to the heads
of Armenian member churches, including, Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch
and Catholicos of all Armenians, Armenian Apostolic Church Mother See
of Holy Etchmiadzin, and Aram I, Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic
Church, Holy See of Cilicia.
"We understand that the destruction in late September of this church
building, museum and compound took place not only in the year leading
to commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide
but also on the 23rd anniversary of Armenian independence. With you,
we are convinced that perpetrators of this premeditated crime will
never succeed in erasing from the minds of Armenians and the world
the memory and meaning of the desert of Deir Zor," Tveit said.
"The attack on the church is a difficult incident due to the awful
stories of suffering faced by the Armenians linked to Deir Zor,"
says Dr Clare Amos, who works as the WCC's programme executive for
inter-religious dialogue and cooperation. Amos was referring to
thousands of refugees who as part of the Armenian genocide in the
early 1900s were taken on forced marches in the Syrian desert towards
"Not just in the minds of Armenians but in the minds of other
Christians too, Deir Zor symbolizes the history of the Armenian
genocide. When such an attack happens to a place which has historical
and political significance, one cannot avoid thinking how this may
deliberately be meant to send a certain signal to the Armenians,"
Yet such an incident cannot be seen in isolation from the larger
reality of war, says Michel Nseir, WCC's programme executive for
special focus on the Middle East. Nseir says the attack on the Armenian
church is among several attacks on buildings and monuments in Syria
that are of historical and religious significance to people of faiths,
Communities and religious extremism
Nseir says churches and Christians in Syria and Iraq have always
considered themselves an integral part of the social fabric of their
countries. He says Christians have expressed their suffering as part
of the suffering of the entire population affected by military violence
and religious extremism.
To put an end to religious extremism, Nseir says, a solution must be
inclusive and encompassing enough to solve the crisis for Christians,
as well as for everyone else. "Peace and justice are desired for all
in the Middle East. When this vision is accomplished, Christians as
well as other religious groups will be able to live with dignity and
freedom in their homelands," he said.
Nseir says this vision of the Middle Eastern churches has always been
affirmed by the WCC. "Churches are calling for peace and justice for
all and are working for reconciliation and healing." He said that
"churches are facilitating dialogue, coordinating humanitarian and
relief efforts amidst the conflict and relieving the pain of those
suffering and affected by the war."
As part of the WCC's efforts to accompany its member churches in
the region, WCC staff members visited the Kurdistan region of Iraq
in August. The visitors, who brought back testimonies from Christian
communities and displaced persons, also highlighted the human rights
situation in the region at the United Nations Human Rights Council
in Geneva, Switzerland.
Speaking on "signs of hope" in the region, Amos recalls days from the
"Arab Spring." She said it was a period when there was talk about
common citizenship in the Middle East for Christians and Muslims. "I
think it's still a vision to hold on to. Yet in such a situation
where the sheer survival of Christian presence in Iraq and Syria is
a grave concern, we know that the journey to accomplish such a vision
is still a long one," she said.
Nseir notes that several countries in the Middle East have been ruled
by totalitarian regimes, military dictatorships or dynastic rulers. "A
transformation that brings a positive change will take time," he says.
"My hope lies with young people. When they choose to stay in their
countries and work for transformation, the vision for peace and
justice becomes possible," he concluded.
Posted 07 November 2014 - 06:28 PM
my brothers what did you expect for them to preserve ??? cherish ?? rebuild ??
Posted 11 November 2014 - 10:38 AM
Islamists’ destruction of a shrine to the victims of genocide marks the latest chapter in a tragic national history. Robert Fisk reports from Qamishli, north-eastern Syria
In the most savage act of vandalism against Syria’s Christians, Islamists have blown up the great Armenian church in Deir el-Zour, built in dedication to the one and a half million Armenians slaughtered by the Turks during the 1915 genocide. All of the church archives, dating back to 1841 and containing thousands of documents on the Armenian holocaust, were burned to ashes, while the bones of hundreds of genocide victims, packed into the church’s crypt in memory of the mass killings 99 years ago, were thrown into the street beside the ruins.
This act of sacrilege will cause huge pain among the Armenians scattered across the world – as well as in the rump state of Armenia which emerged after the 1914-1918 war, not least because many hundreds of thousands of victims died in death camps around the very same city of Deir el-Zour. Jabhat al-Nusra rebels appear to have been the culprits this time, but since many Syrians believe that the group has received arms from Turkey, the destruction will be regarded by many Armenians as a further stage in their historical annihilation by the descendants of those who perpetrated the genocide 99 years ago.
Turkey, of course, miserably claims there was no genocide – the equivalent of modern day Germany denying the Jewish Holocaust – but hundreds of historians, including one prominent Turkish academic, have proved beyond any doubt that the Armenians were deliberately massacred on the orders of the Ottoman Turkish government across all of modern-day Turkey and inside the desert of what is now northern Syria – the very region where Isis and its kindred ideological armed groups now hold. Even Israelis refer to the Armenian genocide with the same Hebrew word they use for their own destruction by Nazi Germany: “Shoah”, which means “holocaust”.
The Armenian priest responsible for the Deir el-Zour district, Monsignor Antranik Ayvazian, revealed to me that before the explosions tore the church apart towards the end of September, he received a message from the Islamists promising to spare the church archives if he acknowledged them as the legislative authority in that part of Syria. “I refused,” he said. “And after I refused, they destroyed all our papers and endowments. The only genocide victims’ bones left were further north in the Murgada sanctuary and I buried them before I left. They destroyed the church there, but now if I could go back, I don’t even know if I could find where I put the bones.”
The Armenian church in Deir el-Zour in 2009 during an anniversary service for the genocide “During the Armenian genocide, the Turks entered the church and killed its priest, Father Petrus Terzibashian, in front of the congregation,” Msr Ayvazian said. “Then they threw his body into the Euphrates. This time when the Islamists came, our priest there fled for his life.” Msr Ayvazian suffered his own personal loss in the Syrian war when Islamist fighters broke into the Mediterranean town of Qassab on 22 April this year. “They burned all my books and documents, many of them very old, and left my library with nothing but 60cm of ash on the floor.” Msr Ayvazian showed me a photograph of the Qassab church altar, upon which one of the Islamists had written in Arabic: “Thanks be to God for al-Qaeda, the Nusra Front and Bilal al-Sham” (another Islamist group). The town was retaken by Syrian government troops on 22 June.
Msr Ayvazian recounted his own extraordinary story of how he tried to prevent foreign Islamist fighters from taking over or destroying an Armenian-built hospital – how he drove to meet the Islamist gunmen and agreed to recover the corpses of some of their comrades killed in battle in return for a promise not to damage the hospital. “As I approached the hospital, a Syrian jet flew over me and dropped a bomb 40 metres from the building. I know the officer who sent the aircraft. He said it was his way of trying to warn the rebels not to harm me. They came out of the hospital like rats – but they did not harm me.”
I spoke later to the local Syrian military air force dispatcher and he confirmed that he had indeed sent a MiG fighter-bomber to attack waste ground near the building. Msr Ayvazian subsequently went to the old battlefield with Syrian government permission and recovered several bodies, all in a state of advanced decay and one with a leg eaten off by dogs. But he bravely set off with trucks carrying the dead and handed the remains to the Islamists. “They kept their word and later withdrew all their foreign fighters from the province of Hassake. I later received a letter from one of their emirs, very polite, telling me – and here the priest produced a copy of the note – that: “We vow to keep your property and your cherished possessions, which we also hold dear to us.” Msr Ayvazian looked scornfully at the letter. “Look, here at the start,” he said, “they have even made a mistake in their first quotation from the Koran! And then look what happened at Deir el-Zour. It was all for nothing.”
Each year, thousands of Armenians have gathered at their church in Deir el-Zour on 25 April – the date they commemorate the start of the genocide, when Armenian lawyers, teachers and doctors were arrested and later executed by the Turks outside Istanbul – to remember their million and a half dead. The 100th anniversary of the mass slaughter would have been a major event in Deir ez-Zour’s history. And although Syrian soldiers are still holding out in part of the town today, and Syrian authorities have promised to rebuild Armenian churches when their lands are retaken from the Islamists, there is little hope that any Armenians will be able to visit the ruins of their church in five months’ time. As for the Turks, they will do their best to stifle interest in the Armenian holocaust by holding their own commemorations next year – to mark their victory over Allied troops at the 1915 battle for Gallipoli.
Msr Ayvazian later received a photograph taken in secret and smuggled to him from the Isis-controlled area, showing clearly that only part of the central tower of the Deir el-Zour church, built in 1846 and renovated 43 years later, remains. Every Armenian who has returned to the killing fields of the genocide has prayed at the church. Across these same lands, broken skulls and bones from 1915 still lie in the sand. When I investigated the death marches in this same region 22 years ago with a French photographer, we uncovered dozens of skeletons in the crevasse of a hill at a point where so many Armenian dead were thrown into the waters of the Khabur that the river changed its course forever. I gave some of the skulls and bones we found to an Armenian friend who placed them in the crypt of the Deir el-Zour church – the very same building which now lies in ruins.
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