"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

On the Assyrian Genocide of 1915

2017 has been a banner year for publications on some of the lesser known genocides of the last century. (We saw one significant publication in 2016, as I noted here.) The events of 1915 have very largely focused on the largest mass slaughter, that of the Armenians; but the genocides of Assyrian Christians and of Greek Orthodox Christians, in the same part of eastern Anatolia in the same year and for the same reasons as the Armenian genocide, have been rather obscured until now.

When I gave a lecture two years ago on the centenary of the Armenian Genocide, I drew attention to the Assyrian and Greek slaughters as well, drawing on several scholarly articles published by Hannibal Travis, editor of a new collection, The Assyrian Genocide: Cultural and Political Legacies 
(Routledge, 2017), 340pp.

About this collection the publisher tells us:
For a brief period, the attention of the international community has focused once again on the plight of religious minorities in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. In particular, the abductions and massacres of Yezidis and Assyrians in the Sinjar, Mosul, Nineveh Plains, Baghdad, and Hasakah regions in 2007–2015 raised questions about the prevention of genocide. This book, while principally analyzing the Assyrian genocide of 1914–1925 and its implications for the culture and politics of the region, also raises broader questions concerning the future of religious diversity in the Middle East. It gathers and analyzes the findings of a broad spectrum of historical and scholarly works on Christian identities in the Middle East, genocide studies, international law, and the politics of the late Ottoman Empire, as well as the politics of the Ottomans' British and Russian rivals for power in western Asia and the eastern Mediterranean basin.
A key question the book raises is whether the fate of the Assyrians maps onto any of the concepts used within international law and diplomatic history to study genocide and group violence. In this light, the Assyrian genocide stands out as being several times larger, in both absolute terms and relative to the size of the affected group, than the Srebrenica genocide, which is recognized by Turkey as well as by international tribunals and organizations. Including its Armenian and Greek victims, the Ottoman Christian Genocide rivals the Rwandan, Bengali, and Biafran genocides. The book also aims to explore the impact of the genocide period of 1914–1925 on the development or partial unraveling of Assyrian group cohesion, including aspirations to autonomy in the Assyrian areas of northern Iraq, northwestern Iran, and southeastern Turkey. Scholars from around the world have collaborated to approach these research questions by reference to diplomatic and political archives, international legal materials, memoirs, and literary works.
Two other collections continue to deepen our knowledge of this genocide: Let Them Not Return: The Genocide Against the Assyrian, Syriac, and Chaldean Christians in the Ottoman Empire, edited by David Gaunt,‎ Naures Atto, and‎ Soner O. Barthoma (Berghahn Books, 2017), 274pp.

About this collection we are told:
The mass killing of Ottoman Armenians is today widely recognized, both within and outside scholarly circles, as an act of genocide. What is less well known, however, is that it took place within a broader context of Ottoman violence against minority groups during and after the First World War. Among those populations decimated were the indigenous Christian Assyrians (also known as Syriacs or Chaldeans) who lived in the borderlands of present-day Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. This volume is the first scholarly edited collection focused on the Assyrian genocide, or "Sayfo" (literally, "sword" in Aramaic), presenting historical, psychological, anthropological, and political perspectives that shed much-needed light on a neglected historical atrocity.
Third and finally is this collection: Readings in the 20th Century Genocide of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch (SAYFO) by Boutros Touma Issa et al (Nova Science Publishers, 2017), 210pp.
This book, authored by family members who were originated in Mesopotamia, and are members of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, strives to provide a brief historical background on the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, her dogma, her ancient sacred language (Syriac/Aramaic), and persecution including 1915 Genocide (Sayfo) which might also be referred to as (SAYFO/SEPA/SWORD ܣܝܦܐ).
This book endeavours to bring to light a historical account of the inhabitants of the ancient land of Mesopotamia, leading to the events that resulted in several persecutions of these original people of the land, specifically during the “Syriac Genocide” (Sayfo) of 1915 (SAYFO/SEPA/SWORD ܣܝܦܐ). The authors derive from diverse sources, including some ancient rare manuscripts that have not been, to date, translated into English from Syriac/Aramaic; supported by evidence derived from some of what has been translated into English, including personal accounts. In this book, the authors highlight the number of people who were massacred and those who were forced to leave their Christian faith and convert, including members of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, showing the unpleasant face of persecution and Genocide against people who are accredited of their huge positive impact on the World’s Civilization.
This book commences with a brief historical background on the origin of Christianity in the East, and the historical background of the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, leading to an explanation of the atrocities at the hands of the Ottoman Empire, providing a backdrop to allow an understanding of the context at the time, concluding with some insights of the atrocities in the 21st century against the same people in parts of the Middle East and around the world. The book provides a brief account of the courageous actions taken by patriarchs, other clergy, and lay people to face such atrocities. The authors briefly examine some of the events that took place leading to the main Genocide of 1915, the “Syriac Genocide” (Sayfo) (SAYFO/SEPA/SWORD ܣܝܦܐ), or what has been dubbed as “The Forgotten Genocide”. The book concludes with some events that took place in the 21st century which were mainly derived from the ongoing incidents that affected the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch and her community in the Middle East and around the world.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments are never approved. Use your real name and say something intelligent.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...