Protest at United Nations Calls on International Community to Stop Violence in Syria and Iraq
UNITED NATIONS—Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region (ANCA ER) activists joined with leaders of the Assyrian, Chaldean and Syriac communities to rally international support for ending targeted attacks against their brethren in Iraq and Syria during a peaceful protest held in front of the United Nations Headquarters.
The ANCA Eastern Region’s Armen Sahakyan offered powerful remarks citing Armenian American solidarity with the Assyrian community, noting that today’s violence harkens back to Turkey’s genocide and exile of over 3 million Armenian, Pontian Greek and Assyrian Christians from 1915-1923. Sahakyan went on to urge greater international effort to end the violence against these beleaguered communities, initiated by radical extremists and, in the case of Syria’s Aleppo and Kessab communities, supported by the Turkish Government.
Protesters wore special t-shirts with the Arabic letter “N” for “Nasrani,” which means Christian in Arabic to show their solidarity with those persecuted in Iraq, Syria and other parts of the Middle East. The Arabic letter “N” was painted over the doors of Christian homes and businesses by ISIS extremists in Iraq as an identifying mark. This is the greatest mass flight of Christians in the Middle East since the Armenian, Assyrian and Pontian Greeks genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. ISIS has already eliminated many of the ancient communities of eastern Syria. People seeking to escape to other places are being stripped of all their possessions.
Over the past several months, the Armenian community of Aleppo, Syria has been subjected to constant bombardment by Muslim extremists supported by Turkey, which has led to the destruction of local schools, churches and social service centers. Earlier, on March 21, the city of Kessab located in northwestern part of Syria bordering Turkey was overrun by extremist foreign fighters, forcing the town to flee for safe haven at moment’s notice.
Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Nineveh province and the second largest city after Baghdad, has recently come under control of ISIS. The city was once home to around 60,000 Assyrians, Chaldeans, Armenians and other Christians. ISIS is also targeting Muslim holy sites, including the mosque housing the tomb of the Biblical figure of Jonah.