The Region: U.S. exit, Turkish invasion plans threaten Syria's Armenians

The Region: U.S. exit, Turkish invasion plans threaten Syria's Armenians

PanARMENIAN.Net - With their withdrawal from Rojava, the United States is not only abandoning nearly 3 million Kurds but also more than one hundred thousand Armenian and Aramaic-speaking Christians, most of whom have found a new home in Syria after the genocide of 1915 committed by the Ottoman Empire. The imminent military invasion of Turkey also threatens old Christian communities who found a sanctuary from civil war and jihadist threats in the region. Qamishli was founded after the First World War by Armenians, Assyrians and Jews who preferred to live under the French protectorate rather than under Turkish rule, Austrian political scientist Thomas Schmidinger says in a new article published by The Region.

After the escape of the majority of the large Armenian communities in Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor during the Syrian civil war, Qamishli hosts one of the largest Armenian communities in Syria. Some 8,500 - 2,000 of whom are Armenian Catholics - still live in the city centre.

Besides Qamishli, there are also Armenian communities in Dêrik, Serê Kaniyê (Arabic: Ra‘s al-‘Ain), and al-Hasaka (Kurdish: Hesîce). Armenians run private schools in their towns where they teach their native language, Western Armenian, which differs from Eastern Armenian used in the Republic of Armenia. Both in the elementary schools in Qamishli, Dêrik, Serê Kaniyê and al-Hasaka, and in secondary school in Qamishli, classes are taught in both Arabic and Armenian.

"All of these Armenians are descendants of survivors of the 1915 Genocide. When talking to Armenians in Qamishli and Dêrik, I realised several times how this history is still present. For the Armenians in the region, Turkey is still predominantly seen as the nation who massacred their fathers, mothers, grandfathers and grandmothers. Although some of the older Armenians in the area still speak Turkish as a second or third language, they fear Turkey as the nation of perpetrators who never even accepted their historical responsibility for the Genocide. Family histories are told in detail. Every church has a memorial for the victims of the Genocide, and every year in every community the 24th of April is celebrated as Armenian Genocide Victims Remembrance Day," the author says.

"It´s an irony of history that a US-president whose election was strongly based on very convinced Christian voters drops all these Christians and leaves them to the mercy of Turkey and its Islamist allies, who have already committed numerous war crimes against religious minorities in Afrin during the last nine months of occupation."

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