Assyrian genocide

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Sayfo was a genocide by the Ottoman Empire in which over 300,000 Assyrians were killed during raids.

The Assyrians call it the Sayfo, the Aramaic word for "sword". Many Assyrians were considered unpure by the Turks and were massacred for not giving up Christianity and becoming Muslims. Assyrians lost their homes and possessions to the sultan, Adulhamed the Red. Even before the genocide, they had been persecuted and forced to pay high taxes.

Since ancient times and the conquest by the Babylonians, the Assyrians have not have had their own nation. Their diaspora has spread over to many different countries.

Under the Turks, they were oppressed and forced assimilated to the empires, and many lost their independence. Those who have survived keep their common unity, especially in their deep Christian faith.

Personal experience quoted from the Assyrian Voice[change | change source]

"One day the Moslems assembled all the children of from six to fifteen years and carried them off to the headquarters of the police. There they led the poor little things to the top of a mountain known as Ras-el Hadjar and cut their throats one by one, throwing their bodies into an abyss." [1]

Overview of the massacre[change | change source]

Map showing the Armenian (in colours) and Christian (in shadings) population of the eastern Ottoman provinces in the year 1896. In the areas where the share of Christian population was higher than that of the Armenians, the non-Armenian Christian population largely consisted of Assyrians (except in regions inhabited by Ottoman Greeks). Assyrians lived mostly in the southern and southeastern parts of the region
40 Christians dying a day say Assyrian refugees - The Syracuse Herald, 1915.
The Washington Post and other leading newspapers in Western countries reported on the Assyrian Genocide as it unfolded.
An article from The New York Times, March 27, 1915.

The Assyrian genocide (also known as Sayfo or Seyfo) was committed against the Assyrian population of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War by the Young Turks.[2] The Assyrian population of northern Mesopotamia included the Tur Abdin, Hakkari, Van, Siirt regions of present-day southeastern Turkey and the Urmia region of northwestern Iran. They were forcibly relocated and massacred by Ottoman (Turkish) and Kurdish forces between 1914 and 1920 under the regime of the Young Turks. Under leadership of Djevdet Bey, ottoman governor, at least 55 000 Assyrian Christians were martyred. He is considered responsible for the massacres of Armenians and Assyrians in and around Van [3] Scholars have placed the number of Assyrian victims from 300,000 to 750,000.[4][5][6][7]

The Assyrian genocide took place in the same context and time-period as the Armenian and Greek genocides.[8] But unlike these, no official national or international recognition of the Assyrian genocide has been made, and many accounts discuss the Assyrian genocide as a part of the larger events subsumed under the Armenian genocide.[9]

References[change | change source]

  1. Joseph Naayem, Shall This Nation Die?
  2. Aprim, Frederick A. Syriacs: The Continuous Saga, page 40
  3. Ye'or, Bat; Miriam Kochan, David Littman (2002). Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press. pp. 148–149. ISBN 0838639437. OCLC 47054791.
  4. The plight of religious minorities: can religious pluralism survive? - Page 51 by United States Congress
  5. The Armenian genocide: wartime radicalization or premeditated continuum - Page 272 edited by Richard Hovannisian
  6. Not even my name: a true story - Page 131 by Thea Halo
  7. The political dictionary of modern Middle East by Agnes G. Korbani.
  8. Schaller, Dominik J. and Zimmerer, Jürgen (2008) "Late Ottoman genocides: the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire and Young Turkish population and extermination policies - introduction," Journal of Genocide Research, 10:1, 7 - 14
  9. Samuel Totten, Paul Robert Bartrop, Steven L. Jacobs, Dictionary of Genocide Greenwood Press, 2007, ISBN 0-313-32967-2, p. 26