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Syriacs urge Turkey to recognize massacres

Turkey’s Syriacs are for the first time holding protests to urge Ankara to acknowledge the massacres of Syriacs in 1915, which proceeded along with the mass killings of Armenians.
Syriac Christians from Turkey and Syria attend a mass at the Mort Shmuni Syriac Orthodox Church in the town of Midyat, in Mardin province of southeast Turkey February 2, 2014. Despite the empty streets of Midyat, the historical Mort Shmuni Syriac Orthodox Church is overcrowded with a community of three hundred people, mostly children. For longer than two years, not only the native Turkish Christian citizens of Midyat, but also the Syriac families escaping the bloody war in Syria just across the border are j
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The Ottoman policy of slaughter and deportations in 1915, associated mainly with its Armenian victims, was actually much broader in its scope. Along with more than 1 million Armenians killed, it crushed also the Christian Syriac community, which counts its dead in the hundreds of thousands.

Armenians call the slaughter “the Great Calamity,” while Syriacs remember it as the “Seyfo Massacre” with “seyfo” meaning “sword.” On the 100th anniversary this year, the Syriacs are for the first time holding protests urging Turkey to recognize the Seyfo Massacre and to apologize. On April 21, Syriacs launched a hunger strike in the southeastern province of Mardin, where most of their ancestors perished. The protest, scheduled to end April 24, will last 100 hours, symbolizing the 100 years that have passed since the bloodshed. The Syriacs are also planning to hold a big march in June.

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