Assyrian Education Network

Turkey: Author of Genocide - the destruction of the Assyrian Nation

Posted: Monday, November 20, 2000 at 09:07 AM CT


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One of the proudest minor national strains dwelling in the Turkish Empire were the Assyrians, the remnants of a great and ancient nation which once dominated the known world.

Following the debacles that reduced the power of their state, many Assyrians retired from their ancestral homeland in the vicinity of the Tigris and Euphrates, in Mesopotamia, to the fastnesses of Armenia or the alluvial lands around Lake Urmia, in present day Iran.

The Assyrian villagers learned to live in peace and harmony with their Armenian neighbors, and suffered with them commonly the vicissitudes of Turkish rule. In Armenian proper, many Assyrians were assimilated into Armenian body proper, accepted the Armenian church, and intermarried with Armenians. There were however important transplanted Assyrian communities which retained their ethnic identity, maintained their Assyrian customs, and professed their own distinctive forms of Christianity. According to Joseph Naayem, an Assyrian scholar born and raised in Urfa (Edessa), from 1915-1920 fully one half of the Assyrians living in the Turkish Empire extirpated ruthlessly by the Turks.

Of the 500,000 Assyrians known to have been residing Turkey, 250,000 perished among them 100,000 Assyrians who had espoused the Nestorian Christian faith.

100,000 of the 150,000 Assyrian Catholics were massacred along with their Bishops and priests, while the remaining 50,000 fled into exile, many returning to Mesopotamia where, as we shall see, they scarcely found refuge.

The sword of massacres decimated also the Eudoxian Jacobite sect among Assyrians. Of 250,000 of these people 80,000 were destroyed at Mardin by the Turkish assassin team.

Twelve Jacobite Bishops, and virtually every common priest, were murdered, Assyrian churches were seized, villages were pulled down to the ground, with incalculable property damage. In the district of Midhiat and that area lying athwart the Tigris river 50 Assyrian hamlets were erased. 24,000 other Assyrians fell to the sword of Turkish violence in the district of Sghert. At Shuki and Tigranakert ( Diarbekir ) "clean-up" massacres, perpetrated under the orders of the notorious Turkish arch-assassin Dr. Reshid, wiped out other Assyrians; but at Julamerg, a large number of Assyrians rallied around their warrior-priest Bishop Mar Shimon and bravely defended themselves against 60,000 Turkish regular and irregular troops.

In the World War I period the massacre of Assyrians opened in August, 1914, when Djevdet Khalil Bey fell on the folk dwelling in the Urmia and Salmast districts and slew 12,000 of them.

From 1915-18, the Assyrian losses were 140,000, of which 20,000 succumbed to diseases consequent to the massacres.

The Urmia massacres took place with the withdrawal of the Russian armies from the area and the arrival of the Turks. The British authority Lord Bryce reports that although many of the atrocities were executed by the Kurds, they were operating under the direct orders of the Turkish military command.

Perishing with their Assyrian coreligionists were many Armenians. According to a report tendered the League of Nations by the European observer General Leydener, in 1924, during the political adjustments which gave Britain control of the rich oil fields at Mosul, 15,000 Assyrians were slain north of that city in an operation rendered especially fierce by the proclamation of a "jihad" holy war.

It should also be noted here that the Assyrian were not exempted from the horrors of the Turkish massacres of 1895, 55,000 of these people were martyred, along with 300,000 of their Armenian brethren, to appease the Sultan's rage at reforms demanded by Europe.

The known score of Assyrians of all faiths massacred by Turks since 1895?  424,000.

Source: A PUBLICATION OF THE COMMEMORATIVE COMMITTEE ON THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE TURKISH MASSACRES OF THE ARMENIANS (Boston, Massachusetts, 1965)



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