Zirabebaba, Turkey — Missionaries of the At Anycost Jesus Mission are reporting the discovery of a mass grave near the village of Zirabebaba, Turkey. The report says that in late October, 2006, local villagers digging a new grave came across a cave containing the remains of approximately 40 people. It is assumed the remains are of Assyrian Christians and others who were massacred in the Assyrian Genocide of 1915. According to local history over 300 had been killed at the site. With the long history of denying the Assyrian Genocide, local police and military units told villagers to keep the discovery quiet.
As the news has leaked out, local police visited villagers and demanded they tell who gave the news. Villagers were also warned to prevent anyone from visiting the site.
According to the report, "experts" have indicated that the bones are part of a group of at least 120 Assyrian Christians from the village of Oguz who were massacred on June 14, 1915.
Having suffered the loss of nearly two thirds of their population during the Assyrian Genocide which peaked in 1915, the community continues to suffer most recently in Iraq where over 100,000 are refugees in neighboring Jordan and Syria.
Fearing another "Assyrian Genocide" this time at the hands of the same radical Muslim movements, the Assyrian Christians along with other non-Muslim minorities are streaming out of Iraq, not afraid of the danger but of their growing influence in the country.
The recent beheading of 14 year old Ayat Taariq in Iraq was the latest in a long string killings that have brought back the past to this long suffering community.
Amidst all the bad news, one piece of Good News has come to the Community. The Iraqi Government, alarmed at the dramatic "brain drain" asked the Assyrian community to formally request a province.
On September 19, the Assyrian Nation formally requested an Assyrian Province in the Northeast of Iraq. Members of the community are expected to return to Iraq if the Province is formally approved and a government formed.
The recent discovery of remains from the Assyrian Genocide has sent a note of caution to the community.
"I remember my Grandfather waking up in the middle of the night screaming," said one Assyrian Christian who wished to remain anonymous. "It was 60 years later, but the terror was still real."
The recent discovery in Turkey was a stark reminder to the community of the difficult road ahead -- 90 years later the neighboring Turkish government still refuses to admit the Assyrian Genocide even took place.
PanARMENIAN.Net — Turkish Gendarmerie has instructed local villagers of a southeastern region to keep silence about a mass grave, discovered on October 17, that might contain remains of Armenian Genocide victims. According to a Kurdish newspaper published in Turkish Ulkede Ozgur Gundem, villagers from Xirabebaba (Kuru) were digging a grave for one of their relatives when they came across to a cave full of skulls and bones of reportedly 40 people. The Xirabebaba residents assumed they had uncovered a mass grave of 300 Armenian villagers massacred during the Genocide of 1915. They informed Akarsu Gendarmerie headquarters, the local military unit, about the discovered remains. Turkish army officers, according to the Kurdish newspaper, instructed the villagers to block the cave entrance and make no mention of the remains buried in it. The officers said an investigation would take place. The newspaper reported on the developments and the Turkish military's attempt to hide the news. Journalists, who had arrived to obtain more information, were denied access to the cave.
As the mass burial made news, local Gendarmerie made another visit to the villagers. The latter were pressed to report the name of the person who leaked the mass burial discovery to the press. The villagers were warned not to show anyone directions to the cave. The victims of the mass grave, according to Sodertorn University History Professor David Gaunt, are most likely the 150 Armenian and 120 Assyrian males from the nearby town of Dara (now Oguz) killed on June 14, 1915, reports Asbarez.
Photographs by Ülkede Özgür Gündem (a Kurdish newspaper in Turkey that was closed down after reporting the discovery of the mass grave) of a possible Armenian mass grave before manipulated by the Turkish Historical Society
Turkey is not simply rejecting the word genocide; the denial is on micro level as seen in recent developments. The skeletons of a newly discovered mass grave thought to be from the Genocide, for example, have been reportedly changed and displaced by the Turkish Historical Society.
The Zaman newspaper from Turkey reports on April 24, 2007 that David Gaunt – a historian from Sweden – had traveled to Turkey this week to participate in a joint investigation of the mass grave. After seeing the site, Prof. Gaunt refused to continue his participation because the initial photographs of the mass grave (taken by a Turkish-language Kurdish newspaper) from October of 2006 – when it was discovered – were quite different from the site he was taken to. He told Zaman, “My impression is that this grave is one in which no scientific research can be carried out. The grave has undergone numerous changes so it is not recognizable.”
As our blogging-made-news article reported last year, the site was discovered in October of 2006 by local Kurds in the Xirabebaba (Kuru) village of Nusaybin district in southeastern Turkey’s Mardin region. Several villagers were digging graves for a relative to be buried in, when they found a cave of approximately 200 skeletons. The villagers thought they had uncovered a mass burial of massacred Armenians.
There were several reports (received via private communication) that the mass grave was dumped with soil by the Turkish military. But soon I learned that the Turkish Historical Society had proclaimed the mass graves was from Roman times.
Before traveling to Turkey for the investigation, Prof. Gaunt had sent the following e-mail to a group of colleagues and students on February 27, 2007.
As you will remember Yusuf Halacoglu went out very aggressively and challenged me in the Turkish press and TV to come to the grave. I answered and said that I could come during 23-25 April and I canceled some lectures during that week.
Since the time that he challenged me in the media – two weeks ago – I have not heard a word from Halacoglu – although I have previously received faxes, regular mail and even telephone calls from the staff of the Turkish Historical Society. So they know where I work. I have repeatedly written to Halacoglu during the past weeks. No result. Given his grandstand performance previously, this silence is unnatural. It leads to the conclusion that he is no longer interested in making a truly scientific investigation of the mass-grave find. What could be the reason?
In order to give this investigation some scientific legitimacy, I had suggested that we agree to some “rules of the game” in case of disagreement. Among the things I suggested was that an international group of crime scene investigators (or the like) from for instance South America would be the first persons to enter the site. Their role would be to ascertain if the site had been manipulated in any serious way, if the bodies were intact, if there were signs of tampering with the evidence or planting of other evidence. Only if and when this team gave a clear OK signal, would any of the other investigators enter the site. I think it is a very reasonable request that we have guarantees that the site is worth investigating, and I don’t think that the Turkish side could argue against this procedure.
Are we forced to conclude, by Halacoglu’s silence that the site has indeed already been prepared, but that there is now fear that properly trained experts would easily discover the manipulation? In that case, of course, it would be reasonable for the Turkish Historical Society to want to forget all about having made an invitation and making a fuss over my participation. At present there are few alternative interpretations to Halacoglu’s silence other than that he regrets the publicity that he has given this matter.
Apparently Prof. Gaunt’s fear turned to be true: the Turkish Historical Society had manipulated the mass grave.
The Turkish cover up of the Armenian Genocide is not simply a war of a term, but a refusal by the ultra-nationalist Turkish foundation to admit that their government, in the words of Turkish historian Taner Akcam, has committed a crime against Turkey’s native Armenian population. No wonder why, as the founder of Boulder’s Alternative Radio David Barsamian said past Sunday, Turkish Ambassadors use passive voice when justifying the genocide, “something terrible happened.”
\ã-'sir-é-ä\ n (1998)
1: an ancient empire of Ashur
2: a democratic state in Bet-Nahren, Assyria (northern
Iraq, northwestern Iran, southeastern Turkey and eastern Syria.)
a democratic state that fosters the social and political rights to all of
its inhabitants irrespective of their religion, race, or gender
4: a democratic state that believes in the freedom of
religion, conscience, language, education and culture in faithfulness to the
principles of the United Nations Charter —
Ethnicity, Religion, Language
Israeli, Jewish, Hebrew
Assyrian, Christian, Aramaic
Saudi Arabian, Muslim, Arabic
\ã-'sir-é-an\ adj or n (1998)
1: descendants of the ancient empire of Ashur
2: the Assyrians, although representing but one single
nation as the direct heirs of the ancient Assyrian Empire, are now
doctrinally divided, inter sese, into five principle
ecclesiastically designated religious sects with their corresponding
hierarchies and distinct church governments, namely, Church of the
East, Chaldean, Maronite, Syriac Orthodox and Syriac Catholic.
These formal divisions had their origin in the 5th century of the
Christian Era. No one can coherently understand the Assyrians
as a whole until he can distinguish that which is religion or church
from that which is nation -- a matter which is particularly
difficult for the people from the western world to understand; for
in the East, by force of circumstances beyond their control,
religion has been made, from time immemorial, virtually into a
criterion of nationality.
the Assyrians have been referred to as Aramaean, Aramaye, Ashuraya,
Ashureen, Ashuri, Ashuroyo, Assyrio-Chaldean, Aturaya, Chaldean,
Chaldo, ChaldoAssyrian, ChaldoAssyrio, Jacobite, Kaldany, Kaldu,
Kasdu, Malabar, Maronite, Maronaya, Nestorian, Nestornaye, Oromoye,
Suraya, Syriac, Syrian, Syriani, Suryoye, Suryoyo and Telkeffee. —
1: a Semitic language which became the lingua franca of
the Middle East during the ancient Assyrian empire.
2: has been referred to as Neo-Aramaic, Neo-Syriac, Classical
Syriac, Syriac, Suryoyo, Swadaya and Turoyo.