Armenian and Syrian Orthodox Patriarchs Ask Christians to Remember the 1915 Genocide as Centennial Nears

Activists hold pictures of Armenian victims during a demonstration to commemorate the 1915 mass killing of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, in Istanbul April 24, 2014. | (Photo: Reuters)

The primates of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Syrian Orthodox Church have urged Christians around the world to remember and reflect on the 1915 genocide of Armenians and Syriac Christians in Turkey, where up to 2 million people were killed or disappeared without a trace.

"We invite the entire Christian world to unite in prayer at the Armenian Genocide and the Syriac Sayfo centennial commemorative events in 2015. We call upon the civilized world to recognize and condemn the crimes committed against the Armenian and Syriac peoples as well as other Christian communities," read the joint statement by the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of all Armenians, Karekin II, and the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, Mar Ignatius Aphrem II, as reported by Fides News Agency on Wednesday.

The 1915 genocide during World War I in the territory of Ottoman Turkey is also known as the Armenian genocide, since Armenians made up close to 1.5 million of the victims. The attacks on Christians eliminated almost the entire Christian population in present day Turkey, leaving almost an entirely Muslim nation.

The Armenian and Syrian primates are asking the international community to recognize and condemn the atrocities committed at the time, as the centennial commemoration approaches. The two Christian leaders met earlier this week at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the spiritual center of all Armenians, to sign a declaration affirming the unity of faith between the two sister churches.

Assyrian International News Agency reported in September that a documentary film is being prepared on the 1915 genocide, scheduled to premiere in 2015 as part of the commemoration.

Produced by the Assyrian Federation of Sweden and the Assyrian Youth Federation of Sweden, the documentary explains the circumstances and details behind the genocide to a wider audience. Directed by Aziz Said from Berlin, the film crew spent close to three weeks in southeast Turkey shooting footage for the film.

The documentary will also seek to expose the denial of the genocide as maintained by the Turkish state, and showcase the effect the massacre still has on Assyrians today.

The Genocide1915 website provides a comprehensive history of the conflict. It notes that April 24 is designated as the commemoration day of the genocide, as the first phase of the genocide was implemented on that night in 1915, when close to 250 Armenians, including doctors, lawyers and politicians, were rounded up and executed within 72 hours.

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