Arameans start 100-hour hunger strike to mark 100th anniversary of massacre

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Members of the Aramean (Syriac) community in Turkey began a 100-hour hunger strike on Monday. (Photo: Cihan)
Members of the Aramean (Syriac) community in Turkey began a 100-hour hunger strike on Monday at the Federation of Syriac Associations (SÜDEF) in the southeastern city of Midyat to draw attention to the 100th anniversary of the slaughter of Ottoman Arameans in 1915.

Nearly 30 people are taking part in the hunger strike, which is set to last four days and is intended to attract attention to Arameans’ fight for the recognition of what they refer to as “Sayfo” — the massacres of Arameans that the federation views as genocide.

“‘Sayfo’ took place on this land. On this land, there was a genocide committed against us. The biggest reason why we no longer exist in this land is because of Sayfo. This was a terrible blow to all Christians. There is a debt to be paid to remember our ancestors. This is a matter of a conscience, and there is a need to respond to the past. People need to put an end to denial; it is time to confront [Sayfo],” SÜDEF President Ergil Türker stated to the weekly newspaper Agos.

Editor-in-Chief Tuma Çelik of the Aramean newspaper Sabro also spoke to Agos, saying: “These types of commemorations are important in order for Sayfo to be recognized, for what has happened to be known and for the trauma that Arameans experienced to be alleviated. We are trying to tell ourselves and the world about the pain we have experienced. We held our first commemoration in Switzerland in 1998 and have continued in various ways since then. We decided that we need to hold the memorial for the 100th anniversary in Turkey. Memorial events will be held on the soil where the genocide took place.”