Assyrian Monument Dedication Hosts Sabri Atman in Yerevan

Posted by Betty Apigian-Kessel
Two years ago I wrote about connecting with Sabri Atman, the founder and director of the Assyrian Genocide Research Center (Seyfo Center) in the Netherlands. He is an author, academic, and activist.

Atman has widely lectured on the subject of the genocide throughout the United States and Europe stating, “Nobody who has researched the genocide who is genuine and sincere can deny and ignore the fact that Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks all suffered the same fate.”

Atman will soon be studying with noted genocide expert Prof. Taner Akcam of Clark University for a Ph.D in genocide studies.

There are three Assyrian words used for their genocide: Seyfo, Ferman, and Kafle. “Seyfo” means sword, referring to the sword of Islam, used by the Ottoman-Turkish Army and Kurdish troops to kill and destroy. “Ferman” means order of the government. And “Kafle” means deportations. We Armenians know the effect of these words all too well.

I had written that he and I were of the same mind that Armenians should include Pontic Greeks and Assyrians in our quest to have Turkey recognize the genocide perpetrated upon our people. By combining our voices and resources, the events of 1915-23 would bring world attention to our demands for justice more rapidly.

When the Ottoman Turks began their program of violence against the Christian minorities, not only were 1.5 million Armenians victimized, but 750,000 Assyrians and thousands of Greeks were included in the Turkish search and destroy mission.

This genocide and displacement of people indigenous to the area resulted in a diaspora spread across the world.

California newspaper-woman and Assyrian activist Susan Abrams tells how, as a teenager, she asked a librarian if books existed about contemporary Assyrians. “Assyrians don’t exist anymore,” was the response.

Sabri Atman has made it his life’s work to assure the world that Assyrians do exist and are living amongst us all over the world.

It was either ordained or a fluke that I was again in touch with Atman just a week before April 24. He wrote to me that he would be in Yerevan on April 25 for the dedication of an Assyrian monument to the genocide.

I want you to show readers excerpts from Atman’s speech presented at the official unveiling of the Assyrian Genocide Monument in Yerevan.


“My thanks to the Armenian community and authorities of the Republic of Armenia and the City of Yerevan for making this day a reality. At the same time I wish to congratulate the Assyrian community and organizations on your success with the erection of this beautiful memorial in the memory of the victims of the Assyrian Genocide.

“In recent years, Assyrians have been working diligently towards greater public awareness of the Assyrian Genocide and for its recognition around the world. The genocide committed against the Assyrian people by the Ottoman Empire and other genocides including the 1933 Semele Massacre in northern Iraq are historical realities that have affected the lives of every Assyrian family. Close to 100 years after the Assyrian Genocide and 80 years after the Semele Massacre, Assyrians continue to fight for justice and recognition.

“We Assyrians here today…are now dispersed in the four corners of the world. The results of this tragedy are still causes of great pain and suffering for us.

“To our Armenian brothers and sisters living here in Armenia and in the diaspora, we call on you to add the Assyrian and Greek victims to your demands for recognition. No three people have shared the common experiences and plight which we have! The bond between our three peoples has been forged in blood and anguish and our joint suffering shall forever unite us.

“The spirit of the martyrs of Semele, Urmia, Hakkari, Van, Tur Abdin, Omid, and Assyria are amongst us today. They have not and never will be forgotten. Today, history is rewritten here in Yerevan.

“It gives me great pleasure to note that over 20 countries around the world have officially recognized the Armenian Genocide. It is my hope that other countries will follow in their footsteps in also officially recognizing the suffering and annihilation of Assyrian and Greek peoples during the First World War. I simply ask for justice for my people.

“At the same time I would not stand here without giving a loud call for the Republic of Armenia to be the next nation to recognize the Assyrian and Greek Genocides. Indeed, morally, Armenia and Greece should have been the first countries to recognize the Assyrian Genocide. If our Armenian brothers and sisters, a people who suffered the same horrific plight as us, do not understand our cries for justice, then who, I ask you all, can understand? We should fight with one voice for justice.

“We say loudly today: We shall never forget 1915! Never again 1915!”