Press Release: What Do Aramean (Syriac) Christians in Syria Really Want?

The Aramean (Syriac) Christian people in Syria are watching the earth crumble beneath them. Their once safe, traditional and peaceful lives are all but a distant memory, as the 19 month battle for power in Syria reigns unprecedented terror on the Christian community. While the Aramean Christians plead their case to world leaders and others of influence, it appears that new so-called “Christian” groups are being formed and trying to hijack the discourse on Christian rights and beliefs in Syria.

Founded in 1983 as a global umbrella organisation to represent the Aramean (Syriac) people, the World Council of Arameans (Syriacs) (“WCA”) is their only United Nations NGO. It enjoys worldwide recognition and support from all its Aramean (Syriac) National Federations and Local Associations as well as by the leadership of the Syriac Orthodox Church, the second largest Christian group in Syria.

Recently we have seen press reports stating that Syriacs support the Muslim Brotherhood or that Syriacs support the “toppling” of President Assad. This could not be further from the truth. Most Christians from Syria do not support such statements and instead hold a more impartial, democratic and peaceful view towards the conflict. While there are Christians on either side of the battle, it is clear that the majority of Christians in Syria are simply playing a waiting game and they have not joined rebel groups in order to overthrow President Assad or his Government. Least of all through violent means.

With the city of Homs almost completely evacuated of Christians, similar reports have come in from Aleppo that bombings and killings have become commonplace. The local Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Hanna states worriedly: “Every day there are deaths, funerals are celebrated in all Christian churches.”

The Christians are in a quandary. Although many of them possess arms, they do not use them to fight in the war, instead they seek only to protect their families in self-defence scenarios. Those of fighting age are called to the Syrian Army and many others are equally being forced to join the armed rebels. There are few Christians who act independently and wish to fight on either side of the battle lines.

Then there are many people who just seek to escape the madness and the WCA has evidence showing that the number of Christians leaving Syria is growing exponentially. The refugee problem has become systemic and there are larger issues at stake now, including the WCA’s calls for EU support of Christian refugees crossing their borders, the right of return to their lands, humanitarian assistance for those in need and a concerted campaign of safety so that Christians don’t feel like they need to leave Syria at all.



In the meantime, given the close connection between the WCA and local Christian communities, especially the local Church leaders, the WCA wishes to put forward precisely what the majority of Aramean (Syriacs) stand for in Syria. This is as follows:


  1. No pre-conditions to dialogue. Forced and meaningful dialogue between the opposing parties and the international community to find a solution to the circa two-year battle;
  2. An immediate ceasefire from all parties and the international community halting the provision of weapons into Syria, leading to a roadmap to peace;
  3. To immediately lift the sanctions against the government and people of Syria, given the detrimental impact such sanctions are having on the innocent lives of vulnerable members of the population;
  4. Halting the recruitment of mercenaries from foreign countries to be brought in and fight the war in Syria, thereby ceasing foreign support of militant Islamic groups infiltrating the country;
  5. In order to prioritise the protection of all vulnerable minorities in Syria, including the Arameans, the UN to agree a Resolution stating that all vulnerable minorities must be protected as a priority and their future safeguarded in Syria by all warring parties. The Arameans are especially afraid of a sectarian war in their indigenous cities of Al Hasakeh, Homs, Aleppo, Damascus and Qamishli (even the Kurds in the north are causing issues for the Syriacs);
  6. The WCA calls on its Aramean people to remain in Syria, provided they are safe, and we ask the international community and the Syrian government to ensure that this can happen by especially protecting all minorities in Syria from death, kidnappings, daily threats and hunger;
  7. Humanitarian aid to be provided to all vulnerable groups within Syria. As a significant minority group, the Aramean Christians in particular are in desperate need of immediate assistance in Syria. They lack medicine, food and protection from armed gangs; and
  8. UNHCR and Middle Eastern and European countries to do everything in their power to secure the safety of Aramean refugees fleeing war torn Syria, in accordance with the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. This includes European nations working together to protect legitimate refugees who wish to enter into their countries and not imprisoning them as is the case currently in Greece. We ask nations across Europe to agree a quota of refugees to be admitted into their countries. The WCA asks nations to protect Aramean refugees from human traffickers extorting money from them to get them across safe European borders – opening the borders with certain quotas for vulnerable Christian minorities, for example, would eliminate the need for such traffickers, who charge between 4,000 and 9,000 EUR per refugee.


The above recommendations highlight the primary matters of concern to the Aramean Christians in Syria and the Diaspora. Other opportunist organisations, including paper organisations, have joined the debate and seek to change the discourse in favour of war and terror. Their voices reflect a more divisive form over real substance.


It is clear that global media, politicians, human rights organisations and others of influence should really ask such organisations claiming to speak on behalf of the “Syriac Christians”, who they truly represent and where they get their support, funding and legitimacy from?