Syriacs seek buffer zone for Christians in Syria

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Vercihan Ziflio?lu
Stockholm-based Syriac Democratic Union demands from international authorities to immediately form a buffer zone for the security of Christians, just like they did during the Gulf War. The vice president says negotiations are ongoing
Syrian firefighters extinguish a fire following at the site of a car bomb that ripped through Jaramana, a mainly Christian and Druze suburb of Damascus. AFP photo

A Syriac lobby is engaging itself in diplomatic traffic with the United States and the European Union in order to promote the idea of a buffer zone for the safety of Christians living in Syria. The Syriac Lobby, headed by the Stockholm-based Syriac Democratic Union (SDU), is also calling on Syriacs in the region to act sensibly, advising them not to interfere with ongoing incidents.

Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News, the SDU’s vice president Fikri Aygur said Christians in the region were in a struggle of life and death, adding that they demanded international authorities to immediately form a buffer zone for the security of Christians, just like they did during the Gulf War. He said their negotiations on the need for a buffer zone with the U.S. House of Representatives and the EU Parliament were ongoing.

“They are starting to abduct Christians in Syria. Christian villages are being evacuated by force, and armed groups are threatening the Christian population in the villages around the city of Homs. Murder cases have begun to be reported around Qamishli and Haseki,” Aygur said.

“If the necessary measures are not immediately taken, a great culture in the Middle East will be destroyed,” Aygur added, underlining that regional Christians were in urgent need of international assurance. A buffer zone was set up during the Gulf War in Iraq, when 1.5 million Iraqi Kurds escaping the attacks of the Saddam Hussein regime sought asylum on the Turkish and Iranian borders in 1991. The buffer zone started to be implemented with the prohibition of the flights on the north of 36th latitude, which is the Iraq border. The zone was then supported by an international military structure called “Poised Hammer,” consisting mostly of U.S. soldiers.

Call for Syriacs to stay calm

The SDU also issued a declaration entitled: “To our people and the world community,” on Sept. 1, and sent it to the U.S. House of Representatives and the EU Parliament.

The declaration condemns the members of the “Syriac Union Party in Syria,” who broke into the Syrian Embassy in Sweden on Aug. 14. The declaration also calls on the Christians in the region to stay calm, underlining that such demonstrations were against the character of the Syriac people. “Syria is the homeland of the Syriac people. The Syrian government opened its doors to the Syriacs who fled from the genocide in Turkey in 1915, and to the Syriac Orthodox Church Patriarchate that was exiled by Turkey at the beginning of the 1930s. As the Syriac Democratic Union (SDU), we do not support the anti-democratic policies of the Baath Party in Syria, however, we are very concerned about the imminent dangers awaiting our people as a result of regime change that would take place by force,” the declaration read.

It also addressed the United Nations and other international authorities to provide protection for Christians, emphasizing that they were under threat in the region.

“The incidents in Syria are like a fireball which the Syriacs should avoid. All regimes might come and go; however, Syria is the homeland of the Syriacs. And this war is not ours,” Aygur said, commenting on the notice.