WCA Letter to the US State Secretary John Kerry

Dear Secretary Mr. Kerry,
We urgently appeal to you on behalf of the Aramean (Syriac) people, who are native to Syria, Iraq, Southeast Turkey and Lebanon, and more than 100,000 of whom have found refuge in Sweden. We ask you to acknowledge the below reality and come to the urgent help of our endangered people:

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1. Mass exodus of Christians from Syria unquestionably parallels same fate as in Iraq

At a press conference in Paris just two days ago, you were asked about the mass exodus of Iraq’s native Christians and its relation to the same phenomenon in Syria. You replied that you see little to no connection in these two cases. We are compelled to note, however, that the reality on the ground disproves such views. The vulnerable Aramean Christians in Syria suffer like never before. Every single day we receive heartbreaking reports from our people in Syria who are increasingly leaving their ancient homeland. We are saddened by the fact that the numbers of the Christians in Syria already have halved down from about 2,3 million in 2011 to probably nearly one million at present.

We are saddened by this reality, but even more by the lack of recognition and the deafening silence on this issue. The testimony of Nina Shea, Director of the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, to Congress on June 25, 2013, neatly sums up our ongoing plight:

Though no [ethno-]religious community has been spared suffering, Syria’s ancient Christian minority has cause to believe that they confront an “existential threat,” according to a finding of the UN Human Right Council’s Commission of Inquiry on Syria, last December. And this group, in contrast to Syria’s Alawites, Shiites and Sunnis, has no defender.

2. Rebels responsible for silent genocide and mass exodus of Christians in Syria

During the same press conference, you stated that the rebels assured you that Syria will be a secular country so that Christians and other minorities have nothing to worry about. This is similar to what you asserted at congressional hearings in the recent weeks, when you said that the armed opposition “has increasingly become more defined by its moderation, more defined by the breadth of its membership, and more defined by its adherence to some, you know, democratic process and to an all-inclusive, minority-protecting constitution.”
Your key source (also cited by Senator John McCain) for the “moderate” rebels in Syria was the Wall Street Journal editorial by Elizabeth O’Bagy. As you know, she was most recently fired for fraud from the Institute for the Study of War for lying about having a Ph.D. Moreover, she also had to disclose her connection to the rebel advocacy group called Syrian Emergency Task Force. In fact, in a New York Times article of 27 April, 2013, which appeared shortly after Ms. O’Bagy made numerous trips to Syria where she had interviewed rebel commanders, she declared paradoxically: “My sense is that there are no seculars.” Based on her findings, the author concluded:

When the armed rebellion began, defectors from the government’s staunchly secular army formed the vanguard. The rebel movement has since grown to include fighters with a wide range of views, including Qaeda-aligned jihadis seeking to establish an Islamic emirate, political Islamists inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood and others who want an Islamic-influenced legal code like that found in many Arab states.

Many reliable reports confirm this fact, including a study by IHS Jane’s, a defense consultancy cited a few days ago by The Telegraph which concluded: “Nearly half the rebel fighters in Syria are now aligned to jihadist or hardline Islamist groups.” These rebels kidnap, rape, torture and kill the minorities in Syria, while utterly rejecting secularism and other noble values espoused in the West. Are we really asked not to worry about our future and supposed to live under their potential rule?

3. Two archbishops abducted 150 days ago by rebels

On Monday 22 April 2013, tomorrow precisely 150 days ago, two prominent Archbishops from the Syriac and Melkite (Greek) Orthodox Churches were abducted. The responsibility for their safety and wellbeing lies with the Syrian opposition. According to trustworthy sources who have been in direct contact with the US State Department, the latter seems to assure that the bishops are still alive and even believe that they are being held in Turkey. We ask you for clarification on this question and further remind you of the letter written to you and signed by 28 Congressmen on 20 May, who

“urged the State Department to make” their “immediate release and safe return to Aleppo a priority in our efforts in the region” and who “believe the United States must do everything it can to ensure that all the diverse religions and ethnicities of Syria have a safe future.”

We thank you in advance for your urgent consideration of the above noted issues and, as a threatened people who have Biblical and Semitic roots, we hope to count on your full support.

Yours sincerely,

Johny Messo
World Council of Arameans (Syriacs)

Kenan Anter
Syriac Federation of Sweden