The Fog of the War
The history of the Armenian people is an everlasting experiment. An experiment for survival…
The headlines today carry the news that on March 21st, 2014, on Mother’s Day, over thousand of Muslim Al-Qeada and Front en-Nusra extremists have attacked the Syrian village Kessab populated mostly with Armenians. More than 80 Armenians have been killed in Kessab and thousands have been forced to flee their homes in and around the town of Kessab by the Syrian Army. In the aftermath of the invasion, a village spokesman said , “Our homes were taken from us and our property has been destroyed. We have nothing left except the clothes that we are wearing now. All we want is to live.”
In a plea for international help another villager said, “We need your help, our lives depend on your decisions. We have nothing against the Turkish people, we have lived for centuries like neighbors and we don’t want any changes. The world has to hear the truth.”
This latest outbreak of violence against Christian Armenians by Muslims sadly comes one hundred years after the 1915 genocide by Muslim Turks of Christian Armenians, in which 1.5 million Armenians were massacred. Before 1915 Armenia covered 161,000 , today it covers only 30,000 . This heinous number has soon been forgotten, since the victorious states have already started arguing over the spheres of influence and oil, leaving only one tenth of the Armenian territory to Armenia.
In 1915 the Turks attempted to wipe out the Armenians and they almost succeeded. The cohesion and family strength of the Armenian people allowed many of them to stay alive. Turk actions were brutal towards men, women, children, old and young people; these innocents all were indiscriminately massacred; rape became a weapon of war; entire towns and villages were destroyed. In Izmir Turks began to kidnap the wives and daughters of soldiers who were fighting at that moment for Turkish homeland. The Armenian women were abducted, and if their bodies were considered pleasing they were sold to harems or to the noblemen. Small girls were used as maids for Turkish homes. These people knew no conscience or any sense of morality; they were just barbaric creatures.
As an Armenian woman, I grew up hearing these horrible stories of hatred and violence from my “tatik”. Grandma would tell me how Turkish soldiers broke into her mother’s and grandmothers house in Kars in northeast Turkey, where they slaughtered Armenian men and kidnapped Armenian women, selling them off to harems. My “tadik tat” (great grandmother) Delbarand her husband escaped with only 4 of their 12 children- eight were killed by the Turks before the family could escape.
I remember how my grams Ariknaz would tell me about the disastrous time that her mother went through in order to save her and her siblings. My grandmother was 3 years old when her parents had to run away from their home. Her grandmother was too old to run, she had to stay at home and was left in the burning house. My people lost everything that they had, including all of their family and relatives. Even though some Armenians managed to escape by taking boats over the Black Sea to nearby villages, the Armenian nation was very close to extinction.
The stories that I grew up with were brutal and very hard to listen to because of the injustice and savagery of it all. Hopeless Armenian women burnt their faces with irons with the notion that Turks wouldn’t manipulate them if they were ugly. They made a mother watch all the members of their family get slaughtered in order to make them suffer even more and only after that they would kill her. All Armenian men were killed in the hope of the extinction of the Armenian nation. The purpose of this massacre was to erase the Armenians from the face of the earth. Many mothers disguised their sons into girls in hope that they would not be killed. One of the sons of my grandmother Delbar died because he witnessed the infernal slaughter of his brothers. My great-grandparents managed to escape by the Black sea, and settle in the South part of Russia.
After hearing these disastrous stories, I started thinking about the great nation that I fortunately belong to. We Armenians are very traditional people. We cherish and respect our roots and our customs. We live for our families, and if necessary, can give up our lives for them. We are faithful to our culture and our ancestors. We pass our traditions down from one generation to another. Some people might say we are old-fashioned, but we are who we are. I don’t live in Armenia, but I know that I belong to the most faithful, solid, invincible and determined nation, that has to overcome all the suffering, and I am proud of that.
This is history that must not be repeated. We are all humans, and it doesn’t matter whether we are Christian or Muslim, when it comes to death. Armenia is the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in AD 301, yet innocent people have to suffer and give up their lives just because Muslims think that they are better than Christians. Armenians have lived centuries among Muslims and haven’t betrayed their religion and stayed strong to Christianity. This horrible genocide was in 1915, which means that this year will be the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. The most painful thing for many Armenians who have lost their families is that the Armenian Genocide of 1915 has still not been accepted by Turkey. It is simply not in the interest of Turkish government to accept it. As an Armenian woman, my soul is filled with pain and empathy for the Armenian citizens in Kessab, and I cannot understand the purpose of the acts of these barbarous extremists.
We live in the 21st century with the cutting-edge technology, good education and chances for a bright future, yet some people continue to be troglodytes. In 1915 there was no internet and Armenians didn’t have a chance to tell the world about their sorrow; but today due to mass media, the citizens of Kessab village have a chance to share this information about what is going on in their home with other nations around the world. People should hear the truth. And this attempt for an Armenian genocide is not the only attempt in Syria. Muslim extremists are still trying to kill Armenians in many parts of Syria. Unfortunately the mass media doesn’t give us the unfiltered information about what is going on in Kessab, because all mass media is corrupted, just like everything else in this world; but we definitely know that civilians are still being killed there and we can’t just ignore it.
The Armenian nation has overcome the two worst genocides in history. It is our collective responsibility, no matter what religious or political beliefs we hold, to make absolutely sure it never happens again.