Thank You, Syria

  Editorial, 19 April 2010

In the six or seven decades following the Genocide of Armenians, Deir el-Zor, a town in eastern Syria was just a name in dusty books, in Armenian newspapers, in the imagination and nightmares of Armenians everywhere. With the heightened awareness of the Genocide in recent years and the ease of travel, the unknown Calvary of Armenians has become a pilgrimage destination for Diaspora Armenians, in particular. To visit the wind-swept Armenian chapel in Markaddeh–in the desert east of Deir el-Zor, to walk on the adjacent grey hill and to scratch with their bare fingers the fragile bones of our martyrs from the hillside, and to touch with reverence and sorrow those eloquent relics has become a ritual for many Armenians.

  Editorial, 19 April 2010

In the six or seven decades following the Genocide of Armenians, Deir el-Zor, a town in eastern Syria was just a name in dusty books, in Armenian newspapers, in the imagination and nightmares of Armenians everywhere. With the heightened awareness of the Genocide in recent years and the ease of travel, the unknown Calvary of Armenians has become a pilgrimage destination for Diaspora Armenians, in particular. To visit the wind-swept Armenian chapel in Markaddeh–in the desert east of Deir el-Zor, to walk on the adjacent grey hill and to scratch with their bare fingers the fragile bones of our martyrs from the hillside, and to touch with reverence and sorrow those eloquent relics has become a ritual for many Armenians.

 
A parallel—but unfortunate for Armenians–development to the above phenomenon has been the rapprochement between Syria and Turkey. In recent years we have watched Turkey flex its muscles, proclaim itself a regional superpower, claim it’s a bridge between the West and the East, between Christian Europe and the Moslem world. It has even slithered itself between Syria and Israel, boasting that it’s acting as a peacemaker between those two enemies.

The rapprochement between Syria and Turkey is the result of an uneven relationship. It’s a forced friendship: Turkey is militarily much stronger than Syria; Turkey has reduced the flow of Euphrates waters into parched Syria, and —before the rapprochement—had threatened to tighten the Euphrates spigot even more by building up-river dams.

Although there have been no media reports, it’s reasonable to assume that Turkish diplomats have informed Syrian diplomats that Ankara is not happy with the increased popularity of the hill of bones near Deir el-Zor. Even in the unlikely case Turkey has not expressed its displeasure that Syria has not discouraged the increased pilgrimage, Damascus certainly realizes that its stronger neigbour and threatening “friend” is displeased with the high profile Deir el-Zor has developed, thus underlining the reality of the Genocide of Armenians. That silent hill in the desert mocks all the Turkish propaganda, and all the millions of dollars Ankara has wasted to deny the Genocide of Armenians.

The most recent pilgrim to Deir el-Zor and to Markaddeh was Serzh Sargsyan, president of Armenia, who visited our mass funeral pyre in late March. “We… do not accept the style of references to the Armenian Turkish dialogue in attempts to avoid recognition of the Genocide,” said Sargsyan during his trip. “I am here to commemorate and to pray for the vast majority of my slaughtered nation that had suffered both physical and cultural extermination…” continued the president of Armenia. When he said that Auschwitz is the Deir el-Zor of the Jews and then wondered “where and when will be held our Nuremberg?” Sargsyan knew that Deir el-Zor has materialized into a lightning rod of the Armenian campaign to persuade the world—and Turkey—to acknowledge what Turkey did in 1915 was genocide, pure and simple.

During the Genocide Syria became a sanctuary for countless Armenian survivors—young and old. In the subsequent nine decades the country has continued to be a hospitable land for Armenians. Armenians have not only survived, but have prospered in welcoming Syria. For that and for not being intimidated by big bad Turkey, we owe a huge “THANK YOU” to the Syrian government and to the Syrian people—true and brave friends of Armenians.

 
17 comments
  1. Turkey carries a hump

    As Mr.Ali Ertem said on April the 24th, 1993, in Marseilles, "The Genocide is like a hump on the back of Turkey, everyone sees it except the bearer…"

  2. Thank you Syria

    Thank you once again for sending updates of "Keghart". I love and enjoy reading the articles.

    Two years ago I went to Aleppo, Syria with my husband, and then to Deir-El-Zor. There you can see only the sky and the desert.  The minute we came out of our bus we saw the Syrians of Margadeh who welcomed us with water to drink. They knew we were Armenians from overseas. It was the most electrifying feeling for us, because they told us not to walk through a certain path that they showed. "There are bodies there," they cautioned.  Unbelievable but true.  You just need to touch the desert’s sand and there you have bones sticking out.

    Vazken, our tour guide from Deir-El-Zor, who works in the church as a caretaker, said, "Let me prove it to you." He started to blow the sand,  and there we were facing  the jaw of a young child;  then as he continued to blow the sand we saw small peices of back bone lying there covered with sand. It was very hot, 54 degrees, and we were breathless. I asked myself, "how can anyone survive in this heat?"

    We went into the "Madour" (chapel) and prayed. Looking around me I found that everybody was in their own little world praying with their lips tight, but the tears were pouring from everyones eyes.

    Now we are here, back in Sydney, back to regular life and reality. If someone asks me what is my last wish, I would say,  "I want to go to Deir-El -Zor, then of course to Margadeh to pay my last respects to my grand parents…and to all 1.5 million Armenians who were killed or died of starvation.  They are my family too.

    I hope that one day Margadeh and Deir- El -Zor will be a historical place for Armenian movie makers, and our victims will rise from the dead, because we Armenians are a surviving nation thanks to the Syrians, their government and supportive people like them.

    And as we always say WE SURVIVED THE PAST, AND WE WILL FIGHT FOR THE FUTURE, GETZE AZAD ANGAKH YEV MIYATZIAL HAYASDAN.

  3. Great article. My grandfather

    Great article. My grandfather Agop was in the bloody desert of Deir-el-Zor. In his epic testimony (registered by his son, Dr.Eduardo Bedrossian in the prize-winning book "Hayrig") he mentions the terrible view and suffering when he was there.
  4. Thank you Syria

    There aren’t enough words to show our appreciation to Syria. We are Kesabtsi Armenians, we like Syria . 

    Thank you Syria .

    Vrejouhy
    Calgary .. Canada

  5. Thank you Syria, Indeed
    A well thought of and a timely editorial.The presented analysis made me much more appreciative of the tolerance of the Syrian government and people towards its Armenian subjects and visitors.

  6. Thank you Syria for Armenians in Syria and Lebanon…


    Syria needs to be thanked for being the guardian of Armenians in Lebanon.  during the Lebanese civil war. Most Lebanese Armenians remember what the Christian Phalange party and the Lebanese Forces failed when they tried to commit another massacre of Armenians in Bourj Hamoud.
  7. Wrong about Syria

    How can you thank Syria? They didn’t even recognize the Armenian Genocide officially yet, and do not forget that they reconciled with Turkey after they betrayed Ocalan kurds. They accomodated the Armenians under the French mandate.
  8. Thank you Syria

     

    Syria, you opened your doors, your hearts to the Armenians from Deir-El -Zor,
    you stood by the Armenians in Lebanon. 

    A vert great thank you.

     
     

  9. Thank Syria?

    Thank Syria?

    Did they recognize the Armenian Genocide? Are’nt they partners with Turkey?

    Who is kidding whom.

    Thank Sweden, France, Argantina, etc…..

  10. Turkyan ge badaskhani vojirneri hamar
     

    Shnorhakal em  chimacats  imacnelu hamar.
     
    Hitleri  hramanov  petq e hagtanagic heto lriv vochnchacver turqian german cegi hamar, ashxarhum aprog  turq el cher linelu. Hitlern chka, bayc nra hramann  chi veracvats.

    Vorosh jogovurdneri   jamanakin mtatsel e petq ev huysn chdnel  te  AMN-n  misht el irenc kprki  u chen patasxani irenc vochirneri hamar, manavand vor urishnern el irenc vra mitq unen!:

  11. Syria

    I was born in Syria to parents who came from Turkey, immediatly after the massacres. They were welcomed by the locals, given jobs and protection.

    While I was living in Syria I always felt that I was in my country, comfortable and secure, and enjoyed all the privileges that the country provided to all its citizens.
     
    As an Armenian, I consider Syria my country, and will always be grateful for all the opportunities that was given to me. 

     

  12. Syria refutes CBS’s “genocide” report
    Syria refutes CBS’s "genocide" report

    Syria’s Minister of Information Muhsin Bilal refuted the report of American CBS television channel which claimed that the evidences of so called Armenian genocide is in Syria. Minister stated that he has no information about the camera shooting of CBS television in Deir Zor city of Syria. "If we knew about such thing, we would not let them shoot," said he.

    Replying the questions of Turkish journalists, Bilal said that CBS did not make any application for shooting a program in Deir Zor. Stressing that there is not such mass grave in the city as CBS had claimed in the show "60 Minutes" , Bilal said, "Such a mass grave does not exist here. The report is totally fake. If we had information about that, we would not let them to shoot here."

    A few days ago, American CBS television gave space to Armenian allegations in the show "60 Minutes". Mentioning an "Armenian mass grave" in Deir Zor and showing bones, "Deir Zor is to Armenians what Auschwitz is to Jews,” said the CBS program.

    http://www.historyoftruth.com/news/latest/5858-syria-refutes-cbss-qgenocideq-report

    1. No surprise

      I wasn't surprised that the Syrian Information Minister has denied the CBS  Deir el-Zor program. As the original editorial said, Syria is under great pressure not to annoy Turkey.

      Note that the denial was made by the Information Minister– not exactly high up on the government totem pole–rather than, say, the Foreign Minister. Syria is forced to play the game. We understand it; Turkey understands it.

      By the way, if Deir el-Zor is such a no-no destination for the Syrian government, how come a month ago Sege Sargsyan made an official visit there, making his famous declaration about Auschwitz being the Deir el-Zor of the Jews.

      Finally, having visited Syria, I know that it would be impossible for an American TV crew, with reporter Simon, a CBS producer, a cameraman, plus Peter Balakian shooting the program in Deir el-Zor without the knowledge of the Syrian secret service ("Moukhabarat").

  13. To do their bidding

    I want Syria to democratize, like Iraq is doing. Syria could be the leader of the Arabs if it did this.
     
    However, as far as I know the Syrians keep sending spies to Armenia. They claim to be Armenian. This is so because Syria knows that whoever controls eastern Anatolia (historic Armenia) controls the Middle East—see history books on Rome for data.
    1. Do you honestly believe

      Do you honestly believe that Iraq is democratizing or US entered Iraq for democracy? 

      What makes you think or know that Syria is sending spies and not Iran, Iraq, Turkey, Georgia or others?

  14. The Armenian Ground Zero
    I too thank you Syria. I was born there.

    Your article underlines the inbalanced Turco-Syrian relationship, you focus the pivotal role the Armenian Genocidal remains in the Syrian Desert play, and the importance of Sargsyan’s visit to Deir ez Zhor.

    The article falls short though to underline the utmost importance of this Ground Zero. The Jews have sanctified every cube inch of Auschwitz to the point that it has been used as a benchmark reference even to the Armenian Genocide, which as our President tried to rectify stating that chronologically ours is earlier, hence we should describe the Auschwitz as the Deir ez Zhor of  the Jews.

    It took sixty five years for the Armenian community of Syria to erecet a chapel to recognize the importance of our Ground Zero of our people’s catastrophic fall. The special status of these sacred lands yet abstract in our memory, with the changing political  mood may turn into "something else" similar to the Old Julfa Cemetery being eradicated from its recognized normal status. We may wake up one morning to see these very sacred memorial grounds of man’s inhumanity to man turned into, with intent or without, say a military artillery range, or an airport runway  when it will be…. too late to interfere.

    I think, time has come that our nation’s political  arm  with the help of the diaspora request from the Syrian Authorities , through diplomacy, recognize this special Armenian Ground Zero as an off limit geography and give a Special Status, whatever verbal description an Armenian national competition may wish to coin it with.

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