Bethnahrin National Council, representing Middle Eastern Christian minorities including Syriac, Assyrian, Chaldean, and Aramaic communities, issued a statement on the centenary of the Treaty of Lausanne, in which they firmly rejected the treaty. As reported by ANF on Tuesday, the Council emphasised the treaty’s significant role in the implemention of genocidal policies and the denial of their peoples.
The statement reiterated that the Sayfo genocide of 1915 was denied in the Lausanne Treaty. “After this treaty was signed 100 years ago, no guarantor state has ever inquired about our people’s situation or prevented the attacks they have suffered,” the Council stated.
Sayfo, also known as the Assyrian and Syriac genocide, took place during and after World War I, between 1914 and 1924. The primary perpetrators of this genocide were the Ottoman Empire and its associated forces. The genocidal campaign specifically targeted Assyrian and Syriac Christian populations residing in the Ottoman Empire, encompassing regions now known as Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. The genocide involved widespread atrocities, including mass killings, forced deportations, and systematic violence, resulting in significant loss of life and cultural devastation among the affected communities.
The Council further criticised the Turkish Republic for its policies of forced migration, statelessness, uprooting from their lands, blocking return to the country, assimilation, and alienation from their values against their people over the past century. “Physical genocide was targeted alongside cultural and mother tongue eradication,” the Council added.
The Council also condemned the states that signed the Treaty of Lausanne for turning a blind eye to the oppression of the Syriac people and other ethnic identities in Turkey for their own interests. “On the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne, we invite primarily the UK, France, and other guarantor countries to rectify the injustices and rights violations committed against the Syriac people,” the Council urged.
The Council concluded by stating that the Treaty of Lausanne should no longer continue with this denialist mentality and that the struggle of their people to gain status through their own will at the international level will be decisive for their future. “As the Bethnahrin National Council, our national freedom struggle against historical injustices, destruction, and denial policies will continue in all areas. Therefore, we condemn and reject the powers that ignore our people with the Treaty of Lausanne and the mentality of the governments of the Republic of Turkey,” the Council highlighted.
As the Treaty of Lausanne reaches its centenary, Christian minority communities in Turkey are expressing objections to the status quo it upholds. They highlight the treaty’s neglect of the genocides endured, which led to their further weakening and near extinction. Representatives of these communities, such as George Aslan, a member of parliament for the Green Left Party from Mardin (Mêrdîn), a historically diverse city in southeastern Turkey, have underscored how the treaty resulted in the fragmentation of their communities and forced them to reside across various countries.