Gohar Abrahamyan/In Armenia ISIS Atrocities Seen As Modern-day Crimes Against Humanity


In Armenia ISIS Atrocities Seen As Modern-day Crimes Against Humanity
Gohar Abrahamyan
Posted 2015-04-24

The violence and vandalism unleashed by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in the Middle East in recent years is seen from Yerevan as a logical continuation of the world’s failure to properly recognize and condemn the past genocides, including the Ottoman-era massacres of 1.5 million Armenians.

The latest crimes committed by ISIS operatives included the execution of two groups of prisoners, believed to be Ethiopian Christians, in Libya. The Ethiopian government confirmed on Monday that 30 of its citizens were among the two groups.

The chilling video released by the terror network’s media arm again reminded the world that genocides committed on ethnic or religious grounds are crimes against the entire humanity and not just a particular chosen group.

His Holiness Karekin II, the Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, on April 20 sent a letter of condolence to His Holiness Abuna Mathias, the Patriarch and Catholicos of Ethiopia, in connection with the murders of Ethiopian Christians by extremists.

On behalf of the members of the Brotherhood of Holy Etchmiadzin and the Supreme Spiritual Council, His Holiness conveyed his deepest sympathies and condolences to His Holiness Abuna Mathias and the faithful of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

“During these days, when our nation commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and calls upon the international community to stand firm in defending human rights and dignity throughout the world, we strongly condemn the mass killing of our Christian brethren and invite all people of good will to take the necessary measures to prevent such crimes and atrocities against humanity,” HH Karekin II said.

Killings of people on the grounds of their ethnic or religious affiliation, including mass executions, have become a “trademark” for ISIS in recent months. But besides cutting people’s heads off, the terrorist network’s operatives also seek to erase traces of civilizations. Thus, a video released in late February showed ISIS militants destroying ancient Assyrian artifacts in Mosul, Iraq.

An Armenian church in Deir ez-Zor, Syria, built in 1991 and bearing the name of Holy Martyrs in memory of the victims of the Ottoman-era genocide of Armenians sent to death marches across the Syrian desert, was blown up by ISIS in September last year.
Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian then issued a statement, condemning the crime and calling on the international community to strongly condemn that act of vandalism.
Yerevan issued more statements condemning ISIS and its activities in the subsequent months.
Speaking at a major forum called “At the Foot of Mount Ararat” in Yerevan in March, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, in particular, said: “Today, the so called Islamic State based in the territories of Syria and Iraq poses a real threat to both regional and international security. In the Middle East, the cradle of ancient civilizations, those very civilizations risk being destroyed. Armenian communities in Syria and Iraq are also affected by that situation. The Armenian Genocide survivors, who had found shelter in Syria and Iraq, now have to face the mentioned challenges. Armenia has already accepted more than ten thousand refugees from Syria.

“Armenia condemns the crimes and atrocities committed by the Islamic State, the Al Nusra Front and by other terrorist groups, and calls on the international community to take decisive steps against this newly-emerged calamity. In this context, Armenia expresses its full support to the complete implementation of the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.”

And on April 12, during a landmark Holy Mass in the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica Pope Francis also made references to people suffering because of their Christian faith as he characterized the killings and deportations of 1.5 million Armenians in Ottoman Turkey as “the first genocide of the twentieth century”.

Arsen Mikhailov, the head of Armenia’s Atur Assyrian association, also believes that ISIS’s condemnable actions take place against the background of historical genocides that mankind has failed to properly recognize and condemn to date.

“A hundred years have passed since the Armenian Genocide, but it has not been properly condemned by the entire world yet. All genocides must be condemned so that we no longer witness new such crimes today. Unfortunately, I have to say that the world is very indifferent to these concerns, so we urge the whole world to pay attention to these matters. This is the same handwriting that was used a hundred years ago,” Mikhailov told ArmeniaNow.

And specialist in Arabic studies Arax Pashayan says that while ISIS’s crimes have no direct effect on Armenia, the actions of this terrorist network directly affect the Armenian communities in the Middle East.

Recent conflicts in the Middle East, including civil wars in Syria and Iraq, have already displaced tens of thousands of ethnic Armenians, many of whom took refuge in Armenia in recent years.