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Sweden: Parliament Recognizes the Assyrian Genocide

With a vote of 131 against 130, the Swedish Parliament recognized as genocide the massacres that took place within the Ottoman Empire from 1913 to 1920 against the Armenian, Assyrian and Pontic Greek population – an episode that is also referred to as “Seyfo” by the Assyrian Diaspora.

Up to 1.5 million Armenians, 250,000 Pontic Greeks and 250,000 Assyrians were killed between 1913 and 1920, and a few other millions had to flee from what is now Turkey, in order to survive. Other sources claim the real number of Assyrians and Pontic Greeks murdered reach up to 750,000 and 500,000 respectively.

Phillip Ohlund, in the New Testament News blog, comments saying:

We should of course always condemn genocides of millions of innocent persons.
The holocaust of the Jews was a terrible thing, and so was the genocide of the Armenians back in 1915.
It is impossible to understand why anyone would raise objections against condemning a genocide.
The resolution was eventually passed by one single vote, thanks to four conservative politicians who voted with the socialist opposition.
[…]
No one blames Turkey of today for what happened in 1915.
But the genocide of most of the Armenians in Turkey in 1915 is an undeniable historical fact.
It would be sensible of Turkey to officially understand how traumatized the Armenians still are today by the 1915 genocide.

The Assyrian Genocide Center issued a statement addressing the decision votes, noting that the decision, in this particular case, was more political than anything else and that the politicians were all convinced the the massacres were a genocide:

Yes, the decision was taken with 131 votes against 130. However, the one vote majority does not reflect the reality and it may be misleading. The fact is all those who voted against the motion did not claim nor say that the genocide did not happen. All of them were saying yes the genocide took place, however a majority of them said we need to be loyal to the Coalition Government's decision and others were fearing a yes vote would jeopardize the relations with Turkey.

Volkan Kemal, in the Adsiz Vesaire blog, tells us that the result caused distress over the Turkish government and even among some Swedish ministers:

The Turkish Ambassador to Sweden was immediately ordered to leave the country and Turkish prime minister Erdogan announced the cancellation of his planned visit to Sweden the coming week.
Sweden's pro-Turkish foreign minister, Carl Bildt was very upset by the decision of the parliament and warned it will harm Swedish-Turkish relations and Turkish-Armenian relations as the resolution called for the recognition of not only the Turkish genocide on Assyrians but also the genocides on Armenians and Pontic Greeks.

However, Sweden's foreign minister Carl Bildt disagrees with the resolution. He says in his blog [machine translation]:

Vi anser att det är fel att politisera historien
[…]
Det skall noteras att beslutet gick emot utrikesutskottets betänkande, liksom att riksdagen inte var enig eftersom utfallet baserades på en enda rösts majoritet.
Riksdagens beslut kommer tyvärr inte att bidra positivt till den pågående normaliseringsprocessen mellan Turkiet och Armenien, inte minst upprättandet av en kommission med uppgift att bland annat utreda händelserna 1915.

“We think it is wrong to politicize history”
[…]
It should be noted that the decision went against the Foreign Affairs Committee report, and that parliament was no consensus because the outcome was based on a single vote majority.
The Parliamentary decision will unfortunately not make a positive contribution to the ongoing normalization process between Turkey and Armenia, not least the establishment of a commission to investigate the events of 1915.

Ramsen's Rambling sums up some of the feelings shared by the Assyrian people:

AMAZING NEWS.

The Assyrian Genocide is officially recognized by my new favorite country, Sweden. Sweden is the first country to accept the Genocide of the Assyrians, but also has accepted the Genocide of the Pontic-Greeks and Armenians perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks. This is a great day for Assyrians. Not only will the souls of those that were wrongly and innocently butchered like cattle be rested, the world will be enlightened of the first genocide of the 20th Century.

This recognition comes shortly after the one passed by the US congressional Foreign Affairs Committee, as a non-biding resolution which acknowledges the 1915 mass killings as the “Armenian Genocide” with the votes of 23 against 22.

Following the recognition, Móndivers [cat] show us the position of the Turkish government:

El primer ministre turc, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, va advertir ahir en una entrevista al servei turc de la BBC que podria decidir deportar els 100.000 armenis que, segons ell, resideixen il·legalment a Turquia. Erdoğan va fer aquesta amenaça després de ser preguntat sobre la seva opinió al voltant de les recents votacions als Estats Units i a Suècia sobre el reconeixement dels genocidis d’armenis, assiris i grecs durant l’època final de l’Imperi otomà. El primer ministre turc va culpar la diàspora armènia als països occidentals del fet que s’estiguin produint votacions sobre el reconeixement d’aquest genocidi.

The Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, warned yesterday in an interview with the BBC Turkish Service that he could decide to deport the 100,000 Armenians who, he claims, reside illegally in Turkey. Erdoğan made this threat after being asked about his opinion about the recent votes in the U.S. and Sweden on the recognition of the Genocide of Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks during the end of the Ottoman Empire. The Turkish prime minister blamed the Armenian diaspora in western countries from which votes on the ongoing recognition of the genocide are been produced.

And now, the Turkish Forum announces that Bulgaria may be the next country to recognize the massacre as a genocide:

Based on the mentioned facts, National Assembly of the Republic of
Bulgaria, admitting the cogency of the facts proving the committed
extermination of 1.500.000 Armenians by Ottoman Empire authorities in
1915-17, considering the violence against Armenians during the World
War I is recognized by the European Parliament and a number of EU
members-Belgium, Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Poland,
Slovakia, France as genocide, condemning the genocide of the Armenian
population,

Declares:

1. Expresses its dissent with official position of Turkish Government,
directed towards the negation of the purposive violence against
Armenian nation committed in 1915-1917.

2. Urges the Republic of Turkey to review its stance on the historic
reality during the World War I

3. Term the forcible displacement-

the extermination of the Armenian
people under Ottoman Empire as Genocide

4. Announces the necessity of mandatory unbiased reporting of the
historical events indicated in the documents, publications, public
addresses of all state institutions, political organizations, mass
media of the Republic of Bulgaria.

5. Admits that protection of monuments of Bulgarian and Armenian
architectural-religious heritage on the territory of Turkey should be
considered as part of a broader policy of preservation of cultural
heritage of European civilization.

6. Demands that in the course of the talks on Turkey’s membership to
EU, the stance of Bulgarian Government be conditioned by the
recognition of Armenian Genocide by Turkey.

The final question is whether the door has been finally opened.

4 comments

  • Thank you for the post. I’d suggest adding “indigenous” category to the post since Assyrians, Pontic Greeks, and Armenians were indigenous to what is now Turkey and, along with their Christian faith, were seen as enemy for being indigenous peoples of the region.

  • A Human

    An Assyrian mayor in Sidney, Australia was threatened by the Turks for approving to build a genocide monument in a park in Sidney. Which human can tolerate that in the 21st century???

    This bill has to be passed in all countries, 1,500,000 Armenians, 752,000 Assyrians, and 300,000 Greeks were tortured in 1915. Who wants to deny this fact people?

  • A Human

    I, as an Assyrian along side with my fellow Armenian brothers think that all countries mus recognize the 1915 genocide against Armenians, Assyrians & Greeks. because if not there will be more genocides even after the 21st century. Just like Hitler, told his generals before killing all the Jews “Turks killed millions and it’s been 20 years since then nobody has said anything who is going to say something to Germany if we kill the Jews.”

    Even now Assyrian, Armenian people that live in Turkey can’t speak in their own language outside of their shelters

  • I am not sure exactly what this accomplishes since Sweden is but a single country. It would be ideal if more countries recognized the massacre of the early 1900’s. Unfortunately, recognition alone does nothing for the diaspora. I speak for the Assyrian people when I say that we are scattered across the globe; When once we had a place to call home.

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