The Deir-el Zour monastery and monument in Syria commemorates the victims of the Armenian genocide. In 1915, thousands were forced from their homes and ordered to walk a death march through the Syrian desert by the Turkish government. Some of the bones of those who perished are still kept within this monument and monastery.
Starting in 1915, genocide was perpetrated by the fledgling Ottoman Empire targeting Armenians, Assyrians and Greeks. The tragedy resulted in the eradication of Christianity in Turkey. Two million Christians were killed and millions more displaced. An entire heritage, culture and civilization were destroyed. Turkey was 20 percent Christian before the start of World War 1. It is now 1 percent. Moreover, this genocide paved the way for the Holocaust in Europe. When Hitler saw the silence of the international community in the face of the Armenian Genocide, he believed his Final Solution was possible.
One consequence of the genocide was the rewriting history, a common practice throughout the Middle East. Once bustling churches and communities lay empty and destroyed. The language of Western Armenia became extinct. Streets in Turkey that were once named after Christian saints and churches were replaced with Muslim and Turkish names; the survivors scattered all across the globe and the genocide continues to be denied by the very people who perpetrated it. To quote expert historian on the Armenian genocide, Deborah Lipstadt “To deny genocide is really the final stage of genocide because it strives to reshape history…”
The Armenian community is an example of a lost and destroyed legacy whose systematic destruction is not recognized by the international community.
Today ethnic cleansing and genocide continue in the Middle East. In fact, towns that were repopulated by Armenian Christians after World War I are now being emptied by Islamic extremists crying “Infidel”. This community, already broken and weak from genocide, is seeing some of its last towns and its heritage being taken away from it.
History is sadly repeating itself.