Remembering humanity’s historic propensity for genocide and atrocity crimes is a moral obligation, especially in these times when that propensity is – tragically – once again increasingly evident in current affairs.

On 15 June we mark the 109th anniversary of the Syriac-Aramaic genocide or ‘SAYFO’ in which, in 1915, over half a million Syriac-Aramaic Christians are estimated to have lost their lives. Though taking place in the same historical and political context, these events are understood as distinct and separate from the Armenian genocide. Alongside the Armenian genocide, the upheavals of that historical period were marked by genocidal acts against several – mostly Christian – communities of Aramean, Chaldean, Syrian, Assyrian and Greek descent, which have blighted history at the beginning of the 20th century but which remain under-recognized and for which accountability has never been pursued.

All too often, the victims of genocide and their descendants face silence and the denial of historical facts, and must struggle for recognition of what their people have experienced, compounding their anguish and despair. On this occasion, we prayerfully remember the victims of the SAYFO 1915, as we appeal yet again for accountability for all such crimes, in order to help ensure that they are not repeated now or in the future.

Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay

General Secretary

World Council of Churches