Armenian Christians: Turkey Facilitated Attack on Kasab, Syria

The Armenian Christian city of Kasab (Kessab) in northwest Syria on the border with Turkey, has been attacked more than once by Islamist rebels. Kasab was the last Turkey/Syria border town to be taken by rebels.

In the most recent attack on Friday, April 4, Islamists burned churches, looted homes and murdered 80 people, many elderly. They beheaded at least 13 Christians.

Beheading, backed by Islamic sharia law, is a popular form of execution in Saudi Arabia. Amnesty International condemns such public beheadings and the crucifixion-style display of bodies.

Kasab residents complained that Turkey allowed Islamist fighters and weapons to cross the border into Syria, echoing the infamous Armenian genocide of the early 20th Century in which the Ottoman Empire killed 1.5 million Armenian Christians.

Turkey currently denies the Armenian genocide. April 24 was supposed to be a National Day of Remembrance of the Armenian Genocide, but Turkish lobbyists have prevented that from happening in the U.S.A.

It is illegal to mention the Armenian Genocide in Turkey according to the infamous "Article 301" of the Turkish Penal Code, which makes it a crime to "insult the Turkish Nation." Doing so can land a Turk in prison for up to two years.

Article 301 was established in 2005 by Prime Minister Erdogan's Islamist AK Party and has widely been criticized by the European Union for limiting free speech.

Famous Turks have been accused of violating Article 301 by mentioning the Armenian genocide, including author Orhan Pamuk. Pamuk is the best-selling Turkish author, the first to receive a Nobel Prize for Literature, a university professor and a popular speaker.

Despite his status, Pamuk's books have been burned, and he has been a target of assassination attempts. I heard Pamuk give an impassioned plea for freedom of speech at a rally in Antalya, Turkey in 2012. Many people in the crowd, who supported Ataturk's secular democratic ideals and his CHP Party, cheered the modest-looking, graying man with glasses who held up one of his books.

In 2006, the well-known Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink was prosecuted under the Article 301 for insulting Turkishness and received a six-month suspended sentence. He was later assassinated by radical nationalists.

At the time, Pamuk declared, "In a sense, we are all responsible for his death. However, at the very forefront of this responsibility are those who still defend article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code. Those who campaigned against him, those who portrayed this sibling of ours as an enemy of Turkey, those who painted him as a target, they are the most responsible in this."

So who is helping the people of Kasab? Celebrity Kim Kardashian recently posted on Twitter, "If you don’t know what’s going on in Kasab please google it … As an Armenian, I grew up hearing so many painful stories!" She also put the hashtags #SaveKessab and #ArmenianGenocide together and was criticized for her efforts by Lebanon's The Daily Star.

International Business Times gave Kardashian more credibility and added a quote by Armenian MP Arman Saakyan on Facebook, "All we want is to live. If you ignore our appeal, we will be killed by extremists, same as it happened in Aleppo and other places in the Syrian territory."

On April 4, The Los Angeles Times reported, "Thousands of Syrian rebels, many of them with Islamist radical groups, including some linked to Al Qaeda, surged across the Turkish-Syrian border March 21 and seized a swath of mountainous territory in northwestern Syria's Latakia province, including Kasab."

It also mentioned that on March 28, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Turkish Consulate in Los Angeles to protest Turkey's aid in attacks against Kasab. People waved signs that read, "Freedom from Turkish Aggression!"

When I was living in Turkey, I interviewed a Turk who was descended from Armenian Christians on his father's side. He told me how about his grandfather as we visited the man's modest grave in a Muslim cemetery that overlooked the sea.

"Many people in the Black Sea region died about 100 years ago when the last of the Ottoman Empire soldiers killed Armenian Christians, " he said. "My grandfather was a teenager as he watched people in his village shot. Armed soldiers pointed their weapons at his father and yelled, 'Convert to Islam or die!' My great-grandfather converted, at least on that day, as he stared down the barrel of a rife."

Perhaps if the world puts more pressure on Turkey, it will stop opening its borders to terrorist-linked Islamists who persecute Armenian Christians. Maybe they will even admit their part in the Armenian genocide.


Lonna Lisa Williams teaches English overseas and writes books about surviving cancer, travel adventures, science fiction, and fantasy.  You can follow her blog or find her onFacebookTwitter, and Youtube.  She also regularly contributes news articles and photo essays to “Digital Journal” and “Yahoo.”
This article and photo appeared originally on Digital Journal and was reprinted with permission of the author.

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