(March 26) Urge Prime Minister Harper to Stop Turkey’s Support for the Destruction of Kessab, Syria. Join the Armenian National Committee of Canada (ANCC) and Armenian Youth Federation of Canada (AYF Canada) in voicing your solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Kessab, Syria.
Save Kessab: An Urgent Appeal to All Armenian Canadians & People of Good Conscience
The ANCC and AYF are calling upon all Canadians of good will to contact Prime Minister Harper to demand that Canada immediately call on the Republic of Turkey to halt its role in the ethnic cleansing of Kessab’s peaceful Armenian population.
Located in the northwestern corner of Syria, near the border with Turkey, Kessab had, until very recently, avoided major battles in the Syrian conflict. The local Armenian population had increased in recently years with the city serving as a safe-haven for those fleeing from the war-torn cities of Yacubiye, Rakka and Aleppo. On the morning of March 21st, extremist foreign fighters launched a vicious attack on Kessab civilians, forcing them to flee to neighboring Latakia and Bassit. Subsequent attacks occurred on March 22nd and 23rd and included the mass looting of local residences and the desecration of Armenian Churches in the area.
News sources confirm that the onslaught on Kessab was launched from Turkey by foreign fighters affiliated with an extremist wing of the al-Qaeda terrorist group. Attackers wounded during fighting were returned to Turkey for medical treatment.
Following is the text of the message:
Dear Prime Minister Harper,
As you may be aware, the Armenian-populated region of Kassab has been the location of a recent attack in Syrian territory by organised bands of al Qaeda linked fighters. Kassab is the last remaining outpost of the medieval Armenian principality of Cilicia. Kassab has had a constant Armenian population for almost one thousand years. As I write, al Qaeda members roam the streets of Kassab and the surrounding Christian and Alawite villages. There are confirmed reports and video of armed men raising al Qaeda banners over Armenian churches and Alawite mosques and making threats to kill all Christians and Alawites found in those communities. Fortunately, the civilian population of Kassab was able to flee to Latakia prior to the arrival of these terrorist- attackers. This already dire situation is compounded by the fact that these fighters crossed into Kassab from Turkey and seem to have the tacit approval of Turkish authorities to carry out this attack.
Prime Minister, I write to ask that the government of Canada take the following three actions:
1) Call upon all sides to the conflict to immediately cease all hostilities in the region and allow the return of the civilian population.
2) Call upon Turkey to take all steps necessary to secure its border and prevent any incursions into Syrian territory. I also ask Canada to request that Turkey explicitly disavow its support of all al Qaeda affiliated groups in the region and to ensure that these groups are expelled from its territory immediately.
3) Canada direct a portion of the assistance allocated for Syrian assistance to the evacuated population of Kassab which is now living in difficult circumstances.
I commend you for Canada’s principled stand on the protection of the rights of minorities in Syria and for Canada’s generous contributions to help Syria’s civilian population and Syrian refugees. I believe that based on Canada’s strong record in this area, Canada and its allies can play an important role in guaranteeing the safety of Syria’s historically important Christian community and in making sure that non-combatants are not displaced from their homes by acts of terrorism contrary to any recognized law of war.
I thank you for all that you have done for the Syrian people and the Armenian-Canadian community and I hope that you continue to come to the assistance of a people whose lives are under serious threat.