Syriac Strategic Research Center concludes conference on Lausanne Treaty’s impact on Syriac people
The Syriac Strategic Research Center (SSRC) successfully concluded its conference on the Treaty of Lausanne, delving into its significance and impact on the Syriac (Aramean–Assyrian–Chaldean) people.
Under the banner " The Syriac People and the Lausanne Treaty: Preserving a People and Guarantee Rights in a Changing World ", the conference took place in Zalin (Qamishli), North and East Syria, on Sunday August 6th 2023.
Representatives from the Bethnahrin National Council (Mawtbo Umthoyo d’Bethnahrin, MUB), Syriac political parties, and civil society organizations participated in the event, engaging in comprehensive discussions on various aspects of the Treaty and its historical consequences.
The conference commenced with Member of the MUB Presidential Committee Echoue Gouriye and Co-Chair of the General Council of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) Siham Quryo shedding light on the pre-Lausanne Treaty era, including the First World War and the Sayfo Genocide, and their profound effects on the Syriac people.
Syriac Union Party (SUP) Co-Chair Sanharib Barsom addressed the second axis discussing the aftermath of the signing of the Lausanne Treaty and its impact on the reality of the Syriac people.
The conference also featured insightful interventions via Teams, with contributions being made by Co-Chair of the European Syriac Union – (ESU) Fahmi Vergili, former member of Turkish Parliament Tuma Çelik, former member of Iraqi Parliament Joseph Sliwa, Bethnahrin Women Union – HNB president Ninwe Ozgun and Secretary-General of the Universal Syriac Union Party (USUP) in Lebanon Michel Mallo.
Richard Ghazal, the Executive Director of In Defense of Christians, virtually addressed the conference. Ghazal discussed the flaws of the treaty and its ongoing impact on the Syriac people. He argued that the Treaty of Lausanne failed to acknowledge the Syriac people as a distinct non-Muslim minority, denying them rights such as religious freedom, language rights, and equal treatment under Turkish law, said Ghazal. As a result, Syriacs in Turkey have been marginalized and subjected to discrimination, even facing state-permitted violence and forced assimilation. The Turkish legal system has been used against them, leading to imprisonment of community leaders and clergy on fabricated charges, he said.
Also attending via recorded message, Johannes De Jong, who affirmed the effects of the Lausanne treaty on the different ethnic groups of the middle east. He also linked this treaty to other agreements and plans done during and after WWI, and the different ways they affected the people of the region. He also highlighted the difference in correspondence of the international community, especially the European Union, to the rights and demands of the different peoples of the middle east, comparing the case of the policies of the international community towards the Palestinians on one hand and the Syriacs, Kurds and other groups on the other hand.Attending the event in person was President of the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Secretariat and former Chair of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Nadine Maenza. Speaking about the treaty, its consequences, and the US perspective, Maenza stated that the American public know little about the treaties of Lausanne and Sèvres, despite their global effect.
Highlighting the commendable governance established by the residents of North and East Syria, where all peoples are welcome to participate regardless of their religion, ethnicity, or gender, Maenza drew attention to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s fear of this democratic experience and his desire to dismantle it.
Maenza called on the US and the international community to learn from past mistakes and avoid repeating history since the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne.