Sarkis Kassarjian: “Visiting the Holy Martyrs Armenian Church of Deir ez-Zor was an internal motivation”. video

The liberation of Deir ez-Zor was of major significance for Armenians. The Holy Martyrs Armenian Church, which was built in memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide, embodies the relics of numerous martyrs of the Armenian Genocide and was bombed by ISIS in 2014, is located in Deir ez-Zor.

Days after the liberation, upon the request of Armenian Deputy of the People’s Council of Syria Nora Arisian, journalist Ahmad Hamdoushin took a photo of the Armenian church, and a couple of days later, Syrian-Armenian journalist, political analyst Sarkis Kassarjian visited the city and videotaped all that had been left of the memorial complex, which is a place of pilgrimage for every Armenian.

In an interview with Hayern Aysor, Sarkis Kassarjian said he has worked as a correspondent in Deir ez-Zor throughout the past years. On 8 November, he visited the city for the first time since the liberation. “True, Deir ez-Zor is liberated, but it is still in danger because it has not been demined. It wasn’t even easy to visit the memorial complex, just like it wasn’t easy to see the church and the ruins of it.

The ground floor of the Holy Martyrs Armenian Church was the headquarters of DAHESH since DAHESH thought the Syrian army would hardly target the church.

There is almost nothing left of the Armenian Genocide Martyrs’ Memorial. It has been severely damaged. There were ruins everywhere, and it was impossible to find anything there. The only thing I could find were pieces of stones on which there were inscriptions in Armenian. We all know that there are several relics buried within the memorial complex adjunct to the church and that there are numerous documents that serve as proof of the Armenian Genocide, but their destiny remains unclear. A lot of efforts and funding will be required to repair the memorial complex.”

When asked if visiting the memorial complex was a professional duty or was a motivational visit, the Syrian-Armenian journalist said the following in response to Hayern Aysor’s question:

“Visiting the Holy Martyrs Armenian Church of Deir ez-Zor was an internal motivation, and as an Armenian, it was of special significance for me. When I was 14, my father was working in Deir ez-Zor. The church was a place I would visit to see pupils on a daily basis. There was no school, and a teacher had traveled from Aleppo to teach the children. Before the war, there were nearly 17 Armenian families living in Deir ez-Zor. I was little, but I would teach the Armenian children of the city certain episodes of Armenian history. Even though they spoke in Armenian, they didn’t know how to read and write in the language. These memories are still fresh in my mind. The most important thing is that a visit to Deir ez-Zor was a unique pilgrimage for every Armenian on every April 24th.”

Talking about the impact that the war had on the Armenian community, Sarkis Kassarjian stated that there were not only casualties, but also material losses. The terrorists destroyed numerous Armenian churches and national monuments in not only Deir ez-Zor, but also Aleppo and Rakka. The Armenian community of Damascus was the only community that suffered few losses.

“Today there are fewer dangers and bombardments. Let’s hope this is the last milestone of the war and that we are on the road to the establishment of peace.

The emptying of the Armenian community of Syria was a great loss. The once thriving community, which played a major role and participated in the solution to pan-national issues and always stood by the side of the homeland, has been brought down to its knees. We need to find ways to restore the community because the existence of the community is of major significance for all Armenians around the world,” Sarkis Kassarjian concluded.


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