Message from His Holiness Aram I to Dr. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro

June 2014

Dear Dr. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro,

I am writing to you as the Spiritual Head of Armenians in Syria and many communities in the Diaspora.

I read your 29 July 2013 report to the General Assembly of the UN on the situation in Syria, which you made as the Chairman of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry for Syria. I still remember your statement that “Syria is in free-fall” and your description of a “fragmented society” in which “fighters are changing allegiances.” I would add that minorities are also the victims of violence perpetrated by all sides.

With great grief I have been observing the victimization of my community. The late events in Kessab, facilitated by Turkey, demonstrate the free hand with which third-party countries are exploiting the situation. As we prepare to commemorate in 2015 the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by Ottoman Turkey, modern Turkey has forced another tragedy upon our people. Our community in Kessab, which have been displaced from their historical land of Cilicia, have lost everything and have become refugees once more.

I am currently on an official visit to Pope Francis I in the Vatican. I would like very much to meet with you and share our concern personally. However, my representative in Switzerland, Ms Teny Pirri-Simonian is available to brief you on the situation of our people in Kessab. I would appreciate if you could meet her personally. If that would not be possible, I propose that we forward to you information concerning the situation of the Armenian community in Syria.

I pray that the report of your commission will touch the heart of all those contributing to the disintegration of Syria and the victimization of helpless minorities.

I look forward to hearing from you through our representative.

Aram I
Catholicos of Cilicia